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Good morning, Mark Iype in Edmonton today.

Well, it seems the questions around Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and whether she actively interfered in a criminal case related to COVID-19 measures will not go away.

As most people will remember, the story first bubbled back up to the surface a few weeks ago after a leaked phone conversation captured the Premier speaking to controversial street preacher Artur Pawlowski, who was facing criminal charges connected to the Coutts border blockade. Ms. Smith defended herself saying she had not actually contacted Crown prosecutors “almost weekly” about cases similar to his. The Premier has since repeatedly denied that she or anyone in her office has actually spoken directly with prosecutors and has said she used “imprecise” language and meant Justice Ministry officials.

In the following days, Ms. Smith would no longer comment on the issue, saying she had been advised not to speak on the subject since Mr. Pawlowski’s case was still before the courts.

Then on the weekend, Ms. Smith gave a new explanation for the phone call, saying she was speaking with Mr. Pawlowski as a fellow political party leader. Until recently, Mr. Pawlowski was the leader of the Independence Party of Alberta.

“I thought we were talking in the context of him being a political party leader,” she said. “It turned into a discussion about what I was doing with COVID amnesty.”

Ms. Smith campaigned for leader of the United Conservative Party last fall on a promise to look at amnesty for Albertans caught up in COVID-19 prosecutions.

But then word came on Monday, from the Premier herself, that Alberta’s ethics commissioner is investigating whether she interfered with the administration of justice related to a COVID-19 prosecution.

While Ms. Smith will likely have to keep dancing around questions about the ethics commissioner’s investigation until it is resolved, inquiries typically take between six and eight weeks, so Albertans may not have any clear answers before they head to the polls on May 29.

Either way, the story is a problem that Ms. Smith and the UCP would be happy to be rid of.


Speaking of getting rid of something, Alberta physiotherapist and candy company owner Crystal Regehr Westergard is hoping she can do just that – with 133,000 chocolate bars.

As Jana Pruden reported this week, Ms. Regehr Westergard needs to get rid of that many Rum & Butter bars, after issues at the plant that manufactures them resulted in a glut of product – all with a looming June expiration date.

Since the story was published on Monday, people have offered countless solutions to the sticky situation. Some more practical than others let’s say.

So if you’ve got an answer, there are 133,000 Rum & Butter bars sitting at a warehouse in Calgary, waiting to be given away.

“You’d have a cry if you had to throw them out,” Ms. Regehr Westergard said.

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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