Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, looking for all the world as if she might be clarifying something (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

As predicted in this space yesterday, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has now clarified her statement of the day before about contacting Crown prosecutors “on a regular basis” to ask if they thought COVID-related public health prosecutions were in the public interest and if they had a chance of resulting in convictions.

Alberta NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, who said of Ms. Smith, “Clearly lying is happening” (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Since Ms. Smith’s negative views of efforts by public health officials to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are well known, it would be hard for prosecutors to interpret that as anything but a request that they stop. 

But it turns out she didn’t contact them after all – or so she now says. 

“I had discussions with the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General and asked them to look into what options were available with respect to outstanding COVID-related cases,” Premier Smith clarified in yesterday’s clarification.

“They advised me the Crown prosecutors would independently make their decisions on whether or not to carry on with COVID-related cases based on their assessment of whether there was a reasonable chance of conviction and whether it was in the public interest,” she clarified further. (Is it possible she didn’t know this?) 

“I respect that independent process,” she went on, with determined clarity. 

Justice Minister and Attorney General Tyler Shandro, wearing his Movember moustache; Ms. Smith admits she discussed COVID-related public health prosecutions with him (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“While my language may have been imprecise in these in these instances, I was referring to the process and the discussions above and the advice I received from the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General.” 

Ah, imprecisionCarry on, prosecutors! 

“At no time have I communicated with Crown prosecutors,” Ms. Smith’s statement concluded definitively. 

This is all very well to say, of course, because as many people were pointing out last night, whether or not she communicated with the prosecutors, they heard her loud and clear, and what they heard was that the premier of Alberta unequivocally does not want them prosecuting anyone for any offence against public health rules, at least where COVID-19 is concerned.

Nor was it the only time Ms. Smith has said this. Just before Christmas she told the proprietor of a right-wing video blog the same thing, in even greater detail.

Carry on prosecuting! Bonus points to anyone who recognizes this famous Calgarian, who has nothing directly to do with this story but was dressed appropriately for the illustration (Photo: Library and Archives Canada).

Ms. Smith said then: “The questions that I can ask and have asked and continue to ask is: Is it in the public interest and is there a reasonable likelihood of conviction?”

“I’ve put it to the prosecutors, and I have asked them to do a review of the cases with those two things in mind, and I’m hopeful that we’ll see a true turning of the page.”

So what’s going on? It’s pretty clear what Opposition Leader and former premier Rachel Notley makes of this. “She is either lying now or she was lying then,” Ms. Notley told Journalists in Calgary yesterday. “Clearly lying is happening. There is a lot of lying going on.” 

As I said in my last post on this topic, Ms. Smith’s very public gaffe on Thursday morning was “the latest in what is getting to be a fairly long list of statements requiring clarifications – clarifications that may soon require their own clarifications.”

Yesterday’s clarification is exactly that, a statement that does not settle the objection to her original comment and further seems to confirm that she has an extremely casual relationship with the truth. 

Indeed, we are a point now that she has called into doubt just about everything else she has said about anything.

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43 Comments

  1. Danielle Smith has the art of misconstruing her words, or basically letting her mouth outpace her brain, right down to an artform. It’s a regular occurrence, that we can always count on her to slip up. Let’s just hope that Albertans will come to their senses and get rid of the UCP from their grip on power, before they do any more damage. What they have already done, is bad enough, and it will take so long to fix. We are still in trouble from the horrific mess that Ralph Klein left Alberta in. Danielle Smith is definitely a liability for the UCP, and especially for Alberta. The UCP are the last type of government we need in Alberta. This level of stupidity was never seen under Peter Lougheed.

  2. People do not generally have high expectations of politicians and truth telling. However, even by those relaxed standards, Smith still manages to be somewhat disappointing as she twists and turns like a pretzel or perhaps someone hoisted on their own petard.

    The problem starts with her being vague about who she was talking too. Perhaps wanting to give a different more forceful message to her supporters and a more reassuring one to everyone else. Well, it turns out you can’t say two different things at once. Doing this with such intention therefore is lying.

    It is probably best to be more careful in what you say in a news conference. If you are going to make things up or change your story, it is better to do so when not under the glare of the tv cameras.

