When the UCP Government Ran Amok

“There is no room for the unilateral assumption of authority in a constitutional democracy.” – Nigel Bankes, U of C emeritus professor of law, on the government’s decision to rescind masking in schools.

Last week an Alberta court ruled that the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Order rescinding masking in schools was “unreasonable” because it was not Dr Hinshaw’s decision; she merely implemented a decision of the Priorities Implementation Cabinet Committee (PICC*) and Cabinet had no authority under the Public Health Act to make such a decision.

The Court also ruled that the Education Minister’s statement that prohibited school boards from imposing mask mandates did no such thing because a prohibition could only be accomplished by regulation. Since the government had not passed such a regulation, the Education Minister’s statement did not prevent school boards from imposing mask mandates. What it did do was cause widespread confusion across the province.

Wait, what?

A Cabinet committee made public health decisions without statutory authority? The Education minister created havoc by issuing a sharply worded prohibition with no legal effect?

These are deeply concerning actions on the part of the Alberta government that fly in the face of the rule of law.

How does this happen in a constitutional democracy?

The Court decision   

Albertans had a front row seat to the colossal failure of the government’s decision-making process thanks to the persistence of a group of parents worried about their kids who were at greater risk of severe outcomes if they contracted covid. They sued the government when it rescinded mask mandates in schools.

Justice Dunlop examined the record—initially Dr Hinshaw provided 19 pages, the applicants pushed for more and she filed an amended record of 183 pages and a further amended record of 282 pages. Justice Dunlop concluded the original 19-page record formed the foundation of the government’s decision to rescind masking.

Then the Court laid out the government’s flawed decision-making process:   

  • Dr Hinshaw presented three options to PICC. (These options were driven by previous PICC decisions).
  • PICC decided on Option 2 (this decision was made without statutory authority).
  • Dr Hinshaw dutifully signed an Order reflecting PICC’s decision and when asked by the press what had changed in the last month to drop the mask mandate in schools, she deflected the question to the Health Minister.

Meanwhile the Education Minister was off on a frolic of her own, issuing a sharply worded statement prohibiting school boards from imposing mask mandates. The Court ruled that the statement was simply a statement, not a regulation, as such it did nothing but create “widespread confusion” as to its legal effect.  

Where were the lawyers?

It’s not every day that a government screws up its decision-making process this badly.

When it does it’s fair to demand an explanation.

Sadly, none will be forthcoming. Dr Hinshaw has been fired. Jason Kenney is no longer premier. And many of the cabinet ministers who were on PICC are now comfortably ensconced in Premier Smith’s cabinet.   

All we can do is speculate.

Why didn’t Dr Hinshaw ask for legal advice if she was unclear about her decision-making authority under the Public Health Act?  

Why didn’t PICC—which was comprised of high-ranking cabinet ministers including three former lawyers, Kaycee Madu, Doug Schweitzer, and Sonya Savage, and the Health Minister, Jason Copping, who has an LLM from Osgoode Hall law school—stop to consider whether they had the statutory authority to act as they did?

The answers are:

  • those involved were too arrogant or cowed to seek legal advice, or
  • they sought legal advice and were given bad advice, or
  • they sought legal advice, were given good advice, and ignored it.

None of these scenarios inspires confidence…let alone trust that the government knows what it’s doing.

Doubling down

Premier Smith could have tried to repair the damage to her government’s credibility with a statement saying she would enact the appropriate legislation to ensure any future decisions were properly grounded in statute or regulation.

Instead she doubled down saying “Our government will not permit any further masking mandates of children in Alberta’s K-12 education system.”  

Not ever, not even in the case of a horrific airborne disease?

Just to be clear. Smith’s statement is a statement just like the Education minister’s statement. It is not a law or a regulation. Smith does not have the statutory authority to prohibit any further masking mandates…yet.  

Smith directed the Justice minister to assess whether to appeal the Dunlop decision (it’s nuts to appeal).  

She instructed the ministers of Justice, Health, and Education to alert her “to any legislative or regulatory changes that may be necessary to reaffirm or clarify our government’s full authority with respect to this and other health and education matters.” (They could read the Dunlop decision for a start. It’s all there).

Bottom line: despite all the verbiage, unless the Dunlop decision is overturned or new statutes/regulations are passed, the only person who can impose or rescind a masking mandate is the yet-to-be-hired CMOH or their authorized delegate (not Smith or her Cabinet).  

And all of Smith’s tough talk won’t change that.

Why this matters

The public is understandably focused on Smith’s rejection of scientific evidence and its repercussions on public health, however we can’t lose sight of the bigger picture: last spring Alberta’s premier and a bunch of UCP cabinet ministers claimed authority they did not have.

We live in a constitutional democracy.

This was inexcusable.

*PICC has been disbanded. At the time its members appeared to be Jason Kenney, Jason Nixon (government house leader), Travis Toews, (Finance) Sonya Savage (Energy), Rebecca Schultz (Children’s Services) Ric McIver (Municipal Affairs, Kaycee Madu (Justice), Doug Schweitzer (Jobs, Economy), Jason Copping (Health).

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113 Responses to When the UCP Government Ran Amok

  1. Paula Stein says:

    “There is no room for the unilateral assumption of authority in a constitutional democracy.”
    Ergo, Alberta is no longer a constitutional democracy.

    • Sharon says:

      Sad but true…

    • Paula, luckily we still have the courts (another institution in a constitutional democracy) which can review the laws a government passes and send the government back to the drawing board when they get if wrong.
      Interestingly, when Smith introduced the idea of the Sovereignty Act one of her key points was that Alberta would not obey decisions of the “federal” courts if they detrimentally (in her government’s opinion) impacted Alberta.
      I think she’s softened this position somewhat, but the Dunlop decision shows how important it is for a court (provincial or federal) to review and decide whether a government’s decisions are valid and legal.

      • Caron says:

        While I agree about the importance of Judicial oversight of the elected government, I would point out that once the elected Legislators change the laws, that ties the hands of the Courts. I can think of several occasions where a Court ruling favourable to landowners putting restraints on the energy sector were nullified by legislation and/or an Order In Council. This has happened often enough that many of us regard appealing to the so-called “rule of law” as futile, especially when it comes to dealing with the impunity of the energy sector and its capture of the regulatory system and the Legislature.

        So it is no surprise to me that Alberta has hundreds of needless deaths from Covid and a public health protection regime that plays second fiddle to bars and restaurants. If these loons pass a law banning wearing medical masks in public, what do you suggest we do?

      • Caron, you make a valid point. The courts can only go so far given that the laws are passed by government and the government bends over backwards to help the energy sector. Danielle Smith and her new energy minister are promoting the RStar plan which would pay royalty credits to energy companies that clean up their abandoned wells–why should these companies get a dime from the government for doing what they are required to do by law? But if this policy goes into effect by way of an order in council or amendment to existing legislation, there’s nothing we can do about it.
        As the political scientist Lisa Young recently said the only solution is to vote these guys out and repeal laws which favour corporations over the public good.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Caron, I’m sorry, but not surprised, to hear about your losing battles against the oil industry. I’ve read a little about Jessica Ernst’s battle against fracking companies, and how she ultimately lost in the Supreme Court. I’ve said before our courts are less politicized than America’s; but they ain’t totally impartial, by a very long shot.

        If the Smith/ Free Alberta Fantasy/ anti-vaxx anti-mask anti-science crowd does pass no-mask rule—I’ll ignore it. If I get arrested, why, I’ll start a class-action lawsuit. If these idiots can argue in court they have a God-given right to be stupid, I can argue I have a constitutional right to protect myself from their stupidity.

