No means No: Smith and the Ethics Commissioner’s Report

Yes, I watched the debate.

No, I’m not going to write about it except to say Danielle Smith’s closing comment illustrates how slick she is.

Smith said, “My commitment to each of you is to serve you with everything I have and to the best of my ability, however imperfect that may be at times.” She said she “will carefully listen to you and my UCP caucus because whatever I may have said or thought in the past when I was on talk radio, Albertans are my bosses now and my oath is to serve you and no one else.”

Fine, she’s not perfect and we can’t bring up anything she did before she became premier.

So let’s talk about the Pawlowski affair.

The Pawlowski affair

On Friday, Jan 6, 2023 Smith took a phone call from Art Pawlowski who was facing criminal charges arising out of his role at the Coutts border blockade. Smith commiserated with Pawlowski and said she’d look into it. Rob Anderson, her executive director, was handling these sorts of cases and she’d talk to him when he returned from vacation the following Monday.

For whatever reason Smith decided not to wait for Anderson. A few hours later she called Tyler Shandro, her Justice Minister and Attorney General, who was in Fernie on vacation. Shandro says she was passive/aggressive and wanted him to make Pawlowski’s case go away.  

He said no.

The Ethics Commissioner ruled that Smith’s phone call to Pawlowski violated a fundamental principle of democracy by endangering the independence of the judicial system. The government has three branches, the Legislative branch, the Executive branch and the Judicial branch and the Legislative and Executive branches must never interfere with the Judicial branch. And yet, she did.

The Ethics Commissioner also ruled that Smith’s phone call to Shandro was an improper attempt to influence the independence of the legal system. It was not acceptable for the Premier to speak to the Attorney General about a specific ongoing criminal case. And yet, she did.

The answer is still no.

Smith says she’s not a lawyer and should be given some latitude as a result of her lack of legal knowledge.

This is malarky.

Smith knew or should have known she could not engage in this behavior because she was told NO many times.   

The first NO was in 2019 the form of the Trudeau II report where the federal ethics commissioner found that Trudeau’s conduct in the SNC-Lavalin case violated the Conflict of Interest act.

Smith was a talk show host at the time and was quick to condemn Trudeau. She mentioned SNC-Lavalin to Pawlowski a couple of times, but she didn’t terminate the call.      

The second NO came when she was running for the leadership of the UCP and her campaign team contacted Shandro to ask his opinion on amnesty, clemency and pardon.

Shandro replied that clemency was limited to the Parole Board and he was opposed to pardon and amnesty which was a form of political interference in the prosecution of cases.

Smith said she was unaware her campaign team had contacted Shandro. Given the importance of her pledge of amnesty in her leadership campaign, we’ll take that with a grain of salt.

The third NO came in the form of briefings from Shandro and his staff to Smith and her staff on amnesty and clemency for covid-related offences, the role of the Attorney General (policy making, not involvement in individual cases) and the availability (or lack thereof) of legislative options to provide amnesty.

To provide the same legal advice over and over again must have been frustrating for the Attorney General and his staff, particularly when they had to respond to an email from Ezra Levant to Smith and her Chief of Staff in which Levant advised Smith that she could order a stay of prosecution. (He was wrong).

Despite this litany of NOs, on Jan 6, 2023, Smith told Pawlowski she’d look into his case and phoned Shandro to press him to do something to make Pawlowski’s case go away.

To put it another way, despite legal advice to the contrary Smith endangered the independence of the judiciary, something the Ethics Commissioner described as “a cornerstone of any democratic society and democracy will fail without it.”


Smith admits she’s taken some wrong turns but says “I always look at every blunder that I’ve had as being a learning experience, and I’ve had a lot of blunders, which means I’ve learned an awful lot.”

So here’s the thing. Smith has been involved in politics since 1998. She became the leader of the Wildrose Opposition in 2009. if she doesn’t understand how democracy and government works by now, she never will.

And while it’s nice that the Ethics Commissioner reserved the right to recommend sanctions against Smith and recommended that all new MLAs attend mandatory training about the structure of Canadian government and the roles of the three branches of government, it’s far too late for Smith.

Because upon the release of the Ethics Commissioner’s report Smith invited the Commissioner “to give me and future premiers the benefit of some guidance on how to advance sensitive policy issues similar to this with the minister of justice if she thought there was a more appropriate way.”

Her minister of justice and his staff offered all the guidance they possibly could prior to Smith making that fateful phone call to Pawlowski on Jan 6, 2023 and the Commissioner’s report explained why her failure to do so jeopardized democracy.  

She’s learned nothing.

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96 Responses to No means No: Smith and the Ethics Commissioner’s Report

  1. Sharon says:

    She has learned nothing. She would even fail the the remedial course proposed by Trussler. What has Dangerous Danielle learned from all her “mistakes”? She has learned to spin them as wins (no emails were found) and she has learned the art of the no apology. She believes in second chances. She has had more second chances than a cat has lives. She is devious and dangerous. I greatly fear for our province.

    • Pinky says:

      Sharon, you nailed it!

    • Sharon, the redemption angle is new. Smith used it when she flip flopped on Jennifer Johnson (the poop cookie candidate). After a period of saying nothing, Smith was pushed (by Ric McIver no less) into denouncing Johnson, saying if Johnson were elected she would not be allowed to sit with the UCP caucus.
      The following day Smith flip flopped saying Johnson could earn her way back into caucus because Smith believes in redemption and second chances.
      As you said, it’s likely Smith is trying to send a not so subtle message to her supporters by leaning hard on the religious undertones of the word redemption.
      God knows if anyone needs the public to give her a second, third, fourth, etc chance, it’s Smith.

  2. mikegklein says:

    As absurd as her behaviour and chatting is, and it is absurd, I am afraid that her base will see this as simply giving everyone who is not them the finger. I am afraid there is no learning here, only cheering because flipping the bird at everyone who is not them is always good.

    • GoinFawr says:

      I’m Taken Aback, Alberta.

      ” only cheering because flipping the bird at everyone who is not them is always good”

      is the alarming ‘politics’ of violent accelerationists since it breeds division at all costs, even to self harm. If hatred of what they don’t understand is all it takes to get their vote, the UCP and their supporters are now effectively the party of civil chaos accelerationists like Diagolon.

