You just never know what Danielle Smith is going to say next. 

Opposition NDP Justice Critic Irfan Sabir (Photo : David J. Climenhaga).

The trouble is, neither does she.

Consider yesterday’s jaw-dropper, the latest in what is getting to be a fairly long list of statements requiring clarifications – clarifications that may soon require their own clarifications.

At what was supposed to be a good-news press conference yesterday morning about a new transition facility for homeless discharged Emergency Department patients, the premier was asked a question about her United Conservative Party leadership-campaign promise to get charges against vaccine refuseniks dropped. 

“The way our system of justice works,” she responded piously, pretty clearly trying earnestly to stick to a talking point someone had drafted for her, “is that we do have an independent justice department and independent Crown prosecutors, and I have asked them to consider all charges under the lens of, ‘Is it in the public interest to pursue?’ and, ‘Is there a reasonable likelihood of conviction?’”

Reading these words in black and white, you can almost imagine the premier wandering blithely toward the precipice.

Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“As we continue to see these cases go through, some of them get dropped, some of them fail,” she meandered onward. “They have to consistently recalibrate. But I do want to make sure that they have an independent process for assessing that …”

Here, Ms. Smith had reached the moment where she had made her point and, to put it bluntly, needed to shut up. 

Instead, with a pause of barely a breath, she rambled on: “… but I ask them on a regular basis as new cases come out, ‘Is it in the public interest to pursue?’ and ‘Is there reasonable likelihood of conviction?’” (Emphasis added, of course.)

That was the instant you could hear the trap spring shut. Ms. Smith had talked her way into another corner. This was the moment someone on the premier’s communications staff must have quietly lowered their face into the palm of their hand. 

Just after noon, Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt tweeted: “Imagine that you are a crown prosecutor who has laid charges against someone for violating covid restrictions. Now the Premier calls you if the charges are in the public interest and if there is a reasonable chance of conviction. This is attempted political interference.”

University of Alberta political science professor Jared Wesley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

“It’s not *attempted* interference,” responded University of Alberta political scientist Jared Wesley soon after. “It’s interference. Only question: was it successful or not”? 

At 1:13 p.m., Opposition Justice Critic Irfan Sabir, a lawyer by profession, published an 11-part Twitter thread that began, “An immediate independent investigation is warranted into Danielle Smith’s interactions with Crown prosecutors in light of her admission that she has frequently questioned them about their prosecutorial judgment.”

“Danielle Smith is reaching into the Crown prosecution branch, and enquiring about a specific case and questioning whether charges are in the public interest, and that certainly constitutes interference,” he continued. “Danielle Smith’s actions undermine the rule of law and it is deeply disturbing to see that she does not understand that at all.”

In his comments, Mr. Sabir drew a parallel to former premier Jason Kenney’s actions after the revelation then justice minister Kaycee Madu (who, as the New Democrat pointed out, is now Ms. Smith’s deputy premier) was discovered to have phoned Edmonton’s police chief to talk about a traffic ticket he had received.

Deputy Premier Kaycee Madu (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Mr. Kenney first made Mr. Madu “step back” from his ministerial duties, then booted him from the justice portfolio, demoting him to minister of labour. 

“Now the Premier is calling the Crown prosecutors office regarding a specific case, which clearly constitutes interference,” Mr. Sabir said. “We are calling on the current justice minister @shandro to step up and call an independent investigation immediately.”

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, by the way, has his own problems. On January 24, he is scheduled to face an Alberta Law Society disciplinary hearing into accusations of unprofessional conduct when he was health minister. 

Later in the day, responding to media questions, the Justice Department tried to help – and may have made things worse. “The premier had met to discuss prosecutions at a high level with the attorney general and deputy attorney general,” the department’s spokesperson told the Canadian Press. 

“The premier has never spoken with any Crown prosecutors about any particular court/legal matter they deal with,” he added, thereby leaving the impression that if the premier didn’t interfere with the administration of justice, then she lied about what she did.

Whatever happened, Ms. Smith is now in hot water again, and further clarifications are going to be required. 

Whether it was serial interference, a casual lie, or just an inability to stop talking so severe the premier should never be allowed near a microphone again doesn’t really matter. Ms. Smith is clearly not suitable material to be the mayor of High River, let alone premier of the province of Alberta.  

