Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley speaks at the NDP convention in Calgary yesterday (Photo: Alberta NDP).

Members of Alberta’s only two political parties with MLAs in the Legislature met in convention yesterday – the governing United Conservatives in Edmonton and Opposition New Democrats in Calgary – where they heard strikingly different speeches from their leaders. 

Premier Daniel Smith addresses the United Conservative Party annual general meeting in Edmonton yesterday (Photo: Screenshot of UCP video).

Meanwhile, outside the Legislature Building in downtown Edmonton, thousands of Alberta schoolteachers and their supporters gathered the same afternoon at a rally organized by the Alberta Teachers Association to protest the education policies of the UCP.

Whatever you make of the contrasting speeches or the significance of the energized crowd of about 4,000 brought together by the provincial teachers’ union, it’s fair to say that today marks the beginning of the real campaign leading up to the next general election in Alberta, scheduled to take place on May 29, 2023. 

The main goal of still-unelected Premier Danielle Smith, named as UCP leader on Oct. 6 after a vote by party members, appeared to be demonstrating she has what it takes to hold the fissured conservative coalition known as the UCP together long enough to fight another election.

In a performative show of unity, Ms. Smith was welcomed to the stage at the UCP annual general meeting by MLAs Travis Toews and Brian Jean, her two most successful rivals in the long race to replace former premier Jason Kenney. Despite applause from the crowd and the new premier’s obvious effort to stick to her talking points, the affair gave the impression everyone was walking on eggshells.

“We have instituted a policy process where every single MLA, minister or not, is going to be meaningfully involved in creating and developing government policy,” Ms. Smith promised. (Voters should remember this when some of Ms. Smith’s policies prove unpopular.) “Our team is now unified. Our team is now ready to fight for Albertans. And come hell or high water, we are going to beat the NDP in 2023,” she said a few moments later.

In a show of unity, former UCP leadership candidates Travis Toews and Brian Jean introduce Premier Smith (Photo: Screenshot of UCP video).

Three hundred or so kilometres to the south, there could be no question about the unity of the NDP from the response to Ms. Notley’s confident speech to the NDP convention, which was the work of a leader who clearly feels she has the wind in her sails. 

There was certainly no fear of eggshells as Ms. Notley vowed to reverse UCP cuts to supports for seniors and the handicapped, promised gender parity in cabinet in a clear shot at the small number of women in Ms. Smith’s huge cabinet, and committed to fight inflation by freezing insurance rates, capping utility bills, and suspending the provincial fuel tax until inflation eases.

“We are going to repair the damage that the UCP has done to our post-secondary institutions,” Ms. Notley added. “We will put an end to the UCP’s failed experiments in privatization and repair publicly funded, publicly delivered health care. … We will launch the largest health care workforce recruitment campaign ever seen in Alberta, and we will stop the chaos in our hospitals.”

Ms. Notley also promised to hire more teachers and educational assistants, and to implement a modern school curriculum – a reference to the controversial curriculum changes introduced by the UCP that the teachers were protesting in Edmonton. 

The former NDP premier never mentioned Ms. Smith by name, although she mocked the governing party with a Halloween-themed joke about how “they’ve going to tell some spooky stories about sinister New Democrats and their scary alliances.” 

Alberta teachers and their supporters demonstrating against UCP education policies at the Alberta Legislature yesterday (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Naturally, that is exactly what Ms. Smith did in her short speech, flogging the notion of a Trudeau/Singh/Notley “coalition” and blaming the Liberal Government in Ottawa for the inflation being experienced around the world. 

Ms. Notley observed: “These stories are very silly, but what they’re actually for is to scare UCP MLAs into line.”

Ms. Smith asked her audience to “remember how (Ms. Notley) brought in the carbon tax to get social licence? And what did she get? Nothing.”

Ms. Notley told hers, “We are most successful when we engage with our neighbours.” She reminded her audience that “we are, as you know, less than a year away from the first new pipeline to tidewater to be completed in over 50 years. The Alberta NDP government got that done by raising Canadians’ awareness of the contribution that our energy industry makes to every school, every road, every bridge across Canada.”

“Albertans,” she argued, “must be the grownups in the room, so that Canadians will listen.”

Ms. Smith, describing the policies she said her government would pursue in the next few weeks, trotted out a number of the hobbyhorses unveiled during the long campaign to replace Mr. Kenney – including her still unseen Sovereignty Act and her determination to punish and disrupt Alberta Health Services for its approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Smith claimed, falsely, that “most of those managing AHS today are holdovers from the NDP years. They have had their chance to fix this bloated system. And they have largely failed on almost all accounts.”

Just to be fair, I should also mention that Ms. Smith promised to remove the fuel tax completely, adding that she would “ensure that gas stations lower the prices appropriately when we do.” How she proposes to implement that rather socialistic-sounding policy, however, remains a mystery. 

I could go on like this, comparing and contrasting, till the proverbial cows come home.

Instead, I urge readers to watch both speeches for themselves and reach their own conclusions about the promises made and the mood of both leaders.

Ms. Smith’s is found here.

