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This Week in AB
Of course Danielle Smith is going to do a show with Tucker Carlson
Former Wildrose Leader of “Lake of Fire” fame, Danielle Smith — now Premier of Alberta — was never going to deny herself the opportunity to share a stage with Tucker Carlson.
“When a person is making personal statements in their capacity as a pastor, which he was, I don’t think anybody should be surprised that they’re expressing certain viewpoints,” she said outside a Wildrose photo opportunity at the Calgary Hindu Society’s temple.
Maclean’s, quoted from Postmedia, 2012
Smith has long considered herself to be a champion of “free speech” (the Americanized version of “freedom of expression” we have in Canada); unless someone’s talking about capping emissions of a marginalized corporate interest she was previously paid to lobby for, like Alberta’s oil and gas sector.
According to Smith, those people should “zip it” because their comments are “irresponsible, destabilizing, investment-repelling, and ill-informed”.
Oh, preacher; do heal thyself.
However, Smith doesn’t shy away from topics, or audiences, who won’t welcome her views. She accepted an invitation to speak at the Canadian Renewable Energy Conference — where she defended the pause on renewable energy projects and plugged oil and gas investment — as well as the Pembina Institute’s Alberta Climate Summit, where she got into a heated exchange about battery storage with an audience member who has been in the solar business for the last 17 years.
To be fair, Smith has been bowed before the alter of oil and gas for at least as long.
In response to the argument that her presence “legitimizes” Tucker Carlson’s “extreme views” all I can say is that Carlson earned more legitimacy from decades of being paid to lie to the American public than he could ever hope to gain from a lowly provincial premier in a country far too many Americans couldn’t even find on a map.
If anything, Smith is seeking the opportunity to legitimize her views with a much broader audience than is available to her here.
Smith invites former PCs to be the face of AHS shakeup
I’ll be the first to admit that tapping former premiers and cabinet ministers to be the faces of compartmentalized healthcare is political genius.
It’s win/win for Smith no matter what happens. If it fails, it looks bad for the NDP as “the inheritor of the Lougheed tradition”. If it is a success, it looks good for Smith.
Notley campaigned on the legacy of Lougheed in 2015. She governed in his spirit throughout the past four years. She even mentioned him in the last line of her campaign launch speech. This has been deliberate branding and it’s the reason Albertans who remember his reign find themselves so torn.
Notley is, without question, the inheritor of the Lougheed tradition. That’s not to say he was a full on socialist, but Notley isn’t either. I think most Albertans have been shocked to see how pragmatic she has governed, particularly as it concerns natural resources.
Smith also brought in Lyle Oberg, former Progressive Conservative Cabinet Minister to chair the newly reinstated board of AHS.
Still fresh from the 2023 election, where a not-insignificant campaign to “lend your vote” to the NDP was headed by more than a few high profile former Progressive Conservatives, the move seems to signal a refusal to relinquish the middle ground — in practice, at least, if not in words or actions.
That was always the brilliance of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta; it was an actual big tent party that covered so much middle ground, it was nearly impenetrable for decades.
Moving out and “picking sides” may provide an exciting tug-of-war every four years — and countless displays of in-fighting and power struggles — but it will impede the luxury of only tuning in to politics during an election.
Does the Alberta NDP need to keep rebranding?
Changing the name of the Alberta NDP isn’t just a hot topic today — this conversation started in 2016 when the federal party had its annual policy convention in Alberta, in what probably began as some sort of tribute to the fact that the party had managed to get elected.
That turned dark for the governing party and its members after a policy resolution was proposed to accept the LEAP manifesto.
It started a tire fire that burns to this day giving life (and at least the perception of truth) to comments like “Jagmeet Singh, Rachel Notley’s boss”, and “the parties are one and the same — it’s in their constitution!”
It’s also why I included a fuller quote from Danielle Smith the political commentator, who had yet to crawl down into the bunker with the people whose brains were broken by a global pandemic.
My reasoning for a rebrand at the time was partially due to the ammunition provided for conservatives but also, relatedly, because the Alberta NDP spent a good half century in opposition.
Being in opposition allows one to remain true to their ideological roots. They don’t have to worry about pesky details like “how much would that cost?” or “are there unintended consequences to that policy?”
It’s the safe space the federal NDP get to pontificate from every day as well — and that’s why it’s a problem for a party that could form government in the conservative heartland of Canada.
I remember meeting someone at an Alberta Liberal Party event who had recently moved from Ontario. She told me that the Liberal party in Alberta would be more like the Progressive Conservatives there. Yes, everything is more conservative in Alberta — Liberals, Conservatives, and even the NDP.
So between the fact that the federal ties do not help the provincial party in any way, and the fact that Albertans voted PC for almost as long as the NDP was in opposition, adding that Albertans really like Liberal policies but want to claim a conservative identity, it makes more sense to rebrand and slap a new name on existing organizational infrastructure (like the conservatives did both federally and provincially) than to slowly fade out over the next hundred years (like the provincial Liberals have).
Political parties are not reflective of your values and principles — they are simply a vehicle to power. Jason Kenney’s successful takeover of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta taught me that. David Parker’s Take Back Alberta movement only proved it was a timely lesson to learn.
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