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thumb-2023-04-011-danielle-smith-james-bauder-freedom-convoy This article is more than 10 months old
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Convoy Leader Photographed With Danielle Smith Says Alberta’s Premier Should Know Who He Is

James Bauder believes Smith is just ‘playing politics’ when she claims she does not ‘personally know’ the convoy leader

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A prominent Freedom Convoy leader photographed with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith at a UCP campaign event this week is casting doubt on the Premier’s claim that she did not know who he was.

James Bauder, an original organizer of the Freedom Convoy and author of the convoy’s controversial “Memorandum of Understanding” that called for replacing Canada’s democratically elected government, says he thinks Smith is playing it “politically safe” by attempting to distance herself from himself and other convoy leaders.

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“How can a politician not know who James Bauder is in this country?” Bauder told PressProgress in an interview Thursday.

Bauder suspects Smith is spinning the story.

“She was playing politics,” Bauder said. “Find a politician in Canada that is willing to step up and support the Freedom Convoy. They don’t exist.”

Bauder sparked controversy when he posted a photo on Facebook Thursday showing himself and two other prominent convoy figures posing with Smith at an April 26 fundraising event for Calgary-Lougheed UCP candidate Eric Bouchard.

Bauder, his wife Sandra, and former Christian Heritage Party candidate Harold Jonker have all been criminally charged or fined in connection to the convoy occupation of Ottawa last year.

Bauder, who is awaiting a criminal trial in June, says he is facing up to “15 years” in prison for various charges relating to his role in the occupation.

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Smith has close ties with other convoy figures. Last month, a recording surfaced revealing a call between Smith and Artur Pawloski, a far-right street preacher who is currently facing up to ten years in prison over his involvement in the convoy border blockade in Coutts.

In the call, Smith told Pawlowski she would intervene on his behalf to “ask our prosecutors, ‘is there a reasonable likelihood of conviction and is it in the public interest’,” assuring Pawlowski she had “asked them that almost weekly ever since I got started here.”

In a statement to Global News, Danielle Smith’s spokesperson distanced the Premier from Bauder and the other convoy figures:

“As usual, the premier took part in a routine photo line-up with nearly 200 people last night. The Premier does not personally know these individuals.”

“I don’t know why she’s making that statement,” Bauder told PressProgress.

“We know of each other,” Bauder said. “I’m a public figure. She’s a public figure.”

Reacting to Smith’s statement for the first time, Bauder suggested paying close attention to how Smith uses the word “personally.”

“Personally, yes, exactly,” Bauder said. “That’s an exact accurate statement. I don’t know her personally, so that’s what she says to be politically safe during an election campaign.”

“But I know of her and she knows of me.”

Smith has previously stated that she followed the convoy occupation in Ottawa last year by watching “alternative media.”

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Bauder said he has not previously met or communicated with the Premier, but believes she was familiar with who he was because of his central role in the Freedom Convoy.

“A little convoy that I started might have a thing to do about it.”

Asked about his interactions with the Premier of Alberta at the UCP campaign event, Bauder said: “No comment.”

Bauder, alongside Pat King, Tamara Lich, Chris Barber and Brigitte Belton, are identified as the Freedom Convoy’s original core group of organizers in the Emergency Act Inquiry final report.

Bauder, who also attempted to organize a Freedom Convoy reunion earlier this year, also signed up to attend Danielle Smith’s 2023 campaign launch rally Saturday in Calgary and does not believe he will be uninvited from the event.

“I’m not there representing the convoy,” Bauder explained. “If I represent the convoy, I’ll represent the convoy, and we’ll do some stuff and everything else, yadda yadda yadda, but no, I’m just here as a fellow Calgary, Alberta citizen.”

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Danielle Smith’s office did not respond to requests for comment from PressProgress.

 

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Stephen Magusiak
Reporter
Stephen Magusiak is PressProgress’ Alberta reporter. His reporting has a focus on public accountability, public services and privatization, and the right-wing war on environmentalists.

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