Ms. Notley’s is found here.

As a guide to some of Ms. Smith’s wilder ideas, referenced in more careful language in her AGM speech, I also recommend readers watch her interview with Western Standard publisher Derek Fildebrandt, whose sympathetic softball questions encouraged her to be a little more frank about some of her battier ideas. The interview illuminates the depth of her bitterness against Alberta Health Services. 

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  1. Danielle Smith is good at brainwashing and fooling gullible people, but there are other Albertans who are smarter than that. Who was likely in attendance at the River Cree Casino to hear Danielle Smith babble utter nonsense, were probably mainly seniors, but did include others. The way that Danielle Smith is going, it will ensure her downfall, as well as the UCP. She is still angering different people, and has farfetched ideas that she thinks will stick. It won’t turn out like she thinks it will. Danielle Smith believes her own lies so much, that she thinks they are the truth, and a limited support base follows along. There used to be a cartoon, with Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. He had all kinds of plans to capture the Roadrunner, but they always ended up failing. Danielle Smith will see a similar thing, because her farfetched ideas cannot be met with success, but rather very huge costs and harm that will be incurred. If it was a Halloween based movie, it would be aptly named A Horrific Mess. Peter Lougheed certainly had it right, when he called out these pretend conservatives and Reformers, for the damage that they inflict.

  2. So the woman who is “open to revisiting” the Springbank dam is using the slogan of the 2013 southern Alberta floods, “hell or high water”? The catastrophic floods had a song that she might want to use for her campaign during the general election.

    I’m sure the high water in High River is far from forgotten. It certainly has not been forgotten in Calgary. Would Danielle chose Team High Water? Is she a floater or a sinker?

  3. It was a tale of two speeches, but it should be remembered that there were two intentions at work.

    In a nutshell, Rachel Notley promises to build, while Danielle Straitjacket promises to destroy. Thus far, Smith has promised, in word but not yet act, to make good on the wildest of conspiracy theories out there, including the one she trotted out that AHS will be gutted because of it is in league with the WEF. Okay, for that part of the UCP that believes conspiracy theories are just fun and games, at some point someone will lose and eye and then the stupid stunts become serious matters. It’s apparent that Smith doesn’t have much of a grasp of reality, so much so that even Jason Kenney called her insane. (Considering Kenney’s own exposure to insanity, he must be the expert.)

    Another one of the weird nuggets that Smith trotted out was the notion that representatives of the federal and municipal governments should be treated as lobbyists. I’m not sure what Smith means by this in theory, but I suspect in practice it will cause mayhem. Does she expect these representatives to do what lobbyists usually do, like offer bribes to get their way? And what happens if Ottawa decides turnabout it fair play and calls Alberta’s representatives lobbyists and denies them the access that, say, Doug Ford and Ontario enjoys? Suddenly, Smith’s thought of calling Alberta a “senior member” in Canada starts to look like more hot air. And I guess this also means that BC can launch their crackdown on the Calgary Cabal that keeps trying to steal their provincial elections? Imagine Calgary complaining when they are rightly denounced by BC as a criminal organization. Oh, the fun that’s coming.

    While Notley did promise to heal the rifts in the Alberta and build on whatever is left (After Danielle Smith trashes everything) she’s going to have a long way to go to actually she will stand by her policies without compromising on their values. In other words, stop pulling the teeth out of good legislation because some powerful lobby decided to protect their turf from acts of decency. Fear in the face of stupidity just leads to more stupidity.

    In the end, these two speeches revealed one government in waiting that promises stability, while the other is likely going to be guided by a sociopath whose mantra is ‘Burn, baby. Burn’.

    Just don’t burn my popcorn, okay?

  4. So once again we see mainly seniors allowing themselves to be treated like morons by this loser Danielle Smith and that somehow makes them a lot smarter than the rest of us. They don’t care that she was even defeat in her own home riding of High River – Okotoks in 2015 when they learned what she stands for. In true Reform Party fashion she is all about destroying jobs and not creating them and these seniors don’t care, they know they are safe. The Reform party plan has always been about ramming a lot more privation down our throats, like Klein did , while they help the rich steal our oil and tax wealth. You can bet she will ignore Ottawa’s health care laws and dump a lot more privatization onto the backs of the fools who support her and Albertans will have to pay out a lot more money to fight the lawsuits it will bring. Then there is her plan to privatize our public education system that got her fired by the Klein government in 1999, and defeated by Allison Redford in 2012 when she campaigned on doing just that, but as everyone is saying this fool will do anything or say anything to get elected and she doesn’t care who she hurts in the process. Make certain people in Brooks and Medicine Hat knows how you feel.

  5. “[Ms. Notley] reminded her audience that ‘we are, as you know, less than a year away from the first new pipeline to tidewater to be completed in over 50 years. The Alberta NDP government got that done by raising Canadians’ awareness of the contribution that our energy industry makes to every school, every road, every bridge across Canada.'”