Another lawyer associated with JCCF arrested and charged

CBC News reported yesterday that another lawyer associated with the so-called Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms has been arrested and charged with intimidation of a justice system participant and attempting to obstruct justice by spying on Manitoba’s chief justice. 

JCCF-associated lawyer Jay Cameron, 45, arrested and charged Wednesday (Photo: JCCF).

“Jay Cameron, 45, was arrested by the Calgary Police Service on Wednesday after a Canada-wide warrant was issued by the Manitoba Prosecution Service,” the CBC reported in classic police blotter style.

Those were the same charges laid last week by Winnipeg Police against Calgary lawyer John Carpay, founder and president of the Alberta-based social conservative legal advocacy organization. 

Mr. Carpay admitted on July 12, 2021, that his organization hired a private investigator to spy on the judge, who was presiding over a case conducted by the JCCF on behalf of seven rural Manitoba churches that objected to public health orders made early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unlike after Mr. Carpay’s arrest, the JCCF had very little to say yesterday about the charges against Mr. Cameron, who appears no longer to be directly employed by the organization.

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31 Comments

  1. Danielle Smith can only keep sticking her appendage in her mouth for only so much longer. It’s not going to win her any favours. Hopefully, in May, Albertans will dump her, Tyler Shandro, Kaycee Madu, and the rest of the UCP misfits, before they do any more harm to Alberta.

  2. Meanwhile, somewhere, Jason Kenney is enjoying his break from public life and chuckling, “How do you like me now?”

    Of course, Danielle Smith shot off her mouth and piously proposed that if she ran Alberta, all those who because the most persecuted of all time, antimaskers and Antivaxxers, will not only receive amnesty, but punishments will be handed out to the guilty in abundance. And then … nothing. Crickets.

    The problem with Smith is that she is walking blindly into the dark and unknown corners of legalities concerning cases before the Crown and discovering that things are not that easy. For one thing, she declared she would halt all cases against the most persecuted. Now, that little thing called judicial independence has popped and called Smith’s attempt to interfere a no-go zone. Of course, Smith thinks she can call on her most loyal flunkies to make things work, but isn’t Kaycee Madu in enough trouble already? And don’t started on Tyler Shandro and his drive way antics.

    And ot make things even worse, the JCCF is finding that more and more of their lawyers are being arrested for doing criminal shite. So much for God being on their side. Who is Smith going to go running to now?

    Smith is another in a long line of CONs who are not what one would called serious people. Sure, they like to shoot their mouths off about having all the answers. But put them in a situation where the rubber hits the road and they immediately slam into the ditch. It’s like Smith declaring Alberta doesn’t need Ottawa, before discovering that Ottawa is a valuable partner. What’s a Western sovereigntist to do? Seek out the expertise of Peter Downing?

  3. So let’s see, Smith said twice “she asked them …” and laterz even on the same day, the Justice spokesperson said she actually had not spoken to Crown Prosecutors. Edmonton, we have a credibility problem.

    I suspect the biography book on Danielle Smith, should it ever be written, may well be titled Learning to Live with Disappointment. Surely that is what best describes the experience of conservatives and other supporters with her.

    There is something about the glib, careless way she confidently jumps from one verbal steaming pile of cow pie to another. Kenney might have said some stretchers, but he was often careful in his choice of words. With Smith, it is like the words pop out before the brain even really considers them.

    He had a plan, maybe not a good one, but a plan none the less. It seems like she is largely making it up as she goes along.

    1. Dave, here’s an idea for an industrial-yellow sign:

      WARNING. Ensure brain is operating before engaging mouth.

      I’ve known several people who could have benefited from that one.

  4. DJC- Thumbs up on the photo, another meme qualifier for Dani, and one could almost start feeling sorry for JCopping, dejection,fate recognition maybe??

    DS-
    1.song by JJones- you talk too much….
    2.quote by MTwain(?)it is better to keep your mouth shut ….and prove
    3.or unnamed and my personal favorite—there are some things better left unsaid ,but you can bet your sweet as_*,I’m going to say them anyway…….

    JCCF….must be working on rebranding those initials:
    con’s, convictions, etc., felon (ies) etc…and surprisingly quiet has been her Mr Wilson, what exactly was it that Dani hired him to do??