      • Caron says:

        Thanks Michael: I should make clear that we did not lose in the Courts. The Courts sided with us both times, and then the Cons changed the relevant legislation after the fact to protect the energy industry. Ms. Ernest’s treatment by the Courts, the regulator, and the Cons is simply beyond shameful and reflects how the Cons have changed the legislation to stack the deck against the public interest.

    • Carlos says:

      Of course not, I fully agree, but the UCP government is special, they create their own laws – it is called ‘banana republic’ which of course in general is created by individuals that accept corruption, conspiracy theories and cannot wait for an opportunity to suck some public money.

      • Carlos, the Alberta Sovereignty Act is the exactly the kind of law a banana republic would pass. However, as some legal scholars have noted, a provincial government cannot pass a law to determine the scope of a constitutional provision (ie the Constitution Act) and if it tries to do so, it’s invalid. And if after all the fuss, it does not do so, then it’s “surplusage” which is a legalese way of saying all for show with not effect whatsoever.

  2. Sharon says:

    This was inexcusable and what is more inexcusable is that dangerous Danielle has given Tyler Shandro a task that he knows is beyond the law. A conundrum for him…perhaps but perhaps not. If he goes ahead with this, I hope he is reported to the law society again…..

    • Sharon, I share your concerns about whether Tyler Shandro is the right man for the position of Justice minister. The fact that he’s under investigation by the Law Society of Alberta should have sidelined him until the disciplinary body had rendered its decision. Nevertheless, Shandro will be in charge of the Justice department which is drafting the Sovereignty Act even as we speak. Given everything his performance in the Health and Justice portfolios that does not inspire confidence!

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Susan, I read somewhere (CBC?) that Shandro’s disciplinary hearing has been postponed a few months. Oh joy….

  3. Trudy Grebenstein says:

    All those MLA lawyers in UCP Cabinet. None of them with enough courage to stand up to ExPremier Jason Kenney et al’s unilateral decisions.
    Proof that UCP gaslighting Alberta voters worked. Albertans merely shrugged. Bye bye democracy!
    OMG! I call that severe abuse of power.
    It is frightening!!!!!!!

    • Paula Stein says:

      When citizens put ideology ahead of democracy and decency, when tribalism reigns supreme, and when the rule of law no longer matters that we’ve opened the door to a dictatorship with no moral constraints.

    • Trudy and Paula, I 100% agree with you. Blind adherence to ideology combined with a lack of knowledge (or even interest) in what Alberta’s government is doing will be the death of us all.
      Part of the problem is the press. I keep hearing that newspapers don’t have the money to spend on in-depth reporting but how hard would it be pick up the phone ans ask some law profs in Calgary and Edmonton for their take on the Dunlop decision. So far the reporting has been minimal…just that the Court said the CMOH’s decision was unreasonable because she didn’t make it, Cabinet did. What the press hasn’t said is that when Cabinet made the CMOH’s decision for her, it had NO statutory authority to do so. And that leaders who make decisions outside the bounds of law are tyrants and dictators.
      Kenney was bad. Smith is going to be even worse. We have to vote them out in 2023.

      • Carlos says:

        Waiting for 2023 is too risky. She has to go and soon.

      • Tris Pargeter says:

        The press is definitely not helping.
        Trevor Noah has a segment on his Daily Show called “ain’t nobody got time for this” in which he gives missing but critical context for the latest right wing crap.
        I listened to a podcast where they talked about the role of the press and noxious “bothsidesism,” formerly the pillar of journalistic integrity where non-partisanship and objectivity are paramount. And when you add in the reality of predominantly right-wing ownership of the press it’s a highly unsatisfying result. For those actually trying to address Trumpism their suggestion was a “truth sandwich” where you start and finish with some relevant context to at least compete with the numbing but apparently very effective repetition of deliberate misinformation. But because we’re deluged with a sea of information I think the most effective thing would still be to just stop coverage, especially of social media crap. Which is what NPR did I think, although they’re not mainstream of course.

      • Tris, I agree. The press isn’t helping and now Danielle Smith has labeled journalism as “entertainment”. She said this in the context of explaining away some of the toxic comments she made in the past. (We’re all just entertainers, you know, fishing for click bait.) Tragic.

  4. David says:

    wow. unbelievable, but not, I guess?! politics has gotten WAY out of hand. have politicians completely forgotten that they have to GOVERN, with all that it means?! things in AB are bananas. is AB a harbinger of what could/may/will come to other provinces? conspiracy politics? grievance politics? own the opps politics? WHAT ABOUT GOVERNING FOR THE PEOPLE?!?

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Hi David. The UCP do govern for “the people”–specifically, the ones who fund their election campaigns, and the ones who vote for them. The other 70% of us can pound sand.

      • David Hay says:

        thanks, Mike! Populations can not flourish if governments only act for a few like minded ideologues … sheesh. Obvious, but not, I guess. Cheers

      • David Hay says:

        Thanks, Mike! Populations can not flourish if governments only act for like-minded ideologues … sheesh. Obvious, but not, I guess. Cheers

      • David and Mike: your comments reminded me of something Mary Kay Messier said (she’s a VP at Bauer Hockey and Mark Messier’s sister). “If you aren’t serving the people, you’re serving yourself.”
        Sums up the UPC very well.

  5. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. It will only get worse and worse in Alberta, until Danielle Smith and the UCP are removed from power. More lives put at risk, more negligence, more money wasted, and zero responsibility. I’ll play some more fitting music. This is a Bob Dylan composition, from 1965, Tombstone Blues. This is in my music collection too.

  6. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my other song pick. This is a Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings composition, from the Winnipeg band, The Guess Who. It is No Time, and is from 1969. The Guess Who are also in my music collection. I’ve also seen Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings live. 8 times for Randy Bachman and 4 times for Burton Cummings. The ending to this song really fits, but the overall song does.

    • Thanks Dwayne. you’re right that it will continue to get worse under the Danielle Smith government.
      I was watching an Alberta Prime Time clip where the mayor of High River, the former mayor of Lethbridge and Duane Bratt were asked for their thoughts about Danielle Smith. The mayors expressed deep reservations about her willingness to consider coal mining in the Rockies and continuing to download services which should be provided by the province onto the municipalities which can’t afford it. Her suggestion that employees working for municipalities and the federal government should be registered as lobbyists was met with derision. This makes me wonder whether her support in the rural ridings is as rock solid as she thinks it is. Here’s the link: https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/mobile/video?clipId=2544234&fbclid=IwAR3TE9grrqInh1d3gjZIhSHwQMILEBWfCQEPfJgNRf8d-jUb8KTYTVFKtJo

      On a completely different point, it sounds like your music collection is massive!

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: There is this matter:
        Why would Danielle Smith be doing this, against the wishes of rural municipalities?
        Last Thursday, there was a Standing Committee on the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, by the government of Alberta, in a building near the Alberta Legislature. Members of the public were allowed to go and ask questions, or give feedback on how the fund should be managed. I didn’t go to that. They wouldn’t have liked what I had to say, or it would have been going in their ears and coming out the other side.

      • Dwayne, I had not heard about the Standing Committee on the Heritage Savings Trust Fund allowing members of the public to show up and ask questions or give feedback. Did this invitation appear in the local papers? Although one can’t help but wonder whether it was all a PR exercise to give the appearance that the government is listening when in fact it’s already made up its mind on how it’s going to manage the Fund.

  7. Rob Ballantyne says:

    Well, if Dr Hinshaw had done her job, there would have been one less dead person at the Cargill plant – instead of shutting it down when 30 cases of covid showed up, she deferred and closed it when they had a thousand cases and one poor dead guy. Shame. That was the day she lost my respect.

