Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives her by-election victory speech in Medicine Hat last night (Photo: Screenshot of UCP livestream).

Who knew the Brooks-Medicine Hat by-election results would turn out to be exciting? 

NDP candidate Gwendoline Dirk (Photo: CHAT News).

Well, sort of exciting. 

Everyone was pretty sure Alberta Premier Danielle Smith was going to win and finally get herself a seat in the Legislature. After all, Brooks-Medicine Hat is about as safe a seat as you can get for Alberta Conservatives. 

But it was still entertaining to watch Ms. Smith’s vote percentage creep downward from a respectable beginning in the mid 60s as the first polls’ results were announced toward 50 per cent on Elections Alberta’s running vote tally through much of the evening.

As the results unfolded, you had to ask: How low can she go? Would she manage to tie her UCP leadership vote victory of 53.8 per cent? Would she dip below 50 per cent into mere plurality territory? 

In the end, Premier Smith got a little boost from the last two advance-ballot polls, easing her back up to 54.5 per cent, with 6,923 votes. 

Alberta Party Leader and candidate Barry Morishita (Photo: Pinkbird 22/Creative Commons).

The NDP’s Gwendoline Dirk, a Medicine Hat high school teacher, had 26.7 per cent of the vote with 3,393 ballots cast for her. 

But she won the vote outright for the NDP in the City of Medicine Hat, 1,850 votes to 1,694 for the UCP, independent cartographer Alex McPhee reported last night on Twitter

Now, Ms. Smith’s supporters are sure to point out that a clear majority, even a narrow majority, isn’t exactly close in a five-horse race. That is true. Someone’s also bound to piously say something like: Close only counts in horseshoes and harbingers.

That’s true too, or at least fairly truthy. But how’s that Hat tally for a harbinger of how urban voters may behave next year? 

I can’t tell you how Ms. Smith’s strategic brain trust will react to that number, or even if she has a strategic brain trust nowadays other than the boys from Take Back Alberta. But I can tell you that if I were wearing their shoes, it would worry me with Calgary certain to be the battleground in the next general election.

Independent cartographer Alex McPhee (Photo:

Remember, when Ms. Frey stepped aside to make way for the premier, this is why Ms. Smith didn’t permit the voters in Calgary-Elbow to have a by-election of their own, even though they have been without an MLA since the end of August. She knew they would have elected the NDP candidate. 

As for Mr. Morishita, the former mayor of Brooks and the Alberta Party’s standard bearer running on his home turf, his third-place finish with 16.5 per cent of the vote can’t be seen as a good augury for either his party or his own credibility going into the May 29, 2023, (or whenever) Alberta election. 

All signs, including last night’s results in Brooks-Medicine Hat, point to Alberta’s general election being a race between Ms. Smith’s UCP and Opposition Leader and former premier Rachel Notley’s NDP. 

The two candidates for a couple of separatist parties barely registered, with less than  3 per cent of the vote between them. Only 37 per cent of the voters in the riding cast ballots in the by-election. 

Compare this to the results in 2019, when the UCP’s low profile candidate, Michaela Glasgo (now Michaela Frey), captured 61 per cent of the vote and the party’s almost candidate, Todd Beasley, disqualified late in the game for uttering Islamophobic comments and being defiant about it, got another 12 per cent. 

Ms. Smith’s victory speech, such as it was, tried to change the channel on her themes up to now with promises of more support to help us with inflation and a half-hearted-sounding vow to lead “a government that is committed to serving all Albertans.”

But she couldn’t stop worrying away at the stuff that’s also worrying a lot of voters – bashing Ottawa, complaining about “woke columnists in eastern Canada,” promising “health care reform is coming” whether we like it or not, and vowing “to move quickly to assert our sovereignty.” 

“I didn’t get into politics to be a diplomat,” she said, and it seems unlikely she’ll be able to stop herself from continuing to frighten a lot of voters with her radical plans for Alberta. 

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  1. First of all, I suppose a win is a win. However, I see two troubling things in this result. One is as mentioned the percentage, which is 6% lower than for the previous low profile MLA. The other is the pathetic turn out. This lack of enthusiasm is a troubling sign for Smith.

    I suppose on the surface this validates Smith’s rural focused strategy. The result is also probably good enough to keep those in the UCP who would still like to get rid of Smith as soon as possible in check. However it is not quite good enough to keep them from being concerned about the less than overwhelming welcome back by the voters to their new leader.

