Coming on the heels of two official statements since she was sworn in as Alberta’s premier that attempted to explain or clarify contentious comments, Danielle Smith’s straight-up apology yesterday for controversial opinions about Ukraine published in April in a livestream chat leave the impression her week-old government is already on the ropes. 

Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Meanwhile, a new poll released yesterday showing the NDP Opposition solidly ahead of Ms. Smith’s United Conservative Party not only indicates the new premier is not enjoying the traditional political honeymoon for new government leaders but entrenches the developing narrative NDP Leader Rachel Notley has a clear path to the Premier’s Office in next spring’s scheduled provincial election. 

Needless to say, neither of these developments added up to a happy day for Ms. Smith and her government. 

Yesterday’s apology, which was obviously driven by the sharply hostile reaction in Alberta to the discovery and publication of her chat comments suggesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine should be settled by “measured diplomacy,” saw Ms. Smith recant that view completely, say her opinion has “drastically evolved,” and apologize unreservedly. 

It came on the heels of a statement Sunday attempting to clarify the views she had expressed about Ukraine in April, and another clarification on Oct. 13 about comments she made shortly after she was sworn in on Oct. 11 to the effect Alberta’s vaccine refuseniks were “the most discriminated against group that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime.”

That’s a lot of clarifying for a premier who’s only been on the job for a week. 

Former finance minister Travis Toews, the party establishment’s choice to replace former premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

The poll by Ontario-based communications firm Navigator Ltd., reported in the Globe and Mail last night, shows support for the UCP immediately after Ms. Smith’s victory in the party leadership election stood at 38 per cent while 53 per cent of respondents indicated they intend to vote for the NDP.

The Navigator poll also suggested more Albertans trust Ms. Notley than Ms. Smith and that the UCP has loads of disillusioned potential defectors, prompting the firm to conclude that “Rachel Notley was the key beneficiary of the UCP race.”

This is exactly what the party’s establishment choice, former finance minister Travis Toews, warned UCP members would happen if they picked Ms. Smith.

Given Ms. Smith’s bumbling performance in her first few days on the job, it’s reasonable to suspect the results of a similar poll might be worse now.

Alert readers will recall that Navigator Ltd. is said to have advised Progressive Conservative Premier Jim Prentice to call an early election in 2015, not long after Ms. Smith and eight of her Wildrose Party MLAs had crossed the floor of the Legislature to his party. Both decisions contributed to the NDP majority government elected that May. 

Aside from the obvious jokes about Ms. Smith needing to schedule a regular time each week to retract, modify, explain, clarify or apologize for remarks made or discovered in the previous few days, yesterday’s twin developments suggest several things about the state of Ms. Smith’s government and party.

1)    The UCP remains divided. A significant percentage of the UCP membership is likely suffering from “buyers’ remorse” since the results showing Ms. Smith’s victory were released on Oct. 6. Of course Ms. Smith has plenty of true believers whose enthusiasm pushed her insurgent candidacy over the top. But if the election were held again today, I’d wager, she would not win. This is not a good position for a new leader to find herself in.

2)    The narrative that the victory of Rachel Notley’s NDP in May 2023 is inevitable is becoming entrenched in the minds of the public. While this doesn’t mean an NDP government is a sure thing, it certainly helps the NDP’s cause – if only by making it acceptable for those “defectors” identified in Navigator’s survey to ditch the UCP, switch to the NDP, or just sit on their hands come election day.

3)    UCP leadership candidates’ opposition researchers either didn’t do their jobs properly – or weren’t allowed to. Many of Ms. Smith’s controversial opinions were published openly after she was pushed out of Corus Radio, presumably for her cranky advocacy of quack COVID-19 cures. Any halfway competent oppo researcher should have known about this stuff. My guess is they did, but their political bosses chose not to let them use it because they assumed Ms. Smith wouldn’t win and feared that it they did it would reflect poorly on the party. Whoops!

4)    Danielle Smith’s inner circle don’t have a clue how to do damage control – and the competent operators in the Conservative movement, of whom there are many, aren’t helping. Ms. Smith’s efforts to apologize and explain – two things normal Conservatives tend to eschew, possibly wisely, despite being preached at by people like me – have been amateurish. If competent political advisors aren’t prepared to help out, that suggests …

5)    … The rift in the UCP remains deep enough that rebellion by the party’s establishment is possible, although not inevitable. Don’t rule out a counter-coup by the Conservative establishment if it starts to look as if Ms. Smith will make it possible for Ms. Notley to bury the Conservative movement in Alberta for a generation. But a rebellion of that magnitude would almost certainly cost Conservatives the next election. What they do depends on how serious they decide the damage potential is. 

