How many more clarifications will be required to explain the latest news report about Premier Danielle “Calamity” Smith’s interest in what Alberta’s Crown prosecutors have been working on?

Who was the Premier’s Office staffer who emailed the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service last fall? (Image: WorldCollectorsNet.com).

Quite a few, by the sound of it. 

No sooner had the brouhaha over whether Ms. Smith had been trying to influence prosecutors to take it easy on COVID-related charges started to settle down than the CBC reported yesterday someone in her office fired off emails to the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service last fall challenging decisions about cases resulting from the Coutts border blockade a year ago.

“I’ve never called a Crown prosecutor,” the premier had told listeners during her Corus Radio program last weekend. “You’re not allowed to do that as a politician. Everyone knows that.”

Postmedia’s reliably conservative columnists were certainly prepared to take Ms. Smith’s word for it. 

“I have no doubt the premier never talked to any Crown prosecutors about halting court proceedings against Albertans charged for refusing to wear masks or holding in-person church services during the pandemic,” columnist Lorne Gunter of the Edmonton Sun declared yesterday, his column written not long before the CBC story appeared.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“In other words,” Mr. Gunter continued loyally, “I’m sure she never compromised the impartial administration of justice by pressuring prosecutors to stop prosecuting pandemic scofflaws.”

Think again!

Mind you, the CBC story makes it sound as if the Premier’s Office wasn’t as worried about the charges faced by some turbulent priest as much as it wanted to get the guys charged with plotting to murder those Mounties off the hook! 

Whatever was going on, it’s extremely hard to believe at this point Ms. Smith didn’t know exactly what the staff in her office was up on a file they all had to be talking about at the time. 

Is she didn’t – as keeps happening with this premier – it shows her in almost as bad a light, unable, or perhaps unwilling, to ensure staff members obey the law. 

The Premier’s Office issued a statement insisting the premier knew nothing. 

“This is a serious allegation,” the statement said. “If a staff member has been in touch with a Crown Prosecutor, appropriate action will be taken.” 

So at the very least, someone is now going to have to be thrown under the bus to save Ms. Smith from the tide of panic said to be rising within the United Conservative Party Caucus. 

At this point, with the story still alive and lively as another weekend approaches, it’s hard to believe that the different factions in the UCP Caucus aren’t meeting secretly, organizing hush-hush conference calls and confidential Zoom meetings to plot ways to remove or save their calamitous boss. 

This could become public soon.

Meanwhile, since the CBC story did not name the staffer alleged to have made the call, Albertans have the opportunity to play an entertaining game of Legislature Building Clue. Was it Ms. Scarlett? Rev. Green? Solicitor Peacock? A list of possible suspects can be found here. 

Preston Manning now has a paid provincial partisan pandemic panel to run!

Will Preston Manning drop his plans for a national partisan pandemic panel now that he’s been offered a chance to run a paid provincial partisan pandemic panel? 

Former Reform Party Leader Preston Manning (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Premier Danielle Smith told media yesterday the creaky godfather of the Canadian right, now 80, will have a budget of $2 million and be paid $253,000 to chair the “investigation” into how the Alberta government responded to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Only last fall, Mr. Manning was trying to drum up support for a “national citizen’s inquiry” to take an “independent” look into the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the while observing “the highest evidentiary standards,” naturally.

In other words, to act as a sort of counterbalance to the national inquiry headed by a real judge at which participants in the Ottawa Occupation Convoy feted with Tim Horton’s coffee and donuts by Conservative Party leaders last February managed to make themselves look pretty awful. 

But in a Postmedia column yesterday, the former Reform Party leader almost sounded as if his enthusiasm for the national inquiry is waning now that he’s found a paid gig. “I have been personally supportive of this initiative by participating in and providing advice to the support group organizing it,” he noted coolly. 

