Danielle Smith is the new face of right-wing Alberta - Macleans.ca

Danielle Smith is the new face of right-wing Alberta

The new leader of the Wildrose Alliance has a warning for Ed Stelmach


The Wildrose Alliance of Alberta picked a leader this weekend. Three out of every four votes went to Danielle Smith over her opponent, Mark Dyrholm. In a profile earlier this year, she was described in Maclean’s as “a Calgary school board trustee, a national Global TV political commentator and host, a columnist and editorial board member at the Calgary Herald, and, until recently, the provincial director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. A long-time Tory, she is a fiscal conservative but a moderate on social policy. Articulate, not unattractive, and personable, Smith seems well-equipped to transform what’s been a ragtag party living at the margins into a credible alternative to the governing Tories.” Her first order of business is to build the party, start holding rountables on policy and setting up candidates. And to put some fear into premier Ed Stelmach. To him she announced: “you haven’t begun to imagine what’s about to hit you!”

Canadian Press


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Danielle Smith is the new face of right-wing Alberta

  1. "she is a fiscal conservative but a moderate on social policy"

    I saw Danielle Smith on Michael Coren's show a while back. She reminded me of Palin – and I like Palin so that is compliment – in that she has a winning, happy warrior presence but we will now see if she can lead.

    • " She reminded me of Palin – and I like Palin…"

      Are you a Stelmach mole? :)

      • Palin isn't as toxic in western Canada as she is for the media elites in Ottawa…

        • who have you been talking to? i've never met anyone in all of alberta who felt she was ever anything but an ignorant, self-interested opportunist, and that was coming from the ralph klein fans.

    • I only meant the comparison to Palin in two ways – both are telegenic, which helps a great deal, and both are feisty, argumentative but do so with a smile. They are not gloomy gus', which so many Con pols are.

  2. While claiming to be pro-choice, she appears to think women should pay for their own abortions. I don't think denying women access to public health care is socially moderate.

    • Holly I think you are confusing her position on healthcare for her position on abortion. Many libertarians believe that abortion along with many other things currently paid for by the state should be paid for by individuals. This isn't because they seek to create barriers to women having abortions, should they so choose, but because of general opposition to public healthcare. You can argue its a bad policy, but it isn't a stealth pro-life one, or at least I highly doubt that is the motivation.

      This isn't, I should add, "talking out of both sides of her mouth". Indeed, Smith's position on abortion was probably her greatest weakness in a leadership race for a fairly pro-life party. It is a perfectly ideologically consistent libertarian position.

      As for the Palin comparison, I have to groan a bit. Are we going to get this every time an attractive right wing female enters politics? Danielle Smith, from what I have read, can speak in syntactically accurate sentences, for what its worth. I welcome her entry into Canadian politics. The Alberta PC's need a shakeup, and all Albertans will benefit from having a competitive political environment. Moreover, it is always nice to see somebody enter politics who doesn't fit the tired old left-right mould.

    • It doesn't matter what the woman decides, rightly she should do what she wants, it's her decision. That however, doesn't mean we are all on the hook for it. There are exceptions of course ie. rape, health threats to the the woman, but a purely elective abortions should not be the financial responsibility of the taxpayer. That is not denial of public healthcare, it's common sense and taking responsibility for your own actions.

      • I am solidly pro-choice, but I admit this argument does make a certain amount of sense. Unfortunately, that will likely result in unwanted pregnancies moving forward and if you think about it, you may agree with me that adoption is a much harder thing to live with. So, if the argument is purely money-focused, it is a lot cheaper to abort a pregnancy than it is to raise a child on welfare. I admire women who could carry a pregnancy to term, only to give up the child–but I don't expect that is most women.

        • The way it works in the US, I don't think that is a major problem (it varies from state to state). Planned Parenthood does abortions. They charge a fee that depends upon your income. I think it is about $200 (which may or may not be covered by one's private insurance) and have few doubts it could be done more cheaply in Canada. It would also be cheaper if one used that RU pill thingy.

          As for the welfare argument, I'm pretty sure Danielle Smith would like to gouge welfare, so I'm not sure you are exactly countering the libertarian position (indeed, you are bringing up the point that when we are all on the hook for each other, what should be individual choices can often become collective ones).

          • I could accept the small fee based on income thing, but I also don't mind a small user fee for doctor appointments. I take your point on the libertarian view of welfare, and so that would be a consistent approach to take. It is not one I personally share, but that doesn't make your argument less valid. I mean, I'm not likely to even be asked to vote for Danielle Smith, not living in Alberta and all.

        • I believe that “adoption” is absolutely easier to live with than murdering your own child. And if we only think of our children on a “money-focued” basis and it’s cheaper to just get rid of them, how sad is our society. No one has the right to take another life. I realize that this topic is extremely contraversal; however…what about the children?? They didn’t make the choice to come into this world…they’re the innocent victims here.

    • the government doesn't pay for birth control of any other form. 99% of abortions can and are performed outside of a hospital where almost all such services are not paid for by government. Why should the goverment prove an incenive for abortions over any other form of birth control?

