Manitoba’s Stefanson to Alberta’s Smith: Drop dead!


Manitoba’s Stefanson to Alberta’s Smith: Drop dead!
Manitoba’s Stefanson to Alberta’s Smith: Drop dead!
Manitoba’s Stefanson to Alberta’s Smith: Drop dead!
Manitoba’s Stefanson to Alberta’s Smith: Drop dead!
Manitoba’s Stefanson to Alberta’s Smith: Drop dead!

When Manitoba Conservative Premier Heather Stefanson blew off Alberta Conservative Premier Danielle Smith’s call yesterday to ship Alberta oil through the Hudson Bay port of Churchill, Wild Rose Country’s most quotable and quoted political scientist called it a rebuff.

Alberta’s United Conservative Party Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Jake Wright/Manning Centre/Creative Commons).

“This is a surprise,” tweeted Mount Royal University’s Duane Bratt. “Stefanson is rebuffing Smith.”

I’d say it was more than a rebuff. It was actually a good brisk “bug off!” Only, you know, not with a bug.

“There are other, more pressing things for us to be dealing with right now, which is why we’re here today to deal with the most vulnerable in our society,” Premier Stefanson told reporters at a news conference about her government’s plan to open more homeless shelters.

(Translation: Do you think I’m nuts? We’re getting our butts kicked here by the NDP and I’d kinda like to win at least one election as premier!)

Ms. Stefanson said she understood where her Alberta counterpart is at. “She’s facing an election and some tough things, tough challenges politically within her own province, and she wants to get some of these issues out of the way.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe (Photo: Saskatchewan Party).

This was a pretty shrewd analysis of what Ms. Smith was up to when she mailed off a wordy letter to Ms. Stefanson and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe rambling on about what a great idea it would be to build pipelines and ship bitumen from Alberta out through Churchill because, you know, Russia!

Ms. Smith has made a lot of promises to her base, the same ones who used to be Jason Kenney’s base, and they’ve already demonstrated what they do to politicians who fail to implement their Q-adjacent demands. At the same time, she knows some of those same policies are kryptonite to a lot of Alberta voters, especially in Calgary. 

So maybe she can get some of that garbage out of the way now, then set about to acting like someone folks might elect in a couple of Calgary ridings. 

She’d like a photo op at the other two Conservative premiers’ earliest convenience, Ms. Smith concluded her epistle to her fellow potential Buffalonians, where “we will kick-start our ongoing collaboration in this area and formalize a structure to engage with the Port, relevant ministries, First Nations and stakeholders to move this important work forward.”

Ms Stefanson: Uh, no

Former Manitoba NDP premier Gary Doer (Photo: Halifax International Security Forum via Wikipedia).

As for it being a surprise, well, that’s a matter of debate too.

Both Alberta’s and Manitoba’s Conservative premiers have essentially the same problem: an election is looming and their parties are both underperforming in the polls compared to the opposition New Democrats.

Ms. Stefanson, who assumed office a year ago Sunday after a party election, faces an election next year on Oct. 3. Recent polling suggests that if an election were held tomorrow, there would be an NDP majority in Manitoba. 

It’s probably a little early for the province’s Conservatives to panic, but Manitobans have elected New Democrats lots of times before, so it’s not as if anyone would describe another NPD government there as a total fluke.

What’s more, given the small-c conservative approach the NDP took to running the province under Gary Doer from 1999 to 2009, it’s not like anyone could get away with calling them communists like the UCP is forever doing in Alberta. 

Former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Ms. Smith was only elevated to her current post 21 days ago, so maybe she’s still in leadership campaign mode with the fringiest fringes of the UCP’s base in mind. Or maybe she really is the conspiracy-obsessed sovereignist she appears to be.

The next Alberta general election is a little closer, at the end of next May – as long as the recent buzz isn’t true that she intends to ignore the province’s fixed-election-date law and hang around until 2024 without calling an election.

Like her Manitoba counterpart, Ms. Smith is yet to win an election as premier. What’s more, at the moment she doesn’t even has a seat in the Legislature, although she hopes to fix that next Tuesday in Brooks-Medicine Hat. 

Whatever the explanation is, it’s apparent that Ms. Stephenson and Ms. Smith have hit on dramatically different election strategies, at least for now. 

Maybe they’ll both work. Maybe neither of them will. Maybe by this time next year there’ll be NDP governments in three out of four Western Canadian provinces! Now wouldn’t that be a chuckle!

Also yesterday …

Some days it’s hard to know what Alberta story to comment on. Also yesterday was Canadaland’s story of a bizarre plot by sketchy operatives bankrolled by a cabal of Calgary Conservatives to try to trick then Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi into taking a bribe from a fake Russian oligarch.

Mr. Nenshi, of course, told them to take a hike.

It’s hard to believe the people said to be behind the scheme could be that stupid, but then again, maybe it’s not that hard.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford (Photo: Andrew Lewis/Flickr/Creative Commons).

Later yesterday, Mr. Nenshi suggested the Calgary Police Service and the RCMP “investigate this story deeply.” There were also whispers on social media of very senior Alberta Conservatives indeed being involved in this intrigue. 

So it may be best to leave this one alone until the police have completed their investigation – which should be, you know, in three or four years …

There is also the possibility that the planned use by Ontario Conservative Premier Doug Ford’s government of the Notwithstanding Clause of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to smash a garden-variety public sector strike could provoke a general strike in Canada’s most populous province.

So that seems pretty worthy of commentary too. 

Regardless, today’s pick was an opportunity to bask in the reflected glory of the New York Daily News’s headline about another Ford, U.S. President Gerald, on Oct. 30, 1975. It was, in the opinion of this former professional headline writer, one of the two or three greatest headlines ever written:

Ford to City: Drop Dead

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