Join the Conversation

43 Comments

  1. The never apologize version of Smith sort of reminds me of an earlier version of Kenney, who also had a great reluctance to apologize. That approach didn’t ultimately go well for him either. The good news is that with practice, apologizing becomes easier and eventually it can become smoother, whether one really likes it, means it or not. The bad news is voters, particularly conservative leaning ones, start to really dislike leaders who have to apologize too much.

    In this case, leaving the apology for days or longer is also not helpful. It further does not help that there are over 300,000 Ukrainian Albertans, many of whom actually vote. Smith whose own grandfather apparently fled the Russian czar, communism or whatever she is still not quite sure of, should at least understand this. She may want to take a 23 and me test before hand to be ready for the next group she insults.

    Toews was not the only other UCP leadership candidate who had reservations about Smith. I recall Sawhney also clearly warning her party about Smith in a leadership forum. Being a loose lipped or loose thinking talk show host might have been good for her populist cred, but it is not good with those voters who want better from their leaders. Unfortunately she was not properly vetted by her own party and those that raised concerns then were not taken seriously enough by the UCP. In any event, it is up to the party how to chose its leader, so now the vetting will be done more publicly.

    I think the UCP is sort of stuck with Smith now, but such foolish unnecessary past comments, clumsily handled now are not going to help her to unify her party or ease Albertans reservations about her. At least when she is apologizing to Ukrainian Albertans she is not talking about unconstitional laws or how she will protect the rights of the unvaccinated, perhaps now to the disappointment of her more extreme supporters.

  2. I look at it from this perspective. Had Albertans listened to us who said that these pretend conservatives and Reformers were no good to begin with, we wouldn’t see this horrific mess, which Peter Lougheed mentioned, so long ago. They don’t create jobs, but destroy them, as evidenced by the dismissal of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, by Danielle Smith. Public education and public healthcare gets ruined, so they can privatize it. People’s pensions are compromised. The less fortunate are made to struggle even further. Environmental concerns are disregarded, and it creates long term problems. Farmers and rural residents get mistreated. Oil royalty rates, as well as corporate tax rates get reduced to such a low amount, far away from what Peter Lougheed was getting, that Alberta is out hundreds of billions of dollars. Very pricey shenanigans happen, time and time again, losing billions upon billions of dollars more. On top of this, Danielle Smith continues to sink to the lowest levels by saying the stupidest things. After the fact, she is in damage control mode. There were Albertans who knew Danielle Smith wasn’t good, a long time ago. The small number of people who endorsed her in the UCP leadership race, clearly weren’t thinking. Someone who became premier with such a little amount of votes can do a lot of damage in eight months. If the people who reside in Brooks Medicine Hat were smart, they would not vote for Danielle Smith. Not only has Danielle Smith insulted anyone of Ukrainian descent in Alberta, she has insulted Albertans as a whole. Other people, who are in other parts of Canada, will mock Alberta for having very poor leadership like this.

  3. Danielle Smith made it clear she does not intend to represent city residents during her term in office. Does she know that many rural residents in Alberta have Ukrainian heritage? Perhaps a spin through the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village near Edmonton next year will enlighten her. In the meantime, she’ll be busy sharing her remarkable ability to offend and alienate just about everyone. It’s her superpower. If only Albertans would learn not to vote against their own interests.

    How about those Bears, eh?

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/us-air-force-jets-intercept-2-russian-bombers-flying-close-alaska-rcna52781

  4. It would be interesting to reprogram the software that counted the UCP ballots, and have it recount the same ballots a different way. Instead of eliminating the candidate with the fewest first choice votes, eliminate the candidate with the most 7th choice (i.e. last choice) ballots. The party would never consider publicizing the results because of the negative tone, but I would love to see how Ms. Smith would have fared with such a system.

  5. Being a moderate in this province has not always been a pleasure. But as I enjoy my coffee and toast this morning, the schadenfreude of DS and the UCP, coming so hard on the the similar epicaricacy of JK, makes my day immeasurably better, especially with the warm weather and beautiful colours. Thanks, Alberta!

  6. re: Point 4 and Ms. Smith’s advisors:

    This is perhaps a carry-over from our Jason Kenney experience, but is Danielle Smith willing to consider advice from competent advisors? For years she sought out ‘experts’ who would echo her opinion, and I wonder if, just like Kenney, she has an inflated opinion of her expertise.

