Alberta Premier Danielle Smith during her tire-repair shop news conference yesterday (Photo: Screenshot of poor-quality UCP video).

The United Conservative Party’s big “economic diversification” announcement yesterday, delivered by Premier Danielle Smith in what looked like a tire-repair shop, sounded like an uninspiring revival of former premier Jason Kenney’s “Alberta is Calling” subway advertising campaign in Toronto last fall. 

Jason Kenney during his lame “Alberta is Calling” News conference in Toronto’s subway last fall (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

It’s doubtful Mr. Kenney’s lame subway stunt attracted many skilled workers to Alberta, and it’s even less likely Ms. Smith’s performative offer of small signing bonuses and modest tax credits for professionals willing to move to Alberta and tax breaks for students if they’ll stick around after graduation will have much impact either. 

Still, we’re in an election campaign now, and a premier needs to look busy every day – especially since she needs an excuse not to answer questions about stuff she’s said in the recent past. 

It’s hard to imagine health care workers who struggled through the pandemic and continue to cope with the ongoing chaos in Alberta’s health care system will be all that impressed with Ms. Smith’s promise to give a $1,200 “Alberta is Calling signing bonus” to skilled workers in occupations facing labour shortages if they’ll agree to move here from other provinces. 

Human nature being what it is, the reaction in Alberta is likely to be, “All we get is your thanks for our service? What are we? Chopped liver?” 

It’s also hard to believe that a piddling $1,200 one-time payment and the promise of a modest tax credit down the line will persuade many professionals to move here when, to put this in cruder terms, other places are willing to pay Registered Nurses and other health care professionals much bigger sums to relocate.

Nagwan Al-Guneid, the NDP’s candidate for Calgary-Glenmore (Photo: Alberta NDP).

According to the fine print, to qualify for the small payment you have to be registered and working full time in a fairly limited list of professions or be an apprentice or certified journeyperson in a recognized trade. 

And face it, for health care workers in particular, after four years of the United Conservative Party Government, Alberta doesn’t look like an attractive destination. No doctor or nurse is going to make a decision to move to Alberta based on this.

If you worked in health care in Alberta through the pandemic or if you’re working here now in Alberta’s packed emergency rooms – where the CBC’s wait-time tracking charts show waits are growing longer again, regardless of the supposedly miraculous work of Alberta Health Services’ single UCP administrator – you get bupkes.

As for the graduate retention tax credit, it’s tiny when it’s spread over seven years.

So this one is mostly fluff with very little substance. 

The NDP responded with mild sarcasm and moved along. “We’re so glad Danielle Smith has decided to borrow so much of our economic plan for a better future,” said Nagwan Al-Guneid, NDP candidate for Calgary-Glenmore. 

Research firm publishes statement correcting UCP misuse of its conclusions

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, the UCP has been claiming an NDP plan to get Alberta to net-zero carbon output by 2030 “is the most expensive election promise in Alberta history,” and will cost $87 billion. 

Former UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean, now on the stump trying to save the UCP from Danielle Smith for a second time (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

With former UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean as the frontman for this claim, the party said it was basing its conclusion on a report by a Vancouver-based research company that was completed for the UCP Caucus last month. 

In what is surely an unprecedented development, Navius Research Inc. published a statement on social media to “set the record straight” on what its report really said. It provided a link to the report, which the UCP had chosen not to publish. 

“The cost to Alberta’s economy reported in the media today is more than double what our model suggests it will be,” Navius said in a tweet published Wednesday. 

In a saner world, the UCP would have apologized for its error and moved on. Of course it did no such thing, and Ms. Smith still insists its conclusion is right and the authors of the research the party was quoting don’t know what they’re talking about.

Troubles grow for JCCF lawyers who hired peeper to follow judge

Lawyer John Carpay (Photo: JCCF).

On Wednesday, The Canadian Press reported that lawyers John Carpay and Randal Jay Cameron face charges by the Law Society of Manitoba resulting from their admitted use of a private detective to follow a judge presiding over a case they had brought on behalf of a group of churches that objected to pandemic public health orders restricting their services in 2021. 

Mr. Carpay and Mr. Cameron, both associated with the so-called Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms in Calgary, also face criminal charges in the bizarre affair in which Justice Glenn Joyal, Chief Justice of the Manitoba Court of King’s Bench, was followed around by their peeper. 

