Jen Gerson: Danielle Smith, the next Ralph Klein?
Danielle Smith might not last a full term. Or she could be a once-in-a-generation premier. Who knows in this goddamn province.
By: Jen Gerson
I always try to hedge my bets when I make predictions, so here is a gem to clip-and-save for future use: Danielle Smith will either be out as Alberta premier within 18 months, or she'll be premier for the next eight years.
Although the Alberta election was closer than the seat counts would suggest, the outcome was not remotely surprising. A conservative premier flush with royalty cash and enjoying all the unearned political perks of an economic-boom cycle could ordinarily expect to win 60-70 seats in Alberta. The fact that Smith's majority is 49 speaks to the degree of uncertainty about her views and leadership: with any other premier, at any other time, there would already be whispers of a review.
Indeed, that may yet be in the near future. If Smith can't find a way to channel the more boisterous right-leaning factions in her party — and, yes, I'm speaking here of Take Back Alberta, among others — while finding a way to govern for the staid majority of the province, she too could face the same fate as Jason Kenney before her. Uniting the Conservative party was one task; keeping it united is proving to be another problem altogether.