    1. This is what worries me most about her plans for health care. She’ll find the ‘experts’ who tell her what she wants to hear, just like Kenney’s MacKinnon report that disastrously advised him he should pass legislation to unilaterally rip up the agreement with Alberta physicians, or Trump appointing Navarro as Grand High Trade Poobah.

  7. It’s a sad state of affairs when an alleged right wing politician gets heat for suggesting moderation and a step back while alleged “progressive” politicians are screaming and beating NATO war drums. But here we are and you have to say this is indicative of how liberal democracy has become a cesspool of corruption.

    There is nothing controversial in Danielle Smith’s comments. She is merely agreeing with the rest of the world which refuses to go along with the NATO backed war in Ukraine. This includes most of the global south, former colonies of former member NATO states.

    Last winter the country went into a meltdown over reports of a swastika at the trucker’s convoy protests in Ottawa. But guess what. The Canadian military has been training fascist paramilitaries in Ukraine for the past few years. Have you heard a peep of outrage from any politicians from the progressive left?

    1. Thanks for saying this. It’s absolutely disgraceful the way the progressive left has jumped on the opportunity to be as belligerent and militaristic as their rightwing rivals. What it really suggests is that there are very few progressives and no left at all in Canada today.

    2. To refer to the war in Ukraine as “NATO backed” implies that Ukraine is the aggressor in the war which it obviously is not. The Ukrainians are trying to protect their sovereignty against Putin who spouts a medieval fairytale as a rationale for attempting to destroy a people’s right to delf-determination.

      I agree that a truly “progressive” stand would be to push for negotiations aimed at ending the bloodshed. It’s probably a conservative stance as well. Whether liberal democracy is a cesspool of corruption or not, it has surely become a cesspool. When the only moral truth is the need to win the next election, human dignity goes on offer to the highest bidder. Somehow, in a world of massive governments and corporations and non-stop brainwashing, there must be a more human way of governing our affairs.

      1. I’m glad you brought up “self-determination.” The people in the eastern Russian speaking parts of Ukraine appear to want to be part of Russia and no longer want to be ruled by Kiev which is dominated by Ukrainian nationalists from western Ukraine? Do the people of eastern Ukraine have a right to self-determination?

        1. “The people in the eastern Russian speaking parts of Ukraine appear to want to be part of Russia and no longer want to be ruled by Kiev which is dominated by Ukrainian nationalists from western Ukraine? ”

          Appearances can be sometimes be deceiving, but those Russian “sponsored” “referendumbs” were laughable agitprop for the Pravda crowd to eat up and deceived no one. Except those wanting/needing to be fooled.
          Ask them (and Crimea) again when a Russian boot heal isn’t on their neck. Considering how badly Putin has crapped on the Russian–Ukrainian Friendship Treaty it would be completely reasonable to turn Russia right out of the peninsula and repatriate Sevastopol into the Republic of Crimea. Personally, I look forward to the inevitably spicy democratic elections being held again.

          Russians are the clear aggressors and, if their Treaties have any value, have released claim on those territories. Further, the ethnic and linguistic demographics of Luhansk Oblast has barely changed over the last hundred years and is nearly identical to 1991 so any argument that they are somehow more “Russian” now is without merit. The demographics of Donetsk Oblast have changed a bit since 1991. Cheers.

          1. Wasn’t there a referendum in Crimea in the 1990’s and 90% wanted to join Russia. In the wake of the coup in February 2014 in which ultranationalists based in western Ukraine played a large role there was spontaneous uprisings in the eastern parts of Ukraine. I think you’ll find much of the eastern parts of Ukraine have little in common with the nationalistic fanatics in western Ukraine who are building monuments to Stephan Bandera. Build all the monuments you want but we’re outta here!n

