When then municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard was busted by media when she returned from a mid-pandemic Hawaiian vacation at the end 2020, it was billed the first United Conservative Party scandal of 2021. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Now that it’s been revealed Ms. Allard was covertly appointed as “parliamentary secretary for civil liberties” by Premier Danielle Smith last week, one could argue the MLA for Grande Prairie has a chance to be at the centre of the first UCP scandal of 2023 too! 

Then again, there’s two weeks left until New Year’s eve and at the rate Premier Smith’s been going, that’s plenty of time for two or three additional scandals, maybe more. 

Rumours started circulating late last week that Ms. Allard had been appointed to the role of building the case for recognizing pandemic vaccine refuseniks as, in Premier Smith’s notorious words, “the most discriminated-against group that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime.”

Yesterday, media reports confirmed her appointment. 

Needless to say, unannounced appointments of parliamentary secretaries to cabinet ministers are unheard of in Westminster-style democracies. 

Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney (Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Appointing elected officials to cabinet roles in secret is the sort of thing you’d expect from a paranoid government in chaos and on the verge of collapse, like … Well, never mind that thought just now. 

Whatever it means, the Smith Government has now fessed up. The premier’s press secretary admitted that, yes, Ms. Allard is indeed now a parliamentary secretary reporting to Justice Minister Tyler Shandro.

Her picture has now also appeared on the Alberta Government website’s cabinet section, linked to a potted biography that gives no explanation of why she was appointed or what her duties might be. Well, maybe there’ll be a press release tomorrow. 

She will work, the CBC reported, on “further protecting private property rights,” “campus free speech,” and complaining about federal firearms restrictions. 

In other words, dog-whistles that keep the UCP base in a mood to vote and donate. 

By the way, “campus free speech,” for those of you who missed it, means the “right” of right-wing ideologues, anti-abortion extremists, racists, and homophobes to disrupt educational institutions on post-secondary campuses. 

Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jeremy Nixon (Photo: Government of Alberta).

Former premier Jason Kenney accepted Ms. Allard’s resignation from cabinet after only 132 days as a minister on the first Monday of 2021, Jan. 4. The prevailing view at the time, however, was that she wasn’t given much choice in the matter. 

He also accepted the resignations of another cabinet minister and a top political aide, and demoted four MLAs, all for taking unauthorized vacations while the rest of us were instructed to hunker down at home to control the spread of COVID-19.

Ms. Allard’s lame excuse at the time was that “we have been going to Hawaii for most of the past 17 years since our youngest child was born.” She posted a Christmas video on Instagram four days before her return from Hawaii and tagged her location as the “Alberta Legislature Building.”

The other cabinet member was up-to-then parliamentary secretary Jeremy Nixon, MLA for Calgary-Klein. He is now Ms. Smith’s minister of seniors, community and social services. 

With both Ms. Allard and Mr. Nixon back in the bosom of the Alberta cabinet, the clear message to the premier’s supporters is that not only have they been forgiven for their irresponsible behaviour during the pandemic, but are recognized as being among that “most discriminated-against group.” 

If Ms. Allard is now responsible for civil liberties, perhaps she can look into the Smith Government’s plan to incarcerate people living with addictions in Edmonton and force them to receive injections of opium addiction medications.

Duncan Kinney, writing in the Progress Report, asked: “Are Danielle Smith and the UCP really going to force people to put Suboxone or Sublocade into people’s bodies after all the fuss they kicked up over bodily autonomy and COVID vaccines?”

This would certainly seem to be wildly at odds with the premier’s hostility to mandates that required citizens to be receive COVID-19 vaccinations in order to hold certain jobs, take part in some public activities, or use some modes of public transportation. (No one in Alberta was ever forced to be inoculated.) 

Now that Ms. Allard has been appointed Alberta’s Civil Liberties Czar, I’m sure we all look forward to her response to this question. 

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I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Managing Editor Alex Cosh on The Maple’s North Untapped Podcast. I’m always grateful for the opportunity to bloviate at length about the topics that engage me. The Maple is an independent digital news publication, which covers Canadian politics from the perspective of the many, not the few. Click here to listen to the podcast. DJC

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40 Comments

  1. The truth is that Tracy Allard and Jeremy Nixon were chosen for these roles because they wear red. Obviously the leader likes red, but a darker, more muted red. That is all we need to know, because democracy no longer exists in Alberta. What’s your favorite color?