      The TBA as good as made the outright fascist claim that they were responsible for removing the former, legitimately elected, Albertan premier and replacing him with Danielle in order to have their petty revenge on AHS. And of course, any opportunity to harm publicly delivered services is a ‘win’ for UCP’ers and their vital partners in private insurance, no matter what they ‘guarantee’.

      “They like what science gives them, but not the questions, no. Not the questions that science asks.”- Mr. Rzykruski

    • Mike and GoinFawr: good points, thanks. The concern that the election is driving even more polarization is real and the media isn’t helping any.
      Notley held a huge rally in South Calgary today. In the Q and A with reporters a reporter asked Notley to comment on the fact the media was focused more on the leaders attacking each other then their policies. Notley wisely said she was putting her policies out there and what the media chose to report on was up to them. The reporter than asked a follow up question prefaced with a comment that Notley had attacked Smith at the rally. This was silly because Notley spent most of her time talking about what the NDP was going to do if elected. She didn’t say much about Smith but what she said was critical and it was also TRUE (eg. the Ethics Commissioner’s report, Smith’s flip flops including the one re: Jennifer Johnson etc).
      The fact the reporter asked the question as he did demonstrated the validity of Notley’s point which was it’s the media, not Notley, who determine what the media puts out there.
      And let’s face it, the media is hammering the polarizing points because that’s what sells papers and generates clicks.

      • Michael says:

        Great to meet you in person after the rally, Susan.
        The reporter in question was Graham Thompson, who I believe is quite reputable. Former Edmonton Journal, now CBC and others.

        I hope everyone is out there helping with the campaign in whatever way they can.


      • Michael, it was great to meet you too!
        That was quite a rally wasn’t it? Very uplifting.
        Thanks for the info re: the reporter. I really like Graham Thompson. You’re right, he’s a reputable reporter. I’m not sure why he asked the question about why the media was focused on their leaders’ personalities instead of their policies when it’s the media who chooses what to report on.
        I had lunch with a political think tank guy today who said he thought Notley should have pushed harder on her economic policies, especially that she should have clarified that she won’t raise personal income taxes and she’s only raising the corporate tax rate on BIG corporations and she’s actually lowering taxes to zero for small businesses. I told him Notley’s supporters know this, but he had a point when he said the general public doesn’t.
        Take care,

      • Michael says:

        Susan, I think your political think tank guy is right. The NDP have missed an opportunity to highlight the many successes they had during their 4 years in power, including, but not limited to:

        The NDP created Castle Prov. Park and had good plans to develop David Thompson region into parks and protected wilderness. Also in spite of oil prices hitting a real low, over the course of the NDP reign, the economy grew, there was net job creation, and child poverty was cut in half (though my suspicion is that that was mostly federal policy). Also AHS ran smoothly, public service salaries were kept in check (to our cost at the U of C!) and minimum wage was raised. A climate plan was generated that had the support of the energy majors, a plan to phase out coal from energy generation was made and adhered to…..and Universities and schools got stable predictable funding increases.

        Yes, progressive taxation was introduced – and high time too. But Prentice’s budget of March 2015 had ALREADY done that, as well as introducing a health care levy, which by my back of the envelope calculation, together with the new tax brackets, would have hurt a lot of people at the high end of middle income more than the (indexed) changes to brackets the NDP brought in. Prentice was at least smart enough to realize the writing was on the wall for the economy, and we needed stable revenue streams beyond oil and gas revenues. If he had made his budget less mean-spirited (eg. the charitable donation bit), and added a modest increase to corporate tax as well, he might have been in a better position to run a campaign that would have got him re-elected.

        Too much of the 2019 and 2023 campaigns has been aimed at demonizing Jason Kenney and Danielle Smith. Not that they don’t deserve it, but I would have liked to see more positivity.

      • Michael: you make an excellent point when you talk about the NDP missing an opportunity to talk about the good things they achieved in their 4 years in power. I got the sense Notley didn’t want to talk about her record because Smith would slam her with spurious accusations that Notley raised taxes driving away corporation and undermined the energy sector thereby killing the golden goose. None of this is true but it’s burned into the conservatives’ brains as gospel. The only way to erase the myth that Notley’s record was bad for the province is to refute it every time Smith et al bring it up.
        On the issue of Notley’s policies. My friend said she wasn’t talking about them enough. Ironically, just as he said that a Notley ad came over the radio in which she described her affordability policies.
        What worries me about this is I’m not sure how open the public is to hearing about policy in more than just sound bites. One of the big criticisms of HIllary Clinton’s campaign was she was too heavy on policy and not as personable as Trump, the man with no policy and an obnoxious disgusting personality.
        I really don’t know what to make of that other than to say there’s something horrible in the conservative makeup that makes people like Trump, DeSantis, Poilievre and Smith attractive to a certain segment of society.

      • Carlos says:

        ‘Too much of the 2019 and 2023 campaigns has been aimed at demonizing Jason Kenney and Danielle Smith. Not that they don’t deserve it, but I would have liked to see more positivity.’

        Michael your post is excellent.
        As far as the sentence above, I think you have to remember that they are the ones who demonized themselves. Furthermore, the UCP is a party of negativity and confrontation. We saw that in action with doctors, nurses and teachers. They do not believe in science or education and the cuts to our universities were to say the least barbarian.

        Jason Kenney with all his belief in religion was bulldozing anything and anyone that did not believe in his GOD.

        It is impossible to use positivity with people brainwashed like they are.
        They do not believe in society only in individualism. Their mentors said that openly in the previous decades.

        Remember – Societies do not exist only individuals’

  3. Gord Young says:

    Obviously  T H E  D O N A L D  wearing a dress.
    Rules for…………rules Sen. McCarthy, McConnell etc.
    Polly-wants-a-cracker boy, Ford, and her.

    • Gord. T H E D O N A L D is an apt comparison, thanks.

      • Gord Young says:

        There are so many, many, brilliant women in politics and in life
        generally, and, then there is Christie, and, Marjory Taylor Greene and a
        few others, for which there should
        be a new definition in the dictionaries and take out the terms,
        “woman”/”she”/”her”, and, replace the description with something
        else…….too fozzilized to come up  with
        a word[s] that would be printable.  So. I suppose put them beside the
        word “dsicgrace” might do for the time being.