    Indeed, the Trans Mtn Expansion pipeline should have Notley’s name on it. So should its every oil spill. Notley fought tirelessly for the climate disaster pipeline. Threw billions of dollars in subsidies at the hugely profitable oil industry. And fearlessly threw climate-activist NDP supporters and environmentalists under the bus.
    The next time a Canadian city or town burns to the ground in a wildfire — the next time hundreds of Canadians die in a heatwave — remember Notley’s crowning achievement. Lest we forget.
    Thanks to the Pipeline Queen for speeding us toward climate disaster, cementing the industry’s stranglehold on Alberta’s democracy, and stifling all criticism of Alberta’s oil mafia at the Legislature.
    The Notley-Trudeau tag team proved far more effective at delivering on Corporate Canada’s agenda than Kenney, Smith, Scheer, Poilievre & Co. could ever hope to be.
    NDP supporters cheer Notley at every turn. Somehow I doubt her grandchildren will be thankful.

    1. Notley’s own energy expert, UofA Prof. Andrew Leach, debunked the claim that the oil industry underpins our health, education, and social programs:
      “The oil and gas industry has recently become a champion of social programs, schools, and hospitals. We are to believe that the expansion in oil and gas production has led to vast new tax revenue for governments through which to fund our social programs. That also doesn’t stand up very well, in Canada or in Alberta.”
      “Canada, the failed petrostate?” (Macleans, 2013)

      NRCan: In 2019 Canada’s entire energy sector directly and indirectly contributed 10.2% ($219 billion) to Canada’s GDP ($2.151 trillion). Including oil & gas, nuclear, hydro, coal, and renewables.
      In 2019 Canada’s energy sector directly contributed 7.2% ($154 billion) to GDP.
      Petroleum accounted for 5.3% ($114 billion). Crude oil a fraction of that. AB’s oilsands a fraction of that.
      O&G figures were even lower in 2020.

      Subtract (astronomical) externalized environmental, climate change, and health costs. Subtract lost jobs in other industries, towns wiped off the map, billions of sea animals dead in a week. Subtract subsidies. The fossil fuel industry is killing us.
      AB’s oil & gas industry has barely started to fund its clean-up liabilities: north of $260 billion. How much of that bill will our “strategic” industry foist upon taxpayers?

      Wealth that degrades our life-support systems is illusory. We can’t afford fossil fuel profits that destroy our future.
      Climate change impacts already cause huge economic damage and imperil jobs in many industries — from forestry to fisheries, from farms to wineries. And not just jobs, but entire towns. Even ecosystems.
      Notley fights for the oil industry on behalf of “working people”. Not for their oil baron bosses sitting atop Calgary office towers. Petro-populism. The only “working people” the AB NDP seem to care about work in oil & gas.

      Neoliberal energy policy doesn’t help working people. It helps the rich get richer at the expense of working people.
      Fossil fuel expansion doesn’t protect working Albertans. The oil & gas sector has been shedding jobs for years.
      Tens of thousands of Albertans lost their jobs in recent last oil price crashes. Doubling down on fossil fuels only sets AB up for even bigger crashes in future. More job losses, more dislocation.

      The NDP did “working people” no favor by enabling oilsands expansion. That just sets us up for bigger crashes and economic ruin down the road. AB’s over-dependence on oil & gas is our vulnerability, not our strength.
      How about “working people” in First Nations’ communities in the oilsands region? Already paying bigtime with their health and loss of culture. What will be left for them when the oilsands industry collapses?
      The livelihoods and communities of “working people” in Canada and around the world are threatened by climate change.

      So who is really defending working people?
      Time to get off Notley’s fossil-fuelled rollercoaster.

      1. Geoffery, your argument is largely valid, but there are two obvious problems: 1) too many Albertans still believe oil and gas are the ONLY driver of Alberta’s economy, and 2) it’s Smith or Notley. Let’s get rid of the dangerously deluded mob first, and then work on freeing the province from old “oil is king” stereotypes.

    2. “The Notley-Trudeau tag team proved far more effective at delivering on Corporate Canada’s agenda than Kenney, Smith, Scheer, Poilievre & Co. could ever hope to be.”

      Geoffrey you are so over-the-top it’s sad. Let’s put Danielle Smith in then, right?

      1. With PM Trudeau, Notley moved the ball on the Trans Mountain pipeline down to the ten-yard line. Their signal achievement was to “push countrywide support for pipelines from 40% to 70%.” Something Harper, Scheer, O’Toole, and Kenney could never dream of doing.
        AB NDP: “While in government, the NDP brought Canadian premiers together, completed the Canadian Energy Strategy, launched a campaign that was vital in moving support for the Trans Mountain expansion from 40 per cent to 70 per cent, and was successful in getting construction started on the pipeline.”
        And we are supposed to clap? If a PC, Wildrose, or UCP govt had introduced these measures, progressives would have opposed them.
        Trudeau & Notley persuaded many Canadians that we can both act on climate and double down on fossil fuels.
        With her pipeline hysteria, Notley led progressives astray to support oilsands and pipelines, downplay the science, and ignore IPCC warnings. Something Jason Kenney cannot do.
        In opposition pre-2015, the AB NDP were the only voice of sanity on climate and energy. Notley eliminated that option. Disastrously, Notley led a sizable contingent of progressives to support Big Oil’s priorities: new pipelines and a “climate plan” that sabotages Canada’s climate efforts. None of these notions carried any sway among progressives before 2015. Thank Notley, not Kenney.
        Trudeau and Notley did something else Harper and Kenney could never do: lead progressives over the climate cliff. Make fossil fuel expansion an acceptable option in face of climate change. Many of Trudeau’s and Notley’s supporters now embrace a form of climate change denial. Or are willing to look past their leaders’ climate transgressions.
        Notley’s brand of denialism lulls the public into a dangerous complacency and paralysis. Notley led many of her progressive followers to embrace a fossil-fuel future and deny reality. By pushing pipelines, the NDP sent a clear message that climate change is not a global emergency. Thank Notley, not Kenney.
        We no longer have a mainstream party that champions science. We no longer have a progressive party in the NDP. Thank Notley, not Kenney.

