“Too Many Gotchas”

“Nothing to see here, move along.” – Movie trope

Last week the CBC published a story saying that a staffer in Danielle Smith’s office sent a series of emails to Crown prosecutors challenging their assessment and direction on criminal cases arising from the Coutts border blockades and protests.

You remember Coutts, the place where the trucker convoy blocked the border for 2 weeks and the RCMP seized long guns, handguns, multiple sets of body armour, a machete, ammunition, and a high-capacity firearm magazine. Thirteen people were arrested on charges including mischief, weapons charges and conspiracy to murder RCMP officers.

Smith’s office responded to the story in a statement saying Smith had not been in contact with Crown prosecutors and had no knowledge of any of her staffers doing so, but if it happened “appropriate action” would be taken. Smith did not clarify what the “appropriate action” might be.  

Pressure mounted. The NDP (and others) demanded an independent investigation.

Smith offered an “independent public service” review. The public service together with the IT department would review the emails of her 34 staff and the 400 crown prosecutors. She’d get back to us “early next week.”

This is nowhere near enough.

Public Service Review

Smith can talk about the “independence” of the public service all she likes, but an “independent” public service review is not the same as an independent investigation because it lacks accountability and it is not transparent. .  

If Smith insists on turning this review over to a subset of the 25,000 public servants working in government then we need to know who’s leading the team, who’s on the team, and who the team reports to.

We also need to know the team’s mandate. What have they been instructed to look for? Is it any and all  correspondence between a staffer (or former staffer) to a prosecutor (or former prosecutor) or is it more limited in scope. Does it include deleted emails and emails that have been deleted from the deleted files?

Who decides which emails are relevant and which are not? The IT guys? the team leader? the team leader’s boss? Danielle Smith?

Who is going to write the report on the results of the review?

We wouldn’t be asking these questions if Smith agreed to an independent investigation.

Frankly if Smith’s predecessor, Jason Kenney, agreed to allow an independent investigation (by retired Justice Adele Kent) into the conduct of his justice minister Kaycee Madu who called the Edmonton chief of police over a traffic ticket, it boggles the mind that Smith won’t agree to an independent investigation into allegations of political interference with Crown prosecutors’ working on the prosecution of people charged with conspiracy to commit murder, weapons charges, and mischief.

Too many gotchas

So here’s the kicker.

Even if Smith’s independent public service review turns up nothing, no incriminating emails, nada, she’s cooked.

As a caller told Smith on her radio show, her past comments give her “zero credibility.” and there have been “too many gotchas” to take her at her word if she announces there were no incriminating emails from her staff to Crown prosecutors.

Smith responded by reminding the caller that in the leadership race she’d been asked if there was an avenue for amnesty now that the public health orders had been rescinded and the people who’d enacted them were gone. She said it was “in that context” she asked the AG if there was a reasonable likelihood of conviction and whether it would be in the public interest to prosecute.

We get that, but the caller (like the rest of us) isn’t demanding an independent investigation into dropping fines for people who violated covid public health restrictions.

He (and we) are demanding an independent investigation into whether Smith’s staff politically interfered with the Crown’s decision to prosecute people who are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, weapons charges, and mischief.

Too many gotchas

This is big and Smith’s refusal to treat it as such is astounding…but in keeping with her consistent lack of judgement.

From comments signalling sympathy for Russia in the Ukraine war, to insisting the unvaccinated are the most discriminated in her lifetime, to telling Rebel News she regularly checks in with prosecutors on covid cases (then backtracking to say everyone knows a politician can’t do that), to promising to check into amnesty for those convicted of covid health restrictions (then saying some Albertans (Smith?) confuse American law with Canadian law)…the list goes on.

But this is more than a gaffe. It’s a a potential political scandal.  

The only way we’ll know for sure whether the CBC story is true or false is if there’s an independent investigation, but Smith refused to go there. Nothing to see here; move along.

One can’t help but wonder why.

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73 Responses to “Too Many Gotchas”

  1. Dwayne says:

    Susan: I certainly don’t trust Danielle Smith, or her motives. She’s very deceptive with this. What also got me was how Danielle Smith is now paying Preston Manning, a retired career politician, and lobbyist, a princely sum of $253,000 and giving him a $2 million expense account to create a report on how the Alberta provincial government managed the covid pandemic in this province. The report is likely already concluded, and the UCP will likely be found not liable. A.H.S, and Dr. Deena Hinshaw will likely get the blame. Meanwhile, so many Albertans are having a difficult time trying to pay their bills, pay for their groceries, and other expenses. I’ll share some more fitting music. This is a Paul Carrack song, from his time in the group Ace, How long. The lyrics certainly resonate.