  4. lindamcfarlane says:

    Great post

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  5. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for sharing another great blog. I saw the provincial election debate, and it was a very sickening thing to watch, because of the continuous stream of lies that Danielle Smith was uttering. If people fall for what Danielle Smith was saying, they aren’t that wise. What was equally appalling was that different media pundits, and newspaper columnists were exonerating Danielle Smith and the UCP, and making Rachel Notley and the NDP look evil and vile. They were blaming Rachel Notley and the NDP for causing Alberta’s fiscal problems, problems with the public healthcare and public education systems in Alberta, and other things. This is absolutely false and inaccurate, because Rachel Notley and the NDP inherited a massive amount of problems done by the Alberta PCs, that were there since the early 1990s. This includes very harsh cuts to the public healthcare, the public education systems, cuts to social programs, which made poverty and homelessness increase, cuts to environmental protection (the abandoned oil wells cleanup costs from Ralph Klein are an astonishing $260 billion, or more), drastically reduced oil royalty rates that lost us around half a trillion dollars, infrastructure that was left to deteriorate, deregulation and privatization of our important things, such as utilities, registries, and driver training, debacles galore, which wasted a whole lot of money. The Alberta PCs were also shortsighted and had a mistaken notion that oil booms are something that is infinite. Peter Lougheed’s vision, and dreams for Alberta were replaced with a neoliberal infested political manifesto, most likely influenced by the Reformer, Preston Manning, as well as the Fraser Institute. The UCP are likely going to go further with all of this, if they are given the chance. What the UCP have been wasting money on was pretty bad too. They also have other foolish policies, which will erode our pensions, make poverty increase, let the environment get damaged further, with no care, create a police state, after they dump the R.C.M.P, completely ruin our public healthcare and public education, have crime rates go up, make utilities unaffordable, have us pay through the nose for insurance, and do more expensive mistakes. Danielle Smith also thinks she is above the law, while she believes she can make her own laws at the same time. It’s frightening to see what else she can do if she is given another mandate, along with the UCP. I’ll play some more fitting music. This is a recent release by Yusuf/Cat Stevens, called All Nights All Days. He wrote this song. I’ve been a fan of Cat Stevens for a long time, and he is in my music collection. A great British singer and songwriter.

    • Dwayne how I wish the average Albertan was as informed as you (and the people who contribute to this blog) are. A friend who works in my NDP candidate’s office got a call the other day from a senior who was complaining that Notley wasn’t doing enough to deal with the wildfires. My friend explained that Notley, as the leader of the opposition, didn’t have the power to do anything about the wildfires, but if the senior voted for her she could form government and take action. I asked my friend whether she thought the senior was suffering from dementia or something (it seemed so strange that he didn’t understand who was in government and who wasn’t) and she said, no he was just uninformed.
      PS Thanks for the Cat Steven’s clip. I’ve loved Cat Stevens since I was a teenager.

  6. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my next song pick. This is She’s A Mod, from a Midlands, UK group, called The Senators. This was recorded and released in 1964. It was written by the group’s lead singer, Terry Beal, (who was also a multi-instrumentalist), who passed away in 2011, at age 67. In this lineup of the group, Terry Beal is on lead vocals, Bill Ford is on bass guitar, Trevor McGowan is on lead guitar, Graham Dennis is on rhythm guitar, and a 16 year old John Bonham, later of Led Zeppelin is on drums. On this recording, all the other members of the group, are on background vocals. The other members of the band were in their 20s. John Bonham, the son of a construction worker, was involved with construction work with his father, when he left school at age 16, around the time that this song was recorded. His birthday is on May 31. He passed away at age 32, in the fall of 1980.

    • Dwayne, now that was interesting. I was trying to figure out whether the line “she won’t change anymore” would fit Smith. The woman flip flops all over the place, but I suspect deep down inside she’s always been and always will be a libertarian populist which is the last thing we need.
      Thanks again.

  7. Graham Joseph McFarlane says:

    I once had a client who told me that he didn’t hire consultants for their potential- rather based on their ability to do the job right now. The same applies to politicians; the public doesn’t have time for a “learning curve”. A politician has to know his/her job on day one after getting the job.

    • Graham, I agree that the public doesn’t have the time to endure ideologically driven politicians (especially the premier) fumble their way through big issues facing us. Having said that I’d add that in 2015 many of the NDP MLAs (with the exception of Notley and a handful of others) lacked experience in governing but, to their credit, they had the good common sense to find experts (both within and outside of government) to help them out.

  8. jerrymacgp says:

    At first, when the infamous phone convo between Daniellezebub & Pawlowski came to light, I was prepared to concede the possibility that her assurances to him that she would “look into” options to make his prosecution “go away” were mere blowing smoke, and that it was he and not the rest of us she was lying to. But now that we have heard from the Driveway Yeller himself, I guess that scenario is off the table.

    How shocking is it that Shandro, of all people, is the “adult in the room” of this entire affair? It’s like, “let’s have Kenney back, he was evil but not whacko”!

    I’m very frightened about what will happen May 29th. I fear the UCP will eke out a slim majority, perhaps 45-42 in seats. But in our system, even the slimmest of majorities has the same virtually untrammelled power as a landslide victory, and you can bet she will run with it.

    • GoinFawr says:

      “she will run with it”
      And run Albertans into the ground along with her, while emptying their pockets, and lining hers and her friends’ vital partners’.

      Off topic:
      Anyone seen the “Vote for your UCP candidate” signs with the other signs legally placed nearby showing, “Because Who Needs a Family Dr. Anyway?”

      • GoinFawr: agreed.
        Speaking of signs, Artur Pawlowski sovereignty signs have been popping up in my neighbourhood. They’re not in peoples’ yards but on the boulevards wedged in between the NDP and UCP candidates signs.
        This is bizarre.

    • jerrymacgp: Before the Ethics Commissioner issued her report Smith had 3 things to say about this conversation: (1) she thought she was talking to the leader of another party (the Commissioner said the minute it became apparent that wasn’t the case Smith should have hung up, (2) she always listens to Albertans and that’s all she was doing here (except she did more than listen, she agreed that Pawlowski had been done wrong and she’d look into it, and (3) when she said she’d look into it, that was just something politicians say (it’s true she fobbed off callers to her Your Premier radio show that way, but in this case she’d been looking into it for months and after the Pawlowski call she called Shandro to get him to do more than “look into it” she wanted him to “fix it.”
      She may eke out a slim majority and try to run with it, but the UCP will turf her for almost losing the election.
      If the NDP don’t win, the next 4 years will be chaos.

