A Letter to my Conservative-voting Neighbour: A Guest Post by Lloyd Lovatt

Lately Ms Soapbox has been thinking about how to talk to her conservative friends without falling even further down the rabbit hole of polarization. Then a friend sent me this letter which acknowledges the sadness a Lougheed conservative must feel at the loss of their party and suggests we reach out to our neighbours and share information so we can elect the representative best able to serve us.

It’s worth a try. And if you have other suggestions, please share them because the Legislative Assembly is sitting for 11 days, after that we’re going into election mode.

Dear Conservative-voting Neighbour,

Thank you for leaving your groceries in the trunk long enough this morning to hold my ladder while I finished that string of lights. Decorations are up everywhere. Soon we will be writing “2023” on our cheques. Then election signs will poke through leftover snow like bright, new, multi-coloured tulips. Just watch!

I remember what you said about health care this morning, and the family around the corner whose child was taken to hospital last week. You told me how it made you feel to see emergency vehicles turn into that street and stop in front of a young family’s home. “Any of us could be in Emergency in an hour,” you said, watching me stretch just a little too far to reach one more hook!

You mentioned Premier Peter Lougheed. “Would health care be better if we had him back?” you wondered. We never had anything like COVID-19 in those days, but would Premier Lougheed have treated a broken leg or cancer the way Premier Smith treats COVID-19? Food for thought. Then we talked about whether the political party which best lives into the Lougheed legacy might be the New Democrats. You said that calling the NDP conservative made you feel sad, like something had been stolen from you.

Rachel Notley and Danielle Smith

Sadness aside, it makes me smile that we quibble about electoral politics. (“Quibble” is not always a bad word). A writ gets dropped, I put up a progressive party sign and you, the next day, have a conservative-minded one in your yard, positioned as closely as possible to mine, both competing for attention! One year you had your sign out first.

We laugh, maneuvering signs for the best lines of sight. And I’ll never forget the day I saw you through our front window, straightening your sign and ours after a strong wind had knocked them both down. I love the neighbourly respect, especially at election time. I value learning your perspective, feeling no threat from difference. It is a gift that usually gets hidden, but hopefully never lost.

So it’s in that context of respect that I remember this morning’s talk of leadership, conservatism, and health care. Dear neighbour, it’s my new conclusion that, in Canada, in our provinces and territories, there is only one jurisdiction that no longer has a conservative party: Alberta.

“What?!” you say. “Of course we have a conservative party, an ‘imperfectly united’ one. How can Alberta’s concentrated conservative institutions, conservative conversations, and conservative people not have a conservative party? Most cows are conservative!”

How indeed! We agree that Alberta needs a conservative party because, without strong parties, we wander and fall apart. And that’s what’s happening, we are wandering, falling apart, failing to protect the land and protect, serve, and care for the people. We try to educate the children and protect them from viral spread, while nurses and doctors work to keep the sickest ones breathing. Yet our government must, for some reason, find or create new fights. In what world is that conservative?

Remember how Premier Kenney declared victory over COVID-19. Then he tried to lead us into the Greatest Summer Ever. That’s why our health care infrastructure nearly foundered. That wasn’t conservatism, it was arrogant recklessness. Now Premier Smith declares the virus to be endemic, and she centres her new normal on blaming, finger pointing, and replacing boards and experts with people who take nonsense for wisdom. That’s not conservatism either, and the Premier’s agenda moves full-tilt, even though she has yet to win more than fifty or sixty-thousand votes in any kind of election.

Conservative offices, conservative Legislature seats, and the UCP’s “big tent” are all occupied by a sovereigntist and populist movement. No Progressive Conservatives remain in caucus. The party that has left you is in the hands of people whose goals seem reducible to the conversion of our province, including education and health care infrastructure, into capital for sale to investors. Alberta has many conservative people, but it no longer has a conservative party, united or otherwise.

Well. You must be glad I didn’t try to say all this while thrusting and swinging my arms atop our tipsy ladder! But yes, if you think I worry that something has just shifted alarmingly in Alberta partisan politics, you’re right. I hope you will ask yourself the same thing. What do you think? By May will you and I know enough about the candidates to choose a sign for our lawns? What are their positions, not just on health care, but also on policing, natural resources, pension plans, sovereignty, and children’s education? 

Hey, listen to this! What if we gathered data and shared notes with each other every few months from now until election day? It’s up to parties to win enough seats to form government. But it’s up to neighbours to choose the best person to sit in the Legislative Assembly seat that bears our constituency’s name.