    • Rob, that’s right. I’d forgotten about that tragic instance. Wasn’t that when she or her representative implied that the workers weren’t catching covid because of conditions at the plant but because they tended to live in larger family groups and carpool to work. It was awful.

      • Rob Ballantyne says:

        Yes. It was a classic case of misrepresenting the issue as if it was the fault of the migrant and wrong on two fronts – it was a deliberate attempt to take the focus off who is making the decision and who’s responsibility it is to minimize the covid danger. It first appeared that she was making the decision but (in hindsight), it was clear that Kenney had his hands all over it. Further, since when does farm corp ever put the migrant into civilized accommodation. For farmcorp, accommodation is just another way to make money – sorta like the company store in a one store/one company town.

      • Rob, you’re right. Reminds me of that old Tennessee Ernie Ford song, Sixteen Tons, which is an apt description for the abuse of migrant workers. Here’s the chorus:
        “You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
        Another day older and deeper in debt
        Saint Peter, don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
        I owe my soul to the company store”

      • Rob Ballantyne says:

        or the old novel Germinal (another coal mining epic) by Emile Zola. Should be required reading in Alberta as it shows the extremes that can happen in an economic downturn.

    • Dwayne says:

      Rob Ballantyne: This is what happened. Had Dr. Deena Hinshaw became independent, things would be different.

  8. lindamcfarlane says:

    THANK YOU SUSAN… Scarier and Scarier.   Also wonder though what   you think of Lisa Young’s article —- as it relates to this Plot Twist! Hinshaw could have acted

    | | | | Plot Twist! Hinshaw could have acted

    Lisa Young

    Or could she? Or should she?? |



    Linda McFarlane403-999-9299 C

    • Linda, I love Lisa Young’s posts. In the Plot Twist post Lisa says Dr Hinshaw was caught between a rock and a hard place and chose to interpret the Public Health Act in a way that would allow her to stay on as CMOH so she could continue to influence Cabinet.
      I’m not sure I agree. The Act is pretty straightforward and the CMOH doesn’t have the discretion to act in any way other than in accordance with the statute. If she truly believed that dropping the mask mandate in schools was a bad idea (and it appears she did; when she announced the new Order which dropped the mask mandate, she strongly recommended kids in K – 12 keep masking anyway) then I don’t think she had any choice other than to issue the Order the way she saw fit, not the way Cabinet wanted it.
      I do however agree with Lisa that “…there were a couple of moments where the government’s refusal to act was so negligent that the CMOH should have resigned in protest.”

  9. jerrymacgp says:

    Yours is not the only analysis of this fiasco I’ve read — in fact, although not a lawyer, I’ve also read the AbLawg blog post on this ruling. Clearly the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) had the authority under the Public Health Act to issue, modify, rescind or refuse to issue any Public Health Emergency Orders she saw fit without needing to go through Cabinet.

    But, here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter. If the government wanted mask mandates lifted in the school system, or elsewhere, it was going to get its own way regardless. The CMOH serves at the pleasure of the Minister of Health. All the Minister had to do is direct the CMOH to do what the government wanted, on pain of being dismissed if she refused to comply and being replaced by a more compliant physician. The effect would have been the same. So, while the government’s process was not in line with that set out in the Public Health Act, it doesn’t matter.

    The only way the CMOH could be a completely independent decision-maker would be if she were truly independent of government, in the same way that independent officers of the legislature — such as the Auditor-General or Chief Electoral Officer — are, or the way the Courts are.

    Turning now to the matter of the Education Minister’s “orders” to school boards over masking, and the new Premier’s latest diktat on the matter, it’s clear their veneer of libertarianism is only skin deep. Classic conservative ideology would show deference to democratically-elected school boards, but these people are not classic conservatives; they’re basically authoritarians who pretend to be libertarians.

    • Tris Pargeter says:

      What also doesn’t matter is any of these terms essentially academic terms like “libertarian, classic conservative or authoritarian” since most of these fairly scary people don’t actually understand them or apply them to themselves if they do since anti-intellectualism is so central to this “movement.” I keep seeing this type of parsing in comments and think of it as going into the weeds.
      To make sense of what’s happening I think you have to pan ever out to the wellspring, the emotional excitement behind all this and what’s behind THAT. We all know why the Supreme Court has been the target of the American right wing for decades; they told us; they wanted to reverse Roe v. Wade because of Republicans’ acquisition of evangelical’s considerable electoral support. The legions of believers have been wringing their hands over their beloved traditionalist status quo ever since the birth control pill threatened to unleash the capriciousness of wild women/human sexuality. What this boiled down to was the alternate authority of religion competing with the secular authority of the rule of law. There’s the emotional heart, that overly precious bubble of religious delusion that is always existentially hungry for affirmation (maintaing delusion is work) and there is no clearer affirmation than winning actual governance over society. But the apex of that has been the Supreme Court, which they now basically have control over.
      The rest of the right wing are mainly rabble-rousing men who want to rule the world and their cheerleaders along for the ride.
      With our tradition of tolerance we have imagined we could humour religion and bring it along but the worm has officially turned. It explains our relative paralysis in the face of utter thuggery, many are baffled and outraged, but the “new” religious right/alt-right/ extreme right hasbeen unleashed now. It’s the elephant in the room and we need to start pushing back at the root cause. The separation of church and state is the sanction because after all, our very existence as a species is threatened now. “Rewilding is our best hope.”
      Google the “Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.”

      • Tris: thank you for this comment. I take your point about the futility of trying to label politicians in order to understand them.
        Danielle Smith identified herself as a “libertarian populist conservative” in an interview with Ryan Jespersen. At first I tried to figure out what she meant by that. Was she a more extreme version of a conservative? How did the populist part play into her political ideology? Then I realized it didn’t matter because Danielle Smith seems to say whatever she thinks her audience wants to hear.
        When she’s talking to voters in Crowsnest Pass, she gives them the impression she’ll allow coal mining in the Rockies. When she talks to voters in Lethbridge she downplays this commitment to the coal industry because Lethbridge is downstream the coal mines and the residents are worried sick that selenium will escape into the river, kill their main industry (agriculture) and poison people and livestock.
        Danielle does this with everyone, consequently her policies (if you can call them that) are a dog’s breakfast.
        Rather than turning ourselves into a pretzel to figure her (and her supporters) out, we’d be better served developing and communicating clear policies that appeal to voters who value the public good.
        Oh I googled “Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation,” Just what we need, another God focused justification for not doing anything about environmental destruction and climate change.

    • Jerrymacgp: Actually I think the government’s process matters very much. Here Cabinet (in the words of Nigel Bankes) arrogated unto itself statutory powers it did not have. That violates the basic tenets of a constitutional democracy. And that’s what I’m calling out in this post.
      You are right, though, that the government can fix this problem of overreach. Not by firing a recalcitrant CMOH but by amending the Public Health Act so that the next time Cabinet makes a public health decision, it does so with statutory authority.
      Justice Dunlop gave two examples of other jurisdictions (Saskatchewan and Manitoba) where the decision making power lies with the Minister of Health, not the CMOH.
      I agree with your take on the Education minister’s “orders” to the school boards and marvel at how much control this government insists on having over school boards and municipalities.

  10. Graham McFarlane says:

    Nothing terribly wrong with the article that I can see, but it neglects to mention that, in BC, politicians let the Chief Medical Officer rule the day. There were no “public disagreements”. Needless to say, BC has a much more enlightened government.

    • David Hay says:

      The BC Provincial Health Officer has independent legislative authority under the BC Public Health Act. The PHO’s orders are legally binding. The PHO consults with government ministries and agencies, private sector, community service organizations, professional bodies and the public when considering public health orders. It worked for COVID, although not everyone was happy!