    Not all of rural or the rest of Alberta is as solidly conservative as this riding and the more urban areas sure are not. This close to solid, but tepid result might actually be the worst outcome for the UCP. They will be likely be stuck with Smith now and she shows further signs of being somewhat underwhelming.

  2. This isn’t a surprise, and it also is a reflection of how our democracy needs fixing. Danielle Smith doesn’t live in this riding, and she ran there as an MLA. This shouldn’t be allowed. In Calgary, in the riding of Calgary Elbow, they are without an MLA, for quite some time. Doug Schweitzer resigned during the summer months. The need an MLA. Voter turnout in this election was quite low. It doesn’t show a resounding endorsement for Danielle Smith. Until the next provincial election in Alberta, Danielle Smith and the will be capable of doing a lot more damage, and more very pricey shenanigans, which will cost us billions of dollars. Hopefully, voter apathy will change into a strong voter turnout, and the UCP will be dumped.

    1. Anonymous: Our Westminster Parliamentary system needs to allow candidates who do not live in a riding to run occasionally. If voters in a riding don’t like it, they can always vote for a candidate who lives there. At the rate Canadian electoral districts are redrawn, popular representatives who work hard for voters might have to move several times just to stay in the same riding. And there indeed needs to be a mechanism for prime ministers and the like who lose their seats for local reasons to nevertheless continue to lead their governments. There’s lots wrong with our system, but it seems to me that occasional parachute candidates are the least of our problems. DJC

      1. Respectfully, the whole “voters can always vote for someone who actually does live in their riding,” misses some things out. Firstly, as near as I can tell there is nothing preventing all parties from running candidates from outside of a given riding in that riding. Secondly, a person may want to vote for Party X who has candidate Y who is not local – now they must choose between voting for the party they want with a candidate they don’t want or vice versa. Thirdly, it makes a mockery of the idea of local representation, which is, in theory, a cornerstone of our “democratic” system. And fourthly, it allows manifestly unqualified people, such as Ms. Smith, to sleaze their way into positions they would never have been able to occupy if they had to follow proper procedures. I believe this rule exists for the benefit of those who knowingly intend to govern us against our will, such as Ms. Smith. All JMO of course, I don’t think you made that argument in bad faith or anything, I just hate FPTP so much and most of the “justifications” I’ve heard for it basically amount to elders gaslighting and victim blaming their own descendants. FPTP means my parents eat steak every night and I eat dog food while my parents ask “Why did you order dog food again Neil? Don’t you know voting makes you free? People who don’t vote don’t have a right to complain! You damn kids nowadays are so lazy and entitled and want everything given to you, and our parents totally didn’t say the exact same thing to us! Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself!”

        Sorry, I just can’t help but push back at any narrative that appears to attempt to justify the shell game that is FPTP. IMO it was implemented to ensure that English speaking white supremacists (most of whom aren’t moustache-twirling neo-Nazis btw, just lazy, unremarkable and untalented white people who fear having to face fair competition because they know they would lose, so they disingenuously support a system that stacks the deck against the non-white while pretending they aren’t perfectly aware of what they are doing) would always be elected in Canada, and IMO it remains disturbingly effective.

        One day those who govern Canada are going to pull their heads out of their collective keisters and realize that the only people who accept their rule or believe their ideology are in graveyards. You may think I’d be looking forward to that – I’m not. History shows us that when a populace gives up on Democracy, they lose it, and that Democracies become Autocracies disturbingly often. As much as I hate Canada’s perversion of “Democracy,” I am well aware that things could be, and can get, *tremendously* worse.

  3. You can bet it was gullible seniors who elected her, just too dumb to understand what she will likely do to their health care system, like what Ralph Klein did to them. I can’t see doctors and nurses willing to stay in Alberta and take a lot more abuse from this fake conservative, and just like all the rest of these Reformers she has never once suggested trying to get us back on the path Lougheed put us on by collecting proper royalties and taxes. Helping the rich steal our wealth while trying to use it to buy votes is all they care about. The American oilmen were right Albertans are the dumbest upeople on the planet. You would have thought the young residents in Brooks and Medicine Hat would have been smart enough to help us stop her but I bet most didn’t bother to vote. As my friends are saying she can do a lot of damage before the next election and you can bet it won’t be on May 29th.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: It’s a sad reflection on how things are in Alberta, if people can’t even bother to vote, which gives us the results like this. It could very well be that Danielle Smith postpones the provincial election. She will be capable of doing a lot damage in that time.