Lloyd Lovatt*

On behalf of Whitemud Citizens for Public Health. WCPH  is a small group of citizens, your neighbours, who first organized in Edmonton Whitemud. It has expanded to include Albertans in other parts of the province. WCPH is concerned about the quality, support and universal accessibility of health care in Alberta. It is non-partisan and believes in active engagement with people elected to office.

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51 Responses to A Letter to my Conservative-voting Neighbour: A Guest Post by Lloyd Lovatt

  1. Richard Horton says:

    And you thought the Progress Conservatives got rid of the Social Credit Party… They’re back!

  2. Neil says:

    Thanks for this bit of wisdom Lloyd. I struggle daily with how to approach my life long conservative friends who have not being paying attention and don’t realize that their PC party no longer exists. Their once inclusive party that valued and rewarded hard work but still found the resources to support effective and compassionate social programs has been coopted by a populist libertarian party whose emphasis is solely on the individual at the expense of society in general. What’s it going to take to get their attention?

    • Neil, the more I think about Lloyd’s argument, the stronger it seems to me. Lloyd’s neighbour says he’s saddened by the thought that the NDP are closer to Lougheed’s legacy than the UCP. What he should feel sad about is the fact he was betrayed by his own party when it decided to let Jason Kenney run for leadership of the PCs on the promise that if elected, he would merge the PCs with the WR and then have the power to win government.

      The mistake the PCs made was thinking that it was all about power. It didn’t dawn on them (or maybe it did but they thought they could manage it) that when the WR came into the tent, they brought their ideology with them. And that ideology does not align with the Lougheed conservative ideology. Whatever was left of the PC movement has lost the ideological battle to the WR.

      Lloyd’s neighbour is sad because in his heart he knows there is nothing left of the Lougheed conservatives, nothing at all.

  3. ingamarie says:

    It’s a start for sure……….in a province where too many of us don’t know the first thing about the role political discussion plays in preserving an actual working democracy.

    If we stifle discussion, put our personal limitations around what can be publicly debated, discussed, disagreed over, than conservative, radical, left, right, fascist, socialist realities won’t be acknowledged….seen and learned from.

    To very very little, in the world of reality, does the correct ‘answer’ shrink down to one of two options. So here’s to a complex world, competent people, and challenging conversations…..about politics, god, nature, the universe!

    Time we started to play the long game.

    • Well said, ingamarie. Last week I was talking to some law profs about the value of a legal education. It teaches you how to reason and understand complex problems. The profs said that over the last few years they’ve noticed a difference in the way the students want to be taught. One prof said the kids are looking for “edutainment.”
      This floored me. Law is not an easy discipline. There’s a reason why you need an undergraduate degree to get in. Given how hard kids have to work to get into law school it surprised me that once they got in they weren’t prepared to put in the work that’s required to actually learn how to think like a lawyer.
      CAVEAT: Obviously not all law students are like this, but there are enough to register on the law prof’s radar screen.

      • ingamarie says:

        Having taught in Alberta for over 25 years, I’m not surprised. Young people are capable of excellent and deep thought…….but it has to be, not only encouraged, but expected.

        Too often, at the beginning of the semester, many would spend a lot of time trying to figure out what I wanted them to say. Once they became convinced I was open to what they actually thought……so long as they backed up their ideas with evidence from the text…they went for it.

        But one last thing. Too many of my colleagues conflated good thinking with clarity of expression. It is a matter of development that as the idea content of a student’s writing goes up…….the sentence structure problems will increase…temporarily.

        That is because complex thinking needs conjunction connections that aren’t often needed in simple declarative mode. Albertan’s are experts at simple declarations…not so adept at connecting a complex set of dots.

        It can be learned. But not if conservative minds penalize you for your beginning efforts.

      • Ingamarie: Indeed! It’s interesting that once your students realized that you were open to their ideas as long as they backed them up, they went for it. My law profs used the same technique. If a student said something like ‘it’s not right that X was prosecuted for the crime.’ The prof would ask ‘what’s your authority?’ (ie what legal principles/case law are you relying on to support your proposition) and if they didn’t have any authority their argument died. It didn’t take long for the class to figure out how to make a solid legal argument.
        I wish the public would test everything Smith says in the same way. For example she tried to justify using Health Care Spending Accounts by saying: why should the government fund the cost of your annual physical when it could be paid through your HCS account? Of course this is a non-justification because she also said the government would fund your HCS account up to a max of $300/year. So the government pays for your physical both ways, the only difference is paying for it through your HCS account adds a layer of administrative red tape (making it even more expensive) and using a HCS account is a way to get the public accustomed to paying for their healthcare, thereby eroding public healthcare by shifting costs onto Albertans in small, easy to digest bites. But she won’t say that, will she.

