Danielle Smith’s Bill 1: The Wrecking Ball Effect

Wrecking ball: A heavy steel ball hung from a crane, used to demolish large buildings. Commonly used during the 1950s and 1960s. Considered one of the most common forms of large-scale coarse demolition.—Wikipedia  

Last week, Premier Danielle Smith unveiled the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act (Bill 1). It was the centrepiece of her leadership campaign.

She promised her supporters “a constitutional shield” that would protect them from unconstitutional federal laws and harmful federal policies. No more would federal overreach. No more would Ottawa be allowed to sabotage Alberta’s economy and prospects for growth. Enough is enough!

Her “constitutional shield” turned out to be a wrecking ball, whipping indiscriminately this way and that, banging off the Constitution and battering democratic institutions and the rule of law.

Danielle Smith

Bill 1: you want to see overreach; I’ll show you overreach!

Bill 1 gives Cabinet ministers the power to put a motion before the Legislature. The motion would identify a federal matter as unconstitutional or harmful (whatever that means) to Albertans and propose measures for Cabinet to take in response.

If the motion passes Cabinet would meet behind closed doors to suspend, amend, or add laws and/or direct provincial entities to ignore the impugned federal law or policy.

Smith argued Bill 1 did not give “authoritative” new powers to Cabinet because the motion would “enumerate” the ways Cabinet would address the federal violation and the Legislature would somehow validate the way Cabinet changed the laws before they actually changed them.

This is nonsense.

Before Bill 1, law making occurred on the floor of the Legislature (ie. all of the MLAs, not just the Cabinet ministers made law). Law makers would table bills, debate and (sometimes) amend bills as they moved through first, second, and third readings, before being passed into law.

It was a transparent process which allowed the public, interested parties, academics, and the media to observe and hold the law makers to account if they were not satisfied with what they saw.

Sorry, Danielle, but anything less than that is undemocratic.

Smith’s rationale

There is just one word to describe Smith’s rambling rationale for Bill 1.

Bizarre.

She filled much of her time in the debate by reading large chunks of the Constitution and the Charter into the record, and explaining how we came to be in Confederation in the first place (Ron Orr also shared his historical knowledge about the origin of confederation so this must be a UCP speaking point).

She addressed the Opposition’s challenge that she lacked the mandate to propose Bill 1 (what with being elected on the 6th ballot by only 1% of Alberta’s population) by claiming she did have a mandate because…wait for it…when “our people” voted to remove the principle of equalization in the referendum they wanted us to “stand up to Ottawa.” (Hmmm, a referendum on equalization is a vote for sovereignty. I can’t wait to find out what mandate we gave Smith when we voted to keep daylight savings time).

Quebec figured prominently in her justification. She said we want to be treated just like Quebec, then rambled off to talk about John Kerry and Quebec wanting to keep its resources in the ground. Trust me, it didn’t make any more sense in Hansard than what I’ve set out here.

She tried to rationalize Bill 1 by saying it would rarely be used but had no response when the Opposition pointed out she’d instructed her ministers to comb through their files to identify each and every instance of federal “overreach.” Her position was further contradicted by Mr Shandro, her Justice minister, who said federal overreach happens “very, very often”.    

She was adamant that Bill 1 would not negatively impact investment in the province. This, despite the fact that people like Deborah Yedlin, the CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce  had been all over the media telling anyone who would listen that Bill 1 would drive away investment because it creates regulatory uncertainty. Yedlin said investors like a stable regulatory environment where all levels of government work in a cooperative and collaborative fashion. They’re not interested in combative jurisdictions, they’re too risky.

Amendments to Bill 1 .

On Saturday Smith announced there would be changes to Bill 1 to address the concern that the bill would give Cabinet unfettered power to rewrite laws behind closed doors. (“You never get things 100% right all the time” she said. True, and sometimes you get caught red-handed doing something you shouldn’t be doing).

Incidentally, when Yedlin was asked how she would like to see Bill 1 amended, she said she wanted to see the elimination of Cabinet’s power to rewrite laws. She also suggested Bill 1 be softened to make it less combative and more collaborative. A change that would not be welcomed by Smith’s Free Alberta supporters.

It’s hard to see what changes Smith can put forward without gutting Bill 1 altogether. For one thing if she doesn’t eliminate the Legislature’s ability to deem a federal law unconstitutional (that’s the Court’s job) it still violates the rule of law.

But then again, Smith is a wrecking ball. Wrecking balls are used in large scale, coarse demolition, not in nuanced operations. I’m not expecting much. Are you?

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84 Responses to Danielle Smith’s Bill 1: The Wrecking Ball Effect

  1. Hi Susan, I believe Ms. Smith is grandstanding and just wants to pick a fight with Ottawa so that she can don the mantle of self-made righteous underdog – she is the good “David” and Ottawa is the bad “Goliath”.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Greg, you’re probably right but it might be worse than you think. We haven’t heard boo about Smith’s “plan” for AHS. As MM and Irene noted below, there are too many real problems Smith could at least try to solve–but isn’t. Smith’s tactics are perhaps “red herrings” or maybe “waving the bloody shirt” to distract us from UCP failures.

      • Greg and Mike: Smith is very slippery. I find it had to believe she did not intend to give Cabinet the power to amend laws without Legislative oversight (ie. three readings of the amendments in the House) and that this was a mistake that crept into the legislation which now requires “clarification.” Either she’s stupid or she thinks we’re stupid. Neither scenario bodes well.

