One wild rise for one wild rose

Inside Danielle Smith’s campaign to topple Alberta’s most powerful political dynasty

by Colby Cosh

Jeff McIntosh/CP Images

In a Calgary hotel bar, a long-time newspaper and TV pundit sips white wine and plays the favourite sport of the Alberta literati: arguing about the province’s weird political history. She has a theory. (Everyone has a theory.) It is not a bad one.

“The sudden regime changes that Alberta is famous for seem to follow the evolution of new media,” she explains. “The 1935 election, the Social Credit election, was a radio election. [William] Aberhart won because he mastered a new medium. The 1971 election was a TV election. The baby boomers responded to a young leader, Peter Lougheed, who looked like them.”

“And now,” she says, “I think we are looking at a social media election.”

The speaker is referring obliquely to Danielle Smith, whose Wildrose party is dominating polls with nine short days left in the 2012 election campaign. The speaker also happens to be Danielle Smith. After a long day on the road, serving ice cream in Strathmore and visiting a trade show in Didsbury and play-acting as a firefighter in Sundre, the 41-year-old leader relaxes by reverting to the observer-commentator role she has played since university, bantering with her staff about Facebook and Twitter as forces for generational change.

If a stranger to Alberta walked into the bar there is no way he would know which one of these people might be the premier-elect nine days from now. Only briefly does Smith stop to notice how schizoid the scene is. “This is fun. It’s like being back in the Herald newsroom,” she declares with a sigh.

One wild rise

Rod Macivor/CP

Smith isn’t going back to journalism anytime soon. She plunged into politics when the Progressive Conservative budget of 2008 convinced her that the government that had ruled Alberta since 1971 had finally become completely unmoored from responsibility. Her eloquence and her good looks made the Wildrose party an immediate threat. What the 2012 campaign has revealed is that she has the popular touch to back up the ideas. As she criss-crosses the province, she greets every crowd with unfeigned enthusiasm, and leaves with undepleted energy. Nothing fazes her. Not children, not farm animals, not broken-down people whose obscure grievances against government are detectable from a mile away.

Every time she climbs off the world-famous Wildrose MCI J4500 bus—redecorated in a 12-hour overnight frenzy at the campaign’s outset, after the initial design made Smith look like a Wagnerian Valkyrie with a breastplate of hubcaps—she expects to be met with delight and acceptance, and she is. (She also expects jokes about the bus, and gets them.) Her campaign team gives her at least two or three chances a day to be photographed looking stupid; they have her clambering around on farm equipment and aircraft, wearing work uniforms and food-service hats, trying on unsuitable ethnic garb. Improbably, she dazzles almost every time. Although there is one photo of her that she would like to take back, a shot of her grimacing awkwardly as she gave the Vulcan hand salute from Star Trek in Vulcan, Alta. “My mistake was trying to do it with both hands,” she says. “Have you tried it? It’s hard!”

Smith may have the professional resumé of a policy nerd, but she has long harboured a performing artist’s hunger for interaction with the public. “Do you remember Speaker’s Corner?” she asks with excitement, recalling the noon-hour debates she attended and participated in as an undergraduate at University of Calgary’s MacEwan Hall. “I loved being part of that scene, watching [Naheed] Nenshi and Chima [Nkemdirim] and Ezra [Levant] and Rob Anders hammer out ideas in a public setting. But for whatever reason, I ended up with a career that required me to be non-partisan at almost every turn.” Only Smith’s brief time as a Calgary school board trustee allowed to her to exercise the skills of a political candidate. Her media career as a Calgary Herald editorialist and Global TV news host called upon different gifts, and the rest of the time was spent working for advocacy groups, like the Fraser Institute or the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, wherein any hint of partisanship would have jeopardized their tax-exempt status.

But the Alberta PCs had their eye on Smith. In 2006, Richard Magnus, then PC MLA for Calgary North Hill, told her she would have his imprimatur if she wanted to succeed him in the constituency. When then-premier Ralph Klein received a bare 55 per cent in a leadership review and stepped down, however, Magnus delayed his own retirement in the hope of receiving a key post from heir apparent Jim Dinning. That didn’t work out. By the time Dinning lost, the future battle lines of an Alberta conservative civil war had become visible.