    • Thanks Graham and David: It sounds like the BC government understood the roles of CMOH and Cabinet as set out in the relevant legislation. Must be nice.

  11. Mike J Danysh says:

    “We live in a constitutional democracy. This was inexcusable.” Sadly, it was also inevitable. Our mal-government seems to operate on ancient cliches, for example:
    – “Father knows best.”
    – “Children should be seen and not heard.”
    – “A man’s home is his castle.” (NB: the Cabinet tends to stretch this one to include the entire province.)

    They haven’t regressed to “A woman’s place is in the home” yet; give thanks for small favours.

    Danielle Smith, even more than Jason Kenney, seems to have a knee-jerk reaction to any criticism. It amounts to “Don’t tell me what to do” combined with “Oh yeah? I’ll show YOU!”. Laws are irrelevant to this bunch because they have power, and they know what’s good for you. Now shut up and take your ivermectin, or Daddy (and Mommy) will be angry.

    Some of them, but only some, are aware that they’re not above the law. Look at how Smith and the Free Alberta cabal backtracked as soon as they were challenged over the Alberta Sovereignty Act. Sadly, Smith’s first instinct is to say something stupidly provocative (maybe she just likes to pi_s people off), then walk it back if the reaction is too severe.

    Let’s hope Rachel Notley is smart enough to campaign on a POSITIVE platform of economic growth plus fixing health care and education. Let Smith et al try to tear down their happy message. Right now, Smith sounds like the leader of the opposition, always attacking Notley, Trudeau and Singh. That plays well to the True Believers, but it won’t convince anyone who hasn’t decided yet. Seven months to go….

    • Thanks Mike. I too have used the comparison of a child having a temper tantrum to describe Smith and her supporters.
      I’m not so sure the Free Alberta bunch have backed off very far on the Alberta Sovereignty Act. As I’ve mentioned before somehow I ended up on a few mailing lists from these guys and all of them are sitting back waiting for Smith to deliver what she promised. They make a point of saying they had high hopes for Kenney and hung in there while the Fair Deal panel rolled across the province. However when Kenney implemented the panel’s recommendations and nothing changed in Alberta’s relationship with the Feds, they felt betrayed and dumped Kenney.
      Danielle made a big deal about saying that unlike Kenney, she’d deliver, starting with the Alberta Sovereignty Act.
      It will be interesting to see how the Free Alberta bunch will react after she passes a watered down version of the Act and (once again) nothing changes vis-a-vis Ottawa.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Hi Susan. Re the Free Alberta So-Called Strategy, Policy Options magazine has some relevant background information, as you’ll see in my newest posts, below.

        I strongly doubt these people will like what Smith does for them, largely because (as in your reply to Paula Stein) Canada still has functional courts. Smith also has a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease; she blatantly tells her current audience what she fondly believes they want to hear. It doesn’t seem to occur to her that people might compare what she says in say, Crowsnest Pass to what she tells folks in, oh I don’t know, Lethbridge? That’s one the NDP can play with.

  12. Janna says:

    The outcome of all of this is all well and good but. Here’s the big but. Why didn’t Hinshaw use her authority? She has never done so during this whole pandemic. She is complicit.

    • Carlos says:

      I agree Janna and very many times I discussed that with friends. Well they replied she is afraid of losing her very well paid job. If that is the case then it was ok she lost her job anyway. She behaved as if she had no power which was atrocious especially in the mist of idiots.

    • Janna and Carlos: I think many people have come to the same conclusion. That’s not to say she wasn’t in a pressure-cooker situation, but that’s why they paid her the big bucks ($363 in salary and $228 in bonus), right?

      • Janna says:

        Here’s the thing though. Her job was to advocate for public health. The health of Albertans. Her job was not and has never been political. I don’t care that she was in a pressure cooker, she knew what the job entailed when she took it. The fact that she couldn’t put the health and lives of Albertans ahead of the pressure is pretty sad.

        She could have stepped up and said “these are my recommendations, that we continue to mask in all public places for the forseeable future. That we continue with vaccine passports. That we limit the numbers of people who can gather together. The UCP have declined to follow my recommendations.”

        And yes, my typo is pretty great!

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Susan, Janna & Carlos: I think that $228k bonus was for being a “team player” and keeping her mouth shut. Now I’m hoping Hinshaw will sue Smith for wrongful dismissal. Fingers crossed….

      • Carlos says:

        I agree with Jana on this one – Deena just refused to be fully responsible for her recommendations. She allowed the UCP and Jason Kenney in particular to run the show and I believe at one point she lost her command of the situation under the excuse that they had the last word.

        I do not see it that way and like Jana suggests, she should come out and say it to all of us regardless of the consequences. This is a special situation and she should have been forceful and truthful. If the UCP was willing to overrun her then she should have explained it to the public if she was not able to prevail.
        I have no doubts that Jason Kenney would have overruled her anyway, but she failed her responsibility.

  13. Jaundiced Eye says:

    Smith will most likely avoid being taken to court again by either adding regulations in the Education Act or stripping the powers of the Chief Medical Officer. Best not to waste any more energy on this. However, it was nice that the courts reminded us and confirmed how terrible the UCP and Kenney have been. Momentarily, we seemed to have forgotten how bad they were because Smith is so much worse.

    As for Deena Hinshaw, what are our choices for Hinshaw and her performance? Either Hinshaw was not aware of her authority and responsibilities as Chief Medical Officer, despite holding that office since January, 2019, or she chose not to do her job in the name of expediency. Hinshaw is not a stupid person, so I think we can safely lean towards the latter as opposed to the former. Regardless, it worked out well for Hinshaw as evidenced by that big fat bonus she received.

    What can Danielle Smith learn from this? Smith, no doubt, has surmised that Hinshaw is a very intelligent, highly educated and accomplished individual that will do as she is told. People with those qualifications, that do what they’re told, you keep around. Those people are rare, like Unicorns

    We may not have seen the last of Hinshaw, the person that caused all of this by not doing her job. Smith might decide that Hinshaw could be of use to her and bring her back in some capacity. Wouldn’t that be adding insult to injury? We know, Smith surrounds herself with people that are compliant. The Leela Aheer’s are out. Recycling all of those Kenney Ministers was a win, win for Smith. It keeps half of the caucus happy but what is more important for Smith is these Ministers will do what they are told. Lets wait and see if Deena returns.

    This is all supposition of course, but what we can bank on is the province of Alberta will be gaslit for the foreseeable future.

  14. Dave says:

    So, Smith who has not yet been elected by anyone other than UCP party members, seems determined to impose her supposedly libertarian views on Albertans whether they like it or not.

    This whole thing reflects badly, not just on Smith, whose bad judgment we have kind of come to expect, but on the whole UCP. After all, they chose Kenney and crew who initially created this problem and now Smith, who seems determined to continue it.

    So how did this all come about? Well, its pretty simple – two alternatives: the government wasn’t smart enough to figure out what they were doing was not legal, or they didn’t care. Neither says anything good about them.

    So, there may be more legal fees if Smith and her gang (mostly just the former Kenney gang with a few changes) doubles down and tries to fight this further. Of course, it is taxpayer money, not their own funds, so I suspect they don’t really care whether it is wasted or not. After all the UCP has a history of wasting money on pointless legal fights. New leader, same old stuff.