  2. Diane Cooke says:

    This wrecking ball can cause so much destruction and grief between now and May….lord help her successor

    • Diane, I agree. Smith can do serious damage in 6 months…assuming she actually delivers on her promise to hold an election in May. We must be ready to converge on the Legislative Building with the biggest public protest this province has ever seen if she reneges. It will be May, at least the weather will be in our favour.

  3. MM says:

    Ms. Smith should make Alberta more like Quebec. We need a referendum on sovereignty. The people of Quebec voted against it. Smith would lose, too.

    It is not a coincidence that she is engaging in this Trumped-up war with Ottawa as the public health system collapses. Attacks on public health care by Jason Kenney prior to and during the ongoing Covid pandemic have continued with Smith. Those attacks are cumulative. Smith distracts as the triple-demic of Covid, RSV and influenza sicken and kill children. How can the public health system survive the attacks on nurses, doctors, health support workers, and the firings of the AHS CEO, the board of AHS, the CMOH?

    Children are paying the price of all these cuts and attacks. Smith wants us to look away. We should not. We need to stare at this premier who is tearing apart democratic processes to gain power and control while children die on her watch. Power and control, that’s what she’s about, not people.

  4. Ingamarie says:

    Personally, I think its silly……..and we shouldn’t waste too much time giving it oxygen. Far better to get engaged with your local EDA, donate, volunteer your time, get out door knocking (after all, it is our neighbours and fellow Albertans we are talking to) and work hard for the next 6 months to elect Rachel Notley and the NDP.
    Danielle is grasping at straws……..and trying to distract us from the very real work that needs to be done in this province, with the proverbial ‘red herring’.

    We know ahead of time this law will be struck down by the courts……let it die on the order paper. It’s a silly bill, proposed by folks who hope we don’t know our own federal democratic system.

    • Ingamarie: this is a big one which deserves the attention it’s getting. I believe what turned it around was the business community making its objections know. The business community would not have been alert to the implications of the Act if the academics and media hadn’t given it full coverage. The system worked for once.

      • Ingamarie says:

        I don’t disagree with your take Susan…….but I’m also a worker, and have noticed over the years that venting about ill thought out, or stupid ideas from the right is a. more fun than it should be (bad mouthing and name calling are that, whatever their source), and b. too often a substitute for action.

        I was annoyed when Stephen Harper referred to some of us as the ‘chattering class’….but I’ve often been saddened since by how right he may have been. We chew everything to death and then go on with our private lives, leaving the grunt work of real system change, to too few.

        And in my case…..too old. I still prefer to put most of my energy to work changing minds…..at the door. And sometimes…..on these alternative news feeds.

        Peace.

      • Ingamarie: I get your point about people who like to spend their time talking about change when they should be out there making change. Like you I have been an active supporter of the NDP for years. While I can’t go door knocking anymore, there are many others ways to be of assistance, and of course donating as much as you can is always appreciated.
        Take care, my friend.

      • Ingamarie says:

        Connecting our rage and disappointment with current policies to realistic alternatives is also important. Too often, we’re great at criticism, but too busy, impatient or apolitical to imagine putting our energies into political alternatives. Good government is possible; government isn’t the enemy, necessarily….but I’ve found in Alberta in particular that many folks prefer to be ‘non partisan’ whatever that is….as if there is a neutral, value free spot from which it is possible to speak.

  5. Anita M Thomas says:

    DS is out of her depth, soon she will be clinging to any floating log as the UCP ship sinks.

    • Anita, I agree, let’s not forget Bill 1 was a campaign promise that didn’t really appeal to anyone but the wingnuts who finally got her elected on the 6th ballot. Once elected she had to deliver. As they say: garbage in, garbage out.

  6. Don Stewart says:

    Another example of Smith’s poor judgement. Please return to radio where we can choose to avoid.

    • Linda says:

      Actually Don, I’ve read that Ms. Smith is still hosting a weekly radio show in addition to acting as Alberta’s queen – er, premier. Now there’s a way to ensure one has all the political ‘air time’ one needs – host your own show. Which makes me wonder who is funding said show now. Given how fast & loose Dani & crew are with public funds, one does wonder whether the radio show is being added to the expenditures pertaining to the role of premier.

      • Don and Linda: yes, I find it strange that Smith is still pontificating on the radio. Kind of like Bible Bill Aberhart way back in 1935.

      • Ingamarie says:

        We should try and find out if that’s strictly speaking, legal. A premier who’s moonlighting as a talk show host??? Sounds like Danielle might be too burned out to give Albertan’s the quality time we deserve.

      • Valerie Jobson says:

        Ernest Manning carried on giving religious talks on the radio after Aberhart was gone. “Back to the Bible Hour” was broadcast across Canada in the 1950s-1960s; once a week I think.

        https://books.google.ca/books?id=GxZqGT-IrJ4C&pg=PA237&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

        Lougheed’s Conservatives got elected partly by using the newer medium of TV.

      • Valerie Jobson says:

        I think the radio show Smith is using now was started by Kenney some months before his leadership review. Is it on Saturday mornings for an hour or so?

