Aided and abetted by a compliant media in love with a good horserace story, it looked for a spell in late 2011 and the spring of 2012 as if Danielle Smith might soon be Alberta’s premier.

Ms. Smith with Progressive Conservative premier Jim Prentice on Dec. 17, 2014, the day she led eight of her Wildrose MLAs across the floor to join the PCs (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

It’s been a decade and we can clearly see now just what a disaster that could have been, thanks to Ms. Smith’s bizarre strategy in her current campaign to become leader of Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party with him on his way out as premier. 

I say could have been, because it’s not clear if Ms. Smith, then the leader of the Wildrose Party but not yet elected to the Alberta Legislature, believed the kind of dangerous nonsense she’s now peddling when she faced off against the newly chosen Progressive Conservative premier, Alison Redford.

Probably not. She certainly appeared to make slightly more sense at the time, although even then she was obviously a far more dogmatic market fundamentalist ideologue than Ms. Redford, who had appeared quite progressive in some regards during her successful campaign to lead the PCs in the fall of 2011.

Still, as dangerous as a Wildrose government probably would have been, in those days Ms. Smith wasn’t talking about passing a wildly unconstitutional “Sovereignty Act,” bigfooting into federal jurisdiction to do things like seize the pensions of Albertans, appoint federal judges, and establish unconstitutional diplomatic missions abroad, and generally declaring federal law to no longer apply in Alberta … with all the advantages of Canadian citizenship magically retained. 

Frenemies with federal benefits? Good luck with that! 

Alison Redford on Oct. 2, 2011, the night she won the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

And what would she propose to do, as journalist Max Fawcett wondered on social media, if British Columbia took a notion to pass a similar sovereignty act to block all future pipelines to tidewater? Appeal it to the Supreme Court of Canada, I suppose. (Eyeroll.)

Whatever Ms. Smith’s strategy is, she’s advocating nutty, sophomoric stuff, with zero change of success under Canada’s Constitution in any circumstances you could dream up. It doesn’t seem to have much utility as a strategy to become the leader of the UCP either. 

Although she says she has no direct connection with the wingnut “free Alberta strategy” cooked up by University of Calgary political science instructor Barry Cooper and a couple of like-minded individuals, one of whom was floor-crossing former Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson, it’s clearly where she got the idea.

As University of Calgary law professor Martin Z. Olszynski observed yesterday on Twitter, you really need to read that document “to understand how far the crazy goes.”

“There’s no space in our constitutional order for the provinces to decide what federal laws are applicable or not in the province,” Mr. Olszynski told a National Post scribbler in a piece about Ms. Smith’s big idea this morning that seemed to leave its author conflicted about whether to sing her praises or admit her notions are dangerously bonkers. 

University of Alberta political scientist Jared Wesley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“They’re not even pretending it’s constitutional,” marvelled University of Alberta political scientist Jared Wesley. “This is all about provoking a losing fight in the courts, which they will then spin into anti-Court, pro-separatist propaganda.”

Could be. But maybe Ms. Smith’s effort is not a serious candidacy at all – although life can always hold unpleasant surprises for people who reach such comfortable conclusions. If a Trump Presidency was possible, we need to face the reality that such horrors can happen other places too.

Still, never having been forgiven by the UCP’s Wildrose rump for her dalliance with Jim Prentice’s PCs after Ms. Redford’s exciting tenure as premier had drawn to an untimely close, culminating in Ms. Smith leading eight other lost Wildrose souls across the floor of the Legislature on Dec. 14, 2014, her successful return to power at the head of the UCP seems about as likely as, say, former Alberta Liberal leader Raj Sherman’s chances of doing the same thing. 

Former PC MLA Raj Sherman, later leader of the Alberta Liberal Party (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Indeed, I’d say it’s a sign of the critical condition in which Mr. Kenney has left the UCP after three years of belligerent misrule as premier that the race to replace him can attract the likes of Ms. Smith and Dr. Sherman. 

Maybe she’s just bored. Whatever led to her breakup with Corus Radio and her decision to retreat down the rabbit hole of an online subscription service where she could peddle her Q-adjacent theories about COVID cures and cryptocurrency benefits, it can’t be described as a step up in her once coruscating broadcasting career.

TV and mainstream newspapers love photogenic right-wing commentators. They are not as fond of eccentric cranks. 