      • Valerie Jobson says:

        She only listens to a select group of Albertans in her RWNJ bubble and she blocks the rest of us out. Kenney disrespected us wth his earplugs in the Legislture, but Smith’s ears are always closed to most of us.

      • Yes, this is true Valerie. I don’t see how any politician who uses Twitter to send out announcements is justified in blocking people from commenting on their policies, and yet they do it all the time.

    • Michael says:

      I am very much afraid you might be right – a small majority for the UCP. Which would mean most of the less crazy UCP members would have lost their seats in Calgary (like Copping for example – a decent enough man from everything I have heard, Sawney ,and Nikolaides, who, though out of his depth, is not terrible). Schweitzer, Savage, Toews gone already, and Aheer as well. Only Rebecca Schultz is in a safe seat as far as I can tell.

      • Michael, I hadn’t thought about that scenario, that it would be the less crazy UCP members who would lose their seats. Just what we need, an entire government caucus full of what Valerie aptly describes as RWNJs. One tweeted today that if the NDP win it will only be because they cheated and that means civil war and that means the RWNJs will hop in their trucks and hunt us down. “We will find you and we will remove you.”
        Conservatives, this is your UCP.

      • Carlos says:

        With the level of lunacy we are witnessing in Canada these days, I would not be surprised that we could see some violence in this province.

        I just say to these people – do not think for a minute that you are going to scare us because you will not. Just be very careful as to how far you are taking your lies and your lunacy. Life surprises us in many ways.

  9. Ingamarie. says:

    For the right wing, there is no such thing as ‘learning’. I’m reminded of a song by Laurie Anderson, where she has the narrator sing the lines…”you don’t have to talk/I know it all”. The right wing fringe is that kind of brilliant….and over and over they illustrate that for them, there are usually only two answers… of them wrong.

    Condemning Justin T. for everything he did or does comes from the fact he has the answer that is Wrong. As to that wacky pastor….he was fighting for our freedoms against the tyrant JT… he must be on the same side as Danielle and deserving of political amnesty.

    If Trump can pardon criminal behavior, why can’t the leader of Alberta???

    This is a belief system. There’s not much you can do to change that.
    Except vote the true believers out of office and put in some evidence bound folks.

    • Ingamarie: I agree with you…no point in arguing with the true believers who vote based on emotion.
      I see that TBA is telling its members to volunteer as scrutineers for the NDP and other non-UCP candidates, they’re pushing the narrative that the voting machines could be rigged. That intrigued me because in Alberta we vote using a pencil and paper,* the ballots are hand scrutinized, I don’t know if they’re counted again by a machine or something but it’s sad to see TBA raise the same “stolen election” argument that Trump’s been pushing for the last 3 years,
      *OK, we voted at an Advance Poll today and they are using a combination of paper ballot with a scanning machine.

      • Ingamarie says:

        Seems that when you’re always right, you run out of good ideas…….the UCP fear they are losing, and are casting desperately about for ways to intimidate voters…….and maybe convince supporters that even if they lose, they didn’t lose.

        We should connect dots through time though. Pierre Poileivre tried to cast doubt on the voting process too, during Harper’s reign…and use that fear of what??? Rigged machines that we don’t use??? Masochists who spend the day going from poll to poll voting, what, 5 times??

        The Rigged election is the false flag….making it harder for some folks to vote, because of this phoney fear is the real agenda. And its so simple as to be transparent wherever it happens.

        The final irony is that the riggers are they guys running around creating fear of rigged elections. P.S.: I think you need to be a card carrying NDP to be one of our scrutineers. We’re training 70 people tomorrow in my riding…so have no need for newbies.

      • Ingamarie: I agree, all of this crap is straight out of the Trump handbook. You don’t like the results of the election, it was rigged. If you can’t defend your candidates position, then attack my candidate with irrelevant “whataboutism”. If you don’t have a good counter-argument to what my candidate is saying, then pretend me and my candidate are nazi sympathizers, or commies, or [fill in the blank].
        And if that doesn’t work go on social media and post tweets threatening to hunt us down and “remove” us, because that’s how democracy works, right.

      • Ingamarie. says:

        We just have to hope they are orchestrating their own political funeral….if not, it will be like my mom used to say: Experience is a hard lesson, but a fool knows no other.

  10. Bee says:

    TBH I am terrified right now. As scary as Danielle is, the Take Back Alberta group are even more scary and THEY are her bosses. Not the electorate. The volunteers who are door knocking for her are telling voters who say they don’t like Smith that she will be replaced. By whom? Not by a moderate, that is for certain. Someone even more extreme. People don’t seem to get that. We don’t need another 4 years of instability, we need to get some s&*t done. We need boring. There is no conservative party in this province, this UCP is the Ultra Conservative Party and we will be in serious trouble if they get elected. It is just damn depressing to think about. Our province is on fire, literally and figuratively.

    • Bee, I agree with everything you’ve said. We’re doing everything we can to help our candidate win, signs are up, donations are made and made, we’re going to vote tomorrow when the advance polls open. And we’ll see what happens.
      If the UCP wins, it will be by a slim margin. They’ll oust Danielle and then there will be an ungodly battle between the old PCs and the far right fringe for control of the party.
      As you said, 4 more years of chaos, meanwhile our province burns.

  11. Anthony Bennett says:

    It comes to mind that the ethics commissioner is a Kenney appointed doner to the ucp. How staggering is it that a partisan shill for the conservatives couldn’t avoid ruling against Smith? This is the commissioner who thinks that Tyler can distance himself from his wife’s business in which he is a partner, and his shares are in a “blind trust” while being the health minister.

    • Sharon says:

      Yes, interesting. Sometimes people have a conscience…even Margaret Trussler and Tyler Skidrow

      • Sharon…I prefer to think of it as Shandro finally doing his job. He could have done more, he could have resigned after Smith called him and pressured him to fix it for Pawlowski but he didn’t.

    • Anthony, the thing that interests me about Shandro is that notwithstanding Smith talking to Pawlowski against legal advice, and then phoning Shandro and passively/aggressively pushing him to fix it for Pawlowski, Notwithstanding everything he knows about Smith’s lack of ethics and her willingness to compromise the very foundations of democracy, he’s STILL running for re-election under her leadership. That is shameful.

