The Alberta election is on Monday. And I’m going to say something Rebel News has never said in our entire history: we are making a formal partisan endorsement.
We’ve never done that before — not for Andrew Scheer, not for Erin O’Toole, not for Maxime Bernier, not for Doug Ford or Jason Kenney. We’ve never formally backed a candidate or a party, because part of our identity, and part of the reason why people trust us is because they know we hold all politicians to account — especially so-called conservatives.
Rebel News is fiercely independent
And we don’t like to get to chummy with any politician — we don’t want to ingratiate ourselves with them, because we don’t want any favours from them; we don’t want them to think we are beholden to them at all. I like it when Conservative politicians are a little bit afraid of Rebel News — they should be, precisely because they don’t control us.
The reason why Justin Trudeau loves the CBC and gives them $1.5 billion a year is because this his how the CBC’s journalists treat him:
I don’t want that from Conservative politicians. I want Canadians to trust us, not Canadian politicians. You can’t do both.
Stakes are high in Alberta
But I have to make an endorsement because I believe a lot is at stake in Alberta, and it’s a confusing time for conservatives in that province. And I believe Rebel News itself has had some influence in that province over the past few years — and I believe, in all modesty, that we are one of the reasons why there is an election on Monday at all.
And it looks like Albertans want this election and know a lot is at stake. Advance polls have been open for a few days, and voter turnout looks like it is about the same as last time, when 1.9 million people voted, out of a possible 2.8 million registered voters — so, 68%, which is pretty high. Compare that to 54% in B.C.’s last election or just 43% turn-out in Ontario’s last election.
Albertans know things are at stake.
According to Elections Alberta, as of today, a half million people have cast their vote already in advance polls, so it looks like it’s about the same intensity, which makes sense — it really is a polarizing election.
Polarizing elections: a trend
The last one, in 2019 was a polarizing election too, of course — Rachel Notley, the incumber NDP premier, was thrown out by voters in favour of Jason Kenney, the former Conservative MP and Harper cabinet minister, who before that was the head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
I mean, what a contrast — the carbon tax loving, oil patch-bashing socialist NDP versus Kenney, who did a kind of “unite the right” in Alberta, merging the two leading conservative parties, and promising to return Alberta to its historic place as a small government, freedom-loving province. That was a stark choice — and Kenney won handily in 2019, 55% to 32%.
Nature was healing!
But then the pandemic struck, and Kenney, after a few months of being the most freedom-oriented premier in the country, just snapped, caved in, and became the most authoritarian premier in the country, jailing Christian pastors and demonizing Albertans who wanted a more hands-off approach.
It was hard to believe it was Kenney — who literally set up an office for religious freedom when he was in the federal cabinet, that same guy sending a hundred police to expropriate a church and turn it into a police garrison, because it wouldn’t close its doors during the lockdown. Kenney went from being Canada’s Ron DeSantis to being Canada’s Anthony Fauci — that shocked and disappointed a lot of conservatives.
And there was something else, too: Kenney didn’t fight back against Justin Trudeau as hard as you’d think.
Every Alberta premier has to stand up to Ottawa, especially for oil and gas and coal. It’s part of the job — just as it is for the premier of Newfoundland or the premier of Quebec. It’s just part of the system — you need strong premiers to push back against Ottawa taking advantage of provinces, pushing its way into provincial jurisdiction. But I got the feeling — and a lot of people did — that Kenney never really fought back hard, because he was always keeping one eye on a future candidacy to run for prime minister, and so before fighting for Alberta, it was like he was always checking, how will this look in five years when I run for PM?
So even though his job was to fight for Alberta, and he didn’t have to care what the Toronto Star or the CBC’s pundits panels in Ottawa thought, it felt like he was tailoring his message to keep a future career path open.
COVID-19 was Kenney's downfall
It was a disaster. I think he lost both sides of the political spectrum — the left hated him, always did, for being a tax-fighter, for being a conservative, especially a pro-life social conservative. They would never abide him. Fine; but then he dashed the right, both the libertarian right and the Christian right. And the way he discussed the trucker convoy was positively Trudeaupian.
Every single one of those truckers and farmers at the Coutts border crossing voted for Kenney in 2019. And he started smearing them using Trudeau’s language. It was nuts. By the way, I’m not the only one who thought so. I learned that Kenney’s own MLAs were much more supportive of the truckers — one of them visited the truckers at Coutts several times.