And now the shooting has begun. Albertans have been living with a paradox: they genuflect before two premiers, Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein, who were nominally of the same Conservative party but otherwise could not have been less alike. The patrician Lougheed spent billions on industrial policy, bought massive business enterprises outright, struggled to have Alberta oil and gas processed in Alberta, and expanded the welfare state. Klein, the son of an itinerant prizefighter, boasted of “getting government out of the business of business,” scoured the welfare rolls, and terrorized the public service with waves of privatization and outsourcing. A person of Lougheed’s views would today be most comfortable on the far left of the NDP—certainly far to the left of Thomas Mulcair. And even the most right-wing Canadian governments have not quite matched Klein’s sheer aggression in pursuing government austerity.

Ed Stelmach’s anointment as PC leader in 2006 represented an unexpectedly abrupt turning from the Klein legacy. With Alison Redford’s ascension in 2011, the turn became explicit—so much so that she has been accused of occasionally knocking the terminally ill, dementia-afflicted Klein as a parochial, retrograde figure. The breach broke open publicly in the last week of the campaign; as Lougheed, 83, put in a quiet word in favour of Redford, those close to 69-year-old Klein expressed outrage, and Klein’s wife Colleen took out a Wildrose membership in protest.

Even in Klein’s last years, ideological conservatives had been looking for a way to tame an increasingly voracious Alberta government. (In the 2001-02 Alberta budget, anticipated expenditures were $21.6 billion. The figure in Redford’s 2012-13 budget: $41.1 billion.) Some placed their hopes in Ted Morton, who taught many members of the Nenshi-Levant-Smith generation as a U of C political scientist. But Morton’s quirky judge-hating brand of conservatism loaded him with electoral baggage that the socially liberal Smith doesn’t have, and it eventually led him down a road to political purgatory. As resource development minister he offended rural landowners by introducing streamlined land-expropriation measures—precisely in order to evade those overweening courts—and as finance minister he had to defend deficit budgets grown swollen with Stelmachian spending. In Redford’s government, Morton, now energy minister, has become an afterthought. Indeed, as Redford tries to portray the Wildrose as scary anti-gay monsters, he has become a faintly embarrassing one.

The failure of Morton’s project left Danielle Smith to pull together, at least in theory, a-winning combination of instinctive libertarians and “socially conservative” evangelicals. A 2009 magazine column by Link Byfield, long-time editor of the defunct conservative newsmagazine Alberta Report and a crucial figure in the founding of Wildrose, makes the terms explicit. A provincial government, Byfield wrote, can’t help much with so-con hobby horses: “No provincial government may repeal federal gay marriage rights, or restore the federal Criminal Code ban on abortion,” he admits. (Those are both things the Catholic Byfield would like to see happen.) What a province can do is to protect religious freedoms, parent choice in education, a free press, and civilized self-sufficiency. “As the state gets stronger, everything and everyone else gets weaker—individuals, families, churches, local communities, businesses and markets.”

Throughout the winter and early spring, this careful positioning had Wildrose in clear second place, but well behind the PCs. Redford enjoyed a sustained polling bounce from her surprise victory in the leadership race, from the sudden national attention that came with it, and from her status as Alberta’s first female premier. To editors, Smith, who had captured the Wildrose leadership in an October 2009 coronation, was yesterday’s news.

But Smith had other advantages. Alberta’s old Reformers were in her corner, and in building a campaign team she had carte blanche to call upon the talent-spotting resources of the Manning Centre for Democracy. Tom Flanagan, the historian whose big-picture strategy advice helped Stephen Harper, would eventually swoop in to become her full-time campaign manager.

As the campaign travels, Flanagan’s emphasis on excruciating discipline shows through. No one, even amongst the front-line party workers Smith meets in the hinterland, says the words “if we win,” let alone, “when we win.” Wildrose volunteers, even in places where victory seems all but assured, incessantly insist that the local race is, goshdurnitall, just too close to call. The party, despite a large war chest and extensive demon-dialling resources, largely eschews polling. The directive, everywhere and at all times, is, “Run as though you’re behind.”