    3. I did not realize that in addition to his PHD in Molecular Biology from the University of Google that allows him to diagnose complex viruses such as COVID that Dr. RonMac has a Doctorate in International Studies from the Internet Research Agency, St. Petersburg. I wonder if the esteemed Doctor shares his opinion in an attempt to educate his fellow Albertans of Ukrainian descent. You do live in Alberta, don’t you Dr. RonMac?
      While working on your thesis, did you take into account of one Lindsay Graham, Senator from South Carolina noting that upon the dissolution of the USSR that a breakaway Ukraine would have had the third largest nuclear arsenal? That for sovereignty and autonomy with which Russia agreed up, Ukraine surrendered their nuclear weapons? During your research did you visit Kyiv? You did visit St. Petersburg in being presented your doctorate, didn’t you? How about other countries that share borders with Russia? I haven’t been to Kyiv but I’ve been to St. Petersburg. I’ve been to Estonia and Finland as well as countries not bordering Russia such as Poland, Sweden, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary which have been on the receiving end of USSR/Russian aggression. What they all have in common is the citizenry hate Putin and the Russian government. They want nothing to do with Russia and now many of these countries want to join NATO. Do these countries have a right to self determination as well?
      What’s your opinion on Russia not living up to the original agreement for a sovereign Ukraine?
      What’s your opinion of reports that Russia has moved Ukraines out of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, putting many people in internment camps, taking Ukrainian children and having Russian families adopt them while flooding the area with Russians and holding referendums in violation of international law?
      The president of Ukraine, Zelenskyy is Jewish, why would he have fascist paramilitaries operating on his behalf? You have studied Fascism and the history of Fascist regimes haven’t you? Or is that for your next doctorate at the University of FaceBook?
      Can you provide links to support your studies that helped you to come to the same conclusions as Danielle Smith?

    4. I’m glad you’re willing to rhetorically oppose Fascism should it ever become a problem in Ukraine. Could I perhaps interest you in opposing Fascism in Canada and America as well?

  8. Danielle Straitjacket’s apparent interest and interactions with Pro-Putin/Russian sympathizers within the alt-right blog-sphere seem to be coming home to roost. Does one wonder how she will ever that down in a province where a substantial portion of the population is among the Ukrainian diaspora? But with Alberta being the stupidest place on earth, I suspect that this may leave Smith unharmed as well.

    I never understood the rationale behind going for the outsider, as if it’s believed that such a person will be good sense to everything. For one thing, Smith has never been an outsider; she has always been very much an insider among the CONs, but she can be trusted. It’s like those who voted for Kenney without considering for one second how corrupt he is — did they even know who Jason Kenney was when they cast their ballot?

    Buyer’s remorse will always be the norm for Albertans, the stupidest people alive.

    1. Just Me. The American oilmen that I was involved with certainly would agree. They called Albertans the dumbest people on the planet and the Canadian oilmen that I mentioned it to had already heard it many times from the Americans and they had to agree.Klein was helping these rich oil corporations screw Albertans out of their money and there was no way to hide it.The huge amounts being collected by Norway and Alaska proved it.

  9. Truss walked back Reaganomics. There might be hope in Alberta. I doubt it though. I’m sure Smith is going to go all out on the war on workers to prove she is fit to lead – really, it’s all she has left.

    1. Well, if I thought people holding my views were in the majority, I would expect to not get laughed out of/shouted out of whatever room I aired them in outside of my nice comfy “alternative facts ecosystem.”

      As an aside, maybe consider – if the people you trust (whoever they are) were lying to you for personal profit… would they have anything to lose?

  10. It hasn’t taken some of the UCP supporters long to admit that they will be supporting Rachael Notley in the next election. Apparently two lunatics in a row were too much for them to handle.I still think she is going to get a huge surprise . The rural Albertans in the Brooks/Medicine Hat riding may not be the morons she wants them to be.

  11. Rachel Notley would never say such things and embarrass Albertans nationally and internationally. Just sayin’

    Next time you have a well educated, capable, caring, intelligent, and honest Premier like Notley don’t vote her out.

  12. Smith has talked herself into a bad position, but we shouldn’t discount her ability to recover. The G&M’s analysis points out that Smith is working to overcome her earlier gaffes (however clumsily), and to make friends and influence people in her caucus. That’s already one or two points up on Lord Jason; he never bothered to retract a mistaken statement, and reportedly kept his distance from rank-and-file MLAs (the word in the article was “aloof”).

    Smith is already strengthening her position within the UCP Party. Among voters, she’s playing catch-up, but we need to remember: 1) pro-UCP voters will forgive a LOT to keep their party in power; 2) it’s early days. Lots of time for mood swings for or against both Smith and Notley. All it takes is one careless phrase. Remember “Look in the mirror” and “math is hard”?

    The damage-control effort over Smith’s Ukraine statement wasn’t pretty, but may well be effective. Albertans have remarkably short memories of political events, so this may be a case of “least said, soonest mended.” We’ll have to wait till Smith introduces the Alberta Sovereignty Act—if in fact she does—to see how she handles blowback from die-hard separatists and Alberta-firsters. If it’s watered down enough to be constitutional, it’ll be useless for “protecting” Alberta from “interference” from Ottawa. How Smith responds to criticism will show us just what kind of leader she is.