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Friends, the program is called “Your Province. Your Premier.” Here’s a plug/disclaimer from Global News:

        “Your Province. Your Premier airs on 630 CHED and 770 CHQR, which are owned by Corus Entertainment — the parent company of Global News.”

        The quote is from the link in Dwayne’s post of 6 Dec 11:29 AM, below. For those interested, it’s another debunking article on Smith’s latest blast of bul– ah, disinformation.

  7. Lee Neville says:

    Great post Susan and it hits all the salient points about this bozo-eruption bill’s incoherent Red Queen/Through the looking-glass chaos.

    The bills central conceit just baffles me – how on earth can her wing-nut cabinet more or less wave their wands and dyspeptically abrogate federal law? Or direct listed provincial public institutions (who in many cases DO NOT ANSWER TO CABINET) to ignore federal law? Can I get a pound of what her cabinet is smoking?

    Secondly, what struck me was how badly it was presented – it looked to me that Smith had not read it at depth before the press conference. I found the contradictions spouted by the dead-eye dick moustached Minister “Crybully” Shandro equally baffling. Sunday saw the start of the walk-back on UCP friendly media – far from making her look competent, it was a further gesture to her disorganization and lack of focus.

    Best way to get out of a hole is to stop digging – All I can wish for is that Smith (or some other responsible adult in her cabinet) pulls this execrable bill off the order paper and gets her gaggle of tantrum-throwing MLAs on to some semblance of agency to competently address outstanding provincial government business (Healthcare, Education, provincial economy etc) – not holding my breath though. Six months and counting….

    • Lee, exactly! I can’t understand how Bill 1 does anything to push back on Ottawa given that its impact is limited to Alberta. It’s not as if Ottawa will repeal Bill 69 (which sets out a new assessment process for large infrastructure projects) because Smith threatens to do… what? She won’t cut subsidies for energy companies to force Ottawa to back down. So what exactly is she going to do?
      Also did you notice that not one business leader, not even those who would like to see Bill 69 disappear, have appeared by her side at the press conference nor at any other point in this process. In fact industry associations like CAPP and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce have been very vocal that Bill 1 is a disaster. Clearly the energy companies want nothing to do with this mess masquerading as legislation.

    • GoinFawr says:

      ‘Crybully, dead-eye dick moutstached’ Outstanding!

      I have had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with a real dick’tim who fit that bill for the last couple of days. Ugh.

      Justin and Rachel legalized partying, got the TMX and LNG under construction, and all Albertans got from the UCP was a $2.8 billion bill for an imaginary pipeline. Now the short-termed Sovereign Danielle Smith plans on spending the next 6 months telling Albertans that it’s all Justin’s fault that the UCP are the worst party ever to be cobbled together by a leased blue pick up, or a vaguely lasciviously wheeled bus.

      • GoinFawr: they really are the worst party ever to be cobbled together. It’s hard to imagine them being any worse than they are but hey, maybe I’m underestimating Ms Smith.

  8. Irene says:

    I found this statement of yours really telling, “Bill 1 gives Cabinet ministers the power to put a motion before the Legislature. The motion would identify a federal matter as unconstitutional or harmful (whatever that means) to Albertans and propose measures for Cabinet to take in response.”

    I appreciate you pointing this out, and I hope other Albertans notice this loosey-goosey terminology used by Smith, Shandro, and the rest of these schemers. Which “Albertans” do they mean? The lobbyists whom she used to work for? (and apparently still does, given the legislative records) The “Coutts brigade” who have taken over the UCP? Anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers? Smith has already declared her devotion to them, right out of the chute, didn’t she with her statement that she had never seen such a persecuted group in her life? You could hear a collective “uh oh” from around our province when that tripe fell out of her mouth, and astonished gasps from across the country that anyone, let alone a Premier of a province, would make such a ridiculous statement.

    Shock and awe. That is what our provincial UCP government deals out every day, and frankly I am sick of it. We desperately need get these self-serving, incompetent goons out of our Legislature and put in a responsible government to deal with the very real crises Albertans have on their plates.

    Our families are still struggling with real sickness from the Pandemic and other viruses swirling around, and access to timely health care. There is a shortage of nurses, and family doctors for proper primary care, and what do they give us? Private clinics and a Telus video chat with some remote doctor while they hoover much-needed health care dollars out of our public Alberta Health Care Insurance plan. We have backlogs for diagnostics, cancer treatment, and surgeries, and all the UCP can talk about is how to make way for for-profit corporations.

    What about the latest? Kiddies in life/death scenarios are being transported to hospital by fire trucks because there are no ambulances are available. Terminally ill children are being removed from hospice because the staff are being sent to help with the hospital staffing crisis. Meanwhile the Health Minister is posing for photos at swanky Calgary fundraisers so they can put a trailer outside the kids’ ER so they don’t freeze to death waiting in 17 hour line-ups to see a doctor.

    We (yes, we, all of us) have an opioid and homelessness crisis that no one talks about. These folks somehow have to find their way (with all their resources) to one of the UCP’s preferred treatment centres/or go die- the latter probably being the UCP’s preferred solution.

    Our world class public education system is being attacked relentlessly by the UCP, as taxpayers’ dollars get diverted to expensive private schools. A university education is becoming inaccessible to all but the wealthy, as anyone helping at a campus food bank will testify to.