    • Dave, I smiled at your last sentence “New leader, same old stuff.” Smith is working hard to differentiate herself from Kenney, no doubt because the Take Back Alberta crowd gave Kenney the boot when he didn’t deliver the goods. She’s trying to keep these loons onside while at the same time saying whatever it takes to settle down the moderate conservatives. It’s like a snail moving along a razor’s edge. If the snail moves slow enough it might survive. Smith has seven months. I don’t think she’s going to make it.

  15. Linda says:

    Given the UCP has clearly signaled that ‘the law is what we say it is’ the ongoing actions are not a surprise. Keep in mind Ms. Smith promised her band of merry anarchists legislation that would allow them to ignore any federal laws they found issue with. I may have lost track of who’s on first, but wasn’t Mr. Madu the one who called a police chief regarding his traffic ticket? Was not Mr. Shandro the one who ripped up an existing legal contract ‘that was about to expire anyway’? Let’s not forget there are UCP MLA’s who participated in the Coutts border blockade & the Ottawa convoy. I am of the opinion that not a few of the UCP MLA’s & members are strong believers in vigilante style ‘justice’. I imagine they see themselves as wearing the white hats & are saving Albertans from those black hatted evil doers in Ottawa & other such ‘not from around here’ climes. Thing is, once one starts down that road of ‘let’s just ignore that pesky law’, eventually everyone is doing it. Not an outcome I look forward to seeing in action.

    • Linda, these are excellent examples of the lawless behavior of UCP cabinet ministers and caucus members. As you point out, it normalizes illegal behavior which makes life in Alberta much more dangerous for the rest of us.

  16. Carlos says:

    All I can say is that she is not in the Legislature yet but she is already threatening AHS.
    I am sure this is going to be even more absurd than Jason Kenney.
    What is in the water in High River?
    It will be interesting to see how far Albertans will let this show to last.

  17. Carlos says:

    Here is the definition of libertarian

    Libertarians strongly oppose any government interference in your personal, family, and business decisions. Essentially, we believe all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another.

    except that our libertarians do not care about the last part of that definition

    ‘..as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another.’

    Unfortunately our libertarians, like the convoy gang, does not really care about that important part of the definition, which should include the FREEDOM of others.
    But of course that is unnecessary as far as the UCP libertarians are concerned. Their motto is more ‘FREEDOM for me to do what I bloody well want’ including phoning the police to get rid of my tickets, or to insult a doctor that does not believe in our libertarianism.

    Lunatics is what they are. As lunatics as those who called Russia a communist country. Russia was and is a Mafia.

    • Carlos, the thing that puzzled me about the Trucker Convoy was their assertion that they would have gone away if Trudeau had only come out and talked with them. They said they wanted to be heard. What they don’t seem to understand is we heard them loud and clear, and we didn’t agree with what they said. Occupying downtown Ottawa and setting up blockades at international borders didn’t open our ears, but it certainly impacted our opinions as to whether they had anything worthwhile to say.

      • jerrymacgp says:

        It has also become clear over the past week, that the convoyers themselves didn’t really know who was in charge, and in fact didn’t really have anyone in charge at all. Had the PM gone to talk to them, with whom would he have met, and would they have been able to get the others to honour any commitments they made during that meeting? It doesn’t seem like it.

        We often use the expression “herding cats” to describe organizing and coordinating groups of recalcitrant individuals. But in the case of negotiating with the convoy occupiers of Ottawa, it would have been herding feral cats.

    • Dwayne this is a very good point. The PCs under Ralph Klein started to undermine our healthcare system, and every successive government after that has made it worse.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: It’s a sure bet that Danielle Smith wants complete private for profit healthcare in Alberta. Covid cases in Alberta are going up, not down. Our hospitals will be stressed to the point of breaking. In relation to the Standing Committee on the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, that was in an online advert, not via any newspaper.

  18. Mike J Danysh says:

    (To Susan and David Hay: rather than replying in the thread above, I think it’s better to start a new one.)

    I recently read an analysis by Jesse Hartery, a lawyer from Australia (seems odd, but he’d have an impartial viewpoint), which essentially argued that the Alberta Sovereignty Act as described probably isn’t unconstitutional. Hartery’s post was in Policy Options magazine, found here:

    Importantly, Hartery looked at the Free Alberta Strategy as a whole, and opined that elements of it were not constitutional. The ASA*, however, isn’t necessarily “problematical.” He then goes into considerable detail about the relationship between the provincial and federal governments. It’s complicated; but the essence of the problem lies in this passage:

    “As the Supreme Court has explained, the Constitution creates sovereign, co-ordinate orders of government. It bears observing that the court itself has consistently affirmed that the provinces are “not subordinate” to the federal government, contrary to what some have suggested.”

    There was a LOT more to it, of course. The gist was, the federal government has authority to enforce its own laws. Likewise, the provinces can each enforce their own laws. If the provinces want to help out the feds, that’s fine; but they don’t have to.

    But, repeat, emphasis, BUT—Smith can’t unilaterally declare federal laws don’t apply in Alberta. Further, Alberta (or any province) “cannot free a private actor from its obligation to comply with federal laws.” The provinces can decline to enforce a federal law; they can’t rescind it.

    It looks like we won’t know until December, since Smith apparently isn’t expecting to take her seat in the Leg until the end of November. (Give thanks for small favours.) But unless the proposed Act really does include provision for “you can’t tell us what to do!” defiance, it’ll probably be legal. It will be a useless waste of time (again, give thanks for small favours; if the UCP waste time this way, they’ll have less time to screw other things up)—but legal.

    *That’s the headache-inducing Act, not the headache-relief drug. And after rereading Hartery’s comments, I think I need the anti-headache pills….

    • Mike J: that was an interesting article. I’d note that while the law profs at the U of C would agree with the Hartery that the Free Alberta Strategy is unconstitutional, they would argue (and have argued) that the Sovereignty Act (Bill #1) itself crosses the line.
      Admittedly it’s hard to debate a Bill that has yet to be tabled, but based on what Smith has said about it so far the U of C profs are very concerned.
      I won’t go into all of their arguments here. Instead I’ll provide the link to the ABlawg post: https://ablawg.ca/2022/06/22/the-alberta-sovereignty-act-and-the-rule-of-law/ and my own post on this topic: https://susanonthesoapbox.com/2022/09/04/danielle-smith-the-alberta-sovereignty-act/
      At first I thought Smith would table a watered down version of the Act which would essentially restate the jurisdictional issue as it is framed in the Constitution Act but not go so far as to allow the Alberta Legislature to ignore federal laws on a whim, but then when I saw that Smith won’t allow her cabinet ministers a free vote on the Bill I began to have second thoughts.
      Time will tell, but this kind of uncertainty isn’t good for anyone.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Susan: We’re all waiting to see details of the ASA. Yes, the stated purpose was illegal and unconstitutional from the start. You can’t just declare that a law doesn’t apply around here. How they intend to straddle that fence (without being impaled on it!) remains to be seen.

        Rob Anderson, Danielle Smith and maybe Derek From retreated from the illegal aspects of the ASA, after public criticism. I don’t think Barry Cooper (the principal architect) ever did. He wrote an opinion piece in the National Post(!) that it was supposed to be unconstitutional, to start a “conversation.” It sure inspired a lot of rants in the comments section.


        (Scott Moe is still playing Mini-Me to UCP leaders. But it seems his attempt to free Saskatchewan from the evil Feds is already watered down. I haven’t bothered to learn details, but I haven’t seen any denouncements yet about it being unconstitutional. The recent announcement of a new batch of Saskatchewan sheriffs might be useful—but why not contract with the RCMP to hire more officers?)

        I feel more Liz Truss/ Danielle Smith comparisons coming on. I wonder what Smith’s first budget will be like? Spoiler alert: it’s gonna hurt everyone but the oil executives in Calgary.