Helping to run a restaurant in a railcar in small-town Alberta mustn’t seem very rewarding either for someone who was once on the cusp of becoming premier of Canada’s richest province.

So maybe she just needed some time back in the limelight. 

Pastor Allan Hunsperger, Wildrose Party candidate and Lake of Fire guy (Photo: Twitter).

Whatever she’s up to now, it’s scary to ponder the thought Ms. Smith was nursing the same lunatic ideas back in 2012 when it looked as if she were on the verge of winning the top political job in Alberta.

Unfortunately for her prospects, on April 23, 2012, Ms. Smith won her own seat in the Highwood riding, but the Wildrose Party took only 17 seats to the PCs’ 61 in the Legislature. The NDP doubled its seat count in that election – from two, to four. 

Is it possible we were saved from the fate of a Danielle Smith premiership by the unintended intervention of Pastor Allan Hunsperger, the evangelical preacher and Wildrose candidate whose blog post predicting a fiery eternal destination for LGBTQ Albertans was drawn to the attention of voters a week before the election?

Some political observers blame the ensuing brouhaha, which came to be known as the Lake of Fire affair, for the providential end to Ms. Smith’s chances of becoming premier, not to mention creating the conditions for the rise to power of the NDP in 2015.

If so, perhaps we owe an unexpected debt of gratitude to Pastor Hunsperger, his offensive views notwithstanding.

God moves in a mysterious way, the old hymn says, His wonders to perform. 

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35 Comments

  1. When has Trash Can Dani ever been anything other than a cork bobbing on what she thinks is the sea of public opinion ?

    That she’s continually wrong about it is very on brand. She’s either very dense or a complete opportunist. I’m willing to bet it’s a bit of both.

  2. I am also wondering why is Ms. Smith running again and what does she hope to accomplish, so much so I even wonder if she is some sort of Kamikaze candidate for Kenney’s remaining supporters to try sabotage Jean. How is that for a good conspiracy theory?

    I suppose it is more likely she is bored or deluded about her political appeal. Maybe having to listen to some of those crank callers on talk radio has affected her judgment, although it was always kind of iffy. She could be and remains an articulate and effective communicator, even if her ideas seem to have become more wonky than ever.

    Interestingly, she makes Brian Jean look like the sane one – he seems more restrained in his discussion of autonomy and perhaps wisely has avoided getting into the messy details so far. However, it is possible she will appeal to some on the extremes of the UCP. Although, just because her ideas are unworkable doesn’t mean they won’t appeal to the angry as heck crowd. After all Kenney convinced them a referendum on equalization would somehow bring the Feds to the bargaining table and as predicted by smarter people that has never happened. It sometimes can be easy to convince a riled up crowd of what they want to hear and use it for short term political gain, at least until disappointment sets in.

    One of the criticisms particularly by the right of the UCP of Kenney is that he has been ineffective in fighting the Feds. In this case, I would have to agree with them. However, he has been ineffective because what he proposed was driven mostly by sounding good politically to the mad as heck crowd in the short term, at least until reality set in.

    With all his Federal political experience I always though Kenney was a bit disingenuous in how he presented solutions to the conflicts between Alberta and the Federal government. I believe he knew better, but fell into the trap of saying things that sounded good politically to the base. I would like to think Smith is also smart enough to know better, but perhaps not. After all her past record as a political tactician and strategist is not that good.

  3. She isn’t blonde, or even fake blonde, which seems to be what Cons like most in a female politician right now, so it probably doesn’t matter what she thinks or says. It’s just that simple/shallow.

  4. Danielle Smith is like all the other pretend conservatives and Reformers. She simply can’t be trusted to rule Alberta, or do the right things. She has admired Ralph Klein, and his bad policies weren’t good for Alberta.

  5. Off topic, but the patriotic, freedom loving, doorknob licking heroes who had themselves a crowd-funded staycation on parliament hill hanging out with Nazis, vandalizing the tomb of the unknown soldier, and taking selfies with members of the Ottawa Police department have learned something important from their experience:

    It is fun, glamourous and profitable.

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/freedom-convoy-participants-set-to-return-to-ottawa-for-canada-day-stay-through-summer/ar-AAYAQwv?ocid=entnewsntp&cvid=16889dcaf1284d0ca70a2a2e35b229ad

    Sounds like Ottawa’s gonna get their very own Best Summer Ever! On the bright side, I foresee Alberta exporting a ton of know-nothing yobs to Ontario for the summer. Addition by subtraction.

