The loss of Danielle Smith and Alberta’s best opposition

The past year has been what can only be described as a roller-coaster ride for Alberta politics. In a rush of absurdity, the possible finale of the Progressive Conservative Party’s 40-plus-year regime ended in the destruction of our province’s best hope at opposition, the Wildrose party. At the same time, we saw the voluntary career suicide of Danielle Smith, someone who was seen by many as the shining beacon of hope through her criticism of the government amidst a fog of corruption and scandals.

A few weeks ago, Smith saw her last hope of continuing her career wiped away when she lost her nomination race to run as a PC candidate in the next election. While it would be easy for us to say she deserved it and let her disappear into obscurity, we must recognize who she was and what she represented leading up to her departure, and why this chain of events makes so little sense for somebody that was in such a great position to possibly finally take down the PC party.

Up until recently, my attitude towards Smith had been one of annoyance. Like I’d expect many Albertans to feel when seeing her in the media, it always seemed like she did nothing but criticize. Although by no means a PC supporter, as an Albertan, I always want to see the best for our province, one way or another. But Smith always gave off an air of unproductivity in that it seemed no matter what our government did, she could talk for days about how she would have done it better.

However, as things got worse in the political environment and in the economy, she didn’t seem so hypercritical anymore. Her petty criticisms were now real issues — we had a government with a clear sense of entitlement that seemed to think it could do whatever it wanted with our tax dollars and the power we had granted them democratically. Finally, it seemed Albertans had evidence that the PCs didn’t quite seem to have the best interests of their province as a priority. The economic recession now being a catalyst, it seemed that somebody finally disrupting the PC rule could be a reality.

So why did Danielle Smith throw it all away? Unfortunately, I don’t think that anyone besides herself can offer an explanation that’s anything but speculation. It’s very easy to call her naïve in that she thought she could trust her career with Premier Prentice. You could also say that her actions show she was unfit for leadership after all.

But there’s just got to be more to it. Her actions really don’t make sense. Why would somebody who stood for so much — and just weeks before could be seen speaking out against how horrible and wrong the Conservatives were — suddenly have a change in heart? How could she feel that the two parties suddenly share their views and are better off as one, or as it worked out, as one and without the other?

These questions will probably never be answered, and you’re welcome to take your guess at if she’s actually crazy or if it’s all some sort of conspiracy.

Whether you agreed with Smith’s ideals or not, we’re all forced to mourn the death of what she had behind her: the last meaningful vocal opposition to the Alberta PC party. Sure, there are other parties, but their power isn’t nearly as significant. Smith’s Wildrose party was a force to be reckoned with after the last election, and while the PCs still consistently held a majority government, she was the only one that looked to have their defeat in her grasp. Now, with her crossing and destruction, we’re left with nothing. No vocal opposition, no threat to the PCs. The nobody Wildrose substitute.


  1. Or…. she was a genius and let darth vader kill her like obi-one kanobi so that Luke would be stronger than ever and could take down the evil emperor! 🙂

  2. Anyone can criticize policy from the outside. Smith and the Wildrose benefited from a PC party and leader that were constantly shooting themselves in the foot, but she showed zero capacity to actually govern if she had won. To say that she represents the “last meaningful vocal opposition” is, as a previous poster said, disingenuous and out of touch with the current political landscape, not to mention an insult to the democratic process. Is it really such a bad thing that the province has managed to escape the choice between right and further-right that it seemed destined for a year ago?

  3. I miss Danielle and my personal opinion is she was manipulated by Mr. Prentice, I would vote for her in a heartbeat!! People make mistakes and I think the slim ball of a premier had this up his sleeve the entire time.

  4. Was this article written weeks ago and just posted today? It seems thoroughly outdated already, given the recent polls for this election. To call no other party as powerful as the Wildrose once was when both the NDP and Wildrose are currently neck-and-neck with the PCs in the polls seems misinformed, if not disingenuous. Not to mention the commentary on no one knowing why Danielle Smith did it is naive — she was likely either offered a future cabinet position or actually thought Jim Prentice might enact Wildrose policies through his government. It backfired on her or she was played by Prentice and if nothing else the Wildrose defectors have gone a long way in turning public opinion against the PCs which may be the lasting legacy of her provincial political career.

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