Those truckers made Kenney blink. Which he hated. But the feeling was mutual.
Here’s an aggregation of public opinion polls in Alberta over the years. You can see that Kenney started as premier with a huge lead — obviously. And it just plunged during the pandemic and the lockdowns. He was on track to lose — hated by the right and the left.
Last May, his party gave him the weakest endorsement possible — just a 51% confidence vote at a convention that Kenney’s team tried to choreograph.
Kenney quit, and the party selected a new leader in October — and it was the non-MLA, Danielle Smith, who won. That’s important; think about that. A ton of Kenney cabinet ministers ran, including the treasurer. An outsider beat them all. That tells me that the party didn’t want to just replace Kenney with a Kenney mini-me — they wanted to purge the party, or at least its leadership, of anyone too closely associated with the atrocious decisions during Kenney’s term.
Smith's hostile takeover
But how does that work when an outsider takes over a party — not just a party, but a government? Over the past seven months, Smith didn’t just have to run a party, she had to run a province, she had to run a cabinet — every single cabinet minister of which was appointed by Kenney, and many of whom still support Kenney and resent his ouster, and certainly resent this outsider, this usurper, running the thing!
And how disgraceful was it that Kenney, when he left, refused to help in any way with a transition? It’s a tradition in democracies that when a prime minister or president or premier leaves office, he or she meets with the incoming leader to show them the ropes, explain things, help the transition. Not out of affection for the rival, but out of loyalty to the country.
It’s the difference between helping a partisan opponent, which you would never do, and helping run the province, which everyone should do. How grudging, how bitter, do you have to be to say to Danielle Smith, I’m not going to help you at all, I am so full of rage and vengeance that I won’t just punish you (even though you’ve already won the prize) but I will punish the whole province that chose you over me.
Kenney’s worst day as premier wasn’t when he arrested Christian pastors or small businessmen like Chris Scott at the Whistle Stop diner. It was when he was so angry with Albertans for not supporting him, that he left in a pout, not even helping the new government take the reins. A low moment.
My history with Kenney
We had some paternity in all of that. I suppose I personally did, to a degree. I had been friends with Kenny since we were young — I met him when I was in law school, and he was a young lad running the CTF.
We would hang out in Edmonton, a couple of right-wing guys in a left-wing town. We had a little crew we called the snack pack, including the young MP Rahim Jaffer. Jason Kenney was a close friend of mine for 20 years — I knew him and trusted him, and he was surely the strongest of Stephen Harper’s cabinet ministers, the most able, the smartest, the best French speaker (for an Anglo), the best organizer, especially with new Canadians. Hard working, best debater, best media relations, best team.
So to see him become the locker-downer, the jailer of pastors, the enforcer of vaccine mandates, was shocking and uprooting and alienating. To be honest, my response for the first few months was just to go silent — not to call him or text him, as I used to from time to time since we were in our twenties.
I just thought: let me wait this out, I don’t want to quarrel with my old friend, I’m just going to sort of pretend it isn’t happening and hopefully it will pass. But it didn’t. It got worse.
And the thing about being in my position, as a pundit and journalist, and as the leader of Rebel News which is full of pundits and journalists, and whose mottos is telling the other side of the story, and whose mandate is to fight for freedom, is that I really couldn’t not talk about it. How on earth could Rebel News not talk about Jason Kenney, the best young conservative in the country, becoming the worst — and doing it in Alberta of all places? And to Christian pastors of all people.
How could we not talk about it?
Fighting for freedom
And so we did. And we championed his victims — Christ Scott and the Whistle Stop. Pastor Artur Pawlowski. Pastor Tim Stephens. Churches across the province. Truckers. We told the stories of the protesters and we crowdfunded lawyers for them. We had billboards. And we literally did a hundred news reports, and sent more than 10 million emails into the province about it.
I think that woke people up.
Like I say, Kenney resigned when he got 51% in a confidence vote by party members. Those are party insiders, activists, not just regular voters — but people who were part of the movement. I truly believe that had we not engaged in the freedom fight in Alberta, Kenney would have probably slouched to, say, 71% approval, and he would have stayed on. People would have been demoralized. And as that poll graph shows, Kenney would have been slaughtered by a rampant NDP.
It was a disaster. Kenney was a disaster. Because he ran Alberta like Trudeau would run it, frankly.
