Alberta Premier Danielle Smith tries to snatch back her hand from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: Screenshot of news clip).

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looked like the smooth old political pro he has become yesterday as he laid out his health care deal for Canada’s perpetually dissatisfied and mostly Conservative premiers. 

Former Alberta premier Rachel Notley looks askance of Mr. Trudeau’s proffered hand (Photo: Canadian Press).

Try as they might to look offended and unhappy with the 10-year, $196.1-billion cash deal the PM had just offered them (only a few strings attached) what are they going to do about it? 

I’ll tell you what they’re going to do. They’re going to take it. They’re going to like it. They’re going to complain with some justice it wasn’t enough. And then they’re going to blame Mr. Trudeau for causing inflation by spending too much. Yadda-yadda

It’s just not going to work out very well for them if they turn down the cash and then cry about it, is it? 

Mr. Trudeau knows that, too.

That may explain why he looked so serene and relaxed in the news clips yesterday. Maybe even a little mischievous as he appeared to gently troll Alberta’s Danielle Smith, who acted like a sullen teenager who didn’t want to shake his hand. 

Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney finds himself in the same predicament (Photo: Canadian Press).

After all, he’s been around long enough now to understand that this is how Canadian federalism works. Indeed, he’s been prime minister quite a bit longer than any currently sitting Canadian premier. This fall it’ll be eight years.

That compares to five years for Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe and 81 days for B.C.’s David Eby. All the others are somewhere in between. Ms. Smith has been on the job for three months and three weeks.

I know, I know. The last couple of polls suggest Pierre Pollievre, the deeply flawed and annoyingly nasal federal Conservative leader, could win an election if it were called today or tomorrow. And the heavy-duty pontificators at the Globe and Mail and the National Post are certain that, this time, Mr. Trudeau’s time is really running out. 

And it could be. But an election isn’t going to be called today or tomorrow, is it? 

Mr. Trudeau has been prime minister almost as long as Stephen Harper had that job.

And when he goes – which may well be not nearly as soon as all those hysterical Trudeau haters from Alberta, many of them elderly Boomer males whose problems with the PM merit some serious psychologizing – he’ll likely have been prime minster longer than Mr. Harper was. 

As did the late Peter Lougheed, who later said he regretted this shot (Photo: Canadian Press).

This is probably small comfort to folks who can’t stop screeching about how Mr. Trudeau used to be a drama teacher, but Mr. Harper’s time in office felt like forever to some of us too. So don’t worry, we feel your pain. Really.

Anyway, the last person I’d listen to for political advice if I were Mr. Trudeau is the likes of his shirttail relative Andrew Coyne. And the last person I’d pay attention to for a political prediction is oilpatch bazillionaire and social media drama queen W. Brett Wilson. 

Ms. Smith obviously realized at the last second that a photograph of her shaking the PM’s hand could be deadly if her allies in the United Conservative Party, the ones who turned on the once triumphant Jason Kenney and ran him out of town on a rail (metaphorically speaking), could as easily turn on her if she doesn’t do their bidding. 

She tried to yank it back. Too late. The film clip’s hilarious

She needs to worry. Look what her party did with a similar shot of once and possibly future premier Rachel Notley shaking Mr. Trudeau’s hand and smiling – like any reasonable person would have done. 

Oh well, to correct that impression, there’s that famous Canadian Press photo of Ms. Notley looking like she’d really rather not shake either. 

Also, there’s another from the same source of Mr. Kenney and the PM’s unwanted hand

It’s an Alberta thing, like our neighbours to the south putting their hands over their hearts when they ask God to bless America. 

Sooner or later, though, you get caught shaking a Trudeau’s hand – or, worse, raising a glass of champers with one like premier Peter Lougheed did in 1981 – and someone gets a picture. Then the meme-makers go to work. 

Join the Conversation


  1. It’s like Danielle Smith thinks there is a hidden joy buzzer in Justin Trudeau’s hand, or that he didn’t wash his hands after using the washroom. She doesn’t look too happy in photos. I’ve even seen photos of her cabinet not looking too happy.

  2. Judging by the way the CON bots are all over the near-handshake, one would have thought PMJT was trying to grab something else, a La Trump.