  12. Mike J Danysh says:

    No means no. Unless you’re Danielle Smith.

    I read through report of the Ethics Commissioner. Clearly, Danielle Smith is aware that there are limits on her powers as Premier of Alberta. Equally clearly, she doesn’t like it. Her attitude makes me think of a three-year-old who’s certain he’ll get another helping of dessert if just keeps asking.

    Worse, Smith obviously feels she owes Pawlowski something. Even worse, so does Pawlowski (no wonder he went public after Smith failed to spring him). This quote is indicative of both Smith’s attitude and Pawlowski’s:

    “An interesting sidenote is that Dr. Modry believes that the tape was edited as he remembered Mr. Pawlowski being much more aggressive and threatening than on the tape released to the public.”—report page 11, section “Telephone call with Artur Pawlowski”

    So Pawlowski thought Smith owed him—or that he owned her. What the fff…fennec is going on here?

    (And what the Helsinki was Dennis Modry doing in the middle of this? A former brain surgeon and member in the very best of good standing of the Old Tory Party; is he hankering for the Good Ol’ Days, or what?)

    I could go on, but let’s jump to the conclusions. First, Smith broke the law. Lucky for her, and Pawlowski too, it looks like the Conflicts of Interest Act only permits “censure” of MLAs by the Legislature—not criminal charges or jail time. Too bad.

    Second, Marguerite Trussler recommended new MLAs be trained in what they can and cannot do. (Pounds desk:) that’s what I’ve been saying for years. But newbies should be trained as CANDIDATES, before they ever get elected.

    Third, Ms. Trussler is embarrassed to be releasing a report criticizing the Premier during an election. Too damn bad. Smith is such a serial screw-up that Albertans MUST know who they’re voting for—or, if they’re smart, against.

    • Sharon says:

      Loved your comment. Modry was a heart surgeon, as a matter of fact did the first transplant in Edmonton. Yes he was a PC in good standing but since has become a conspiracy theorist. He was a staunch Covid denier and tried to advise Pretend Premier Jason how to handle the situation. He strongly supports getting rid of CPP and RCMP. He wants Alberta to separate from Canada. Seems like a member of TBA in previously respected retired doctor’s clothing.

    • Mike J: many good points here. Let me pick up on two.
      (1) “Dr. Modry believes that the tape was edited as he remembered Mr. Pawlowski being much more aggressive and threatening than on the tape released to the public.” My response to this is so what. Is Modry trying to imply that Smith agreed to “look into it” because she was intimidated by Pawlowski? Smith had many ways of dealing with Pawlowski, especially if he was more threatening than he sounded on tape. Her first call should have been to the police, not to Shandro to tell him (directly or indirectly) to fix it.
      (2) “Ms. Trussler is embarrassed to be releasing a report criticizing the Premier during an election.” I agree with you 100%. This is a strange recommendation that goes against transparency and ensuring the voters have the best information possible before they cast their ballot. Instead of recommending the Leg pass a law which suspends ethics investigations during an election, we should be passing laws that ensure they are made public the minute the Ethics Commissioner has made her ruling.
      The public really does have a right to know.

  13. Carlos says:

    Trying a second time to post

    Susan thank you for this summary.

    I am personally exhausted of hearing about Danielle Smith and the last thing I can say about it is that the reason she has not learned anything is because she simply does not want to. She is not a democrat and she wants to run government as she sees fit.

    Well the problem is that she sees everything in inappropriate and undemocratic ways and so she would have to implement some form of autocratic system to serve her objectives. She is a spoiled brat trying to get her way no matter what.

    That is not going to happen and if she wins and she takes steps in that direction as she already has, she will be confronted with something she has never seen in her life.
    Many Albertans seem to be behind her and all the cheating going on, but the other half is waiting.

    I have thought seriously about this and I have decided I will not leave Alberta and I am ready to do what it takes to get her and her cronies out of power.
    If half of Albertans believe in the fantasy she has in mind they will have a rude awakening.

    • Carlos, thank you for your comment. I agree that hearing about what Smith and the UCP are doing is exhausting. It will be even more grueling if the UCP win.
      I agree 100% that with a Danielle Smith led UCP (or any UCP for that matter) we will bear witness to some of the biggest rallies on the steps of the Legislature that this province has ever seen. We’ll be out in full force registering our objection to getting out of the CPP, to getting out of Canada, to whatever else they come up with. (Pawlowski’s recent comments about the LGBTQ community were horrific).
      And like you, my husband and I are resigned to stay. Peter Lougheed built this province and Rachel Notley is ready to move it into the future. We won’t stand by and let Smith and the UCP take us backwards.

  14. lungta mtn says:

    The dani do overs and mulligans are endless and all else is an eye for an eye
    I’m waiting for the CPP moving to APP
    Legal experts say OAS being federal not a guaranteed come along
    GIS probably not a thing Canada will do for a non Canadian entity…:(
    So about 80, 000 albertans will instantly be in financial crisis , homeless and living in tents.
    And moving in Canada gives no relief as you are officially foreign and have few rights
    This is a huge issue nobody is talking about

    • Sharon says:

      I read an article about bailing on CPP. We as a province can’t afford it. What a shitshow this would be…

      • lungta mtn says:

        I’m back
        Hope I haven’t planted a parapraxis fractal seed about the Alberta economy
        The term “mulligan” nowadays refers to a do-over, usually in golf, as a result of some bad luck.
        However, it used to be a bit of a stand-in term for an Irishman (the famine guys)

        This explains why the stew, extremely similar to the stereotypical classic Irish stew, is known as mulligan stew in North America.

        Designed to use whatever ingredients that there happened to be available (read left on the shelves / in fields), this recipe was very commonly made during the last Great Depression and might represent a way for poorer communities to share food and improve their diets in the up coming Dani Dynasty of economic-cough-cough prosperity for those that get the corporate tax rebates.

    • Good points lungta mtn. Nothing more I can add.
      PS I toyed with the mulligans analogy when I was thinking about this post. Apparently there’s a rule in golf that you are allowed one mulligan in the front nine and one in last nine and that’s it. Smith ran out of mulligans a long time ago.

      • GoinFawr says:

        A player is entitled to TWO Mulligan(s) per game? Those rotters only gave me a single, and after I chipped one in off the green on the ninth hole, right in front of a packed clubhouse patio too! (the bast’ds)

        Sigh: lefty, don’t golf.