    • Dwayne, thanks for the song picks and for raising the issue of Preston Manning, the new chair of Smith’s covid review panel. There are so many things wrong with this move.
      (1) The government has already commissioned two covid reviews. It paid KPMG $475,000 to review the province’s pandemic programs. And a UCP government legislative committee reviewed the Public Health Act in light of the pandemic. Now Manning is asking the public to send in suggestions on how the legislation can be amended.
      (2) Given what Manning has said in the past, (his national group was going to consider “alternative scientific narratives”) he’s already formed an opinion. In other words, he’s biased.
      (3) He is charged with the responsibility of picking the other panel members. This is peculiar because usually when a government panel is struck it’s the government, not the chair, who appoints the members. This too leads to bias.
      (4) It’s a thinly disguised attempt by Smith to appease her anti-vaxx, anti-public health restrictions base given she was unable to pardon them, give them amnesty, or amend the Bill of Rights to make them a protected class,
      It’s all spectacle in the run up to the election.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: We have the ability to read between the lines, look at the UCP’s motives, and see what direction they are heading, based on that. Also, Preston Manning has a neoliberal agenda, as do think tanks, like the Fraser Institute, (where Danielle Smith was employed at one point) and also the Canadian Taxpayers’s Federation, who now supports the Conservatives. They also influence the UCP, and would get behind this. Another cause of this is the UCP’s bad covid management in Alberta.
        https://globalnews.ca/news/9429684/alberta-private-surgery-announcement-january-2023/

  2. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my second song pick. This is a composition written by Eric Clapton, Gail Collins and Felix Pappalardi, Strange Brew. It is from the supergroup Cream, and was released in 1967. I have this in my music collection.

  3. Sharon says:

    Nothing surprises me about Dodo Danielle. She plays to her base then tells the rest of us that of course she wouldn’t do such stupid things. How stupid does she think we are? Her damage control and non apologies aren’t cutting it. But this is a pretty big gotcha and may have implications for her and the unjust minister Skidrow…Will the truth come out? It may take a brave soul who knows the truth to step forward.

    • Ingamarie says:

      More than one or two ‘brave souls’ are needed now. And its in the voting booth that she needs to be ‘told’ Albertans see through her.

      • Ingamarie: I agree 100%. Given how badly Smith’s reign is going so far, I wonder whether she’ll make it to election day. She’ll try to brazen it out but I’m not so sure her caucus and the party will let her.

    • Sharon: this story has been evolving at breakneck speed. Smith issued her “nothing to see here, move along” statement on Monday. The CBC said it stands behind its story. Today Smith demanded the CBC retract the story and the NDP and the CBC apologize for smearing “the reputations of the Premier, her office staff, Alberta Crown prosecutors and the Alberta Public Service.” Also today the CBC posted another story saying “multiple sources familiar with the interactions” say that Smith “pressured the attorney general and his office to intervene in COVID-related court cases.”
      This issue is not going away any time soon.
      Here’s the link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-premiers-office-attorney-general-1.6724455

      • Sharon says:

        I read it. And I think that more things will start to come out. Above all, Ezra Levant – that scourge lives in Toronto, he needs to keep his nose out of Alberta’s business.

  4. mikegklein says:

    Brilliant caller to point out the “too many gotchas”.
    That’s the kind of criticism that can undo what I believe is a consistent strategy of making outrageous unfounded statements then retreating from them without recanting. The Freedom thing might imagine they are conditioning Albertans to see the world through their warped lens, but if this stuff keeps being called out, strongly, persistently, Albertans may become conditioned to seeing Dani Freedom as nonsense and baloney.

    • Mike, when you consider Smith’s Saturday morning show is a rah-rah Smith event it was heartening to hear from callers who no longer believe what Smith is peddling.
      The “too many gotchas” caller said he’d voted conservative for 30 years but was absolutely not going to do so in the next election because Smith refused to go with a truly independent investigation.
      As you said, we have to keep calling out Smith’s outrageous statements and her undemocratic policies. We won’t convince the far right to change their vote, but Smith’s lack of judgment and libertarian ideology is weighing heavy on the minds of ordinary conservatives who will eventually conclude that they can’t trust her. Many won’t vote NDP, but they will stay home rather than vote for Smith’s UCP.

  5. Linda Pushor says:

    It should not be much longer until Premier Danielle Smith is hoist on her own petard.

    • I agree Linda…I wonder how a bookie would rate Smith’s chances of making it to May 29 without a bozo eruption that tanks her and the UCP.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: Going back 11 years ago, to 2012, there was a provincial election in Alberta. Danielle Smith was the leader of the Wildrose party. There was so much anticipation that the Wildrose party would unseat the Alberta PCs, who became Canada’s longest serving provincial government. Alas, that didn’t transpire. The bozo eruptions happened from Wildrose candidates. Danielle Smith wasn’t careful in that regard to control her party candidates better. She let her candidates be loose cannons. Alison Redford and the Alberta PCs got back in again. In 2014, and in 2015, Danielle Smith did bozo eruptions and antics, which sank her, the Wildrose, and also had played a role in making the Alberta PCs history. Bozo eruptions finally put an end to Ralph Klein’s tenure as premier. Danielle Smith is still doing them, and this will sink her. When she is caught on camera doing them, she can’t hide from that.

  6. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my final song pick. The is Led Zeppelin doing a live version of their song, Hot Dog, at Knebworth, in 1979. Two of the band members from Led Zeppelin, John Paul Jones, who played bass guitar, keyboards, and other instruments, and guitarist Jimmy Page, had their birthdays this month, on January 3, and January 9. We need things like this to make us feel better.

