Danielle Smith renounced and denounced Danielle Smith’s health care policy objectives at a United Conservative Party press conference yesterday in the Edmonton suburb of Sherwood Park.

Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney at a similar stunt in 2019 (Photo: Twitter).

The Danielle Smith doing the renouncing is the one seeking re-election for her party next month in the face of an Alberta NDP Opposition that is now narrowly leading in the key election battleground of Calgary according to a new poll by a respected Alberta pollster, Janet Brown Opinion Research of Calgary.

The Danielle Smith denounced by Danielle Smith was the one who successfully ran for the leadership of the UCP last year on a platform including radical health care restructuring such as more privatization and a health spending account that according to a paper written in 2021 by the same Danielle Smith would be a great way to get Albertans used to paying user fees and co-pays in a privatized health care system.

The problem for the UCP, of course, is that both Danielle Smiths are the same person.

And that Danielle Smith is the current UCP premier of Alberta, now facing an investigation by the Legislature’s Ethics Commissioner after a recording of her unprecedented telephone conversation with an extremist pastor charged with criminal mischief sparked a huge controversy. 

The question for Alberta voters in the provincial general election expected on May 29 is, Can they believe the new Danielle Smith is the real Danielle Smith. 

Respected Calgary pollster Janet Brown (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The UCP must be feeling pretty nervous about this. The intent of the news conference the party called yesterday in front of a private medical imaging clinic in Sherwood Park, an Edmonton area suburb currently represented in the provincial Legislature by a UCP MLA, was to answer that question in the affirmative, at least as far as public health care is concerned.

Sure, not so long ago Ms. Smith herself said the government shouldn’t have to pay for regular medical checkups, or that Alberta could generate $4 billion in user fees, but apparently that was then and this is now.  

Taking a page from the strategy of Jason Kenney, the UCP premier she replaced, Ms. Smith stood up in front of a large plastic image of one of Alberta Health’s cheap paper health insurance cards and announced what she called “the United Conservative Public Health Care Guarantee.”

Mr. Kenney did essentially the same stunt in February 2019 about two months before his election victory over the Alberta NDP. By that fall he was vowing to eliminate more than 5,000 jobs in public health care by 2023, a scheme that was only upset by the arrival of COVID-19 in Canada the next year. 

“Under this public health care guarantee the UCP has committed to all Albertans that under no circumstances will any Albertan ever have to pay out of pocket for access to their family doctor, or to get the medical treatment that they need,” the premier said. 

Calgary-based political strategist Stephen Carter (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Ms. Smith repeated that point in similar words numerous times during the short news conference. “You will never use a credit card to pay for a public health care service. … You will only ever need your Alberta Health Care card. … Under a re-elected UCP Government your Alberta Health Care card will be your key and the only key to accessing world class health care … No Albertan will ever have to pay to see a family doctor out of pocket … You will never have to pull out your credit card to pay for health care. …” She also vowed a couple of times that no medical services would be de-listed on her watch. 

But you are forgiven if you wonder if the premier doth protest too much. 

Ms. Smith also denounced NDP advertising critical of her policies and plans that are running everywhere on social media – thanks to the more than $7 million raised by the NDP last year .  

“Many of you have seen that the Alberta NDP has been lying to Albertans about our government’s position on public health care,” she complained. “That’s because they know that the only way they’re going to win this election is that they can scare enough Albertans into thinking that the UCP is going to make them pay for health care, or is going to steal their pensions, or who knows what else?” 

(Significantly, perhaps, Ms. Smith didn’t go on to promise to drop her plan to take over Albertan’s Canada Pension Plan contributions and set up an Alberta pension plan.) 

“Liberal-NDP fear-and-smear politics,” she insisted (with a former Alberta Liberal leader, now a UCP candidate, standing beside her), “don’t work in Alberta.”

The problem with the premier’s claim that the NDP is lying is that many of the Opposition’s ads use recordings of Ms. Smith’s own pronouncements – her own words in her own voice. 

