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Is Alberta's Wildrose Party channelling Big Brother?

Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith speaks to supporters as the Alberta election kicks off in Calgary on March 26, 2012.

Chris Bolin/chris bolin The Globe and Mail

Forget the war that the Wildrose Party is waging with the Progressive Conservative party at the moment. The one it's started with the media is increasingly more fun to watch.

Since the beginning of the election campaign, Wildrose has taken to issuing news releases challenging certain stories and columns written about the party's policy pronouncements. And members of the Alberta media who have been targets of this tactic appear not to like it one bit.

Robert Remington, a writer with the Calgary Herald who warranted a rebuttal from the party, noted in a blog on the newspaper's website that freedom of expression without fear of intimidation or suppression for all citizens is one of the central tenets of Wildrose policy.

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"That would be all citizens except the media rabble that refuse to willfully sing from their songsheet," Mr. Remington wrote.

Edmonton Journal columnist Graham Thomson, another of those whose work was singled out by Wildrose, wrote in a blog that he understood the party's desire to correct mistakes in facts but it wanted to correct "mistakes in opinion too."

He suggested that the Alberta media might be more sensitive to potential bullying from politicians because of the province's history. He reminded readers that The Journal once won a Pulitizer Prize in 1938 for fighting a law that the Social Credit government of the day wanted to bring in that would have compelled newspapers to print the government's rebuttal to any criticism it received in the newspaper.

David Staples, also of the Journal and another scribe to be finger-wagged by Wildrose, alluded to Orwell's Big Brother in denouncing the party's media strategy.

On the campaign trail, Wildrose has even taken to criticizing the "lamestream media," a phrase popularized by the great conservative stalwart and truth seeker Sarah Palin.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Sun Media, a big booster of Wildrose, has so far been spared any denunciations by the party. (Smith's husband, Dave, is a Sun News executive.) But for those wondering, The Globe and Mail has not.

While campaigning in Grande Prairie this week, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith was asked about criticism the party has received over its plans to use the province's oil riches to cut cheques for $300 for every Albertan starting in 2015.

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"Maybe The Globe and Mail and the elites don't like it and we kind of expected that," said Ms. Smith.

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About the Author
National affairs columnist

Gary Mason began his journalism career in British Columbia in 1981, working as a summer intern for Canadian Press. More

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