Zingers fly in competitive Alberta debate, with Smith roughing up Redford at times

The leaders of Alberta’s four main political parties faced off Thursday in the lone debate in what has already been dubbed that province’s most important election in a generation. Wildrose leader Danielle Smith continues to lead most polls and looks likely, if not certain, to topple the 40-year-old Progressive Conservative dynasty. On Thursday, Smith acted the front runner she is, teaming up at times with the New Democrats Brian Mason and Liberal Raj Sherman to rough up Tory premier Alison Redford.

The Edmonton Journal‘s David Staples called the debate a wash, saying both Redford and Smith came off well. A tie, however, goes to the leader, according to the Globe and Mail, which argued that Redford’s “serviceable, if unspectacular” performance was unlikely to sway many undecideds. A snap poll by local broadcasters, meanwhile, showed Redford as the big loser. The Calgary Herald’s Don Braid just seems to have enjoyed the show, one he says was “loaded with zingers, personal attacks and unconscious expression of deep grudges.”

Albertans go to polls April 23.