        Notley shifted the “Overton” window to the right: moving the goalposts on public — and especially progressive — discourse on energy and climate. This allowed Kenney and the UCP to move even further right. If the NDP shills for the oil industry, what is to stop Kenney? Once Notley endorses Vivian Krause wacky theories, it’s no longer right-wing and no longer conspiracy theory. Notley took it mainstream.
        When Poilievre and Kenney says no to a shift away from fossil fuels, the progressive option is still ON the table. When Trudeau and Notley say no, they take the progressive option OFF the table.
        When Kenney denies the science, progressives reject his arguments and head in the opposite direction. When Notley denies the science, progressives accept her arguments and enable her climate sabotage.
        M.R. wrote: “Let’s put Danielle Smith in then, right?”
        Non sequitur. Other options include putting pressure on the NDP to change their energy/climate policy. Or vote Green. Or stay home. Or rip up your ballot.

        1. No Geoffery, it is not a non sequitur. It absolutely follows that if Albertans don’t vote for the NDP then Danielle Smith and the UCP will be the gov’t. Vote Green – ok there were 32 Green Party candidates in 87 ridings in the 2019 election so even if you had one in your riding to vote for they got 0.41% of the province-wide vote. 0.41% – you got that? 4.1 of every 1000 votes. Stay home, rip up your ballot? If you lived in one of the Greenless 55 ridings then I guess that’s what you do? Any of those options result in a UCP & Danielle Smith victory.

          “Something Harper, Scheer, O’Toole, and Kenney could never dream of doing.” you say regarding public acceptance of TMX. Well I’ll tell you what – when elected those guys, and Ms. Smith, will do what they want whether Canadians agree or not. Environmental questions don’t even register on their radar.

          The basis of your argument seems to be that the NDP has influenced “progressives” to not care about the environment. If that’s your argument it just blows off these “progressives” as being ignorant because they don’t agree with you. That’s arrogant I say.

          You mentioned non-sequitur. DJC’s blog post and most all of the comments here are about comparing Rachel Notley’s programme and Danielle Smith’s plan. You come in slagging Rachel Notley and the NDP – talk abut moving the Overton window!

          No Geoffery, you’re trying to get the UCP re-elected. There is a thing with special-interest people who think electing the worst possible govts, inflicting the worst possible misery and hardships on citizens will cause them to see the light and change their view to “right thinking”. I don’t know if that’s you – just sayin’…

          1. 1) Mickey Rat skated past the first option listed: “Other options include putting pressure on the NDP to change their energy/climate policy.” Ergo, non sequitur.

            M.R. wrote: “It absolutely follows that if Albertans don’t vote for the NDP then Danielle Smith and the UCP will be the gov’t.”
            It does not follow that Albertans who do not vote NDP are responsible for “putting Danielle Smith in.”
            In my riding, it does not matter how or whether I vote. The NDP stand no chance of winning this largely rural seat. If I vote Green, that does not change the outcome. If I vote UCP, that does not change the outcome. Progressive voters in my riding cannot be blamed for a UCP victory, no matter what they do.
            But I can write a letter to the NDP and explain why I will not cast my vote for the party — and what they must do to earn it. A legitimate exercise of voter power.

            Every election tens of thousands of eligible voters stay home. They do not vote for the UCP or NDP. Perhaps they do not support any of the candidates, parties, and policy options put before them.
            Are non-voters responsible for putting the UCP in office? Clearly not, because they take no part in the process at all. Also, the NDP won in 2015 without the support of non-voters. Albertans who join the non-voting ranks in future are not responsible for putting the UCP in office, either.
            Strictly speaking, the only Albertans responsible for putting the UCP in office are UCP voters. If no one votes for the UCP, the UCP do not win office.
            So do not blame non-NDP voting Albertans for a UCP victory. The credit goes to UCP voters.