    What about the necessity of diversifying our economy to get off the roller-coaster of oil and gas revenues (not to mention depending on gambling “revenues”). How about focussing on employment, the price of groceries, utilities, rent? Do they ever breathe a word about dealing with the effects of global warming? Floods, fires, droughts that our province is becoming increasing exposed to? How can they deal with those things when our Environment Minister is the biggest cheer-leader for the fossil-fuel industry?

    Have I missed anything? Probably. There has been such a huge deficit in tending to the real issues our province needs to deal with these last years under this pathetic excuse for a government. We need stability and focussed efforts to deal with Albertan’s real problems, not some cooked-up war with the federal government and the other provinces. We are really tired of the phoney-baloney Smith and her useless, sycophantic caucus are trying to feed us. If Smith and her supporters think she can throw a few “Dani Dollars” around to win the next provincial election, or somehow convince Albertans that she is not a compulsive liar looking out for her own ambitions they are fooling themselves.

    We have had it.

    • Stephen Anderson says:

      Nicely said!

    • Carlos says:

      Irene you were in the zone when you wrote this and I could feel the emotion in your words. Very well said I hope some UCP spies especially on that 30 million dollar boondoggle war room that it is nothing but a charity for the UCP red this with caution because a lot of us are ready to get this fortress down once and for all.
      Love passionate people

    • Irene: you nailed it, big time. The laundry list of all the things Smith should be focused on but isn’t focused on is getting longer every day. Sometimes I wonder whether the Sovereignty Act was more than a poorly-conceived fulfillment of a campaign promise, but also a smoke screen to cover up the failures of the UCP government.
      You know what they say about populist politicians, they’re good at identifying the “enemy” in order to deflect attention from themselves.
      I join Stephen and Carlos in thanking you for this thoughtful and passionate comment!

      • Irene says:

        Along with our Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hinshaw being fired, Alberta’s remaining Deputy Medical Officers of Health have both quit. However, Health Minister Copping says not to worry, we won’t notice. “We expect these changes to have no impact on the department’s and Dr. Joffe’s ability to meet the requirements of the Public Health Act.”

        What does that even mean?

        The other question is, “Why did they quit?” It’s rather an anomaly that they BOTH walked out. He passes it off like there’s nothing to see here folks. It’s pretty apparent that Alberta’s department of the Chief Medical Officer of Health is being ground into the dust under the heels of this UCP government.

        Health Minister Copping made some milquetoast statement about looking for replacements, but seriously, are they? Not to mention even if they were, doctors with specialization in Public Health don’t grow on trees, and why would anyone in their right minds come to Alberta given all the political interference in that office, as well as zero job security? This happened in Alberta before, when Ron Liepert was Minister of Health in 2008 and four Public Health doctors left, including the Acting CMOH- during an explosion of syphilis in the province. https://edmontonjournal.com/news/province-hushed-up-syphilis-outbreak

        Dr. Joffe, who agreed to be “interim” CMOH, is a highly respected doctor, and by all accounts a very nice man, but ….

        I am connecting a few dots and it scares the hell out of me: A. Our Premier was put in office by the anti-vax/anti-mask/anti-science “convoy” separatists. B. There are no mass influenza/flu clinics for the public like in years previously. C. Alberta has the lowest vaccination rate for children in the country. D. We have the highest rate of flu in the country. E. Our premier is saying, “Hey, look over here! Tylenol!”

        Bringing me back to syphilis. Since that terrible surge in Alberta in 2008 when Alberta’s Health Minister showed 4 public health doctors the door for butting heads with him, we have not been able to get on top of it. In fact, the opposite. Not just adult cases have exploded but we have had over 230 infants born with congenital syphilis since 2014.

        That is just one disease the Chief Medical Officer is supposed to deal with. What’s happening with TB? Do we even know? What about the shigella outbreak in Edmonton’s inner city? (That’s “dysentery”- a disease of the 1800’s) Is anyone dealing with that?

        The biggest worry for me right now, however, is this onslaught of respiratory viruses that is hitting our children. As Danielle Smith herself said, there is no vaccine for RSV, but there certainly is (and a good one) for influenza, and Covid vaccines have been available for over 2 years now. The Edmonton Zone Physicians have come out saying our government needs to take effective measures NOW, and that involves mass vaccination, lots of communication and messaging around it, as well as HEPA filters in schools- well you can read for yourself what they are saying here: https://www.albertadoctors.org/news/protect-children-respiratory-virus-season?fbclid=IwAR0GW–Og3Uq0VTVOVu1os_62PKPUs_o8edu5VD37JVUalN_fsXwNQCSlYo

        The question is, will this government break with their modus operandi and listen to the expert doctors, or even any one with common sense? Be afraid. Very afraid.

    • GoinFawr says:

      Wow, somebody better get danielle s. and her UCP some ointment to put on that burn. Thanks Irene, bullseye!

    • MM says:

      All this!

      Dani Dollars? What’s the price of a child’s life? Ask the parent of a child sick with strep A, who has no doctor, can’t get a throat swab from a tele-doc, waiting outside the Alberta Children’s Hospital or in the trailer if they’re lucky (or is it luck to be in a confined space where strep spreads like wildfire?). Acetaminophen won’t fix strep. Antibiotics can, if treated early enough, but they’re in short supply, too.

      Dani Dollars are hush money. The price of a child in Alberta is $600. Adults, well, forget about it.

