Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Canada's Sarah Palin

The resemblance is really quite astonishing.A telegenic far right political figure with a slim resume tainted with a history of extremism and obstruction with rapturous middle aged white men in Canada's right wing getting serious tingles down their pant leg over her while the public response is likely to be far less impressive.

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.

Her biggest public role hitherto was as an elected trustee of a Calgary school board that was so dysfunctional and riven by party politics that it had to be dissolved by the provincial government. The childish exploits that led to the entire board being shut down included loud standoffs degenerating into shoving matches at one point. This bodes well for a spirit of compromise and constructive reasoned governance in any hypothetical Smith administration.

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.

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.

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.

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)

5 comments:

Holly Stick said...

I always wondered if she was the one who went rooting around in the garbage for a note written by another trustee about how stupid one of the rightwingers was. I assumed the other one was the stupid one, but don't really know.

Cliff said...

She's the kind of conservative who annoys real libertarians by calling what she believes libertarianism.

Just what Alberta needs: zombified Fraser Institute free market ideologue with a well thumbed copy of Atlas Shrugged by her bedside who's sole idea of goverence is to privatize anything still left owned by the public after 4 decades of Tory rule.

I've asked this before: Shouldn't believing in the basic concept of government be a pre-requisite for governing?

Holly Stick said...

Logically, yes. Unfortunately, logic has nothing to do with it.

The Invisible Hand said...

...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.

This is completely false. Smith has never been involved with the PGIB.

Cliff said...

Accepted. She was in fact the Alberta Director of another right wing pressure group The Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

The correction will be noted.

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