On Wednesday, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith threw down the gauntlet, accusing the CBC of defamation and demanding that the corporation retract and apologize for its Jan. 19 report someone on her staff sent emails to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service challenging how it was handling cases stemming from last year’s highway blockade at Coutts. 

CBC Calgary senior director of journalism and programming Helen Henderson (Photo: Twitter/Helen Henderson).

Yesterday, the national broadcaster picked up the gauntlet, publishing an uncompromising statement by Helen Henderson, senior director of journalism and programming at CBC Calgary, standing by the story and vowing “there is much more reporting to be done and stories in the coming days will include further information.”

So I guess there’s nothing for the premier to do but go ahead and sue the CBC and its reporters for defamation, eh? Well, don’t hold, your breath. 

But while we wait to see what happens, it seems likely the premier will turn up the dial on her attacks against the CBC and the CBC’s reporting will reveal more about what was happening in the Premier’s Office to influence the way Crown prosecutors were dealing with cases related to the enforcement of public health regulations during the pandemic and protests against those policies. 

A CBC report yesterday that quoted Ms. Henderson’s statement in full indicated it was drafted to respond to angry comments by supporters of the premier after Ms. Smith’s challenge was published. 

Ms. Henderson’s statement drew attention to Ms. Smith’s 2019 comments about the Globe and Mail report that the Prime Minister’s Office pressured then justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a fraud and corruption prosecution of Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. Ms. Wilson-Raybould resigned as justice minister and was later expelled from the Liberal Caucus in Ottawa over her conduct in the brouhaha. 

Former federal justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (Photo: Erich Saide, Creative Commons).

“If anything warrants a Mueller committee-style investigation, it’s certainly this,” Ms. Smith, still working as the host of a right-wing talk radio show, said at the time – a reference to the 2017-2019 investigation by former FBI director Robert Mueller into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and President Donald Trump’s reputed involvement. 

Ms. Henderson also noted that Ms. Smith has admitted she contacted Crown prosecutors and then later changed her story. 

While the CBC story did not name the sources of its information, Ms. Henderson said, “CBC knows the names of the sources, knows where they work, and has carefully assessed the credibility of the information they offered, but agreed not to use their names so as not to put their jobs at risk.”

“Let me emphasize here that we were very careful not only to confirm the bona fides of the sources we spoke with, but to corroborate the information they gave us,” she continued. “It was only after we had spoken with multiple sources and were satisfied with its credibility and authenticity that we published it.” 

“We remain committed to reporting this story and all the stories we carry with transparency, balance and impartiality,” her statement concluded. 

So it would seem that Premier Smith can bluster and threaten if she likes but that there is not much she can do to prevent the CBC from pursuing the story. 

Join the Conversation


  1. The only problem with a blustery Danielle Smith, threatening to throw down the gauntlet and and say, “See you in court” is that she doesn’t have the brass to be that bold. And she really doesn’t know what the goods the CBC has on her antics. I suspect Smith will walk this one back (again) and say something to the effect that she’s the victim, she’s only trying to do the right thing, and FreeDUMB.

  2. Danielle Smith has never been known to tell the truth, and when she gets caught fibbing, or making contradictory statements, it’s too late. Her weak attempts at trying to show remorse, do not mean a thing, because they cannot undo what has happened. If Danielle Smith attempted to sue the CBC, she would certainly lose, but Albertans will be paying for her lawsuit fees. We did with Stockwell Day. She would also use this as an excuse to get support to get rid of the CBC, and that’s what her federal counterpart, Pierre Poliveire wants to do. These pseudo conservatives and Reformers do not create jobs, they destroy jobs. Anyone that calls them out on this, gets called nasty names. Where’s the sense in that?

  3. On CBC’s podcast, West of Centre, yesterday, one of the speakers made the point that there is a significant difference between an anonymous source, and a confidential source. In her words, an anonymous source is a manila envelope left on a reporter’s windshield, which may or may not be reliable. A confidential source, as David clarified above, is known to the reporters; they just want their names kept out of the news story.

    I wonder if the sources who told CBC about emails from the premier’s office to crown prosecutors would now be willing to let the CBC reporters see the emails.

  4. This is the equivalent of saying, “You shouldn’t have believed me when I said that I did it.” Except they did. We all did, and now the cows are out of the barn.

      1. It was Rachael Notley who campaigned on praising Peter Lougheed for what he had done for this province and promised to get us back up to his oil and tax revenue levels and started by increasing the corporate taxes by 2%, which Kenney destroyed by 4% using the excuse that it would create jobs yet bankers know it won’t and it didn’t. She was also expected to start increasing royalties in 2021 when the oil industry had begun to recover from the 2014 international oil industry crash, that these fools tried to blame on Trudeau and Notley that occurred before they were even elected. Another one of their lies that ignorant seniors still believe is true today. Accusing Notley of destroying 100,000 jobs was just plain stupid, wasn’t it? I think Smith is in a lot of trouble. Lawyers, university professors, and former MLAs all taught me to trust what universities and the CBC always wrote because they aren’t going to risk losing their funding and therefore their jobs and I bet they are right. I noticed none of them dared call U of C economist Trevor Tombe a liar when he pointed out what Albertans had been cheated out of in oil royalties. $575 billion is a lot of money, yet oilmen have pointed out it doesn’t include natural gas royalties lost and add in Klein’s 10% flat tax that his daughter Angie was so upset about and Kenney’s 8% tax and it is likely a lot more like $900 billion.

      2. I recall being cynical about Ralph Klein’s first election campaign as premier. He was blathering about health-care spending being “out of control,” and swore he’d fix it. I remember telling people, “Yeah, right. It’s just a campaign speech. He won’t do it.”

        To my surprise, he actually did it! Ralph kept a campaign promise! Whoda thunk a Conservative politician in 1994 would actually slash guv’mint spending?

        1. Mike for as long as I live I will never forget the nurses bawling their eyes in my office when Klein destroyed their careers, some were single mothers with teenage kids and could no longer afford their mortgage payments and I wasn’t able to help them. Klein’s father Phil said to me “ Al what in the hell is the matter with that son of mine? While he gives away billions in oil royalties he forces us to have to live without a proper health care system, this could cost some people their lives”. That’s exactly what it did and the lawsuits prove it. One was almost my father, after he had donated around $30,000. to the Alberta Conservative party.

          1. Alan K. Spiller: Look at the harm that Ralph Klein did to Alberta, and we’ve never recovered from it. There are people who foolishly believe that Ralph Klein got Alberta out of debt, when that simply isn’t the truth. Ralph Klein’s intensions were to have private for profit healthcare in Alberta, and that’s why he made very aggressive cuts to the public healthcare system in Alberta. The UCP are going down the same route. We aren’t any better because of this.

        2. Mike J Danysh: What Ralph Klein did, came with repercussions. These cuts were unnecessary, and they were caused by Ralph Klein doing very pricey shenanigans, getting the absolute worst oil royalty rates, and the worst corporate tax rates. We still haven’t recovered from these cuts. People lost their jobs, and even their lives, from these brutal cuts to public healthcare. The UCP is doing what Ralph Klein did, and we aren’t any better off. People don’t seem to learn. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing all over again, and expecting different results.

      3. SNC Lavalin seems to have a lot of influence with Canadian governments no matter who is in power. Seems to me there was a scandal when Stephen Harper sold the reactor division of Canada’s atomic energy program to them for peanuts.

  5. I’m willing to bet anything she won’t go ahead with a defamation suit. She doesn’t want all the details to come out in discovery and be compelled to testify. As with all things she is full of bluster and hot air. When are people going to learn that TV and radio personalities don’t make good premiers, or presidents for that matter?

    I’m waiting for Albertans to wake up from their coma when she cancels the election at the end of May. I wonder if that will finally dawn on them that voting conservative has consequences -bad ones.

  6. No doubt Danielle Smith is worried about three things. And it shows from her comments.

    -what does the CBC have
    -which insider (s) leaked the story to CBC
    -are those leaks ongoing

    Her closest advisers must be very busy running in circles trying to solve that riddle.

  7. Well, Smith’s attempts to threaten and intimidate the CBC and its journalists on this story seem not to have worked so far. Rather than get an apology, the CBC statement seems to back up the story further. Particularly worrying to Smith may be the statement about multiple sources, so if this does go to court it may get quite messy and embarrassing for Smith.

    To be fair to those who work for Smith, they were likely as confused as the rest of us by her contradictory statements on this issue. So, its not surprising if for instance they did things a few months ago that were in line with her wishes or instructions at the time. The goal posts have now been moved by Smith and these staff are not happy and certainly must feel their jobs are in jeopardy. I can see how this may not end well for Smith whether it goes to court or not.

    So rather than go to court, Smith will probably avoid that, play the victim and cast aspersions on the CBC and perhaps the media in general. I suspect she does not have a strong case here and she know that.

  8. Gee, here is a tough question for the Smith fan club: Who has more credibility, a populist politician with a history of inflammatory rhetoric, misinformation and half-truths who schemes, or the CBC, an widely respected body of professional journalism that has been around since 1936 winning many international awards for its news? Let’s call for an independent body, out of reach of Smith, to investigate this matter.

    1. Pretty simple, not the cbc, with their, they know people that know stuff. And as for motive, they are politically aligned with the ndp and the rest of the pillagers at the trough.

      1. Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit. As per the quote in this very article “Let me emphasize here that we were very careful not only to confirm the bona fides of the sources we spoke with, but to corroborate the information they gave us,” suggest that not only do they know people that know things, they know what they know, and they know when they knew it, and they have confirmed it from multiple sources.

        Everyone is an NDP plant that doesn’t meet your strict ideological commitment to half brained libertarian ideals, so I’m not surprised you would say something so ridiculous and foolish; that you think everyone is as gullible as you is truly amusing, but I assure you it’s not the case.

        There has been one party in alberta gorging at the trough for
        The last three years and counting, and it isn’t the opposition. I would
        Suggest you grow up but I am very certain you will not.

      2. Gee Bret in my world the CBC was created by a Conservative prime minister C. B. Bennett from Calgary to create jobs and provide remote areas of Canada with radio service that other radio stations refused to support, because of the lack of revenues. All conservatives over the years fully supported them so when did they become the pride of the NDP like you claim? They have always been a costly enterprise for governments to fund, so what, so have hospitals and schools?

      3. Brett Larson: If that’s all you can come up with, it shows where your mindset is at. Danielle Smith has been known to say and do inappropriate things, and after this happens, she has to deal with the consequences of this, and then tries to apologize, when it’s too late. The CBC, and the NDP isn’t responsible for this whatsoever. It’s not some type of smear campaign against Danielle Smith, by the CBC and the NDP, as others would like people to believe. The CBC and the NDP don’t tell Danielle Smith how to act. Danielle Smith doesn’t know how to make her brain and her mouth work in tandem. That’s one of her biggest problems, and she has many.

        1. Anonymous I don’t know if you heard her latest bit of stupidity? Apparently she wants all the revenues received from our national parks to remain in Alberta, totally ignorant of the fact that it’s a well known fact that they don’t make money they lose it. The cost of maintaining them is huge as you can well imagine. Once again proving she hasn’t a clue about managing anything. All mouth and no brains a friend would say.

    2. Hi David. I’m sorry to say that Alberta Cons are unlikely to care about CBC’s credibility. Here’s a blog by Lisa Young, with some disappointing but not even slightly surprising stats about public trust:

      I’d say Smith’s fans are too emotionally invested in the stories she tells to believe anything else—and I believe the same of Smith herself. I doubt they’d be willing to think very hard about any contradictory information.

      But I totally agree we need an independent, judicial investigation, one (as I’ve noted elsewhere) that should be chaired by a judge or lawyer from outside Alberta. Otherwise we’ll never learn the truth.

  9. There’s a growing habit of speech in US circles of politics and punditry, and that is to say that an elected politician, usually from a rival party, has made an issue “too political,” or simply, “political” when what is really meant is that someone has made an issue too partisan.

    It’s particularly disturbing that Democrats mistakenly use the term ‘politics’ this way when criticizing GOP antics which are overtly partisan—that is, affected purely for what tRumpiblican parliamentarians perceive as advantageous for their party or, equally, disadvantageous to their rival Democratic Party which tRump labelled in the most partisan way possible: the enemy of the state—the same sort of way UCP politicians and supporters label Canada as the enemy of Alberta.

    In either case, subscription to such bogeymen as George Soros, the Elders of Zion, and Sasquatch relies completely on rote partisanship to garner votes since the political art is limited to the possible, and membership to the club demands belief in the fantastic where reality and political possibility are moot. Further, when accusing the Democrats of the most offensive treason—for which the penalty is death—cannot garner enough votes for the GOP to prevail democratically, cheating is employed in a way that only Machiavelli could find artful.

    Ultimately, politics is denigrated by misusing the term to mean something bad, something done for partisan advantage only instead of the public good. tRump himself boasted, “ I’m no politician,” and his burgeoning base practically cheered the house down. ‘Government’ in tRumpese is a ”swamp” that needs draining. Et cetera.

    We hear tRumpublican apes like PP and Danielle use similar denigrations of government, like, “it’s broken,” a direct lift from tRumpublican rhetoric. Yet Poilievre’s reticence to play ball with Smith is indicative of the political—if inappropriately partisan—contrast between the two politicians: although at least half of CPC influence comes from the two landlocked provinces—the two which have recently passed so-called “sovereignty acts” with thinly veiled secessionist ideology— it is impolitic for PP to cooperate in this kind of rhetoric from his federal position. His ‘politics’ might be too partisan, but he’s enough of a politician to know that the democratic system is not so “broken”—despite his incessant claim that it is— that voters wouldn’t denounce breaking up the country or any partisan rhetoric to that effect, and do so at the ballot box to his party’s disadvantage.

    Danielle Smith, on the other hand, is not nearly as much of a politician to know that most of the policies she proposes are quite impolitic, even within the smaller Alberta electorate. The fact that she acquired her position because of extraordinary circumstances that reflect very little democratic approval doesn’t seem like the “art of the possible” that true politics is supposed to be—that is, it doesn’t seem possible that her policies, polices which don’t even have the unanimous approval of her own party, let alone the electorate at large, will succeed in the partisan sense—the ‘politics’ of getting and keeping power. Indeed, PP is rightly afraid that association with Alberta Sovereignty is politically and electorally dangerous because Smith has practically no political chops whatsoever.

    The single exception is that both he and she focus their große Lüge blame on an alleged “coalition” of JT and Jagmeet—but we haven’t heard PP poo-poo Rachel Notley as being part of it like Smith has—which he surely would do if he thought it the least bit politic for his own party’s partisan advantage. One wonders if PP cringes whenever Smith does it because, as a seasoned and fairly successful politician, he sees that she is not, yet it’s too toxically risky to ever be caught helping her coordinate their respective narratives and, in any case, her political ineptitude probably prevents her from tempering her rhetoric for both of their sakes. She is obviously not one to be discrete —and is too proud of it by half.

    The biggest corroboration of that is the painfully obvious fact that she should keep her big fat mouth shut, but doesn’t. None of the pickle she finds herself in now was necessary politics, yet she just can’t seem to help picking at her scab.

    …which exemplifies what happens when the term politics is misunderstood, as it appears to have been for Smith’s entire political career. If she accepted it something as bad as tRumpublicans insist, then she probably rejected learning even the basics—just like she doesn’t want to listen to medical expertise about Covid: she simply rejects it out of hand. Like tRump, she thinks politics is an unnecessary impediment that can be easily ignored and replaced with nothing but partisanship.

    But what it really means is, because politics has been mistaken for unquestioning partisanship, her party is most likely to be retired by voters. Because politics, Danielle.

    Words do matter.

  10. Off topic, but out heroic protester friends who putt Coutts on the map are at it again, fighting for our rights… to conspire to murder RCMP officers. Because that’s the world we live in.


    I’ll just take a sec to spare a thought for the Coutts residents who wanted nothing to do with this, as a year later their lives have still not returned to normal. Sure would suck if my neighbours put my town on the map for something similar. Can you imagine it happening where you live?

    Sequence of events – several arrests made for, again, conspiring to murder RCMP officers. The other protesters suddenly heard their mothers calling, so they hugged it out and sang the anthem with the exact people their friends were allegedly conspiring to murder, lots of warm fuzzies all around (don’t ask me why or how I am friggin gobsmacked, if a group of protestors was sheltering people trying to murder me I certainly wouldn’t want to be friends with them, and I’d also have a bunch of very probing questions for them about who knew what, when, but I’m sure the Police know what they’re doing). Fast forward, now a bunch of yobs and whackos are coming back to protest the arrest of their friends, for, once again, conspiring to murder RCMP officers, because yay freedumb. I wonder if various comments from Ms. Smith have helped inspire this? I wonder if the administration of justice has been thrown into disrepute, not only in Alberta, but in Canada as a whole?

    I hope the big brains who work for the Police will learn something from this – just because someone is a violent, white, antisocial, mediocre, ignorant asshole does not mean they are pro-Police. The flag-wrapped fools with the Thin Blue Line patches are not your friends, they will, in fact, be very proud to shoot you if you ever get uppity by trying to hold them to account for their crimes. Don’t take my word for it, go to the chat forums where there have been many documented instances of far-right extremists actively planning to infiltrate Police and the armed forces so they can get combat training they can use to bring about a violent revolution.

    If anyone finds this claim farfetched, rather than post a dozen links I’ll offer the google search string “csis far right chat forums canada extremism.” Lots of hits with lots of info over a several year time period. This has been happening and still is, and it has been a long, uphill battle to get the authorities to acknowledge it. For some reason.

    1. Neil: it doesn’t help matters at all, when you have people like Brett Wilson posting on his Twitter acct that the ” whiners from Ottawa are just making a big deal about a little honking “,

      the only thing that got me to calm down, was the # of people who dared him to give his address, so they could come by for a few weeks and “just honk” at him.
      I’m still spitting bricks…grrr..

  11. Of course the hilarity in all this is that if this matter comes to trial, and if the evidence proves that Danielle Smith was clearly involved in trying to push the scales in favour of the FreeDUMB goofballs who were plotting to MURDER RCMP constables, there are more than enough idiots in Alberta who will just yell FREEDUMB and call the whole thing a conspiracy to bring done the premier who was chosen by Jesus to rule over everything. Yes, that is the case. The stupidest people alive have taken over and are determined to force their stupid shite onto everyone because Jesus told them to do it. And Foxnews, too.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

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