Interview with: Danielle Smith

Subject: Danielle Smith
Leader, Wildrose Alliance Party (Alberta)

1. If someone back in the year 2000 had told you that you would be considered Alberta's 'premier-in-waiting' by the end of the decade, what would you have said?

DS: I never thought I would run for political office until two years later, so at that time I would have said that I enjoy my job as an editorial writer and columnist with the Herald. I had no plans to run.

2. Finance Minister Ted Morton is asking Albertans to 'give up a little' in today's budget. Smart fiscal policy, or a case of Albertans paying the price for dollar mismanagement by the Stelmach government?

DS: It's meaningless rhetoric is what it is. The 'fiscal conservative' is trying to say the right thing so people will think that the government is moving in the right direction. We know this budget was already at the printers before Mr. Morton became Finance Minister, so I think he's perhaps preparing people for next year's budget...

3. Do you have a political mentor?

DS: Link Byfield is one. John Murdoch, Tom Flanagan.

4. We both grew up in the 1980's. Which Breakfast Club character were you - jock, brain, head-banger, etc.?

DS: The Geek. Definitely not the Emo girl, not the Princess.

5. Other than the obvious - my endorsement - to what do you credit your victory in the Wildrose Alliance leadership race?

DS: First, I'd say Paul Hinman's by-election victory because people weren't paying very close attention to the race until they realized we had momentum and we could win. It's a combination of.... It's threefold: phoning people, direct mailing people, and town halls to galvanize the momentum we were building.

- ....and my endorsement....

DS:....and your endorsement (laughs).

6. What is the single most important issue facing Alberta today?

DS: I think it has to be the Royalty framework. It's flawed and it impacts negatively on Albertans in so many ways. Second would be the negative environmental image regarding our oilsands. They have come under attack recently by all sides - the feds and internationally. More should be done to correct that.

7. What was your most embarrassing moment?

DS: I sometimes feel a bit like Bridget Jones and have them all the time, you know?

8. Recently there has been a troubling trend of vandalism of oil and gas lines in Alberta and British Columbia. Is enough being done to protect our energy sector and our provincial infrastructure overall from the risk of domestic and international terrorism?

DS: Some people don't feel proud of the industry the way they should. It provides so much to the Alberta economy in terms of jobs, it provides so much in terms of our growth in GDP, it provides a lot through royalty revenues, but I think that this...government has basically done a terrible job celebrating the things that the industry is doing well.....

You have to...there are some extreme environmental groups who you can't deal with, who you can't talk with, who just want to come here a wig out, and that's not reasonable.

The Greenpeace stunts were a wake-up call that this should be taken more seriously.

It's really two separate questions - domestic vandalism which is more apt to be environmentally motivated in nature. International terrorism is based on something different.

9. Salad or fries and gravy?

DS: I prefer fries and gravy, but I eat salad.

10. Do you see a current need for a high-speed rail system between Edmonton and Calgary?

DS: My husband does - he's a big lobbyist for that!

11. Do you have a habit/vice that you can't break?

DS: Not really. I don't smoke, I broke my chocolate habit...I guess I'd have to say my morning coffee.

12. Which historical figure would you love to have coffee with?

DS: Living?

- living or dead. Anyone from history.

DS: I'm thinking Ayn Rand, or maybe Margaret Thatcher. Ronald Reagan would also be one. Probably Thatcher.

13. Is 'failure' a fair word to describe the Stelmach era?

DS: I've used that term before. Failure of leadership.

14. What music is in your player right now?

DS: P!nk. I'm going to get the Black Eyed Peas. I like 'I've got a feeling'.

15. Yes or no: A provincial police force?

DS: Yes. The national police force should be doing..they should be handling national responsibilities. So things like border security... child porn, gangs, terrorism,..the R.C.M.P. are highly-trained officers, aren't they? They shouldn't be breaking up bar fights and the like, so in that context...

- that stuff should be a provincial...

DS: ..yeah, that should be a provincial responsibility.  That's for community policing.

16. The perfect Sunday in 10 words or less:

DS: (carefully checking and re-checking the word count) Breakfast with Hubby, walking our dogs, Sunday dinner with family.

17. A poll conducted on themoderateseparatist.com asked which Alberta party leader would make the best premier. You finished first with over 80%, even though you are the only main party leader without a seat in the Legislature. When will we be seeing you on the inside of the House?

DS: There are a number of ridings that would make sense to me in Calgary and the surrounding area. I'd have to make that decision when an opening occurs.

- It would depend on where it was and the circumstance?

DS: I'd like to run in my home riding of Calgary-North Hill. That's where I'd prefer. I'd consider the bi-election option depending on the location.

18. Forget all the other questions, this one is the make it or break it. This answer will determine your chances of sitting in the Premier's chair: It's the Oilers vs. the Flames in the playoffs. Danielle Smith is in the crowd wearing ....which jersey?

DS: I don't watch hockey...

- (laughing) how politically-correct! 'Subject refuses to answer...'

DS: (laughs) We were an Oiler's family when I was growing up, when Gretzky...

- ...but you are reformed now. The lobotomy took and now you wear Red. Fantastic!

DS: (laughs) Sure.

19. You've travelled the province extensively over the past year or so. Has anything surprised you, or is there anything you have learned about Albertans that you didn't know before?

DS: There's this thing that's been cultivated. We've seen one region against the other, one city against the other, rural against urban, urban against rural, and I think that there...there's a will right now for our people to work together for a common goal or a common vision, and I think that the job of a political leader is to be able to find out those items are and what the goals are so we can work towards them... I feel a really strong sense that we want to put those battles behind us...

- I've always thought it hypocritical for the P.C.s to complain about the old Chretien/Martin federal Liberal tactic of pitting one region against the other for gain when they've engaged in the same tactic within this province.

DS: Oh, absolutely!

20. What result in the next election would the Wildrose Alliance consider a 'success'?

DS: Well, I think we have to remember where we were a year ago. We were a party with a few hundred members, no seat in the Legislature. Now we're a party of over 13000 members, we already have three seats in the Legislature, so with this kind of trajectory... I would hope the we would at the very least be able to form the Official Opposition. That's the minimum. But I think we can get a mandate to form the next government. That's what we are striving for.

8:30am on a Tuesday morning is a tough interview as it is. Tougher yet when you've just finished a run of four 12 hour nightshifts with no sleep in 36 hours.

Thanks to Danielle  for putting up with that vision of sleep-deprived, zombie-like loveliness that greeted you at Tim Horton's on Budget day - yawns, stubble and all. And the hair. My God, the hair...

1 comment:

Jane Morgan said...

Answer to #7 brought images of "granny panties" to mind.


His Name Was Steven