Alberta Premier Danielle Smith perched atop a mild mannered old hack for the Calgary Stampede Parade Friday (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Danielle Smith’s petulant afternoon “readout” from Friday’s Calgary Stampede meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggests Alberta’s premier didn’t get very far trying to bully the feds into abandoning their energy emissions targets.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, looking steely eyed (Photo: Liberal Party of Canada).

In other words, my assessment yesterday of what was likely to happen once the doors closed and the smiles came off at their private meeting was pretty much spot on. 

This prompted some rather overheated and threatening grumbling in the readout – a faddish Washington term to describe a self-serving description of what happened in a closed meeting – and some outright hysteria from another of Postmedia’s political columnists, all of whom are now gratefully back in the United Conservative Party’s media corral with the threat of an NDP government behind them. 

“Trudeau DOES NOT budge on where he’s headed with Alberta,” screeched Calgary Sun bloviator Rick Bell

Holy crap! The apocalypse, probably! 

Dial it back there, Big Guy! If she sticks with her present strategy for real – as opposed to random threatening readouts and declarations to impress the rubes – she’ll soon find that, constitutionally speaking, her government is all hat and no cows, to stick with the Stampede metaphor.

Federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre (Photo: Facebook/Pierre Poilievre).

In the meantime – as predicted in this space – Ms. Smith will continue trying to Own the Libs, and Mr. Trudeau and the Libs will continue trying to find a formula to win the next election against the dislikeable Pierre Poilievre’s federal Conservative Opposition. He may well succeed, thanks in no small part to what Ms. Smith says and does. 

As previously reported, Alberta and the feds have struck a “bilateral working group” that will “work on an aligned framework to incentivize investment in carbon capture, utilization and storage as well as other emissions-reducing technologies.” (That’s bureaucratic babble for look busy and churn our anodyne platitudes, which is what Ms. Smith clearly hopes the committee will do. If she were serious about it reaching consensus with Ottawa, she’d call it a “task force.”)

There will be rules for building “small modular reactors,” a dubious idea favoured by both the feds and the province. Other than the working group, that seemed to be about all the sides agreed upon. 

According to Ms. Smith’s readout, though, that was “constructive.”

Apparently not constructive, according to the premier, was the fact “the federal government has yet to formally recognize Alberta’s exclusive jurisdiction to set its own emissions-reduction targets and milestones on the path to a carbon-neutral energy sector and electricity grid by 2050.”

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley (Photo: Facebook/Rachel Notley).

That’s probably because the premier’s claim of jurisdictional exclusivity is constitutionally questionable at best, and likely to face stiff headwinds in the courts. 

Also, her statement said, “they continue to set targets for a 42 per cent reduction in energy sector emissions by 2030 and a net-zero electricity grid by 2035. 

“Both of these targets are unachievable,” she claimed, hyperbolically. And that, she insisted, “will drive billions of investment out of Alberta, massively increase electricity costs and result in the loss of tens of thousands of Alberta jobs.”

Well, that’s her story, and she’s obviously stickin’ to it, so detailed analysis needs to follow. 

Ms. Smith also demanded “more time” for Alberta to clean up its electricity generation practices, a standard tactic of petroleum-industry captured governments everywhere. In truth, had the NDP led by Rachel Notley won the election, the rhetoric would have been softer, but the ultimate strategy would likely have been much the same. 

Former Conservative PM Stephen Harper in Stampede drag, in possibly the most-used photo of the political patron saint of the UCP ever taken (Photo: Calgary Herald).

The readout carries on like this for a while. Readers are encouraged to read it themselves

Eventually, Ms. Smith got around to threatening Ottawa with application of her Alberta Sovereignty Act, at least that’s most logical readout of her assertion that “if Ottawa does not recognize and support Alberta’s exclusive right to regulate these sectors of our economy, our province will have no choice but to use alternative policy options to protect our rights independent of federal interference.” (Emphasis added.)

One can only hope she does. That will settle once and for all that the Sovereignty Act is, to borrow from the Bard, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Cue the sound effects! 

Not much new in premier’s statement on B.C. waterfront strike

Meanwhile, yesterday the premier’s staff assembled all her previous talking points about the dockworkers’ strike in Vancouver into another melodramatic statement directed at the PM demanding immediate federal action to end the labour dispute. 

There is almost nothing in this statement that we haven’t heard from various UCP officials and their cheerleaders in media in the past few days, including the whingey complaint that Ottawa acted more quickly to end a strike on Montreal’s docks in 2021. 