    As for Shandro with that moustache, he could get a role in a Charlie Chaplin movie with it, if he ever needs to give up his day job. Yes, the good old days of silent pictures when science actually was golden. Maybe Smith should consider a career in silent pictures also as her loose lips have done her no good recently.

  3. It’s performative. Everything is an act including the truth. She is either throwing red meat to the base or owning the ” Libs “, usually ( hopefully ) both, all under the cover of a conservative smoke screen. A public policy of meaningful political reforms,common sense legislation for the good of ALL Albertan’s and co operation with Ottawa are certainly not on a UCP agenda.
    She reminds me of Colonel Cathcart from Catch 22 paralyzed with indecision and reducing everything to ” black eyes ” or a ” feather in his cap “. A vacillating opportunist with only one consideration…blind ambition.

  4. How is this newsworthy? A politician lying, do tell. Trudeau, Kenney, Poilievre , Shannon Phillips, Chretien, ….all caught telling lies. If we found a politician that never lied, THAT would be newsworthy. What is really sad is that we have become so partisan that we accept the lies of those we side with and, all the while, make a big deal about the lies of the other side.

    1. Cornell: It’s newsworthy, in my opinion, for two reasons. First, when politicians are accused of lying, what the accuser has in mind is mere spin. So, first, this was on the face of it an actual falsehood, not just self-serving exaggeration. Second, Ms. Smith claimed to have acted in a way that was technically illegal and highly reprehensible, to wit, to interfere in the administration of justice. This lent the lie weight. As of tonight, it appears to have been established she was just lying, and in a way that was not that far removed from spin. As a result, I expect the brouhaha will die down. That said, this situation reveals Ms. Smith’s ineptitude and ignorance, in that she didn’t appear to understand what she was lying about. DJC

    2. Not all lies are equal, and who is lying about what under which circumstances for which reason matters. Whattaboutisms greatly favour the powerful and unethical, and allow them to draw false moral equivalences between them and the people they harm.

      When I was a small child, I remember trying to justify misbehaviour by claiming that all the other kids were doing the same thing. I seem to remember my parents asking me, “If the other kids flushed their heads down the toilet, would you do that, too?”

  5. Now that it appears that, for the Antivaxx/FreeDUMB crowd, Danielle Smith is not their gal, in fact she has this tendency to be full of bluster, before walking back what she said. In other words, to her base, she’s a liar. This could become problematic as the date fixed election date draws nearer.

    Now that the most persecuted people of all time will not get their revenge of the MSM, PMJT, and pretty every group that they consider to be their sworn enemies, who are they going to turn to if not Danielle Smith?

    Jordan Peterson is headed out on his nationwide rant tour. But it looks like he’s going to find better audiences in the US than Canada. And Skippy Pollivere is spending a lot of time attending (Inviting himself) to various ethnic community events, as though he’s trying to clean off the stench of his flirtation with the FreeDUMB Convoy crowd. Meanwhile, that evil genius and mastermind with nice hair, Trudeau, is getting his way 24/7. Doug Ford, striking another blow against the ‘Resistance’, has decided that Trudeau’s proposals for increased heath care funding are not so bad after all. What’s the UCP’s base of crazy going to do? Keeping hammering away at Rachel Notley is the worst thing ever? Seems they are doing that 24/7 already. They need another bag of tricks.

    Which brings me to the bigger question: will there even be an election in 2023? I say no. Nada. Nyet.

    Smith will make up some kind of excuse, like an economic emergency, or a state of war with Ottawa to avoid that fateful event. At this point, I can’t think of any UCP MLA that really wants to go the polls and actually campaign for their re-election. Score an extra year of the perks and call it a fun political career. Why not? Smith seems to be ever receptive to shoving more and more loyalists into the cabinet to keep everyone happy. The biggest cabinet of all time? Go for it.

  6. The actual words wouldn’t be as remarkable as them coming from a cranium of solid bone. In this case they do matter because Danielle Smith has inappropriately interfered with the administration of justice, no matter the truth or untruth of what she said. Now, she can say a cranium of solid bone couldn’t have said those words, or that anybody who thought it could would be crazy, or that, if it did, the words shouldn’t have been taken seriously—not from a cranium of sold bone, anyway—but it is germane to the Crown’s prosecutorial independence that politicians’ words need to respect its office.

