The News Rundown
- The votes have been counted and the UCP will emerge with about 49 seats and a majority government. That seat count may fluctuate as there are a couple of judicial recounts on the way.
- The UCP lost a number of Cabinet Ministers out of Calgary but in the end the NDP could not break through in what was going to be a tough electoral map for them.
- Of the 41 seats outside Edmonton and Calgary, the UCP won 37. This meant that they only needed to secure 7 out of Calgary or Edmonton which they did.
- Danielle Smith opened her victory speech on Monday quoting former Premier Ralph Klein saying, “welcome to another miracle on the prairies!”
- She also commended Rachel Notley’s public service, she said, “I believe Rachel Notley is a loyal Albertan who loves this promise… She is deserving of respect and kindness and gratitude for the thousands of hours she has sacrificed to serve our democracy. I hope you’ll join me in genuinely thanking her for her public service.”
- We’ll get to more about what happens next in a minute but first we need to look at how the vote broke down.
- There was a lot of hype and anticipation leading up to the vote that the NDP might be able to cannibalize the UCP’s vote share in Calgary.
- Looking at what happened with the Green, Liberal, and Alberta Parties we can see that the NDP likely absorbed the vote of the left-leaning parties as all of these parties failed to crack 1% popular vote.
- This is of course an operating theory since we would require exit polling to confirm this, exit polling is seldom done in Canada.
- The UCP was down a couple points from 2019 garnering 52.59% of the popular vote while the NDP captured 44%.
- What we do know with certainty is how close the election was.
- There has been talk that the NDP were in the range of about 2600 votes based on unofficial tallies spread across 6 ridings from outright winning.
- But if we look at a similar 2600 vote threshold in Calgary in favour of the UCP… that would give them an additional 7 or 8 seats including Banff-Kananaskis. This would increase their current total to 57.
- So yes, while the NDP was 2600 votes away from winning, the UCP was about 2800 votes away from only being down a few seats from 2019.
- The prevailing narrative of the election was that it was going to be close and it was after Monday but if the media is going to talk about how close the race was, it has to go both ways.
- There’s also discussion about whether or not 49 of 87 seats are a big enough majority.
- As in, the questions have been asked, what if rural MLAs get restless, what if the more moderate members get upset, and so on.
- But for comparison sake, Justin Trudeau won 184/338 seats in 2015 representing 54% of the seats in the House of Commons. Stephen Harper won 54% of the seats in 2011. Danielle Smith won 56% of the seats this year. It’s a majority government and proportionally it’s bigger than both the Harper and Trudeau majorities.
- It also wields more power than John Horgan’s “strong stable minority government” in which he recruited the Greens for support.
- These points of eroding UCP support, a close election, and now how big the majority is are ones that the media was talking about throughout the entire race but the flip side now that we see the actual result has been seldom discussed.
- The UCP remained almost constant in support from 2019, maybe a few moderate voters stayed home in Calgary.
- The NDP likely absorbed the Alberta Party, Liberal, and Green vote.
- That’s how we get to Monday’s result.
- Now when it comes to what the Smith government will do, it’s expected we’ll see a cabinet in the next couple weeks and then the legislature returning in September.
- It is imperative that the UCP move with speed to implement their platform and begin standing on guard against any intrusions from the federal government.
- Danielle Smith also said her government will work for all Albertans including those who did not vote for them which is important for the people of Edmonton. What should be done about that is a topic for another show.
- Smith also suggested that the government needs to work with parents, educators, health professionals, and patients when it comes to tackling the issues of education and health.
- She said, “we need to study the best systems and practices around the world and improve upon the strong foundations we’ve built here.”
- What this hopefully means is that the UCP will continue to ensure that funding follows students and parents have choice in schools.
- And on healthcare that any and all ideas to make our system work are on the table as long as they comply with the Canada Health Act.
- This latter point is one we’ll be watching very closely since this is a bit of unfinished business for the UCP and many Albertans.
- At the end of the day Danielle Smith shifted to a more moderate tone and won. The goal going forward must be a good ethical government focused on everyday Albertans - Martha and Henry as Ralph Klein called them - with that moderate tone.
- This was perhaps the NDP’s most winnable election but they didn’t. Whether that’s because of their policy setting a bad tone for business owners in Calgary, their candidates (some of which were anti-police or outright communist), Notley’s record, or just the NDP’s brand is a topic for another day.
- As we close out our Alberta 2023 election coverage we’ll be keeping an eye on Notley and the NDP’s future and developments as the new UCP government enacts its policy agenda.
- An article from Gary Mason of the Globe and Mail has an inflammatory headline that warns people away from visiting BC. In a piece titled "Fellow Canadians: Visit British Columbia at your own risk" Mason opines that "If you want to see what a genuine health care crisis looks like, may I invite you to visit British Columbia."
- Doctors at Surrey Memorial Hospital, one of the busiest in the province, issued a public letter this week warning of “unsafe conditions and adverse outcomes,” in the facility’s obstetrics and gynecology departments. Doctors blamed the conditions for one newborn death and countless other close calls.