I see a new poll in the CBC — which has basically been operating as the NDP’s war room — that suggests Smith will indeed beat Notley on Monday. The poll suggests Smith’s United Conservative Party will get 56 seats and Notley’s NDP will get 31. That’s still far too many, but it’s a solid majority.
But I’m not sure if I trust that poll — things are volatile. And the NDP knows it’s now or never. They’re doing everything they can — and so is the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail.
They’re appalled with Smith, and her real conservatism — they hate the fact that she cared about civil liberties during the pandemic; they hate her sovereignty act, though they’re fine with it from Quebec.
Media Party is propping up Notley
The CBC has been absurd — they concocted a story that Danielle Smith or her office sent emails to prosecutors telling them not to continue prosecuting lockdown offences. But every one of the 44 prosecutors on the lockdown files said that they had never received such an email, from anyone. All 32 staff of the premier’s office swore to the same fact. And a massive search of over a million emails, done by the civil services IT department, found not a single such email.
The province’s ethics commissioner, a former judge, said she found no evidence of it at all. And yet the CBC continues, literally to this day, claiming that it happened.
That’s just insane. That’s a conspiracy theory, that’s misinformation. That’s the Toronto-based CBC trying to rig the Alberta election. And they just might.
Who would want Smith to lose? Well, the NDP of course. And Trudeau of course. And the regime media of course.
Kenney's cabinet wants revenge
But also others within the government — who would want a restoration of the Kenney regime. Not a return of Kenney, who has burnt his bridges. But Kenney’s inner circle — the people he was partying with on that Sky Palace party, you know the one when the mere citizens of the province were banned from going to restaurants or having parties, that gathering?
That included Tyler Shandro, Kenney’s health minister who enforced the brutal lockdown. He’d love to get rid of Smith — he’d surely run himself. In fact, you might say he’s done his best to get rid of Smith; instead of helping her fulfill her campaign promise on staying the prosecution of those lockdown laws, he has embarrassed her and refused to help her. But again, what could she do — an outsider being injected into a cabinet and caucus that was constructed by Jason Kenney, her bitter rival?
Oh, there would be plenty of Kenney MLAs who would rather lose on Monday, and select someone they prefer, and try to win again in 2027, rather than win under Danielle Smith. Absolutely. That’s probably Kenney’s view, too — it obviously is, given that he refused to help smith with the transition.
What about Pastor Artur Pawlowski's recent claims?
In recent days, Artur Pawlowski, the Christian pastor who spent nearly 50 days in prison for opening his church during the lockdown, started his own political party and condemned Smith and Notley. This week he held a press conference at the legislature denouncing both Smith and Notley, calling Smith a traitor and calling Notley a witch. I don’t think Pawlowski’s party will win, I don’t think it will get even 1% of the vote, and I don’t think it will even be enough to split the vote.
But the charge Pawlowski made — and of course you know Rebel News has crowdfunded his legal defence, and done dozens of news stories about him — is that Smith has been a traitor on the lockdown issues. And I disagree.
In fact, she has been the most sympathetic person in the legislature — really the only sympathetic person in the legislature. And her efforts to get prosecutions stayed have in fact been weaponized against her, by the CBC and others within her own party. If you had to say the biggest landmine she’s stepped on in this campaign, her critics would say it was her attempt to help Pawlowski and others.
And I feel compelled to give you my view on this, since Rebel News directly, and our legal support for Pawlowski, and my own meeting with Smith give me a perspective on it.
Endorsing Danielle Smith and the UCP
Look, I’ve had my disagreements with Danielle Smith before. I’ve known her since we were students at the University of Calgary together 30 years ago; I was friends with her, a supporter when she became leader of the Wild Rose party, and was set to win the election in 2012, until she did a backroom deal to dissolve the opposition and join with the PC government, an anti-democratic act so appalling that voters punished both the PC government and the Wild Rose opposition, and gave the province to the NDP in a shock result.
I was so appalled by that. So I do not endorse her lightly.
But that was more than a decade ago; and what is at stake is the future of the province today. And what I would say to Pawlowski — and in fact I did tell him this directly — is that anything that damages Danielle Smith has only one result: to strengthen the chances that Rachel Notley the destroyer takes office again.