  4. Paul Pearlman says:

    Great blog here is a little something for your readers this is a list of Alberta Conservative Premiers Peter Lougheed 1971-1985, Don Getty 1985 – 1992, Ralph Klein 1992 -2006, Ed Stelmach 2006-2011,Alison Redford 2011-2014,Dave Hancock interim 2014- 2014, JimPrentice 2014-2015, Jason Kenney 2019 -2022,and Danielle Smith 2022-??? I myself would find it hard to give any of them a passing grade other than Premier Lougheed if not for the oil with all those other failures where would our Province be??

    • Paul: thanks for the list of conservative premiers. I would agree with your assessment of the list, although Hancock was a caretaker premier so we didn’t expect him to do anything substantial.
      Stelmach is a weird one. He conducted a royalty review in 2007. It recommended a significant increase in royalties. The energy sector went nuts, arguing that investment would drop, their message got through and in 2010 Stelmach announced he’d reverse the increases and by 2013 they’d dropped to the pre-royalty review levels.
      I suppose the one trait that all the premiers (except Lougheed) share is their willingness to bend to the will of the energy sector.

  5. MM says:

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    This is where we are right now, Lloyd. Things have we gone far beyond just a vote in the next election. Choose between good and evil. The line in the sand has been drawn. I will not stand by and do nothing. My election sign is preordered. I am making monthly contributions. I know which side I’m on. I am on the side of good, compassion and caring for our fellow humans, a social safety net for those whose needs are not being met, respect for others. I am not on the side of greed, selfishness and sacrificing others at the altar of Ayn Rand (a libertarian who took social assistance and Medicare in old age, after a lifetime of denouncing it). I know which side I’m on and I will vote on election day. I do my democratic duty. Thank you for the reminder.

  6. DD says:

    The problem with many Alberta conservatives is that they would be hard pressed to explain the ideology that they profess to follow. Instead, it’s about tradition, lineage and a harkening back to the good ‘ole days of Alberta oil. The fact that a band of lunatics has coopted the UCP barely registers because the alternative, to their minds, seems against all that their families have held dear for decades. It’s like looking at that old article of clothing at the back of your closet, knowing it doesn’t fit anymore and is unsuitable for your present reality, but being unable to get rid of it because of an irrational attachment.

    • DD and Jaundiced Eye: I’ve been thinking about how hard it’s been for some conservatives to see past the brand. Just because the UCP paints itself blue and has the word “conservative” in its name doesn’t mean it’s really conservative in the Lougheed sense. Nevertheless the diehards will stick with the UCP regardless of how extreme it becomes. Either that or they’ll refuse to vote.
      Compare this to what happened with the progressives who used to vote for the provincial Liberal party, when that party died, they simply switched their votes to Notley’s NDP.
      I’m sure there’s a thesis in there about the fundamental difference between what conservatives and progressives expect of government (it’s all about me vs it’s all about the public good).

  7. Jaundiced Eye says:

    Politics is pure emotion. You are never going to debate/argue/cajole/reason or coddle someone out of an emotional decision using logic and reason. Save your breath.

    • Lloyd Lovatt says:

      I would love to change them, Jaundiced Eye, but I know that’s not how it works. Our purpose is to illustrate a kind of neighbourhood in which one does not need to suppress partisanship in order to get along.

      One of our members described the hopelessness of trying to get a progressive perspective heard in a seniors recreation group that meets regularly. In that setting, it seemed impossible to get people to understand things like the inadequacy of what are often called reasonable privatizations in healthcare. How do we stay with it, we wonder?