      As if Covid-influenza- RSV isn’t enough, children will die from strep A. One already has in B.C. Adults are outpacing child deaths by three to one (47 to 15) in the UK as of today.

      The moon was full and the premier howled “separatism”. We’re in a time-looped horror movie.

  9. Mike J Danysh says:

    A “wrecking ball” bouncing off the Constitution. Great image! Imagine a political cartoon: Danielle standing directly under the ball, industrial-looking box with a big red button in hand. The box is wired to a release mechanism on top of the ball. Danielle is saying to Justin Trudeau (safely out from under the ball), “Try something! I’ll press it! I will!”

    Another comparison might be Smith’s UCP and the Keystone Kops. Equally frantic action, utterly chaotic (except the Kops’ version was at least somewhat choreographed; it was theatre, after all). There’s another distinction: the Keystone Kops were funny.

    • Mike, I was taken by your imagery, particularly the one of Danielle standing under the wrecking ball. It goes back to my comment to Lee above. What exactly will Danielle do after she passes the Sovereignty Act that will bring Ottawa to heel?
      In all her rhetoric all she’s done is throw around words like “Bill 69,” “energy emissions reductions,” “fertilizer emissions reductions,” etc. These are all headings, where’s the body of her proposal. I’m looking for something like “If the feds insist on imposing an emissions reduction on fertilizer, I will invoke the Sovereignty Act and do X.”
      The big question is “what is X?”

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Well Susan, the more we learn about Smith’s Wrecking-ball Act, the more I wonder if it was supposed to be any more than a dog-and-pony show for the Base. I can’t imagine that any attempt to use this hacked-together excuse for a law could possibly survive a court challenge. They’ve retreated at least three times already. Now there’s only one section left to remove—the bit about the Legislature deciding which federal laws are unconstitutional, etc.

        (Well, maybe two sections. That bit about ordering “entities” in Alberta to ignore federal laws is pretty iffy, too.)

        It’s telling that the “amendments” Smith wanted (actually, “challenged”) Notley to provide have suddenly come from her own caucus. Even worse for Smith, there was apparently no attempt to bargain. The UCP rank-and-file reared up on their hind legs and forced Smith to back up. Wow. I say again: WOW.

        David Climenhaga speculates that Calgary MLAs are getting scared for their jobs. If they are, it would explain who was “amending” Smith’s unusable legislation. Enjoy….
        Well Susan, the more we learn about Smith’s Wrecking-ball Act, the more I wonder if it was supposed to be anything but a dog-and-pony show for the Base. I can’t imagine that any attempt to use this hacked-together excuse for a law could possibly survive a court challenge. They’ve retreated at least three times already. Now there’s only one section left to remove—the bit about the Legislature deciding which federal laws are unconstitutional, etc.

        (Well, maybe two sections. That bit about ordering “entities” in Alberta to ignore federal laws is pretty iffy, too.)

        It’s telling that the “amendments” Smith wanted (actually, “challenged”) Notley to provide have suddenly come from her own caucus. Even worse for Smith, there was apparently no attempt to bargain. The UCP rank-and-file reared up on their hind legs and forced Smith to back up. Wow. I say again: WOW.

        David Climenhaga speculates that Calgary MLAs are getting scared for their jobs. If they are, it would explain who was “amending” Smith’s unusable legislation. Enjoy….
        https://albertapolitics.ca/2022/12/rank-and-file-ucp-mlas-are-momentarily-powerful-which-likely-explains-danielle-smiths-partial-sovereignty-act-climbdown/

      • Mike J: I don’t know if you saw Rick Bell’s latest column but it confirms what David Climenhaga was saying, namely that with the NDP’s lead in the polls right now, they’d end up with 21 out of 26 seats in Calgary. This fits with the theory that Calgarians were putting pressure on their MLAs (as well as the Chamber and CAPP and anyone else who’d listen), and the MLAs put pressure on Smith.
        Here’s the link https://calgarysun.com/opinion/columnists/bell-danielle-smith-and-polls-more-bad-news-and-an-ndp-win

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        PS: re your point about what will Smith actually do, I very much doubt she has a clue herself. She’s mostly rabble-rouser with some cheerleader mixed in. Current events show she’s weak on planning and executing a course of action. For that, she needs Rob Anderson or somebody (God help us).

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        PPS: my first reply was doubled up. Clicked paste instead of copy. My bad….

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Wow, Susan, Rick Bell used to be such a cheerleader for the UCP. It’s gotta be shocking to Smith & The Sycophants that a former loyalist is now saying they’re gonna lose!

  10. Jaundiced Eye says:

    A couple of items to keep in mind:

    1) Don’t count on an election in May, 2023. If the UCP polling numbers remain low next May, Smith will postpone the election. Post Media and every conservative opinion columnist in the country will treat the postponement as a decision worthy of Solomon, regardless of Smith’s hokey excuses.

    2) The majority of Alberta voters look for any reason to vote for a conservative government. This will always be Smith’s election to lose, whether it is held in 2023 or 2024.

    The NDP will have to campaign accordingly.

    • Carlos says:

      If she delays the election she will never win it and if she does not get a mandate to change health Care and does it anyway she will be confronted with protests never seen in Alberta history.