    1. Randi-lee: The photo was pure luck. Sometimes a Youtube bvideo freezes at the place you want, sometimes it doesn’t and all you get is a blur if you try. This one was inspired. The JCCF has some interesting problems beyond this particular situation which I hope to write about one of these days. DJC

      1. Mike, chuckle ….that works well with the sign “better outcomes “..and she should carry that part of the sign for when she does her “quantification ??”…..
        Copping— I’m thinking he already feels like he’s there, everything she says keeps coming back…and not in a good way.

        face to face, or quick call ,” do you want your funding ? ,”, so you’ll drop the vaccine requirements “, great….I knew we could come to an understanding…

        and Brett…if you check what her political “advisor” is tweeting about ( reference -gas stoves) you might want to retract that wish, because if not, it’s going to be her next talking point aimed at PMJT.

  5. So Premier Smith promised to “get charges against vaccine refuseniks dropped.”

    That statement alone conjures up images of mad scientists in secret labs forcibly injecting experimental serums into unwilling subjects strapped to a table. Kind of like those forced lobotomies popular in the 1930’s as a treatment to perceived mental illness which left the patient generally feeling passive and apathetic.

    Hey, the sounds like your ideal citizen! Let’s bring back lobotomies.

    1. “Mad scientists,” ronmac? To me it’s more like Trump supporters cheering as the Orange One shouts “Make America Great Again” again. Or maybe “Lock her up.”

      But mostly “vaccine refusenik” makes me think of two-year-old boys throwing their dinner on the floor because Mom says vegetables are good for them.

  6. When Klein was campaigning to become premier his mother Flo told my mother she didn’t think he was capable of running this province properly and he certainly wasn’t. Now we have another Reformer Danielle Smith making an ass of herself, while these Lawyers think they can do whatever they want. Want to bet they get off ? The judges will find a way to ignore it like they did with Jonathan Denis. Protecting their own is what they do as we have seen in the past. A lawyer got caught driving at 169 Km/h on the Anthony Henday got off scot- free a few years ago.

    1. Canada has two-tiered justice – those who can afford good lawyers get to pay fines if they are found guilty, those who cannot get to go to prison when found guilty.

    2. Alan K. Spiller: Ralph Klein also couldn’t stop saying and doing the dumbest things. We know he had a problem with alcohol. The Alberta PCs considered him to be a liability, and so they had to eventually dump him. He got a very low approval rating from the Alberta PCs at 55 percent. Danielle Smith can’t stop saying and doing the dumbest things. I don’t know why she does it so often. She only squeaked into the UCP leadership position with under 54 percent of the vote, and this was after numerous attempts. Hopefully, she’s gone before we see any more damage. One Ralph Klein was bad enough for Alberta, because Peter Lougheed called it a horrific mess. Another Ralph Klein clone would be worse. That’s what we have with Danielle Smith.

  7. “The premier had met to discuss prosecutions at a high level with the attorney general and deputy attorney general,”

    The premier’s staff issued that statement in an attempt to clear our embarrassment of a premier, but that seems pretty similar to what got Justin Trudeau in trouble when he tried to pressure Jody Wilson-Raybould not to prosecute SNC Lavalin, especially when combined with the public comments Ms. Smith has made with regards to Covid-19 law breakers.

  8. Just want to point out, the actual Mayor of High River, Craig Snodgrass, has vigorously opposed the UCP government’s change to the coal mining policy for the Eastern Slopes. He is an articulate and thoughtful speaker and conscientiously represents the interests of his town and its citizens.
    Certainly far better than the local conservative MLAs PAST and present have.

    1. Neil: I knew Mr. Snodgrass was the mayor of High River and had heard of his position of Eastern Slopes coal mining, so he seems like a good choice for the town. I did hear from someone at one point that Ms. Smith, as a resident of that community, was thinking about going after the job. Luckily for her, she has found an elected position where she can do far more damage. DJC

    2. Hi Neil. It’s remarkable how the two UCP “leaders” have managed to alienate a large majority of Albertans—including many of their own former supporters. Gotta give Danielle credit for effort, though; it took Jason almost two years, plus a year of Covid-19 precautions, to really get everyone riled up. Danielle did it in about four months.