My view is that the entire budget for general practitioners should be paid from Health Spending Accounts,” she burbled in that 2021 article for the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy. “If the government funded the account to $375 a year, that’s the equivalent of 10 trips to a GP, so there can be no argument that this would compromise access on the basis of ability to pay.”

By coincidence, one supposes, yesterday the government – as opposed to the UCP – re-announced $9-million in public funding for a three-year program for a masters degree program at the School of Public Policy, which operates as if it were a publicly financed pro-privatization think tank. 

How likely is Ms. Smith’s guarantee to work?

Well, Ms. Brown’s Calgary-only poll suggests it’s not working as well as the UCP might have hoped in Alberta’s largest city. 

And as Calgary political strategist Stephen Carter told CTV News, Ms. Smith “is losing a lot of people, and we’re seeing that in polls now. And the problem with polls is once they go down, they tend to go down in a hurry.”

Then there was the reaction of one health care worker during the news conference whose image was captured by Canadian Press photographer Jason Franson.

The woman’s understated gesture may just reflect one person’s private view, but it’s a powerful symbol of the way a lot of Albertans are feeling right now about the premier’s effort to reassure us. So powerful, indeed, that on social media it all but hijacked the premier’s news conference!

The image of an unidentified health care worker watching Premier Smith’s press conference captured by Canadian Press photographer Jason Franson (Photo: The Canadian Press, widely distributed on Twitter).

Join the Conversation


  1. When it comes to defending public healthcare in Alberta, it’s pretty much a wild shell game.

    There was Jason Kenney’s much-publicized signing off on his pledge to protect public healthcare, before he proceeded to smash it to pieces upon his election. Right now, Danielle Smith, while not signing off on a giant written pledge to do the same as Kenney promised, did stand in front of Alberta’s archiac and idiotic paper healthcare card. She made her pledge in a monotone that sounded a lot of like “Oh, you’re going to fall for this again, Alberta voter?”

    The reality is that no one ever applies anything resembling reality to the issue of public healthcare. Obviously, it’s broken, no matter how much money is thrown at it. There are systemic issues in the system that are hard to rationalize and even more difficult to reform.

    And then there’s the problem of those who intend to break the whole thing. UCP MLAs are guaranteed publicly funded healthcare so long as they remain in office. (And maybe afterward as well) As for the rural folk, they never think about healthcare until they need it, which is often too late. (Or they avoid it because Big Pharma is trying to kill them.) The young never think about a secure public healthcare system, and the old can’t bear using it because it reminds them how sick they are. And then there’s the matter of those who claim that if you’re sick, it’s your fault.

    One side, there are the sociopaths who wish the sick and old would just die off already; on the other, there are those who see the importance of public healthcare, but have to set out on the long and disappointing process to reforming it. It’s bad all around.

  2. The problem with Smith that not just a lot of those opposed to her, but also I think many in her own party have with her is her unpredictability. You never know which Smith you are going to get, or how long its going to last. There is the thoughtful and polished communicator one day, followed by the imprecise one who can’t explain away the contradictions and seems to make it worse by repeatedly trying.

    So yes, the supposed lies about her position on health care are her own words, not from decades ago, but just earlier in this so far very short decade. The concerning words about her talking to prosecutors weekly, that she seems to want to sue the CBC for saying, are also her own from a few months ago.

    So I do believe this week’s version of Smith is sort of committed to public health care, well at least until the day after the upcoming election. After that all bets are off. I suspect the UCP will likely be back to its old favorite trick of cancelling new public hospitals and other public health facilities while providing funds and generous contracts for more private facilities, where they will gladly take credit cards for anything more than the bare minimum required.

    Today’s comments about health care help serve to disract from Smith’s recent problems, but I doubt it will be as convincing as when Kenney made some similar commitments years ago. At that time it was a new party, it now has a history and a lot of baggage, as well as a new leader who has said contradictory things and has serious credibility issues. So it is more likely this time we will not get fooled again so easily.