“Most encouragingly, on the provincial scene in my home province, the new premier, Danielle Smith, has expressed a strong desire to strengthen Alberta’s capacity to deal with future health crises,” Mr. Manning went on, sounding more cheerful. “In particular, she has identified a need to appoint a panel to review the statutory basis of Alberta’s response to the public health emergency created by COVID-19. She has asked me to organize and chair the panel, an invitation which I have accepted with enthusiasm.” (Emphasis added.)

“The purpose of this panel would NOT be to review or rehash the entire gamut of the Alberta government’s response to COVID,” Mr. Manning insisted. “Rather the specific task of the panel would be reviewing the Alberta statutes that informed and authorized the government’s response to COVID-19 and proposing amendments to such legislation that might better prepare the province to address future public health emergencies.”

Whether or not the panel, other members not yet named, tries to conduct a witch hunt against public health officials who did their jobs or to undermine the Trudeau Government in Ottawa, no good will come from any effort to “review the statutory basis” of Alberta’s public health laws.

Likewise, the presence of Mr. Manning as chair will do nothing for the credibility of the panel’s recommendations. 

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43 Comments

  1. Lorne Gunter has always been an advocate for the conservatives. Danielle Smith can only keep sticking her appendage in her mouth, and can only keep contradicting herself for only so much longer. As supportive as they are of the conservatives, Postmedia, and even Rebel News, will eventually have to face the facts as to what a dud Danielle Smith and the UCP are. They will also come to the conclusion that Pierre Poliveire isn’t that great either. On top of this we have Doug Ford. These pseudo conservatives and Reformers don’t create jobs, they only destroy them, and they sure look after their friends quite well. Preston Manning is the latest good example of this. He will get $253,000 to look into how the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta was being looked after. The results will probably be delayed, (think back to the Steve Allan report) and skewed. Basically, the UCP will be exonerated, pardoned, and AHS will be at fault. Dr. Deena Hinshaw was already thrown under the bus by the UCP, and fired by Danielle Smith. While other seniors, as well as other people in Alberta are having a hard time getting by, Preston Manning gets a lucrative pay for something that is quite redundant. Preston Manning is going to be persuading Danielle Smith to forge ahead with private for profit healthcare in Alberta. The UCP have botched their Covid-19 pandemic response so badly, that hospitals in Alberta were overwhelmed, so the private for profit healthcare route could come to pass in Alberta. In Ontario, Doug Ford is getting into private for profit healthcare. People in Ontario now regret voting for Doug Ford. You just can’t get any more foolish than this.

  2. 1. Preston said his non governmental inquiry was going to be non profit, by donations. So I take it that wasn’t going well?
    IMHO- either he gets paid in advance, or there will be no May election, not if he’s supposed to submit his report by November.

    Clue: “Singing telegram girl”, gets thrown under the bus….and Pres as Mr Boddy ? Have never seen the other/actual movie. the current Dani KoCo show is more than enough…
    List of suspects…how many are carry overs from JK’s term??

  3. These pseudo conservatives and Reformers are good for getting the cheapest oil royalty rates, bad corporate tax rates, doing the most priciest shenanigans, and destroying jobs. This costs us billions of dollars. After this, they do deep cuts, so they can have privatization, and nobody is better off. They still manage to look after their friends quite well. We never saw this level of ignorance under Peter Lougheed.

  4. MLAs I knew were certainly right . Reformers look after their pals and don’t give a damn about what it will cost taxpayers. What a great choice by Smith. Reformer Preston Manning the guy Canadians weren’t dumb enough to elect as prime minister. The mastermind behind the walk the floor stupidity that got Danielle Smith and 8 others defeated in the 2015 , yet Smith wasn’t smart enough to take that into consideration. This is nothing more than a repeat of Jason Kenney wasting $3.5 million to fill a friends pockets by creating a lie that foreign corporations were attacking our oil industry. While his followers were dumb enough to believe it the oil executives weren’t that stupid. Like Smith, Manning doesn’t give a damn about who was killed by COVID and the fools who refused to get vaccinated are his heroes. In other words it’s a match made in heaven and goes against what the vast majority of Canadians are willing to accept. More stupid politics by Reformers. Of course in the newspaper blogs in Calgary the stupid seniors are praising Smith for her decision and I bet David Staples will be also. Like Gunter he enjoys being treated like a moron and helping the UCP spread their lies, they get paid to do it.