    The first order of inquiry should be to find out if Smith did or did not inappropriately communicate with Crown prosecutors. We don’t expect to get a clear answer from a cranium of solid bone, so it’s up to the prosecutor’s office to state categorically if Smith did or did not communicate with it. If it turns out she lied and really didn’t communicate or “put it to the prosecutors” as regularly, continually, and with reason to expect a “true turning of the page” as much as she’s reiterated with obvious emphasis, then it’s just a lie and not all that remarkable: any old cranium of solid bone can do that—prob’ly get one down at the political pawnshop for five bucks.

    However, what Smith has put to prosecutors is a quandary: since she’s proved she can’t be believed, the independent office is forced to repair the perception that Smith’s words, no matter how the office heard them —as surely it must have by now—or remarkable their boney origin, might have inappropriately influenced its mandated, independent deliberation about whether any case in particular will be prosecuted. It’s difficult to remove that perception, and that’s why it’s inappropriate for a political leader to make statements like that in the first place, even if coming from a cranium of solid bone. Adding to—or maybe multiplying—the difficulty is that she said these things over and over until suddenly, right now, saying they were either imprecise or never actually put to Crown prosecutors after all. “At no time have I communicated with…” doesn’t quite cut it. You need a good, stout bone-saw for that—maybe one a them fancy electoric ones.

    Imprecision, used the way Smith has, almost successfully attempts fuzziness, but as any old Crown prosecutor would tell you, it’s as inexcusable as parsing the word “perceptible” like BC Liberal premier Christy Clark once tried when it appeared she had committed a conflict of interest: it’s only a perceptible conflict, not a real one, she explained. That, however, is either ignorance of the concept or an attempt to obscure wrongdoing—or both. Because it’s hard to tell if it’s only a perception of conflict, even the perception is not allowed in order to ensure conflict can’t be so excused. Certainly “imprecision” is as unacceptable.

    But what are Alberta Crown prosecutors supposed to do now with Smith? She’s as good as said: ‘ Oh, alright, then! Go ahead and prosecute [offenders of public health orders] if you feel you must—I’ll just pardon them anyway’—or worse: ‘—you know that I’ll just pardon them anyway.” A cranium of solid bone is capable of anything.

    Surely the independent office doesn’t want to trigger the Sovereignty Act by issuing a public statement that it cannot advise any minister of the Crown to do anything unconstitutional—like grant presidential pardons; yet that in itself is a perceptible influence. It can’t even extricate itself by referring the matter to the electorate because it could perceptibly be construed as favouring the Loyal Opposition NDP in the upcoming election. It can’t very well say: “Oh, well, the NDP was going to win anyway,” as likely as that’s getting. It’s so unfair.

    See how remarkable is a talking cranium of solid bone! Mark your rating on the ballot provided.

  7. One of the many tragedies of the Indian residential schools legacy is that the victims never had a chance to watch parents being parents, and as a result never learned how to be parents themselves. As a result, too often the negative effect of the residential schools went on to negatively affect the subsequent generation. This is a harsh example of the necessity of mentors.

    What does this have to do with Danielle Smith? I believe she is similarly suffering from the lack of a mentor. According to her Wikipedia entry, she crossed the floor to join Jim Prentice’s PCs Dec 17, 2014, then lost her bid for the PC nomination in her Highwood riding Mar 28 of the following year, which effectively terminated that phase of her political career. Throw in a Christmas break right after the floor crossing and it appears she had about 2 months to observe how a government caucus works.

    Worse yet, she also spent 6 years as a fantasy premier on her radio show, where she could advocate all sorts of things, the more provocative the better. In that environment opposition is easily taken care of with the push of a button. Too bad for Danielle the legislature does not have a similar button.

    I wonder if the people who have had great fun referring to Justin Trudeau as a drama teacher have any thoughts about our radio host premier. The 2015 Justin Trudeau ‘just not ready’ commercials also come to mind.

  8. 3 questions:
    Has Smith interfered in an active prosecution?
    If yes, was that interference a criminal offense?
    If she has criminally interfered in a prosecution while in office, can she still hold office?