  3. Danielle Smith is playing games with the electorate in Alberta, and she thinks she can fool Albertans. The UCP are also in a panic mode, because they have been doing so many stupid things, including many very pricey shenanigans, and it has caught up with them. So, to attempt to avoid defeat, in the up and coming provincial election in Alberta, Danielle Smith is making claims that she will strengthen public healthcare in Alberta, when she is actually intent on supporting private for profit healthcare in Alberta. Her hero is Ralph Klein, and he had the same intentions. The hand gesture by the medical worker, who may be a doctor, by the looks of it, sums up the resentment towards Danielle Smith and the UCP, very well. Hopefully, Albertans will smarten up and remove the UCP from power. It’s also interesting to see that a longtime staunch defender of the Conservatives, Lorne Gunter, sees problems with Danielle Smith. When he raises issues, there is problems, for sure. The UCP are throwing all kinds of money around before the provincial election, to try and make themselves look good. It’s just putting money back into what they had cut. The UCP are a pathetic excuse for a political party, and it will take a long time to fix the big mess they created. This all could have been avoided if Albertans listened to people who warned that the UCP weren’t any good to begin with.

  4. We all know how Jason Kenney’s public health guarantee meant a war on doctors, nurses and pretty much everyone and everything in the health care system, just in time for the worst pandemic in a century. Like Smith, he did not guarantee public delivery of health services. Plastic is cheap and plastic promises are cheaper.

    No plastic in Danielle Smith’s world. Forget about credit cards. You’ll make personal contributions to a health spending account, accessible with your flimsy paper Alberta Health Card. Or you can pay with convenient cryptocurrency from the machine in the hospital lobby, or cash or a bank transfer or more wheelbarrows full of cash, or transfer cash from your GoFundMe account. Citizens will be encouraged to use all of the above for everything from heart surgery to cancer treatments. Oh, wait, cancer is your own fault and if you’re fat and diabetic, that’s your fault, too. These services will not be delisted, but there will be a means test. The means test for heart surgery will be how svelte and youthful you look in a pair of yoga pants. A committee of fitness instructors will be the judges.

    Danielle Smith must have gone to that press conference after a tea party with the March Hare. Let us salute Lord Lepus of Alberta, and her internet tag team, “The Warrens”.

  5. Fantastic photo at the end…had to look twice to finally get it.

    Btw, the ‘ health card, not credit card’ bit is exactly the same B.S. that Doug Ford used here in Ontario. It’s not worth the paper it’s written on so don’t fall for it, Alberta.

  6. Claim: “fear-and-smear politics, don’t work in Alberta.”

    Evidence: ads the UCP are running ahead of the #ableg provincial election in May -https://facebook.com/ads/library/?active_status=all&ad_type=all&country=CA&view_all_page_id=155609655007428&search_type=page&media_type=all…

    Cognitive dissonance only effects those willing to cognate.

  7. I also wonder if the gentleman exiting the elevator in your top photo was consulted by the TBA errr I mean the UCP on the important issue of the day: do I get frequent flyer points if I use my credit card to purchase Ivermectin?

    Disclaimer: Janet Brown never called.

  8. Danielle Smith is trying desperately to change the channel.

    Only challenge is that her new channel of choice has even less viewers. It is so bad that I am actually starting to feel sorry for her political handlers and for some of her candidates. What must be they all thinking. Every day seems to bring a new bozo eruption either by the Premier, TBA, or UCP candidates standing for election.

    I believe that the vast majority of Alberta voters have made up their minds about health care policy and interference in the justice system. More talk and more focus by Smith will only make her many contradictions more obvious.

    She might want to have a chat with Chelsea Petrovic, the UCP candidate in her home riding, about UCP health policy.

    Our local UCP candidate does not mention Smith or the UCP on his door to door rounds or in the bumph that has been left on our doorstep.. He claim to fame is that he wants to replace our outgoing MLA.

    1. Heh, heh,…yeah, right: “change the channel.”

      No doubt Smith would really, really like to change the channel. But you’d think she’d want to change it to something which features her party’s strength in governing, something it does better than its chief rival, something that recommends its re-election to voters—something a real politician would want to change the channel to: something the UCP could lead a willing electorate towards.