The statement’s closing line was interesting, though. “While proactive federal measures could have prevented this current situation, I urge your government to develop a new process for addressing the risk of work stoppages at ports in the future. The federal government must ensure labour stability and support a resilient supply chain to protect our economy and the Canadians who rely on it.”

One wonders what she has in mind. Have the Navy load the ships? 

The constitutional right to bargain collectively is pretty well established in Canadian law now. Perhaps Stephen Harper, patron political saint of the United Conservative Party, can ask his buddy Viktor Orbán for some ideas from Hungary’s “illiberal democracy” to pass along. 

Join the Conversation


  1. If Smith were smart, and while she is sometimes quite good at communications I am doubtful her cleverness extends much beyond that, she would take that Federal commitment for a bilateral working group, hold them to it and try to use it to accomplish something constructive.

    Instead, I think the temptation for the seemingly always angry conservatives these days, will to be to just to continue to attack the Trudeau and Federal Liberals about, well everything. They seem to be becoming even more unhinged about Trudeau and the Liberals as time goes on, if that is possible. Of course, the relationship was never very good from the start with the dismissive talk of him not being ready to lead, being a drama teacher and in fashionable conservatives circles there seems to have been a lot of very silly frat boy like name calling for a long time already, often laced with profanity, that I am sure is a big turn of to a many moderate voters.

    Until their current leadership, there was a bit more restraint at higher levels of the CPC, but Poilievre seems to have gone all in for an angry blame Trudeau for everything strategy, which certain conservative provincial Premiers seem to now also want to eagerly follow. It is true the Liberal government is a bit tired and problems have accumulated, as often they do over time. However, it is not enough to be a successful opposition, and successfully attack, people have to feel they have better ideas if they are going to vote for them. So for instance, both Alberta and Federal conservatives now spend a great deal of time attacking the Federal governments climate change strategy, but voters would be hard pressed to know what the conservatives alternative plans are here. As far as I can tell, it is something between do nothing and do as little as possible.

    This will likely be a problem for conservatives first federally as that will likely be the next big election to happen. However, it probably will not take that much longer for Albertans to realize the shout louder strategy Smith seems to have adopted is as ineffective as the shout loud strategy of her predecessor Kenney. Alberta conservatives are good at denial, but there are two fundamental problems for them here. First, it doesn’t much matter to Trudeau and the Federal Liberals what Alberta conservatives think. They do not depend on their votes for their political power. Second, the rest of the country actually cares about issues like climate change and there are few energy jobs to be lost in eastern Canada.

    When you have such a weak hand politically, shouting louder is not going to help.

    1. Well put. If the CPC were smart (OK, speaking hypothetically here) they might want to consider how spending too much time in attack mode was not enough for the NDP to win in our provincial election.

  2. Oh, if wishes could come true, the walls in that meeting would be covered with flies. Perhaps an appropriate metaphor picture for the amount of BS being slung about.

    Also in the realm of fanciful wishes that will never come true because they are just that, fantasies, is the lingering belief in ‘carbon capture, utilization and storage’. This is nothing more than a feint by criminal petro-corps and their corrupt political hacks to siphon money from the tax payers into foreign shareholders pockets.
    SMR’s, on the other hand, is something that can work and work well for the population. So of course, the deep pockets controlling the press and the corrupt conservatives are “dubious” of this scheme.
    Plus ça change …

  3. btw … that picture of PM Justin makes me immensely proud to be a fellow hat wearer.
    I imagine more than a few ladies, even of the conservative persuasion, will feel a flutter or two on gazing at this visage of handsome JT.

    1. Ranger: I thought you were going to say they’d feel a flutter gazing at you. I’m sure they would. DJC

  4. “I (Premier Smith) urge your government to develop a new process for addressing the risk of work stoppages at ports in the future.”
    Here’s one. Since the BC employers’ association has no intention of negotiating a settlement with the I.L.W.U. and is falling all over themselves pleading for government intervention, replace those do nothings with government negotiators who want the strike to end. Turn the job over to a body that can get it done. Or (gasp) come to a fair agreement at the bargaining table today.

  5. So of the best laid plans , Murphy’s law or in this case-Mother Nature –(rain delay for the game) redirect you to another juncture.
    This entailed doing a quick check on what PP was up to, and on Twitter I found an answer and more questions.
    “Knocking doors **with Conservative candidate Shuv Majumdar & our great team of volunteers in Calgary Heritage “.

    So when PP is endorsing someone, I automatically do a background check , especially if it’s a name I’m not familiar with. True to form, I was not surprised to find that another Harper crony , with what I would call dubious credentials is running. Though given the circumstances of the last few years, it seems to have become a prerequisite in conservative politics. But then again, that could just very well be ‘pure’ coincidence.
    I’ve been hedging my bets on who it would be, and now I’ve had to reevaluate some previous possibilities.