A refundable thousand-dollar “good conduct bond” demanded from Wildrose nomination contestants became controversial; the bond is partly intended to prevent losers from stalking off and supporting or even running for other parties, and critics cried that the Wildrose party was disrespecting free speech. But the three contestants who forfeited the cash, says Wildrose Senate candidate Vitor Marciano, lost it because their membership lists showed evidence of sales to imaginary voters. Conservative Party of Canada nomination candidates have, in fact, been required to buy the same bond on the same terms through the last three federal elections. On the Wildrose bus itself, the campaign team is bound by a toy version of the “bond”; there is a two-dollar fine, payable on the spot, for referring to an election victory.

Smith herself identifies the key figures in her campaign as Flanagan, Manning Centre director Cliff Fryers, and William McBeath, the party’s war-room boss, who was brought in from the operations branch of the federal Conservatives in October 2010. Conservative insiders are familiar with McBeath, a long-time federal Conservative election-runner whose war room has crushed the last ounces of old-fashioned prairie languor out of the Alberta election news cycle. Wildrose communications chief Brock Harrison, on the other hand, was an all-but-unknown journalist from Edmonton who had grown disenchanted with the scribbler’s life and begun to work on campaigns for the Alberta PCs. He was recruited to the Wildrose by Ryan Hastman, the former PMO staffer who dutifully went down to defeat against an informal “unite-the-left” movement in the federal riding of Edmonton-Strathcona last year.

Hastman rides the Wildrose bus, serving as its nominal “wagon master.” Marciano, a long-time federal Conservative organizer much more preoccupied with the Smith campaign than his own, tags along to make sure journalists on the bus don’t miss a single Redford flub or inconsistency. Jim Armour, who ran communications for both Preston Manning and Stephen Harper, is on hand to make sure the war room and the bus stay on the same page.

In short, the Wildrose cause started the election with some of the shiniest components of the Stephen Harper machine already in place, or ready to be installed. But the PC leadership victory by Redford, an acolyte of Joe Clark and an unapologetic Red Tory, helped attract even more energy from the old Reform bloc. Those still in power in Ottawa are under orders from the PM not to take sides, but those who have left federal politics can do as they please. When PC communications people started trying to make hay out of the dominance of the Wildrose slate by older white males, Reform mother-goddess Deborah Grey materialized to give Smith a timely blessing. Voters in Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock are said to see almost as much of ex-MPs Dave Chatters and John Williams as they do of Wildrose candidate Byfield. When Smith wielded the jaws of life in Sundre, the ageless Myron Thompson, complete with familiar Stetson, cheered her on.

But lest the Wildrose uprising be thought of as a phenomenon of Reform zombies rising from the grave to devour Alison Redford’s brain, it’s worth noting that Thompson and Smith were in Sundre to support Wildrose candidate Joe Anglin, former leader of the Alberta Green Party, and that the Wildrose candidate in Ft. McMurray-Conklin is Doug Faulkner, an ex-mayor of Fort Mac who ran there for the federal Liberals in 2004.

One wild rise

Photograph by Chris Bolin

Campaign talent, a commitment to Reform party values, and Danielle Smith’s personality may have brought the Wildrose to within striking distance of the PCs, but the party couldn’t have pulled ahead—and it has been ahead in almost every single poll since the eve of the election writ, significantly so in most—without some help from the PCs themselves. Redford has been discouragingly feeble in handling the lingering ethical controversies surrounding the Conservatives—the creepy pattern of doctor intimidation by politicians and health-board administrators; the illegal kickbacks to Tory constituency associations from municipalities, school boards, colleges and universities, and health agencies; and the “no-meet committee,” which had gone on paying private members of the legislature $1,000 a month despite not having met since 2008.

Conservative polling numbers have not recovered from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s pre-election bombshell disclosure of the “no-meet committee”; even Redford admits she reacted ineptly at first, criticizing the opposition for insisting their members refund the money. The 14- or 15-point lead the PCs appeared to be enjoying in February had become an eight- or nine-point deficit within a week of the election call. The spread has since varied wildly, but no poll has put the Conservatives back in the lead. In one survey, they are a full 17 points behind in province-wide voter support.