      And what does the pseudo-politician do? Smith just changed the channel to her government’s second-weakest file, healthcare (she herself is actually the party’s most vulnerable file). Some would call her healthcare policy problems worse than her scrape with the justice system: not only does the record show the UCP absolutely botched healthcare—purely for ideologically partisan reasons—Smith has given voters ample reason to worry about what she would do to Alberta’s currently beleaguered, underfunded, over-burdened, and demoralized healthcare system given that her own record shows she would do it purely for ideologically partisan reasons (that is, her party’s wealthiest backers don’t like not being able to jump the healthcare queue, and don’t care that the two-tiered system they want would diminish quality healthcare for those who aren’t wealthy enough to pay for better).

      And just when you’ve had about enough of her denying she said what she said about gutting universal public healthcare, and you click the geeker (remote), you suddenly realize you’ve been watching two different online time-slots of the same channel of lies.

      At least her audience is bigger on CPHC— the Canadian Private Healthcare Channel: people really want to rubberneck past this train-wreck of a maiden term. But only Danielle could think it politic to jump from the midday Fat-slot into the primetime Fire-slot. She’s banking on viewers champing for re-runs of the same horror movie that hasn’t quite wound off the reel yet with just 47 more days to go.

      Spoiler alert: a lake of fire might make an appearance yet. Stay tuned!

  9. As soon as the lady’s boss finds out, she’s gonna get fired for that. But oh, I totally agree with the sentiment!

  10. Has Danielle Smith flipped? Or is her UCP government about to be flipped? I think a little bird has told us so.

  11. It seems ironic that the premier used an example of private for-profit health care by standing “in front of a private medical imaging clinic in Sherwood Park, an Edmonton area suburb”, as stated by DJC, while claiming to stand for publicly funded health care. One main thing that is public about private for-profit clinics is that the public pays for it, usually at inflated prices that will include the provider’s profit.
    According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the cost of private for-profit health care often is approximately double the cost of providing the same care and services in publicly funded facilities staffed by public employees who are, in effect, public servants.
    It would seem logical to conclude that, since the care and services generally cost more in a for-profit facility, then either the cost of health care will be much higher or the amount and kind of health care for the public must decrease drastically to keep costs approximately the same. A bit like shrinkflation at the grocery store – you pay more and receive less.

  12. I second the gesture of the unknown worker.
    She reminds me of the courage shown by Briggette Depape, the page who held up the “Stop Harper” sign in Parliament.
    When a lying, wanna-be dictator has no problem catering to the needs of those who break the laws, cause damage that taxpayers will have to pay for, force backroom deals and contracts down the throats of ordinary citizens, she richly deserves scorn.

  13. A presser meant to be a political stinger
    Failed due to it’s two-faced singer
    Who would follow behind
    One who keeps changing her mind
    As evidenced by one middle finger.

    1. A premier went all U, C, P,
      To see if we would pay a fee.
      But all that she will see, see, see
      Is the voters switching in olde Cal, Ga, Ry.


  14. Danielle Smith’s political handlers should resort to the tried and true method used by Stephen Harper and his politicos.

    Duct tape. Cases of it. Applied liberally over the lips of those so inclined to blab and refreshed at least twice a day.

    I would suggest the Danielle Smith be first in line for for this treatment. Followed by not a few of her TBA backed candidates.

    But…perhaps it is already too late. The horse may have already bolted.

    1. You’d think that Dani would be told to shut up by her handlers. My sense, though, is that, because this is Alberta, conservative politicians think that it’s a safe space for them. However, it seems, more and more, that conservative politicians, be they provincial or federal, continue to underestimate how much Alberta has changed politically since the era of Ralph Klein (and before). Just look at Edmonton – when I was living there in the 70s and 80s, you’d have one NDP MLA (if you were lucky) in the legislature. Now, most of Edmonton is orange. This is what happens when you get what you want – population growth due to a booming economy that brings people from other parts of the country (true, things have reversed since 2015, but enough stay to change the political dynamics over time). My family moved to Edmonton in 1969 in a similar wave of prosperity-based migration. Two years later, the old and tired Social Credit party was defeated and banished from the political landscape to be replaced by a truly ‘Progressive’ Conservative government lead by Peter Lougheed. Granted, the Social Credit has been trying to make a comeback ever since (Reform Party on all their federal and provincial offshoots), but it’s never a slam dunk.