        Danielle seems to be operating under the misapprehension that because she has had so many, all her Mulligans add up to ‘par for the course’.

      • GoinFawr: I don’t play golf unless it’s a Texas Scramble and even then it’s a challenge. For some reason I’m always paired with the guy who wants to drive the golf cart like a Formula One race car. Anyway, I googled mulligan and that’s where I learned about the TWO mulligans rule. Sounds to me those rotters did a gotcha.
        PS I loved your last sentence and the clip. .

  15. GoinFawr says:

    I’m with you susan: nah. And we enjoyed the parts of the debate where Ms.Smith struggled desperately to utter her lies with a straight face. There were moments when I swear she was looking at her cheat sheet and thinking to herself,

    “Really? I have to try and sell that I’m somehow ‘a victim’ while actually being guilty of threatening Albertans’ democracy?!! Who on earth is going to be stupid enough to swallow THAT?”

    In fact, I’d say she was saved by the bell at the end of the second round; almost blew a gasket Danielle was lying so hard.
    For her part Rachel Notley held her ground well and made known palpable chunks of UCP malfeasance, politely but pointedly. As she does. Certainly she could have been more aggressive, but that’s only allowed if you’re TBA/UCP, according to their double standard(s). The Base, TBA, and UCP ‘warrooms’ are giving Rachel the gears for the mere tone of her closing arguments, after all.

    For crying out loud Smith’s self-aggrandizing answer to the final question, which was supposed to be anything but that, showed to anyone with a heart that isn’t skeevy exactly how little respect DS has for decency, while Rachel’s response to the same question was just about as decent as you can get!

    There’s a Bill Benson political cartoon from the run-up to the PREVIOUS provincial election that I would like to remind Albertans about: Bill said in 2019,

    Frame 1: So let me get this straight…
    Frame 2: You think Rachel Notley has been doing a good job, despite her “politics”
    Frame 3: Even though that good job she’s been doing actually is, literally, her “politics”…
    Frame 4: Whereas you don’t really like Jason Kenney, because of his exaggerating, or the Brian Jean VPN ploy…
    Frame 5: So you don’t trust him at all, but you’re going to vote for him anyway?
    Frame 6: Guess I am just wondering who you’re gonna blame when he turns out exactly like you expected…

    Well, at least now we know the answer Mr.Benson: they still blame Rachel Notley for everything the UCP worked so hard to ruin over the last four years😜. That kind of thickness has to take some serious brain hammering to maintain.

  16. mikegklein says:

    Smith is not a leader, she is a job applicant. To whom did she apply for the job? Well, the TBA. She still thinks what a former politician told me, “The hard part is getting the PC nomination. After that, the job his yours.” Sadly, that was true. Happily that is unlikely to be true today.

  17. GoinFawr says:

    At least it’s finally raining!

  18. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my final song pick. This is a Jeff Lynne composition, called Confusion. It is from 1979. He was a member of the Midlands, UK, progressive rock group, ELO. ELO is in my music collection. Very fitting.

  19. Ed Woodard says:

    Smith says she’s learned a lot because she’s made a lot of blunders but the problem isn’t just that she’s made a lot of blunders, it’s also that she keeps making the same kind of blunder. “The only true lesson of history is that people don’t learn anything from history.” – G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831), philosopher / historian

    • GoinFawr says:

      Except that to all the incel accelerationists who want to ruin everything, the blaspheming theofascists with their flocks of those they’ve ruthlessly indoctrinated to hate what they don’t understand, and the foreign wealthy who are funding all this in order to gain access to Albertans’ public coffers, to those type of folks Danielle Smith’s and the UCP’s anti-democratic missteps aren’t blunders, they’re dog whistles.

      They are all desperate to be edgy, but really they’re just weak sauce getting served.

    • Ed and GoinFawr:
      Ah, now that was interesting, Ed’s point that Smith’s made many blunders but they’re always the same kind of blunder and GoinFawr’s observation that they’re not blunders but dog whistles.
      That makes sense.
      Particularly given that once an idea (or ideology) becomes lodged in someone’s brain it’s almost impossible to dislodge it.
      I was listening to CBC The Current the other day. A Republican strategist was talking about voter support for Trump versus DeSantis. He pointed out that Trump connects better to the working class because “low information voters” think Trump came from the working class and became wealthy and that DeSantis was born into wealth. Neither of these beliefs are true. In fact it’s the opposite, however, the “low information voters” will never be persuaded otherwise.
      We have the same problem here with “low information voters” (I guess that’s what Republican strategists call people who can’t be bothered with the facts). They equate conservatives with fiscal responsibility (not true) and the NDP with high taxes and blowing it all on useless social spending (also not true).
      I’m beginning to wonder whether our only hope is to attract as many people as possible to Alberta from outside the province or the country in the hopes that they haven’t been so badly brainwashed.

  20. Lee Neville says:

    Lord lord lord, save us from the sleaze. Jason Kenney was elected under a cloud of skulduggery and dreadful, dark acts and mind wrenching ugliness. UCP supporters will blindly cheer for their side, despite all of the crap, corruption and downright incompetent sleaziness, it’s their side and it’s all right.

    I fear Calgary South, and other rural regions will fail the provincial intelligence test on May 27. We will have another four years of big mendacious UCP stupid.

    The only bright spot is that if Smith fails to increase seat count , or for that matter fails to deliver a resounding UCP thumping over the NDP, her Party will circle their little blue wagons and commence firing inside and she’ll lose her job within a year.

    God help us from the freak that horrorshow of a party puts forward at that time.

    • Lee Neville says:

      Whoops – May 29 for the polls. Guess I pass both a Turing test and prove I’m not a spiv rogue maladroit hallucinating ChatGPT bot!

    • Lee, I too am worried sick about another four years under a UCP government. As you point out the UCP was borne out of sleaze (thanks to the PCs who sold their souls by allowing Kenney to run for the PC leadership on the sole promise of eliminating the PC party–if that’s not power mad I don’t know what is).
      Then just when we thought the bar couldn’t get any lower, the UCP jettisoned Kenney and replaced him with Smith.
      If she is elected despite all of the horrific things she’s said and done before and after she became premier, there is something seriously wrong with the conservative psyche which as far as I can tell boils down to “I want it all and I want it now.”
      PS I’m delighted you’re not a bot!