    It’s doubly amusing to see the various CON pundits demand … DEMAND … that Danielle Smith’s womanly personal space be respected, because what’s what the Woke mob thinks. So we’ll be Woke on our terms. Yada yada yada.

    I’m sure that the Western Standard pitch bot and the Beaverton will have the definitive word on this. “Danielle Smith demands sanitizer because COVID is real all of a sudden.”

  3. I feel the mostly Conservative Premiers came across a bit too petulant and ungrateful in response to the Prime Minister’s additional funding offer. I suspect the almost 50 billion in new funding sounds like a lot to most Canadians, regardless of some of the Premiers attempts to immediately minimize it. It probably does not help that some of these less enthusiastic Premiers are not seen as the greatest defenders of public health care.

    If our health care problems persist, despite this significant additional funding, I suspect the blame will start to fall more on those Premiers. So they might really want to focus on fixing it now and not keeping on blaming the Feds.

    The conditions set by the Feds also seem reasonable and not too onerous, taking away another potential criticism. Interestingly, the Federal Conservatives have been noticeably silent on this issue lately – another sign the Federal government may have found the political high ground on this.

    As an almost boomer Alberta but not so bothered by Trudeau, I can’t predict how long he will stay. I don’t think beating Harper’s record is a driving concern for him. However, I somehow get the feeling he would really like to dispatch the particularly annoying current Conservative leader even more than he did the last two. Poilievre possesses a certain smugness that might come off as confidence to true believers, but I feel does not go over as well with those that are not.

    As for our Premier’s reaction to the Prime Minister’s smile and offered hand shake, she look like she swallowed a bad lemon. Perhaps it is a political minefield to be avoided locally, but I am sure to the typical Ontario voter the message seen is hey I tried, but there is just no pleasing her.

    Some days in politics you survive and win, not so much by doing great things, but by looking better than your petulant and petty opponents.

    1. Poilievre has been nails on the chalkboard of my soul since the Fair Elections Act. The CPC could not possibly have found a candidate I would oppose more completely – in a way, it’s truly impressive. I would vote for a random convicted felon or homeless person over Mr. Poilievre.

      22 years in office, no policy achievements to point to except a transparently Orwellian attempt at voter suppression that was mostly repealed by the next government, and now he wants to sit in the big boy chair because .

  4. I think it’s funny how just about all Alberta Premiers experience that really awkward moment when trying to shake the hand of a Trudeau or be in a photo with one. While it may be tough to get through that, Doug Ford has figured out how to get beyond the politics and poison darts and get money for Ontario. Meanwhile Jason Kenny and Dingy Smith continue bashing their heads against the Feds and end up with very little except a head ache.

  5. Poor Alberta! They still don’t know what or who they want to be when (or if) they ever grow up. At least their previous Premier had worked (politically) in Ottawa and had an understanding of how the game is played. The current talking mouth has no such understanding and continues to embarrass the province as a whole – no matter what political party they support.

  6. I have finally found a positive take away from the existence of Donald J Trump (aka David Dennison, John Miller, and the other John– Baron). What in the lord’s many names is this pogo on about now, you ask? Why, the grip and hold! The famous handshake style of Donald “Adolph Littlehands” . It’s a classic! And Justin is enjoying himself! I laughed out loud! Thank you!

    1. Where have these ridiculous opportunists with their mock hostility and visions of sugarplum freedumb, been hiding all these years. It took a fool like trump to enable the guise of bravery in such lunatics and we can only hope they all fade away into oblivion before the next full moon.

  7. Great picture for this article, and you are right, that clip is hilarious.

    Hey CPC – if Justin is such a featherbrained dilettante, how come he keeps making you look like a bunch of chumps?

  8. Interesting story heard via several hands concerning Pollivere’s confidence.

    The October 22, 2014 gunman’s attack on Parliament Hill and the buildings was a particularly jarring historical moment. Parliament Hill security went into full defensive mode while MPs hunkered down in their various locations. In the case of the CPC, they were in their caucus room while the gun battle raged outside the room’s doors. Apparently, the CON MPs within the room may have felt on edge that they were the target of a violent antigovernment attack, which heightens how short their memories are, feeling perhaps some sense of remorse for the pugilistic tone they took while in government.

    It was then that Skippy Pollivere, clearly in an effort to impress Harpo, took a flag pole, with one of those fearsome pointy brass tips, and stood watch at the door in the event that the gun wielding assailant stormed into the room. Yes, Skippy intended to be the last time of defence for Harpo and the CON mob.

