Alberta Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith labels Tories defence of oilsands feeble

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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In a political call to arms, Wildrose Alliance Leader Danielle Smith told party faithful Friday it's time to topple a Progressive Conservative government too feeble to fight for Alberta's oilsands, but happy to trample its own people in a desperate attempt to cling to power.
"It is time for our province to regain its place as an example to our nation and the world - it is time to lead again!" Smith told more than 750 cheering supporters at the opening of the party's annual general meeting.
"We've had enough of incompetent leadership!
"We've had enough of socialists and liberals masquerading as conservatives!
"We've had enough of a government that doesn't listen to Albertans, doesn't reflect our values and doesn't even to seem to care!"
While having just four members in the legislature - the newest one, ex-Tory Guy Boutilier, came on board earlier Friday - Smith's speech comes as the Wildrose Alliance gains popularity among centre-right voters and is rivalling Premier Ed Stelmach's Tories in opinion polls.
Smith told the crowd that the Wildrose Alliance is leading because the Tories, despite Alberta sitting on one of the biggest oil reserves in the world, has allowed critics to effectively vilify the province as purveyors of dirty, globe-polluting smoke and goo.
"Critics are feeding the world utter nonsense because of the failure of our government to defend common sense and economic reality," she said.
"They say a pristine forest nearly the size of the entire province of New Brunswick is slated for destruction. The fact is an area only 1/20th of that size will ever be openly mined.
"They say oilsands oil produces three times the greenhouse gases of conventional oil. The fact is by the time you take it out of the ground in Saudi Arabia, ship it, pipe it, truck it, refine it, it's practically the same.
"What does the government do about this though? They don't challenge these groups - they don't articulate our province's powerful defence. Well, we will."
Smith also mocked the Tories for allocating hundreds of millions of dollars on carbon capture and storage, an emerging science that would see harmful emissions pumped underground.
"Albertans weren't asking the government to give $2 billion to big corporations so they could learn how to pump air into a hole in the ground," she said.
And she said while the Tories have failed to lead, they haven't forgotten how to punish.
"MLAs (are) kicked out of caucus or threatened with punishment for speaking out for their constituents," she said. "All the thinly veiled threats to city councils, school boards and county councils that they won't get money for their municipalities and school divisions if they don't support the PCs. All the people and business owners who have said they are joining us despite their fear the government might retaliate against them.
"Who among us ever expected to see a time when Albertans would be afraid of their own government?"
She also took a shot a Speaker Ken Kowalski, who has denied the Alliance party privileges in the legislature, citing the fact Smith is not an elected leader.
"He prevented us from getting a fair distribution of questions in question period. He blocked us in trying to get fair caucus funding. He's even nitpicked over whether my picture is allowed to be on our caucus website. This is how ridiculous the fight is - because they hope that their pettiness will take our focus off of the issues that are important to Albertans.
"Well, guess what - it won't."
Smith is not committed to a riding yet, but said she will consider running as Calgary-area byelections come up. Stelmach has said he won't call a general election until 2012.
On Saturday, delegates to the convention are to debate more than 40 motions, including a new provincial police force, cutting red tape on gun registry rules and a government funding voucher for grade-school students, that would essentially put private schools on the same footing as public ones.
Earlier Friday, Boutilier officially joined the caucus, saying he felt ideologically at home with the party.
"They were very frank. An overwhelming number of people continued to point me in a clear direction - that the Wildrose Party under the direction of Danielle Smith was the way to go."
Boutilier, a former Tory cabinet minister, was kicked out of the government caucus by Premier Ed Stelmach last summer for publicly protesting government plans to postpone construction of a nursing home in his Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo riding.

Organizations: Wildrose Alliance, Wildrose Party

Geographic location: Alberta, Wildrose, New Brunswick Saudi Arabia Calgary Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo

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  • Fred
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Looks to me like the american right wing facists have brought their tea party to Alberta. By the way Ms. Smith, Alberta is producing very dirty oil and fools like you prevent oil companies from doing the science that will clean the dirt out of your DIRTY oil. Shame on you Ms. Smith

  • Jim
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    As long as Ms. Smith can keep the radical fringe element of the grassroots from hijacking what appears to be a reasonably acceptable blend of policies, she'll do well. She just has to ensure that she doesn't end up with the radical right getting all of the media attention as sometimes occurred with the last Alberta grassroots political movement, the Reform Party. Look what path that led them down; they completely lost touch with the grassroots that put them into power in the first place and ended up being just another mainstream party.
    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

  • Fred
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Looks to me like the american right wing facists have brought their tea party to Alberta. By the way Ms. Smith, Alberta is producing very dirty oil and fools like you prevent oil companies from doing the science that will clean the dirt out of your DIRTY oil. Shame on you Ms. Smith

  • Jim
    July 01, 2010 - 20:02

    As long as Ms. Smith can keep the radical fringe element of the grassroots from hijacking what appears to be a reasonably acceptable blend of policies, she'll do well. She just has to ensure that she doesn't end up with the radical right getting all of the media attention as sometimes occurred with the last Alberta grassroots political movement, the Reform Party. Look what path that led them down; they completely lost touch with the grassroots that put them into power in the first place and ended up being just another mainstream party.
    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/