    Her attack on AHS is already causing pushback (or escape attempts) from the board of directors. It’s significant that one director quit already, and Old Tory retread Stephen Mandel has reappeared to criticize Smith’s threat to fire all the directors. For those who missed it, here’s an analysis of the situation, from my usual CBC source:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/ahs-board-member-resigns-1.6619597

    Is Smith attacking the board unfairly? From the section “Laying blame,” this comment from professor of political science John Church:

    “I don’t see how you could look at getting a more compliant group of people in place.”

    There’s an old, presumably Chinese, curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Oh, we do.

  13. Alberta has the largest diaspora of right wing Ukrainians outside of the Ukraine ; is something I have read and believe. If you want to be in politics In alberta you say what those folks want about Ukraine or you don’t say anything.

    1. Little bird, being a 2nd generation Ukrainian Canadian, I’m abit confused about your info about “what I have read & believe “??? If a politician, especially in the upper echelons of power, say something to appeal, appease, or promote to their base, does not make it true— we’ve had enough evidence of that for the last 6 yrs from the neighbors, and more so in the last 3 yrs here in Canada…
      My grandfather” had ” his name changed when he came here to Alberta, because the British official couldn’t pronounce his name, and he changed it back after his citizenship, because he didn’t want to lose his family identity ( unlike some people) and I know from personal experience being called a dumb pollack, a dp, a white russian, and just a dumb farm kid…what discrimination was,
      2. DS also seems to forget about the Ukrainians who ended up in internment camps(, not forgetting the Japanese ) if you want to talk about discrimination, which IMHO ,she doesn’t know the meaning of, having a temper tantrum and not getting your own way is not “discrimination “, it’s called consequences for your actions. And one thing I know of my, Ukrainian heritage, we are not racist,( “ie. the # of interracial relationships ) we are fun caring people ,we will forgive, but we will also not forget.

      Ronmac: most of the global south??? Former colonies of former NATO states ??? And when P ,invaded Crimea was that because of NATO and nazies and fascists, and when they invaded Afghanistan, was that because of nazi’s, …and if you want to go long term…well they could use that excuse for Canada or the U.S.,
      Do not mistake a power play for all the propaganda that player is putting out there, if you read enough history and I recommend from a number of countries, or else you get biased analysis, you would see that his (P’s) strategy is and always was a long term chess game., But with the advantage of technology and the sheer laziness, ignorance, and ooooh look shiny thing and it’s all about me….attitude of the majority of the whiners aka make the most noise, so must be most people..NOT..
      he saw an opportunity, used it in a couple of neighboring countries,got his point across, and figured well that was easy, so next move was to put back the puppet, he had before he just wasn’t expecting push back.

      Why are people being taken advantage of, because most of the time, it’s just so darned easy. It’s just too much work to find out the truth, check different sources, and make an unbiased analysis….don’t believe it just because it’s on fox news, or any propaganda network that has taken away regional representation…i can watch 5 different news stations that can cover a story and you get the same message, or depending on politics, how much of a slant/ bias is worked into the reporting. My grade 9 teacher warned us about multi national conglomerates, more than 50+ yrs ago, and what it would lead to, and our lack of choices…he got me ” thinking ” then , and I still do get criticized for over thinking, but I always try to be ‘aware ….1 + 1 ,does not equal Q, and when a ” supposed ” right wing politician starts tweeting or sharing or vocalizing/ peddling/apologizing/doubling down on said information, we should be upset, especially since she was not democratically elected by the people of Alberta, but by a very small minority &(IMHO ) a bad situation getting worse through what I can only call reckless endangerment. And I honestly wish we could sue the politicians who put us in that situation, or better yet ,oust them from office immediately for not doing their job, and absolutely not allowing them to run for office again, because that’s one thing I’ve noticed, doing my homework, that every “radical politician ” of late, seems to have been a failure in previous runs for office and boy do we get to pay the price for their narcissism…

  14. The UCP’s immediate fate hangs heavily on that all-critical question: will Smith end up killing the brand for good or can the rookie party survive her leadership even after losing its first incumbency when, presumably, she would be forced to resign? Her latest walk-back suggests that at least some of her MLAs take re-election seriously enough to ask her to cool the goofy, unhelpful rhetoric, if not for the party’s sake, then at very least for their respective incumbencies, the minimum required to leave each with options in any electoral circumstance. By acknowledging this temperance (rather than sincerely retracting or apologizing), Smith can enjoy a bit of camouflage for a stealthier agenda already suspected: a kind of sabotage of federal coordination, her term a kind of Kamikaze tactic sacrificing the party but succeeding at irreparably weakening Alberta’s ties to the Canadian federation. That’s a narrative many UCP MLAs find too impolitic not to censor, regardless their personal positions on Alberta secession. There are no data to support the notion that secession is in any way popular.