  7. Dwayne says:

    Susan: What also gets me is how there are people in Alberta who defend Danielle Smith and the UCP, no matter how many of the most costliest mistakes they make, or no matter how many other infractions they do. Albertans have been doing this with the Alberta PCs for decades too. When the Alberta PCs went sour, after they cast aside Peter Lougheed’s sound principles, the Alberta PCs still got in, time after time, no matter how many costly mistakes they were involved with, right up until 2015. Yet, Albertans are quick to condemn the federal government (Liberals), or other political parties for doing things that are not even remotely as bad, or in the case of the NDP in Alberta, they make up things that didn’t happen.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Hi Dwayne. UCP supporters seem to me more like religious bigots than anything else. Reading comments on CBC articles, there are lots of “stop picking on us” and “oh yeah, well you’re worse!” but little or no thought. Comments in the Calgary Herald (I sometimes read Don Braid’s column) are even worse. Personal insults and anger are the norm.

      I often wonder if there’s some toxic cultural flaw in Alberta that makes people think they DESERVE to be punished for something. If so, surely we’ve moved beyond “we deserve this” with Danielle Smith’s constant political self-harm. Haven’t we?

      • Dwayne says:

        Mike J Danysh: And just like that, Danielle Smith has been exonerated, and this matter has now been swept under the rug.

    • Linda says:

      Dwayne, don’t you know that all & any of the issues Albertans face today is solely due to those ‘evil’ NDP types who ruled for 4 calamitous years? Because the Cons are saints, man. Perfect in every way, never doing anything to harm those they are beloved by. PS: for anyone who is reading this, I’m being just a tad sarcastic here. Seriously however, there should indeed be an independent review. As someone who worked as a government employee, albeit at the municipal level I can testify that ‘in house’ reviews of situations are heavily slanted towards reaching conclusions as indicated by those at the top of the hierarchy. Yes, that includes leaving out or eradicating evidence that would point to another conclusion. Yes, threats of employment termination are implied or even carried out in some cases – with said employee being labeled a ‘problem’ employee should their termination be followed up in public media. Standard procedure to sow doubts of credibility. Works, too. So yes, any in house investigation is likely to return the desired conclusion that there is indeed ‘nothing to see here’.

      • Linda, thanks for the personal insight. As you point out, any inhouse investigation is perceived as (and may indeed be) biased.
        The political scientist Jared Wesley pointed out that the public service commission reports to the finance minister and the finance minister reports to Smith, so to say that the public service commission is independent is sheer nonsense.
        In effect, Smith was investigating Smith.

    • Dwayne and Mike, you’ve made some excellent points about Danielle Smith and the nature of the UCP. Let me add my random thoughts.
      1) Danielle Smith lacks judgment. We saw that when she crossed the floor in 2014, and we’re seeing it now with the “independent” public service review of emails. If she’d agreed to an independent investigation, she could have dragged this out past May 29, then (assuming she was elected) she’d be home free. Instead she conducted this sham review and lost what little credibility she had left.
      2) She is not a critical thinker, hence the susceptibility to conspiracy theories.
      3) She’s a poor leader. No one really wanted her, she was elected on the 6th ballot. She tried to consolidate support by putting half of caucus into cabinet posts, and not a day goes by that she doesn’t upset some of her own caucus members with her antics.
      4) Most importantly, she doesn’t understand the job of premier (you can’t tell the prosecutor what to do, you can’t hand out pardons, etc) and she doesn’t understand the rule of law or the way federalism works.
      She is, without a doubt, the worst premier I’ve seen in my lifetime.

  8. jerrymacgp says:

    Firstly, there is a significant qualitative difference between her musings about issuing “pardons” to those convicted of violations of COVID precautions under the Public Health Act – which is, after all, provincial legislation — and sticking her fingers into the prosecution of very serious alleged offences under the Criminal Code of Canada. She often rails that the federal government should “stay in its lane” when it comes to the federal-provincial division of powers under the Constitution — but that very same Constitution also assigns criminal law quite firmly to the federal government. So why isn’t she staying in her lane? It’s because — as I’ve said before — her attitude towards federal-provincial jurisdiction is, “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine too”.

    Secondly, with regard to the Public Health Act, that legislation protects all of us — from unsafe food handling when we go out to dinner, unhygienic grocery stores and farm markets, poorly cleaned and maintained hotels and rental accommodations, unclean water supplies, and a whole host of other risks associated with living together in communities. Allowing anyone to develop the impression that the PHA can be ignored with a hand wave to its provisions is dangerous, and also poses a business risk to responsible business owners as they see themselves undercut by unscrupulous competitive willing to cut corners to save a few bucks.

    But the Premier herself is in an unredeemable conflict of interest when she puts forward the idea she can forgive PHA violations. She & her spouse are themselves restaurant owners, in High River, so she has a personal financial interest in constraining the diligence of AHS public health inspectors. This is corruption 101 and can’t be allowed to stand.

  9. Carlos says:

    Danielle Smith can say and do whatever she wants but she is underestimating us because she believes she is above the crowd. We cannot understand her views and actions because we are just too stupid. We are the second level consumers that need to be guided into her libertarianism to be able to see the truth. Of course between us and God the UCP are like the old priests who can take us into the light.

