Alberta Premier Alison Redford
Credits: LYLE ASPINALL/QMI AGENCY
Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason said tweets like the meme posted by @ABPremierComms, depicting a sinister-looking Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith against a red background, are inappropriate and a waste of taxpayers' money.
"I think that the premier's office spends way too much time focusing on the opposition and not enough time on governing the province well," Mason said. "If the premier's priority was actually trying to do a good job, she wouldn't have to worry about the opposition so much."
The meme alleged Smith has flip-flopped on the issue of MLA pay, after Redford announced the provincial government would freeze MLA salaries.
A day later, the @ABPremierComms account blasted comments Smith made surrounding the Alberta Economic Summit.Smith's press secretary, Vitor Marciano, hinted that the "unprecedented" tone of last week's tweets could spark a battle between the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties.
"They've decided to take on a very campaign-like tone. And if they want to spend the next three years in campaign mode, we're fine with that. We can dish it out and take it at the same time," Marciano said.
"I'm not sure it's appropriate that it comes from PremierComms. There are mechanisms for the government to make partisan statements; they can certainly do so out of their caucus."
Jim Lightbody, chair of the department of political science at the University of Alberta, said personal attacks - "simpleton tactics," as he calls them - are not effective from either side of the political fence.
"When they do something like that, it detracts from any message they were trying to get out," he said. "It's self-defeating in the sense that all of a sudden the story, which they wanted to be an attack, perhaps on the Wildrose, is transformed into whether they used good judgment (and why) they were so personal."
MacEwan University political science Prof. Chaldeans Mensah warns the controversial tweets could put the premier in a tough spot.
He said both parties would benefit by using Twitter to point out policy differences in a civil manner.
"The premier cannot afford to be seen as being too antagonistic to Danielle Smith. I think Smith is providing a very effective opposition to her party," Mensah said. "I think any kind of personal attack against Danielle Smith will backfire."