    I guess it is possible that the puppet master is willing to stay behind the scenes and focus on the program; though for how long is another question.
    As my sister is fond of saying:
    the things that make you go -hmmm ??

    Side bar: Speaking of strikes, an interesting and amusing thought: What would Dani do if the brewers were on strike as in the 80’s, I somehow get the feeling that it wouldn’t last 7 mths with this crowd. I worked through the unhappy Canadian cowboys having to “quaf that watered down yankee beer”, thank goodness for relief from down-under, made a few converts too, lol.

    **directly from the tweet

  6. As lawyers in our circle of friends have been saying for years. Albertans find it smart to make all sorts of stupid commitments about Trudeau being a drama teacher, or his black face mistake but he hasn’t cost anyone in Alberta a penny compared to what these phoney conservatives, Reformers, have been allowed to do to this province, proving how stupid these fools are. Poilievre is certainly all mouth and no brains and it isn’t hard to understand why we know there is nothing conservative about him. From comments being said about him in blogs in eastern Canada newspapers I’m not alone.

  7. Since 90% of the UCP caucus is utterly and irredeemably useless, I’d say they present a soft target. TBA? Loonies, with a toxic agenda? People that think Canada is Oklahoma? Oh yah. They are foolin’ around and are about to find out! It’s always been a wannabe Texas!

  8. Danielle Smith is proving more and more what a joke she is. Those of us who know what true Conservatives are, aren’t supporting her, or the UCP, or Pierre Poilievre.

  9. Again, we’re on the same page David.
    Just think with Notley, we might have had some progress on reducing our carbon emission. Alas, the NDP wasn’t interested in winning the election, and we’re stuck with this.
    I have family in 3 other provinces. They tell me, without exception, the majority of the people in their province despise Albertans. Hell, I live here and I’m not too fond of most of them. What an embarrassment it is to live here.

  10. For entertainment value, one need look no further than Danielle Smith’s interview with Rebelmedia’s Ezra Levant. I recall it was Levant who, according to the Ethics Commissioner’s report, gave Smith the notion that she could contact the Crown’s prosecutors through an intermediary. (Poor, Tyler Sandro. Always getting the worst of someone else’s bad idea.) Of the course of the interview, one is left with the impression that Levant is hawking for a government communications gig, which is comical considering how well his gig as CA leader Stockwell Day’s communications adviser turned out. Maybe Smith is willing to chalk that one up as a bad experience for Levant. If that’s the case, I really hope Ezra gets some kind of gig in Smith’s government, because he’s gold, through and through. While the interview could be best described as a Danielle Smith fan-fest, the one thing that became apparent is that Smith really does need (or think) her podcast reality can become reality, where her interpretation of everything is, in fact, the fact. This is going to be a tall order when PMJT starts ignoring Smith’s special brand of crazy. Jason Kenney’s alternate reality didn’t go so well, so we’ll see.

    And it seems that Trudeau committed the gave act of failing to get a pancake flip right on the first try, while Skippy Pollivere seems to be an ace at being a flipper. Being that all this was going on at that drinking fest called the Calgary Stampede and all, it can’t be taken seriously. And Skippy, knowing that the Stampede and the Convoy crowd are pretty much one and the same, went full Qanon during his address to the faithful. Give these people the crazy and they’ll lap it up, just like one of those highly questionable midway treats.

  11. So do actually think a zero emissions grid is possible by 2035?

    The only possible technology is nuclear, AB being too dry for large scale hydro. AB’s current demand averages ~10GW across all the day. With population growth, it could easily be at ~13 GW by 2035.

    The latest nuclear facility to come online is Vogtle in Georgia. Its two units deliver ~1.25 GW at a cost of ~35B USD ( The initial permitting request was filed in 2006 ( Using this as a benchmark, AB would require 20 of these reactors at a cost of $350B and the earliest timeline would be 2040…nothing to do with a “petroleum-industry captured government”.

  12. The UCP/IDU really needs to amp up the contact with Victor Orban to get ‘freedom’ really going here in Alberta. Perhaps they can ship the TBA to Hungary to see what the freedom they so desperately want is really like. Maybe for as long as 15-20 years so they can be free.

  13. It occurred to me while reading this that if you get all Conservative premiers and the head ankle biter of the CPC in one place, Doug Ford is the grown-up in the room.
    Someone should tell his mom about this post so she can print it off and hang it on the fridge.

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