Gondek, Notley and Smith: An important conversation

Last week Calgary Economic Development presented its Report to the Community. The highlight of the event was Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s conversations with Rachel Notley and Danielle Smith.

Gondek asked each leader 4 pre-set questions and 2 questions from the audience. She talked with Notley first and Smith second. It was a simple format and incredibly effect. If only political debates were run this way.  

Right, here are the questions and the leaders’ responses:

Q: What will the provincial government do to encourage business attraction and talent retention across all sectors in Calgary?

Notley: The NDP’s Competitiveness Jobs Strategy will incent diversification through tax credits, provide a regulatory Fast Pass for “good actors” and most importantly will reinvest in postsecondary education which took more than its fair share of budget cuts.

Without reinvestment in accessible and affordable postsecondary education “the kids” will leave (This drew loud applause).  

Smith: Smith talked about what the UCP [under he who cannot be named] had done in the past eg: reducing the corporate tax rate to 8%, cutting red tape and the ongoing “Alberta is calling” campaign.  

She mentioned the proposed McCain and De Havilland facilities in Coaldale and Wheatland County [neither of which are in Calgary], the film tax credit and the agrifood tax credit. She’s also looking into a digital media credit for video gamers.

Q: What measures will the provincial government put in place to match Calgary’s $450 M investment to revitalize downtown, enhance the creative economy, build infrastructure and attract private capital?

Notley: The NDP’s Downtown Revitalization Strategy includes a $200M investment to convert office space to residential use. The Affordable Housing Strategy will replace the funding the UCP cut from affordable housing and rent supplements in Calgary and elsewhere (more applause).  

The NDP will invest $200M in a downtown multi-institutional postsecondary innovation hub to bring people back downtown.  

It will strengthen public safety by hiring more police who will be paired with social workers and mental health specialists.     

Smith: The private sector has done a great job of rejuvenating downtown Calgary with buildings that respond to the desires of the “creative class.”

There’s been (or will be) $3B in capital investment in Calgary, eg. finishing Deerfoot Trail and the Ring Road and building out “economic corridors” to “enhance the supply chain lines.” Smith mentioned WestJet’s announcement of daily direct flights to places like Rome (?) and De Havilland’s facility (again) and how she’d like to commit to building the last leg of the LRT to the airport.  

She said she’d like to support the Events Centre if the City and the Flames reach an agreement on the arena (applause).

She’d address making people feel safe downtown by investing in police, mental health, and recovery communities, as well as cracking down on those who do harm.

Q: How would your government collaborate with the municipal and federal government to expand programs to better serve vulnerable people?

Notley:  Many of these issues are squarely the responsibility of the provincial government. She would “lean in” to undo some of the damage inflicted in the past and wants to ensure the recovery is shared by everyone.

She would collaborate with the municipal and federal governments, focussing on solving problems. She wouldn’t leave any federal money on the table—“that ridiculousness must stop”(applause)—and hopefully in that process “depoliticize” the effort and focus on solutions (more applause).

Smith completely missed the point of the question which was about collaboration among levels of government to help Calgary.

Instead she dove into a description of the Red Deer Recovery Community facility, telling us that her uncle Larry succumbed to addiction and mental health issues.

She said her chief of staff Marshall had lived on the street in Vancouver for four and a half years before he was put on the path to recovery by a cop who forced him to choose between jail or recovery. Marshall developed the “recovery capital” approach and the proposed Calgary recovery facility would be similar to the Red Deer facility which is run by a private organization [EHN Canada] which had a 77-85% success rate (applause).

On the “conservative side” Smith said all the premiers are meeting with the chiefs of police to deal with public disorder and crime, noting that the “catch and release” bail provisions need to be changed.

Smith used this question as a jumping off point to say that Alberta and the Feds are in perfect alignment on healthcare and Alberta has signed a 10 year agreement for $24B which it agrees to abide by the Canada Health Act which says you’d never have to pay for a family doctor or health services.

She’d also provide additional support for youth and mental health.

Q: Municipalities have the least amount of control over their funding, how would the province provide more certainty and predictability on funding received through property taxes?

Notley: Property taxes are a matter of municipal jurisdiction but the province can provide a better line of sight on how much a municipality needs to raise in property taxes.

The NDP signed City Charters with Edmonton and Calgary. The UCP ripped them up when they came to power and developed the Local Government Fiscal Framework but there’s no guarantee the LGFF will be there after the election.

Notley concluded with this: “My commitment is the things you get post-election will be the very things you are guaranteed pre-election.” (Huge round of applause).

