EDMONTON — A United Conservative Party candidate in southern Alberta is being criticized for saying people who have heart failure should take accountability for their own health.
"Maybe the reason you had a heart attack was because you haven't taken care of yourself," said UCP Livingstone-Macleod candidate Chelsae Petrovic on a February episode of "The Canadian Story" podcast.
"You're extremely overweight, you haven't managed your congestive heart failure, you haven't managed your diabetes and there's no personal accountability.
"But they come into the hospital and all of a sudden it's everyone else's problem but their own."
Petrovic, who is mayor of Claresholm south of Calgary, has also been a licensed practical nurse for more than 12 years.
She issued a statement Monday saying her comment on the podcast was taken out of context.
"I was speaking for several minutes about the challenges our health-care system is currently facing," Petrovic said. "I understand my comment could be offensive when removed from the longer interview, and I should have chosen better language.
"I believe we should be a province that not only focuses on reactive health for those in need but also one that teaches our kids to practice healthy living, which includes taking care of our physical health."
On the podcast, Petrovic prefaced her comments saying, "This might be political suicide, what I'm about to say, which is fine with me, because it needs to be said."
Premier Danielle Smith was asked Tuesday during a news conference on health care in Sherwood Park, Alta., about her candidate's comment.
"I'm pleased to see that (Petrovic) issued a statement yesterday clarifying that she could have used better language," Smith said.
"There are some times that I have had missteps," said Smith. "I think people are forgiving when you give an opportunity to explain what you meant and I want to extend the same opportunity to others."
Smith was criticized last year for saying that early-stage cancer is within a person's control during her own podcast.
"When you think everything that built up before you got to stage four and that diagnosis, that's completely within your control and there's something you can do about that that is different," Smith said.
She later said during a UCP leadership debate that her comment was "misunderstood," and she's a "proponent of early detection, early treatment, nutrition and holistic medicine."
In late March, UCP Lethbridge West candidate Torry Tanner resigned after claiming in a video that children are exposed to pornography in schools and teachers help them change their gender identity.
Opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley took to Twitter to comment on Petrovic's statement, sharing that her grandfather had a heart attack and died while he was headed out to feed cows on their farm.
"No one saw it coming," tweeted Notley.
Kevin Van Tighem, the NDP candidate for Livingstone-Macleod, issued a statement demanding Petrovic and Smith apologize.
“Last year, Danielle Smith said Albertans are responsible for developing cancer. Now her candidate blames Albertans for having a heart attack. This is a pattern of cruel and hurtful language that kicks Albertans when they’re down. They must apologize today.”
"The Canadian Story" is a podcast hosted by Zach Gerber, owner of Skytrack Studios, and David Parker, who was a regional adviser to Stephen Harper while he was prime minister. The podcast covers a wide variety of topics under a politically conservative lens.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2023.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Angela Amato, The Canadian Press