    Smith seems loutishly insensitive to many political basics. Having grasped the lowest-hanging fruit from the wilted UCP sapling, she may claim that the ends justify the means—even including the fact that she destroyed two parties of the provincial right to win the dubious victories she has. But the scope of her present agenda—nothing less than the most extreme act a federated province could possibly do—, promulgated at the breakneck speed of seven months (until the next scheduled election) is frightfully reminiscent of Sarah Palin’s blithe acceptance of nuclear Armageddon because the Rapture of Christian faith is supposed to guarantee a ticket to eternal paradise while infidels down below vaporize into radioactive ash—implying that she was one of the select: how else could an Alaskan political debutant become the GOP’s VP candidate for the most powerful office in history? Danielle Smith probably considers herself one of the chosen too: how else could she have become premier of a great province while not being one of the chosen by its electorate?

    There’s something fatal about Danielle Smith. Instead of a honeymoon her first week in office was more like a funeral. She even appears to have killed the dead-cat bounce in the polls the party expected to enjoy as a result of Kenney’s departure. But no, not even a little bit…

    UCP propagandists didn’t prepare to parry with criticism aimed at Smith’s bountiful record of gaffs, boners, and disproved conspiracy theories, but not because they thought she couldn’t win the party leadership: more likely they’re focused on the 2023 election when her record—by then certain to include additional material—might be used to, say, distance the party from her (presuming the UCP loses power) and to let her carry away bad mojo, whether or not rightfully hers, to cast her as scapegoat and party purgative—which is to presume the brand will remain viable after this wrenching Smith & Kenney test. Or, if it doesn’t, she could be used to rationalize splitting the moderate and extremist factions, to egg on the required pluck and let each faction compete for its own votes.

    Everywhere in the Western World we see the rise of a more radicalized partisan right. Many EU nations use proportional representation: small far-right parties can hold the balance of power with just a few parliamentary seats, and incite aggressive political campaigning and inter-ethnic rivalry by taking uncompromising particularist positions while effectively holding the governing minority (as pro-rep almost always elects) to ransom. In Greater Anglo-Saxony, the “First-Past-the-Post” system requires smaller factions join larger ones in order to influence policy, thus the ‘balance-of-power’ equivalent more often happens within parties in a majority parliament instead of between them in a minority parliament. In the typical case of parties divided between centre-right Tories and far-right SoCon/libertarians, a BoP-like dynamic exists by virtue of the fact that neither faction can win power by itself—they hold each other ransom, as ‘t were—whence Canadian “unite-the-right” movements where, despite FPtP’s prohibitive prospect for small parties, they do arise in various ways; smashing older parties from either inside or outside in order to refashion new ones out of selected parts of the old has also been characteristic of the FPtP partisan right for over a century.

    Most relevant to Canada’s partisan right today was the destruction of the federal Tory party after it had won the two largest majorities in Canada’s history: the Quebec caucus hived off purely for francophone nativist reasons, thence running federal Bloc candidates only in Quebec, while the Alberta-centred Reform movement sought to build a viable, ROC, right-wing government in Ottawa to the exclusion of Quebec’s nationalistic vision (Reformers considered it illegitimate and tantamount to treason). Both rebels were elected in turn to loyal opposition, but Reform soon realized it was impossible to form federal government by itself whereas the Bloc was, like the NDP, content with the potential to hold the balance of power in minority parliaments.

    ProgCons were nearly wiped out by the Bloc/Reform rebellion but resolutely rejected Reform’s entreaties to unite against the Liberals. The PCs were slowly winning back seats in mostly old anglophone Tory ridings of Eastern Canada. But, against the wishes of party members, newly-elected PC leader Peter MacKay did unite with the Reform party’s bastard, the Alliance, by way of treachery. The shock of this shotgun wedding was met with resentment by, and eventually defection of many former PC supporters. The connecting scar tissue was powdered over by subsequent HarperCon governments but reappeared later to rent in twain the polarized factions when Harper lost power. From this point onward winning back power became the right’s priority policy because only power could keep the two mutually distrustful factions together. And, even then, only for a time, as it seems in both the federal CPC’s and the Alberta UCP’s cases today: the moderate old Tory faction resents domination by Reformers and disapproves of their neoliberal ideology. Yet these old ProgCons are too few to win power by themselves so long’s they’re separated from those Red Tories who have defected to other parties. The now-discredited neo-rightists are too desperately imperilled to just let this crucial faction wander off. Yet in Alberta they just elected a leader who’s likely to repel even more moderates.