      1. I think Danielle is being reined in by her party, though not always successfully. Do you hear from her lately about the Sovereignty Act, or putting our CPP funds in AIMCO, or having Alberta collect income tax instead of Ottawa? And now she is going to allow reporters only one question each, no followup, which I suspect is to get her out in the public but keep her from saying too much.

  15. Someone should tell Lord Lepus of Alberta that we already pay for health services in this province through our taxes. What she wants is to double-dip into our wallets. Pay twice for everything. Just ask for the Double Dipper with your Big Whopper at the Dani Drive-Thru. Now located in a train car, where an entire province is being railroaded.

  16. “Under this public health care guarantee the UCP has committed to all Albertans that under no circumstances will any Albertan ever have to pay out of pocket for access to their family doctor, or to get the medical treatment that they need,” the premier said.

    The problem with this statement, as with many that have come before it from Ms. Smith, is that her ‘commitment’ only remains intact until the next time she opens her mouth. At that point all bets are off as to what her ‘commitment’ actually means, as explained in the, now obligatory, ‘clarification’ of her remarks.

    Danielle Smith and her party have shown us repeatedly who they are. We need to believe them. Any promises, statements or so-called commitments made now will be rendered utterly meaningless if the UCP is returned to power in the next election. The health care worker in the photo obviously believes this as well and I’m grateful to her for having the courage to express so clearly what many of us have been thinking.

  17. The theatrics of cheap, empty political promises by a desperate scheming politician/aspiring autocrat are not legally binding and that is especially so for a confirmed self interested, unethical, fabulist, deceiver, and prevaricator, where for example;

    “My momma done tol’ me
    When I was in knee-pants
    My momma done tol’ me, “Son, What did she tell you?
    A Danielle Smith gon’ sweet-talk Yeah!
    And give you de glad-eyes, Ah, ahh.
    But when that sweet-talk is done: Keep on a- talkin’.
    A Danielle Smith is a two-faced
    A worrisome thing
    Who’ll leave you to sing the blues… The blues…
    In the night.” Yes, in the night.”

  18. Danielle Smith, the snake oil sales woman, do we need a clarification on what she actually meant to say yesterday, did she misspoke, will the story change again in a few weeks. Right after the election, Smith and take back Alberta will privatize the health care system, she said so last year while campaigning for the leadership, its in the TBA agenda.
    About the UCP candidate who said you should take personal responsibility for health to prevent heart attacks, Smith once wrote a column in the Calgary herald where she claimed that smoking in moderation could actually be healthy for you, so should we listen to Dr. Smith and take up smoking as a means of personal responsibility.
    Danielle Smith will say anything to get elected, when will the real Danielle Smith show up, the day after the election. Watch out Alberta.

  19. Readers of this Blog will note the irony of Ms. Smith making this announcement at a private diagnostic imaging clinic in light of the recent Federal heath transfer penalty in eight provinces where patients have paid for medically necessary imaging.

  20. Was her guarantee precise or imprecise language and or did all of us hear her precisely or imprecisely?

  21. I borrowed this post from a friend.. “Dani needs Raj Sherman? Oh yah! I’ll vote for that! He killed the liberal party and she killed Wlidrose and the Progressive Conservatives! Triple eagle on a 475 yard hole! It’s a match made in heaven! One more to go you two! Then it’s historic! PS What comes after a Trifecta?” I was going to reply, but the Post Pecker Media in Calgary doesn’t have love for POGO! They’ll have to settle for a substitute! Good lord! She’d have been better off nominating zombie Preston Manning! Are their no more Mannings willing to man up? https://youtu.be/eswQl-hcvU0?t=3

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