      • Carlos, I agree with you. She may be bananas but I think she’s a shrewd enough politician to realize that she’s got nothing to lose by going ahead with a May election. If she wins, great, she’s in power for 4 more years. If she loses, she’ll have lost nothing because if she tried to delay the election her own party would have taken her out. The UCP like most right leaning conservatives hate a loser. If she tries to delay the May election she’s signalling she’s afraid she’ll lose. The UCP won’t stand behind a loser, no matter what. She’ll have to brazen her way through this. And we’ll have to stop her before she gets out of the gate.

    • Fair point Jaundiced Eye.
      Re: 1) I’ve noticed Post Media backing away from Smith, I only hope it lasts. Re: 2) I would agree however some NDP candidates I know have remarked on the number of die-hard conservatives they’ve met while door-knocking who are dismayed at Smith. While they’re not ready to vote NDP, they are getting very close to sitting this one out. Of course that’s anecdotal evidence, however I must say my heart leapt when a fellow we know who was a dyed in the wool Wildroser came right out and said he thought Danielle Smith was bananas.
      Having said all that the NDP do not have this in the bag and will have to campaign like their lives (and ours) depend on it, because they do.

      • jerrymacgp says:

        “…die-hard conservatives they’ve met while door-knocking who are dismayed at Smith. While they’re not ready to vote NDP, they are getting very close to sitting this one out” These are the folks prominent Calgary pollster Janet Brown had been calling “orphan” voters: they aren’t NDP supporters, but they can’t bring themselves to support the UCP. None of the other potential alternatives — like the Alberta Party or the Alberta Liberal Party — are politically viable or relevant, so they really don’t know where to go.

  11. Alfredo Louro says:

    The agenda is clearly spelled out in the Free Alberta Strategy that Smith has embraced and is busy implementing while she doesn’t have to call an election. The objective is effective Alberta independence from Confederation in practice, without the risk of a referendum to formally break with Canada. In the words of the authors of the FAS and Smith herself, the Sovereignty Act (I mean, look, the word sovereignty is right there in the name) is the cornerstone of the strategy. So we can be sure that any changes to the wording of the act will be of no real significance, but just to dampen criticism and reassure supporters.

    A great deal has been made of the power of cabinet to *legislate*. But this, in my view, is not the main objective of the act. According to the FAS, the government should give itself the power to order various provincial and municipal entities (existing, or yet to be created) to ignore federal laws and regulations. These government directives do not require legislation. So even if the act were reworded to remove the power to actually legislate, the important power to issue cabinet orders would not be affected.

    Let’s make no mistake: this is a separatist government, and the goal is to effectively separate from Canada. Rob Anderson has said that he believes 30 to 40% of Albertans or perhaps even more are in agreement. This is of course false. But we do need to prove it by voting. We in Alberta cannot afford to make the same mistake as the people in Ontario made, where Doug Ford was handed a majority government with the support of just 17% of the eligible voters, because a majority of those voters did not even bother to show up on election day.

    • Alfredo, you hit the nail on the hit. Today we learn that Barry Cooper, a poli sci prof and one of the architects of the Free Alberta Strategy demands that Canada change its constitution or Alberta will have a referendum on separation. He notes that if Alberta goes it alone it “could run its energy sector and build pipelines without interference.” Indeed it could, all the way to the borders and then it’s hooped.
      But you’re right Alfredo, we need to stop these guys in May or thinks will be so much worse.
      Here’s the link: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/alberta-sovereignty-barry-cooper-1.6678510

  12. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. I’m not expecting much from Danielle Smith and the UCP, except for more very costly damage, followed by more weak attempts at damage control, interspersed with undemocratic displays. I hope we can make it through to the next provincial election in Alberta, whenever it is. It could be as late as April of 2024. I’ll share some more music. I hope this makes people feel better. This is a kid, actually a prodigy, from British Columbia, and he is covering the Neil Young composition, Heart Of Gold, which was released in 1972.

  13. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my second song pick. Last week, we lost a great British singer, songwriter, and musican, Christine McVie (nee Perfect), at age 79. She was one of the members of Fleetwood Mac. This is her composition, Songbird, from the album Rumours, released in 1977. This is in my music collection. I did see Fleetwood Mac live in 2014.

    • Fleetwood Mac was one of my favourite, favourite bands. How lucky you were to see them. That must have been an incredible experience. Also (in my humble opinion) that album cover ranks right up there in the top 10.

  14. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my final song pick. It is Charlie Musselwhite, a well known blues musican, doing a version of Silent Night. I also saw Charlie Musselwhite live and met him. He is also in my music collection.

  15. Carlos says:

    Great post Susan

    What else to say about this DODO
    I just hope people vote against all of what is going on. All we get is silence when issues really matter but a lot of noise when it comes to her conspiracy theory bad mind.

    All she did for years was to dwell on her far right beliefs and so now she cannot change the cassette and we have to take it whether we like it or not.

    I find all of this beyond disgraceful, but as long as it feeds her co-minded gang nothing will change. Another premier to forget.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Carlos, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to forget Danielle Smith’s tenure as premier. If for no other reason, she’ll be at the top of Alberta’s Worst Premier list. Jason Kenney will be #2. Ralph Klein is #3 (though you could make a case for “Bible Bill” Aberhart).

      Smith and Kenney, separately or together, will soon become the textbook example of how not to govern a province. “See what they did? Don’t do that.”

      • John Clark says:

        This person should not be allowed anywhere near government or government functions! Her ignorance is dangerous.

