JULY 1st, 2023 | Grant Johnson

Danielle Smith Taught Us Four Important Lessons

She beat all the odds and has four years to use her power wisely.
I didn’t think Danielle Smith was capable of winning a general election in Alberta. I thought her political baggage, ideological stridency, and the ongoing hegemony of progressivism in a woke 21st Century Canada would eliminate her from contention. From the looks of the NDP campaign, they thought the same thing. But they were wrong and so was I.
The Alberta election result is about as perfect as could be. A small enough majority that a large caucus need not be managed tenderly. A few key seats lost allowed the UCP to purge the likes of Shandro and Nixon. A rural-heavy win will keep the common-sense voices loudest at the table. Hindsight might have some horrible lessons in store for us, but as of right now, this is a perfect outcome with enormous potential.

Lesson #1

You never know what twists and turns life will bring.
When Danielle Smith lost the nomination in High River and walked out the door with a “so-long ingrates!” attitude, I thought that was the end of Danielle Smith forever. Getting frustrated with the Wildrose So-Con wing of the party, losing control of her caucus, and then crossing the floor and losing her nomination should have, by all rights, been the end of her political career.
Moving into talk radio and online commentary was a reasonable move, but I never thought it would be launching pad to a political comeback… and what a comeback it was. A razor thin win, running against the establishment and talking over the UCP with the help of a cabal of hardcores in Take Back Alberta was not something I thought would work.
Then winning the general election despite the UCP trailing the NDP for about two years in the polls, with a margin of victory that 2600 strategic votes could’ve changed was truly remarkable.
Don’t give up. Keep trying. You never know how things might go.

Lesson #2

Ron Leech and Allan Hunsperger didn’t cost the Wildrose in 2012.
The pundit consensus immediately following the 2012 election was the “Lake of Fire” thing caused voters to have second thoughts about the Wildrose Party and they chickened out at the last minute and stuck with the “conservative” party they had known for 40 years.
I always felt that was a fairly dumb take and thought that—if it was true—it spoke poorly of the average voter. Media's torque over those two issues was obvious to anyone paying attention. Nevertheless, the Wildrose lost and the media consensus concluded, “bozo eruptions!”.
In 2023, the NDP, their allies in the media and third-party groups flung “Lake of Fire” stuff at Danielle and the UCP like I’ve never seen before. It was all just as torqued and dumb as 2012, but this time it didn’t stick. Most of the smears were against Danielle herself, but they isolated a couple of candidates and tried to do the Leech/Huntsperger thing again. Danielle pre-emptively did the Debrah Dreeshen thing with Jennifer Johnson, but it didn’t seem to matter and normal people didn’t even care. Johnson ended up with 75% of the vote.
So, what really happened this time around?
Rick Bell had the best assessment. He said that in 2012, the choice was Wildrose, a party never before in power, or the Progressive Conservatives, the legacy party of Ralph Klein. For a lot of voters flirting with political change, any questions about the Wildrose led them back to the Progressive Conservatives. Alison Redford may not have been their ideal choice, but it wasn’t a long walk from Wildrose back to PC.
In 2023, the choice was much starker. The walk is much longer from UPC to NDP, especially with the NDP having a horrible track record within recent memory. This makes the most sense and should put to rest the notion that people were wildly disgusted by the innocuous remarks made by Leech and Huntsperger during the 2012 campaign.