  9. Thank you for the clarification of what Danielle Smith said. I thought I didn’t understand what was going on, but it turns out I did, perhaps better than Smith herself. She has a remarkable ability to put both feet in her mouth at the same time. Maybe she should have said, “I don’t interfere with justice at the ground level. Forget the worker bees — I go straight to the top.”

    It is quite interesting that Smith said what she said, in the context of public health order-defying churches. Consequently, one infamous preacher has called her “Kenney 2.0”. On the same day, we learned about yet another JCCF lawyer caught up in the Manitoba churches prosecution, who has also allegedly attempted to obstruct justice.

    As for me, I prefer rule of law and separation of church and state. I would like to see lawyers who don’t clog up the arrest processing system. Surely they decline the free clothing and bus tickets offered there. Heck of a way to get a free ride to the shopping centre in Royal Oak, I must say.

      1. Snicker!!!! 2-T-up.., Bubbles instead of previous Bumbles …but got me thinking, to whom she was giving that odd book— someone off camera trying to send signals and she’s like wth??
        Now I could be totally off base, but maybe her political advisor Rob , and he might be holding up cue cards, —with 2 stoves ,white-stove, black-assault stove…..
        for those who missed it: Fox news, Dr Ronny (Tx) and MGaetz…
        Biden is coming for your gas stoves….as per study of affects on children ( and some adults, myself included). Anyway, this is what Dani’s political advisor is tweeting about….if it wasn’t so pitiful, that this is where taxpayers money is being spent, it would be laughable…..the truly sad part, is their supporters are buying in……

  10. Oboy. Danielle in action: open mouth, insert foot. To the knee.

    I’m certain she makes stuff up as she goes. Telling the press she talks to prosecutors about cases is very, very bad. If she’d said, “I talked to the attorney general” that would be bad. If she’d said, “I talked to the chief prosecutor” (is there such a post?) that would be worse. But no, she said the very worst thing she could.

    Then the (here unnamed) Justice Department spokesperson muddied the waters. Who did Premier Smith really talk to? About what? What did she ask? What was she told? (Hopefully, “Shut up about it.”)

    So, what next? Kaycee Madu was not supposed to be a role model–not this way, anyhow. We’ll see if Smith is smart enough to back down fast and maybe gracefully. E.g., “I misspoke. I said ‘prosecutors,’ but I meant ‘attorney general.’ ” Frankly, I doubt she’s that smart.

    AND, she’s alienated the anti-vax anti-mask crowd that form so much of her base. It says here–

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-danielle-smith-1.6712378

    –that one of the refuseniks, Artur Pawlowski, has dissed Danielle publicly about her reversals.

    (From the CBC article:) Artur Pawlowski, a Calgary pastor jailed and fined for COVID-19 masking and gathering violations — charges later overturned on appeal — criticized Smith’s remarks…. “She promised that amnesty would come. That never happened….” He called Smith “Kenney 2.0,” [referring to] her predecessor, Jason Kenney. “She is a flip-flopping, political pancake,” Pawlowski said. “Whatever works for her, that’s what she’s going to pursue.”

    Ouch.

  11. Making her statement publicly can be viewed as sending a message to crown prosecutors to reconsider cases in the system. Her public statement is tilting the scales of justice.

    1. Sheldon, I think (read “hope”) that political interference has a higher bar than merely stating an opinion in public—even if the opinionizer happens to be Premier of Alberta. If everyone who beaked off in public (or on a blog like this one!) could influence a lawyer or judge, we’d be in a LOT of trouble.

      Face-to-face meetings, though, are a different matter. It’s much easier to push someone to agree if you’re talking right at him. This is why high-pressure sales tactics work.

  12. Why, oh, why doesn’t Danielle ‘misspeak’ to the Lieutenant Governor that Alberta needs an early election because the current premier is incompetent?

    …or would that be, misspeak twice?

  13. It would appear to me that Danielle Smith does not bother to heed the advice of her political advisers.

    She should. Not looking good. Not my idea of a responsible Premier.

  14. What does this picture tell me?

    Danielle Smith is trying to push down a pickled onion of a whopper, while Jason Copping looks ready to pass out from being in the direct-fire of a burst of Smith’s flatuence.

    I get the feeling that Smith is one of these people who believes that even her own flatuence smells good.

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