  2. How does her mandate jibe with Kenney’s original Bill 1 where merely looking at a railroad could get you jail time? So on the one hand you’re free to refuse woke professors and vaccines, but on the other you’re not free to protest on railways crossing your territory. Me confoozed.

  3. Perfect.

    She will fit right in with the rest of the Executive.

    No doubt she has been practicing her ‘yes Danielle, whatever you say’ in the mirror for the past several weeks in the hopes of just such an appointment.

    A perfect intellectual match with Tyler Shandro IMHO.

  4. A parlimentary secretary for civil liberties has a nice ring to it. Of course that nice ring will important when Allard files her expense claims in her new cabinet role. I suppose, at some point, it maybe possible to shove every member of the UCP caucus into come kind of secretarial role, for the sake of padding those pay packets, of course.

    And no one can quite figure out what Allard’s role will be be. I suppose in the midst of all the breakouts in hospitals, there maybe a call to reintroduce some kind of public health measures. But noooooooooooo…Allard will stand against that because it’s communism and un Murican. Or Allard maybe tasked with causing all kinds of trouble between Ottawa and Alberta, sort of playing the role of a glorified rodeo clown.

    And surely there’s more clowing around to come.

    1. According to Wikipedia Ms. Allard and her partner hold two Tim Hortons franchises in Fort McMurray. Her cabinet colleague Brian Jean runs a car wash. In addition to their busy portfolios in Edmonton, as a gesture of goodwill and without endangering anyone’s civil liberties they could team up. Ms. Allard offers a ten pack of yesterday’s Timbits on receipt of a paid up car wash. If Timbits aren’t your thing, Mr. Jean after each soap and rinse distributes discount coupons for day old crullers at Ms. Allard’s drive through. Everybody wins!

  5. When I saw the CBC article, I wondered what the heck not-quite-Queen Dannie was up to this time. I’m still wondering. “Property rights”? Oh yeah, banned firearms; those property rights.

    But that can’t be more than a sideshow. It’s gotta be a sop to the anti-vax, anti-mandate crowd who got Smith anointed as Queen of the QCP Party.

    Now, if only Smith would appoint a parliamentary secretary of sick children; maybe we’d see some real action to address understaffed ER wards, bed shortages, STAFF shortages (hospital beds are useless without nurses and doctors). Even better if she appointed a parliamentary secretary of sick kids’ parents. We might see a withdrawal of the regulation forbidding school boards from imposing mask mandates.

    Meanwhile, I’d love to know how many school boards are quietly telling parents that, while they can’t ORDER parents to send their kids to school wearing masks, it’d be really great if parents CHOSE TO send their kids to school wearing masks. “Hey, parents, we’re just sayin’….”

    1. “property rights” are laws meant to allow corporations to extract money from communities who try to protect themselves from those corporations. For example, a municipality bans fracking within a certain boundary. If an entity owns land within that boundary that may have possibly been used for fracking, they sue the municipality for “compensation” for their “lost” land value, and win.

      1. That cuts both ways. If you are a farmer or rancher and you do not want drilling or fracking on your land, you have zero legal rights to stop it. In other words, no property rights or the right to the peaceful enjoyment of your property.

        If things go wrong you have no realistic ability to sue for damages. However, if you STFU, your lords may give you some compensation on the QT, provided you sign a nondisclosure agreement forever giving up your right and the rights of your heirs and successors to ever talk about the settlement or what it was for.

    2. Don’t forget the property rights of all those LAGO’s who had their improperly stored firearms confiscated during the great floods of ’13 when High River was under water.

  6. Parliamentary Secretary for Civil Liberties – is that anything like human rights? We still have a human rights commission, I think. Of course, Alberta Conservatives since Lougheed who created it, have generally tried to ignore, undermine and dismiss it over the years.

    So, I really doubt putting the travelling COVID woman in charge of civil liberties, human rights or whatever the heck else they want to call it will accomplish anything.