Lesson #3

People have finally woken up to the truth about legacy media.
I’ve often lamented that Canada’s culture is so painfully left-wing and that so many people get mindlessly programmed by legacy media to genuflect the progressive hegemony. Covid was the high-water mark for the disconnect between legacy media and reality. The Trucker convoy was so egregiously covered that it was beyond belief… and yet millions of Canadians just accepted it wholesale. It was truly discouraging and disheartening.
I knew this election was going to be an avalanche of fear and smear and the legacy media didn’t disappoint. The Nazi schtick was probably the worst. I would often read the latest legacy media outrage and it would be followed up with social media NPC armies bolstering it online. Then I’d investigate the source of whatever the outrage claims were and would listen to the entire speech or statement or post in full context and be left rolling my eyes at the manufactured offenses.
I realized it was nonsense, but history has shown me that the unwashed, mouth-breathing masses don’t. They believe whatever they’re told to believe. The mainstream narrative is always set by the progressive hegemony and Danielle was doomed by this orchestrated avalanche of smear.
But I was wrong this time.
Oh, it probably did work to some degree, especially on people who were primed to not only believe it, but shout it loud and proud, but it didn’t work like it was supposed to work and it didn’t work enough to win. Granted, 2600 carefully placed votes in some key ridings and I wouldn’t be writing this. Voters are fickle and it could have gone differently. But it didn’t.
I’ve been writing in the online/blog/conservative sphere for over twenty years. Alternative media was fringe twenty years ago, but I had the sense, even back then, that it was the future. In 2004 I was working for Global News and I thought that within five years the broadcast industry was going to crash. In 2010 I pulled the trigger on my broadcast career and stopped doing it full time. The last time I saw Danielle in person was when I was working at SunNews shortly before that network was the first to fail in 2015.
Today, the broadcast news industry is a highly subsidized husk of its former self. Sure, these stations still broadcast, but they do it on a slim budget and it shows. Nobody under 60 is watching this stuff and people are cutting their cable cords more and more every year. It doesn’t even occur to people under 40 to hook up cable television in the first place. Newspapers are as good as dead.
“The news” has moved to social media, podcasts and alternative sources/platforms for information. Curated feeds from Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok, YouTube, Twitter and a variety of smaller options can provide people with instant and unfiltered news much better than dinosaur media prepared for a supper broadcast. Websites (like this one) and new media organizations are filling the dearth of coverage and they’re able to do so with far more insight than legacy media would ever allow.
I think we’ve reached a turning point with legacy media. They are no longer able to control anything and are increasingly irrelevant to people’s lives. No matter how hard Don Braid tried to write against the UCP he couldn’t turn the tide. No matter how libelous the CBC, voters weren’t convinced enough to deny Smith a win. Misleading headlines, biased reports, relentless attacks, we’ve crossed a tipping point… this stuff doesn’t work like it used to.
It’s ten years too late, but maybe I’m just an early adopter. Either way, it’s good to see the change… finally.

Lesson #4

I still might be right.
One of my biggest problems as a prognosticating pundit isn’t being wrong, it’s being early. The last time I made a bad call about a provincial election was when Kathleen Wynne won her first and only term as Ontario’s Premier back in 2014. In that instance, I overestimated the average Ontario voter and it took them a full term to come to their senses and boot her out in 2018. In the case of Alberta, I underestimated voters and thought they’d be prey to progressive propaganda and Danielle’s weaknesses.
This latest victory, with 2600 strategic votes making the difference, was a fluke. If not for the wildfires and a stellar debate performance, we may have had a wildly different outcome. Heck, if the weather was different on election day, we could’ve had a different outcome. The UCP did not win a slam dunk… it was a fluke.
Flukes happen. If it’s a fluke pointing in our direction, I will gladly enjoy it, but let’s keep our feet on the ground and recognize this win for what it is: a fluke. Just like Harper’s vote-split induced “strong, stable, majority, conservative government” back in 2011 that was never to be repeated.
Danielle and her cabal of Take Back Alberta fixers need to stay humble and sharp. Use the power they have found and solidify the win. Create patronage positions for right-wing enterprises. Keep supporting alternative media. Figure out how to win over another slice of the electorate. Most importantly: succeed!
Don’t stop succeeding.
It’s going to be an interesting four years. I’m glad Smith is our premier. I’m glad Take Back Alberta is making things happen. I’m glad rural Alberta is in the driver’s seat. This will be a good test for conservatives and conservatism itself.
Four years of power! Use it wisely.
JULY 2023



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