    1. They’re literally going to go to Ottawa while parliament is recessed for summer?? Like guys, pretty all the politicians will be out in cottage country on the BBQ circuit… though maybe they know that and don’t care?

      1. The OG convoy also had a trumped-up BS justification. Not many of those people were actually truckers. I can’t help but noticed how quickly white supremacists jumped on that bandwagon, and how everyone in that crowd was okay with having white supremacists among them.

  6. There are four things that constrain the actions of politicians: local laws, provincial laws, federal laws and international laws. (Five, if you count public opinion, a fact Jason Kenney learned to his immense frustration.)

    That Danielle Smith, the former news-reader and front-woman for the old Wildrose Alliance (a bunch of pissed-off rural Albertans plus a big stack of Calgary petro-dollars), is ignorant of all four formal constraints is no surprise at all. She must have been too busy with her talk show and restaurant-reno jobs to pay attention to Jason’s repeated schooling by Albertans saying “No you won’t!”

  7. Anonymous She told us that Ralph Klein was a great premier but didn’t go far enough he should have privatized the health care and education systems. You can bet that’s what she wants to do. In other words she doesn’t give a damn about what it would do to average Albertans. Ralph Klein’s daughter Angie and father Phil certainly did.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: You certainly have it right. It’s unfortunate that people fell for what she was doing. She was copying Ralph Klein’s bad moves, including the vote buying ploys. Danielle Smith also had some very strange ideas. There was a bunch of beef that was recalled, because it was unfit for human consumption. Danielle Smith said that that beef shouldn’t have gone into a landfill, but it should have gone to help the downtrodden. She also was promoting false Covid-19 cures on her radio talk show. I’ve seen advertising where the Fraser Institute (where Danielle Smith was employed at one time) has been supporting her campaign. We all know how harmful their policies are. Another pretend conservative and Reformer, Mike Harris, who also is employed with the Fraser Institute, was premier of Ontario, and his bad policies, that were also influenced by his good friend, Ralph Klein, cost people their lives. Some of those Ontario PC MPP’s (MLAs), went into the CPC, and it wasn’t any better.

  8. On another point after reading some the comments in Eastern Newspapers Jason Kenney’s pal Pierre Poilievre is not the shoe in I thought he might be. People really seem to like Brown. Poilievre seems to have pissed a lot of them off with some of his stupid comments.

    1. Alan k. Spiller: In these Eastern newspapers, that are owned by Postmedia, they do a lot of bashing of Rachel Notley, and think that she and Justin Trudeau were causing the demise of the oil industry in Alberta. They also think that Rachel Notley caused Alberta’s finances to get into bad shape, when it was oil prices that tanked in 2014, before she and Justin Trudeau came to power, and the previous Alberta PC government lost Alberta so much money, from very pricey shenanigans, not so good tax policies, from not getting the oil royalty rates that Peter Lougheed got, and also from not ensuring oil companies fixed up their messes. They also think the UCP are wonderful, even though the UCP have also done very costly shenanigans, themselves, which left Alberta out of billions of dollars in revenue. The ones who leave remarks on these comment sections, are mainly from Alberta. As for Pierre Poliveire, his proposals are very flawed, and illogical, and will end up causing a lot of hardships for people. Pierre Poliveire, and the head honcho of the UCP are career politicians, and they never had any other sort of employment in their lives, so they cannot relate to ordinary people. Pierre Poliveire wants to get rid of the CBC. That’s going to make thousands of people unemployed. He tells people what he thinks they want to hear, and they go along with it. You just can’t trust these pretend conservatives and Reformers.

  9. Farther off topic than normal, but: https://thetyee.ca/News/2022/06/15/Clark-Ministers-Roasted-Money-Laundering-Report/

    I know this blog is about Albertan politics, but this is so corrupt and incompetent that it almost seems like it must fall under that category. Thought it might encourage folks here to be reminded that holding government to account is hard for everyone, it isn’t just here. I’ve been keeping half an eye on this for years now. It really seems as though the BC Liberal Party, under Christy Clark, did everything they could do enable money laundering without *quite* breaking any laws. It now appears as though there will be no consequences whatsoever for anyone. It’s not just Alberta, it’s Canada and America in general: white Conservatives* are routinely allowed to engage in activities that would be considered criminal, and would be met with Police violence, for anyone who wasn’t white and Conservative.