Back in Alberta, meanwhile, Premier Smith would probably be just as happy if no one remembered how back in September last year she collected GoFundMe donations to finance a screwball COVID-19 lawsuit and then, when she abandoned the scheme to pursue the leadership of the UCP instead, donated about $60,000 to Mr. Carpay’s JCCF

Now, about the premier’s bad ink

Premier Smith, her libertarian tattoo visible on her left arm (Photo: Twitter/The Breakdown).

Now, about Premier Smith’s regrettable tattoo, images of which surfaced online yesterday, it is profoundly to be hoped, by parents of young adult children and Biblical fundamentalists familiar with Leviticus 19:28 in particular, that this will not encourage a campaign bad-ink race. 

The Breakdown podcast has offered, well, a breakdown on what the premier’s ink is supposed to mean – basically, “freedom” in Sumerian cuneiform.

As a result, apparently, the sketchy symbol, which on Ms. Smith’s arm looks like it might have been sketched with a Sharpie pen, is favoured by libertarian nutbars and is used as the logo of the Liberty Fund, a U.S. foundation associated with radical anti-environmental nuttery among other causes. 

To most of us, though, it just looks like a tattoo of the type generally associated with the phrase, “Whatever was I thinking?”

Let’s not make this a requirement for public office. Can we all get on board with that? 

Join the Conversation


  1. Day 4? Of the campaign, and it’s gone down right daft for Jay boy’s frankenstein party creation. My advice to the UCPee campaign director Outhouse, Ship Smith to Fort Smith Alberta. From there, maroon her in any mud hole hole or snow drift. Bring her back on E-day. Silence her until May 29th.

  2. These pretend conservatives and Reformers are as shady and deceiving as they come, and people still fall for their lies. Postmedia columnists, prop them up. Anyone who exposes their lies, gets attacked, and called horrible names. These people are all mouth, and no brains. The UCP are really getting desperate, because look at all the vote buying they are involved with. Bribing people to come to Alberta for work, when we have a very high rate of unemployment, is a very bad move. Oil prices aren’t going up either. We seem to be on the cusp of a big recession. What exactly will they do when they come here? Where will they be employed? Danielle Smith and Pierre Poilievre won’t create jobs, they will just destroy them. They want the CBC gone. The CBC is exposing what they are doing wrong. These politicians claim they are about supporting law and order, yet they cater to criminals, such at the ones in the convoy protesters, who cost us a lot of money. Who knows what they could have done with the weapons that were found among them? It’s quite a circus with the UCP.

  3. Sharpie marker is what I thought when I saw that! Maybe it was the one used by Jason Kenney to sign his meaningless health care guarantee, just before he tore health care apart. Could be a temporary tattoo, but which dollar store sells the Sumerian ones? Truth be told, my first thought was that it looks like something etched by hand in jail, like l-o-v-e on four knuckles.

    Speaking of prison, not only has Danielle Smith made a friendly phone call to a man later found guilty of a Criminal Code offence punishable by time behind bars, she donated $60,000 to an organization whose staff could meet a similar fate. Is “Jailhouse Rock” the UCP campaign theme song? Seeing the interaction at 1:05 in a new light. L-o-v-e indeed.

  4. From hundreds of kilometres away I’m trying to find out what’s going on in Alberta’s election. So, I read the good stuff in Alberta Politics, then to to get our national broadcaster’s perspective. Not much there, a yawner explaining attack ads and why they work or don’t work with a few examples from the past. Heard it all before. As for the premier’s scratchy tattoo, nothing in the Sun or Herald.
    Your blogger is a treasure.

  5. I feel the UCP’s misrepresentation of the research firms report will be seen as a major misstep in the campaign for them. It is quite embarrassing that they took a cost figure and added another figure already included in it and are now trying to insist that is right, despite even this firm they hired clarifying it is not.

    This does not scream competence for double down Dani and gives the impression they didn’t even read or understand the report. Its even worse they tried to conceal they paid for it, presumably in an effort to make figures that were already questionable more credible. This is a trifecta of incompetence here.

    A big reason Alberta is calling is because it has become unaffordable to live in other parts of Canada. At this point offering money for people to move here risks spreading those cost pressures to here. So it is bad public policy, but the amounts are likely not generous enough to have much effect. People are not likely to move across the country for less than a months rent. Of course, those of us already in Alberta get nothing, presumably already we got $100 a month, except of course those of us who did not because we we under 65 and don’t have kids under 18. Apparently we are on our own when it comes to the cost of living and inflation.