            The NDP must take responsibility for their electoral fortunes. If the NDP’s shift to the right alienates former supporters, that is entirely on the NDP and its leadership. The NDP must face the consequences of their poor choices. Without accountability, we have no democracy.
            One way to send a political party a clear message is to deny them your vote. Given our first-past-the-post system, sometimes that means taking a step backward in order to go two steps forward later. That is the reality of our voting system.
            Progressive Albertans who care about their grandchildren, including climate activists and environmentalists, are under no obligation to vote for petro-progressive parties that lead them over the climate cliff. That way lies certain destruction. The NDP cannot expect progressives to follow them off the progressive map. There must be a line that progressives will not cross.
            If enough progressives voice their displeasure and deny the NDP their vote, the NDP will be forced to reconsider its policies. If progressive parties want the progressive vote, they have to earn it. That is how the system works. You may not like it, but that is democracy under first past the post.
            If we had a PR system, and every vote counted, the NDP could not take progressives for granted. The NDP would be forced to respect progressive voters’ wishes — or lose their vote.

          2. 2) Send the NDP a message:
            “We will vote for you if you take climate change seriously and stop propping up the O&G industry. Until then, no thanks. We are not buying what you are selling. We will not vote for climate disaster.”
            Vote for the status quo, and the status quo is what you get.

            If progressives continue to reward the provincial NDP and federal Liberals with their vote, these petro-progressive parties (PPP) have no reason to change. If the PPP can count on the progressive vote, they will take continue to take progressive voters for granted.
            The only leverage voters have over political parties is their vote (and donations of time and money). If you want change, you have to vote for it.

            Hopes that the PPP will change their minds if progressives keep voting for them are empty — wishful thinking. No evidence that the PPP offer any prospect but long-term failure on the climate file.
            Hopes that the PPP will change course are unfounded. Why would they change when progressives continue to vote for them? A vote for PPP rewards them for past failure — and guarantees future failure.
            Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results… If progressives continue to reward the PPP with their vote, the PPP have no reason to change. If the PPP can count on the progressive vote, they will take continue to take progressive voters for granted.
            The PPP and their ever-loyal partisans are enabling climate disaster. You get what you vote for.

          3. 3) RE: public acceptance of TMX
            Social license goes a long way towards building pipelines. Don’t knock it.
            Mass opposition to pipelines, particularly indigenous, leads to pipeline cancellations. Think Northern Gateway and Energy East.
            Aug. 30, 2018: The Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Trudeau govt’s approval of the pipeline expansion, ruling neither Indigenous consultation nor the environmental review were properly completed. The court found that the NEB process under Harper’s rules was illegitimate.
            Harper did not get TMX, Northern Gateway, or Energy East across the finish line. For TMX, the credit goes to Trudeau and Notley. Trudeau revised the NEB process, engaged in the required consultations, and bought the pipeline.

            If Trudeau and Notley “pushed countrywide support for pipelines from 40% to 70%”, clearly they persuaded a good many progressives, including many of their own supporters, that fossil fuel expansion is compatible with emissions targets and climate action. The numbers speak for themselves.

            My comment cited Notley’s speech to the NDP convention, as it appears in the blog post. Notley crowing about her achievement in pushing the TMX pipeline down to the ten-yard line. Trudeau will carry the ball across. As per the blog title: “A tale of two speeches: Rachel Notley and Danielle Smith mark informal start of campaign leading to 2023 election.” TMX is a major achievement the NDP will run on. Entirely relevant.

            Whether progressive voters support the NDP’s efforts on behalf of Big Oil and the Big Banks — and climate sabotage — is up to them.
            This progressive voter rejects the NDP’s climate/energy policies and is not afraid to say so. Progressive voters have several ways to exercise their power, at the ballot box and otherwise. To fail to act is tantamount to complicity.

  6. That hatred for AHS is at least on brand for her, as her former party, the Wildrose, always had a hate on for it. They ran on a platform plank to break it up & re-regionalize the health care system in at least one previous election campaign — 2015, if memory serves.

    As I recall, the NDP’s position on AHS at the time was that what the system needed most was stability, not more upheaval, and in fact that is exactly what they delivered when they were in office.

  7. The Martian Smith walks her newly-leashed and muzzled UCPers upon the eggshells of their kennel while the Venusian Notley-upon-the-half-shell dips her alabaster toe into serene and welcoming waters. The growling brass of a New Orleans funerary dirge reverberates o’re the UCP AGM like a feature-length Popeye soundtrack from “Sinbad the Sailor” while the serene Dipper’s touch sends rings of resonance rippling o’re the tranquil landlocked sea of Alberta all the way down to Burnaby, BC, as school kids frolic on rampant dolphins nearby and cherubic nurses and teaches bugle their clarion call across the province’s endless big sky while basking high above on bright white cumulus nimbus. The contestants have arrived. Let The Games begin!

    “Hrmpf,” my missus grumbles, “that [the unofficial beginning of the 2023 election campaign] only means Smith will avoid news media from now on.”

    “Well, my sweet, she’ll have to talk to news media sooner or later: she is trailing the NDP in the polls, after all. She’ll have to reach out if she stands a hope in hell of winning.”

    “Yeah, right: she’ll do interviews with mainstream media, alright, and then hold them out to her die-hards as proof of collusion between MSM and the Trudeau-Singh-Notley symphony orchestra.”