      • Carlos says:

        I really think that we do not have to do much to get this premier out of there she will do the work for us. She is terribly ignorant like John Mentions in his post.
        To me she is obviously a fascist.

      • Carlos says:

        Mike you are right that we cannot forget these last 3 years of pandemic, homelessness, inflation and worse yet, a government against its own people. Their objective is serving the interests of those who pay them under the table.

        Albertans are tough and we will survive this barrage of right wing neoliberal shit shower that never ends. I dream with the day this will all be a bad dream that has caused a lot of pain to many families that now have to see their kids parked anywhere to die while this Danielle Smith caters to her mob of unvaccinated brain dead conspiracy theory cult members.

        Grow up, masks save lives you idiot group of fascists.

        I offer my condolences to those families that are going through this terrible crisis in hospitals due to the way this government has dealt with doctors, nurses, teachers and all of us, imposing their sick will every time they can. They were able to transform the Alberta Advantage that they so talked about into people looking for provinces that have sane premiers.

        They are now known as the roll back idiots. Every single new law is backed out of just a few days later.

        The Separatist Act is already being changed as we speak and she thinks we are going to accept that piece of toilet paper with just a couple of changes. So instead of radical fascism we can get far right dictatorship.

        It will never happen I can assure this demented premier.

      • Gerald says:

        While I agree with all 4 of your picks, I think Aberhart deserves top slot. He’s the only one who was overridden by a Lt. Governor (and the Supreme Court).

        Perhaps Smith will be joining him in that distinction … which would absolutely confirm her as #1 Worst.

  16. Carlos says:

    The outrage to Danielle Smith’s incompetence is surging even with people that will go to the cross with absurd right wing policy like The Sun’s Lorne Gunter.

    Here is a excellent post from David Climenhaga

    https://albertapolitics.ca/2022/12/opposition-ndp-wont-allow-itself-to-get-sucked-into-the-ucps-desperate-effort-to-fix-the-unfixable-aswauca/

    • Dwayne says:

      Carlos: It’s not getting better, with the UCP, that’s for sure.
      https://globalnews.ca/news/9327479/calgary-catholic-schools-gatherings-absent-rates/

    • Yep, I agree with everything you guys have said.
      Carlos, David Climenhaga’s post points out that the NDP took the right position when they refused to suggest amendments to this disastrous bill.
      When I was in private practice, one of the worst situations I would find myself in was when the other side to the deal took responsibility for drafting the contract. If their lawyers were crummy draftsmen, it didn’t matter how much you fiddled with the contract, it was still a mess. The best thing to do would be to scrap the contract and start again. (Or in this case, scrap Bill 1 and never let it see the light of day again).

  17. Dave says:

    The new version of Danielle Smith, much like the old version continues to cause chaos and disaster in her wake. There were plenty of people who warned the UCP about this, including some inside the house who are now interestingly not so vocal about that at the moment. However, fortunately caucus seems to have at least clipped the most dictatorial and odious part of the bill that would certainly offend real libertarians. So perhaps Smith is a LINO (libertarian in name only).

    It has been a go to strategy for years for provincial politicians struggling with popularity to try stir up conflicts with Ottawa. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so well. I recall Alberta PC Premier Don Getty who actually had a fairly good relationship with the then also PC Federal Government, but who suddenly became more feisty as his own popularity started to decline. Sadly for him, it didn’t seem to help and the PC’s chose a new Premier (Klein) who often seemed cool and wary of Ottawa, but also generally avoided confrontation. Of course, the Feds helped develop the oilsands back then, now they are only bankrolling a pipeline and really not getting much credit for it.

    In any event, Smith’s law is still over reach. We have a courts and a justice system to settle constitutional disputes between the Feds and the Provinces. It is not up to Alberta to decide whether what the Feds do is constitutional or vice versa. Staying in their own lane also applies to the legislative branch of government, as well as the different levels of it.

    • Dave, very well said.
      Let me go to your point about Alberta premiers picking fights with Ottawa because they know it will boost their popularity. I was interested to see Deborah Yedlin and others suggest the best way to attract investment was for all levels if government (municipal, provincial and federal) to collaborate and work together. This makes so much sense, a government truly for the people would do that (just like Notley did when she was in power) but, alas, with Smith and crew it’s all about power which comes from whipping up those who can’t be bothered to think for themselves. Who knew that when the UCP asked for your vote, they also asked for your brain.

    • Dwayne I think Mark nailed it. This sentence was particularly on point: “A lot of provincial authority is a nineteenth-century impediment on twenty-first century reality. It should be erased.”

  18. jerrymacgp says:

    The Premier isn’t only trying to limit alleged federal government “encroachment” on provincial jurisdiction — like the Impact Assessment Act passed in 2019, which Kenney called the “no more pipelines bill”, or the current debate over federal money for health care but with strings attached to make sure it actually gets spent on health care and not tax cuts to the rich — she’s encroaching on federal jurisdiction by trying to interfere with enforcement of the Criminal Code of Canada, which is what resistance to the handguns & assault weapons ban really amounts to.

    Her views on federal-provincial division of powers are, “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine too”.