    Direct quote from the report: “Elected officials were aware of suspicious funds entering the provincial revenue stream through the gaming industry, but there is no evidence of corruption.” That sentence was written by a BC Supreme Court judge. Elected officials doing nothing about suspicious funds entering revenue streams through the gaming industry is DEFINITIONALLY corrupt! “Someone was eating a sandwich, but there was no evidence of sandwich eating.” When I heard the “Cullen Commission” I had hoped we’d get Nathan, but alas, we got his non-union equivalent Austin, who is presumably off covering his head in shame over having his name on a report that seems like a pretty obvious attempt at covering up the overt criminality of elected politicians. And once again, Mr. Cullen was a BC Supreme Court judge! If he didn’t find any criminality here, one wonders if he has ever found any, anywhere, at any point in time. One wonders if an audit of his finances would turn up any suspicious, bribe-related activity. He made 101 recommendations, but I would be so bold as to make a 102nd: Don’t put laws on the books, then be seen publicly allowing people to break them!

    *The BC Liberal party is a different kind of joke from Alberta’s. In BC, the punch line is that a bunch of right-wing knuckle dragging business criminals get to call themselves “Liberals” and the federal party doesn’t see this as harming their brand in any way. *rimshot*

  10. Dammit! Sorry for the million small posts DJC, forgot to note that civil forfeiture is being touted in some circles as a solution to money laundering. CF is when you make it legal for cops to rob people. If a Police officer wants to, they can allege that any of your possessions, from your cell phone to your cash to your clothes to your car to your house, were the proceeds of criminal activity. If you can’t prove otherwise, they can confiscate it. YOU are not under any accusation, but YOUR STUFF is, and it is considered guilty until proven innocent! John Oliver has a really good episode that examines how this is playing in America, where the practice has been widespread for decades. TLDR; CF exists to allow and encourage Police officers to literally rob poor people.

    1. The shadowy BC Civil Forfeiture Office had raked in forty-odd millions of dollars worth of forfeited cash and goods by the time its abuses were condemned by an MLA in the BC Liberal government that created the CFO’s ethically-challenged ethos. Assets were forfeited with no charges, no trials and no verdict whether they were really the proceeds of crime or of legalized extortion by police and a corrupt government. The Office fostered such self-entitled anonymity that its principals went to court to block an FOI request to know their names and public salaries—and they lost.

      The second prickly issue was a property wherein lived a teenage son who’d been busted for pot possession: some months later, the parents were notified that a civil forfeiture proceeding had been launched against the property demanding they forfeit it as a proceed of their son’s crime (in practice at the time, pot possession was more like a misdemeanour). It happened to be in BC Liberal MLA Ralph Sultan’s riding and he came to his constituents’ defence in the court of public opinion—a conspicuous case of talking out of school, but the forfeiture attempt really was outrageously Kafkaesque.

      This embarrassment inspired a spate of journalistic exposés of rampant abuses of civil forfeiture in some American states where goods—in particular, out-of-state cars which police were reasonably sure CF’s magic sauce—the cost of recovering the asset is greater than its worth—would dissuade the victims from challenging the abuse and duly forfeit the car and Whatever was in their wallets at the time of seizure. Tourists began avoiding states with such a reputation. In almost all these cases, the forfeited assets become the property of the local precinct where typical sherif and police pay-rates are similar to our minimum wage and police’s inclination to augment remuneration in this lucrative way is glaringly apparent as a result. But the BC case took the cake for the large size of the asset compared to the small value of the marijuana seized and the minor nature of the offence which the CFO deemed the house instrumental in perpetrating.

      The third problem in BC was the number of perfunctory applications by police to spend some of that forfeited wealth on military or SWAT-style weaponry and equipment, a revelation which inspired premier Christy Clark to come to the CFO’s defence with all the tough-on-crime rhetoric her smirking nose-thumbing could muster—until yours truly complained that the pink T-shirts she ordered for her anti-school bullying campaign were also funded by the liquidation of the CFO’s forfeited assets—which was starting to look like a partisan cash cow for the BC Liberal government as well as for police. Meanwhile, talk of massive laundering of criminal loot at BC government-regulated casinos was being captured on cell-phones—gym bags brimming with cash of unknown origin magically turning into ‘legitimate’ winnings, the house and the government taking their pieces of the action. An eventually terminal shadow was gathering over the BC Liberal government, and it was toppled by a Green-Dipper parliamentary alliance in 2017. Christy resigned her seat and exited politics immediately.