    “Really! What’s with the trite negativity, sugar buns? This is an important election, not only for Alberta but for us here in BC and the whole ROC+Q. And while it might be true that the NDP government’s record stands head and shoulders above the UCP’s still unfinished first mandate and is as odds-on favourite to win as the second coming of Jesus on-the-half-shell, it doesn’t mean a majority voters won’t believe Smith’s promises.”

    “Oh, yeah?” There’s that tone of voice my darling gets, my staff, my better half, the precious brake on my natural verbosity. “Danielle just promised her followers [meaning, I suppose, all Albertans, coincidentally] “hell or high-water…”

    “Well, yes, of course, my dove, but—“

    “—she just said, ‘hell or high water,’ okay? And you just said she’s already behind in the polls. That’s a whole lot of hellishness and scary high water she’s promising. Way to make friends and influence, people, Danielle…”

    Well, there’s that. I guess…my darling has a point, there…ngh…

  8. Apologies in advance, this post is more disrespectful than most of what I would post. It is an intervention, if you will. It is intended as bitter tasting medicine. It is for people who aren’t sure who to vote for, and for the Albertan right in general.

    Conservative politicians on both a federal and provincial have made Albertans look ungrateful, churlish, spoiled, overindulged and childish over the pipeline file, and I don’t think Albertans have helped their own cause one whit. The “Notley/Trudeau alliance” coerced the rest of the country into buying a pipeline for Alberta and forced BC to accept all of the risks right after JT campaigned in BC promising that “only communities can grant social license” for projects such as these. Instead of celebrating your good fortune or acknowledging that the rest of the country heard your concerns and addressed them, all you did was keep sulking. I know people on the “Albertan right” don’t care about the world outside Alberta or really anything except their next paycheque and their culture wars, but I’d like to remind the grown-ups of Alberta that that pipeline was and is deeply unpopular in BC (except the Okanogan which is culturally and politically Albertan) and “people who voted for Trudeau” in general. A politician Albertans didn’t vote for, who Albertans have hated and publicly mocked for years because of who his Dad is, broke campaign promises, offended his base, and squandered a lot of political capital to do something that Alberta wanted, (apparently) because he thought it was in the best interest of the country. Could you imagine, for one second, any currently elected Conservative leader doing something like that?

    *waits a moment for the laughter to die down, continues more seriously*

    Who is the most recent elected leader of any Conservative party you could see trying to put the interests of the country as a whole above their partisan interests? Not only was there not one word of thanks to the “Notley/Trudeau alliance” from ordinary Albertans, let alone the kleptocratic clowns in the UCP/CPC. There was nothing for the people of BC, or the Canadian taxpayer, neither of whom are very happy with you BTW. Would you do business with someone who behaved the way you have on this matter? If there were ever voters who are ‘crusing for a bruising’ as parents used to say in my day, they live in Alberta. Note that this is not a “kids today aren’t real adults” rant, the people I’m thinking of mostly have grey hair.

    I lived in Edmonton when that pipeline was approved. I paid a lot of attention to political conversations I had over the coming year or so, and not one Edmontonian I met ever expressed anything resembling gratitude, or even acknowledgement. Literally not a single person. I was a waiter at the time and got pretty good at talking politics with my tables without upsetting them (a real trick for a leftist in Alberta). I am confident I spoke to at least 300 people about the issue over the next year, and literally do not remember one single person expressing anything resembling gratitude. The two reactions I got were “this is bad because pollution” (I lived and worked on Whyte ave) and “whatever I’ll believe it when I see it and until then I’m gonna sulk harder than ever so there!” It was just more “wah Canada is mean to us give us the shiny thing.”

    If I hadn’t lived in Alberta for 10 years and had so many positive experiences with ordinary Albertans, I would be well beyond contemptuous of Alberta and Albertans, and I would be advocating for their secession, considering it to be addition by subtraction. I’m not trying to troll you, I’m trying to alert you to the fact that lots of Canadians haven’t lived in Alberta for 10 years, and many otherwise reasonable adults think you are acting like demented toddlers and, at some point, are going to get fed up with your garbage. I don’t know what will happen, but I know it won’t be good for Alberta or Canada. I surmise that Alberta’s “brand” in Canada has taken a real beating over the past decade or so. I can’t back that up though, it’s JMO all the way.

    I follow Albertan politics partly because there are people I love living in Alberta and I worry for them, but also because Alberta is Ground Zero for the far right culture war in Canada. There is a battle being fought, not with bullets, but with words. Please give some thought to what kind of society you want to live in. Do you want to be able to self-righteously and angrily shout bumper sticker slogans, or do you want peace, order and good government? Do you really believe the former will lead to the latter?

