The Alberta Legislative Building yesterday, under a stormy summer sky (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Another day, another Alberta political poll, this time from Leger.

UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith in a video she made doing damage control for her controversial remarks about cancer (Photo: Danielle Smith/Twitter).

This one, like last week’s Mainstreet Research poll, shows Rachel Notley’s New Democrats in the lead, although not by enough that NDP supporters should feel they can rest easy. 

Leger’s poll, like Mainstreet’s, was intended as a look at the United Conservative Party leadership race, but it included a component on which parties decided voters prefer – 45 per cent of decided voters province-wide for the NDP versus 41 per cent for the UCP.

As for the UCP leadership race, no surprises there – leastways, Leger’s findings suggest much the same thing as Mainstreet’s. To wit, that right now the candidates with name recognition are well ahead in support among identified UCP voters – former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith with 22 per cent; former Wildrose leader Brian Jean with 20 per cent; and former finance minister Travis Toews with 15 per cent.

With Ms. Smith controversially telling her pro-quackery supporters in the UCP base that whether or not you get cancer is up to you, never mind bad luck or genetics, this would seem to present a troubling choice to Mr. Jean and Mr. Toews. 

Ms. Smith’s cancer-victim-blaming remark set off a huge brouhaha that she tried to defuse in an embarrassing video accusing Ms. Notley, who had called the implication of blame cruel and wrong, of trying to use cancer prevention as a wedge issue. 

NDP Opposition Leader and former premier Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Naturopathy probably doesn’t really count as cancer prevention, except in Ms. Smith’s fevered imagination. But as the CBC’s Jason Markusoff pointed out, she is a determined crank when it comes to medical treatments and she’s unlikely to change her mind. 

So if she holds her support in the race, one of those other two frontrunners is going to have to throw his support to the other – or they’re both going to have to go over to Rebecca Schulz – to keep Alberta from ending up with a premier setting health policy who thinks all citizens need to avoid cancer is $300 a year to spend on snake oil, and who has some kind of separatist scheme up her sleeve to boot! 

And that, as Ms. Schulz suggested, would probably be enough right there to give Rachel Notley and the NDP the win in Calgary. 

Leger – whose survey published Sunday was based on responses from an online panel of 1,025 adult Albertans between July 15 and 17 – shows the NDP with a massive lead in Edmonton among committed voters, 61-per-cent to 30-per-cent, and the UCP with a similarly strong 51-31 lead outside the big cities. 

UCP leadership candidate Travis Toews (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

In Calgary, where the election expected in 2023 is likely to be decided, the NDP leads 44 per cent to 41 per cent, not enough for the Opposition to be able to count on sufficient seats to overcome the UCP’s rural advantage, which tilts Alberta’s electoral map in favour of Conservatives.

So when you break UCP support down by ridings with so much of the NDP vote concentrated in Edmonton, Conservatives could still win based on Leger’s numbers. 

However, there will be plenty more polls between now and October, when the winning UCP leader will be known, and their results will likely be all over the map for a while. 

It’s natural that the UCP would have polled better when its potential leader was only not-Jason-Kenney than it does now that it appears likely to be Ms. Smith, Mr. Jean or Mr. Toews – each one of them well known to Albertans. 

UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

If, as predicted in this space Sunday, Ms. Schulz, the former minister of children’s services, emerges as a serious contender, that too will have an impact on how the party is perceived – and may also change as Albertans get to know her better. 

Speaking of Ms. Smith’s separatist leanings, and her contempt for the rule of law, Leger’s pollsters also asked a question about that, and 71 per cent of respondents said Alberta is better off within Canada. 

This number, it is said here, will probably grow assuming Ms. Smith and Mr. Jean continue to press sovereignist fantasies with the result that more Albertans start to think about what a blessing it is to be Canadian. 

Don’t imagine that will stop either candidate, though, when they have invested too much in their autonomy talk to back off now.

In response to a reader: the Final Four have no chance

I was taken to task by a reader on social media for not mentioning the two other women running for UCP leader in my previous post, which argued that no matter which party emerges victorious in the next general election, Albertans will be choosing a woman to be premier. 

UCP leadership candidate Leela Aheer (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

But as stated in a previous post, other than the Gang of Three with name recognition and Ms. Schulz, who enjoys the support of such powerful figures within the Canadian conservative movement as Brad Wall and Rona Ambrose and therefore has the potential to see her support grow, I don’t believe any of the other candidates has a chance. 