    For their part, the moderate faction has tried to temper increasing extremism in both provincial and federal parties. With Poilievre’s and Smith’s recent victories, one wonders how much the remaining moderates, a still-diminishing minority in the movement, can take before they realize it’s hopeless. At the moment it seems the known unknowns keep the last marginalized moderates safely sitting on their hands—wherever they are.

    The ironies of Harper’s general shifting of the entire partisan spectrum to the right are that centrist Liberals have no problem occupying ideological territory just right-of-centre which the CPC has abandoned, that while moderate conservatives feel uncomfortable with the CPC’s increasing radicalization, they now feel at least not unwelcome on the right wing of the expanded Liberal fold, and that the combination of these defections with natural geriatric attrition requires compensatory recruitment from factions farther and farther to the right, thus perpetuating a vicious circle of increasing defection in response to increasing radicalization in response to increasing defection, and so on. The parallels between Alberta’s UCP, Canada’s CPC, and America’s tRumpublicans are remarkable.

    It’s safe to say there are enough remnant Tories in these radicalized neo-right parties to sustain faith that the CPC or UCP will keep in fighting form and eventually win back power. Without them, the far-right’s only hope is to secure pro-rep so that it can purchase influence by this route.

    But until moderates organize new centre-right parties they’ll either be stuck with the likes of Poilievre, Smith, or Donald F tRump, or they’ll have to compromise their core beliefs within an adopted alternative party, one perhaps not as conservative as they’d like. And the throes keep getting more severe. I don’t believe the former option is viable in the longterm. That leaves only the latter option and the basic question: when?

    I do believe the coil is wound quivering-tight in most parties of the right in the Western World, but especially so in Alberta right now. Given that the winning imperative is still strong amongst all right-leaning factions, it would seem the safest approach for either faction is probably rope-a-dope.

    However, we mustn’t forget that, the winning imperative notwithstanding, Albertans worked up enough courage to excommunicate the 44-year ProgCon regime, to punish it in the most insulting way by electing its reputed opposite, the “socialist” NDP. Then many mustered even more pluck by being sufficiently and pleasantly surprised with Notley’s good government: abandoning the unknown entity of the UCP was fairly easy, by by all accounts since 2015, it would seem it’s getting easier and easier all the time.

    It remains: separated, moderate factions have a future if they’re brave enough to break with the radicals and spend a term or two reorganizing and proselytizing instead of obsessing about power to the point of committing hate speech and other ethical infractions just to exist as Freedumbite shadows; the radical faction by itself, on the other hand, is plainly doomed.

    So what’s the hold up?

    1. Scotty: what is the hold up you ask. Could it be the fossil fuel industry does not want a democratic polity? After all, if rational, evidence-based policies are adopted, we will stop burning stuff to make mechanical energy and that means the end of oil over the next couple of decades. The biggest automakers have already stopped development on internal combustion engines. California and 14 other states have plans to ban ICE cars by 2035.

      Alberta is now being targeted with every dubious green-washing plan you can think of: Carbon capture and storage, waste to energy, and the perennial favorites, nuclear and hydrogen, all of it to keep the hydrocarbon circus going. The political party gullible enough to adopt this nonsense will have the endorsement of the oil and gas industry and if history is any guide, will form the next government.

      While the world moves on, Alberta can continue with the fantasy of being the energy capital of Canada for a little bit longer, at least until it is no longer profitable to loot the province. Denial and nostalgia seem to be the dominant flavours in political Alberta.

      1. The owning class is anti-democratic at the best of times. Capitalism and Democracy do not coherently coexist within the same society. Canada likes to run its mouth about Democracy, but when it comes to actually living by the principles of Democracy, Canada is a joke. And not a funny joke, a cynical, mean joke.

  15. Just because a person can run for office doesn’t mean they should. She had her chance a few years ago, and let’s face it , she blew it. She was politically humiliated when she failed to even be nominated in her riding after the floor crossing and after Jim Prentice cut ties.So why run again? Why indeed.
    It was easy to count the Ukrainians’ out in the spring, more astute observers than her were doing just that including that half wit Putin. It was supposed to be a cake walk. These people of all political stripes who are apologists for these Fascist ” Z ” murdering thugs need to have their heads examined.To say that NATO is to blame is beyond ridiculous. In my opinion NATO hasn’t done near enough. In my opinion they should have looked the ” Beast” straight in the eye and made it back down right at the start of this murderous rampage.
    It is telling that Ms. Smith has her sights set on AHS, Hinshaw et al and not a whisper about the so called ” War Room”. This tells me everything I need to know about Ms. Smith’s ” Leadership”

  16. Perhaps she will be gone by the first swallows of spring and, as the second winner of the annual Trussy Award, become our Consul General in Pittsburg. Just hoping.