        PS: I looked at the web site of the Free Alberta Strategy, and found there’s no “about us” section. The only names are on a page called “the strategy” in a graphic (cover of a printed report?). I don’t trust any web site whose authors don’t provide bio information. It’s like they have something to hide. (There’s lots of links to the “Donate” page, though….)

    • Stephen Anderson says:

      Wouldn’t it be fitting if, based upon the “Smith act” , cities and municipalities followed suit and ingnored her inconvenient and harmful provincial laws? Where does it stop? It will result in an anarcical, despot run province steeped in poverty and decay where basic maintenance of infrastructure will be impossible.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Stephen, that occurred to me as soon as Queen Dannie started yapping about it. I’d love to see that.

      • Stephen, excellent point. My husband and I were speculating the other day on whether the ultimate end to this kind of thinking is a return to the city states of yore. Not something to aspire to.

  19. Mike J Danysh says:

    Dwayne and Susan, you commented above that Smith is pushing ideas like resuming coal mining, making municipal politicians register as lobbyists; the notional Alberta police force; haven’t heard her jabber about an Alberta Pension Plan, but give it time.

    None of these ideas are popular with Albertans (beyond the 30% or so True Believers of the UCP). They are, however popular with the Free Alberta Strategy cabal and their cheerleaders.

    There’s an article in Policy Options magazine online by Lisa Young, who, in 2020, reviewed the “report” of the Fair Deal Panel. She mentions most of the ideas now being revived by Smith, and points to the attempt by Alberta conservatives (I’d say “reactionaries”) to manufacture an Alberta-specific “identity” based on Quebec envy and a sense of grievance. Prof. Young mentions the Buffalo Declaration as a basis for the Fair Deal Panel’s so-called deliberations.

    It seems the Free Alberta Fantasy has resuscitated the Fair Deal Panel’s recommendations (of which just one, the equalization referendum, was adopted—and flopped). All the tired old ideas for Alberta going it alone are being pushed by the FAF front-woman, Danielle Smith.

    Smith’s ability to mistake her wishes for reality is well known. I’m beginning to wonder; does the Free Alberta crowd see her as:
    • A willing dupe
    • A useful idiot
    • A fellow traveller, or
    • A co-conspirator?

    I’m inclined to think “useful idiot.”

    Here’s the Policy Options article:

    • Mike J: Great question. Can I combine two of the choices? I think she’s a willing dupe and a useful idiot.
      Thanks for sending the link to Lisa Young’s article. It really hit home. Especially where she said, “For the Alberta-conservative movement to take flight, it requires collective identity. Unlike Quebec sovereigntists, Alberta conservatives lack a claim around language or culture. Instead, there is a conscious effort to cultivate a collective identity grounded in grievance.”
      I used to think Albertan whined because they were privileged babies. Lisa provides a much better explanation.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        😊 a usefully willing idiot? Or a willingly idiotic dupe? Oh, the possibilities are endless!

        The dark truth behind this nonsense, as Prof Young pointed out, is that there’s a small but influential group pushing Albertans to believe they’re victims. That, plus money, goes far to explaining the anger and fear in too many of our citizens. As always, there’s a clutch of cynical politicians—Jason Kenney and now Danielle Smith are the self-appointed leaders—who will jump in and say “There he goes. Follow me!”

        Still, it wouldn’t work if the target audience were NOT privileged babies. I think they like to get together (probably with a case of beer) and rub their problems together till their hair catches fire. The Free Alberta cabal have been fanning the flames.

        The next few months will decide whether Alberta becomes a stronger province of Canada, or descends into Trump-inspired chaos. I really hope now that Queen Dannie delays the next election. By 2024, Alberta will be in a recession. That pretty much guarantees that the UCP will lose—and leaves the NDP, as usual, to clean up the mess. Oh, how I loathe the ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

  20. Irene says:

    Danielle Smith claims she will ban masking in schools, forever and always- regardless of any outbreak, epidemic or pandemic? We all heard that. In fact, that ridiculous declaration she made reverberated all around the country. As people react in shock and awe to this latest grenade she’s tossed, they aren’t paying as much attention to her garbled justification for it. That is, she’s doing it for kids’ mental health.

    I guess the first thing that comes to mind is, what does she know about that? But then, it has become the style of her type of politician, like Jason Kenney before her, and Trump and others to deride experts and just make up whatever baloney they think their base supporters will buy. When Jason Kenney lifted Covid restrictions this past February including masking for school children (right smack in the middle of the Coutts blockade, no coincidence) Covid numbers in Alberta were still through the roof. For one of his justifications he brought up the mental health thing too. A pretty easy out, and one many people will accept without questioning.

    What a bunch of bogus B.S.

    There are many studies from all over the world, quoted in sources like the (American) National Library of Medicine, Yale University, even Public Health Ontario, for example that refute claims that masking in schools to prevent the spread of Covid-19 harms children’s’ mental health. In fact, most of the studies indicate because of masking, the cases of Covid and other respiratory illnesses went down and schools were able to stay open, which of course is beneficial. I think kids have been on board with masking, understanding the purpose of them, and it is important for them to feel empowered during these very unsettling times to know there is a simple but effective ‘tool’ they can use to help keep themselves and their family from getting sick. Having to stay home from school during sickness or closure, having sick parents and siblings, parents having to scramble for childcare when a child is home sick, worrying about spreading Covid to grandparents, teachers being sick and off work- these are the stressors that have taken a toll on our kids, not masks.

    IMHO Smith herself presents is a far greater threat to our children’s mental health. She tells them masks are bad, Covid doesn’t exist, black is white, up is down. Children need to feel secure, and to be able to trust that people making decisions for them have their best interests at heart. Inconsistency and “alternative realities” are the real danger to their mental health.

    • Excellent comment Irene. Let me just add that it’s not just children who suffer when Danielle Smith’s policies flow from “experts” coming up with “alternative realities”. The mental health of the adults in the room also takes a beating.
      It’s going to be a grueling winter/spring!

  21. GoinFawr says:

    Wow, it appears that since the unelected premier Smith hasn’t even earned a seat in the Alberta legislature (where the actual work of the elected on behalf of the electorate, legislation, occurs) her marching orders to the UCP at the convention were,

    ‘just rule by decree, we don’t need Albertans’ NDP infested parliament, and Canada’s constitution be damned, so there!’

    • GoinFawr: Yes, and then she’s had to backtrack when her marching orders produced a perverse result.
      For example, she condemned the Fed’s $25/day childcare program as invalidating Alberta’s jurisdiction by “dictating how the service should be run,” so (based on what she’s said) one would expect her to say to the Feds, thanks, but no thanks. However this would be ridiculous so she issued another statement saying Alberta would not opt out, but it would “meet with the federal government to request funding similar to Quebec’s.”
      Telling the Feds to take a hike has been watered down to requesting funding similar to Quebec’s. I’m sure the Feds will say, nope. And that will be that.
      The Take Back Alberta crowd will soon see that she’s all hat, no cattle.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      GoinFawr and Susan, I had to sneer when I heard Smith’s first presser as Premier-elect-by-1%-of-Alberta. She said the UCP was “united” again. I still think I heard “…or else.”

      We’ve learned recently that provinces aren’t compelled to enforce federal laws (though they usually do). Imagine the angst if the Trudeau Liberals opened offices around here and said, “Well, your UCP government refuses to play nice. So we’ll give you a hand ourselves.” Imagine the screeching….

      • Mike, Andrew Coyne wrote an interesting piece in the Globe today in response to Doug Ford using the “notwithstanding” clause to block a strike of 50,000 education workers. He said the Feds could invoke their little used “disallowance” power override Ford’s law. Wouldn’t that set the cat amongst the pigeons.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        “Disallowance” power? Never heard of it, but I’d sure love to see it happen!