      So what we are trying to say is that it’s not just our conversations. That person who makes us feel frustrated will talk to other people, too. They will also have a conversation with their grandchild. Maybe something we said will prepare them to hear what their grandchild is saying

  8. Jim Lees says:

    She will be very popular with the other Premiers after announcing Alberta will address our staff shortages

  9. Irene says:

    Lloyd hit on something so important, and that is keeping focussed on the issues, and on the motives of the people running for office. We can get so caught up in “brands” and without consideration we just vote a certain way out of habit, or because our parents did. What’s at stake now in Alberta is too important for any one to become complacent. We are being sold down the river by Danielle Smith and the UCP government, and something like universal health care- once it’s gone, it’s gone. We have “conservative” friends who scoff when we warn our public health care system is at stake. So naive. And that is what unfortunately Danielle Smith and her brain trust are counting on.

    • Irene, what an interesting conundrum. The conservatives scoff when someone warns them that Smith is going after publicly funded and publicly delivered healthcare without understanding that it will, in the end, be harmful to their health (unless they’re big earners who can afford private health insurance).

      At the same time they despise Trudeau for imposing travel mandates in order to protect their health because it was (a) inconvenient or (b) slowed down the flow of commerce across the border. Ironically they cheered on the trucker convoy which actually did blockade the flow of commerce across the border.

      As Jaundiced Eye said, it’s pointless trying to get through to some people. Others, like Charlie Adler, have come around.

  10. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for sharing another great blog. We could certainly use Peter Lougheed in this present time to run Alberta. Sadly, he passed away, many years ago. However, when Peter Lougheed was still alive, and he was the premier of Alberta, from 1971 to 1985, he had good insights on how to run Alberta right. We had excellent oil royalty rates, and he created the Heritage Savings Trust Fund. Peter Lougheed didn’t let oil companies boss him around. The public education system in Alberta was made better. So was our public healthcare system. Infrastructure was improved. Utilities weren’t expensive. Those who couldn’t easily fend for themselves, were given financial support. The backwards thinking of the Social Credit Party, including the inhumane eugenics policy they had was scrapped. Peter Lougheed also supported accountability in government, by being open and transparent, and Hansard was the way he did it. Also, though not completely perfect, Peter Lougheed was close enough, by being virtually scandal free. All this never happened in Alberta, under the other Conservative premiers, like Ralph Klein. None of this is going on with Danielle Smith either. What can Danielle Smith deregulate, or privatize further, than what Ralph Klein has already done? Much like Ralph Klein, once the mistakes start to pile up, out come the voter bribes, and cash is dispensed like there is no tomorrow. As did Ralph Klein, Danielle Smith has to try and keep herself in power, somehow. For a premier of Alberta, the next best thing to Peter Lougheed is Rachel Notley. MLAs who were part of Peter Lougheed’s cabinet, have even made the comparison to Rachel Notley and Peter Lougheed. I’ll share some more fitting music. This is how people are feeling about Danielle Smith in Alberta. Here is a Bill Henderson composition, from his band Chilliwack. It is Crazy Talk. The song is from 1974. I have seen Chilliwack live, and met the band members. They are a great Canadian band.

  11. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my second music pick. This is from my favorite classical music composer, Brahms. It is Hungarian Dance No. 5 In G Minor. Brahms is also in my music collection.

  12. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my final song pick. It is from an Edmonton Celtic band, The McDades. It is a live performance of the band with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. This is St. Stephen’s Carol. Since it is getting closer to Christmas, I thought I’d share this. I have also seen The McDades a few times live, including with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (who became famous after they recorded a live album with the British rock band, Procol Harum, in 1971). I saw The McDades live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, this past Friday evening, and I had a front row seat. I also met the band members. I do have their music in my music collection too, including a signed CD, and the setlist, and my tickets signed.

  13. lungta mtn says:

    After 50 years of any belief the idea of being wrong is not tenable.
    Any proof given will be seen as a test of faith.
    If you are absolutely convinced you are on the “right” side (and who isn’t?) then opposition to your correctness is the work of Satan.
    Change or the admission of mistakes are an admission of lack of integrity and imperfection.
    Hence “double-down” gives you the comfort of continuity and pseudo integrity.
    Change is hard and people are lazy.
    Some are so lazy their only political position is opposition to your ideas.
    That’s how F*** Trudeau became a political platform and Justinflation an economic policy. Down in the dirt knuckle dragging jingoism = sophisticated political discourse.
    The single honest thing conservatives have done is drop the pretense of progressive.
    You are really going to miss your health care tho
    Cherokee Kolodnicki will see to that

    • ingamarie says:

      To assume that all of us are convinced we are on the ‘right’ side, is a bit like saying that over time we all become unconscious fascists.

