Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Party in Canada, has moved to quash rumours surrounding her social beliefs by confirming that she is in favour of marriage equality, and is pro-choice on abortion rights.

The Wildrose Alliance Party is a conservative provincial party in Alberta, which has been painted as “extremist” both in fiscal and social policies by political opponents — a description against which Ms Smith has fought back.

“When our members elected me they knew they were electing a candidate that was pro-choice and pro-gay marriage,” Ms Smith said on Tuesday during an all-candidates forum. “The only way we’re going to be able to become a mainstream, big-tent conservative party capable of forming government is to focus on the issues that matter to Albertans. If I am elected premier, a Wildrose government will not be legislating in areas of morality,” she added.

These statements might come as a great surprise to many of the party’s rivals, who generally describe the parties policies as socially regressive, directed to gratify the sensibilities of “white, middle-aged men.” One Tory spokesperson said of the party’s policies: “Ethnic minorities are targets. Gays and lesbians are targets. We’re the targets of those kinds of things.”

The party is also under intense scrutiny on two other issues: a citizen-initiated referendum that would see restrictions for funding on abortion, and on so-called conscience rights, which allows civil servants and public officials from opting out on grounds of “conscience,” usually of religion. Ms Smith indicated that she will not legislate on the former, saying it would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, while the party generally supports court-led decisions on issues concerning the latter.
Elections in Alberta are set for the 23rd of this month.