      As the BC Liberals were being annoyed by these mounting mortifications, Christy was asked about all a them T-shirts, to which she replied that it would be a conflict of interest for her to comment about her perceivable conflict of interest—even though it was ‘merely perceivable‘ (Christy never did quite grasp conflict-of-interest rules).

      In the way of the seven-year itch, this kind of matter has reared its ugly head once again as, just the other day, BC’s current Attorney General, NDP MLA David Eby, released an investigative report on casino money-laundering perpetrated under the BC Liberals’ watch ( Eby seems to relish these revelations). The former government’s embarrassment is rather sighted on the party’s future when, in two years, the BC Liberals’ newly elected leader of the Opposition, former premier Gordo Campbell’s protégé Kevin Falcon, will be dodging all sorts of questions about his party’s involvement in shady dealings while in power, forensically examined records of which the NDP government now holds in trove and, apparently, intends to mete out in good time.

      But we also learned that civil forfeiture should be handled at trial in public court after an accused is tried and convicted.

    2. Neil: The John Oliver show on civil forfeiture is found here:
      https://youtu.be/3kEpZWGgJks

      It is pertinent because part of the reason farmers and ranchers are so angry is that effectively our land has been subject to civil forfeiture to the oil and energy industry for decades. The difference from theft by the cops is the oil industry uses creeps like the conservatives and UCP to make bogus laws and regulatory proceedings to hide behind. Kind of like business does to exploit workers. Come on down Dani and the Calgary School academics!

      1. Civil forfeiture is an old Common Law remedy. It is unlike expropriation, rather more like the subject (can’t call chim “defendant” or “convict” in instances where there are no charges or trial) willingly forfeits the asset—that is, does nothing to recover it. Without a trial, that’s tantamount to declaring guilt without proof, the opposite of the Common Law presumption of innocence until proven otherwise. But the reality is often that an innocent subject forfeits the asset because chi cannot afford whatever legal process might restore the asset to chim or, if timeliness is a limiter, also can’t wait for the slow judicial system to hear the matter.

        Otherwise, the principles are simple IF the defendant is found guilty, based on evidence submitted at trial to a court of law: a felon should not profit from cher crime for the sake of deterrence and simple justice, and the state (the only allowable party done wrong in criminal matters) can justify recovering the cost (by liquidating the proceeds of the crime committed) of prosecution, incarceration and, on rare occasion, compensation to other victims (although this is usually pursued in civil court as an action of the plaintiff as the victim of loss or damages caused by the defendant, the state merely ensuring the procedure is itself legal by hearing it in a competent court of law).

        Thus, there’s nothing wrong with civil forfeiture per se, AS LONG AS THE MATTER IS TRIED IN OPEN COURT, and either party has recourse to appeal. This of course is the missing ingredient in many jurisdictions where civil forfeiture is perceivably unjust as a result and, since there is no trial, there is no recourse to justice done-and-seen-to-be-done.

        1. “Open Court” in Alberta? Oh please . . . industry captured regulators holding public hearings where they hire spies to commit espionage against landowners in favour of the energy company applicant? That has been standard operating procedure in Alberta for decades now. Appeal to the courts? Sure borrow more money than you can ever hope to earn and burn up the next ten years or more. Stay on fantasy island Scotty, we have to live, farm, and ranch in this Neo-liberal dystopia.

        2. Absolutely. Was talking about this with someone I know the other day, he says CF isn’t all bad, for instance, he claims has been used effectively against poachers many times.

          I would not object to CF as much if due process was being followed, and if the presumption of innocence were being maintained, and if there was some thought given for the harm done to society when the appearance of impropriety on the part of Police officers is permitted by politicians. As a side note – the only crime in Canada a person is guilty until proven innocent of is libel. If you go on TV and say Coke causes diabetes, Coke’s lawyers are going to take you to the cleaners. Not that Coke does cause diabetes. It’s really good for you. Drink more of it. See what happens.

      2. I might be wrong but I think that is slightly different. I think it’s something like “when Canadians buy land from Canada, we don’t also buy the mineral rights and such, and the government reserves the right to force us to sell them our land at whatever price they deem ‘fair’ if they want it badly enough.”

        That said, I would be beyond furious if that were weaponized against me, so I have a fair amount of sympathy for those Canadians who have had their land “involuntarily repurchased” for the “greater good.”