      It’s time we acknowledged that differences of opinion are what keep all of us from falling off a mind cliff………but an essential characteristic of fascistic thought is the belief that ‘you’re either with us, or you’re with Satan.’

      That’s the essence of intolerance….but also a potentially violent mind set.

      We’ll defeat that mind set by 1. opening ours and 2. refusing to be silenced, or drawn into verbal abuse.

      • ingamarie: I do like your suggestions on how to defeat the “unconscious fascists.”
        Also I must pick up on your reference to Danielle Smith as Cherokee Kolodnicki . Poor Danielle, it appears that her way of rebutting any suggestion that she’s a bigot or a racist or whatever is to trot out a familial connection to a minority group being discriminated against.
        The indigenous news team at APTN did a fine job of putting to rest her claim that she’s part Cherokee. Not that she’s concerned about it, her office said she didn’t do a “deep dive” into her ancestry. Seems to me you should make sure you’re on solid ground before you trumpet to the world that you’re part Cherokee, especially when you’re making the statement to ward off accusations of racism and bigotry.
        Here’s the APTN story: premier-danielle-smith-says-she-has-cherokee-roots-but-the-records-dont-back-that-up/

      • Ingamarie says:

        I hadn’t even heard Danielle’s claim to have native blood when I wrote this comment. My main response to the commentator who did make that reference, was in regards to the idea that any of us are ‘right all the time’.

        It’s a mindset that scares me. I spent my life as an educator, and want everyone to start with the acceptance of our human fallibility. And I’m seriously depressed by ad hominem attacks and political put downs. I think Danielle is seriously off base in many of her ideas and opinions………..but I’m likely missing some pieces in some of my analyses as well….her claim to have native ancestry is just typical white appropriation….and a rather sad attempt to claim what is becoming the high ground in Canada.

        I want us to think more clearly. I want us to critique the argument or the idea, but try to refrain from the kind of verbal violence or put downs that are so often indications of an intolerance in our own mind.

        Politics is not, nor should it be, a blood sport. We’re not violent…and its not a game.
        Language matters…and the future of our province matters.

      • lungta mtn says:

        I think you get it but you are unhappy with what you found.
        If your not on “the right side” why not just chime in with Dani?
        Be converted, change , try the new.
        You can go blue easier than true blue can change.
        This is Alberta and the ” essential characteristic of fascistic thought is the belief that ‘you’re either with us, or you’re with Satan.’” is pretty much a standard. If your not on side with a blue con you are satan or any of the satan substitutes… commy, socialist, pro-pharma, antifa, godless, woke, lib and ndp , pagan eco freak, kool-aid drinker, msmedia believer, anti-oil, anti – Alberta… depending on the argument
        Or they are tolerant and then quite willing to disparage you the second you leave.
        The thin veneer of civilization is particularly thin here.
        In your battle with the “violent mind set” I don’t think you comprehend that they just don’t care what you think or what you do; that you even attempt it is either annoying or amusing to them , defiantly not consequential .
        Alberta where the joke is you can elect a fence post if you paint it blue.
        Change will become a possibility to a fundamentalist conservative when the pain becomes bad enough. That is a long way down Dozi Danis rabbit hole tho.
        The anti mandate girl gotts herself a mandate… hang on… Fun Times