One of Redford’s strengths in pre-writ polling was her performance among women; in a December poll, the Conservatives led the Wildrose party with female voters by a staggering 48 per cent to 18 per cent. But some of that advantage clearly evaporated early on when an employee in the premier’s southern Alberta office tweeted, “If [Smith] likes young and growing families so much, why doesn’t she have children of her own?” In a terse press release, Smith noted she and her husband, TV producer David Moretta, had sought fertility treatments unsuccessfully. Redford did what she could to limit the damage, firing the rogue tweeter and telephoning Smith with a personal apology. Smith says the call was short—about two minutes—but adds that she was grateful for, and convinced by the sincerity of, the gesture.

There is a curious absence of personal history between the two women contending for the premiership. “I think we’ve only met twice—three times if you count the phone call,” Smith says. “Once at a Ric McIver event, and once when we were doing Stampede pancake breakfasts and someone, probably as a joke, put our booths side by side.” McIver, who practically defined the term “ultra-conservative” as a Calgary alderman, is running in Calgary-Hays for the PCs. There is hardly a better symbol of the bitter, brother-against-brother (sister-against-sister?) nature of this election; when McIver ran unsuccessfully for the mayoralty in 2010, it was Tom Flanagan he brought in to help run his campaign.

If Smith was unable to support the Alberta PCs publicly for much of her adult life, she was certainly a sympathizer until 2008, and fraternized with Tories in conservative circles. Yet she admits she has formed friendly working relationships with provincial Liberal Leader Raj Sherman and NDP Leader Brian Mason; the trio share a sense of bonhomie not present with Redford. “You could probably discern that from the TV debate,” Smith ventures. “I have a better rapport with Raj and Brian.” The debate might have been a dangerous moment for Smith, but Sherman and Mason, eager to take advantage of a possible PC rout and win back “anybody but Wildrose” voters, directed most of their fire at Redford. Smith doesn’t say it, but she may be keeping things friendly with Sherman and Mason in order to meet the far-from-impossible eventuality of Alberta’s first-ever minority government.

In a post-debate poll, Smith made the largest gains amongst the four leaders on stage, but the Redford campaign was about to find its feet. In a post-debate scrum, the premier told a weary assemblage of journalists that she would be targeting Smith on the identity and beliefs of the Wildrose slate, on Smith’s plan for a direct “energy dividend” to Alberta residents, and on her past defence of “conscience rights” for anti-abortion health professionals and marriage commissioners opposed to same-sex marriage.

Things have turned out more or less exactly as Redford predicted, and senior Wildrose advisers admit the salad days are over. “The Tory campaign was a disaster for two weeks,” says one. “They’ve been much better in week three.” Smith is on record as being pro-choice and pro-gay-marriage, and made a Harper-esque promise not to legislate on either issue, so she cannot easily be caricatured as a creationist far-right wackjob. But the emerging PC message is that she may bring an awful lot of them with her to the assembly. In the words of a Conservative print ad, “This is not your father’s PC Party”—assuming that your father’s PC Party was the one that featured Stockwell Day and book-banning Victor Doerksen as ministers not so long ago, to say nothing of Morton.

As Smith theorizes in the hotel bar, a question arises: is she ready to be premier of Alberta within days? Has Danielle Smith imagined herself visiting the Lieutenant Governor to kiss hands? “I swear I haven’t given it any thought,” she says. “The campaign is so focused on the here and now that it doesn’t even seem natural to think that far ahead.” Neither Smith nor Redford, it should be noted, has an easy task in her own riding. The Tories are running a popular local newspaperman against Smith in Highwood, and in Redford’s ritzy Calgary-Elbow, the sign war is deadlocked at 50-50 between the premier and Wildroser James Cole. (Cole certainly has Colleen Klein’s vote in the bag, at any rate.)

The RCMP has yet to assign Smith a security detail; the Wildrose campaign will have recruited private bodyguards by the time these words see print. There has been no approach from the PCs about transition arrangements. Perhaps Smith fantasizes about power more than she lets on, but for now her concern about the future might just be the inadvertent devastation of her husband’s career. For a while Moretta was able to function at the Sun News Network by avoiding working on material related to Alberta politics, but he says, a little glumly, that his wife’s success is now probably too big for him to return to electronic news.

