THE KEYBOARD COMMANDO – Membership has its privileges when you’re an NDP member

Mac Olsen,
Smoky River Express

Premier Rachel Notley certainly likes to be in the media spotlight, but only when it suits her convenience and left-wing agenda.
The rest of the time, she doesn’t want the media around her, or so it would appear. I am referring to the political fundraiser that the premier attended at the Centre Chevaliers in Falher on March 24.
If you paid $100, you got to have beef on a bun with her. Not that I could justify spending that amount of money for myself to attend such an event. That’s a big part of my monthly grocery money.
The other thing that you might have gotten for your $100 entry fee – and I cannot say this with absolute certainty because I wasn’t there – was the opportunity to schmooze with the premier and listen to her about what a great job she’s doing for Alberta.
But when I went into the Centre Chevaliers, I was told that the media could not attend the NDP fundraiser, because it was a private function. I’ve been asked why I wasn’t allowed to attend and this is the explanation I’ve given. Some people just shook their heads when they heard that, and I have to agree with them.
To be fair, if the premier had been willing to hold a media scrum with me and other reporters, I would have been willing to do that. That’s my job, after all, and I would have done the story based on the interview.
And I made the effort to go into the building to ensure that I provided coverage if given the opportunity.
But I will also note that there was a group of about a dozen protestors outside the Centre Chevaliers before the premier arrived. They left after about an hour.
I put a photo and a caption of them in the March 30 edition of the Express. Just as the premier was exercising her right to hold a political fundraiser, so they were exercising their right to free speech and making themselves heard, that they don’t approve of the job she is doing. And in this week’s column, I am exercising my right as a commentator to say that, if you’re a paying member of the NDP, then that membership has its privileges.
Never, in all the years that I have covered political parties and election campaigns, have I ever been excluded from an event like the one on March 24. Elected officials and candidates have often gone out of their way to accommodate me for interviews and media scrums. During the provincial election last May, Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean and all the candidates for the riding of Dunvegan-Central Peace-Notley gave me their time for interviews.
But not Premier Rachel Notley and the NDP. As I said earlier, in my estimation she and they only want the media present when they are touting their left-wing agenda. They don’t want to answer hard questions or face criticism about their agenda or policies.
Moreover, if I was excluded from the March 24 event in Falher because they have read my previous columns criticizing them and their policies, that just confirms they are afraid to face someone who will pose the hard questions to them.
So, if you’re thinking about attending the premier’s next fundraiser, ask her if membership in the NDP has its privileges.

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