    • Can you see the moral issue with having abortion as part of a public health plan. Granted the entire public health plan has moral issues. But why should taxes from someone who disagrees with abortion go to someone to have an abortion. I am pro-choice but am damn well against any use of public money in a way which the payer would be firmly morally against. Suppose it was the other way around, how would you like it if someone used your tax dollars to throw someone in jail for having or giving an abortion?

  3. That may be one of those strategies meant to appeal to a wider base. Or to put it another way, talking out of both sides of her mouth.

  4. She claims to be in favour of public health care, but wants to discriminate against women in public health care. I don't actually believe her when she says she supports public health care, but she does say so on her website. Not a real libertarian? Or just another lying politician?

    • So she is a bad libertarian for wanting to limit the amount of money the government spends on healthcare?

    • Holly, Danielle Smith is the first Gen X female to ever become Premier-in-Waiting in Alberta. She is pro CHOICE. Choice in all things. I saw her on the verge of tears defending a woman's right to CHOOSE. She has said over and over and over that the State has no place in the wombs of the nation. I don't know that she believes in abortion per se, as she has talked about civil society encouraging alternatives, but she took more heat in this race from social and religious conservatives trying to beat her up for her pro choice position, and she STILL won. I have been pro choice since university, and I also believe that if you want an abortion, you should pay for it yourself if you really want one. I have always said abortion must be enshrined as a guarantee available to women but it should not be used casually or as birth control. But for you to question Danielle Smith on her libertarian or choice credentials sounds like Tory smear tactics. Danielle stood up to the anti abortion crowd and she did so honestly and with principle. The least you can do is respect that. Why is it always women trying to tear down any woman who is headed for success??????

  5. "not unattractive?"

    Whoever wrote that profile has no taste.

    And, drooling chauvinism aside, part of what makes her a dangerous force against the hapless Alberta Tories is her general ability to make conservative thinking seem thoughtful rather than merely reactionary- whether it's youth or looks or zippy soundbites or speaking in complete sentences or national profile, the very words "Danielle Smith" automatically rise above the bitter, fat country curmudgeon label that hangs around so many prairie right wing movements and third parties like a stale cube of cheese on a steel necklace.

    Danielle, you're no stale cube of cheese. Congratulations!

    • The Canadian right wing is hardly reactionary (unless you are misusing the word reactionary to mean "very right wing"). Over the past 25 years, they have been the revolutionaries – reducing, piece by piece, the size and scope of government in Canada. The most important right wing political movement to come out of the west was the Reform party, which both in name, and in policy put forth a serious challenge to both status quo Tories, and to the Liberals. Supporters of the welfare state are the ones that have been the reactionaries (and they have generally been fighting rearguard actions).

      Think of the big reforms we have seen in Canadian politics since 1984 and where they came from.
      1. Deficit reduction (most effectively pushed by Manning and the Reform party, but implemented by Chretien)
      2. The clarity act (first proposed by Stephen Harper as a Reform MP)
      3. Free trade (first advocated by blue Tory John Crosby)
      4. Shifting of the tax base towards sales taxes (Wilson and Mulroney can share credit)
      5. Education reform (here, speaking as an Ontarian, Mike Harris' reforms were – whether you are for them or against them – fairly radical: eliminating grade 13, teacher testing, the literacy test, and school vouchers)

      By contrast, when it comes to economic policy I can really only think of one important new idea that came from the left – Quebec's childcare policy, which was not successfully implemented at a federal level. The green shift was probably another significant reform (or would be if enacted), but we all saw how that went. The Canadian left has been out of ideas for 25 years. As we strain to think of what taxpayer money could be spent on effectively, government spending as a % of GDP has shriveled such that Canada spends less as a % of GDP than the US does on all government programs. That isn't to say that it won't change, and indeed, the Harper interegnum has not been especially innovative from a policy standpoint, but I think my point still stands – the right has had the ideas since 1984.

      • Excellent analysis.

        • I agree.

      • Some good points, but you forget to mention that the Reform movement has reneged on just about every principle they once held through a reactionary process to attain and hold power at all costs.

        Your points;

        1. Chretien/Martin elimination of the deficit has been destroyed rather brutally.
        2. Fair enough. If they were in power however, I doubt it would have passed.
        3. Fair enough. Inevitable, but fair enough point.
        4. That has been reversed, leading to what will be structural deficits for years to come.
        5. Harris' reforms were needed to bring Ontario up to par.

        The Right has some ideas, but they were long ago set afire and sent down the river, a blazing funeral barge, a spectacle of Reform ideas succumbed to greed and pragmatism.

        Once you get past the partisan framing of everything, you notice how much the left and right operate the same with the occasional blips.

        Mr. Harper is a footnote in bringing change to Canada. Plenty of promises; no action. It is a long list of footnotes.

  6. Leave downtown calgary!

    • I was a fan of Palin too, JWL, but for a different reason.. I knew that once the initial glamour and novelty wore off, America would recoil in horror and make an Obama win even more certain.