    1. In order to answer them, I’d need to ask 3 of my own.
      1)What does she have to do in order for you to see her as “interfering” in an investigation? For instance, do her numerous public claims that she will discourage her government from enforcing certain laws against certain people count as “interfering?” It’s certainly not as though the prosecutors working for her government are unaware she made them. YMMV
      2)No idea, law is hard. That said, are you okay with politicians be allowed to get away with anything unless it can be proven illegal in court?
      3)Of course not, when is the last time you saw the law apply to a wealthy or powerful person? Ask the RCMP officers investigating Jason Kenney’s election campaign how that’s coming along.

  9. Speaking of “taking it all back” how long is it before Rachael Notley starts to rolling back her vaccine fanboy image she has aggressively promoted the last few years. A tireless supporter of the jab, she once called for a door-to-door vaccination campaign and tweeted out, “We need to figure out who isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19, why they’re not, educate them and then take the vaccines directly to them.”

    You won’t see this being reported yet in Canadian MSM but in Europe there’s been a steady trickle of calls urging a halt to all vaccination campaigns until an adequate risk/benefit analysis can be undertaken. In the last few days there’s been quite the kerfuffle in the UK over a BBC interview of a prominent cardiologist who claimed there’s a possible link between excess cardiac deaths and the Covid jab.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/13/bbc-cardiologist-aseem-malhotra-links-covid-jabs-to-heart-disease-deaths

    1. I just followed ronmac’s link to the Guardian article. Here’s the headline and teaser, copied directly from the web page:

      “BBC CRITICISED FOR LETTING CARDIOLOGIST ‘HIJACK’ INTERVIEW WITH FALSE COVID JAB CLAIM.
      Aseem Malhotra’s ‘misguided’ views linking some Covid vaccines to excess heart disease deaths should not have aired, say experts”

      This is the fifth paragraph of the report:
      Malhotra, a cardiologist at ROC Private Clinic, claimed mRNA Covid vaccines play a role, saying his “own research” showed “Covid mRNA vaccines do carry a cardiovascular risk”. He added that he has called for the vaccine rollout to be suspended pending an inquiry because of the “uncertainty” behind excess deaths. (Emphasis added.)

      There were reports early in the pandemic of inflammation of heart muscle tissue in some people. That turned out to be rare. Maybe the vaccines also cause the same problem in some people. I dunno. BTW, his remarks about Covid vaccines were off-the-cuff and in addition to criticism of new guidelines for statin (anti-cholesterol) drugs.

      Various experts, quoted by the Guardian, criticized the BBC for giving this guy air time. So did Timothy Caulfield on Twitter. (Caulfield was a lot less polite about it than those quoted by BBC.)

      So, ronmac, the kerfuffle was over why the BBC gave this guy an interview in the first place. With billions of doses of Covid vaccines administered (I’ve had three boosters so far), there are very few reports of adverse outcomes. Here’s a real one:
      https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vaccine-injury-support-program-covid-19-pfizer-vaccine-paralysis-1.6496761

      And here’s a summary of how common such reactions are:
      https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2004597315537

      Enjoy….

          1. Yeah…funded by the Immunization Partnership Fund, a federal government agency that promotes vaccine acceptance. So right off the bat his objectivity is compromised. A couple years ago this ScienceUp First website was running Pfizer press releases.

    2. For anyone with a half hour to burn, this video is a great primer for understanding the history of anti-vaccine movements and the problems that caused and sustain them:

      1. The link appears not to have posted, maybe I shouldn’t post links? Maybe I can’t operate computers? Anyways, search for “anti-vaxxers what went wrong” on youtube, it’s by a channel called Wisecrack.

  10. We’ve reached a point of peak absurdity in Alberta.
    Is batshit lady lying about lying, or is she lying about telling the truth?

    Does it even matter any more? I wonder when this curse will be lifted, if ever?

  11. Please pardon me. I have an over active empathy gland and am currently feeling contact remorse as a result of how useless Dani’s bench is and how comically clueless she is! It’s like I want to give them my favourite blanket and a cup of hot cocoa! Yeesh! I guess all I can give them is a “bless their little hearts” and a song! For Dani! https://youtu.be/aLnZ1NQm2uk

  12. Danielle’s motto:
    I know you think you understand what you thought I said ,but I’m not sure that you realize that what you heard is not what I meant…..

    and just for some levity.(I hope).
    Arthur and the Refuseniks–a cowboy lament song , titled Flapjacks–Oh,Dani, she did us wrong, driving to Edmonton to undo the wrong, honk! honk! ….etc. etc.