Smith: The province collects $177M more in property and education taxes from Calgary than it gives back by way of provincial transfers. Now that the government is back into budget balance it will reinvest in municipalities through grants which will increase as government revenue increases.

The Municipal Affairs minister is consulting with municipalities on how to let them keep more of the education portion of their property taxes. Stay tuned.

Audience Questions

For Notley: How will your government leverage the energy transition opportunity to grow the economy and encourage investment to realize net zero?

Oil and gas should not be used as a political football and we shouldn’t pit economic growth against environmental leadership because we need both to succeed.

She said the province must (1) offer its own incentives as well as getting the Feds to do more, and (2) it must provide regulatory certainty by getting rid of the Sovereignty Act. (Huge round of  applause).

She said the province should be at the table with the Feds to ensure emissions regulations are realistic and that Alberta had wasted a year and a half standing on the sidelines instead of rolling up its sleeves and getting the job done (more applause).  

For Notley: How will the government address the increasing cost of living?

The government can’t control inflation or interest rates but it can control the cost of utilities and needs to find a long term way to give families relief and predictability. She’d bring back the cap on insurance (applause).  

She’d also invest in post secondary to get control of spiraling costs (more applause).

For Smith: How will your government address the needs of postsecondary students?

Students don’t like instability so she capped year over year increases to 2%/year, reduced the interest rate on student loans to prime and extended the repayment time from 6 to 12 months.

She’s looking for more options to offer accessible education by expanding community colleges and increasing spaces. as well as creating a path for colleges to get academic status.

She wants to connect young people to careers and professions at a younger age.  

For Smith: The arts, culture and heritage are an important part of our community, what will you do to support them?

Smith’s been lobbied to provide a tax credit for the traditional arts (opera, theatre, ballet) that’s similar to a film tax credit. It’s something she’ll take a closer look at.

Then it was over.

The Applause-O-Meter

Anyone tracking the applause-o-meter will see that Notley got nine rounds of applause while Smith got two.

Also, the applause at the end of Smith’s interview was more muted than Notley’s. This could be because many of the attendees had already left. It’s unclear whether they left because the event was running late or they just weren’t interested in what their premier had to say.

In any case one thing is clear. Calgary is facing significant challenges. One leader has strategies to address them, the other is relying on old policies and stories about her uncle Larry.

Vote wisely Calgary.

This entry was posted in Alberta Health Care, Climate Change, Crime and Justice, Culture, Danielle Smith, Economy, Energy & Natural Resources, Environment, Politics and Government and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Gondek, Notley and Smith: An important conversation

  1. Ingamarie says:

    Susan, this is a tour de force…..and it reads like it wrote itself!!

    Two shocking realizations you gave me: 1. Smith’s comments and ideas on what to do about just about anything that needs doing…are are mix of rhetoric and ideology….ideology especially can get her completely off the topic at hand: HER INCOMPETENCE IS GLARING.

    2. No one of average intelligence, who’s been half following this Premier, would take the risk of voting for her: HER BASE DOESN’T DO ITS HOMEWORK OR HAVE ANY IDEAS ABOUT WHAT NEEDS DOING.

    Danielle is a perfect reflection of what passes for politics on the right wing fringe.

    • Thanks Ingamarie: I agree with your take on Smith. This is why I liked the format Gondek used. She asked each leader the same questions and it was so easy to compare the intelligence of Notley’s responses with the imbecility of Smith’s responses.
      I heard Graham Thompson talk about Smith. He said she doesn’t have an analytical or critical mind, she tends to run with whatever people she likes tell her.
      She said she traveled the world looking for a way to cure addiction and lo and behold her chief of staff had the answer all along (because he was forced to choose between jail or treatment). Given that her recovery community program is said to violate Charter rights, and given that we don’t know whether it really works, and given that not every addict is the same as Marshal Smith, you’d hope she had something more substantial to go on before she rolled it out. All I know is she didn’t cite any other backup other than her chief of staff Marshall.

      • Ingamarie. says:

        Sounds like an xy trump card…….female, but other than that………what he/she heard last…..from someone he/she thinks they can trust…or know personally….trumps Science, evidence or diverse needs.

        Who needs Science, when you’ve got friends……..and anecdotes.
        Perhaps its our nostalgia for a simpler time….and our anger that the world doesn’t actually work the way we wish it would………that is going to defeat us.

        Unless: we take the time to listen to Rachel… and imagine a more rational approach.

