July 24th, 2024

Danielle Smith spreading the gravy train around

By Lethbridge Herald on November 25, 2023.

Shannon Phillips – NDP MLA for Lethbridge West


For those of us with long memories of Alberta politics there was a certain irony to this week’s revelations of sole-sourced contracts to government insiders and friends. In fact, the irony was louder than a freight train’s horn as the list of contracts revealed the Premier’s former caucus mates, campaign manager, and party president were awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in government contracts that never went to tender. 

Wasn’t it just a decade ago when the former Opposition Leader Danielle Smith would rail against the Stelmach and Redford Conservatives about their sole-sourced contracts to insiders? Was it not Danielle Smith and her small Opposition caucus who denounced the hubris of that four decades old conservative government and slung arrows at the mighty Goliath? 

But the 2013 version of Danielle Smith who criticized and denounced that gravy train of entitlement is no more. The 2023 version of Danielle Smith has donned that train engineer’s hat so she can spread the gravy as far as possible:  her former colleagues, campaign team, and mentors.

Her former adviser and Wildrose Party President while she was leader, David Yager, received a contract to review the AER because, despite being in a province of energy experts, he “was the only person qualified” to conduct the review. 

The Premier’s leadership campaign manager, Matthew Altheim, got two sole-sourced contracts worth over $142,000 in just a few months. 

Her former caucus mate, Shayne Saskiw, managed to get a sole-sourced contract for his firm, Alberta Counsel. And the man who helped organize Smith’s floor crossing in 2014, Preston Manning, received over a quarter of a million dollars in a sole-sourced contract because he was the only qualified person to write a report. 

I sure have to wonder what qualifications these insiders have that make them so unique. 

They stand out for some reason but I am having a tough time putting my finger on it because all I can hear is the loud whistle of that gravy-filled freight train as it barrels down the track of hypocrisy.

It did not take long for Smith and the UCP to become the very thing they claimed to want to banish. While my constituents worry about each utility bill they open and wonder how they will afford car insurance for their teens, the UCP government is lavishing two years of pay on their pals for a couple months of work. 

There may be a reason why the former Wildrose Party President is the only person in a province of five million people who could review the AER but the contract is not clear on what qualifications were required. 

The lack of transparency in sole-source contracts is a key issue. In fact, the Alberta NDP has written to the Auditor General and requested they conduct a review of the contracts. 

If the Premier and her team are not willing to be transparent about the very unique qualifications required for these contracts, the Auditor General should review them. The public deserve no less than transparency and accountability from the Premier.

I can only imagine what 2013 Danielle Smith would be saying to 2023 Danielle Smith right now. It might just sound a lot like what is running through your head: stop the train and the gravy.

As always, I am keen to hear your concerns. My phone number is 403-329-4644 and email is Lethbridge.west@assembly.ab.ca  


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Southern Albertan

Agreed…again, this Smith UCP/TBA gong show stuff just cannot be made up.


Oh Shannon can you not change-out your sour grapes from time to time. Your rotting grapes are turning into alcohol.

Ben Matlock

So, you’re okay with the government contracting for work without going through a tendering process? Is that how you define sound stewardship of tax dollars? Or are so blinded by your partisan commitment to the UCP that you can’t tolerate a legitimate criticism?


I’d say the latter. I’m surprised he was able to form two sentences.


Is that the best you can do lumpy-brain? Sad!


The lesser of two evils! Your wing-nut socialists had investment dollars flying out of this province when whats-her-face-Nutley was at the wheel.


185000 jobs and a royalty review that changed nothing except for driving investment away. Which was the sole purpose to allow subsidization of their friends in the intermittent power gravy train.

Ben Matlock

Ask yourself this: If the NDP were in power and engaged in this behaviour, would you be okay with that?


If the shoe fits wear it! They all can be accused of this! The fact remains when the NDP ran this province they did damage that still reverberates to this day.

Ben Matlock

Let’s try this one last time. Eye on the ball. The question isn’t about which party is engaging in the behaviour described in MLA Phillips’ OpEd, it’s about the behaviour itself. So, put your disdain for the NDP aside and answer this question: Regardless of the party in question, are you okay with the government – any government – letting major contracts in the absence of a tendering process?


let me try for johnny: it is ok so long as it is ucp/cons forgoing tendering process…it saves time and money, right?!


You’ve got to slow it down for johnny57. He’s the dim bulb on the tree.


2023 Danielle would not hear 2013 Danielle because she only talks.She was the same in 2013. Its like she is reading from an old script from her younger years.Listening to the present is not required. That is why she never asked the doctors about the nurse practitioner idea. She does not hear the oil businesses that care about the importance of making changes to how we treat the planet. She does not hear the renewable resources industry tell her how successful that line of business is becoming, or how much business will be lost over the six months needed for …..what? She did not hear the 2019 report about the infeasability of moving Alberta funds from CPP to a new APP. Maybe she did not realize those funds do not belong to any province? She has not come up with anything original in a world that is thirty years older than the firewall letter recommendations PM Stephen Harper did not follow through on..