  11. Looney Toons we do not need more of. 3 years of fed bashing, polarization, gaslighted and dogwhistles by Kenney has got Alberta where? More respect! Fat chance. Ford had the right idea, plan B. If I want to keep my job I’d better listen to the voters, about face. Our present government ain’t got the message.

  12. Danielle Smith is both the wooden puppet vanity project and product of the unoriginal and lame “Calgary School” cult of academic cranks and string pullers. Everyone has already seen this back to the future style yawn fest and the current reruns with same cast of characters and the same behind the scenes script writers [from the “Calgary School”] have not changed, as the ideological con game still remains the same decades later.

    “That neo-conservative agenda may read as if it has been lifted straight from the dusty desk drawers of Ronald Reagan: lower taxes, less federal government, and free markets unfettered by social programs such as medicare that keep citizens from being forced to pull up their own socks. But their arguments echo the local landscape, where Big Oil sets the tone—usually from a U.S. head office—and Pierre Trudeau’s 1980 National Energy Policy left the conviction that Confederation was rigged against the West.”

    https://thewalrus.ca/the-man-behind-stephen-harper/

    Unfortunately for Alberta, political bottom feeders and the selling of snake oil to the rubes are the status quo reality and a certain subset of the population can never get enough of both.

  13. I don’t think that Danielle Smith is crazy but do think that she is an extremely cynical, calculating and opportunistic self promoter. Luckily for Albertans, she isn’t very shrewd or as smart as she thinks as she has shown on multiple occasions. One of the consistent complaints from the fringe elements of UCP about Jason Kenney was his unwillingness to take on the federal government. She’s adopted a bunch of policies to appeal to this group and if it destroys our democracy she doesn’t really care as long as she gets back into the limelight. I see her as a less intelligent version of Ted Cruz more than anything.

  14. Some people just find tinfoil hats comfortable. In the case of Danielle Smith, her tinfoil hat maybe the only thing that she was able to keep from her defunct talk-radio career.

    Smith was once promoting a weird idea where a section of some UN document gave Alberta the *right* to seize a coastline, so northern B.C. all the way to the Pacific Ocean was up for grabs and as good as being part of Alberta. It was a fine idea, until others actually read that section and it clarified that what was meant was access to a coastline by mutual agreement. Smith was a student of Tom Flanagan during her time as a student at U of C, which may explain her tendency to dumb shite.

    Smith has always had a soft spot for weird ideas. But by far the weirdest idea was Smith’s belief that if she jumped from the Wildrose to the PCs, she would win her nomination in her riding handily. So much for Smith’s political career.

    Now, Smith is big on this notion that Alberta is already an independent state and can pick and choose whatever part of being in Canada suits Alberta. This is the kind of weirdness that appeals to the rubes in La Crete, but it will have them falling on their arses in Ottawa.

  15. Don’t forget that Danielle Smith made the Putinesque suggestion that an independent Alberta could somehow seize a land bridge through BC to tidewater.

    1. BwaaaaahahahahahahahaHAAAAAAAA *slaps knee, wipes away tear* oh my God that is the most vapid idea I’ve heard since at least Thursday of last week.

  16. “Helping to run a restaurant in a railcar in small-town Alberta mustn’t seem very rewarding”

    I had to click on the link to see what the heck you were talking about there, David. The good news for the Danielle Smith High River Restaurant is that an experienced pancake flipper will soon be seeking employment. The restaurant might have to explain to him, however, that he has to work more than a week or two at the beginning of the summer.

  17. Double-crossing Dani, the opportunistic trash panda of Alberta politics, must have snorted a tad too much hydroxychloroquine if she thinks an Alberta law could nullify federal law in the province! (How long does she think BC would take to ban pipelines crossing its territory by adopting a similar sovereignty law?) Her candidacy is so out of touch with reality, it’s hard not to think she is working for Jason Kenney as a kamikaze candidate to once again ratfuck Brian Jean’s leadership bid! It’s not like it hasn’t happened before!!