      • Ingamarie, I was talking to someone very familiar with how past governments (generally PC ones) work. He was astounded that Smith continually gives credit to her chief of staff Marshall Smith as being the inspiration behind her recovery community strategy. My friend said he’d never seen that kind of recognition of a staffer in all his years.
        This is not how a government formulates policy.

      • Ingamarie says:

        Says who? LOL

  2. Gord Young says:

    THE DONALD wears a dress eh ?
    Running the province I mean.
    S A D  sir.
    Very S A D.
    Should wear jodhpurs instead….hoping she rides off to the mountains at
    Rocky Mountain House for the benefit of the Province.
    Won’t happen, but, worth suggesting.

    • Gord, it’s an apt comparison and as you say very SAD.
      Everything I’m hearing indicates Smith is in big trouble in Calgary (although it will take a few days for the impact of her recent announcement on the arena to sink in).
      It’s at times like these I yearn for different way to select government. This first past the post thing, especially in a tight race, exacerbates polarization, which is the last thing we need right now.

  3. Mm says:

    Uncle Larry the Cable Guy?

  4. docpop1 says:

    Yes, Calgary please choose well. Many in rural Alberta are not getting it and we may need your votes to save Alberta’s democracy from destruction.

  5. Danusia says:

    The American dream is alive and well in Alberta: ANYONE can become premier! This transcript would be laughable for Smith’s incoherent and incompetent rambling were it not for the sad fact that this space cadet could end up at the helm of our province.

    • Ingamarie says:

      The sweet irony is that if she does end up winning…….there’s a sense in which many of us will get exactly what we deserve.

      Our children? Perhaps not so much.

    • Danusia and Ingamarie: the contrast between Notley and Smith was never so stark as in the Gondek interviews. Notley had a plan, Smith babbled. It was brutal. Makes me wonder how anyone could place their trust in her to run this province.

  6. Frances Wright says:

    Hello Susan,

    Super synopsis of the CED event!!

    Notley was fantastic! Very engaging!

    Smith was flat and didn’t really seem to want to engage with the audience!

    I was surprised that Smith didn’t receive enthusiastic applause as Notley did.

    Thanks, too, for the excellent article in ‘albertaviews’!

    Really appreciate your interpretation, the facts and your wit!!

    Brava, Susan!




    The Famous 5 felt ‘equal to high and splendid braveries!’ And so must you and me!

    Merci! Miigwetch! Thank you!

    • Frances, thank you for this. It’s always good to hear from someone who attended the event and had the same reaction as I did.
      I wondered whether Notley and Smith were given the questions ahead of time. If so Smith’s answers were even more abysmal than they appeared to be at face value.

  7. Paul Pearlman says:

    There is one person running to be elected as Premier of Alberta and another who wants to play at being the Premier of Alberta. I hope the voters in Calgary take note of that. Four years of the Play Premier damage might never be repaired!!!!

    • Paul, you nailed it. I’m betting that unless Smith wins in a landslide (which she won’t) her party will do to her what they did to Kenney ie. get rid of her. She’s more of a liability than he ever was.

  8. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for sharing another great blog. I’m glad you were at this. I basically see where we are headed under the UCP, and it isn’t good. I’ll play some more fitting music. This is Bridge To Nowhere, from The Sam Robert’s Band. It’s from 2006. I saw them a few times live and met them. A great Canadian band.

  9. Valerie Jobson says:

    Very useful, thank you for doing this, Susan. It’s quite a contrast.

    The Strategists talked about this event from a strategy point of view. I don’t remember if any of them were present, but they pointed out that the event started much later than advertised and whoever went last probably had a smaller audience because of people going home.


    • Valerie, I chatted with some of the other attendees about people leaving before Smith was finished. I can see it if you had to pick up kids from daycare or something, but let’s face it, this was the premier of the province talking about what her government would do for Calgary. As we learned yesterday, what she’ll do is make the rest of the province pay part of the tab for Calgary’s arena. And she’ll do it by way of a bribe, hoping that Calgarians will forget everything she’s done to damage healthcare, education, and the economy.
      No thanks.

  10. Kimberlee says:

    Thank you for this!

  11. Carlos says:

    Considering what she has said in the past about taxpayers money, it is obvious this arena thing is another candy for Calgary voters


    • Carlos, you’re 100% right. The weird thing is Calgarians see it for what it is, a bribe. I predict it won’t change the way most Calgarians will vote. Many of us objected to the City using our tax dollars to fund the billionaire owners, now that Smith jumped on the bandwagon Calgarians are paying for it with their municipal taxes and their provincial taxes.
      I wonder how rural Albertans, those who’ve watched their hospital ER wards shutting down and their schools fall apart, feel about this use of their tax dollars.