  21. Lee Neville says:

    A song pick for Dud dud Danielle and her nauseating ilk – The Viagra Boys – Troglodyte-

  22. Dave says:

    I feel that it is not so much that Smith didn’t understand how democracy and government works. It is that she didn’t care. So we don’t even get a specific commitment from her not to do this again ever along with great contrition or a specific apology, but some vague platitudes, about learning and doing better.

    I get she was in a very tough spot politically. She knew Pawlowski was pressuring her for help and she had made commitments to him publicly when she was running for the UCP leadership (and perhaps privately as well) based on at best a misunderstanding of how the justice system here worked. Sorry no pardons here.

    Often this how things really go sideways. One error in judgment or mistake (first by offering Pawloski a pardon when that was not possible) leads to others. So the second error was the Pawlowski phone call, which she probably shouldn’t have taken at that point and the third, the subsequent call to Shandro to try and pressure him, which she shouldn’t have made.

    All of this just relates to the Pawlowski situation and not any of Smiths other lapses in judgment over the years. Now if this was baseball, we would already way past three strikes.

    She has been around long enough to know better and at some point, you can’t “learn” good judgment, you either have it figured out or not.

  23. Carlos says:

    ‘I feel that it is not so much that Smith didn’t understand how democracy and government works. It is that she didn’t care. So we don’t even get a specific commitment from her not to do this again ever along with great contrition or a specific apology, but some vague platitudes, about learning and doing better.’

    I absolutely agree – in fact does she care about anything other than what she believes?

    She will say whatever is needed to get elected and then things can get really intense. For example Democracy ‘a la Franco in Spain’ where there is one choice in the ballot and it reads ‘Danielle Smith’ and a little box for your check. Everyone votes and they all vote 99% for the all mighty Danielle ‘Cuddly’ Smith.

    Not possible in Alberta? We also did not think the Convoy was possible in Canada much less an attack on the House in the US. We now know anything is possible and with Danny at the helm only GOD knows what she has in mind or her box at the top of the shoulders.

    • Survivor says:

      Yes, and you could also reference Donald Trump’s victory in the USA shortly after the Hollywood Access tapes came to light showing him to be a serial sexual abuser. People didn’t care and he was still voted in.

    • Carlos and Survivor: your comments reminded me of the four choices on my ballot: the NDP candidate with a background in finance, the Alberta Party candidate without a party, the UCP candidate who asked people to vote for him so he could “moderate” Danielle Smith and a convicted criminal who told the Convoy protesters that Coutts was their Alamo.
      One would think the winner would be obvious, but this is Alberta.
      What I’m curious about is how many votes the convicted criminal snags at the end of the day.

  24. Sheila O’Brien says:

    Outstanding post, Susan.

  25. GoinFawr says:

    Yet another UCP candidate, this time Scott Cyr, giving an Alberta audience his ruggedly individualistic version of,

    ‘Not because I am…What I’ll say is…’

    • GoinFawr: and to make matters worse, Scott Cyr’s dog whistle is even more ludicrous because the U of C and U of A medical schools don’t accept international students.
      A perfect example of who the UCP really are.

  26. Carlos says:

    The new Conservatives (I call them Fascist) continue their journey to oblivion soon.

    Pierre Poilievre is feeling competition from our lady Danny and he cannot allow that – his ego is just too big to be second in Canada so he is starting to accelerate.

    At least in this period where everything is expensive we have free comedy.

    • Lee Neville says:

      Its amazing PP refuses to be briefed on the substance of the intelligence work conducted in order to continue making uninformed raged-filled comments on the issue.

      He wants to remain ignorant to stay indignant – a perfect example why he’ll never be considered a serious politician and why he is utterly unfit to be Prime Minister of Canada.

      • Mike J Danysh says:

        Hi Lee. I suspect Poilievre and Smith will both learn what Jason Kenney has proven, in textbook fashion: rage farming can get you elected, but it’s a terrible way to govern. The instant things go wrong, the enraged masses turn on The Leader and kick him out. (This potential outcome may be energizing Brian Jean to keep his thumbs in the UCP pie; does he sense a change in the leadership coming? Thanks to David Climenhaga for the thought-provoking, if mildly stomach-churning, idea.)

      • GoinFawr says:

        The Honourable P.P. can’t read the information because he doesn’t have the security clearance, which he doesn’t want to get. For whatever reason.
        His supporters argue that if P.P. (and Mr. Singh) get the clearance(s) then they won’t be able to reveal what they find out, so they won’t be able to tell Canadians ‘the truth’.

        Frankly, using such grossly specious reasoning seems suspicious to me, since after seeing the information there would be absolutely nothing stopping the pols from offering a better informed opinion of the report’s conclusions wiithout revealing the classified bits.

        More likely, P.P. doesn’t like what applying for such a security clearance might uncover about his little owned self, and so greatly prefers to hold on to his ignorance as license to pull whatever bs serves his purpose right out of his, uh, nose.

      • Lee: what can I say…it’s the conservative mind at work (and I use the terms “mind” and “work” loosely).

  27. Mm says:

    A quarter of a century spent repeating the same mistakes, over and over again. This is not a series of mistakes. It is a pattern of behavior. What we see is what we get. Smith tries and tries again to do the wrong thing.

  28. Linda says:

    Ms. Smith appears to have the belief she can bat her eyelashes, say ‘oh, how silly of me, I’m learning’ like some ingenue & we, the public, will say ‘aw, she is trying, let’s forgive her’. NOT! She is not an inexperienced new politician. She has literally decades of experience. Yet she is still trying to get the public to believe her actions are not calculated ‘let’s try it on & see if I/we can get away with it’ but instead simply ‘mistakes’. As Susan aptly states, Danielle has learned nothing.

    Meanwhile, my partner & I voted. Lines were robust, the experience fairly smooth except for the conflicting information regarding how to mark one’s ballot. The various posters around the room including within the voting booths showed marking with an ‘X’. One poster on a wall behind the booths even stated one could mark either with an ‘X’ or fill in the little oval on the ballot. The ballot itself said to fill in the little oval. Turns out that last was the correct advice, as the voting machines rejected any ballot not so marked. Which had many voters, myself included, scuttling back to the voting booth to fill in said oval & then resubmit the ballot to be counted. Thanks be, the machine accepted the vote once said oval was filled in. So why, given that this election was not a shock/surprise, were there various posters prominently posted about showing conflicting/incorrect advice on how to fill in the ballot? Why even show/mention an ‘X’ when what was required was to fill in the little oval? One might think that it would be relatively simple to provide the SAME information on the posters rather than conflicting information.