    • Well said Jerrymacgp. Your last sentence summed it up. Alberta is a spoiled province that has a temper tantrum when things don’t go its way.
      Part of me wishes the UCP would hold a referendum on separation. The polls indicate most Albertans do not want to leave and it would be great to put paid to the ridiculous notion that we’re better of outside of Canada than in it.
      Of course, the mere fact we’re calling a referendum will scare investors away in droves. But hey, who cares, Smith and her barmy bunch of advisors know what’s best for the rest of us.

  19. GoinFawr says:

    Really superb piece Susan, great comment thread too, thank you for hosting as always

    @ Mike:
    “For that she needs Rob Anderson or something (God Help Us)”
    hoo hoo! Caught me off my guard there, woke up the house!

  20. Mike J Danysh says:

    Oh, but this is priceless. Now Barry Cooper, his very own self, is threatening the federal government with an existential temper tantrum:
    https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/alberta-sovereignty-barry-cooper-1.6678510

    Remember my idea for a political cartoon? Well, we can update it. Now Barry Cooper is holding the button while Danielle Smith threatens to press it. Justin Trudeau, as before, standing safely out from under the “Sovereignty Act” wrecking ball.

  21. Mike J Danysh says:

    I’ve been waiting for this. The good folks at ABlawg.ca have posted an opinion on the legality of the Alberta Sovereignty Etc. Act. It’s a long read, mostly because it describes problems with the various unconstitutional sections of the Act—and there are lots of them.

    The review was posted the day before the UCP Caucus stripped out those sections that gave Danielle unlimited power to change Alberta laws (after a UCP MLA complained about something); which the authors noted.

    Please note the conclusion. I’ve more-or-less ignored the final constitutional problem with the Act (there’ve been so many), but Olszynski and Bankes address it. The Act, as passed, still arrogates the power of the courts to the Alberta Legislature. Under the Act, it’s the Legislature, not the courts, that can decide if a federal law is unconstitutional, or “harmful to Albertans.” This violates the principle of “separation of powers”–which is forbidden by the Canadian Constitution, and supported by decades of Canadian legal precedent.

    https://ablawg.ca/2022/12/06/running-afoul-the-separation-division-and-delegation-of-powers-the-alberta-sovereignty-within-a-united-canada-act/

    • Gerald says:

      and cue a vice-regal dressing down … I’m going to ENJOY that schadenfreude

    • Carlos says:

      Mike while we all discuss this absurd confrontation with the Federal government I think we should all read this article that it is way more important and that Danielle Smith has intentionally ignored because she has no way of getting out of the irreversible position she took as far as masks mandates and vaccination.

      This law is unconstitutional and she is just rushing it in to please the unvaccinated and conspiracy theorists that are her base.

      https://www.nationalobserver.com/2022/12/08/opinion/surge-sick-kids-sign-sick-society

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Carlos, I totally agree with you, and with MM and Irene’s comments above, that the crisis in childrens’ health is unconscionable. Almost-Queen Dannie is to blame, because of her ideological (“idiot-logical”?) opposition to putting personal protective equipment on kids. (I just realized; are teachers forbidden to wear face masks in class? Just askin’….)

        We’re in, what? The eighth wave of Covid-19? With the resurgent flu and RSV viruses added for “good” measure. Here’s a frightening number, courtesy as usual of CBC. There were 46 deaths in Alberta, related to Covid-19. The reporting period was Tuesday 29 November to Monday 5 December.
        https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/46-more-covid-deaths-reported-in-latest-update-1.6678101

        Think about that. Forty-six people died in ONE WEEK because of Covid-19. I’m afraid to think of the death toll after 52 more weeks. Danielle Smith, almost-but-we-caught-her-in-time Queen of Qberduh, has said nothing about the crisis in Alberta’s hospitals.

        Lord, I hope our hostess Susan is correct about Smith having nothing to lose, so why not call the election as scheduled? But Rick Bell(!) says Smith is gonna lose Calgary(!!) so maybe “nothing-to-lose” Smith will put if off anyway. We’ll see. But, like so many others, I can’t wait for a chance to kick these idiots out.

      • Carlos, thanks for the link. Dr Joe Vipond’s question was heartbreaking. What’s happening to our society. We took measures to slow the spread of covid when it was killing off adults, but are doing nothing now that the flu is killing children. It reminded me that we also did very little when covid was killing off seniors either. Seniors and children don’t seem to matter, do they.

    • Thanks for the link to the ABlawg post. Martin and Nigel always do a tremendous job. Their post is grounded in law and legal precedent unlike Smith, and the three horsemen of the apocalypse, Rob Anderson, Barry Cooper and Derek From.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Thank you, Susan, for that image! The Three Horsemen (or horse’s something) of the Smithpocalypse. How I wish I had some talent for cartooning. I wonder if the Calgary Herald cartoonist takes requests?

  22. GoinFawr says:

    I find the following concerning, and believe it warrants further investigation.

    UCP memberships in 2022 were going for ~15 CAD a piece, so theoretically it would have cost less than less than one million dollars (CAD) to buy 65k of them prior to August, and so before the vote for premier.

    “Marciano told the CBC that about 4,000 memberships were purchased in March with just six credit cards.”

    https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/05/09/Bulk-Buying-Memberships-Kenney-UCP/

    I shudder to think who was flush with accelerationist go-fund U cash in Alberta in March…

    I think all dissenting Albertans should make a point of looking into whether or not their name was on that list of voters! Anyone know how to do that?

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