  12. Valerie Jobson says:

    Good article by Nenshi about Smith’s record so far:

    She is getting criticised over the arena thing, so maybe she will flip-flop again. Maybe it was not so smart to make it an election issue. Notley is talking about secret deals about land and secret documents:


  13. Valerie Jobson says:

    Another disturbing promise by Smith today, to legislate no tax increase without a referendum. Way to shackle future governments too.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Sounds like Republicans BS to me. It’s the kind of campaign promise intended to be broken–but the rubes really, really like to hear it.

  14. Mike J Danysh says:

    And here’s yet another analysis of the mess we’re in, and what we’re risking for Danielle Smith’s ideological (read, “idiot-logical”) fixations.

    • Carlos says:

      This is a very important article but it does not seem that Calgarians pay much attention to reality these days. Maybe once they loose what they take for granted they will realize they have been dreaming in technicolor.

      Thanks Mike

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        You’re welcome. Sadly, though, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”–and buyer’s remorse always comes too late to do any good. Calgarians beware.

  15. GoinFawr says:

    Apparently Danielle Smith recently had some Premier time to spend with James Bauder, Sandra Collins Bauder, and Harold Jonker.

    Alberta, when you mess around with importing US (or worse, TBA) style healthcare, you will find out… that is costs much, much more, while providing ever fewer timely services for the overwhelming majority of people.

    Despite all the ‘guarantees’ Danille Smith is on record multiple times indicating that she thinks Albertans’ tax dollars just aren’t enough when it comes to health care, she wants to the expanding private clinics to have that and more from you.

    ‘ Free for those who can afford it, very expensive for those who can’t’ – Withnail

    Publicly funded private clinics take public dollars and use them to further subsidize the already excellent healthcare and welfare received by the privileged and wealthy.

    They also take public dollars ( not to mention citizens’ private health records) and put them into the relatively inscrutable black box of a private company, rather than sending the citizens’ revenue to the far more regulated environment, and more readily scrutinized books, of a public institution.

    Remember Alberta: A ‘win’ for private health’care’ is not necessarily to cure a chronic ailment, but to repeatedly sell something that ~relieves the symptoms of the disease, yet leaves the sufferer infected for as long as possible.

    Publicly funded and provided healthcare always wins when a disease is cured, always.

  16. Carlos says:

    “Premier Danielle Smith says the hard-line Republican governors of Florida and South Dakota are models for making Alberta “a little bastion of freedom.”

    She is not only an idiot but she is definitely mentally challenged like we say in this politically correct world – they replaced the word retarded which sounds much better in this context.

    I wonder why Canadian politicians so fascinated with American politicians do not move there? After all they love their fascism, their health care system, their guns, I do not get it. Just go please, we can help you taking off.

    • GoinFawr says:

      Carlos, DuhBase don’t leave because theirs is a toxicity that derives a dark, self-marring pleasure from smearing itself across Alberta and Canada.

      Half of their crew have as much as stated that their desire for the destruction of Alberta is rooted in a vengence ludicrously directed at what they misapprehend ‘science’ has ‘taken away’ from them, and the other half is simply slavering at the potentially astronomical kickbacks ever further privatization of public dollars going to their vital partners in businesses will likely mean.
      Besides, and related to the self immolating aspects of them and their supporters: the reality is that most of them are folk who have to jump when somone else blows the whistle, and couldn’t afford to make such a dramatic move anyway, or the USA doesn’t want them there, either.

      That stated, there still just might be one way to finally convince at least some of them to get up to go and pursue their skeevy hearted dreams of becoming United States’ Citizens in the United States paying United States Citizens’ prices for healthcare, and that happens on

      May. Twenty. Ninth!

  17. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my second song pick. This is The Herd, featuring a very young Peter Frampton, on lead guitar and vocals, doing the song, From The Underworld. Peter Frampton was almost 17 when this was recorded in 1967. Peter Frampton had his 73rd birthday, recently. I did see Peter Frampton live.

  18. GoinFawr says:

    Former Conservative Prime Minister Kim Campbell, the Founding Principal of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College, recently had this to say regarding Danielle Smith:

    “Serious wingnut alert!”

  19. Mm says:

    Does anyone know if Jyoti Gondek and Danielle Smith were already plotting the arena deal behind closed doors when this took place?

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