- That missive followed an earlier one written by the hospital’s Medical Staff Association that accused Health Minister Adrian Dix and the local health authority of not acknowledging the full extent of the emergency that existed inside the building.
- They even threatened to begin diverting ambulances to other hospitals unless something was done soon.
- B.C. doctors are furious and concerned about the deplorable situations in their hospitals, and are now going public. They say some patients are waiting in their ERs for up to 72 hours for attention. Last summer, some emergency rooms in the Interior of the province had to be closed on weekends because of staffing issues. There could be more of those this summer.
- Recently, Dix announced that over the next two years at minimum, as many as 4,800 breast cancer and prostate cancer patients will be sent to private clinics in Washington State for radiation treatment. This would be the same Health Minister who has spent his career railing against the evils of private clinics in Canada and was beyond joyful when his government won a landmark court case curtailing their activities in the province.
- Now, B.C. is paying exorbitant sums to send patients to the U.S. to get treated, ironic for those that Problems at the BC Cancer Agency have been well publicized. For years now, those who have headed the agency, and the doctors working inside it, have been warning of a coming catastrophe unless more people were hired to deal with the approaching deluge of new cases thanks to an aging population.
- Consultants warned as far back as 2006 that the province faced a serious shortfall in medical imaging technologists for diagnostic and surgical procedures. Again, the red flag was mostly disregarded. Certainly, the cries for action have failed to be heeded by both the NDP and the B.C. Liberal government before it.
- Today, B.C. is missing wait-time benchmarks all over the place. This may be the last province in the country in which you want to get cancer, because after you’ve been diagnosed you can often wait an awfully long time for the next steps.
- A B.C. health care commission report in 1991 found that too many doctors were contributing to rising health care costs. The solution? Cut back on supply, including the number of spaces at medical schools. The consequences of that decision are still reverberating today.
- When doctors complained for years about the outdated and unfair fee-for-service model, their complaints were dismissed. Eventually, family physicians started disappearing. Now more than a million British Columbians can’t find one. Last year, the government finally changed the way doctors are paid, which seems to have encouraged more of them to join the ranks.
- Here's the problem - healthcare is an issue all over the country, not just in BC, and it's a problem that many different governments of all levels have allowed to get worse, through various policies. The federal government, while not directly in charge of healthcare, is certainly in charge of an immigration system that has brought many more people into the country, heedless of the infrastructure problems Canadians are already facing.
- The healthcare problem in BC can't be fixed overnight, since its a multi-decade problem in the making. What can be done, is making sure our governments are actually making the right steps so that these issues are mitigated now, and hopefully fixed in the future.
- We continue to learn more about China’s influence in our elections. This week former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rose in the House of Commons to detail what CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service revealed to him during a briefing.
- O’Toole rose on what’s called a question of privilege where members are generally free to speak at will to the House.
- CSIS identified four categories of threats aimed at him while he was Conservative leader.
- They range from Chinese funding of misinformation directed at him to an active campaign of voter suppression against himself and the Conservative Party.
- The first involved using the United Front Work Department to create misinformation against Erin O’Toole as Conservative leader.
- The second category was related to human resources, specifically the use of groups of people working for or aligned with the United Front Work Department in Canada.
- It’s important to note that there was no real examination of the United Front in the Special Rapporteur report - the United Front’s influence in Canada has been talked about for years on Western Context and we’re starting to see just how serious their infractions have been.
- The third category was related to WeChat. WeChat is a social network used primarily by Chinese nationals. It was used by the Chinese Communist Party and United Front Work Department to spread misinformation and undermine Erin O’Toole as Conservative party leader.
- The final category was voter suppression. Specifically intelligence indicated an active campaign of voter suppression against Erin O’Toole, the Conservative Party and a candidate in one electoral district in the 2021 election.
- O’Tool said, “Canadians cannot rely upon the government, the executive branch, to discharge its role as defender of the realm… The problem does not lie with our proud, hard-working intelligence agencies. It lies in the willful blindness of senior figures in this government and in the senior offices that advise it.”
- He also said that CSIS warned him that he is still a target of Chinese interference and will likely remain a target long after he retires from the House of Commons this summer.
- From O’Toole’s speech we learnt a lot, specifically the payment of funds through the United Front. Multiple journalists on the matter have said there was no discussion on the United Front.
- And, we learnt that despite the report by the Rapporteur, there are no conclusions in that report that showcases the seriousness of what O’Toole outlined.
- It’s at this point that we outline that O’Toole took a huge risk in unveiling this since the vast majority of what was told to him by CSIS is not intended to be spoke about publicly.
- There are other MPs and other institutions that have undoubtedly been compromised.
- The other MPs we know that have been targeted by China at home and abroad are Michael Chong who we’ve talked about before and NDP MP Jenny Kwan.
- This had ramifications for the NDP in the House since NDP MPs started questioning whether David Johnston should continue in his role.
- The NDP raised a motion asking David Johnston to step aside. This passed with support from all opposition parties.
- David Johnston subsequently issued a statement saying that his mandate comes from the government, not the House of Commons and as such would not be stepping down.