The Wildrose team’s resistance to speaking or even thinking of winning the election outright is not just a tactical convenience. The uncertainty is genuine. Many voters, voters who have voted Progressive Conservative 11 times in 11 Progressive Conservative victories, will plunge into the booth in a true state of indecision and trepidation on Apr. 23. Oppositions in this province aren’t supposed to take over. They are supposed to struggle gamely, lose, dispose of their leaders, and grumble quietly about the ovine Alberta voter. After all that time—after men like Grant Notley and Laurence Decore literally gave their lives trying to beat the odds—can the regime really succumb to the leader of a party that didn’t even exist five years ago?

It beggars belief. Hell, it beats up belief and runs off with its wife. Smith herself was born in April 1971, at the death knell of Social Credit Alberta, making her older than more than half the province’s population, whose median age is 36. She’s known no other government than the Progressive Conservative one she may be on the verge of destroying.




Browse

One wild rise for one wild rose

  1. As the state gets stronger, everything and everyone else gets
    weaker—individuals, families, churches, local communities, businesses
    and markets.”

  2. CC, you appeared to have been supportive of Ms. Smith since she first arrived on the political scene, so the tenor of this piece is not at all surprising to me.

    However, your pliability in your opening paragraphs made me chuckle, and foreshadowed what was coming:

    (Everyone has a theory.) It is not a bad one.

    “The sudden regime changes that Alberta is famous for seem to follow the evolution of new media,” she explains. “The 1935 election, the Social Credit election, was a radio election. [William] Aberhart won because he mastered a new medium. The 1971 election was a TV election. The baby boomers responded to a young leader, Peter Lougheed, who looked like them.”“And now,” she says, “I think we are looking at a social media election.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but were you not quite critical just a few months back when Preston Manning made similar claims in a G&M op-ed, suggesting that Alberta tends to make wholesale changes after long tenures?

    Personally, I don’t think 2012 Alberta is at all like 1971 Alberta, or 1930s Alberta, so while interesting as Trivial Pursuit questions, debatable at all.

     I think the reason you used her analogy was to subtly attempt to suggest that the Wildrose Party is a truly modern party, not the political remnant of the Alberta Report (your old haunt -or its subsequent reincarnations).

    Btw, what’s Link and/or Ted Byfield’s twitter account name?

    • You’re not wrong! But there’s a difference between pushing the same theory for ten years, hoping it will eventually be confirmed, and discussing an actual data point as it appears… I don’t know whether any Byfields have discovered Twitter yet.

  3. The rise of the ninny-state.

    The last thing she should have been posing with is the Enterprise.

    • She was in Vulcan. What else should she have done??

      •  Posed in front of the easter egg in Vegreville.

        • Then you would accuse her of believing in the Easter Bunny

          •  No.  My little joke with bikerborz….the Enterprise stands for knowledge, tech, the future…..an ‘easter egg’ means hidden code.

            Which is what you’ll get….it’s called ‘dog whistle politics’ in the US.

        • She probably posed in front of the Ukranian egg when she WAS in Vegreville.  When you are in Vulcan, you pose in front of the Starship Enterprise.  In fact, Leonard Nimoy actually made a trip to Vulcan and posed in front of the replica…it is that famous!  My point is that Danielle Smith is travelling the WHOLE province, not just here and there….naturally, they picked the one picture she didn’t shine in.

          •  You really aren’t paying attention are you….

          • And you are paying WAY to much attention to OUR election…considering that you don’t really care what happens!

          • First you’re upset because nobody pays attention to Alberta, and then you’re upset because people are paying too much attention to Alberta!

            I’m sorry, but your circular firing squad out there is drawing national attention, so you’re bound to get commentary.

            As they say, you should always be careful what you wish for.

    • The back story here – for those who aren’t familiar – is OE1 is a Trekker and loathes conservatives.  We fear her reaction to seeing Danielle Smith making the sign of the Vulcan in front of the Enterprise will rival that to the Danish cartoons.

      • Mmm sorry, not a Trekker, and I was PC for 30 years.

        Smith should never stand next to something futuristic though….maybe a chuckwagon instead.

  4. Nice piece – stale dated as inevitably happens in a torrid election news cycle, but I’m quite certain it will be getting a lot more reads next Tuesday when the ROC looks to find out about Alberta’s new premier.

