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The Alberta election is in full swing, with both leading parties starting to roll out platforms as they chase votes in search of victory on May 29.

Unfortunately for United Conservative Leader Danielle Smith, who earlier in the week kicked off her campaign with a $1-billion pledge to cut personal income taxes and to maintain hundreds of millions more in fuel tax savings, she was first forced to respond to a controversy that continues to dog her.

On Tuesday, Artur Pawlowski, a Calgary-based street preacher, was found guilty of egging on protesters blocking the Canada-U.S. border in southern Alberta last year. Authorities charged Mr. Pawlowski after he delivered a speech to protesters in the Smuggler’s Saloon in Coutts. The group blocked Highway 4 as they protested government-imposed vaccine requirements and other restrictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic in early 2022.

Ms. Smith previously promised amnesty for those facing charges tied to COVID-19 violations and, in a January phone call, told Mr. Pawlowski that she asked prosecutors “almost weekly” about such cases.

But Ms. Smith has stayed true to her word and not commented on Mr. Pawlowski’s conviction and the possibility for a path to amnesty because an independent body is currently investigating her actions.

By Wednesday, however, the UCP was back to the campaign and pivoted to attacking the New Democrats and leader Rachel Notley’s pledge to meet the federal target of a net-zero energy grid. While there was much discussion about how best to read the numbers from an Alberta Electric System Operator report cited by the UCP, the NDP did not back away from the idea. NDP candidate Kathleen Ganley, running for re-election in Calgary, said in a statement that a net-zero grid will be important for attracting global investment.

On Thursday, while Ms. Smith announced a new tax credit to keep postsecondary graduates in Alberta, Ms. Notley made a pitch to conservatives to vote across party lines.

“There’s no question this is a tight race and every vote will matter. So, today I’m asking voters who are frustrated with Danielle Smith and her antics to give us a chance to show you what we’ve got,” Ms. Notley said.

With three weeks to go, the race remains as tight as ever.

* * *

After a slow, cool spring, temperatures went into the summer-time zone in parts of Western Canada, and suddenly, thousands of people were on the run from wildfires and floods.

As Wendy Stueck writes, hot, dry temperatures and strong winds fuelled dozens of fires in Northern Alberta. Some 13,000 people were evacuated from their homes as 19 blazes burned out of control. Up to 20 homes were incinerated in Little red River Cree Nation, with fire destroying the community’s police station and general store.

Rural Municipalities of Alberta president Paul McLauchlin was watching the smoke billow from large fires near Drayton Valley and Brazeau County when he spoke with The Globe and Mail on Friday afternoon from his property in Ponoka County, about 130 kilometres southwest of Edmonton.

Between the scores of fire roaring across the province, wind gusts, unseasonal heat and tinder-dry conditions coming out of winter, “it’s a powder keg right now,” he said.

Fires were also flaring in Saskatchewan, with six of 13 classified as “not contained.”

In British Columbia, a week of record-breaking heat led to flooding, mudslides, highway closings and evacuations. Heavy rains predicted for this weekend have left municipal officials and the province’s emergency management minister on edge.

In the village of Cache Creek, 13 homes were evacuated, and part of Highway 97 was washed out. Other residents, unless part of local sandbag crews, were urged to stay home and out of the way of emergency response efforts.

Five years ago, the mayor, John Ranta, went to the provincial government with a map to show what needed to be fixed to reduce the annual flood risk. None of that work has been done.

In fact, as Justine Hunter writes, the province has been promising for at least three years to fix the fragmented system of flood protection, but nothing has happened yet.

“We are recognizing that the disjointed arrangement of dike infrastructure in British Columbia needs to be improved upon,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief Mark Iype. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.

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