  14. Einar Davison says:

    The term conservatism has been hijacked by those who really are self absorbed narcissists (I know we all are narcissistic, but some more than other) I consider myself a conservative (red) and also a liberal (blue) but from this standpoint.
    1. A government must work for all the people and not just the ones who elect them, hardly anyone passes this bar anymore and I’m pointing my finger at everyone including me.
    2. Using that bar then a conservative government should want to give all people the greatest amount of service for the least amount of cost and not one penny more.
    3. If it is education then the student should come first, if it is healthcare then the patient should come first. Nope everyone seems to miss this bar too.
    4. I will agree that local health and school boards and empowered front line workers are preferable to huge bureaucracies, especially when those bureaucracies are used for patronage by the government. For example when the Klein Government appointed Bud McCaig (a friend) the Chairman of the Calgary Health Region of AHS. Patronage is the curse of politics of all parties. Which means it doesn’t matter whether it is a local board or a government agency or department, the Government will use it to their advantage.
    5. A true conservative would want to find an optimum solution and not get tied up in the semantics of political ideology.
    6. A true conservative would try to find balance and common ground and again this does not occur.
    But lets take out Conservative and put in Progressive or Liberal or New Democrat and shouldn’t all parties be wanting those things. Sounds like good governance more than ideology.
    Premier Lougheed was a gentleman and worked for Albertans first and knew when it was his time to leave. He accomplished so much in the terms he was Premier. The House of Commons and the Legislatures have become clown shows and what difference will it make who gets elected things will be the same just the people have changed. Rachel Notley may be way better than Danielle Smith, but in the four years she governed Alberta not much really changed, just a different bunch of special interests got the benefit. You may question that, but private ownership of Continuing Care facilities didn’t change and one could say that the NDP could hold some of the blame for the crisis in the Continuing Care during the start of COVID. I’m as much to blame as I have been part of a political party of one colour or the other most of my life.
    I’m seriously considering spoiling my ballot next election because so far none of the “main stream” parties appeals to me, the UCP are bat guano crazy and should have accepted that a break from being government could have been a good thing. No they just slapped a new coat of paint on, swapped out the leader and hey presto it looks different but is the same old party. The NDP has their own fair share of ideology thumpers.
    However none of the “mainstream” parties need to worry. I live in rural Alberta so if I don’t vote UCP…so what my votes not needed anyway and if I don’t vote NDP well in my constituency it won’t change the fact that the NDP probably will lose anyway. However my vote is mine, I own it and no one and I mean no one in Edmonton or Ottawa has done one thing to earn it. It would be so easy too. My vote will go to the party that actually governs according to my 6 points. Here’s my hope for endless minority governments both provincial and federal until there is someone worth voting for. Please forgive the rant. I have joined the ranks of the perpetual cynics.

    • Janna says:

      your definition of conservative sounds suspiciously liberal to me. You may call yourself conservative but you don’t fit what current conservatives are doing/believing.

    • Einer: thanks for your comment. You’re right, all parties should want to do the 6 things you listed. Since they don’t I’ll be voting for the NDP who at least try to govern in a way that supports the public good as opposed to a way that supports the private sector in the hope the private sector will then take care of those who work for it.
      I do agree however that they have not always done so, as your reference to the private ownership of continuing care facilities makes clear).

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Einar, I’d say your list isn’t so much progressive or conservative; I’d call it “responsible.” We in Alberta haven’t seen responsible government since Peter Lougheed retired. There followed a slow erosion of sensible policies…which was followed by the implosion of the Progressive Conservative Party.

      Ralph Klein’s tenure was the beginning of the end for the PCs. Ralph was personally ambitious, but really had no clue how to run the place beyond asking, “What do the oil guys say?” No Tory premier since had any better ideas and nobody except Ed Stelmach dared question the all-powerful oilpatch—and look what that got him.

      Even Rachel Notley is completely captured by the oilpatch. She made some changes, like the carbon levy that Jason Kenney scrapped (now we have to pay the federal carbon tax instead). Otherwise, Notley’s policies were a much better fit with Peter Lougheed’s progressive policies than any of the Old Tories. You could call Notley’s party the New Tory Party and you wouldn’t be wrong.

      Jason Kenney destroyed the Old Tories by his “reverse hostile takeover” of first the PCs, then the Wildrose party. It was Kenney who drove out all moderate Conservatives; he also drove out all of the responsible politicians who had stuck around after Lougheed. Kenney’s ambition, arrogance and Republican BS opened the door wide for Danielle Smith to step through. Now we have a conspiracy theorist and would-be separatist running the government—badly.

      You might be surprised how much, or how little, support Danielle Smith and the UCP have outside the cities. The worse things look, the louder the Faithful shout, “We’re winning!” That’s what happened in 2015, when Jim Prentice blew his chance at election. People had simply had enough of the Old Tories. Albertans are like that; we tend to vote by habit until someone pisses us off.

      Your vote is indeed your own. A spoiled ballot is still counted—and it means, “None of the above.” I get that. However, when the UCP and NDP come door-knocking (or phoning, I guess, if you live outside of town)—bring out your list of six points. Ask about solutions to local problems. Ask the candidates what’s important to them. Maybe you won’t want to vote FOR anyone, but there are sure to be some you’d vote AGAINST. Sometimes damage control is the necessary first step to making improvements.

      PS: don’t worry about being cynical, and there’s no reason to apologize. I think you’ll be welcome here.

      • GoinFawr says:

        “Even Rachel Notley is completely captured by the oilpatch”

        Well, ‘captured’ in the sense that anyone left in Alberta, Canada, or the world are heating with natural gas, using coal generated electricity, or driving a gas powered vehicle is captured, yes.


