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Twitter furor in Alberta election

Resignation after childlessness jab

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CALGARY -- Electioneering took a back seat to apologies and recriminations in the Alberta election campaign on Saturday culminating with the resignation of a Conservative staffer who mocked Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith for not having children.

The tweet, sent by Amanda Wilkie, an assistant to the executive director in Premier Alison Redford's southern Alberta office, responded to a series of recent announcements by Smith promising more tax help and money for families with children in school.

"If @elect Danielle likes young and growing families so much, why doesn't she have children of her own? wrp family pack

insincere abvote," read the tweet.

When the Twitter outrage grew, Wilkie backed down, tweeting "Fine, I apologize."

Earlier Saturday, Smith responded in a news release of her own, saying she and husband David Moretta wanted to have kids when they married in 2006.

"After a few years we sought help from the Calgary Regional Fertility Clinic. I appreciated the support and assistance of the caring staff as we went through tests and treatments, but in the end we were not successful," said Smith in the release.

"I consider myself very fortunate to have a terrific stepson, Jonathan, David's son from a previous marriage. I am also blessed to have grown up in a large family with four siblings who have given me the opportunity to be the auntie of five terrific nieces and nephews.

Wilkie resigned after speaking to Redford. The Alberta premier told reporters in Calgary Saturday afternoon she was offended by the attack on her chief rival and phoned to apologize.

"I was appalled. I believe anyone who decides to put their name into public service and is able to articulate views needs to be respected. There were comments, as I understand it even last night from people who were supporters of our party saying this was not appropriate behaviour," said Redford.

"It was a comment I reacted to in quite a negative way. I was disappointed," she added.

"It is not the way I have conducted myself so far on this campaign and it's not the way I expect me, any of my candidates or any of our volunteers to do so in the future."

Smith said she was satisfied with Redford's apology and considers the matter closed. But she acknowledges the leaders need to be more civil in the weeks to come.

"I think everyone's kind of feeling like we need to set the reset button next week. Sometimes that happens. You get into a campaign, tempers flare, some volunteers end up saying things that they shouldn't. Sometimes politicians say things that they shouldn't," Smith said at a news conference in Calgary.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 1, 2012 A4

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