And the fact that Smith hasn’t been able to convince Kenney’s loyalists in cabinet to help her stop the prosecutions of lockdowns is not comparable to Notley’s passionate commitment to prosecuting anyone and everyone she can, not just for lockdown crimes, but for many others.
By the way, I think Pawlowski’s press conference was so vitriolic, I don’t think it actually moved the needle — it had no appeal to NDP voters, other than they found it embarrassing for Smith, and I simply don’t think it moved Smith voters, because it was so bellicose.
It's Smith or Notley
Here’s what’s at stake.
On Monday, there will either be premier Rachel Notley, a socialist destroyer, a hater of the oilsands and other fossil fuels, a taxer, a big government errand-girl for public sector unions, someone who hates the essence of the province, namely its freedom and individuality. We already know the damage she can do and will do and is itching to do — in tandem with the Media Party and Trudeau’s Liberal Party.
Or it could be Danielle Smith, the UCP leader who, it must be admitted, sometime has too much of a media pundit in her, and muses out loud about ideas too freely, and can come across sometimes as too whimsical. It’s a hazard for someone who spent their life in the world of journalism, where you can say things with no consequences.
But it’s absurd to me that Smith would be called too ideological and too extreme — for championing basic ideas like smaller government, or provincial jurisdiction — but Notley, who wants a wholesale reform of the entire economy avoids such scrutiny.
Imagine saying Smith is too ideological, but Notley isn’t. Imagine saying that Smith is a risk to investment, but Notley isn’t.
They say Smith is extreme — she’s a pro-choice libertarian, always has been. But that’s the CBC smear. You want extreme? How about NDP candidates who call for the end of oil tankers? Or the NDP candidate who literally says Alberta should completely abolish oil and gas, 100% transition off of it.
That’s crazy talk. That’s Stalin and the forced collectivization of Ukrainian farms level communism and authoritarianism. That’s the risk in this election. That’s the choice.
The case against Danielle Smith is that she is too concerned with civil liberties and with the lockdowns. I don’t see that as a flaw. That she is too concerned about Alberta jurisdiction. Well, that’s her job.
What I’m more worried about is the true case against Smith — by UCP party members who resent her replacing Jason Kenney. Or by those who are red Tories who care more about social acceptability, in the eyes of the CBC, than what’s right for the province and its economy.
I see that Stephen Harper has made up his mind. Maybe it’s not a surprise that he’s endorsing Smith — but he could have simply remained silent.
Pierre Poilievre, too.
I would never say vote for Smith because Harper and Poilievre say so.
The case for Smith
I would say vote for her because the case against her is absurd and it’s made in bad faith by the Kenney loyalists in the party, by CBC axe-grinders working for Trudeau, and by those who simply want to take the Alberta-ness out of Alberta.
And that’s what scares me.
Alberta won’t survive the NDP winning. I mean, of course it will “survive”. But it will not survive in its current form. It will be Detroited. It will go the way of California. The specialness will be beaten out of it. Not just in terms of the economy, but civil liberties, too. If Artur Pawlowski thinks he’s been persecuted under Danielle Smith — who has repeatedly tried to end the prosecutions — he hasn’t seen anything yet, if Notley is reelected.
I mean, she’s shown what she thinks of civil liberties — look at her aide telling a mild-mannered reporters from the Western Standard that he’s a “hate criminal” for merely criticizing the NDP.
Yeah. Danielle Smith must absolutely win. And every Albertan must vote for her, even if they have been offended or embarrassed or confused by the last six months of her tenure — much of which was done by Kenney underminers.
She has to win
Danielle Smith has to win on Monday. And then they can patch up the party and the government for the next four years. If she loses, that’s the end of Alberta as we know it.
I make this video especially for the thousands of Albertans who know that we supported freedom and fought for freedom and hired lawyers to fight for freedom, even for Artur Pawlowski.
I’m here to say: if the UCP doesn’t win on Monday, freedom’s light will go out in Alberta. The CBC wants that, and Kenney doesn’t seem to care. But I do, and you should, too.
GUEST: Sheila Gunn Reid, Rebel News' chief reporter, joins the show to discuss the future of Alberta as near the province's pivotal election.
This is a free version of The Ezra Levant Show,To see new, ad-free episodes, which air Monday - Friday @ 8 p.m. ET | 6 p.m. MT, become a subscriber to RebelNews+. This episode originally aired on May 26, 2023.