  18. Is Danielle Smith a stalking horse or, possibly, a kamikaze candidate?

    It seems incredible that she could expect to win the UCP leadership: by crossing the floor with only part of her loyal-opposition caucus, she became a traitor to the remainder which, thus swept into the tumultuous contortions of Alberta’s partisan politics, is now the far-right UCP faction precariously united with the remainder of the ProgCon party she arguably helped to defeat in 2015 (and subsequently destroy in 2017), Danielle Smith has made herself a pariah. Yeah, sure, she can indulge in political belligerence already well cultivated in the province, and recruit at least some voters so-inured by ginning the notion of Alberta “autonomy” —inarticulately her proposed “Alberta Sovereignty Act” which can’t very well be precisely interpreted except, perhaps, as independence in the warmest, softest, mushiest terms. But aside from this chip off the old patty, it’s almost impossible to imagine sufficient support for Smith’s UCP leadership bid, let alone for winning the approaching general election.

    It could be that Ms Smith—whose political arc peaked just a few weeks before losing the election she was expected to win back in 2012—seeks whatever vengeance could be expected of a misguided missile. Or maybe she seeks personal atonement for her unforgivable partisan faux pas which, given the disastrous result, has earned her enmity from both factions so uncomfortably soldered together by the founding leader they just fired. Insofar as she typifies so-called “movement conservatism,” her objectives, post-lake-of-fire, have not prioritized leadership but, rather, ideology: she plainly submitted to the short, unfortunate, and ultimately tragic leadership of former CPC cabinet minister Jim Prentice (well, I suppose she could be accredited the title, short-lived, for “leading” the charge—or, perhaps better put, the retreat—across the floor of the Legislative Assembly), and it seems just as plain that leadership is not an attainable objective for her today. Yet the remora-like shadowing of leadership rival Brian Jean’s “autonomy” and the circumstance of critical identity-staking among the partisan right everywhere these days, especially its “taking names and kickin’ ass” ethos, and the tribute to tRumpublicanism in her “Alberta First” war-cry likely indicates a more fundamental—dare I say, ‘grassroots’—enshrinement of this nebulous ideal: in Alberta, it’s meant to instil a sense of justifiable revenge for the original social sin of maturing out of an heroic past much more imagined than real. And that means looking farther back than the trigger she herself pulled, that propelled Alberta out of its 44-year conservation of political stasis and gave citizens an unforgettable taste of that landlocked, flaming-haired siren of ultra-progressive conservatism that is the New Democratic Party of Alberta. And it tasted not too bad.

    Naturally the present mandate must be expunged from the narrative, so a deeper history must be found—and that’s what Smith appears to have done. Given the repugnance of the current kampf, she could do worse than go all the way back to 55-54 BCE, back to Caesar’s pre-Roman-dictatorship expeditions that framed a dichotomy of continental and insular Celts of the day, and of their descendants’ enduring controversy about autonomy and its many chimeric litters carefully preserved ever since. Indeed, it’s still unsettled, but that shouldn’t stop partisan opportunists from insisting not only that it can be settled, but also that it can be settled permanently: autonomy monolithically irreducible. A broader historical analysis would risk contradicting the “End-of-History” narrative which has in fact done nothing but contradict itself throughout history unto the present day.

    Smith appears to have gone just far back enough to obscure direct connection to the present, but not so far as to blunt availability. Requisite proselytizing confusion and misconception can be easily availed by referring to the “Autonomy Bills” by which the demonized federal government created the entities thence confederated as Alberta and Saskatchewan, the politics of which emulates Caesar’s dichotomous expedition which created Gaul and Britannia, both by substituting then-nascent bipartisanships between federal and provincial, and liberal versus conservative, all at a go in 1905.

    This saga is a kind of Genesistic narrative , at once easily redacting out epochs preceding (regardless ethological relevance) and affording the maximum textual eisegesis possible: assumed primality and presumed scriptural lockstep thereafter, all the way to today. Besides, the actual history is handily replete with stridently contentious analyses and even befuddling nomenclature such as “Northwest Territory,” “North-West Territory,” and “Northwestern Territory,” not always referring to the same thing, place, or time. The upshot is that definitive “autonomy” cannot purchase consensus. Depending on Smith’s ultimatum, it could be perfectly timely.

    Smith’s rival, Brian Jean (who was electorally returned to the Alberta Assembly after resigning his seat, whereas Smith has not been returned after losing hers) presents the most obvious clue as to the purpose of her “Alberta Sovereignty Act”: his rather nebulous pledge to make Albertans “autonomous” in every trite way imaginable. Hers is much more specific, but all the more goofy as a result. Thus hers could be seen either as a stalking-horse to make his “autonomy” position comparatively less-goofy, or as a way to beggar his odds of winning the party contest by stealing some of his more-goofy radical support.