    So far living with Smith and the UCP is learning to live with disappointment. One can only hope their bumbling campaign will make it clearer to enough Albertans that they are not a good option.

  6. I am not sure that Albertans will be that happy with the idea that newcomers to the province will be receiving $1,200 that is taxpayer funded, for staying in the province for more than one year. My guess is that current Alberta taxpayers would prefer that money be spent on them, and that this will not be a wildly popular election promise.

  7. Libertarian: one who expects all the benefits of civilised society but accepts none of the responsibilities.

  8. I live in a cul de sac where I am certain that every last person typically votes Conservative. Federally and Provincially. By all measures, based on my background and socioeconomic status I should be expected to do the same.

    I spoke to one neighbour yesterday. He meekly asked me what I thought of the election.

    I was candid in my comments. I told him there were two reasons why I would not even consider voting UCP.

    The first was that I could never vote for a Conservative Party that was controlled or dominated by the Take Back Alberta group.

    The second was that I would not vote for Danielle Smith for dog catcher. She is incompetent and an embarrassment to all Albertans.

    Much to my surprise….he looked straight at me and said that this was exactly why he and his wife would be voting NDP.

    Not staying home, but actively voting against a Party that they had supported and worked for over countless past elections.

    1. In my always-Con community, I have seen one UCP sign on private property. One. This is a tell. Strangely enough, the owner of that property moved it to a less prominent location a day after it was planted in his yard. It has blown over and he has left it that way.

    2. Same experience in my cul-de-sac. NDP signs on 7 lawns in the little loop, and I remember Tory ones in past federal elections and the last provincial one. Only one UCP sign on our street. One street to the north, where coincidentally both the NDP and UCP candidates (the latter a prominent cabinet minister) live (3 houses apart) the ratio of signs was 7-2 in favour of the NDP last night. I knocked on doors on this street in 2019, and this seems to be a big change. This is in Calgary.

      However, the overall electoral maths are still looking pretty discouraging based on 338 Canada or plugging in polling numbers on Bryan Breguets side which has a model/simulator.

  9. I’m waiting for the explanation that the tattoo has nothing to do with US right-wing nutbars, but is a tribute to Ms Smith’s Sumerian grandparents.

      1. Simon & Dave — Touche` – Lol , absolutely priceless, thanks for the chuckle, still giggling…….

    1. Simon, were is this mysterious tattoo. On her butt perhaps, close to her brain?

      1. Jay: It’s on her left arm. There ‘s a photo in the post. DJC

  10. “In a saner world, the UCP would have apologized for its error and moved on.” . . .”In a saner world . . .” . . .

    The problem with that statement is that there is a certain reality regarding Homo sapiens that is still not fully recognized and accepted by all members of the species and that is especially so for all those individuals who fancy themselves as “leaders”, or “the boss” i.e., “Mental health problems do not affect three or four out of every five persons, but one out of one.”, as on a continuum. How that observation specifically applies in these circumstances depends upon available individual insight, discernment, and a certain amount of ruthless honesty.

    Therefore, what is being publicly presented and the selling of that presentation [as a “leadership” candidate] should always be the subject of a severe and rigorously critical examination.

    Where an assumed sample dictionary entry for Danielle Smith might look like the following:


    1. An individual characterized as “fluff with very little substance”.
    2. A “libertarian nutbar”.
    3 Has the tattoo to prove it.

  11. I know
    pics or it didn’t happen
    but if memory serves correct
    my local UNITED CONVOY PARTY girl candidate
    Used to sport a classic lower back tramp stamp
    in her jeep driving days.

  12. Danielle Smith offers $1200 for pros to move to an UCP-governed Alberta?— a dismissively laughable gesture to those she targets who don’t live in Alberta, don’t really need to understand how desperate her nothing-burger campaign tactic is and, more bizarre yet: who won’t even be voting in Alberta in just 24 days from today.

    Crazier still, this ill-advised cookie-crumb has much greater potential to raise a derisive chuckle of the bitterest sort from many Albertans who actually will be voting in just less than three and a half weeks.

    What could be more lame? Oh, yeah: that tattoo! My Ma told me if I ever got a tat she’d never let me in the house again. In retrospect from the current, fashionably ill-advised fad (IMHO), I’m glad I got over my teenaged objection to her stricture— “Awwww, mom!…”—especially that she’s now 91: I love being on the best of terms with this interesting person who still invites me into her home. Danielle’s tat only makes me twice as glad—and for that I suppose I owe her a debt of gratitude. But it won’t help: I live on the West Coast with many ex-pat Albertan friends who already voted with their feet so, like them, I can’t vote in the Wild Rose Province. In just 576 hours from now.