    Fortunately, Parliament security officers took the gunman down and protected Canada’s symbol of democracy from this vicious attack. No doubt Pollivere’s chest was puffed up with pride that his sterling defence of the nation made his boss happy. It’s said to this day that flag pole is displayed proudly in Pollivere’s office, reminding everyone of his heroic stand against … whatever.

    All I’m wonder about is what happened to the flag that was on that pole? If it was a Canadian flag, I suspect Skippy handed it off to some passersby as a gift on behalf of FreeDUMB.

  9. DJC, to follow up on your comment about time as PM. To save you the effort, I have done some figuring below. I am still on the fence about how JT feels about passing SH, but I think we can all agree that for SH it will be a big deal.

    JT needs to wait until his 3559th day as PM to resign. For those who follow such things, that would allow him to pass Stephen Harper for tenure as PM of Canada (behind #5 Jean Chretien at 10 years 38 days). Current #6 SH served as PM from 2006/02/06 to 2015/11/03, 9 years 271 days (3558 days). JT has been PM since 2015/11/04. Thus JT would need to remain PM until Aug. 3 2025 to pass SH (maybe allow a few days grace period). He could then magnanimously resign as PM, still allowing time for a new leader to be chosen before an election to be held in the fall of 2025.

    The educated readers of this blog more than understand how much this would irk Mr. Harper, the “esteemed” historian and convicted felon Conrad Black, the NP gang, that long time civil servant (as a CBC employee) turned persnickety parsimonious peevish prickly partisan Rex Murphy, and others on the right.

  10. It’s no secret that Reformers are hellbent on destroying anything conservatives have created to help the people and helping the rich steal the peoples oil and tax wealth is their game plan while trying to force them into a lot more privatization to make up for their revenue cutting stupidity. If it’s not bad enough that we have been screwed out of hundreds of billions of dollars now I came across this yesterday and suggest you all google it. Apparently Smith wants to screw us out of another $20 billion if this article is correct, and I hope David can prove it is:

    “Danielle Smith is Pushing the Same $20 Billion Corporate Giveaway She Pushed as a Corporate Lobbyist”

    I think, if true, this will pretty much destroy her as our premier.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: Yes, that is true. Albertans are still dumb enough to defend these pseudo conservatives and Reformers.

    2. Alan: had found the article, along with another interesting little gem: CBC article 2 days ago–“the way out, addiction in Alberta”
      and the man behind the movement is Marshall Smith, Dani’s chief of staff…
      and because I like to put a profile to a name, that she had just tweeted about, I went searching.
      the Tyee :May 12 2022 — the man behind Alberta’s pull away from harm reduction….
      IMHO– I find it very curious, given the timing of the CBC article, PP going ballistic on defund the CBC and calling out the CEO, the connection of M.Smith with the ” rehabilitation centers ” , 1 in Red Deer, $23 million to build, another $4 million a yr to operate (another 6 to be built)..using “public funding ” , but operated by Edgewood Health network which runs a series of treatment centers across Canada.
      And on Twitter: Danielle: Enjoyed
      meeting with members of Alberta’s caucus……as well as long discussions on Alberta’s world leading mental health & addiction strategy@ Pierre Poilievre’s team Alberta is strong.

      Now call me skeptical or a cynic, but this smells like 3 day old shrimp stuffed behind the hubcaps of a classic old jaguar …but that’s another story of someone ripping people off…

      Anyway, just what was Danielle and co. going to be be doing with the health care funding via Ottawa ?
      I was already behind the Federal gov wanting a plan from the provinces, why wouldn’t taxpayers want accountability? If you have nothing to hide….now more than ever, I think we have a right to know what and where that money is being spent on. My personal view is that “for profit ” health care is a misnomer- what ever happened to “for the patients” health care, Doctors who care about the health of their patients, not business men with a Doctor’s certificate who decide whom they will treat, for the right price.

  11. What a political champion Trudeau is. Magnanimously offering a lot of other people money to fix a system that is a cash cow already. And of course the main beneficiaries are government union workers, so it’s a no brainer.