    Except that there is no light whatsoever. There is corruption and full front attack on our democratic institutions and our rights as citizens.

    She may not like it but back off or we will force you to. That is about as clear as I can say it. Your mentality may be acceptable to you and your 20% but not for the rest of us ignorant 80%. We do not want it thank you. So back off. You are in the red zone.

    • Dwayne says:

      Carlos: Sorry, but I just couldn’t help myself. This is from Twisted Sister, and is a Dee Snider composition from 1984, called We’re Not Gonna Take It. This song seems quite fitting.

      • jerrymacgp says:

        I actually saw them live in Halifax in 1984 when they were the opening act for Iron Maiden during their ‘World Slavery Tour’ — supporting their ‘Powerslave’ album, whose title track was about an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh lamenting that he’s “a god, why can’t I live on?”. It was quite the show. I was in Nursing school at the time.

        Twister Sister were hitting big, and this song was getting a lot of radio play & was in heavy rotation on music video TV channels (I don’t remember now if it was Much Music, or CBC’s Video Hits show). But, truth be told, my real reason for being there was to see the headliners. ‘Powerslave’ was their fifth studio album, and their third with Bruce Dickinson on vocals, and this tour was their biggest yet.

        Up the Irons!

      • Dwayne and Jerrymacgp you two amaze me. I’m enjoying hearing the personal bits of your histories with these remarkable bands. Thanks.

    • Carlos, I think you’re right in your characterization of how Smith and her crew view the rest of us. The Globe recently ran a story saying Smith wouldn’t use the Sovereignty Act before the election notwithstanding the fact everyone of her cabinet ministers have been asked to identify areas where it could be used to “push back” on Ottawa. The Take Back Alberta guy said something to the effect that he was OK with Smith delaying because some people in Alberta just don’t understand how downtrodden we are.
      So as you said, they know best and the rest of us who actually understand how sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution work and have been interpreted over the last 40 years by the courts are in the dark.

  10. Mike J Danysh says:

    We need an independent, judicial enquiry. We need someone from outside Alberta to lead it. Nothing less will reveal the truth. And, of course you all know, that ain’t gonna happen noways.

    • Mike and Dwayne, every day we learn how inadequate Smiths’ 2 day review really was. Today it was the fact that the government’s record retention policy doesn’t store emails for more than 30 days after they’ve been deleted. Given that the relevant time frame is last fall, it’s unlikely there were any emails left to find. Also as former PC MLA Thomas Lukaszuk pointed out, if a government employee wants to have a private conversation with someone they’ll do it on their own devices, not on the government email system.
      We will never be convinced there’s nothing to see here, not unless there’s a truly independent investigation, not just of the emails but of who Smith talked to and what she said to them and why.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Susan, it might be even worse than you think. I don’t remember the rules very well, but there are different classes of records covered by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (aka FOIP). “Transient” records are temporary and don’t have to be kept very long. “Substantive” records have to be stored much longer. An email could be either, depending on how it’s worded, who received it, and what action, if any, was taken as a result. It’s a judgement call, and the judge is usually the guy who sent it.

        I would have said that a request from the Premier’s Office to a Crown prosecutor, especially regarding a high-profile case, would qualify as “substantive.” But if the answer was “Bugger off” then the whole thread probably was deleted.

        At this point, I don’t believe we’ll ever learn what really happened. Not unless one of the two staffers (CBC implied there were only two) choose to make a very public statement–and it winds up in court. Maybe then we’ll find out, eventually, just what Smith said, to whom, and when she said it.

  11. Valerie Jobson says:

    Smith continues to lie about everything. This morning:

    That garbage is aimed at people who are terrified of change, who do not want to grow or learn or try to make things better. They might as well just climb into a coffin and shut the lid on themselves.

    Also, Preston Manning already wrote a fictional commission report for the Frontier Centre. Biased, of course.

    • Thank you Valerie.
      I’d love to hear Smith’s explanation for why the energy sector now employs 25% fewer workers than it did in 2014.
      And as far as Preston Manning’s foray into fiction, well, that’s just weird.

      • Valerie Jobson says:

        Thank you Susan. I rely mainly on reporting by @politicalham to understand what’s happening with oil and gas, he talks to experts a lot.

        Here’s his long reply to Danielle Smith’s latest letter, well worth reading:

        Markham also wrote an earlier thread on this topic, Jan 20, also worth the read:

        I believe the oil companies used those billions of dollars that Kenney’s UCP tossed them to automate, so they need to employ fewer workers.
        Also, someone said oil companies are not putting money into expanding, so it seems to me unlikely they will in future hire many more than are working now.

  12. Ingamarie says:

    I think all Albertans need to face reality. The Anti-vaxxers, convoy participators, Alberta firsters and Ottawa haters among us may have legitimate grievances, from their perspectives. What they don’t have is any clear understanding of Canadian law, the workings of our Federation, or the limits of legitimate protest. Smith is their spokeswoman….she too grew inside the Frazer right wing shrink tank, she too believes in absolute rights for a mythic Alberta.

