June 16th, 2024

Non-traditional road to Edmonton in Smith’s ascension, SACPA told


By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 12, 2022.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Trevor Harrison speaks about Danielle Smith during SACPA this past week.

The Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs welcomed Trevor Harrison, University of Lethbridge professor of sociology, back for his thirteenth speaking engagement at its event on Thursday.

Harrison spoke about Alberta’s current premier, Danielle Smith, and how her career took her to where she is now.

“Just who is Danielle Smith? Giving a short bio of her, when she was born, her education, and other facts. Then talking about her values, beliefs, where she is coming from,” said Harrison. “Then what a Smith premiership for Alberta will look like, and what sort of policies we might expect.”

Speaking to Smith’s history, Harrison noted her political career with the Wildrose Party in 2014.

“She pulled off what is a historic thing in Canadian politics. She along with eight other members of the Wildrose Party went across the floor and joined Jim Prentice’s (PC) party,” said Harrison. “The first time ever that an opposition leader, whose first and foremost task is to oppose, said I don’t oppose what the governing party is doing so I’m just going to collapse this into one party.”

After leaving politics Smith would host a radio program on CHQR in Calgary, leaving Feb. 19, 2021, and then became the current Premier of Alberta winning the leadership race for the UCP.

“She appealed to a lot of frustrated and angry people, particularly coming out of COVID,” said Harrison. “She was able to tailor her appeal to those people that are particularly angry. The other thing is, she spent many years since her fall from grace polishing her reputation. Which is what we have seen in a lot of political circles nowadays. People who have a high profile in the media have a leg up in terms of getting into political office; I think she was able to use that effectively.”

Harrison notes her political alignment is an interesting mix on where she falls.

“She is not, I would suggest, a traditional conservative by any means. She is an avowed libertarian, and those two things sit wonky together,” said Harrison. “She also says she is a populist, but her populism is very much tailored towards appealing to people about what they already think, and then using that against them. She knows very well how to get their anger stirred up, and then turn it towards things that she wants to do.”

With a discussion around who the current leader of Alberta is, the talk sparked insight into the future of Alberta’s politics.

“One final prediction, Danielle Smith will disappoint her supporters and members of cabinet, who will eventually turn on her. Because this is what the Conservative Party in their various names have done repeatedly to all of their leaders for well over a decade now. They did it to Klein, they did it to Stelmach, they did it to Redford. They are going to do it again to Danielle Smith, after having done it already to Jason Kenney,” said Harrison.

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