It certainly seems telling that Alberta's new premier Danielle Smith is choosing to run in a byelection for Brooks-Medicine Hat instead of Calgary-Elbow.
The latter riding has not had a sitting MLA represent it since former cabinet minister and UCP MLA Doug Schweitzer stepped down (somewhat unexpectedly) in early August. With Smith needing to win a byelection in order to fill a seat in the provincial legislature, and with the May 2023 provincial election still several months away, it seemed logical that she would call a byelection for Calgary-Elbow, and then run as the United Conservative Party's (UCP) candidate.
But instead, Brooks-Medicine Hat MLA Michaela Frey – who previously stated she did not intend to run for re-election next May – chose to step down early, giving Smith the chance to run in a byelection to replace her as the UCP candidate.
It's clear why Smith wants to run in the southeast riding instead of Calgary-Elbow. The most ardent supporters of her policies are rural Albertans, and she knows she stands a much better shot of winning the Brooks-Medicine Hat seat than an urban riding in the middle of Alberta's largest city. Our newsroom fully expects Smith to win her upcoming byelection handily.
Regardless, it would have been better for Smith to run in a riding that is already vacant and needs representation. It would show Alberta's new premier is not willing to shy away from a challenge.
Smith said she doesn't plan on calling a byelection for Calgary-Elbow, meaning the approximately 50,000 residents of that constituency will be without an MLA until May of next year. Smith suggested its constituents can go to the MLAs of neighbouring ridings instead, if they have any concerns with their provincial government.
The opposition gleefully ran with that quote, as one of Calgary-Elbow's adjacent ridings is Calgary-Buffalo – a riding currently represented by the NDP's Joe Ceci, who said he'd be more than happy to help out Calgary-Elbow voters with any complaints they have about government.