    Either way, she can’t hope to win. So the question remains: why? Is she trying to force Jean to adopt a more radical position else he lose crucial support from the far-right fringe, a position he’d thence carry into party and, ultimately, provincial politics? Or is she trying to beggar his chances in order to favour another candidate—perhaps one whom she regards as less vulnerable in these notional autonomy or implied independence terms—hers a kamikaze candidacy, as ‘t were in this scenario.

    Smith is clever, but probably too much so by half. Her position —which some influential pundits think blatantly unconstitutional despite the theoretical mechanism, if exceedingly unlikely, to secede from the federation (assuming that particular interpretation of Alberta sovereignty)—might yet achieve a level of entrenchment, of cultural preservation she thinks salutary for conservatism’s sake, but it remains to be seen what that level would be and if it could influence Alberta’s political future in these fast-changing and challenging times.

    She is a cipher of a kind that continues to make Alberta politics so fascinating. I’ll thank her if her proposal inspires more citizens to explore the real reasons Alberta and Saskatchewan’s confederations are so unique in the Canadian context. I’ll thank the moon and stars if her proposal ends up making the prospect of separatism and another UCP term even more remote.

  19. Personal attacks and name calling, is this what this blog has become? If this is an indication of the path the left and NDP is going down the next election will not have the outcome you desire. I realize this is largely an echo chamber and these kind of barbs play well here but do better.
    Danielle Smith does have an interesting strategy for this leadership race and it has worked in other jurisdictions. It would do the NDP well to pay attention to the groups she is reaching and who’s concerns she is addressing. If the NDP loses working class voters, parents with young children, and small business owners what is left? The smug dismissal of these groups concerns is a mistake.

    1. Normally I would be behind you, I don’t think there is enough civility in public discourse. Having re-read the article, I’m forced to reason thusly:

      Respect is earned. The corollary to that is that disrespect is also earned. When someone has earned something, it is immoral to withhold it from them. Therefore, when someone behaves in a transparently shameful fashion, it is appropriate to treat them with a certain lack of respect. I would point out that “disrespect” is not the same as “mockery,” which is more about trying to elicit laughter at someone’s expense.

      If you are unaware of the many actions Mrs. Smith took to reduce herself to a laughingstock, that’s fine, nobody has enough time to know everything. FWIW, many reasonable adults think Mrs. Smith is a complete joke, myself included, and if you want to know why you will have an easy time finding out.

      The Alberta NDP isn’t left. It is barely even left-of-center. It’s genuinely disheartening to see so many Canadians have no idea what the left is about. “Left of Tucker Carlson” is not the same as “Left wing.” Super easy way to tell if someone is a leftist – they oppose capitalism and want it replaced with something else (usually communism or anarchism, if you learned about those concepts outside of a university you probably learned a bunch of lies and deliberately misleading half-truths, neither is a form of government I advocate for, but neither is correctly understood by mainstream society). Super easy way to tell if someone is left-of-center – they accept capitalism but advocate for using democracy to vote in specific socialistic policies, such as universal health care or publicly funded fire departments. Super easy way to tell if someone is a centrist – they support the status quo and don’t want it changed (at this point in time, the actual Left is almost as angry at the Liberals/Democrats as the far-right is, and for very good reasons). Super easy way to tell if someone is a right winger – they oppose moral and social progress, act as though owning is deserving, and support measures that will concentrate wealth in few hands with no accountability. Super easy way to tell if someone is on the far right – they keep having to say, “those guys with Swastikas aren’t with me.”

      One problem the actual left (not the left-as-described-by-Fox-news) faces is that if you get three leftists in a room, they immediately begin arguing about things like whether governments should exist, whether money should exist, whether prisons should exist, whether police and armies should exist, whether you can use labour vouchers or credits for a money substitute, etc. If you get three right wingers in a room, they cooperate to promote their shared ideology, to the extent that it is in their rational self-interest to do so.

      Personally, I am very skeptical that there is much overlap between “people who might vote for anyone except the UCP” and “people who find might Danielle Smith persuasive or credible.” JMO

  20. She has to be a spoiler.

    I cannot imagine any clear thinking Albertan voting for her.

    Sure..there would be some votes from relatives, friends, and perhaps the fringe crowd.

    Surely UCP voting members will realize this and not even consider her for leadership.

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