  22. Carlos says:

    It is clear that we are all very concerned with this lady that seems to not have a clue about reality, is actually running this province. No one asked her to be premier other than those 80 thousand members of the UCP.
    Well the population of this province is around 4 million so I think that should be a fact real enough for her to understand that for now she is nothing to most of us so her hands have to be off AHS or anything else part of her list of delusions.

    Here is an article to be read for sure


  23. GoinFawr says:

    Nationallly, ‘Diagalon’ was a big joke to some at the hearing today. Yep, like a ‘Jericho March’ is all fun and games for the kids right up until the last horn blasts, fascists nowadays are always ‘just kidding around’, until they aren’t:
    Trucks as tanks occupying the capital of the nation, with that flag flying. Armed to the teeth, blockading borders, sporting that patch, and worse. Death threats directed police, healthcare workers, and members of the duly elected government.
    Ha. Ha.

    • GoinFawr: I’m with you on this one. Today we learned that members of the Ottawa police, the OPP, the RCMP, and maybe even CSIS leaked sensitive information to the truckers because they were sympathetic to their cause.

      Keith Wilson, the lawyer for some of the truckers, appeared to support these leaks, saying it was against the Charter to prohibit a Canadian citizen from walking in downtown Ottawa or to hold a sign in front of their Parliament. And yet when 10,000 protesters showed up to protest the G20 in Toronto in 2010, (that was a 2 day protest) more than 20,000 police, military, and security personnel showed up to disperse the largely peaceful crowd. It is true there was some vandalism, but the impact of the G20 protest was nothing compared to the truckers.

      Looks like the cops will leak to those they like, but not leak to those they don’t like.

      This is an extremely serious issue given that some of the protesters wanted to overthrow the government and were issuing death threats to Freeland and Trudeau. As you said it’s all fun and games until the fascists take over.

  24. Carlos says:

    We have some good news this morning and I hope that Rachel Notley will continue to increase in voters popularity as the Daniele Smith circus continues to be brilliant.
    So far Daniele Smith is doing a great job scaring more people away which of course was expected if Albertans have some common sense.


    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Carlos, this is particularly significant because Janet Brown’s company has a reputation for not underestimating Conservative support–which seems to upset a lot of other companies’ poll results. It’s early days, but if Queen Dannie of Qberduh stays true to form (she can learn from experience, but will she?) Notley will have a good chance of winning the next election.

      • Carlos says:

        I agree and I hope Daniele Smith continues her conspiracies because it seems that despite all this propaganda Albertans seem to be a bit more concerned with what is actually happening because the whole situation is a clear crisis at many different levels.

  25. Carlos says:

    This is a reply to Mike Danysh comments to Goinwfar but I was not able to post it that way – so I decided to post here separately where I seem to have less troubles when trying to post

    ‘Somebody needs to teach the cops, from the Chief all the way down, that they don’t get to decide which laws they enforce.’

    Mike I fully agree with you and I think that not just the Cops. At political level all parties should be forced to explain in the legislature what they mean by their outlandish statements and be required to at least be able to BACK with facts what they are talking about.

    This idea that the Conservatives can say whatever they want and do not care if it is true or not and just carry on with the rest of the propaganda and are not responsible for any explanation or proof of what they are claiming, is a very serious problem and we need to end it. Question period is not enough. We need to have special debates and the Legislatures should have review councils where members of all parties can review and penalize members that are not clear and cannot explain their statements.
    Freedom of expression is a responsibility not a propaganda tool.

    This idea that suddenly the truth does not matter or if it matters it is not important is bogus and we have to create ways of stopping this trend before it just shapes us into a banana republic where truth is non even discussed anymore, it is not important.

    Democracies do not exist in this kind of environment, and if they do, they are sick and crumbling. This is clearly what is happening in Alberta and in Canada.

    If we let this trend continue we will regret it for the rest of our lives.
    This is very wrong and we cannot accept this in our country and our province.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Carlos, you’ve hit on a point that needs to be much more widely discussed. Indeed, there SHOULD be regulations that force politicians (of all parties; we have to be seen to be fair) to justify their more outlandish statements. The Cons are particularly blatant about this, and never more so than after Donald Trump showed you can lie your a%% off and be elected for it.

      They’re using an old propaganda technique called the Big Lie (tell a lie so big, everybody says, “It must be true, they couldn’t get away with it otherwise”). I have to say, they do it poorly. Nobody outside their base believes their blather, and (in recent debates over the Liberals’ fiscal update) Pierre Poilievre can’t break out of the “Justin-flation” cliché.

      I’m not sure we can, or even should, make people justify every opinion they utter (having beaked off myself on more than one occasion). However, I totally agree that elected officials should be held to a higher standard of truthfulness (NOT “truthiness”). Any politician who states a falsehood as undoubted truth should be challenged. This would crimp the traditional practices of “viewing with alarm,” cherry-picking data, “viewing the matter darkly,” bending the truth (especially over backward) and straw-man arguments…but, hey, you can’t have everything. You’ve probably heard the old saying: You can have your own opinions, but not your own facts.

      Absent independent, (relatively) unbiased media coverage, I can’t see an immediate way to do what you’d like. Review councils might work (but no party would dare approve them). It might be possible to establish offices like the Parliamentary Budget Office to vet and correct political bullshit, at least the most outrageous examples.

      There is still hope for democratic debate. Social media, especially Facebook, is under slowly increasing pressure to clean up the worst offenses against truth and fairness. Even Elon Musk’s latest vanity project may have a silver lining. Experts have pointed out Twitter has never made money—and Musk has no plan to fix that. Elon the Saviour of Free Speech will either bankrupt Twitter or turn it into such a cesspool that decent people will leave in droves. If Musk damages Twitter badly enough, somebody else will start a rival platform (and guess where the ex-Twitter moderators will go for work?).

      Meanwhile, here in the Kingdom of Qberduh, we can encourage Rachel Notley to create a sensible, POSITIVE plan for fiscal stability, a fair transition (no fossil-fuel worker left behind), repairing Queen Dannie’s damage to AHS, and (not least) ending the UCP’s failed experiment with curriculum revision. A lot can happen in seven months. Fingers crossed, friends!

  26. fgsjr2015 says:

    Many, if not most, UPC MLAs are what I refer to as institutional Christians — i.e. those most resistant to Christ’s fundamental teachings of non-violence, compassion and non-wealth — who INSIST upon creating God’s nature in their own fallible and too-often angry, vengeful image. Often being the most vocal, they make very bad examples of Christ’s fundamental message, especially to the young and impressionable.

    Quite ironically, some of the best humanitarians were/are atheists or agnostics who’d make better examples of many of Christ’s teachings than too many institutional Christians; and, conversely, some of the worst human(e) beings are the most devout preachers/practitioners of institutional Christian theology.

    Though no pushover, Jesus fundamentally was about compassion and charity. Therefore, Jesus may have been viciously killed because he did not in the least behave in accordance to corrupted human conduct and expectation — and in particular because he was nowhere near to being the vengeful, wrathful, and sometimes even bloodthirsty, behemoth so many people seemingly wanted or needed their savior to be and therefore believed he’d have to be.

    I, a believer in Christ’s unmistakable miracles, like to picture Jesus enjoying a belly-shaking laugh over a good joke with his disciples, now and then.

    • GoinFawr says:

      I like your interpretation of your faith, reminds me of the Lutherans I knew growing up.
      During his time, Jesus was the original secular humanist, which is why to this day secular humanists respect him, even the atheistic ones. What’s more, Jesus was a black man.