    1. Do you just not know how health care funding works in Canada or is it that you’re forever disingenuous? Something tells me if the feds drafted legislation to solve the provinces health care issues for them (which as this blogs author pointed out were created by generations of conservative governments ) you and every other wanna be libertarian would be pulling their hair out about government “overreach”. Meanwhile, almost no one pays more per capita than the Americans and they don’t even have universal health care, just a more expensive less effective alternative that exists entirely to suck money out of the lower classes. Bray away like a donkey all you want but the only one you are convincing is yourself.

    2. Dearest Bret; Are you talking about Dani’s use of our money to pay energy companies (who are currently spending 10s of billions annually on offshore dividends and offshore share buy backs) to clean up orphan wells? When that money, that is ours, could be used to hire more Uber drivers to take us to strip mall surgical providers? You must be joking! Dr Nick is curious!

  12. Considering that the UCP is willing to allow the O & G industry a royalty holiday of considerable length, to allow them to pay for the well clean up that they are legally obligated to do, one wonders how in the world Smith is going to pay for all the promises she’s bleeched out over the past several weeks. Considering that the UCP is willfully diminishing their tax, apart from borrowing, there not a lot of options available to pay for all of Smith’s excesses. This leads to the strong possibility that, if the UCP win the upcoming election, Alberta maybe in rudely awakened by a surprise tax. A provincial sales tax.

    The O & G industry has long wanted to see the Royalty Program dismantled. It’s a dreadfully burden on their industry, even when they have to pay into it, occasionally. Why not transfer this burden onto the larger society because they are stupid enough to not question the reason for such a tax. Well, if such a tax was introduced by the ABNDP, then it would be considered part of a much larger globalist conspiracy meant to bring Alberta to its knees. But if the UCP introduces it, it’s for the O & G industry, which Alberta has to protect.

    Albertans. Still the stupidest people alive.

    1. The only ones I’ve ever seen advocate for a sales tax in alberta are well to do liberals who like to avoid thinking about economics & capitalism in particular, I can’t see the UCP pulling that off even within their own caucus.

  13. What is more embarrassing? Having your pockets picked or being caught with them down around your ankles?

    Put polls aside. Obviously JT isn’t worried about them: PP’s CPC might have a slight lead over JT’s Liberals in a statistical estimate of something we voters don’t do (we do not elect at-large, rather, by riding)—but right-wing punditry crows too presumptuously since, truly, there is no federal election on the horizon and, besides, it conveniently forgets to count the NDP’s share of HoC seats even though the Workers’ Party is the most adept confidence supplier of them all, having propped up three Liberal minorities since Paul Martin’s (with the help of the Bloc because, in 2004, combined Liberal-NDP seats fell one short of majority). Heck, the dippers even propped up Stephen Harper’s two CPC minorities just to keep the hapless Liberals from having to run an election with their own pants down. (Dippers don’t mind if their own pockets get picked by the Liberals—just so long’s their red-bottomed strides are hiked up to their nipples and a few progressive ideas are nursed to maturity.)

    Even if current polls held until the September, 2025 (the end of this four-year fixed term) and the Liberals won less seats than the CPC, tradition holds that the Governor recognizes the incumbent governing party if it secures a ‘supply-and-confidence‘ agreement which commits an allied party to making up the shortfall in seats—and there’s no reason to doubt the NDP commitment to that. Neither is there reason to presume PP’s slight edge in the polls today will hold until election day, and good reasons to presume it won’t, conservative premiers and healthcare prominent among them.

    Unlike former Liberal leaders Paul Martin, Bob Rae (acting), and Michael Ignatieff, JT is more like Jean Chrétien and, naturally, like his father, Pierre: adept at stealing popular policy from rivals on both the left and right so those types of factions don’t develop and threaten unity within his own party, as happened under Martin, Rae and Iggy. And he’s wily, too: now, as we crawl out of the Covid pandemic and survey the wreckage of our healthcare systems, its shortage of doctors, nurses and money, he well knows the large majority of Canadians wants more spending on the federally universal, single-payer model and that threats to undermine it with privatization espoused by a number of conservative premiers is, in fact, very impolitic among citizens of ordinary means. Tiresome rights-and-freedumb rhetoric aside, conservatives will be reticent to speak against the spirit of the Canada Healthcare Act else they get caught with their pants down. And they’ll take the money or risk being embarrassed if they don’t.