    It’s just so—uh—so—um—I just don’t—uh, I mean, I just can’t…gosh!—what can I say? —“you can’t make this stuff up…,” “the lunatics have taken over the…,” “that’s Alberta for you…”—gad! It’s just unreal!

    I’m also a bit befuddled by how close the polls are: how on earth can the UCP be so close behind the NDP? I suspect—and have to respect—that many moderate, centre-right voters are embarrassed by their enthusiastic support for the fledgling UCP in 2019, that those traditional Tories who now enthuse about Rachel Notley’s are probably the same ones who voted NDP last time based on nothing more than her party’s wise and responsible government (that is, the ones who garnered the NDP several times the number of Opposition seats it traditionally had prior to its upset victory eight years ago) and for whom the incredible shrinking UCP founder and his incredulity-defining successor have subsequently redoubled their enthusiasm at the prospect of returning to political sanity. I therefore suspect that many survey respondents who answered that they’d prefer a conservative win rather meant something different than the supposed conservatism the UCP has on offer. I’m hoping a significant number of these respondents told a ‘little white lie’ by being shy about the confused and mangled definition of what Canadian conservatism should be, or that their preference for real conservatism really means they’ll be staying home in about 34-thousand minutes from now, or that in the privacy of the ballot booth, they’ll be voting for the NDP without necessarily putting a sign on their front lawn.

    I’m not so partisan to deny I feel sorry for these disappointed Tories: they probably by now realize that Old Shep was actually put down back in 2017 (when K-Boy won the ProgCon leadership only to fold the party and cheat to win the leadership of the PC/Wildrose Frankenstein) and that defeating the UCP is more like drowning a sick puppy. If you’ve ever done either, you know how heartfelt the sorrow. I can only offer that, yes, it’s sad, but after the tears (which should have been dried up by summer, 2020) comes a new opportunity to re-create a true, centre-right party which will cooperatively contribute traditional Tory mores like fiscal prudence, national patriotism, and Canadian sovereignty, and to boldly step up, reformed, to help address the particular challenges Alberta faces going forward. “Tomorrow is another day!”

    Some say Notley’s NDP is just that kind of party—certainly some of the erstwhile ProgCons which voted NDP in 2019 would say so. But the absolutely horripillious UCP experiment just as certainly recommends voting for the NDP in about two-million seconds form now, whether it’s the future of communitarian government in Alberta or not: it’s definitely time to elect another NDP government, at very least to administer the province while the partisan right purges itself of its intestinal-souled millstones.

    Be well, my friends.

    1. “I’m also a bit befuddled by how close the polls are… ” Just look to America and how quickly wacky Republicans can ruin an entire nation (win or lose). America is on life support, Alberta will likely follow: there are just too many loonies here. I am out of here (3rd generation) like the rest of my family if Lady Ivermectin were to win.

  13. Great read as usual. I guess that tattoo is kind of a libertarian 4:20–in cuneiform. Well, now I know.

  14. Who are their stupid comments intended for? Seniors I bet, who aren’t smart enough to think for themselves. With the hope they will convince other fools in their families to vote in this airhead.I have met several guys over the years who told me that they didn’t pay much attention to politics so followed what their parents or grandparents told them to do and wished they hadn’t. I haven’t forgotten the guy I met years ago who told me that him and his sister weren’t dumb enough to follow their parents stupid ideas about how wonderful Ralph Klein was, so they got a lawyer friend to draw up papers that allowed them to divorce them. I didn’t think that it was possible but upon checking with a lawyer friend I learned that you could. I have never heard of another case of anyone doing it. Listening to the senior idiots bashing Notley , just like they have been brainwashed into doing, blaming her for wasting all this money, but too damn dumb to know where she spent it. None it was wasted , like they claim, she was just trying to fix the horrific mess she inherited and the biggest amount was spent on building new schools we desperately needed. I have four in my area she built and the new hospital for our area was delayed by Kenney, just like the Super Lab he scraped and the railroad cars that would have brought us an extra $2.2 billion a year in extra royalties while the pipeline was being built, as oilmen have pointed out. The fact is Albertans we’re idiots to believe the lies these Reformers fed them. Thinking that she should have fixed the mess in only four years that these reformers, starting with Ralph Klein, created in twenty five, proves how stupid they were. It couldn’t be done and it’s going cost billions more to get our roads back up to the way they were before Klein and these fools began ignoring looking after them properly and putting friends in paving crews out of business. Now we are looking at a massive increase in costs to fix them.