  4. I just have to be the first one to get this one in: How soon will it be before the Premier of Alberta is referred to as “Landslide” Smith?

  5. What exactly is ‘an independent cartographer’ and do they colour outside the lines? I digress…..

    We attended a packed nomination meeting Tuesday night for the NDP candidate in Calgary-Piegan. Lots of energy, money raised and it was only minus 23. Augers well for the election!

    1. Butter: We should probably ask Mr. McPhee about that. My suspicion is that it means “a guy without a regular job who makes nice maps,” but I opted to be respectful in my description and to use his. Remember, when you hear the term “freelance journalist,” that generally means, “unemployed.” DJC

      1. Thanks for that, Dave – I now have license to call myself a “freelance biologist”.
        Feels better already.

  6. Now Danielle Smith can get back to the important business of blaming cancer patients for their illness. I hear the going rate for a one-hour virtual consultation with a certain shaman of like mind in Norway is $1500 US per hour. Surely a shaman in Norway could be billed as an oil and gas consultant.

  7. All things considered, I have no doubt that the Danielle Straitjacket’s own ‘Boys in the Short Pants’ are piling all the hi-5s all around because a win is a win is a win. But it also means that the low to no interest in the byelection’s voter turn-out, might indicate that the UCP might have some grave get-out-the-vote issues if the coming provincial election were to happen on its fixed date. There is no doubt that walking into a general election next year will be a disaster for Smith.

    Repealing the fixed elections law is a certainty now. It will be stressed, however, that the law is not being set side aside for an opportunistic reason. Certainly not. It’s being set aside because it’s important to not show weakness to PMJT. He is a crafty evil genius, who is really stupid and cares more about his hair than anything else. Smith cannot be distracted from her heroic fight against the Laurentian Elites.

    Now that the Boys in the Short Pants have scored another year of employment, there will be even more hi-5s all around. Mo’ popcorn.

  8. Yup, 54% that surely is a convincing victory. Couple that with a low turnout and in a southern Tory stronghold . . . The Post media storyline does not read plausibly. What I see is a lot of blue voters sat this one out. Why, I’m not sure?

    At any rate, if I were the Utterly Chaotic Party’s campaign directors I would be somewhat concerned about the voters tepid response, mitigated by the fact that it was a by election which rarely forecast the future well.

    So as a trial run for the NDP it looks possibly promising, for the others a question mark.

  9. Slightly off topic, but regarding Pierre P’s — see I am talking to the press— 40 yr high in inflation, 35 yr olds living in their parents basement ,..yada yada..

    Wait, was he taking a swipe at
    And he didn’t answer the question about Danielle’s sovereignty act…

    and abruptly finished the presser, walked around the counter ( they were in a small market store) and pretended to be perusing the merchandise…..

    I am invisible, you can’t see me anymore……and yes I am smiling, I’ve seen this before, my little nephew used to use that ploy alot, when he was 5 ..

    Re: Danielle’s speech — would like to have been the proverbial fly on the wall in the TBA room for the reaction to that…..especially the ” no matter who you love “…and for all Albertan’s. …as to do I believe that this is a shift in “policy “, ??? well…

    1. I think PP is a talented person who would have succeeded in a less demented and diseased society… but would have been unable to succeed with the shamefully partisan, socially destructive, bad faith, juvenile antics that have allowed him to spend his entire adult life riding the money train here in Canada.

      Seriously, how the heck did this guy get re-elected after the Fair Elections Act? His local constituents either were unable to comprehend something overwhelmingly obvious, or they wanted those who didn’t agree with them to be unable to vote. I’ve often wished that we could pick one person to vote against – my unvote would have been to PP every election since then.

  10. “…blaming cancer patients for their illness.” A hot coffee enema for any politician stupid enough to say something like that.

  11. Phew! What a night! The whole world, of course, was watching the US midterms, trying to read the tea leaves, looking directly at the influence one F Donald tRump, or “tRumpublicanism,” might have had on the GOP campaign—and indirectly, at least in Canada, at the Alberta by-election of one Danielle Smith for at least three reasons: because she pays tribute to tRumpublicanism by the sincerest form of flattery, imitation, particularly in her dismissive attitude towards the Covid pandemic and quack remedies (no offence to ducks); because of the umbilical connection between Alberta’s UCP and Ottawa’s CPC which got its own slant on tRumpublicanism like the english language got french: both by direct conquest via United-We-Roll and Freedumb Convoys from the Wild Rose province and indirectly by the sincerest of cultural flattery paid to the American partisan right; and, finally, because both the US midterms and Smith’s by-election were held on the very same day.