    A couple of very minor quibbles – I disagree that Morton failed because  ”quirky judge-hating brand of conservatism loaded him with electoral baggage”  (judge-hating in Alberta is neither “quirky” nor “baggage”).  Rather, he failed because he either didn’t realize the PC party he sought to lead had “progressed” by 2006 as much as we  all now know it had or thought he could reverse the trend.  I expect Morton’s decision to remain a Tory, which clear the path for Smith’s Wildrose ascendancy will be looked back as a turning point in Alberta political history. 

    The other thing you fail to completely capture is Smith’s pure, unadulterated charisma.  Though few perhaps are old enough to remember and contrast it, I suspect Smith is generating a 2012 provincial version of “Trudeaumania”.  It is patent and instant – at the Wildrose convention that installed her as leader when she was still largely unknown, a cynical wizened political media person who didn’t know Smith from a hole in the ground the morning of her election by the end of the day was declaring she’d be Alberta’s next premier, despite the Wildrose having a single seat at the time.

  5. Nice article.  

    I find it amusing that my left wing friends are actually talking about voting PC. Apparently a smile goes a long way and it looks like Smith’s will take her party further than they ever expected this year.

  6. But… she represents a bunch of borderline fascist idealists who put forward the idea of church and state being intertwined, who look south for guidance, who support populist ideals just to get elected. What ever happened to real politicians, politicians with oratory skills?

    • Albertan’s need to believe that they do well because of phrases like “hard working” and “strong family values”. We also need to believe that Alberta does well because of fiscal conservatism and good governance. The fact is when the oil runs out so will half of the population. Alberta is one of the few places on the planet that is not in debt and that is solely due to the overwhelming amount of money that was made on resource income in the mid-2000′s.  ”Good government” had nothing to do with it. We were just lucky.

      Next year is projected as another boom time economy. Who ever wins this election will have rainbows coming out of their rear.

  7. Danielle Smith is like a smarter, Canadian Sarah Palin. I find her to be quite frightening using the cloaked language of the far-right. Whenever you see someone using the term “choice”, what they’re really referring to is privatization. 

    If you’re one of the rich folks, by all means, vote for wildrose… but if you’re an average person, voting wildrose is like shooting yourself in the foot.  

    • “Whenever you see someone using the term “choice”, what they’re really referring to is privatization.”

      That is a sentence that speaks volumes, and yet it still manages not to say what I think you meant.

    • Smarter Sarah Palin? it is a compliment even if you meant otherwise. Palin was painted as dumb by the leftist media. She has more intelligence, integrity and talent in her small finger than Obama in his whole body

      •  let me guess, you live in Alberta, right?

  8. I’ve seen you angry, and I’ve seen you caustic, and I’ve seen you wise, and I’ve seen you wrong. But this is the first time I’ve seen you with a fanboy crush. 

    • You must not have read his fawning interview with the soon to be former Premier last year.

  9. It is sad that a right-wing dynasty in Alberta can only be threatened by a party that is more extremely right-wing, by a party completely and utterly bought by the oil-lobby in a province already controlled by the oil lobby.

    Alberta might be the canary on the coal mine.

    They were sort of a “post-democracy”. They elected the same party every time, those who controlled the leader were decided by elites in the party.

    Now, oil tycoons and extremist commentators might be in control. It is sad to imagine the next evolution if this trajectory continues.

    • Alberta current PC are conservative in name only.

  10. Danielle “dazzles” every time? 
    Not to those of us who think we deserve more than glibness and a pretty face from our political leaders. Where is the thoughtful, profound analysis of society and an intelligent vision for the public good? Not with Danielle and her draconian populist agenda, that’s for certain. (But then, not with Alison Redford flip-flops, either.) 

    Despite what the media tells us, Alberta progressive candidates in many constituencies do have a fighting change IF centre-left voters cast ballots in sync for the leading contender (NDP, Liberal, EverGreen, or Alberta Party) in their ridings. A feisty little strategic campaign has been set up by a grassroots group, ChangeAlberta.ca, where they indicate which progressive candidates seem to be leading in targeted constituencies. I say give it a chance.