  15. The mystery for me behind Smith increasingly weirder election promises is how are they supposed to benefit the voters in Alberta?

    This latest offer of a so called signing bonus for people, who are not residents let alone voters in Alberta, is pretty baffling. Paying people $1,200 to pull up stakes and move to Alberta is chump change. And presuming they can find a job in Alberta in their field, there lies the problem that there is a skills shortage across Canada, if not all of North America. Seems to me that there is a bidding war for workers in many fields and $1,200 is a laughable sum to offer.

    Promoting Alberta as some kind of Lotus Land (when the real Lotus Land is in BC and just next door) has always struck me a comical effort. The only reason people come to Alberta is to work and to get out as soon as they can. Everyone is just passing through Alberta and determined to leave for a more hospitable place when the opportunity is right.

  16. Another day, another con job by Danielle Smith and the UCP.

    Navius Research Inc. may want to protect their professional reputation by issuing a public statement, disputing UCP’s analysis of their professional analysis. Any threatened litigation coming from dummy Danielle, yet?

    No. Didn’t think so.

    Proof Danielle Smith and the UCP lied? The Navius report itself.

    Premier Danielle Smith and the UCP don’t believe people work for anything other than money or power or to screw someone over, revenge like; some old rival, some old lover, some old boss, the junior high school date that ditched you, whomever.

    The pure pettiness, meanness, selfishness and greed of the UCP represents a minority of Albertans.

    We’ve all been screwed over by someone in our life.

    But: most of us learn something, and get over it.

    Please, don’t let this bunch of UCP power mongers define who we are.

  17. Absolutely clueless and corrupt to their rotting core.

    The Trumpers are here, they are UCP. Laugh at your neighbour naive enough to put up a sign trumpeting their stupidity.

  18. There will be no loss for me I will stay for Notley, or leave if the Ivermectin Queen reigns. It is that simple.

  19. RAIDERS OF THE LOST BARK! Cash, tax break, and a lifetime supply of Ivermectin.
    Any takers will, like all the nurses cashing in and going back to Ontario where they “thought” it was bad.

  20. We haven’t had a raise in healthcare since 2016. Note because the oil industry wasn’t doing well, it’s doing better than ever .we didn’t get the $2/ hr front line worker money because they lost it? Are the feds checking on this? There were strings attached to my tax dollars. No doubt that’s the 1200 she is dangling, but how many fulltime jobs are posted that would qualify for this?v there’s the joke. They aren’t even advertising jobs because they don’t exist in fulltime.

  21. “It’s also hard to believe that a piddling $1,200 one-time payment and the promise of a modest tax credit down the line will persuade many professionals to move here when”

    $1200 is just the impetus. The we want you sign. Judging by your comment you are rich. I guess the question you need to ask yourself to determine whether such things are effective is, “do you bother to pick up $100 dollar bills when you see them on the ground”.

    I guess your opinion is that no, they dont. Pretty ironic you think government workers are so over paid that they dont notice 12 of the bills(maybe something to think about).

    Perhaps you have been interacting with your bubble group a little too much?

    Heres an interesting link that should help you shed the rich elitism youve got infecting you, an article on JS Mills from a fellow regressive:

    Pretty funny regressives are trying to absorb him, you know much like the NDP and Lougheed… the borg needs a new victim.

    The comment section is the best part.

  22. Smith is really out of touch with the reality of the market place when it comes to workers. A $1,200 signing bonus???? OMG that is funny. Does she know how much it costs to move?
    That alone would cause many to not make the move. Of course the cost of purchasing a home in Alberta is less expensive than B.C., but the difference in salaries won’t be worth it to most.
    Some retirees are moving to Calgary, but they aren’t going there to work, just to find a more affordable place to live and have money in the bank.
    There is a labour shortage all across Canada and money alone will not solve the problem. Better working conditions, better and less expensive child care, respect for the workers would help. I’d attribute the lack of nurses, police, ferry workers, trades people, etc. due to the number of retiring aging baby boomers. We were a huge part of the work force and go from 1945 to 1963 or there abouts. We;ve been leaving the work force for a couple of decades now and governments simply didn’t plan for that, especially in health care.
    Covid didn’t help either. People had a break in working and decided to retire. (its much nicer than working, having been retired for 20 years)

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