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Alberta

Danielle Smith Says the Darndest Things

A quick fact check of what Alberta’s premier told Matt Galloway on CBC’s 'The Current' last week.

Susan Jane Wright 21 Nov 2023The Tyee

Susan Jane Wright was a lawyer and an executive in the energy sector before she became a writer. Follow her work at Susan on the Soapbox.

Last week Danielle Smith was interviewed by Matt Galloway, the host of CBC’s The Current. Listening to her, I was reminded of Art Linkletter’s show Kids Say the Darndest Things. Unfortunately the things Smith said weren’t funny.

Here’s a sample.

Leaving CPP

Smith said Alberta is entitled to 53 per cent of the Canada Pension Plan’s assets and that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s number of 16 per cent was pulled out of the air.

She said if Ottawa’s number isn’t close to Alberta’s number, Alberta will go to court for a “fair adjudication.”

She also said the reason why the majority of Albertans (and people like Pierre Poilievre) don’t support Alberta leaving CPP is that they need “more communication.”

But when it comes to determining the impact on the rest of Canada of Alberta walking off with 53 per cent of CPP’s assets, Smith was adamant. The impact would be “minimal.” She quantified the impact at “about $175 per person” to put someone in the same position they’d been in before.

What is she, psychic?

She doesn’t know Ottawa’s number and she doesn’t know how courts will calculate the right number, but she can pinpoint the impact on the rest of Canada at “about $175 per person.”

Apparently, it’s OK to pull numbers out of the air when it’s Smith doing the pulling.

The carbon tax and national unity

The discussion about the carbon tax exemption for home heating fuel got interesting when Galloway asked whether Smith’s argument that the exemption should be applied uniformly across Canada (it’s a matter of national unity) was disconnected from her pitch to pull Alberta out of CPP.

Heavens no.

Smith said national unity doesn’t mean Ottawa gets to do whatever it wants. Besides, she had plenty of examples of Alberta engaging collaboratively with the feds. We’d signed a $24-billion health-care deal, the feds were “very helpful” fighting our fires, and they were joint investors in housing and major projects.

Based on her examples, Smith thinks national unity means Alberta can do whatever it wants and still call on the feds to pay for it.

‘Tell the feds’ ad campaign

Galloway said Smith’s “tell the feds” ad campaign suggested clean electricity regulations could pitch the entire country into blackouts. Why was she was using “scare tactics”?

Because it’s true, she replied.

Gobsmacked, Galloway repeated the question: “It’s true there could be blackouts across the country because of...?”

Because Alberta had experienced eight grid alerts last year, she said.

Just to be clear: Alberta and Saskatchewan are the only two provinces that are heavily reliant on natural gas power generation; the rest of Canada relies on multiple sources for power generation including hydro and nuclear.

Either Smith doesn’t know that Alberta is not a template for the rest of Canada, or she doesn’t care what she says in the heat of the moment.

Moratorium on wind and solar

Galloway moved on to Smith’s moratorium on wind and solar. What was the purpose of the moratorium?

She babbled on about how the “wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine all the time,” then said she needed more natural gas power plant applications in the queue and there were none. Eventually it became apparent that she imposed the moratorium on new wind and solar applications to give the natural gas guys time to catch up.

In other words, she’s fine with her government meddling in the marketplace when it’s in aid of fossil fuel companies but won’t stand for it when it’s in aid of renewable energy.

Net zero

Galloway asked whether Smith’s plan to reach net zero by 2050 matched the urgency Alberta experienced during our fire- and smoke-filled summer. She replied her urgency is matched to the efforts of China and India, which are targeting net zero by 2050 or later.

So instead of helping Canada lead the way to net zero, she’s prepared to impede Canada’s progress. She’d rather drag Canada down than pull China and India up.

Tucker Carlson

In response to why she’s going to share the stage with Tucker Carlson — a man who’s attacked Ukraine, vilely diminished women, endorsed the Jan. 6 attempt to overturn the presidential election and spouted the white supremacist great replacement theory — she said she wants to get Alberta’s story out and if she refused to be interviewed by people she disagreed with, she might not have come on Galloway’s show.

There is so much wrong with this response that we’ll simply note that Galloway has never made racist, misogynist, tinfoil hat conspiracy comments. Perhaps what Smith found distasteful was Galloway’s political ideology, something she assumed from the fact that he worked at the CBC.

Compassionate conservatism

Galloway closed by asking Smith to define what she means by “compassionate conservatism.”

Smith stated Alberta was addressing mental health with “compassionate intervention,” which can result in mandatory incarceration and treatment for certain individuals, then expanded her definition to include growing the economy and building wealth to generate revenue that’s used to deliver the best health-care system and education system.

Given that Alberta is the richest province in the country and its health-care and education systems are teetering on the brink, it’s hard to envision how we’ll be better off with more “compassionate conservatism.”

But hey, Danielle Smith says the darndest things, eh?  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Alberta

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