  5. Manning’s original call for a national panel was nothing more than a smokescreen to raise funds for his Manning Centre (and perhaps the Fraser Institute as well) from supporters of the Canadian right. “Calamity” Smith has now answered that call with a $2 million cheque.

  6. You do have a way with words!! “…paid provincial partisan pandemic panel” One gets the feeling that there is an albatross around Albertas collective neck that just keeps hanging on, hanging on, and on…

  7. If that pandemic panel ever gets off the ground I hope they will investigate why the public health authorities shut down all outdoor activities like golf courses and other sporting events -probably the safest places you could be- and insist everyone stay indoors where the virus circulated freely in the air ventilation systems.

    The whole pandemic response smacked of class warfare. Younger healthy populations being locked down and submitting to vaccines as protection against a virus that had little effect on them in the first place so that the older more affluent and less healthy generation could feel safe. According to an Oxfam report, the world’s richest 1% grabbed nearly two thirds of all new wealth in the last two tears. Pandemic times are good times.

    Oh well, let bygones be bygones. The Alberta government acted no differently than any other jurisdiction in the western world, surrendering to the authority of centralized bodies like the WHO and refusing to raise questions. Come to think about it this had become more the norm in recent years with unelected international bodies like the UN and the WHO setting policy agendas with legislative bodies rubber stamping them -all in the name of the “public good.”

    Dear old Klaus Schwab was saying the other day at the WEF he envisions a world being run by stakeholder capitalists like BlackRock and Bill Gates. You’ll probably still have local elections but they will mainly serve to give the illusion of choice every four years in an orgy of name calling between basically similar mainstream parties.

    1. “Dear old Klaus Schwab was saying the other day at the WEF he envisions a world being run by stakeholder capitalists like BlackRock and Bill Gates. You’ll probably still have local elections but they will mainly serve to give the illusion of choice every four years in an orgy of name calling between basically similar mainstream parties.”

      This is not describing a conspiracy or the future, but the reality we have lived in for decades. Billionaires own everything, and the only difference between most electable political parties is which names they call each other and which boutique tax credits they have on offer. In a way, Albertans are kind of lucky, your choice between “halfway competent Neoliberals” and “batsh*t crazy gas huffing culture war nonsense” is at least a meaningful choice.

  8. A gravy train with biscuit wheels. Will he touch on why the draconian anti roadblock bill wasn’t used at Coutts? That’s what I want to know…but then we already know the answer. Speaking of pork barrels, haven’t heard much from the ” War Room”. Surely it was quietly disbanded, or Ben Harper, what’s he up to these days?
    Danielle Smith chose to go down the pandemic response path instead of concentrating on issues that might actually help Albertan’s. As near as I could tell everyone in the world was done with everything Covid, we had moved on. There is Inflation,housing affordability,opoid crisis,energy,global warming,labour shortages,the Ukraine war…you get the idea. Lot’s of actual files to work on. She is stuck on Covid and Trudeau.Tilting at windmills. She might as well run up the hated ” F#CK Trudeau ” flag up at the leg. There are bylaws for noisy mufflers and tinted windows couldn’t they pass a law against these ridiculous obscene flags and bumper stickers.I know we have to be free to express ourselves but there are kids out there looking at this dreck. What kind of message does that send to them. I was always proud to see the Maple Leaf, now not so much.

