Just wanted to drop in to comment on the recent Alberta election and the aftermath that the PC Sweep of all 4 seats has had on the political landscape there. To say the least, I’m dumbfounded that the results of the by-election have led to questions about Wildrose leader Danielle Smith’s leadership.
To begin, for those that don’t know me, I’ve always been known as a staunch Liberal. I’ve run as a Liberal nomination candidate, have been deeply involved in riding associations, and have even been the campaign manager for a strong candidate running for President of the Federal Liberal Party. Most of my friends identify me alongside the Liberal Party, and whenever talk over a glass of wine or dinner turns to politics, I’m often turned to in order to offer the Liberal Perspective on things.
But to label me as a Liberal wouldn’t be entirely accurate. I like to believe that I dedicate my life to helping protect the most vulnerable in our society - the ones that need a hand up; the people who need support so that they can reach their full potential in life. Many parties identify with those beliefs, though some more than others. Obviously, I put my passion into practice when I decided to become a teacher, with my focus being on educating our future. And more obviously, that focus changed, quite dramitically, when my son was diagnosed with a very rare and progressive disease. On that fateful day in 2006, I promised my son that I would do everything in my power to protect him, to help him battle his disease. And to help him win. Along the way, I’ve been fortunate to play a small role in helping other children and other families fight back against this terrible disease, and along the way I’ve met some incredible people - people just as passionate about fighting for those in need as I am. Danielle Smith is one of those people.
Under Danielle’s leadership last summer, the life of a little girl suffering from a rare disease was saved. The government did not want to take action to provide little Aleena with the treatment she needed. Indeed, her request for approval of her treatment was denied by Alberta Health. Heather Forsyth, the opposition health critic for the Wildrose Party, worked tirelessly to help get that decision reversed. And Danielle Smith was with us the entire way, supporting our efforts and ensuring time was allotted in the Legislature to hold the government to account for their inaction. Heather and Danielle’s efforts made news from coast to coast, with National organizations covering the plight of Aleena. Because of her commitment to this family in need, Danielle helped save this young girl’s life. And today, Aleena is thriving, growing, and living a rich, full, and happy life.
Danielle didn’t have to allocate the resources of her party or her time during Question Period to helping this one child. But she did, because it was the difference between suffering or not for Aleena; the difference between life or death. Danielle ensured help was available because it was the right thing to do, and I was incredibly impressed with the way she committed herself and her party to wholehearted and unconditional support of Aleena and her family.
Since that time, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit the legislature and connect with Danielle in person. And she’s renewed her commitment to fight for Albertans suffering from rare diseases, she’s committed to holding the government to account for their lack of action to help our kids - she’s committed to protecting the most vulnerable of Albertans - our sick children fighting a battle they need help to win.
After watching Danielle’s commitment to Aleena, I’ve watched the policies she’s put in place for her party - health care reform, ending extra school fees that have become an added burden on families, protecting taxpayers, and the list goes on and on.
So to those of you out there questioning Danielle’s leadership in the wake of the four by-election loses this past week (losses in what have always been considered SAFE PC SEATS, I may add), I ask you this - what Leadership qualities ARE you looking for if you feel Danielle isn’t the person you need?
To me, having someone at the helm of your party who has shown a strong commitment to those in need, who has demonstrated her ability to help the most vulnerable in our society, who believes that change can happen if people work together, and who continues to show a passion to protect our social safety net, would be a true blessing. Danielle is a good person, and represents everything the Wildrose Party has come to stand for over the past few years.
General Douglas MacArthur once said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” Centuries earlier, Napoleon said “A leader is a dealer in hope.” From what I’ve seen and experienced over the course of the past two years, Danielle Smith embodies these definitions perfectly.
Far be it for me to tell the Wildrose what to do about their party and about their leader. But please remember this before you pass judgement at the upcoming leadership review - Winston Churchill lost 5 elections, Lincoln lost 8. True leaders aren’t judged by wins or losses, they are judged by quality of character, ideals, compassion, and vision. More often than not, true leaders end up on the winning side of things eventually - sometimes patience is required, but leaders tend to win out. And Danielle Smith is a true leader, one you should be proud and are lucky to have.
So, before you vote, take a step back and see the forest for the trees. I bet you’ll find you are in good hands with Danielle.
A “Liberal” from Ontario.