  11. I feel bad for Morton. Man, his instincts failed him big time. He probably thought he was going to knock Alison when she is up for leadership review and become Premier and surprise, he will lose his riding to a male Danielle Smith, Bruce McAllister full of charisma and extremely bright and deeply involved for over 6 years in his community of Chestemere/Rockyview.

    Danielle is the whole package full of charisma and so bright and smart, and as days go by she is getting more at ease in her new role. She is going to play an important role in Alberta and perhaps federal politics.

    •  She’s also a coward who won’t speak out against some pretty disgusting racism, but Canadians are seeing a lot of Albertans aren’t exactly displeased with that.

      • ..and the other viable option is…Alison Redford…a coward who won’t take her own party on for bullying doctors, stealing money for work they never did, accepting election kickbacks from universities, hospitals and municipalities….
        Do you honestly think 1 homophob & 1 racist candidate are worse than a whole party of crooks and bullies????

  12. Albertans don’t think their voice is being heard anymore resulting in
    one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. I want to hear
    you. I want to hear your priorities for this District, and Alberta.
    It’s time for MLAs who advocate for the needs of their constituents and
    work for the people who elected them. It’s time to revive democracy
    and bring in a new era of transparency and accountability. Prasad Panda Northern Hills Calgary, Canada.

    • It is time for a government that won’t punish the MLA’s in their own party for speaking out for their constituents.

  13. Quite the gong show happening in Alberta.  Danielle Smith had earlier distinguished herself as one of the only politicians in Canada to be fired from her job – when sitting as a school trustee for the Calgary Board of Education.  Her behavior, at the time, passing notes back and forth in council meetings, was only a little different from the prima donna brat you might have known in grade 4.

    Now she muses about whether global warming is real and the possibility of ‘dividend cheques’ which sound exactly like the “Ralph Bucks” Klein handed out in his sunset years as leader. Alberta is the province with the highest per-capita spending in the country. Now compare the funds in the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund ($15 billion?) with the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund ($500+ billion) just to gain a perspective on how effectively the PC’s of Alberta have managed the province in the last 40 years.

    The Alberta tories have been done in by their breathtaking display of entitlement and arrogance. Their time has come to an end.

    Meanwhile, a candidate with uncommon integrity, courage and intelligence, Dr. Raj Sherman, is sidelined and ignored because his party has the name ‘Liberal’ in the name.

    The gong show continues.

    • There is your problem.  The party has “Liberal” in the name, and therefore show that they are proud of the Liberal party’s record federally and provincially in Alberta.

      What they did will never be forgiven, so if you want to create a centrist party, sever your ties with the federal party and take on a new name.

      • Good lord the right are so easily manipulated.

    • It is a bit unfair to single out Danielle Smith as getting fired when the entire board was fired.  As for Raj Sherman, let’s not forget that he was a PC until his own party kicked him out of their caucas and tried to have his medical licence revoked and called him “insane”.  Why?  He made the mistake of demanding that the over-crowding in the emergency rooms be addressed….and guess who called the College of Physicians and Surgeons to express his concern over Raj’s erratic behavior?  Why, I think it was none other than the current health minister in Alison Redford’s cabinet.  If you are going to say Raj has integrity, you are going to have to admit that many others who walked away from the PC’s also have integrity.  They too were sickened by the heavy handed bullying of Ed Stelmach and Ron Liepert and the boys.  The PC’s punished MLA’s who represented the wishes of their constituents and requested that old age homes were built in places which were desperately underserved.  One of those communities was Fort McMurray, a community that has made Alberta rich.  The premier and his henchmen publically flogged their own MLA for speaking out.  Meanwhile, hospital beds are full of people waiting for beds in nursing homes that need to be built.
      The real gong show here is that people are considering letting this party stay in power and are thinking of ‘strategically voting’ because they are AFRAID some other party could do a worse job.

    • She wasn’t the one passing the notes – it was the teacher unionistas who resented the presence of a conservative on their otherwise lefty board (one of whom, ironically, is about to kiss her MLA seat goodbye).

    • I recall Oberg firing the entire school board that year, ALL of THEM.  Woo-Paw chaired the board, it’s no wonder the board were unable to get anything accomplished.   LOL

  14. Love Danielle Smith. Ontario needs a Danielle Smith, and I’m sure we will get one soon since the Liberals are paving the way for the second coming of Mike Harris.