    1. ayemae: Ben is still around, retweeting PP’s hyperbole, the benefits of bitcoin mining for the Texas power grid etc.
      And I wonder if the $253k amount was agreed on ( strange # ??) to throw shade on SHarper who only got $240k from Scott Moe for consulting fees. (Saskatoon news CTV-2019) ?
      And ironic that PP didn’t mention that ,or Ben’s $117 (?) for JK or now Preston in his latest rants about consulting fees,

  9. The CBC story about the emails came only a few days after the story (linked below) that one of the people charged with offenses from the border blockade has had two of her charges dropped: mischief to property and possession of a weapon. The prosecutor declined to explain why the charges were dropped.

    In my mind this elevates the controversy from ‘did the Premier’s office attempt to interfere with the justice system?’ to ‘has it succeeded in interfering with the justice system?’

    Obviously I have no proof either way, but since the question seems legitimate, the premier has clearly compromised the public’s confidence in the justice system.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/joanne-person-coutts-charges-court-prelim-mischief-1.6715505

  10. So first she said she did it, then clarified that no she never did because she knew it was wrong all along and now this. Whoops someone in her office apparently was doing it.

    The contradictions and changing stories about talking to Crown Prosecutors or not is getting to be too much for the bungling Smith regime. I suspect someone will get fired or thrown under the bus for this, but like the Duffy Senate debacle for the Federal Conservatives, what the leader knew may continue to dog them throughout the next several months and over the election campaign.

    As for Manning’s new job, I suppose the over quarter million is a nice boost to his retirement funds. However, I prefer the old days when a retired judge would run public inquiries, not handpicked long term party loyalists. Manning also has no particular expertise in the medical or health care side of things either. However, I suppose he can be counted on to deliver the type of report that will not be too hard on the UCP and say the sort of things it wants. I’m not sure it will be very credible though outside existing partisan circles.

  11. They don’t call him “Presto!” for nothing!

    What can we expect from the Postmedia chain, anyways? Just this week, Postmedia announced that 12 of its Alberta newspapers will vanish from newsstands into online-only purgatory. How long before the rest of it follows? Save a tree! Wrap less fish!

    Will the truck convoy in support of the so-called “political prisoners” who allegedly plotted to murder RCMP officers at Coutts still go ahead, in light of these developments? Certain charges against one Coutts protestor were dropped this week. Was that decision standard procedure, or the result of political pressure? Every decision will be suspect now. It’s almost as if the justice system is being undermined and subverted in front of our eyes.

    Alberta has more witches than Macbeth. Please keep us up to date on the which-witch hunt and ensuing ritual sacrifice.

    1. Speaking of which witch, who is responsible for this leak, an employee of the premier’s office with a conscience, or someone on the receiving end? One possibility seems likelier than the other.

      When they’re busy hunting witches this weekend, perhaps they can look under the bed for the Alberta flag that disappeared from the school in my community on March 28, 2020, the date of the biggest layoff in Canadian history, when the UCP dismissed 20,000+ workers, letting CERB deal with them, then called them Cheezie-eating cartoon watchers. Who’s the cartoon now, I ask you?

      But I digress.

  12. This is the phrase that worries me: “Review the statutory basis”. If this will appear in the actual Terms of Reference doc, will the Premier move to amend/revoke the Legislature’s ability to enact reasonable public health measures? Will this lead to wide open public interaction even during a raging pandemic? Finally, given that germs don’t respect provincial borders, will infected (but free from coercion) Albertans infect their BC, SK or US neighbours? Stay tuned.

  13. Boy that’s gotta be rich – Calamity Danielle appointing an expert (read: fellow traveler) to review “the statutory basis of Alberta’s response to the public health emergency”. What next? – a review of the statutory basis for the separation of executive and judicial responsibility?

    1. Kang: Alberta has these fringe elements in politics. It’s like making a homemade pie. When the crust is created, there is an overlap with the pie dough, that has to be cut off, and discarded. These political fringes need to be disregarded. They can have one good purpose, and that is to help the UCP get defeated.

    2. Alan Hogg, the Crown prosecutor in this case, dropped the charges without explanation. This is surprising and unusual, particularly in such a high profile case. Charges were laid in the first place b/c there was sufficient evidence but now there is not?