Rajan Sawhney and Leela Aheer, while they are engaging and intelligent candidates who might very well make excellent premiers in a better world, are simply not in the electoral calculus for who will lead the UCP. Neither are Raj Sherman or Todd Loewen.

Indeed, the struggle over who controls her constituency association suggests Ms. Aheer may have trouble hanging onto her nomination for re-election in her own riding, let alone getting to lead the party.

While I personally would be delighted if that were not so – at least as far as Ms. Aheer and Ms. Sawhney are concerned – I doubt any serious political commentator in Alberta disagrees with this analysis. And the analyst’s principal task is to figure out who is likely to win, and why. 

I doubt any of the remaining Final Four candidates really disagree, either, although I don’t expect them to admit it for a while yet. 

Join the Conversation


  1. I suppose to the extent leadership polls are based on name recognition, Ms. Smith would be expected to do well. However party members are a bit more on the inside than those who are supporters, so they probably recognize more names. This probably means those at the bottom have a bit more support than these polls show and those at the top a bit less. However, the polls are probably not too far off. I suppose there is some additional consolation to those behind, they also do still have some time to make more impact with party members. For a number of reasons, I could also see an anybody but Smith movement develop. She is a bit extreme and divisive even by UCP standards. She has been going through the countryside stirring up something.

    I think there is a difference between calls for more autonomy that would appeal to many Albertans and crazy talk about over ruling Federal laws. It is best to be vague about autonomy though, as Albertans are not enthusiastic about expensive measures that duplicate existing Federal programs and services. So talk about provincial police and pension plans will probably not go over well with the broader electorate.

    As for Ms Aheer’s future, it probably depends on who wins. She seems to get along well with some of her colleagues. However if the woman setting her hair on fire wins, I don’t see much of a future for any moderates remaining in the UCP.

  2. Danielle Smith is way out to lunch. There are people who eat right, don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol, don’t use drugs, and exercise, yet they get sick and can perish. There are people who are born with chronic health issues, that are beyond their control. Smoking is bad, but there are people who don’t smoke, and still get cancer. Naturopathy isn’t a cure for things either. There are diseases, and other ailments that require proper medical attention. To think that there are Albertans who believe that Danielle Smith should be premier of Alberta is just incomprehensible. Also, given the chance, Danielle Smith would follow in the footsteps of her hero, Ralph Klein, and would love to have private for profit healthcare in Alberta. We wouldn’t be any better off. Albertans with any sense would be wise to steer clear of any of these UCP leadership candidates, and the UCP in general.

  3. I recall the time that I had a very enlightening encounter with the more pious of the RPC types I used to hang with. It seems that Danielle Straitjacket’s views on whether or not you get cancer (let alone any other disease) is a matter of personal responsibility is one that isn’t unusual among the right-wing cultists. In fact, they don’t care who gets ill or how, because yada-yada God’s Plan.

    While Smith did try (hilariously) to walk back her claims, she didn’t even try to dismiss the naturopathy lunacy she promoted in the first place. Quack beliefs have always been popular among the CONs, so why should be stop now? Hell! They wants everyone to know how crazy they can be.

    On the matter of personal responsibility and prevention, those more pious among the CONs will even go so far as to declare that assuring one is frequently cleansed with the ‘Blood of Christ’ is the very best way to prevent anything bad from happening to oneself. While the wack-a-doodle types among CONs are easy enough to find, it is this weird self-assuredness that is, more then not, the means of their own destruction.

    Right now, the famous holy healing waters of Lac Ste. Anne are loaded with dangerous algae blooms, but this will not stop the thousands from throwing themselves into the lake, because religion compels them to do so. Now that the Pope is running around Alberta, it appears more than likely that there’s going to be one those outbreaks of human stupidity that Alberta is so famous for. But, hey, don’t worry. Predestination, baby. The Invisible Avenger has already made up his mind who’s gonna get the bad stuff, so whatever.

    Rationality and big brain stuff, like science, isn’t high on the list of important stuff for the CON mind. If anything, it’ll play out, like some Biblical trial, so pick the most pious bunch to hang with and all with be good. Oh, and that Blood of Christ, yada-yada.

