Every few decades, Albertans decide it’s time for a change in government. Danielle Smith and her new Wildrose Alliance party is winning support across the province and could give Ed Stelmach and the Conservatives something they’re not used to: a true competitor for control of the legislature.
Stan Harder, a freelance writer and retired farmer from St. Brides, Alta., sent the following report from a Wildrose Alliance meeting in nearby Bonnyville. Stan writes:
At my age I’ve seen enough pricks in politics to build a picket fence around the farm but Danielle Smith is not one of them. There was standing room only and not much of that at the Senior Centre. Organizers brought out as many more chairs as they could fit and then folks lined up in strings and knots along the wall. It was a two-hour meeting, the temperature was approaching -30C and only one lady with a baby left early. With no refreshments, no enticements to attend, and mostly word-of-mouth-advertising, folks came from miles around to hear her speak. We are an hour away and I know another couple for sure who drove from 35 minutes farther away than that.
I’d never seen anything like it. As is common while folks are waiting for things to happen they visit with neighbours, but the moment she entered the room there was complete silence. Just like that. No one announced she had arrived, she just had.
She was every bit as good as I had expected. She comes across as extremely intelligent, very well versed in a full range of topics and honest enough to say so if she is uncertain on what direction her party will be taking on any particular subject. She didn’t try to be all things to all people and laid out the realities as she saw them.
Both questions and answers were conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect and goodwill I’d never seen at a political meeting. She pointed out the flaws of the current government as she saw them but entirely without rancour or bombast. After listening to guys like Paul Martin of the Liberals, whose only platform at the time was to trash Harper, this was remarkable.
The audience was mixed but mostly from agriculture and oil. This has been Conservative country forever yet these folks were there to participate positively, not to look for Wildrose issues they could attack.
Danielle Smith would make an excellent spokesperson for Alberta in any forum — local, provincial, national — and I’d be proud to have her speak for me.
She may well have character flaws buried somewhere but her inherent intelligence is beyond dispute. She’s bright, very bright, but not arrogant or condescending, just answered questions off the cuff conversationally. She took notes, but didn’t read from any that I could see. She knew what she was going to say next and did so.
Yeah, I’d vote for her no matter what party she represented. The key now will be to see what kind of people she can attract around her. If she chooses well she could indeed be the next premier of Alberta. She could be our Danny Williams or Brad Wall.