  14. Regarding the appointment of the aged Mr. Manning (is it impolite to refer to him as ‘formerly esteemed’), is there no end to suckling on the public teat for a self described right winger and small government advocate? At 80 he is no doubt availing himself of the senior income programs which Canada provides (CPP, OAS), not to mention the generous pension paid to a former parliamentarian, especially a former leader of the official opposition. Why the need for more sources of taxpayer funded income? One would assume that any need for Mr. Manning to pass around empty KFC buckets for funds is long past. As former premier Kenney pointed out in May 2020 “The average age of death from COVID in Alberta is 83, and I’ll remind the house that the average life expectancy in the province is 82”. Mr. Manning is very close to reaching those checkpoints.

    Not to stray off topic, but the behaviours of right wingers to avoid private industry in their attempts to maintain taxpayer funded lifestyles is the height of hypocrisy. I was going to start listing right wing politicians and hangers on, but I assume DJC you have a word limit, and your audience is well informed enough that multiple names will come to mind. Depending on the electoral environment, based on their early entry into ‘cough, cough’ public service, Kenney, Poilievre, Scheer, Rempel Garner (heck we may even see Rob Anders back in the game) may ultimately challenge Mr. Manning for longest tenure of a right winger on the public teat.

    Btw, “Is she didn’t” should be “If she didn’t”.

  15. If 90% of the ‘political’ side show shenanigans [Secret, dishonest activities; tricky or questionable activities; deceit; ect., ect.] are deliberately kept well hidden and substantially below the waterline of public knowledge and perception . . . . .

    . . . . Then a tentative conclusion suggests that in a Province where every day has the potential of being April Fool’s Day there exists a subset of the population that seems to enthusiastically and doggedly support an ongoing deliberate and calculated pattern of high grade graft, disguised as patronage, perpetrated by low grade grifters freely operating within a crowd pleasing and steadily maturing Provincial kakistocracy [The loving embrace and approval by certain subsets of the citizenry of unprincipled, incompetent, and unscrupulous political managers whose primary self interest is the lining of their own pockets. In the mirror that is the manager/leader, the followers see the reflection of themselves, therefore; they cannot disapprove of the leader, because in doing so they would also have to disapprove of themselves and that would be a direct harm [as dissonance] impacting a fragile, corrupted, or false ego integrity. It is a simple self reinforcing feedback system.].

    Or so it seems, based upon all of the publicly available evidence concerning the lobbyist/radio talk show host and her consistent inability to tell the truth.

  16. The default options for Smith and the CONs are thus: blame Trudeau or say you have no idea what happened or who did it … apart from Trudeau.

    This is the level of nonsense that exists in Danielle Smith’s universe. And she will have her way, so long as she is able to keep buying the loyalty of her flunkies. This is a dangerous place for her to be, because what happens when the goodies run out? Or, better yet, what happens when the chaos gets to be so bad, there is no amount of inducements in existence that will cover the damage. Maybe there are people out there that still have shame?

    What I find interesting is that Skippy Pollivere seems to be no longer singing the praises of Danielle Smith. She’s reading from the same hymn book, but he’s insisting he is following the original script. Eliminate the “gatekeepers” and give the people “powerful” whatevers. Pollivere will keep spining his weird notions on Twitter, because that’s the only platform he trusts. Besides, the bots seem to like him.

    Now that Smith seems to be fast becoming a problem for the UCP, it’s now a question of who thinks she’s a kook-burger or a forward-thinking revolutionary genius? I think it depends on how much damage they are willing to endure.

    Now that Smith has tagged Presto Manning to be her final and last word of the most far-reaching act of oppression that has ever visited humanity, we’ll have to see what sort of saving grace he comes up with. One thing is for sure…for someone who despises big government and the public trough, Manning sure can’t keep his face out of it.