    This nation within a nation has never existed, outside of the mind of folks who believe there should be no limits on what they can do………and lots of rules prohibiting any of the ‘others’ from objecting. Freedom for them is a kind of absolute….which isn’t extended to the general population, but always comes through for their tribe.

    To even imagine that an Albertan majority will vote for a party with these folks as their base, or that we’ll hold our noses and vote for Danielle because she’s going to make things safe for continued climate chaos, by bankrolling Big Oil and Gas….is to imagine a nightmare scenario.

    But every time we avoid the obvious truths about who her backers are, and the armegeddon visions they have for the future of our Alberta…..we’re hedging our bets.

    Let’s wake up fully, face the reality of Alberta’s position in the global economy, and try to imagine a future that does not include having to vote for fantasy peddlers, or sit idly by our computers waiting for some inevitable future to unfold.

    We all need to stop justifying BS, and work hard for a Just Transition: NOW.

    That’s what Danielle is hoping we don’t get. And even the NDP seem to fear that sleepwalking into a disaster is the essence of Alberta’s Advantage. More Albertan’s need to work hard, and speak up…….to prove both camps factually wrong.

    • Lee Neville says:

      You have hit the problem on the head Ingamarie – populism as practiced by Smith et al is all about telling a narrative that a group of people (mythic Albertans) are being exploited by an “elite” (PET/JT/Federal Liberals, Laurentian Elites, W.E.F, United Nations, 11 shadowy guys on a mountain, dudes tucked away in Masonic Lodges, Satanic paedophile rings under a Washington DC pizza restaurant – pick the tinfoil hat whoop whoop group du jour) and that a strong leader (Danielle Smith provincially and Pierre Polievre federally) needs to be installed to rule, not govern) in a variety of near or actual authoritarian non-democratic ways to restore the Mythic people back to some golden, nostalgic-past-that-never-was Perfect State (all code for rich white, male, Christian, heterosex Daddy Knows best shotcallers).

      These folks have been peddling variations of this Big Lie since before Alberta was a province. My incredulity is such a huge proportion of our electorate is still falling for this line of utter foghorn leghorn bullshit.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Sorry, Lee, but I must make a mild protest at you characterization of Danielle Smith’s noisemaking as “foghorn leghorn” BS. Foghorn Leghorn was funny.

      • Ingamarie says:

        I suspect a lot of us don’t buy much of it anymore….but where did we learn to register our disapproval or disagreement?? Alberta has been a right wing province for as long as I’ve lived here……and most people learned long ago to keep quiet most of the time. All the signs we’ve seen on lawns since covid is an indication many of us have had enough….but we aren’t exactly a collective as yet.

    • Ingamarie, I think you’ve put it very well. “We all need to stop justifying BS and work hard for a Just Transition: NOW.”
      Smith issued a statement today that on the one hand demanded more support for conventional energy while at the same time signaled her support for climate change mitigation and green initiatives.
      She’s invited Trudeau to meet with her in February and “in an extension of good faith” to drop the name “Just Transition;” to “vow” he’ll incentivize and grow conventional as well as unconventional energy jobs, to “demonstrate” the new legislation won’t phase out or reduce conventional jobs, to commit to partnering with Alberta to push LNG, and to promise to partner with Alberta to reduce emissions
      What’s interesting about this–other than the obvious attempt to change the channel away from the emails to prosecutors and Shandro’s disastrous professional conduct hearing–is that once again Smith is straying into areas that are in the federal government’s sole jurisdiction. If Trudeau had agreed to a letter like this a few years ago, he would not have been able to introduce the carbon tax, something the Supreme Court of Canada said was entirely withing the Feds’ jurisdiction.
      Here’s the link: https://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=864345ACB8E57-EDE2-9E30-E4C39E3CD61D148D

      • Ingamarie says:

        Thanks Susan. As a life long NDP supporter,(actually for my first years of life it was the CCF) I was disappointed that Rachel felt it necessary to promise more unconventional drilling. LNG comes from fracking..and anyone who thinks fracking is sustainable likely needs brain surgery.

        Oil and gas won’t end overnight…….but ramping it up now is a fantasy promise, that if kept, reduces the future to multiple disasters. Politicians like Smith are perhaps helpful though.

        She is revealing where we are and have been in this province. Getting to a low carbon economy is going to be difficult if more of us don’t stand up, speak up, and insist it must be done. The anti vaccer, anti science alt right denialists have to be confronted and helped to imagine exactly what a JUST TRANSITION might mean for all of us.

        In that regard, thanks for everything you do.

  13. Linda says:

    I am so pleased that someone is willing to call her out and all of these issues. Thank you.

  14. Linda says:

    My comment should have read, “I am so pleased that someone is willing to call her out on all of these issues. Thank you.”

  15. Dave says:

    Someone is going to end up with major egg on their face related to this CBC story.

    I have a feeling based on recent history, it will be Smith and the UCP. She seems to have doubled down now with the internal review over the weekend supposedly not finding anything. However, one wonders how hard they may have looked to find something I suspect they really didn’t want to find from someone who may really not want it to be found (ie. likely to be thrown under the bus or fired). So at this point, we know there may be a needle in a haystack, but that’s about it.