        The NDP are realistic, pragmatic when it comes to Alberta’s trademark industry; the icky sticky stuff in the peat has long since been sold, and is likely coming out of the ground regardless of Alberta’s governance. That’s a fact that everybody knows and respects, including Rachel Notley and the NDP.

        Albertans’ NDP, like most Albertans, simply want the work done as cleanly and safely as humanly possible, with enforced responsibility throughout the industry, rather than the UCP ‘if it suits your bottom line’ approach.
        During the NDP’s tenure many from across the industry were more than happy to play along with the gov’t since the NDP were doing their best to set up a playing field that was level for all, which is what they are really all about, in general.

  15. Dave says:

    I suspect there are a number of conservatives who realize there is something fundamentally wrong with the UCP and its current leadership. It is not a coincidence that no conservative premier since Klein has stayed in power throughout a term. The big tent party is no more. It has increasingly been taken over by a vocal right wing fringe that appeals to some, but not all, conservatives and even fewer Albertans.

    If Kenney’s handling of COVID was poor, how do you think Smith would have handled it with her fringe views on many health care related things? Yes, she can now easily fire those in the health care system she disagrees with, but it is not so easy to fix or improve it. I suspect to try distract from this she will now try to get into fights with the Federal government and given her fringe positions here, I suspect these will be battles she will not win and not have much support for even in Alberta. Kenney’s equalization referendum accomplished little, Smith will even accomplish less.

    When you go into weak or ill advised battles, you can come out further behind rather than ahead. Lougheed was a master in getting other provinces lined up with Alberta and making the strongest case for Alberta. Some of the power Alberta has today is a result of his skilful and thoughtful approach to dealing with the Feds. In addition to the economic damage, I suspect the only result of Smith’s battles will to be to further turn most of the rest of Canada against Alberta and diminish its place in Canada.

    • Dave, you hit the nail on the head when you said if you go into weak or ill advised battles, you can come out further behind. We’re going to see this process in action starting on Nov 29 when Smith unveils Bill 1 the Sovereignty Act or whatever it’s called now. Apparently she’s watered it down. Whether it satisfies the Take Back Alberta crowd remains to be seen.
      Apparently she’s backtracked on her pledge to make being unvaccinated a protected class under the Alberta Human Rights Act. Instead she and her ministers have been phoning organizations that require vaccinations, telling them they’re engaged in discrimination and implying they’ll lose their provincial funding if they don’t reverse their policy.
      The poli sci prof Lisa Young calls this “government by stealth.” By not passing legislation Smith avoids debate in the legislature and challenge in the courts.
      I don’t know whether this will be enough to satisfy her anti-vax, anti-mask supporters but it should scare the bejeezus out of the rest of us.

      • Gerald says:

        Susan, from what I read on CBC news, Smith may not need worry about her TBA lunatic fringe. Her Sovereignty bill still sounds un-constitutional.

        I think Smith is headed for an epic blunting against a brick wall named Lt. Governor Lakhani.

      • GoinFawr says:

        @Gerald, I feel like we’ve been over this Lt.Governor thing before:

        UCP: All your ‘Base are belong to us.

        To me Danielle Smith’s Base Virtue Signalling Act appears to seek to abrogate the rights and obligations of all other elected representatives, both federal and provincial.

        yes at best the utterly mandate-less Act will likely spend it’s entire existence mired in the federal and provincial courts, wasting millions and millions more of Albertans and every other Canadians’ tax dollars, but regardless it serves its purpose of ‘virtue’ signalling a middle finger to Trudeau, appeasing The Base on that worthless point.

        There was a mention of some gun laws now being either optional, or with enforcement entirely at the discretion of the arresting officer and the UCP cabinet minister’s interpretation of the law. That sounds dangerously arbitrary.

        If what I am hearing and seeing so far is true, it seems like the Act suggests that legislative power can be stolen from Canada’s entire federal/provincial (and so, Albertans’ too) democracy, and placed entirely into the hands of a few UCP cabinet ministers, who can independently interpret and alter any and all legislation as they see fit, effectively making laws without so much as a ‘by your leave’ from Albertans’ and Canadians’ democratic institutions.