  17. Interesting choice of words (again) …the Premier is going on an international holiday now….
    there’s too many ways to go with that.( no pun intended)

  18. Presto’s Inquiry, with as much credibility as the one Jason Kenney launched to investigate anti-Alberta environmental activities, will be a bit of a political football if we have an NDP government on June 1. Manning’s inquiry is such a joke that I expect Rachel Notley will just shut it down, and try to prevent some of the $2 million from being wasted, but I expect Manning and the other board members’ contract will include a clause guaranteeing payment if a new government shuts down the inquiry.

    Last fall it was announced that Alberta had crossed the 5000 Covid deaths threshold, and was the third province to do so. The first two were Ontario and Quebec, which made total sense given their larger population. What didn’t make sense, however, was why BC, with a larger – and older – population didn’t cross the 5000 death threshold before Alberta. As of this writing, BC has 5007 Covid deaths, with a 2019 population of 5.071 million, while Alberta has 5470 Covid deaths and a 2019 population of 4.371 million. Crunching the numbers, BC has 0.98 deaths per 1000 population, while Alberta has 1.25 deaths per 1000.

    So instead of shutting down Manning’s inquiry, perhaps the NDP government could change the terms of reference, and have Mr. Manning find the reason Alberta’s death rate was 25% higher than BC’s, even though Alberta’s median age is 38.1 and BC’s 42.

  19. So… is it just me, or is the UCP about to spend 20 million dollars investigating the actions of the UCP? Who exactly does Captain Nutcase and her Bobblehead Bozos think was governing Alberta during covid?

    Dear Alberta – the problem is that you keep electing kleptocratic gaslighting culture warriors. If someone paints a snake blue and calls it conservative, it is still a snake. Please pay me twenty million dollars for this incredible piece of ground-breaking scholarship. I accept payment in cash, cash, or cash. Would YOU take a cheque from the UCP?

  20. There is a qualitative difference between what Premier Daniellezebub initially mused about — issuing “pardons” to individuals & businesses convicted under her province’s Public Health Act, which is, after all, provincial jurisdiction — and what it seems increasingly like actually happened, which is pressuring Crown Prosecutors regarding very serious charges under the Criminal Code of Canada.

    The first is still very concerning, as the Public Health Act is there to protect all of us from unsafe food handling, unclean hotels & rental accommodations, unhygienic water supplies, untreated or unmanaged sewage, and a plethora of other threats having zero to do with COVID. Do we really want to give Premiers, especially those that own restaurants, the idea that the Public Health Act is merely a strongly worded suggestion, to be ignored with a mere hand-wave?

    But the second? Interference in criminal prosecutions for allegations like conspiracy to commit murder, criminal mischief, and various firearms offences? If true — and I wouldn’t advise wagering your next mortgage payment against it — this is a serious violation of the Shawcross Doctrine that caused so much grief for the Trudeau government in 2019. This is the kind of behaviour one would expect from a banana republic, not a stable democratic sub-national government in a G-7 country.

  21. Danielle the wanna-be dictator has now announced that there will be an investigation into these emails from her office to the crown prosecutor office by, in her words, “the independent public service”. How independent is the public service when they answer to the deputy minister who answers to the minister who answers to Danielle?

  22. That was the woman on whose property the cache of weapons was found, in trailers she allowed the alleged conspirators to keep there.
    Possibly the Crown decided they could not prove she was anything more than stupid and naive, They kept the dangerous driving charge.
    So Smith may have had nothing to do with those charges being dropped, but of course Smith has undermined our confidence in the justice system because Smith cannot keep her big fat stupid mouth shut.

  23. The old disappearance of communication,
    Can’t do a review unless the “Steve Allen” war room of terror is included ,a long list of crimes against humanity in that Steve Allen war room ,let’s see if this is included,picking on Seniors ,what next ?

  24. This will be one (major) reason along with a myriad of others why Smith will delay the election call. I’m thinking that the only reason she’ll go ahead with a May election, is if she feels extremely vulnerable to her caucus tossing her out.

    If she feels vulnerable she’ll likely call the election to forestall a coup.

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