    •  Yeah, we were told that before the last election too….didn’t happen.

    • I dunno.  Hudak went a little racist and he paid a bit price, Wild Rose went pretty darn racist and they’re trending up.  This kind of politics might be strictly a prairie thing – let’s hope!

  15. The Fraser Institute specializes in issuing flawed data to support absurd policies (the data they use to calculate tax freedom day would have made Enron accountants say “man, that’s slimey”.)

    Has she taken the opportunity to decry their methodology since leaving?  Because if she’s a fan, alberta could be in for a lot of trouble.

  16. Nonsense

  17. I like that some people are crazy enough to link Smith with “borderline fascists who want to link church and state”. What are you smoking? The lady is pro-gay marriage and pro-abortion. Does she even belong to a church? She is not a social conservative. I wish that she was pro-life but she isn’t. No provincial party leader is! There are no social conservative leaders running. So, it comes down to small government Smith versus big government(Joe Clark style) Redford. Also, I think that Redford has a problem with white guys like me participating in politics. She sounded a bit like a hater with that “too many old white guys” comment. However, since it was aimed at white guys I guess that makes her hateful comment okay(no need for provincial human rights commission to investigate). Redford doesn’t have a problem with white guys. She just wants us to remember that our place is in the back of the bus.

  18. oh look, Its Sarah Palin.

  19. Go Danielle! Just the fact that you are ticking off the “progressive” elitist snobs on this website makes you worth voting for.Whether its Palin, Bachman, Deborah Grey, or Smith the left can do nothing but trash any woman who doesn’t give into their pseudo-socialist economics and feminazis social policies. Look at Quebec and Ontario, two formerly great provinces that have been screwed by leftist rule. Ontario has gone from a have to have not province under left-wing reign(Liberal McGuinty, NDP Bob Rae, and center-left so-called PC Davis administration of the 1970′s and 80′s). Meanwhile, Quebec is a permanent welfare case. It survives off handouts from the rest of the country. Look at how Trudeau(the closet socialist) and Mulroney(a so-called Quebec PC as if such a thing really existed in that province) how they screwed this country. It is the provinces run by center-right parties(Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Foundland, and New Brunswick) that are keeping the country afloat. These provinces understand that the private sector is where wealth is created not government. I know that is hard for our friends in the NDP who think that Obama’s big spending policies are the way to go(Funny, I thought that the Canadian left never wanted to imitate the U.S. However, I guess the Canadian left doesn’t mind serving as American puppets as long as socialist Obama runs things).With the increasing problems you leftists are having in this country(as well as your increasing anti-monarchist streak), I’m surprised that you aren’t calling for Canada to become part of Obama’s planned Peoples Republic of America.The truth of this matter is that you leftists are just spoiled children. You bought the garbage from Trudeau and Lester Pearson that Canada was a center-left “progressive” country and always would be. You fell for the bit that the Liberals were the naturally ruling party and that you guys would rule forever. We tried your way and it failed spectacularly. Now, we have political movements that are willing to combat the left rather than suck up to them(like Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney did). We have talk radio and Sun TV to battle the left-wing bias of the Toronto star, CBC, and other mainstream media outlets. We have proof from Europe that socialism is every bit as big a failure as the communism(of the USSR and Red China) that the NDP used to make excuses for. Every day, more and more Canadians are realizing how empty your policies were.
    On a happy note for you, if Obama gets reelected than you can move down to the states and try his version of American-style  Socialism. Just be careful, because there are alot of those evil Christians down there.

  20. Hey, lets go easy on the NDP. They had it very rough until recently. They are still ticked off that the west beat the Soviets in the Cold War. The NDP was stuck at the time between those who sided with the Soviets and those who wanted to be neutral in the Cold War. The NDP always had a way of excusing Communist crimes(crushing the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the crackdown on Solidarity, the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, shooting people escaping East Germany, the mass killings of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot). Their hope is that the failed social democrat nations of western europe will lead to a rebirth of marxism. They can’t accept that capitalism is still the greatest way to create mass economic wealth. Ask India, Australia, South Korea,etc. 

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