Talk to any premier, or person elected to high political office, and they'll tell you the same thing. Reporters go after them on any subject, at any time, and challenge them on controversial issues.
It's a cornerstone of our democracy. We do it so that YOU, the public, can learn more about where the person stands on his or her philosophy, to learn more about the issue, AND how they respond as a leader. It really is a process that at its best, tests the character of the politician.
So if one becomes the object of such questions, consider it a compliment when reporters (like me) ask tougher questions, and aren't satisfied with a one-off canned response.
For the second time in this campaign, I've been growled at by Wildrose supporters attending a campaign stop by leader Danielle Smith for asking questions they don't like.
On April 2 (why is it always a Monday), I asked Smith why some of her candidates told us they were being "gagged" by their party war room and prevented from doing media interviews.
Enter the first round of loud grumbling that bordered on heckling from members of the Wildrose campaign.
As a reporter, I was taken aback. Smith's response was that some of their candidates are inexperienced and need help from the campaign. Fair enough.
Then the same kind of response occurred today when I asked another question about a controversial issue. This time, however, the grumbling was louder and Smith's response bordered on anger.
Smith was doing a quick campaign stop at Linda Carlson's Edmonton-Goldbar headquarters. The issue this time was a blog written by Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger in which he says to homosexuals: "You will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell."
Danielle Smith has been adamant about her party not introducing legislation on moral issues. Yes, I have heard that. She chalks up Hunsperger's blog as "religious freedom" and said there has to be a very clear separation between church and state.
I felt there was more to explore, so I asked one more question to Smith on the subject.
Here's a transcript:
KIM: "Danielle, your candidate though, he almost — it smacks of hatred. So what's the difference between religious personal view, and then promoting a hate crime?"
SMITH: "If any candidate is guilty of a hate crime, then call in the police. Really. There are criminal code sanctions against people whose language crosses the line into criminal behavior and if you think it's that serious Kim, go ahead and call the police." (smattering of applause from supporters)
I will acknowledge that I could have phrased the question better, but I did want to get Smith to explain her position further as leader of a party that could form the government of Alberta a week from now.
No, I am not about to call in the police. I'm just doing my job, asking questions to someone whose values, and response will be tested daily if she becomes the premier.
Danielle Smith took one more question, then ended her very brief media availability.