    1. Just: Whatever the flaws of the Roman Catholic Church may be, they do not include a belief in predestination. That’s the Presbyterians and the Reformed churches. Leastways, it used to be back in the day when Christian doctrine actually mattered to Christians. It would appear nowadays, in fact, that the RC Church is one of the few that pays any attention to doctrine at all, instead of just making stuff up as they go along. DJC

      1. From what I could determined among those in my old RPC haunt, there were few if any Catholics. And those Catholics that were there usually ran screaming from the fold at some point. The religious affiliations of those in the RPC tended to be Evangelicals — Alliance Church, Baptists, Pentecostals, and others of the more charismatic bent. There were also the usual numbers of Atheists and a few LDS. (The Mormons were frequently attacked because…just because.) The Atheists I knew seemed to be more interested in career advancement, which could include realizing Gilead, provided there was some higher office available. As for the Catholics, despite what they said about being Pro-Life, they were often challenged because of their willingness to adhere to those things called “the rule of law” and “the consent of the voters”. The hardcore Pro-lifers regarded reasonable conditions as an obstacle to their greater theocratic mission.

        1. Just: I share your perception that it’s the evangelicals who have drifted the farthest from traditional Christian doctrine, in many cases so far that they can no longer be called Christian. For their message, we need a new term. Since evangelical derives from the Greek for good news, perhaps we can borrow from this same source and describe it as kakangelical. DJC

          1. Where Evangelicals are concerned, they tend to care far more about the charisma that the Word — that is the Word as it is known to be, and unadulterated by some vanity hopped-up preacher who’s more interested in espousing the ‘prosperity gospel’. You know the type…God wants you to have the faster, most expensive car, just like mine. It’s at that point that what was the traditional Evangelicals have become little more than a cult of personality, which explains why so many have fallen under the swoon of the weird and the loud. The RPC showed the beginnings of what was to come. The CPC is that final evolution into the GOP wannabes that are the CONs.

  4. Ms Smith would probably be on board with federal CPC leadership candidate Pierre Poilièvre, and would group credible scientists, Health Canada and health professional regulators among the “gatekeepers” he’s forever going on about.

    But logical consistency doesn’t seem to be a flaw she suffers from. Fiscal conservatives would, or should, be hesitant about publicly funding forms of “health care” that lack any scientific evidence of efficacy. I guess taxpayer dollars supporting quackery don’t count …

    1. Thanks GMG. I noticed this when I got up this morning and fixed it immediately. That said, I consider this to be a minor concern in the universe of typographical errors. After all, I am frequently accused by some of Ms. Smith’s more vociferous supporters of being “woke,” it apparently being a great evil to be concerned about the feelings of other people, so perhaps they will be left wondering if I had gender-neutered her intentionally. I would have been much more concerned and unhappy had I written it’s to indicate the possessive or spelled minuscule miniscule. Regardless, it was my mistake and mine alone. Unlike Ms. Smith, I will not attempt to blame it on auto-correct or my political opponents. That is all. DJC

  5. I wonder if a significant % of potential UCP electors will simply roll over and go back to sleep. As long as there isn’t another party on the right, most UCPers must feel confident that any leader can beat the commie hordes.

  6. I wonder if Danielle Smith is aware that the movie Idiocracy was a cautionary tale, not an instructional video.

  7. Disdain for rule of law is enough for any thinking person to have concerns. Alas, this is Alberta, where UCP supporters seem unaware of what happens elsewhere in the world. Maybe they should get out and mingle with people who have fled such places to come live in Canada. Is that what they want?

    As for private health care, do they think $300 would pay for private health insurance for a year? Would they be willing to take a pay cut in exchange for employer co-pay?

    Gullible is as gullible does. Unfortunately, they might drag all of us down into a conspiracy rabbit hole with them. At that point, they will learn what “authoritarian” means, but it will be too late to do anything about it.

  8. IMHO Danielle Smith is an embarrassment to the UCP party and to it’s members.

    She is not just on the fringe. She is on the fringe of the fringe.

    She may be a ‘flash in the pan’ today but in the long run I believe that she will be a significant liability.

    She, and the UPC may end being to Notley and the NDP what the Scheer and the O’Toole CPC party was to to the Liberals. A secure path to election victory.

  9. Dani joins a long tradition of snake oil peddlers selling false hope. Her followers might want to think about the ancient wisdom that goes: “Contra vim mortis non crescit herba in hortis.” This Latin maxim translates as “no herb grows in the gardens against the power of death.”

    An effective way to prevent many, but certainly not all, cancers is to enforce strict occupational health and safety standards on business. Too many workers and their families get cancers due to occupational exposures to petrol-chemicals and dusts like asbestos which cause cancers of various types. But hey, in Con-world, that is just free enterprise.

    1. Really not anywhere even close to enough people talking about the occupational causes of cancer. Also; housing regulation, pretty sure there are few places that still have as much asbestos fucking EVERYWHERE as Canada, as we propagated the global sale of it long after we realized the health implications. Almost like canadian mining companies have a history of being totally evil.

