Danielle Smith has won a race to lead the Wildrose Alliance Party, a right-wing rival to Alberta’s long-serving Progressive Conservative government.
The Wildrose Alliance has been attracting a lot of attention in Alberta recently after polls showed the upstart fringe party is bleeding support away from the Tories and emerging as the province's second-place choice to form a government.
Of course serving as a representative on a public school board is probably problematic if you are ideologically opposed to the very concept of the public good.
Smith is careful to downplay divisive subjects like abortion and gay rights but the Alberta Wildrose Alliance (a name that ironically reflects the winnowing Darwinian reductionism of Alberta right wing politics.) is a deeply reactionary, extremely right wing party both in terms of economics and social issues.
Her entree into politics came in 1998 as a trustee with the Calgary Public School Board, a period marred by infighting between right- and left-leaning members. In 1999, Alberta's Learning Minister declared the board “completely dysfunctional” and fired all of them.
Jennifer Pollock, a Liberal and a third-term trustee at the time, recalls Ms. Smith's determination and, not flatteringly, single-mindedness. “I don't think people should vote for her,” Ms. Pollock says, comparing her former colleague to Stephen Harper – a parallel Ms. Smith's supporters make in a much more positive way.
A party led by a professional political operative who went from a year of interning at the free market fetishist Fraser Institute to a (deliberately?) divisive, short and failed term as a public school trustee and from there to the Progressive Group for Independent Business* - whose leader once said if you weren't willing to vote right wing, you weren't welcome in Alberta. The infrastructure of right wing pressure groups, corporate PR agencies masquerading as think tanks and party operatives grow these people in pods.
But gosh, she seems so down home and comfy, you betcha!
*Correction, Oct 28: Smith was in fact the Alberta Director of another right wing 'pro-business' pressure group The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)