Danielle Smith, leadership candidate for the UCP party, seems to be parroting Jason Kenney’s leadership campaign strategy by focussing almost exclusively on the male-dominated, far-right, libertarian faction of the party. But will fiscal conservatives, socially-conscience conservatives, urban conservatives and women conservatives be there to support her when a general election rolls around?
Smith shares Kenney’s disdain for public education. During her 770 CHQR radio show on Mar. 7, 2018, she said, “maybe every independent (private) school needs to be fully-funded and we need to phase out every government run public school.”
Her lack of empathy for the homeless was on full display in October 2012, when Smith tweeted that properly cooked tainted meat ( with E.coli bacteria) could feed the homeless.
She claims to be this great fiscal conservative warrior, yet she doesn’t understand that providing affordable housing for the homeless would save three levels of governments billions of dollars each year in health care, criminal justice, social services and emergency shelter costs.
Her self-righteous attitude that personal health is a lifestyle choice lacks empathy and understanding. Obviously unaware that poor health outcomes are most often related to poverty, genetics and corporate greed that relentlessly push unhealthy junk food.
So, it should not come as a surprise that out of the mouth of Smith came the hurtful comments that Stage 4 cancer victims were responsible for their own predicament. That they had complete control to stop cancer in its tracks if only they had taken better care of themselves.
Like all populous leaders every time their truth is caught on tape and it is unpalatable to the general public—out comes the “I’ve been misunderstood” line and a culprit is served up to take the blame. Her most popular culprits are mainstream media and Justin Trudeau. Kenney’s favourites as well.
Her conspiratorial comments on July 15 accused Alberta Health Services (AHS) of deliberately sabotaging the Kenney government during the pandemic by falsely claiming the system was near collapse to bully MLAs into accepting vaccine mandates and passports. In fact, without enhanced health restrictions, AHS was already preparing to ship patients out of province for care, as had conservative governments in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
The promotion of such mis-truths is indeed a ‘red flag’ for any Albertan who still wants a functioning public health care system.
Janet Brown, a respected Alberta pollster, found in an April 2021 poll that those who scored Kenney lowest were women (59 per cent); middle income earners who earn between $60,000 and $120,000 (59 per cent) and residents of Calgary and Edmonton (56 per cent). Brown’s poll showed an alarming loss with those groups that Rachel Notley had won to defeat the Jim Prentice/Danielle Smith ticket in 2015.
Danielle Smith’s campaign is particularly anti-woman. Undermining public health care, public education and seniors’ care, and attacking the new child care program affects women more than men. Women are the ones who pick up the pieces when the aforementioned systems are starved by government leaders who lack reason and empathy.
It is also women who make up the majority of the work force in health care, education, senior’s care and childcare, and more often than not, these women are the primary breadwinners for their families.
She may wear a ‘skirt’, but Danielle Smith is no friend of working women, single-parent women, women who care for aged parents, indigenous women, immigrant women or grandmothers raising grandchildren.
Smith is parroting Jason Kenney’s successful leadership campaign—uncompromising, all-knowing and “it’s never my fault”—clearly forgetting how poorly that strategy served Kenney as premier.
If polls are correct, UCP members seem ready for another go at this type of leadership. The true test will be next year’s general election and whether Albertans are ready for more of the same.