    I, too, see something more than “serene” in JT’s demeanour, something more—I dunno—impish?—in the way he smirkingly coaxed Danielle Smith’s limp-wristed attempt at a handshake for the perfunctory photo-op. Almost as if they both know something about which they don’t agree. Now what could that be…?…eh, Danielle, “renown healthcare reformer” and federation-basher that you are? …

    I’d love to know if, deep, deep down about a half-inch into PP’s soul, he cringed—just a little bit —when he watched that choreography. Does he know something JT knows? Does he know JT knows he knows? I bet he does, the eight of ten right-wing premiers, sympathetic print media, and meaningless at-large popularity polls notwithstanding.

    Again, put polls aside. What does the premierial complexion of our federation have to do with that serenely sly smile Trudeau Fils can’t seem to wipe off his soon-to-be most-veteran mug? And what does healthcare have to do with it? After three years of the most disruptive trial— certainly in my little lifetime— I don’t reckon it’s nothing. And then there’s that doggie-doo selfie scraped off on a frozen curb in the nation’s Capital under siege just one year ago. How’s the Tim-Bit general feel about his army of conservative premiers? Has he read Livy? Is he a Scipio or just a Skippy?

    For that matter, is the PC premier of Nova Scotia a Phillip of Macedonia or that of Upper Canada a Hamilcar? What is the ideological loyalty of the CAQ premier of that Gallic distinct society? Prince Edward Island’s and New Brunswick’s rule only from their respective citadels hectored by tabards of Green. In the East, where the sun rises, Skippy can’t be sure.

    Nay, it must be the West that Skippy will raise his army of Freedumbites, The West where the sun goes to die each day o’er the Continent(al) divide(d), conservative legions classically concentrated, triremes berthed and ready in canal-locks and winter quarters on sunny Hudson’s Bay, bookended only by the enemy in far away BC and Newfoundland, tripping and screechified, respectively. It is the most reliable muster our would-be Scipio has. Soooooo, how’s that workin’ out?

    Well, there’s Scott Moe, thin on the ground and maybe a bit cowed by his province’s legendary Canadian, Canadians’ favourite Canadian, but in fairly good order otherwise —so long’s the Holy Fount of universal public healthcare is not blasphemed. Which kinda limits conservatives’ deployment—even if its standards are renamed. Moe’s close attention to the sanctified Oracle just recently discovered that Trudeau Fils had already been there—according to the sacred neutrality of civil and religious rite, Moe said afterward while nervously checking his pretorian guard.

    No doubt taking delicious stock of the Premier Conference’s Chair, JT pressed the fleshy palm of Manitoba premier Heather Stefanson, carefully confirming that the fallen Pallister’s tribune is struggling at the polls while socialist insurgents sharpen blades and harden pila for her approaching test in the battlefield of partisan politics—and right in the heart of pseudoConlandia, no less! Or, perhaps, as the wise old ‘tit gar de Shawinigan might say: “Straight t’rough de ‘eart!”

    Guess who that leaves? Can PP Skippy-O be confident Alberta’s janitorial premier won’t make privatized healthcare waves among the legions upon which he depends utterly? It’s not that she’ll necessarily cost him support in the landlocked “Sovereignty Act” provinces, but in the Canadian context—and not at-large but first-past-the-post, riding-by-riding—her ruminations about private healthcare can make as many waves for him across our fair land as I’m sure it will for Smith in her Alberta of independence beyond distinction. (Hmmm, maybe he has read Livy who capably described his historical subjects’ winning strategy: just keep changing the channel, although Mendacium Magnus it can’t be.)

    And then there’s the distinct possibility that Smith’s UCP will be defeated in just 19-1/2 weeks from today. As K-Boy and O’Toole found out, those Mavericks can be a be a burr in the saddle.

    Funny how Smith preferred to dwell on LNG during her post-conference presser instead of the ostensible healthcare file. A favour to the would-be salter of Ottawa’s Punic fields, perhaps? Or was it more like my darling’s usual pithy observation: “I think she’s got a crush on Justin.”

    Garsh! I never thunk a that! This could be be the entransk to the exkit! Two Tier to Not Two Tier—that is the question! Then there’s “known knowns” that the serenely smiling one seems to know all about. When Horgan’s on hand, something’s afoot.

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