    • Linda, I had the same reaction to the ballot form as you did. The woman who registered me to vote made a point of stressing that this time I had to fill in the oval and NOT mark it with an X. So notwithstanding the information on the ballot itself which said I could do either I filled in the oval. Then when I went to the scanning machine one of the two scanning machines was acting up so everyone lined up in front of the one that was working. I grilled the poor man doing the scanning. I wanted assurance he’d put my ballot in the right way (memories of me faxing blank documents because I put the page in upside down came to mind).

      Like you said, it’s not as if this election was a surprise, it’s enshrined in legislation as the last Monday in May, so you’d think they’d have had the time to ensure their instructions to the voters were consistent.

      Sometimes it seems to me that computerizing things doesn’t necessarily make it any easier.

      On the upside, we were in the US for the 2000 election and witnessed first hand the “hanging chad” debacle. This “oval vs X” issue is pretty insignificant by comparison.

  29. Linda says:

    Oh, about Mr. Pawlowski – I had to laugh, he has become a thorn in Danielle & the UCP’s side. He has been announcing to any press who will cover him all the details of how Danielle promised to help but didn’t keep her word. So even if the ethics commissioner doesn’t act beyond saying Danielle breached the rules, Mr. Pawlowski will keep the memory of Danielle’s actions fresh in the public mind!

    • GoinFawr says:

      hahaha! It’s hilarious how much finding out folk are going through these days.

      Eg. Here is a fun visual for everyone who lives in Alberta:

      Just in case these researchable, verifiable facts ‘Triggers the Trudeau’ response, I keep the following handy:

      And watch them. clam. up. SOMEONE was doing better than the rest of the country in Alberta, just not very many Albertans themselves, it appears.

      • GoinFawr: While the second visual would be reassuring to corporate executives and big-time shareholders, the only visual that should matter to ordinary Albertans is the first one. Sadly, it doesn’t. These folks are blinded by the mythology that life is better under the conservatives. If Smith wins they’ll soon realize how wrong they are.

    • Linda, it looks to me that Pawlowski was so off the wall in that press conference that people are writing him off. This is unfortunate because there are likely many grains of truth in his allegations of what Smith and her party promised him.

      • GoinFawr says:

        ‘grains of truth’. Heh, another ‘grainy’ video or two with Artie’s allegations stated in plain prommisory language by Smith et al certainly would be even more damning.
        After the alleged phone call I heard, and the ethics’ commish’ findings of guilt, I actually think Art has solid credibility to provide testimony on this, and only this, subject.
        Someone should let him know one signed and notarized affadavit in hand is worth two eye witnesses in the bush.

  30. Riles says:

    Great article, Susan.
    One need not look hard for sources of excrement in the UCP’s baking.

  31. Linda says:

    Hi Susan. I actually looked at who was running in the various ridings as in our riding we had a choice between the Green Party, the NDP & the UCP. What struck me was the number of ridings which had a Solidarity Party of Alberta (Pawlowski’s party) candidate. I’d estimate at least 80%+ of all the ridings had a candidate running, which really raised my eyebrows. The party website – yes, I ventured there! – has a very American tone. Guns, Freedom, Liberty were prominently mentioned. Have to say I found this rather disturbing, in that obviously those themes resonated with enough people to encourage them to run as candidates all across Alberta. On the possible silver lining side, seems to me that this has the potential to split the vote, so that those who vote for the SPA (one is tempted to think SPCA – In truth, I could get behind a Society for Prevention of (political) Cruelty to Albertans!) will therefore not vote UCP. Which might actually give the edge to the NDP. I also noted that there were ridings featuring WildRose or Alberta Party candidates, but they were in relatively short supply compared to the SPA.

    I’ve been following the advance voting numbers. Looks like we will easily smash the previous record of some 660,000 set in 2019 as we passed 600,000 yesterday. Regardless of the result, I find it encouraging that folks are apparently motivated to actually get out & vote. Who knows, we might even surpass 70% engagement this time around.

    • Valerie says:

      According to Dave Cournoyer, the Solidarity Movement has 38 candidates, so not enough to form government even if they all won. Only the NDP and UCP are running full slates.

      There are 14 parties and also I think 23 people running as independents, including Larry Heather, not a big vote-getter:

      • Linda says:

        Hi Valerie: I was focused on Calgary where the Solidarity party is running in 18 out of 26 Calgary ridings. I took some time to look over who was running in all the Alberta ridings tonight via the Elections Alberta website. As you noted, quite a few folks are running as independents. There seems to be quite a number of what I think would be variations on a conservative theme parties running candidates. I’ve no idea if these parties were supposed to be part of the UCP & splintered off again or whether they never joined in the first place but presumably each of these parties will receive some number of votes that might otherwise have gone to the UCP. While it is most likely going to be either the NDP or UCP forming the next provincial government it seems possible that some ridings might be won by candidates belonging to other parties or even an independent.

  32. Valerie says:

    Yes, I’m in Calgary-Klein and there is a Solidarity candidate and a Green Party one as well as the two main parties.
    I think independents usually don’t do well, but there might be a few get in this time.
    Tim Hoven who is running agaist Jason Nixon might have a chance, but he is extreme rightwing, so I hope they both lose.
    I was impressed by the leader of the Green Party Jordan Wilkie on RealtalkRJ, but he’s running in Edmonton, so if he won it would mean the NDP losing a seat.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Hi Valerie. I tried the Vote Compass thing on CBC, and (not to my surprise) found the Green Party is the best match for my attitudes–and not just for carbon-pollution controls, either. Check it out, just for fun.

      However, I’m voting strategically again. With the outcome still in doubt, I’m supporting Notley and the NDP in hopes of an anti-Smith result.

      It’s gonna come down to undecided voters in Calgary. I’m not hopeful, because fear of change will dominate dissatisfaction with the status quo. Still…anger works both ways.

      David Parker is very good at making people like him angry. I wonder how much of a backlash that’s causing in Calgary? That might become the deciding factor in tomorrow’s vote.

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