    Perhaps Smith is counting on the CBC not to reveal its sources or a desire to protect someone’s job. It is a gamble that might work out for Smith, but there is no guarantee that others who know about this potential e-mail may be as magnanimous.

    I have a feeling more information related to this potential email will come out at a time that is inconvenient for Smith. At this point, that could be any time in the next several months or so. So as a well known former provincial official used to sometimes say – stay tuned.

  16. Lee Neville says:

    Its all in, done and dusted folks – a weekend of hard work by Service Alberta systems admins running queries against gov.ab mailboxes looking for emails from Premier’s Office staffers to the Crown Prosecutors office has wrapped up. Tah-Da! Nada.

    Cue cream lickin’ smiles.

    As far as Premier Smith is concerned, this is all that is required for a “Public Service Investigation”. Slick eh? Now this was nothing as robust as a lawyer-directed review of defined sequestered accounts locked tight under a directed “litigation hold” of specific email accounts – That would have never been accomplished in a single weekend!

    I’d love to see the search criteria used against stored email as well as the published list of end users and their mailboxes – as the search results are only as robust as the search criteria used and the number of mailboxes and subset of users searched.

    Was defined user archived mail searched? Deleted email searched? (On some systems, email is only “soft-deleted” for 30 days minimum and easily recovered).

    Curious folks want to know…..

    Premier Smith should have no problem at all providing that context. Right?

    The search by GoA email admins is only going to cover what was stored in government email accounts, managed by GoA system admins – it will not cover email from non-GoA managed email accounts. Where those accounts divulged by the target user group and searched as well? Its not out the realm of possibility that email leaning on Crown Prosecutors originated outside GoA managed systems – the inquiry should be able to demonstrate this potential was investigated as well.

    I have no doubt the efforts conducted by the GoA system admins was thorough – but what they were asked to do against what accounts needs to be fully disclosed. Only then can Premier Smith’s declaration of “move along, nothing to see here” is to have any weight whatsoever.

    • Lee Neville says:

      The CBC issued a statement in response to Duh-duh Danielle’s UCP demand for a retraction and apologies for the email allegations – see https://www.cbc.ca/news/editorsblog/cbc-stands-by-coutts-story-1.6728100 ….. here is a small excerpt:

      “Two days after the CBC story’s publication, Premier Smith said she had asked public service employees to review emails sent between the Premier’s Office and the Alberta Crown Prosecution Service. On Monday, she said the weekend search of over a million emails had turned up no evidence of contact between the two offices.

      Does that mean the CBC story is inaccurate? It does not. The exchange of emails is alleged by sources to have taken place last fall. While the search extended back to October, the government has subsequently said that deleted emails are only retained for 30 days, in this instance, that is to December 22. The terms used in the search are confidential, it said, and would not say if the search included all government emails. The opposition has said the government’s assurances are unsatisfactory and called for a full and independent inquiry that would include private email addresses.”

      I’ll underline this for folks – govt IT admins searched government email for a period MONTHS after the alleged emails were sent. If we believe email is retained only for 30 days – any incriminating evidence in email is long-gone from the system. Yippee Danielle! You are right! – “nothing” was found. Now, to be most fair, both states of play are now true – the UCP govt can insist there are no emails, and CBC can insist improper communication via email (and I suspect they might actually have access via their anonymous source to the actual emails) occurred.

      What a gift to the NDP!

      This ain’t over folks. Its just getting started. So who are we going to trust? The UCP dropping FUD (fear/uncertainty/doubt) as to the allegations and the usual “mainstream media” smear job at the CBC? Or the CBC and its journalism efforts?

      My money is on the CBC.

      There are months of bozo eruptions to come and I cannot wait – got my popcorn and cold bevvies ready for gut-busting knee-slapping joy at this hapless incompetent UCP idiotocracy.

  17. Guy says:

    To my mind there is an interesting difference between the responses of the crown prosecutors to the two recent instances of possible political interference. When Danielle Smith initially stated that she regularly contacted crown prosecutors about COVID-19 public health violations cases (and subsequently reversed that statement) the Crown Attorney’s Association issued a statement of their own saying, in part, that “Our Association is not aware of any case where an elected official has attempted to contact a specific Crown prosecutor to inquire about a prosecution.”

    Contrast this statement with the response of the spokesperson for the Alberta Crown Prosecutors Service in regards to questions about the Coutts prosecutions, whose words I would describe as ‘evasive’ if I’m being generous. In this instance, the purported contact was made by a ‘staffer’ not an ‘elected official’ and the response is very different. Here is the link to the CBC article for those who haven’t seen it.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-premier-office-emails-prosecutors-coutts-1.6719743

    When the Coutts protests and the Freedom Convoy were allowed to continue unimpeded by the RCMP and the Ottawa Police Service for as long as they did I often wondered, ‘If law enforcement agencies refuse to do their job, who polices the Police?’ Now, considering this latest milquetoast response from the ACPS, if it turns out that there was any attempt whatsoever at political interference in the Coutts cases that went unreported I feel it’s fair to ask ‘Who prosecutes the Prosecutors?’ We need an independent investigation to determine what, if anything, actually occurred.

