Who is Danielle Smith, Alberta's next premier?
Danielle Smith won the leadership race for the United Conservative Party of Alberta with 53.77% of the vote.
Elected United Conservative leader on Thursday evening, Danielle Smith will take the post of premier of Alberta in one of the most spectacular comebacks in Canadian political history. Who is this politician whose career seemed over eight years ago? Portrait of a woman who leaves no one indifferent.
Born into a rural Alberta family of five children, Danielle Smith made her debut in politics at the University of Calgary, as president of Progressive Conservative campuses.
Alongside him at the time were future Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right-wing preacher Ezra Levant, who would go on to found the Rebel News site, and future Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi. His mentor? Tom Flanagan, adviser to future Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
After her studies in English literature and political science, she became an employee of the conservative think tank Fraser Institute, where she met her idol, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Like her role model, Danielle Smith already identifies herself as a libertarian, a supporter of the smallest possible role for the state in the lives of citizens.
Margaret Thatcher, nicknamed the Iron Lady, advocated individual responsibility, economic liberalism and state disengagement.
In 1998, at the age of 27, she was elected as a trustee for the Calgary Board of Education, but the division with her more progressive colleagues was such that the government dismissed the board of directors the following year.
She then pursued a career in the media with the Calgary Herald newspaper and the Global chain, then became a lobbyist for various organizations.
She is also an entrepreneur, operating The Dining Car restaurant in High River, south of Calgary, with her husband. Wherever she goes, she is noticed and polishes her skills as a speaker and aspiring politician.
In 2009, disillusioned by the progressive-conservative government of Ed Stelmach, she was elected leader of the Wildrose Party, created the previous year.
Proof of her power of attraction, Danielle Smith convinces three Progressive Conservative MPs to join her in the following year, rare defections which cause a shock wave. The Wildrose Party now has a strong voice in the Legislative Assembly.
Danielle Smith convinced MPs Rob Anderson, Heather Forsyth and Paul Hinman (left to right) to join the Wildrose Party in 2010.
Portraited as a right-wing ideologue by her opponents, Danielle Smith defends herself by positioning herself as pro-choice on the issue of abortion and in favor of gay marriage.
Her anti-corruption message within the Progressive Conservative ranks hit home and on the eve of the 2012 election, she seemed destined to unseat the government of Alison Redford.
Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith crossed swords with Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Alison Redford in the 2012 election. of some of its candidates.
During the last days of the campaign, a Wildrose MP declares that homosexuals will burn for eternity in a lake of fire in hell if they do not repent. Danielle Smith refuses to condemn him, saying he is free to think what he wants, but that his vision does not reflect that of the party. Nor does it punish another MP for making a comment deemed racist.
His refusal to sanction them gives his party a result well below expectations, but which allows him to form the Official Opposition for the first time in its history.
In December 2014, Danielle Smith took everyone by surprise when she announced that she was joining the Progressive Conservative government of Jim Prentice, along with eight of his Wildrose MPs.
Never in Canadian history has a Leader of the Official Opposition defected like this.
Danielle Smith with alongside then-Premier of Alberta Jim Prentice shortly after he changed sides.
The backlash is brutal. His former party is openly rebelling against what some have called an act of treason.
The gesture also does not seem to be welcomed by his new party. In anticipation of the provincial election, Danielle Smith loses the nomination in her own riding to a virtual stranger.
In May 2015, after more than 40 years in power, the Progressive Conservative Party was defeated. The New Democratic Party led by Rachel Notley wins the provincial election for the first time, taking advantage of the deep division of the conservative family.
There is great shock and disillusion among conservatives, many of whom blame the debacle on Danielle Smith and the defectors. Moreover, none of them managed to get re-elected.
Danielle Smith (foreground) lost the Highwood constituency nomination to her opponent, Carrie Fischer, in the background.
It's over with politics for Danielle Smith. However, she took over the microphone and hosted her own show on Global for six years, until she left in 2021 against the backdrop of a pandemic.
During this period, Danielle Smith promotes unproven treatments for COVID-19 and, true to her libertarian beliefs, stands up for the unvaccinated and opposes health restrictions.
April 1, 2022, as Prime Minister Jason Kenney fights for his political survival, Danielle Smith announces her return to politics and her will to become a United Conservative leader, if a race is triggered. She presents her mea culpa for her defection in 2014.
I learned from this experience that although I had an important role in building the Wildrose Party, a party belongs to its members, not its leader, she asserts during her announcement. I apologized and I continue to do so. It was a big mistake, but I think I learned from that mistake and it makes me stronger.
Danielle Smith has beaten six candidates in the United Conservative leadership race.
Dragging this ball, she is initially judged as a candidate with little chance of winning, but Danielle Smith managed to gain a foothold in the United Conservative race with her proposed Alberta Sovereignty Bill. She claims that it would allow Alberta to refuse to apply federal laws and policies on its territory, which would be unconstitutional according to a majority of experts.
If Danielle Smith succeeded in imposing the fight against Ottawa as the theme of the campaign, it will now have to unite its troops around its flagship project.
A standoff against Rachel Notley's NDP awaits her in the provincial election at the end of May, a resumption of the missed opportunity of seven years ago.