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The Globe and Mail

Redford-Smith run-in narrowly avoided on Alberta campaign trail

Alberta Premier Alison Redford waves to the crowd during a campaign stop in Calgary, Alberta April 4, 2012.)

Todd Korol/ Reuters/Todd Korol/ Reuters

That could have been awkward.

The teams of both Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and Progressive Conservative leader Alison Redford send out the leaders' schedules for the next day every evening.

On Wednesday evening, Wildrose's arrived first, saying Ms. Smith would be at the Calgary's South Health Campus hospital for a tour at 9:15 a.m. local time Thursday.

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An hour later, the PC schedule was distributed showing Ms. Redford had been scheduled to speak at the same location – at 10 a.m.

Three hours later, Wildrose revised its media advisory, moving Ms. Smith's appearance up one hour to 8:15 a.m. She'll then make an announcement at a nearby campaign office and be on the road to nearby Cochrane, Alta., by the time Ms. Redford arrives at the South Campus.

No reason for the schedule change was given.

A poll Wednesday put the Wildrose at 17 points, up from a 13-point-gap in a ThinkHQ poll released just a day later. Each puts Wildrose easily in majority territory, with Ms. Smith repeatedly casting Ms. Redford as a big-government liberal.

Ms. Redford, meanwhile, has avoided saying Ms. Smith's name on the campaign trail and has largely refused to address Wildrose directly even as the party's poll numbers soared.

When asked about the dueling campaign stops, Ms. Smith smiled and told reporters that she changed her availability to "accommodate the media."

Either way, they can't hide from each other forever. The leaders' debate is in one week, scheduled for April 12 at Global's Edmonton studios. Ms. Redford won her party leadership in part on the strength of a debate performance, but Ms. Smith is masterful at working a crowd. We'll be tuning in.

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