    Smith seems to have kept the worst of the Kenney ministers. Of course, there was no shortage in that category. However some of the rural MLAs who hoped they were better and might get promoted must be quite disappointed. I suppose, for them living with Smith, has been learning to live with disappointment, like for most UCP supporters.

    I doubt the COVID travelling woman will accomplish much of anything, except perhaps booking her annual trip to Hawaii with the money she earns as a Parliamentary Secretary. After all it is that time of the year again.

    1. Imagine an instance where the Parl. Sec. for Civil Liberties challenges a decision made by the Human Rights Commission. Now, that would be something to see.

      Say, the Delwin Vriend decision is called to be reviewed because the decision violates the civil liberities of religious lunatics who can’t keep their business to themselves. While munching on her abundant supply of Tim Bits, Allard decides that Danielle Smith will do what Ralph Klein didn’t have the brass to do and say ‘No Homo’ in Alberta. Of course, the evangelicals will fall over themselves with joy, because the sinners have been turned back. This is when the crazy gets real.

  7. The hypocrisy still abounds with the UCP. There was no action taken when Tracy Allard, other UCP MLAs, and even when the now former head honcho of the UCP, were not obeying their Covid-19 rules. Now, Tracy Allard gets a well paying cushy role, in a position like this. Covid-19 cases, flu cases, and other respiratory cases in Alberta aren’t going down. The liberties of Albertans is more important, while the health and well being of them doesn’t matter. Hospitals will be overwhelmed, and stressed, and the UCP will have an excuse to privatize the healthcare system in Alberta.

    1. Now, now, let’s not be too cynical. Allard et al were, in fact, punished for their antics that Christmas. They just weren’t punished for violating the Covid-19 guidelines in force (more-or-less) at the time.

      No, they were punished for the heinous crime of embarrassing The Boss.

  8. More libertarian hogwash. The UCP “brain trust” has no ideas left. All they have is outrage reactionary libertarian hogwash. Would not be surprised if they reached out to Ye at this point. What a bunch of clowns and losers.

  9. Today a voice claiming to be Travis Toews left me a voicemail message. My lucky number came up to take part in a “consultation” on the next provincial budget. No idea why I am the only one in my household hand-selected for this. A telephone town hall will take place tomorrow, Tuesday, November 20 at 6:30 p.m. For more information, the voice directed me to alberta.ca/consultation. As you might expect, “Page not found,
    We could not find the page you requested on Alberta.ca” came up. I tried various combinations and capitalized letters, but nothing came up. Not to worry, though, the voice will call me back an hour ahead and no registration is required. It will be after my vaccination, so should I take Tylenol and go to bed, or listen in and be blamed for whatever calamity is coming? Kindly advise. Remembering what the chiefs said.

    1. It was indeed Toews* … I got the same call … twice in fact. I hung up on it both times.

      *He’s my MLA & I have met him, once, outside a town hall he was holding in Sexsmith — which is in the riding — a couple of years ago. So I recognized his voice on the call.

  10. It’s not surprising that these reformers are more interested in looking after themselves and their rich friends and don’t give a damn about anyone else including their own supporters, as we found out with Ralph Klein. It didn’t matter what he did to the fools supporting him they just kept on supporting him. It cost some of them their lives and put others in financial ruin. Yet here some of them are still allowing themselves to be treated like morons. Too dumb to understand that there is a huge difference between a conservative and a reformer.

    1. “Leading influence” has a list called Pray Alberta? God is great, but email is more direct. Have a look at my reply to Abs, re the invitation from Travis Toews, or somebody.

  11. Do you remember a time when it was a left wing idea to stand up for free speech and civil liberties? No matter how bad the speech was people had a right to say it. Instead the idea of someone freely speaking is met with strange rambling insults and calls of dog whistles. I guess this is the new left, or perhaps it was always there just hidden. The idea that the NDP would be firmly in the pocket of large unaccountably multinational corporations would have been unthinkable just 3 years ago. Even some of their elected representatives are providing free advertising. Guess we should have known something was up when the leader is close with a former central banker. Those central bankers are always such champions of worker rights.