      On the other hand, these Coaly Roller folk seem to want laws that protect them but don’t bind them, while binding without protecting everyone else.

      Their idea of ‘legitimate political discourse’ is: unless you have access to heavy equipment that you can use as an occupying tank, your rights don’t matter.

      For example, they are gathering in Lethbridge today ostensibly to show their undying support for three Coutts’ border blockaders from the link in my previous comment: three guys on weapons charges, supposedly with credible plans to kill people from police officers to politicians. And that’s what they are all driving to the city to protest: that alleged criminals face weapons and death-threats charges.

      Yeah, when people show you who they are, believe them. Me, I’ll trust the court’s decision on this one.

      • Carlos says:

        So what is it that the Lethbridge protesters want?
        To free people that had plans to kill other people and had weapons in their possession? Is that what they call good justice?
        Like Danielle Smith they just need a lesson in reality. Our premier actually needs to stop thinking that she is special. Once that disease is cured she will be ok. Some experts call it egocentrism and it can encourage selfishness, greed as well as stupidity. I have better words for it and I think that having her live on AISH for a year would probably take her out of her dream state.

      • GoinFawr says:

        Meanwhile at the emergencies act inquiry, the Gov’t of Alberta had absolutely no questions for Jeremy MacKenzie, none. Even he looked a bit surprised.

        Thankfully conscientious people did ask Mr.McKenzie questions, and (relevant to other comments here) it is worth noting that he squirmed like a worm in his cell seat when specifically asked about MILITARY visitors he entertained at his hotel room in Ottawa, without somehow being able to um,er,ah,uh recall any names that he had ‘popping into his head’ . I didn’t buy it.

      • fgsjr2015 says:

        “What’s more, Jesus was a black man.” … He was brown, I believe, or even Black.

      • fgsjr2015 says:

        [In addition to what I posted above] Stephen Harper was a thinly-veiled theocrat and unrelenting in his pro-fossil-fuel/anti-natural-environment war against science.
        In fact, many of Canada’s leading conservative politicians are/were ideologically aligned with the pro-fossil-fuel mainstream American evangelical-Christian community and Republican Party.

        (Albeit, the outgoing Brazilian president and Evangelical ‘Christian’ Jair Bolsonaro also is theocratic. While in the midst of yet another unprecedented wildfire two summers ago, he declared that his presidency — and, one presumes, all of the formidable environmental damage he inflicts while in power — is “fulfilling a mission from God”.)

        There undoubtedly is a serious potential hazard in theologically inclined people getting into high office with their dangerous disregard — and even contempt — for the natural environment.

        Generally shared amongst them all is the belief that to defend the natural environment from the planet’s greatest polluters, notably big fossil fuel, is to go against God’s will and therefore is inherently wicked.

        Some even credit the bone-dry-vegetation areas uncontrollably burning in California each year to some divine wrath upon collective humankind’s ‘sinfulness’.

      • GoinFawr says:

        Fort Macleod town councillor Marco Van Huigenbos, 32,Alex Van Herk, 53, and Gerhard Janzen, 43 were in court today in Lethbridge.

        these aren’t the folk facing the weapons/ death threats charges; these guys have been charged with ‘mischief over $5000’ for their part in the armed border blockade at Coutts.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        fgsjr2015, your point about the attitude of theologically-motivated politicians is well taken. However, even I wonder if you’re wielding too large a brush. I’ve heard that the most blatantly anti-environment politicians, in the United States and to a growing extent in Canada, are evangelical Christians. It seems the sects that believe in the Rapture—the end of the world, when the Faithful will be translated directly into Heaven—are the most inclined to dismiss any long-term threat to humanity. Seems they expect to be leaving soon, and the rest of us can burn in Hell.

        I prefer the attitude of the First Nations people, expressed as the “seventh-generation” idea. Keep things in good condition, so your grandchildren’s grandchildren will have a good place to live.

        Or, in modern secular terms, here’s a line from Marvel’s “The Avengers” movie. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is speaking to Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders):

        “Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on.”

        That’s way better to my mind that ignoring a problem you made, because you’ll be leaving soon anyway.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Being myself atheist, I have to wonder at the sheer number of preachers who are CERTAIN they know what God wants. I’m far from the only person who’s wondered if they’re speaking God’s will—or their own.

      We atheists are far from perfect (but thanks for the kind words). Still, I doubt anyone ever started a war because he thought people should be free to worship, or not, as they choose.

  27. Linda says:

    Dear heaven, have mercy. Smith & her merry band of crazed followers are now turning to a ‘former medical advisor to the Trump administration’ for advice. Apparently said Trump advisor was a big proponent of ‘herd immunity’. Presumably without involving such pesky things as vaccines, isolation or masks to prevent transmission. No, let’s just ‘let er rip!’. Mother Nature will carry off the weak & feeble minded to their just reward, while those hard working, God fearing types will be safe because – because. Well, darn. Looks like a virus doesn’t really care about one’s moral codes, beliefs or lack thereof. Who knew? Time to blame those NDP/Liberal types & the overbearing federal government for this mess……

    • GoinFawr says:

      At the Emergencies Act inquiry James Bauder self proclaimed himself an “Alpha Male”, and laid out what his involvement in the convoy was all about for him and his,

      “I’m not against vaccines, I’m against these (MRNA) gene altering ‘vaccines'”

      Apparently being an ‘Alpha Male’ trucker and all ’round good buddy automatically qualifies you as an expert in microbiology too.

      Yet despite that ‘innately’ acquired knowledge he’s put himself and his family through all this unending crap, and somehow throughout the entire ordeal no one bothered to tell him and he managed to miss the fact that the Astra-Z shot, one of the very first available in Canada, isn’t even a MRNA type?

      I mean good grief where was the “Alpha Male’ man on that one?

  28. Gerald says:

    Fortunately, we do have an adult in the constitutional room – Lt. Gov. Lakhani.

    While Premier Smith and her fellow travellers have certainly said quite a few constitutionally dodgy things, nothing has come to the Lt. Governor for royal assent.

    And the Lt. Governor has made it quite obvious she will protect our constitutional democracy.

    However, the problem is there is still an awful lot of damage the United Clown Party and ditzy Dani can do that doesn’t rise to the egregious level required for the Lt. Governor to exercise one or more of her reserve powers.

    Personally, what I hope for is the Lt. Governor having cause to dismiss the government and trigger a general election. Mid January sounds like a good time.

    • GoinFawr says:

      The Lt.Governor almost certainly will not find cause to dismiss the elected government of Alberta before they call an election on their own.
      To hope for such ’cause’ is to hope for the UCP to enact something so egregious that the rest of the country and the world would be appalled.

    • GoinFawr says:

      I know, I know, I have to keep in mind who we are discussing here; but it would have to be, bad.
      More likely, if there is any question of constitutionality ‘it’ will simply be left to be squashed flat by the courts, and probably after the next election.

      • Gerald says:

        I suspect Lt. Governor Lakhani will follow established precedent and make a referral to the Supreme Court as her 1st option. This is what Lt. Governor Bowen did the first time Premier Aberhart sent dodgy bills for assent.

        2nd option is probably out right refusal of royal assent – something that would only be invoked when she is very sure of unconstitutionality. And this what Lt. Governor Bowen did when Premier Aberhart put some lipstick on the same bills that the Supreme Court had rejected.

        3rd option, dismissal, I suspect would only happen after multiple egregious acts. After all, it is a constitutional carpet bomb. Reportedly, Lt. Governor Bowen bluntly told Premier Aberhart to withdraw the bills or be dismissed.

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