  10. Have Albertans suffered enough under the Kenney regime?

    The answer will come in May 2023 during the provincial election. If they don’t think they have suffered enough and want more of the same they will elect Danielle Smith, the Dunning-Kruger effect UCP leader.

    If on the other hand, if Albertans are fed up with the incompetence, corruption and cruelty of the UCP, they will vote for Rachel Notley’s party. It’s up to you Alberta.

  11. The blogger has kindly included links to naturopathic medicine that could be of value to Ms. Smith and her followers. Dr. Christine Perkins-Radical Health and Medicine offers a product of the month, dotera’s Clementine. According to the website it “provides an uplifting aroma, may support healthy respiratory immune and digestive function when taken internally and has natural cleansing properties.”
    At a fund raising weekend Ms. Smith and her supporters could have group tryouts of dotter’s Clementine along with coffee enemas and other naturopathic preventives. Participants enjoy bonding with each other and take delight in competitive footraces to restroom facilities, fellowship combined with fitness.

  12. I haven’t forgotten what the American oilmen that I was involved with called Albertans “the dumbest people on the planet for allowing Ralph Klein to give away our oil and tax wealth” , and boy were they right. Nothing has changed , they are still doing it and the idiots just keep letting them do it. Just too stupid to understand what these fake conservatives are planning to do to them. While it is hilarious to watch we know how dangerous it is.

    1. To be fair, Americans think everyone who isn’t American is dumb, but they live in America.

      1. @ A little bird Yet the oilmen I talked to told me the American oilmen had it right. They had all heard it before I had working with these guys and agreed with everything the Americans said. They knew Albertans were being screwed and Alaska and Norway weren’t. I haven’t forgotten how Ralph Klein and Ed Stelmach warned us about Harper’s hidden agenda to destroy our public health care system and they were right , that’s exactly what he tried to do.I think it got him defeated by Trudeau. I bet he thinks he can do it through Poilievre. I have never been able to understand why these reform party fools are so hellbent on forcing Canadians into a privatized healthcare and education system other than it would make up for the money they are screwing the people out of by giving away our oil and tax wealth.The truth is it’s two well known Calgarians ,Preston Manning trained reform party pals once again trying to screw Canadians.

  13. I hear S. (the horror) Harper has “emerged from the shadows” as announced at Politico, and has given Poilievre a big hug. I am interested in any thoughts regarding the influence this might have on the UCP leadership contest and, especially, the upcoming provincial election.

    1. That might be the kiss of death for Poilievre. While he has been trying to pretend what a great conservative he is Harper has just proven that he is nothing more than another reformer. I doubt easterners have forgotten what reformer Harper tried to do to us. In true Reform Party fashion he tried to force us into an American style health care system and it likely got him kicked out. His 2012 budget showed that he planned to cut $36 billion off the provinces health care payments to start forcing us into their reform party privatization plan.

      1. Not even reformer, he’s just a Harper sycophant, always has been. I wonder if we had a conservative government today would we say the obvious that Harper is the one pulling the strings, or is that just for other countries we don’t like ?

      2. I don’t know, Mr. Spiller – I have never been able to discern what it is about today’s conservatism that makes it so cynical, defiant and resistant to reason. It may be that UCP supporters feel edified by Harper’s re-emergence and explicit support for the CPC party leader candidate that most of them will likely cast a ballot for in the next federal election. Will this impact their choice for UCP leader (and premier), supporting the zaniest of the options? Will this be viewed as an opportunity create some kind of political link to establish Alberta’s “proper” place in the federation? I really don’t understand their motives and goals. To me, the dialogue is quite a bit like trying to communicate with squirrels. You can try to convince them that it’s not sound policy to chew holes in the walls and roof, but they sit in the branches, scold and mock you, then chew holes anyway when you’re sleeping. Better to trap and “relocate” them.

        1. This squirrel analogy just has me laughing so hard that I snorted, it’s just soooooo true, these crazy fringy conspiracy nuts are totally like that, it’s all I’ll ever see from now on when Smith or Jean or whoever else, is ranting about various crazy things, is just the scene of a big bushy squirrel scolding and mocking us, in the same monotonous kind of way as Charlie Brown’s teacher, before scooting off too get back to their very important work of hiding nuts and chewing the house down one wall at a time, oh my goodness, the power of words are truly something!

    2. IMO the people who already liked him will like him more, the people who already dislike him will dislike him more, and the CPC will continue to devolve into a (more overtly) racist classist spectacle ever-more reliant on using pointless stupid culture wars to prevent people from having useful conversations about their political problems.

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