    So even though Smith’s victory was determined, hands down, in Brooks-Medicine Hat not long after polls closed, whereas a number of US races will require recounts or runoffs for a number of weeks, their respective completions last night offer, to me, anyway, two sighs of relief because, although I would have been happier with better results, both GOP and UCP victories fall far short of a ringing endorsement —and I naturally hope that the mounting partisan polarization in both countries has finally peaked and a turn-around is about to begin.

    Nearly all the rabid 2020 election-denying candidates tRump stumped heavily for were defeated and the “red wave” tRumpublicans were overconfident would wash the Dems out to sea didn’t materialize—an apparent repudiation of tRump who announced only yesterday, on voting day, no less, that he’s going to make a “big announcement” next week, presumably that he will run again in 2024. And Smith’s win was just about as tepid as one could get, especially in a supposedly strong and safe UCP seat. Some more of the shine either had had just came off—and all on the same day!

    Yes, there’s time enough yet to be concerned about what either might do, but today—a day of respite—one has to wonder what UCP and tRumpublicans politicians must be making of all this. One feels something has changed.

  12. Two times the votes of the nearest competitor (e.g., 54.5% vs. 26.7%) is a decisive victory for Smith. Anyone trying to spin this otherwise is just fishing for a headline. In Florida, Desantis beats Crist (59.4% vs. 40.0%). With a much lower vote differential than Smith (e.g., Smith 104% more votes than challenger; Desantis 49% more votes than challenger), pundits now call Desantis the new leader of the Republican party. Perspective, please.

    1. perspective: looking at something off in the distance, and thinking it’s bigger than it looks ???…….
      and curious that you would pick “Desanctimonius” as a comparable for election results, with Danielle……

    2. The perspective is: brand new leader and premier of Alberta with a smidgen more party endorsement than what got her predecessor bounced wins a seat that was vacated for her even though there’s a vacant seat in Calgary-Elbow, but not as much of a win as much as one might expect in a safe riding.

      And it’s not just my own point of view that an election is scheduled in only a smidgen more than half a year—in Alberta, not Florida. Even the UCP MLA who declined to vacate his own seat in the riding where Smith actually lives was apparently making sure she couldn’t run there by waiting until one day past the nomination deadline to announce he won’t be running again. And did it just before Smith’s by-election bid in her parachute riding.

      The real perspective will become clear when we see how many more UCP MLAs bail before the big day—and even more perspective if she moves the the scheduled election back.

      And that should add to the point of view Alberta voters will have of her, if they haven’t had enough perspective already.

    3. Perspective – keep in mind Ms. Smith didn’t run in a riding she has ever lived in, she sleazed her way into the one seat she thought might have ignorant enough rubes to vote for her. IMO Oz is a better comparable than DeShantis.

      More perspective – Ms. Smith is the “elected” Premiere of Alberta in spite of the fact that more than 90% of Albertans have not yet had the chance to vote for, or against, her.

      1. perspective: Oz lost ,because Fetterman won , according to Fox news ….. ..though NYP’s humpty reference, makes me question which fable they are actually trying to compare to.

        IMHO, I think he lost because he didn’t click his ” red” heels hard enough, or if he did, next thing you hear, he’ll be running in Kansas.

    4. Ok Matt, perspective. Back in the days of Ralph Klein etc. the PC’s would win this riding with around 80% of the vote. Turn out was not high even then. Opposition vote tallies sadly dismal. The NDP often had a candidate in name only. And $500 from party office for the local campaign. So. The newly anointed Premier runs in this rock rib blue constituency and gets a lower turnout and 54.5% of the vote? With mega bucks spent. Do you smell the rot?? Need I say more.

  13. It doesn’t really matter how little or how much Smith won by. She won. For her and her party that is all that matters.

    How this will impact the results in the next election remains to be seen. Things can change a lot.

    Low voter turn out in a bi election is not unusual.

    The main event is coming up next year and that will be the one which counts.

  14. Not to read too much into a by-election and taking into account a well known local it was interesting the percentage gained by the Alberta Party candidate. Looking back at the last provincial election results it didn’t entirely come from the UCP. Would lead some to wonder if there is a place in Alberta for them given the extremes of the other two parties. Unfortunately without some sort of proportional representation system like the 26% who voted NDP the 16% who voted AP also don’t get a voice. Given that both main parties in Alberta can’t win under a proportional system I won’t hold my breath.

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