    The cretins and jerks that Alberta has elected are making you guys look more like Canada’s province of dumbass hillbilly arrogantly ignorant jerk rube hick yokels than ever before. I’m not saying this to troll you, this is coming from a place of goodwill and concern. FWIW I am a leftist (a real one, not the mostly made up bomb tossing anarchists and/or liberal cretins Fox News represents as leftists). For me, living in a Capitalist society is a perpetual moral injury (I have come to accept that I am mostly on an island with this sentiment). If I had a magic wand or superpowers I would immediately use them to oppose the status quo and bring in something more equitable and just. We would measure time in “Before Neil” and “After Neil.” With that in mind, I think Notley’s NDP is right of the Canadian center. They are not scary commies, they aren’t going to take your guns, they aren’t going to seize control of the means of production, and they aren’t going to force a woke agenda on you. They’re going to try to clean up some of the mess your elected politicians have created. They are not perfect and they will make mistakes, but they are vastly superior to the UCP. It’s like asking yourself whether you want a burger for supper or a crap sandwich. Those who choose the latter, deserve the latter, and I, for one, have very little sympathy left for people who proudly choose to believe easily falsifiable absurdities. Fools deserve to experience the consequences of their foolishness.

    The only thing Alberta’s NDP share with the Federal NDP is branding. For the life of me, I don’t understand why they haven’t rebranded. I betcha if they removed “NDP” from their name they’d instantly go up 5 points. If they renamed themselves the “Yeehaw Hold Mah Beer’n’Lookit th’Shiney New Rims on M’Big Blue Truck Y’all Also Yay Guns” party there’d be no stopping them!

    Apologies for the many disrespectful statements here, this is not normally how I do political discourse, hopefully it is obvious that they are made in good faith with good intentions.

  9. Yes, there is quite a contrast here. First, obviously the locations were chosen some time ago probably before the UCP leadership race, but the NDP is where the closer battle will be.

    Secondly while the UCP was fighting with itself, the NDP has had a chance to put together solid policy. In particular, on issues such as electricity and insurance that have been problematic for the UCP to address because of their ideological inclinations. Things could change by the election, but I suspect Albertans will likely still be feeling the cost squeeze then and no, just blaming Trudeau for it will not cut it.

    Perhaps Smith will be able to at least keep the UCP from splitting before the election. However, keeping so many Kenney loyalists in cabinet must be qhite disappointing to her more extreme supporters. Yes, the differences can be papered over temporarily but the gap might be harder to bridge on a more lasting basis.

    Also, in the end there has to be more purpose to the UCP than wanting to keep another party out of power or perhaps keeping the benefits of power for itself. I don’t think the UCP articulated this very well at their meeting and is still struggling to find a common purpose. Lastly, they also have a record to defend and replacing their leader will not make all the bad decisions go away, particularly when so many of the MLAs and Ministers behind them are still around.

  10. This one’s more reasonable and is intended for anyone who thinks of the NDP as “left wing.” It is not intended to convince anyone of anything, just to try to peel back the blanket of misinformation our society tries to wrap us in. For purposes of this post there will be no moral evaluations, just statements of fact.

    Each society has an Overton Window limiting which ideas can be safely and acceptably expressed (this is because some ideas don’t play nice with other ideas). That window is put against the backdrop of the Actual Political Spectrum – the range of political philosophies that humans have, so far, expressed and/or attempted. When I talk about the “Canadian right/left” I mean “the right/left within the Overton Window Canada has today.” When I talk about the “actual right/left” I mean the “Actual Political Spectrum.” Canada’s Overton Window is, right now, centered at ‘right wing.’ It goes just far enough left to include some mild forms of Social Democracy (where people accept Capitalism, but use democracy to vote for specific socialist policies). It goes just far enough right to include some moderately and covertly fascistic tendencies and policies.

    The Actual Political Spectrum includes many ideas that are not acceptable in mainstream Canadian society today – theocracy, autocracy, anarchism, socialism, communism and overt Fascism are all examples of real political ideas that exist in the human mind, but are, for better or worse, very difficult to platform in Canada.

    I consider myself to be an actual leftist. I oppose Capitalism for practical and moral reasons (I do have a coherent proposal for what should replace it but this is already a giant essay so I’ll share that another time). Here is a great, short primer on why a reasonable adult might oppose Capitalism:

    Have you ever watched someone on TV mock Christians by reciting passages from the Old Testament and asking their audience how anyone can believe this stuff? I’ve always hated that – if you talk to any practicing Christian, their views are much more nuanced and less absurd. I understand how Christians can sometimes feel mocked, disrespected and shut out of society. If they had it five times worse (and experienced periodic extralegal Police violence), they’d know what it is to be part of the Actual Left. (I would argue that if they tried to live by the teachings of Christ they would be Actual Leftists but pretty much nobody else seems to agree with me.) People call me a “Liberal” and I roll my eyes. The strawmen people use to attack my ideas are farther right than the ideas they are meant to lampoon. I have had to struggle since early childhood just to communicate with Canadians – I am not a threat to lead or inspire them.