      Danielle Smith for her own sake would be better off to not resemble anything close to Palin, if she wants to be successful.

    • I was a fan of Palin too, JWL, but for a different reason.. I knew that once the initial glamour and novelty wore off, America would recoil in horror and make an Obama win even more certain, so I was pleased as punch that McCain made the boneheaded move in choosing her as a running mate.

      Danielle Smith for her own sake would be better off to not resemble anything close to Palin, if she wants to be successful.

      • I might agree with you if the only point at which McCain ever lead *hadn't been* shortly after Palin's nomination.

        Here's another real live Palin fan in Alberta, even if at this point its more out of frustration with the embarrassing display the left put on in response to her.

        • "embarrassing display the left put on in response to her"

          You mean by letting her talk and define herself? Turns out that was the harshest thing 'the left' could have done…

  7. she is a fiscal conservative ..Hello ….. Is that what your PM and Co said Alberta and when they took power spent the $18B in the bank plus another $5B and appointed 27 Senators plus 125 political appointments? she is a fiscal conservative, careful Alberta.

    • Danielle is a genuine fiscal conservative because she is in reality a free market libertarian, and a student of economics. Conservatives believe in Big Government for all the things they like and small government for all the things they don't. I heard Danielle Smith described as somebody who believes in a "big society" and a "small government". I like the idea of a big society, and a big economy. Big government is what we get from federal Lieberals and from federal Conservatives and Stelmach here in Alberta. Don't try to paint Danielle Smith with the same brush as Stephen Harper please!

  8. I quite like (comaparatively speaking with the rest of Alberta politics!) the little I know of this woman, in spite of the "two sides of her mouth" crack above. That was more a reflection of politicking in general, not just her.

    And keep those Palin comparisons coming! Ms Smith isn't dumb as a stump, so can only improve in the reflection.

  9. Like the Wild Rose Alliance position on being fiscal conservative and social conservative or not, Danielle Smith is a fiscal conservation and a socially respectful leader….a libertarian. I've heard her speak and read her papers over the years and her position is like my mother…careful to spend, save and live within her means, responsible and minds her own business, socially conscious to those in need but not forgiving those who won't take care of themselves, lives a principled life without pushing her religion and beliefs on others, values and recognizes personal achievements, seeks wisdom and intellectual discussions and decisions… does not have time for self-centered people or speakers who don't know what their talking about or worst yet, is a parrot of others. My mother raised me to be a solid, professional and upstanding citizen in my community.

    Isn't she the type you want to lead your Province? I do! Congratulations Danielle!

  10. I think this is great. :]

  11. The fact that some people are comparing Danielle Smith to Sarah Palin is a testament to how destructive the latter has been to the idea of having strong female politicians. Palin has unfortunately become the measuring stick for any future aspiring telegenic woman who wants to enter politics, especially if she is conservative. It's such a shame that society can not look at other examples of strong political figures like Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi, and instead go straight to the lowest common denominator. Why don't we compare all liberal male politicians to Stephane Dion or some other failed candidate? Doesn't make sense, does it?

    • I think a lot of that apprehension was around before Palin. Belinda Stronach, Ruby Dhalla and Rona Ambrose stand out as targets (whether they are good or bad MP's isn't the question, it is whether the media gave them a chance). Female politicians are usually typecast as either ditzy airheads (Dhalla, Ambrose, Stronach), overly emotional softies (McDonough, McLaughlin, Lyn McLeod, Barbara Hall) or old battleaxes (Hazel McCallion, Sheila Copps, Deborah Grey, Elsie Wayne, Hedy Fry, Pauline Marois).

      Of the three, only the latter group has ever really succeeded in elected politics, and have done so by emulating alpha male politicians. Successful female politicians tend to get nicknames like Iron lady, or Tequila Sheila or Hurricane Hazel signifying that they are tough. Yet even here they have a disadvantage. Whereas male politicians can portray themselves as empathetic and score points, female politicians cannot without either being castigated for being weak (eg. Audrey McLaughlin, Alexa McDonough or Barbara Hall) or, if they have been established as battleaxes, ingenuine (eg. Hillary Clinton's tears). Being a tough woman, moreover, will alienate much of the core constituency for strongman (strongperson?) type leaders as well. Many chauvinist types like strong leaders, so long as its a man. Engagement in the kind of confrontational debate that defines question period forces women to either look weak, or to look in-feminine.

      There are only a couple who I think are likely to escape this kind of typing. Martha Hall Findlay comes to mind, as does Lisa Raitt. I think what helps them is that they are of a generation where there were lots of women in high-powered jobs whose resume gets them a kind of credibility that few of an older generation would have had. I don't think Elizabeth May's gender has played a huge role in people's evaluations either.

      • I would beg to differ about Ms. May. She blatantly used her gender last year (wrongly in my opinion) to bully her way into the debates.

  12. "not unattractive" wow, thats back-handed

  13. Sort of like the fighting of wars to the pacifists, right? Easily solved, those who object to abortion can have their tax money go to the wars, while those who are pacifists can fund something else. All you need to do is say "none of MY tax money goes there." Done!