    Side bar— Skippy is in the same boat, rally in Timmins (Tues?) speaking up for Indigenous people ,Thur in Winnipeg speaking at a *taking no questions event, sponsored by group of residential school effects deniers….???? I have no words..

  13. Without a doubt Danielle Smith has made AB the most politically entertaining place in the country. This is what happens when you have a premier who is batshit crazy and suffers from verbal diarrhea.

  14. I know it! The man Bob Edwards once called “Another CPR Wreck” in The Eyeopener. Dunno if he used that specific photo, maybe.

    Smith just can’t keep her big mouth shut, then she sticks one foot in her mouth and shoots herself in the other foot. Sooner or later she is going to get her feet mixed up.

  15. Danielle Smith has muddied the waters, and managed to create a whirlpool that’s dragging her down. At the moment, we have more questions than answers. Smith has contradicted herself, by saying repeatedly “I talked to the prosecutors” about cases. After being publicly humiliated, she said (paraphrased), “No, I didn’t talk to prosecutors. I talked to the Attorney General”—Tyler Shandro, whom she couldn’t possibly confuse with “the prosecutors,” plural, handling the cases. But when did Smith talk to Shandro? How often?

    Let’s condense her statement a little. Smith said at first that she had spoken to prosecutors. She said it more than once, in more than one venue, and she specified “prosecutors,” plural. Yesterday, she said she’d spoken to the AG, Tyler Shandro, and deputy AG. From the Twitter link, edited:

    “They advised me the Crown prosecutors would independently make their decisions…based on their assessment of whether there was a reasonable chance of conviction and whether it was in the public interest.”

    OK. But Smith left out WHEN she spoke to Shandro. Was that before egging her own face, or after? The Justice department statement implied “before.” But what about after the national gaffe? Then, too? Or then ONLY?

    By the way–does that sound to you like Tyler Shandro told Smith to butt out?

    Smith says her efforts to communicate were just meant to ensure there’s a “process,” that the prosecutors weren’t wasting their (or the plaintiffs’) time. How many times must she be told that yes, there’s a process, and no Madam Premier, you are NOT part of it.

  16. I have learned at it’s official among the conspiracy minded: Danielle Smith, like Jason Kenney, is a PMJT plant charged with the destruction of Alberta.

    There’s the evidence…Trudeau really is smarter than all the CONs. Wow.

  17. Apparently someone is planning another fundraiser truck rally in Southern Alberta late this month, in support of the men charged under the Criminal Code in the Coutts border blockade. They’re called “political prisoners” for the purpose of this cash grab. This comes after previously-planned truck revivals for Ottawa, then Winnipeg, were cancelled. Truck revivals have replaced tent revivals in a certain segment of the population. Things just keep getting stranger.

  18. 1) directly asking the prosecutor of an active case to re-assess on basis of “is this prosecution in the public interest” is interference.
    2) presumption of innocence is almost always required for rule of law. Political interference may be one of few exceptions.
    3) Sam Bankman-Fried

  19. The problem as I see it, is this. Danielle doesn’t have a background in law or political science. Klein (who had a political apprenticeship as mayor of Calgary) also had his Rod Love who had a background in political science to keep Ralph out of prairie mud holes and bear traps. Or as the media put it, Rod was Ralph’s brain. Danielle alas, would appear to have no one equivalent, so it leaves her to produce hot steaming embarrassing messes where ever she wanders. Will this Danielle in Blunderland approach matter to Alberta voters, hard to say. Only an election will give the judgement, but do remember the old maxim; governments defeat themselves.

    1. Former: Personally, I have never accepted the view that one needs a baccalaureate degree to understand how our government works. I’ve known too may people with no education beyond grade school who exuded a sophisticated understanding of history, politics and the law, not to mention common sense, and plenty who benefited from first-class educations and held doctorates of various sorts who were nevertheless fools. The plan fact is intelligent and well-informed people and idiotic ignoramuses are found in both groups. Ms. Smith’s flaws, in my opinion, include a tendency to blather on in confident terms when she quite literally doesn’t know what she is talking about, a casual relationship with the truth, and a tendency to listen to Rob Anderson, who is now executive director of her office. DJC

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