    It seems obvious that we have allowed our provincial politics to erode steadily for decades and the bill has now come due. We are governed by a shambolic radio talk-show host with a worldview tainted by conspiracy theory. You would think that would be penalty enough for our past neglect of democracy, but if we allow this decline to continue to the point where we can no longer trust our law enforcement and judicial agencies to act appropriately then I fear that our democracy will disappear entirely. There is indeed something to see here and we should all refuse to move along until we are satisfied that our leaders can and will be held accountable for their words and actions.

    • Anon says:

      The greatest harm slipping under the radar in this controversy is likely the erosion of trust in our public institutions: law enforcement and justice . Perception of interference lingers. Perception of wrongdoing, initiated by the premier herself, is all that’s needed to destroy public trust. Court cases could be dismissed because of the perception of political interference in the justice system. Once public institutions have lost the public, Timothy Snyder’s scenarios start to play out: “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century”.

      This book, recommended by Susan, is coming true in front of our eyes.

  18. Ed Woodard says:

    As one prominent British jurist is quoted as saying, and no confusing “American law with Canadian law” here, “Justice must not only be done but must manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.” A truism, to be sure, but the thing about truisms is that they are true!
    Smith’s ignorance of the laws and traditions of Canadian governance and her continued persistence in trying to separate Alberta economically and politically from the rest of Canada is, hopefully, doomed to failure. I hope Albertans can separate themselves form this rolling disaster before she ruins us all.

  19. Valerie Jobson says:

    Tyler Shandro’s Law Society hearing starts tomorrow. Someone on twitter suggested he could be the one under-bussed for this, since he may be going down anyway. I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s an interesting suggestion.

    https://www.lawsociety.ab.ca/hearing/tyler-shandro-qc/

    • GoinFawr says:

      And it’s still going on… Dr. Zaidi is astounded to find himself saying the man is lying under oath, and the Society are going to require some more hearings, including Mr.Shandro’s vital partner (Mrs.Shandro).

      “McEwan also pushed back on Shandro’s characterization of the public criticism about his involvement with his wife’s company as a “conspiracy theory,” and questioned his assertion that the AMA was responsible for tipping off media about his interaction with Zaidi. ” From,

      https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/minister-tyler-shandro-faces-hours-of-questioning-hearing-to-continue-1.6727871

      Thanks for the heads-up on the hearing date Valerie!

      • Valerie Jobson says:

        You’re welcome. It’s such interesting timing to have that hearing going on just when the scandal over Smith’s interference has blown up. I wonder if there is a connection or just a coincidence of timing?
        But who knows when the hearing will be continued, it went on longer than expected..

        Several journalists are reporting on it and @jonnywakefield has livetweeted each day as well as writing articles. A lot of arguing there.

  20. LC Mueller says:

    I’m with Guy. What can we do to hold people in Government accountable. I remain astonished at the incompetence in the legislature. I have watched question period and I see them making statements about issues that aren’t dealt with, or things that are clearly misinformation… but I don’t see anything happen after that… confusing.

    • Carlos says:

      Yes if you want to know what question period is like you just go to any playschool and look at how the kids interact and it will be way more fun.

      Currently, legislatures are useless and expensive. Other than the cabinet ministers, the other MLAs are there replacing what could be much more beautiful plants.

  21. lungta mtn says:

    You called it
    The results are in
    and……………………
    “Nothing to see here, move along.”

  22. mikegklein says:

    Notice? Emails? No mention of face-to-face meetings, no mention of person-to-person phone calls 9which can be problematic as those might be recorded). Only mention of emails. Also, note the tight relationship between the MAGAists and this crowd. Focus on the emails! See! No incriminating emails! Smith is not Clinton!
    And who is behind the Green Curtain?

    It’s all sham.

  23. Thanks Susan for keeping our eyes on the ball. I agree with many of your readers’ comments, particularly the one from Guy who wrote about the failure of trust in government, which leads to a decline in democracy. Distrust leads to cynicism, which fuels populism and electoral apathy.

    To prevent such widespread discontent, imagine what could happen if groups across Alberta started Citizens’ Saturdays (a term I’m borrowing from such groups in the USA). Albertans would hold weekly meetings in public places that question/protest government actions/inactions on important political matters. Such public gatherings would be major steps toward understanding and strengthening deliberative democracy–a powerful antidote to citizen disillusionment, mistrust, and “democratic authoritarianism” (a new, modernized brand of authoritarian in which autocrats are democratically elected).

    Bob Altemeyer, Canadian professor emeritus, University of Manitoba, and internationally renowned authority on authoritarianism, warned against this in 1996. In “The Authoritarian Specter” he writes, “Democracy depends on tolerance, when fear and dislike come so easily; asks for generosity of spirit, when selfishness is so natural; champions equality, when hierarchy seems inevitable….Our societies presently produce enough highly authoritarian people to stage the Nuremberg rallies over and over again. Turning a blind eye could someday point guns at all our heads, and the finger on the trigger would belong to a right-wing authoritarian. We ignore this at our peril.”

    Shivers! I’ve read that so many times it’s practically memorized. What if the Law Society of Alberta scheduled a day of protest re Smith’s latest boondoggle, the public service review, during which someone from the law society (whose initials are S.J.W) encouraged the first Citizen Saturday initiative to those in attendance–key players being the press?

