Danielle Smith becomes next UCP leader

To no one’s surprise Danielle Smith has become the next UCP leader and unfortunately next premier of Alberta. That being said it was closer than I thought and had ridings been weighted equally it is likely Toews would have won as Smith’s support mostly in rural areas where majority of UCP members are, but not majority of Albertans. Below I will be discuss what I think will happen and my thoughts.

I believe UCP has just shot itself in the foot. With economy recovering, UCP had a decent chance of a comeback and after trailing in polls for last two years, was finally pulling ahead. However, I believe by choosing Smith, UCP has just handed the next election to NDP. UCP’s strong point was economy and with Smith’s sovereignty act, that will likely mean they no longer have that strength as investors like stability and sovereignty act will make Alberta a less attractive place to invest. Alberta is seeing many people moving there, but now why would anyone with someone like Smith in charge want to move there? I don’t think next election will be a blowout as Smith’s libertarian and autonomist policies likely popular in rural Alberta, but I believe Calgary which is the battleground will go NDP. It may be more pro-business and fiscally conservative thus why less favourable to NDP than Edmonton but also is a modern educated city and has little appetite for right wing populism or extreme ideologies.

Personally if I lived in Alberta, I would probably vote for Alberta Party as while little chance of winning, I like their moderate centrist, pragmatic approach. Best outcome would be a minority government where they hold the balance of power. But if one party is going to get a majority, I think an NDP majority would be preferable to a UCP majority. I don’t agree with a lot of Notley’s economic policies, but I am a Canadian first and foremost and will never support someone who wants to weaken our federation. I feel Alberta has an unfair negative stereotype and Smith just helps play into that. If Alberta wants to attract more talent, it needs a better reputation. It has lots going for it, but being seen as a right wing backwater is not going to help economy diversify in a knowledge based economy. It’s not just her sovereignty act that is problematic, she has lots of bad policies.

  1. Wants to have own police force and collect own tax revenue which is just a waste of money and will achieve little
  2. Wants own pension plan despite fact CPPIB is a top notch manager of pensions, way better than AIMCo and Alberta’s younger population may not last forever so puts people’s pensions at risk over ideology
  3. Wants to fire AHS bureaucrats claiming they are NDP stooges when many have worked under multiple governments and most governments keep civil service who are professional and work with whomever is in power
  4. Opposed to any covid restrictions. Most of us hope we don’t have to bring them back, but if a nasty new variant that evades vaccines emerge, it may be necessary and this type of dogmatism is dangerous. I am fine with saying covid restrictions will be as least restrictive as possible and done only as a last resort. Otherwise the Dr. Bonnie Henry approach that has worked well in BC, but not Florida approach of no restrictions no matter what.
  5. She pushes anti-science and quack theories like encouraging people to take Ivermectin, a horse dewormer to cure covid

As for federal-provincial relations, they are likely to get ugly. I think Trudeau should play it cautiously until next election as main hope of federal government should be that Notley wins next year so they can have a more productive relationship. But the law of the land must be enforced. That means Alberta sovereignty act if passed needs to be taken to court to get it struck down. Likewise on gun ban, federal government needs to make clear it will apply in every province and there is no opting out and provinces that do not cooperate will be taken to court. If Smith does win, then I think feds need to play hardball. Alberta needs to realize their success is due to being part of Canada and separation would be far more damaging to Alberta than rest of Canada despite what some like to claim. Being landlocked with only 4.4 million people is not going to attract investment. And idea of being a tax haven is laughable and not what most Albertans want either. Also if Smith does win, BC and Ontario may be in return need to do an ad of BC/Ontario calling encouraging Albertans who don’t like her regressive policies to re-locate.

6 thoughts on “Danielle Smith becomes next UCP leader

  1. I still think the outcome of the next election is uncertain. The UCP can definitely win next year but I don’t think they will win by much if they do win with Smith. On the other hand the ABNDP has a decent chance of winning next year but they need to campaign like they want to win. They have a lot of strong candidates but they need to sell a winnable vision for the province while not getting distracted by whatever smith throws at them. Whoever wins next year won’t get anything above a 5 seat majority in my opinion. The province is to polarized now for landslide wins

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    1. I agree it won’t be a landslide. Outside two main cities, I expect UCP to win the lion’s share of seats. Edmonton will be an NDP sweep so it comes down to Calgary. NDP won’t sweep it, but I could easily see them limiting UCP to the southern edges.

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  2. I agree with you 100% Miles. Alberta is better than Danielle Smith as Premier. I worry what the coming months will bring before their next election, I worry a lot.

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    1. I am less as feds can take her to court and I think they will and they will almost certainly win. But if god forbid she wins next year, it is going to be bad. At same time I think it will result in a lot of skilled people leaving province and businesses too. Idea that Alberta will attract both by being a low tax, low regulation province is false. Those can help if you have other desirable attributes but they don’t on their own. Trying to be Singapore with snow (paraphrasing what Truss & Co in UK want which is Singapore on Thames) won’t work nor is what most Albertans want.

      This is what some want https://nationalpost.com/opinion/michael-taube-danielle-smith-would-be-good-for-alberta-and-the-canadian-federation-as-a-whole otherwise Alberta to be a lab rat for more ideological conservatism and libertarianism. My response is no thanks, take this garbage elsewhere. We don’t need it anywhere in Canada. Loads of red states in US which I am sure would love this so try there.

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  3. Good article, thanks. My only quibble is your comment that Dr. Henry has done a good job with COVID in BC. She has been awful, but BC has managed to hide and misrepresent much of the data. BC’s excess mortality numbers are very high for the past 2.5+ years. Vaccine doses and therapeutics for COVID are restricted. Hinshaw has tried to follow in Henry’s footsteps, but the UCP have bably bumbled even trying to hide data, which will likely soon disappear.
    I agree with you that the May 2023 election, if held, will be close. Overall, your writing is clear and well reasoned. Thank you again.

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  4. That should be badly bumbled, not bably bumbled. Argh. My apologies. I do think that there is a small possibility that the provincial election could be postponed for another year, though unlikely.

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