  16. Verna Milligan says:

    Thank you for sharing this excellent Letter, Susan. Lloyd’s description of the lawn signs reminded me of door knocking experiences in Alberta. It was astounding – and extremely sad – to hear people say they would like a lawn sign, but their “neighbours were all conservatives”. It was interesting to see their reaction when we said, “many of your neighbours said exactly the same thing!” Of course, when we live in a province that refuses to see the value of a healthy and vibrant opposition over several decades, even the simplest symbols of a genuine democracy can quickly fade away.

  17. Linda says:

    This is one wonderful letter! Thanks to you (& Lloyd) for sharing. The letter expresses much of what I’ve been thinking when it comes to the question of ‘What happened to the Conservative Party?’. Used to be Conservative stood for dull, boring, stuff. Stuff like fiscal responsibility, fair levels of taxation, taking care of the things citizens wanted, like infrastructure, economic expansion, access to health care etc. Somehow that party platform was exchanged for shock jock ham radio, even before Smith took on the role as lead broadcaster. Great for headlines, not so great for the taxpayers who were looking for more of that dull, boring yet utterly necessary stuff that actually moves us forward as a society. And yes, for those of us who are looking for more centrist policies, the NDP is about as close to that as we might get here in Alberta.

  18. GoinFawr says:

    Susan, whatever Albertans’ particular problem is on any given day, I guarantee you Danielle Smith and the UCP are not the least bit interested in solving it.

    They are interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it.

    That is how you win elections in Alberta.

    • Gerald says:

      lol @GoingFawr you may want to credit the writers of of the movie “The American President”.

      But I do beg to differ on that’s how you win elections in Alberta.
      It’s one way, but not the only way.

      And while there are a disgusting amount of parallels between the UCP and the Republican Party, Alberta is not the US.

      Anecdotal as it is, Premier Smith is the first Alberta leader I can recall (and I am 60) receiving wide spread derision and outright utter contempt. Even Jason Kenney was not as vilified.

      Even my parents – long time, small rural town conservatives, provincial & federal, are disgusted with her. And their friends pretty much feel same way.

      There are going to be a lot conservative voters who will spoil their ballots or just will not vote. Only question is when.

      • GoinFawr says:

        Here’s another one Gerald:

        Goodness me, could this be Danielle Smith’s disease?

        the UCP are directing us at ‘the enemy’, to keep us deaf and blind, they want to imbibe our energy, incarcerate our minds, hand us Coaly Rollers, gassy beer, page thirty-three, two weeks at Lake Sikome and Sunday striptease…meanwhile first Jesus says, “I’ll cure it soon: abolish federal laws that keep assault rifles from me and you”; Jason Kenney’s out on hunger strike, he’s dying by degrees, how come all Alberta gets Danielle Smith disease?”

      • Carlos says:

        ‘Anecdotal as it is, Premier Smith is the first Alberta leader I can recall (and I am 60) receiving wide spread derision and outright utter contempt. Even Jason Kenney was not as vilified.’

        Well Gerald the only problem is that Danielle Smith does not even understand it. She is a cult leader and she is like a horse with blinders and lets face it from what I have seen she is not only not the brightest crayon in the box but the elevator does not reach the highest floors either.

        Like a friend of mine suggested to me – I would not trust her to make myself a sandwich.

  19. Jaundiced Eye says:

    And now we have the, “Danielle’s a Sovereign within a United Canada Act”. Honestly, the woman is a squalid nuisance.

    • Linda says:

      Or as one CBC columnist put it, Smith & crew have created an Act that effectively makes Ms. Smith ‘Queen’ Dani. The Sovereignty Act that created a made in Alberta sovereign. All hail the Queen & her merry band of robber barons in cabinet. Why do I keep flashing on the Red Queen in Alice In Wonderland shrieking ‘Off with their heads!’ to any who would oppose her royal decrees? The next election can’t come fast enough…..

  20. GoinFawr says:

    Susan, do you think DS’ Sovereignty Act will affect charges involving the Coutts four to be tried for conspiring to murder RCMP officers, and others?
    Specifically charges relating to the banned firearms they allegedly possessed for the purpose, which it has been suggested is a particular federal law that Queene Smith’s Minister has been directed to rewrite to suit Her purposes…

    Let’s all bear in mind who make up the 40k or so that recently put Her onto Her ‘throne’, and keep a close eye on this, like I know some other folk certainly are.

  21. Kimberlee says:

    I am VERY concerned that there will not be a minority government next May. Ms. Smith is a dangerous wolf in a chameleon’s coat…anything to buy her votes… this is NOT my Alberta!!

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