    Democracy in action!

    • Guy says:

      Judy, I love this concept of Citizens’ Saturdays. In the community where I live we actually have something like this, just not geared specifically to politics. Once a week there is a gathering, open to all in the community and surrounding area, for people to sit down over a cup of coffee and discuss whatever may be on their minds. It could be something of local interest, a personal experience (good or bad), a humorous anecdote, or anything from the provincial, national or world news. It’s wide open and different each time, but politics comes up regularly since there is no shortage of subject matter these days. The strength of these meetings is that they are open and respectful discussions. Attendance is small which helps to keep things from getting out of hand when opinions are diverse, but regardless of the topic of conversation I find that it’s a valuable way to learn more about the community and to gain a better understanding of other peoples’ views. The simple act of engaging in thoughtful, respectful, face-to-face conversation with others is becoming lost in our society but it can be surprisingly exhilarating when you do it.

      Also, thanks for introducing me to the term ‘democratic authoritarianism’. I think it’s the description that I have been searching for ever since the UCP formed government.

  24. Guy, thanks for your reply. You’ve given me ideas and energy to suggest to the small community group I attend that we consider changing its name to Citizen Saturdays. Given that we only have a few months until the next election, we have to act now. I’m on it. Hope you are too–and all of you who read Susan’s important blogs. Yours, in solidarity.

  25. Nancy and Harry Dudley says:

    Thank you all for your very thoughtful discussion!

  26. Mike J Danysh says:

    WHOA! What…just…HAPPENED?!

    Insiders are now accusing Danielle Smith of interfering specifically in the prosecution of Artur Pawlowski, regarding charges at the Coutts border crossing. CBC coverage here:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-premiers-office-attorney-general-1.6724455

    From the article:
    This [alleged interference] specifically included the prosecution of Artur Pawlowski, a pastor charged with two counts of criminal mischief and a charge under Alberta’s Critical Infrastructure Defense Act related to the Coutts border blockade.

    According to this, two people in Smith’s office are now telling CBC Smith pressured Tyler Shandro to drop charges. To protect the sources—as Alberta’s whistleblower laws will not—CBC refused to name them.

    And Ezra Levant is involved, too—personally. He lobbied Smith via email and in person, and brags about it on his web site. See the “Relationship under scrutiny” section.

    Levant probably, emphasize PROBABLY, hasn’t done anything illegal. But I wonder if he registered as a lobbyist before talking to Smith in person?

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Jason Kenney postscript: Pawlowski, according to CBC was charged under the infamous Bill 1 of 2019: the Critical Infrastructure Defense Act. AKA “Keep your protest off my sidewalk” act. If true, this might be the start of declaring the CIDA unconstitutional.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Infrastructure_Defence_Act

      But no, on second thought. If the charges haven’t been stayed already, they will be. To preserve the CIDA, if nothing else.

  27. Jaundiced Eye says:

    The fact that Alberta would use Ezra Levant as a legal resource tells you everything you need to know about Alberta and the UCP.

    • Carlos says:

      Absolutely Jaundiced
      What is even more amazing is that they really think that we would be happy with such credible source. Pleaaaase
      What a joke really – hard to believe

      • Jaundiced Eye says:

        Of course Smith et al would think we should be happy with any gruel we are fed. Without a doubt, we have taught them to treat us this way

      • Jaundiced Eye says:

        Of course, Smith et al would expect that we should be happy with any gruel we are fed. Without a doubt, we taught them how to treat us.

  28. Anon says:

    Yesterday’s lesson from “On Tyranny” by Timothy Snyder: Chapter 2; Defend Institutions.

    “Institutions do not protect themselves,” Snyder wrote. “They fall one after the other unless each is defended from the beginning.”

    I received a flyer last year from the local CPC MP titled “Defund the CBC”. Conservatives federally are telling us what they’re going to do. We should believe them.

    Now the Smith camp squawks “defamation”. It is up to us to speak up in defence of the CBC. Democracy is not passive. We each have a voice. Use it or lose it.

    • Guy says:

      Sounds like I might have to read this book. These comments from Timothy Snyder are bang on. Thanks for putting them here Anon.

      Isn’t this exactly what Trump attempted to do throughout his presidency? He constantly attacked the media whenever they published anything negative about him and ridiculed reporters who challenged him in an effort to discredit and silence them. More recently I read an article about US Republicans introducing a bill in Congress to defund the IRS. I didn’t bookmark that article but here is a similar one. You can see where this is going.

      https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/irs-87000-agents-republican-bill-rcna65082

      Closer to home, this week Jason Copping announced that 3,000 orthopedic surgeries would be contracted out annually in Calgary to an independent health care company. According to his statement, this is okay because these surgeries will be publicly-funded and are therefore the same as procedures performed in hospitals. Both are publicly-funded so they’re the same thing, right?

      Wrong. Public and publicly-funded have different meanings but throughout this entire press release he intentionally equates the two, obviously to gain acceptance from us, the public whose tax dollars he is spending. I have no doubt that this is simply one more deliberate step on the path towards the eventual privatization of our public health care system.

      Defend our institutions indeed. Vote accordingly.

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