    Being opposed to Capitalism is great, but what do Actual Leftists want in its place? Good question. Remember the Occupy movement? When society finally asked them what they want, every person in the crowd started shouting at the same time, and there was almost nothing they all agreed on. The Actual Left is like that. It’s hard to cooperate politically when you disagree about things like whether government should exist, or whether money should exist. There are only two things that, to my knowledge, all Actual Leftists agree on. One is that Capitalism is bad. The other is that no peaceful coexistence is possible with Fascism or Fascists (Fascists and Actual Leftists *Do. Not.* like one another, to the point that in Nazi Germany, Actual Leftists were the first ones rounded up for the concentration camps, as immortalized in the “I did not speak out when…” poem). Many of my posts here, including this one, are intended as peaceful antifascist action. I believe that almost no one will knowingly choose Fascism, but I acknowledge that Fascism is hard to define and most Canadians lack the political education needed to identify it. For anyone wondering about real-world examples of fascism in Canada or America (or anyone with a Trumper in their life), this video is short, reasonable and highly recommended:

    Some leftists want a stateless, classless, egalitarian society (think “Star Trek TNG future”), some think government should exist, some support some forms of inequality and some forms of class division. Some of them are utopian dreamers, some of them are highly pragmatic. Some are hopelessly idealistic, some are as murderous and ruthless as any Fascist ever was. Some of them want an inclusive society, others do not. There is a lot of gatekeeping, infighting and… “purity tests” for lack of a better term. “If you were a real Leftist, you’d do/say/believe X.” There are a lot of different fish (and some sharks, not gonna lie) that swim in the ocean that is the “Actual Left.” There are individuals and ideologies among the Actual Left that are very dangerous, and we should not cry wolf about left wing radicalism because it can and has happened.

    I don’t like the NDP – I think they betrayed their roots before I was born. I don’t see them as left wing at all – the NDP supports Capitalism, therefore, are not Leftist. They are not a party of the working class, they are a party of the middle class, and I firmly believe that “middle class” people are actually “working class” people who have been tricked into looking down their noses at other “working class” people rather than standing in solidarity with them to fight for a better life, a better society, and a better future. Suppose every Province and the Federal government were all NDP. We are still going to have to get up every day and work to make someone else rich, we are still going to have to spend almost half our waking lives doing what we have to instead of what we want to, and we are still going to have to give most of our money to our landlord. From the point of view of an Actual Leftist, nothing important changes under an NDP government. Hopefully that idea is encouraging for any right wingers out there. From an Actual Leftist perspective, the Alberta NDP is “business as usual except less corrupt and incompetent.”

    Everything I just said for the NDP goes triple for the Liberals. And frankly, I blame Conservatives for the Liberals. “You’ve got to vote for us or the Conservatives get in,” is the only way they ever get elected. The best way to shut down the Liberal party would be to shut down the Conservative party!

    Anyways, the point of telling you all of this is to reassure you. No matter what Fox News and Postmedia tell you, there are, to my knowledge, no leftists in Canada or America who hold political office, including your Bernie Sanderses, Jagmeet Singhs, Elizabeth Mayses and AOCses. The left exists, but it is scattered, dispersed, oppressed, alienated and divided against itself. It’s not going to be a factor in elections anytime in the foreseeable future. No matter what the results of the upcoming provincial election, Alberta will be governed by the Actual Right.

  11. A bitter girl with alternative facts displaying her hobbyhorses to the approval of lost souls with ideas from the past… sounds like the beginning of a horror story to me… except no… it is going to be about chapter 45 for these guys.
    Fun times except it isn’t fun and we really don’t have time for this crap anymore.

  12. planning on treating other levels of government as “lobbyists”??? omg is Smith nuts or what or just drunk on what she thinks is her power. Now she maybe able to jerk local governments around in alberta, but the feds, not so much. Some one ought to sit Smith down with the Constituion and insist she read and then give her a hand written quizz, with no cheat sheets.
    Even local governments can make life miserable for Smith, just by ignoring her and making things difficult . At some point she might actually have to ask a local politicians something and they might just be unavailable, we might also expect them to work against her in any upcoming elections.

  13. “Fun times except it isn’t fun and we really don’t have time for this crap anymore.”

    It would take me 30,000 words to say that much 🙂

    Quick reality check for mainstream Albertans – climate change is not coming, it is here. We have already blown past a bunch of tipping points – if we start acting like responsible adults today, things will still get very bad over the coming decades. The things you think are important today are going to seem incredibly stupid and wasteful in another decade or so. Your descendants will hate you.

  14. Oil & Gas has taken the spotlight for many Albertans for its history of inflated wages and steadily/rapidly crashing royalties returns. UCP labelled ‘big giant heads decided that corporate tax rates in Alberta needed to crash to the lowest in North America. Qanielle wants to consequence AHS for the chaos visited on the health care system by the several unqualified ‘ministers’ of health … etc.

    There is no end to the demonstrably amateurish and destructive decisions made by the UCP, although I list very few. One that seems to be less well known is the UCP coal fiasco, a consequence of which is the centuries long selenium toxification of fresh water sourced from the Eastern Slopes. The CPC supports these actions and policies as well.

    So, for those who argue that there is still too much ‘wrong’ with the NDs, try reading the MSDS for selenium, understand that as a bioaccumulator, selenium is a heavy metal with a toxic legacy for Albertans and more easterly provinces and. THEN quibble about spoiling your vote or not voting at all.

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