  12. Job posting: GoA
    Looking for like minded people, easily lead,able to work during vacation, has hands on training to communicate with police services, has experience dealing with multinational corp. ,has experience promoting the local economy, Experience for the position to be created, depending on past history/qualifications.

    1. (wiki) Sept 2021 sent letter to constituents promoting herd immunity
    2.Posted from Hawaii, tagged as ALB
    3.3(?) Tim Hortons–Grand Praire, Prince Rupert
    4. (wiki) ..Jk said he supported her going because she was supporting the economy by supporting West Jet.
    4a.” Press Progress -march 22-2020– confusion about staff being sent home to self isolate, Serge tells PP …head office directive…?…..

    So civil liberties,
    Federal gun regulations, as she is working with? Mr Shandro, they may have their first test case. As (e.a.f. asked).. what happens when they cross the border into BC, well headline on Global ” “Alberta man arrested in Kelowna with a loaded shotgun in a truck stolen from Fort MacMurray” .I wonder if someone can find either one to ask for a comment.
    And just an observation, both Dani and PP like posting headlines on the Twitter, but obviously either they don’t read them, or the underlings just give them the pro ones, or they do read them and don’t take down or call out the racist posts ie: the meeting with the indigenous Chiefs, or what their intentions are regarding said” civil liberties”. IMHO, that is a telling point .

    Ranger, good on you, I’m alittle envious, but you picked the right time to get away, charge up the batteries, I’m not as optimistic on the timeline, I don’t trust either one, with good reason.
    But for today, I have the comfort of homemade bread smells wafting around the house,we have to enjoy life’s little comforts when we can , so stay safe, remember Dos cervaza, por favor…Hasta luego ..

  13. Onion Lake, Cree Nation sue Alberta government over sovereignty act….ctv news Edmonton…dec 19th……
    since their land straddles the AB/Sask border, sending a message to S Moe as well??

    So much for a xmas break…

    1. No worries.

      Danielle Smith, using her shaman-like abilities, thanks to being something like 7/10ths Cherokee, will declare that all the Crown Lands are hers, reclaimed for First Nations peoples, by her right as a theorical Cherokee. (7/10ths)

      Then, all First Nations will have to negociate with Premier/Tribal Elder/Shaman Smith and their highly-selective reality.

      Good times.

  14. Of course the greatest question remains …

    Why would the UCP base, who are likely overwhelming evangelical, tie themselves to Danielle Smith, who is one record as being pro-choice and an atheist?

    Apparently, the claim that CON voters will vote anything that’s blue is true.

    I recall the buyer’s remorse that set in when everyone went running to Jason Kenney, an uber-Catholic and ‘confirmed bachelor’. Once it was discovered he maybe (Horrors!) PMJT’s little buddy, everything fell in pretty darn fast. Then, once former Snak-Pack kid and certified weirdo MP, Rob Anders, went onto whatever the Manning Center is called now and called out Kenney’s false piety, as well as alleging Kenney went on his mysterious vacation, during the Greatest Summer Ever, to indulge in “certain behaviors”. The best part was that many CON voters refused to see themselves as being responsible for their poor decisions in supporting the likes of Kenney. Of course, they have conveniently ignored Danielle Smith being an atheist and pro-choice, because she will surely support a pro-life and pro-family values platform.

    Fool them, once on them. Fool them twice…they’ll swear up and down they’re the victims.

  15. My friend Arthur Dent reminded me that December 21 is Gravy Day in Australia and around the world to fans of Paul Kelly. Unlike the current UCP (where gravy = a plum ABC post), this is a sad Christmas song about actually making the proverbial brown sauce. Fortunately, the days will start getting longer, DJC will get some well- deserved downtime and Arthur & I can start day drinking at breakfast. Ho ho ho!

  16. Ms. Allard should have claimed she was going to Hawaii to take part in a Black Lives Matter rally. After all, the pandemic rules were thrown out the window earlier that year when hundreds of thousands poured out into streets with the blessing of the political authorities, effectively proclaiming an end to the pandemic.

    1. There was a Black Lives Matter rally at the Edmonton legislature in June 2020. All the pictures I have seen from this event show the vast majority of people wearing masks. Is this the event that “effectively proclaimed the end of the pandemic”?

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