  17. 54 percent on what…the sixth or seventh preferential ballot is hardly a ringing endorsement. Kenney knew he had to leave on 51 percent.

    Smith’s result is a vivid indication of how divided the UCP Party is. Those who voted for her on those last few ballots are hardly committed or supportive of her leadership.

    Which way will she go? Double down and lean into what Kenney refers to as the ‘crazies’ or lean towards the traditional power group?

    No doubt Smith, Anderson, et al are paying close attention to the travails of Liz Truss and her complete failure/resignation.

  18. Considering that Liz Truss’ tenure as UK PM was mercifully short, there can be no doubt that there is little reluctance in throwing the leader overboard the second they start to look bad. I never understood the appeal of Truss. Apart from not being an Indo-Briton, like Rishi Sunak, there is nothing in her background or her ministerial record that would even indicate a single shred of competence, let alone even an inkling of anything that even remotely looked like intelligence. In other words, Truss appealed to the base and they liked what they saw, until everything blew up in their collective faces. Sound familiar?

    Of course, this brings us to Danielle Straitjacket, a newly minted premier who has shown breathtaking levels of stupidity. Even those who are said to back her have clearly clammed up. Even her bid to become MLA for a riding she doesn’t live in, and very likely bought with a healthy dose of patronage for the exiting MLA, appears to be in jeopardy. Based a recent poll that surfaced, it appears that former-mayor, Barry Morishita, may bounce Smith at the polls. Of course, can always run in the vacant Calgary-Elbow riding, but didn’t Smith publicly say she has no interest in addressing urban issues? Everything is beginning to show all the earmarks of Smith first public office as a school board trustee, which she was famously known for being an especially toxic personality.

    I recall when Toronto mayor John Tory was leader of the Ontario Conservatives, his two attempts to win a seat ended in utter disaster and lead to his resignation as party leader. The Ontario Conservatives endured the lengthy and messy leadership of Tim Hudak because they feared a return of Tory to the leadership. I suspect that the UCP is headed down the same path.

    Mo’ popcorn.

  19. I encourage everyone to read articles written about Ukraine/Russia on this blog, as well as the comments. They’re still here, under the “Geopolitics” section. Frankly speaking, I find some the opinions there and those of Danielle Smith earlier this year to be eerily similar.

    Like the author, Danielle Smith’s opinions haven’t aged very well. But unlike the author of this blog, Danielle Smith is a political figure, so her position has to “drastically evolve”.

  20. Living, as I do, a thousand km distance, only occasionally do I wonder about politics in Alberta. But it seems obvious that Notley is no shoe in to become the next Premier. The NDs don’t have much appeal in rural areas, which means they have to take over half the seats in Calgary to win. Does not seem very likely.
    Maybe if enough rural voters park their vote with the AP and thus create some 3-way contests, such that a few of those seats go to the NDs, then perhaps they will come out on top. … Theo H

  21. Danielle Smith’s sovereignty act idea is just a silly vote grabbing ploy playing on the uneducated. Alberta can never separate and just the idea is so incredibly stupid.
    1. I am from the U.S. . I have spent a lot of time in Saskatchewan and B.C. . I have never heard the farmers from Saskatchewan say they hope to join Alberta in a separation bid. Nor have I heard it from the tree huggers in BC. Same with the U.S.. So let’s say Alberta separates… It will be a land locked country with ne feasible way to get its expensive oil to market. You can have the most Alberta friendly politics on every level but if nobody wants to buy the oil ….well then.
    There goes Alberta’s whole economy save a few farmers.!!
    2. The idea of basing a whole country on a non renewable resource that is quickly going the way of the Dodo bird is ludicrous.
    3. An independent Alberta will be the country equivalent to Albania or Kazakhstan . It will never be in the G20 or any kind of significant world player.
    4.” Does anyone want to buy our oil? “…No? OK looks like we have no economy and no one to bail us out.”
    5 . Danielle Smith is a failed politician .She failed before and the Alberta public did not vote her to be our premier. She snuck in.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.