And this is why

To calculate net debt, you subtract a government’s financial assets from its total (gross) debt, with the implicit assumption that those assets could be used to offset debt. But the financial assets used to calculate Canada’s net debt include the Canada and Quebec Pension Plans (CPP and QPP).
Assets in the CPP and QPP are needed to provide pensions for current and future retirees in Canada. Therefore, Canadian governments cannot presumably draw from these assets to offset government debt without compromising the plans’ ability to meet obligations to pensioners. This means Canada’s net debt understates its indebtedness—a problem not faced by other countries.
Net assets in the CPP and QPP totalled roughly $699 billion in mid-2023, while according to the IMF, the difference between Canada’s gross debt and net debt will be roughly $2.6 trillion by the end of 2023, which means that more than one-quarter of the difference between Canada’s gross and net debt is due to the CPP and QPP.z


the ndp instituted one entirely dumb, inane process while in power: their foolish light bulb dalliance. however, relative to the waste and sleaze we see perpetrated by every political party that comes to power in our country, it amounted to among the very least egregious acts of abuse i can recall.
how is it that johnnys and buckheads of alberta cannot acknowledge the ndp inherited a massive mess, begun by the klein years, and then not attended to at all by subsequent con ovts here. moreover, ndp came to power at time of very low WORLD oil prices, and very low demand for alberta oil. thus, the ndp had massive infrastructure, and orphan well/environmental issues to confront, but during a period of significantly impaired revenue…how does a govt do much with its revenue train derailed by WORLD events? yet, here we are, again, in a good run of oil revenue, and we still have most of the same infrastructure and orphaned well/environmental issues, with the cons again in power. lots of coin coming in, but little to nothing being done for the public good with it. oh, but the pocket lining is in high gear.
somehow, the johnnys and buckheads of alberta blame the ndp for the low demand and prices for alberta oil during the 4 years of ndp here – and that the ndp should have had some magic power to have told opec to do what they decided to do after the ndp years: reduce oil output in order to jack up world oil prices. those same johnnys and buckheads of alberta will further fail to acknowledge how we got robbed big time before the ndp, and that we are getting robbed big time once again, by your friendly neighbourhood alberta cons.


Once you start tossing insults around you have zero credibility other than a kid who just had their taken away.




not sure what you find insulting about the entry. are the points presented too too much?


Is this really the “best” Mrs. PHILLIPS, the opposition “Finance Critic”, can come up with? We are yet to hear/see any positive dictation from her and or the NDP platform!

It would be a stretch for Mrs. PHILLIPS to, for once, play nice in the “sand box” and NOT take her dump truck full of #@!$% and spread it all over! I guess Mrs. PHILLIPS learned nothing from her 5 years with the ALF, and the workings of organizational enterprise, rather was captured by the NDP mantra of uncontrolled and frivilous spending, which we are still recovering from.


Like the ucp’s STUPID multi-million dollar ad campaigns to blacken the covers of newspapers?

The Dude

Let me see if I understand your comment: You think that MLA Phillips, an elected member of the Official Opposition, a group of MLAs tasked with holding the Government’s feet the fire, should not criticize the Government’s actions, but should be more positive? Is that what you are suggesting?


The Opposition
“The Opposition is made up of MLAs who aren’t part of the governing party. The role of the Opposition is to critique government activity, propose improvements to legislation, and present itself to the public as an alternative to the party in office.”

When???? Did we EVER hear/see Mrs. PHILLIPS in this role? For an important illustrated example,, did we see any articulated “Opposition budget” presented?? Rather than “shooting the messenger” isn”t it time we got some concrete and positive “alternatve” idealisms from Mrs. PHILLIPS and the NDP et’al? If Mrs. PHILLIPS/NDP are, as suspected, incapable of doing so, perhaps they should default to the “wisdom” of Walt Disney and “Thumper…. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.


“Snowflake is a term to descibe a person who relishes dishing it out, but curls up into a trembling ball of victimhood should their views be challenged.” Synonyms: cry baby, hypocrite, thin-skinned ideologue.

In othe words, hp, better to be critical of the sorry state of debate and diplomacy in government, regardless of team colours.


your last line is a bullseye!

The Dude

Why is so difficult for you and your ilk to answer a straightforward question in a straightforward way?

John P Nightingale

Oh you mean like our illustrious MP Thomas?
Complain and blame, moan and moan ad infinitum – without any substantial offerings whatsoever.
She (Thomas), must surely be a heroine in your eyes , despite doing everything that you find so abhorrent in Phillips.

Last edited 7 months ago by John P Nightingale

Oh Johnny, how did you manage to pull MP Rachael Thomas into this one? Let’s re-focus on Mrs. Phillips, but the focus is very difficult when she (Phillips) is seldomly anywhere to be found…in her Lethbridge office…by answering phone calls…returning messages…answering e-mails… etc! Is it perhaps that her “post tramatic stress syndrome” has incapacitated her? If so, maybe she should resign and live off her winning(s) of her filed litigation against LPS et al.

Last edited 7 months ago by HaroldP
Mrs. Kidd (she/her)

Thumper’s advice is very sound. I suggest you embrace it, or at the very least, try of offer a comment that doesn’t disparage people with whom you disagree.