- As of Friday David Johnston has hired crisis communications firm, Navigator. This is the same firm that Hockey Canada hired after their sexual abuse allegations. It’s also the same firm that former CBC host Gian Ghomeshi hired.
- Based on the mandate the Special Rapporteur has received, it is likely that taxpayers will be paying for the consultations - something that is not cheap - hockey canada paid $1.6m.
- In the media this week the government and by extension David Johnston have lost the support of almost everyone including editorial boards at the Globe and Star.
- The government has also lost the CBC at issue panel featuring Andrew Coyne, Althia Raj, and Chantel Hebert.
- Apparently there are still tools in the toolbox for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP to use. Singh has said that he will not force an election until integrity in the electoral system can be verified.
- At this point it becomes a question of what the NDP is hoping for by keeping the government in power.
- Do they expect to keep working on their list of priorities hoping it will translate to support?
- Do they see a world where Pierre Poilievre wins a huge majority and they want to protect that?
- Or do they feel that they have the moral high ground on this issue and can get the government to admit the wrong and correct course?
- We don’t know but what became clear this week is that the issue of Chinese influence is far worse than what David Johnston has detailed.
- A tweet from Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre is making headlines, and has got a lot of people talking about the homeless problem, something that is not just found in BC but across Canada as well. In the tweet is a 57 second TikTok video that shows someone driving by the Okanagan Rail Trail in Kelowna’s north end, featuring scores of homeless people living in tents.
- Of the video, Poilievre said: “These images are not from a faraway third-world country. This is Kelowna. After eight years of Trudeau and the NDP.”
- As of recording, the tweet has almost 12,000 likes and 4,000 retweets, with 2.5k comments varying from supportive of the message, shock about the problems that homelessness caused, and invariably, some condemning the Conservative leader for his choice of words.
- Poilievre responded to an interview request by Capital News regarding how he would better engage local leadership to combat the national housing crisis, given his recent tweet.
- If elected, he plans to “incentivize city governments to speed up development permitting, free up land and lower the cost to build homes.” He said that Canada has the fewest homes per capita when compared to other G7 nations. A Scotiabank report from 2021 found that Canada had the lowest number of housing units per 1,000 people of all G7 nations. Poilievre says this is because there is too much government red tape to get through to get plans built.
- To encourage municipal governments to increase permits, Poilievre plans to link federal infrastructure dollars to the number of homes that get built. Conversely, cities that increase home building will receive additional money from the federal government.
- The video that Poilievre tweeted has been criticized as exploiting vulnerable people for political gain. When asked why he shared the video, Poilievre said that while Kelowna is a beautiful city, people are “spilling out into the streets” and living in tents.
- He also blames the government-funded safe supply of opioids for the surge in people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, substance use disorder and the rise in deaths from accidental overdoses. Nearly 12,000 B.C. residents have died from toxic drug deaths since the federal government declared the overdose crisis a public health emergency in 2016.
- The City of Kelowna called the social-media post disappointing and unfair. Darren Caul, community safety director at the City of Kelowna said: “This is an issue that cities across Canada are experiencing and it fails to show the incredible work that’s being done behind the scenes.” Caul estimates that there are at least 200 people living outdoors throughout the city, a fourfold increase over the past two years.
- Many organizations across the city have increased their support for the homeless population. However, the number continues to rise. Kelowna’s Gospel Mission says at this time last year it served 90 people, this year it’s jumped to over 200.
- In May 2021, the City of Kelowna set up what it calls an "outdoor sheltering site" on the Rail Trail where people could sleep in tents between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. every day. The main purpose of the designated camping site was to discourage people from camping in city parks and other public spaces. The city has since expanded the allowance and estimates about 100 people are camping there daily.
- The CBC posted an article interviewing two homeless people living in the Kelowna encampment, who lost their jobs during the pandemic, and included quotes from Darren Caul, who says that 'as a public servant, he refrains from delving into politics' and yet his quotes are pasted all over all the articles defending Kelowna.
- The main issue that doesn't get addressed is that regardless of Poilievre's methods, it's definitely attention grabbing and has got people talking about the issue. With more focus on the issue of housing and homelessness, it's more likely for the governments in charge, in this case, Trudeau's Liberals and David Eby's BC NDP, to put forward actual solutions.
- Despite Trudeau's many years in power, it's an issue that has continued to get worse, and what has been done hasn't worked. The pandemic was incredibly stressful on us all, and yet, the quality of life has just continued to deteriorate since then. Canadians deserve better.
Quote of the Week
“Welcome to another miracle on the prairies!” - Premier Danielle Smith on the UCP winning the Alberta 2023 election.
Word of the Week
Risk - a situation involving exposure to danger.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: A Miracle on the Prairies
Teaser: Danielle Smith’s UCP wins a majority government in Alberta, BC’s health care crisis gets overdramatized, and Erin O’Toole says CSIS warned him of China’s interference. Also, a tweet from Pierre Poilievre highlights the homeless problem in Canada.
Recorded Date: June 3, 2023
Release Date: June 4, 2023
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes