Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Trudeau And Smith

Justin Trudeau and Danielle Smith shook hands yesterday. You could see the pain on Smith's face. Graham Thomson writes:

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Tuesday’s video of Danielle Smith’s painfully awkward handshake with Prime Minister Trudeau is worth a novella.

Then again, given the soap-opera quality of Alberta politics these days, it’s really a telenovela.

Packed into the five-second video is years’ worth of Alberta conservative political theatre embellished with anger, cynicism, partisanship and hypocrisy.

When a smiling Trudeau offered Smith his hand, she looked so ill at ease you’d think he was offering her a dead fish. She responded in kind with a handshake so reluctant that Trudeau ended up pretty much holding her hand while the photo-op cameras clicked.

This is Alberta-Ottawa relations 2023.

For Smith and her supporters, Justin Trudeau is the boogeyman:

Smith won a United Conservative Party leadership race in which she pandered to angry Conservatives by, among other things, relentlessly demonizing the prime minister as being anti-oil, anti-pipeline and all-around anti-Alberta. As premier, she has said the Liberal government is not a true national government, and in December passed an Alberta Sovereignty Act aimed at thwarting federal laws Smith deems to be un-Albertan.

But Smith's rhetoric has put her between a rock and hard place:

The problem — call it a trap — for Smith is she has to get along with the federal government, particularly when it comes to getting money from Ottawa. This week’s long-anticipated first ministers conference on health-care funding is such a trap.

Ottawa is offering the provinces money — a whopping $196 billion over 10 years — if they agree to strings attached. Premiers say it’s less money than they hoped and need time to think it over. Smith won’t commit to accepting the money but at the same time can’t simply refuse it. And she can’t take too long to accept it, especially with a provincial election campaign on the way in May.

There’s historical precedent. In April 2021, then-Premier Jason Kenney undermined his dwindling popularity in Alberta’s major cities by attacking the federal $10-a-day child-care plan by dismissing it as a “cookie-cutter, nine-to-five, urban, government and union-run institutional daycare” plan. He dragged his heels on a bilateral deal but finally signed one in November of that year at a brittle news conference with Trudeau that almost matched this week’s Smith-Trudeau clumsy handshake for awkwardness.

Kenney had put himself in a politically vulnerable spot by courting angry anti-Trudeau supporters to win the UCP leadership in 2017 and the Alberta election in 2019. They rebelled against him during the pandemic when they accused him of cosying up to Trudeau after Kenney pleaded with the federal government for more COVID-related help. (Ottawa responded with more per-capita funding for Alberta than any other province.) Kenney’s reward from his angry rural Conservatives was getting booted out as UCP leader in 2022 and being replaced with the even angrier anti-Trudeau leader, Danielle Smith.

So Smith should both look and feel uncomfortable. Hers is not smart politics.

Image: The Toronto Star


Anonymous said...

Smith, a grotesque embarrassment to the office she holds and the people of Alberta, is not worthy to be in the same room with someone of Justin Trudeau's stature. He know this, and played it well. She looks genuinely uncomfortable and that's a good thing. My wish for 2023 is to have this particular subset of wannabe idiot politicians, go down in flames, unfortunately it's going to take a few more years to get rid of Doug Ford, but if Smith goes, that's a win. BC Waterboy.

Owen Gray said...

It will take smarter voters to get rid of politicians who aren't smart, waterboy.

zoombats said...

Insulting behaviour has run amuck in society in general. Witness the cat calling during Biden's State of the Union last night. There is unlimited vitriol on the increase every where we turn now and it seems unrelenting. There is a lack of dignity in the political arena where lies are now common currency. I can remember a time when people would have debate, heated or otherwise, but at least it was dignified. Now we hold unpleasant signs, throw gravel, refuse to shake hands or heckle people out right. We, including elected officials and service people have become a rabble. We have lost touch with reasonable behaviour.

Lulymay said...

Smith hasn't got a clue, Owen. She obviously doesn't understand that even though it sometimes appears that Albertans were vaccinated with a Conservative phonograph needle when voting, they still value their health care (bigly, actually). She was a talk show host who was in control of the message and thinks being Premier affords her the same edge.

At least Doug, when he got his minority realized he had to somewhat appear to behave and the voters bought that "new" Doug and gave him a majority by not even bothering to vote. However, we now see the real Doug at work in Ontario and health care appears to be the casualty of that misplaced trust.

Even the voters in the byelection that was considered a "safe" seat barely gave her a win
so that she could actually sit in the office of the Premier. She is facing an election shortly and her off the cuff remarks and then denials isn't going to be helpful in her quest to be a Premier who was duly elected by the the voters rather than a select group of insiders of the party.

Owen Gray said...

We have regressed into childhood, zoombats. Movement can be backward instead of forward.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Lulymay. She's simply not a smart politician.

the salamander said...

Less than a year ago a simple rational ‘Study’ (not a partisan ‘poll’) could have inquired across Canada & Territories - ‘Do you believe a Canadian Province and it’s Elected Government (ie it’s Political Party) could be captured & taken over in a modern
Political COUP D’√ČTAT ? That Government having a Majority (unstoppable) & can Design/Enforce ANY LAW it wishes.. no matter what anyone ‘thinks’.

I wonder what the Study Response would indicate, suggest, inform..

Let’s say - based on Population - perhaps or not - a Grand Total of approx 5,000 or more respondents - and ideally Every Major Sector per useful Age / Sex / .. etc etc.. even younger than Voting Age.. ie school children to aged Seniors. Employed/Unemployed, Wealthy/Poor, City Workers/Rocket Scientists, Witches/Priests..

I wonder what the Study would report ?

And If we added the criteria of ? — The Elected Leader of the Party & therefore Premier - would be told to vacate the Office as the Party Caucus of Elected Public Servants had decided to install an unelected person, an avowed separatist Talk Show Host as Premier & she would require The Office, thanks

PS.. I’m not offering an ‘opinion’ myself It actually happened..
and the deposed Former Guy actually design/built the secretive Party structures, by/laws such that it was essentially impregnable to FOI’s - Freedom of Information, Transparency or Accountability.. it would be a JUGGERNAUT

Owen Gray said...

Autocracy is everywhere these days, sal.