On Leadership, Compassion, and Danielle Smith

Hi Everyone,

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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – PC MLA Calls on Government to Fund Treatment for Rare Disease


PC MLA Calls on Government To Fund Treatment For Rare Disease

Life-Sustaining Treatment Required Immediately; Family Continues To Wait For Decision From Alberta Health

Stephen Khan, MLA for St. Albert, released his first public statement today about the case of 3 year-old Aleena Sadownyk. Sadownyk, a St. Albert resident, was recently diagnosed with MPS VI, a rare, progressive, and debilitating disease caused by an enzyme deficiency in the blood. She requires a life-sustaining treatment immediately to prevent irreversable symptoms from progressing. However, treatment cannot begin until Alberta Health renders its decision as to whether they will fund the expensive treatment or not. The treatment is already being funded in numerous provinces throughout the country, including BC, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Ontario.

Khan released a statement on his Facebook page urging Alberta Health to quickly render “a positive decision for the Sadownyk family.” Khan notes that “Every day is an eternity for this young family, knowing that a treatment for this debilitating disease is at hand.” He acknowledges that other provinces are already funding treatment for the same disease.

Khan’s call for a quick decision from Alberta Health backs up Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth in her own campaign for immediate action from Alberta Health. Forsyth has been publicly advocating on behalf of the Sadownyk family. On Friday, she wrote a letter to Health Minister Fred Horne asking him to “immediately reverse the denial of coverage under the Alberta Rare Diseases Drug Program or at the very least, provide temporary access to Naglazyme by immediately approving the STEDT application.” Forsyth notes in her letter to Horne that “major barriers thrown up in accessing this drug for Aleena” have caused delays that have left Aleena suseptable to “irreversible symptoms” of the very progressive disease.

While the drug in question isn’t yet approved by Health Canada, it’s official recognition as a legal medication for use in this country is imminent, perhaps only weeks away. It is already approved for use in many countries throughout the world, including the United States, the European Union and Austrailia. There are currently 7 children receiving the medication throughout Canada, all funded by provincial health care plans.

Andrew McFadyen, director of The Isaac Foundation, a charity that advocates on behalf of families affected by the disease, has grown frustrated with the delays and indecision. “There is ample evidence in this country and throughout the world as to the merits of this life-sustaining treatment. I’ve seen it personally in my son Isaac, where it has virtually halted the progression of the disease and has given him the opportunity of a normal life. It’s heartbreaking to know that while bureaurocrats are slowly make their way through the STEDT process – with no real indicaton or urgency, the disease is wreaking havoc on Aleena’s body. We know this works. We know other provinces already fund this treatment because they also know it works. Why Alberta Health is making this family wait to learn the fate of their daughter is beyond comprehension and it’s downright cruel.”

McFadyen adds that he is hopeful the public statement from Khan will prompt Minister Horne to take immediate action. “The Provincial government has the opportunity to do the right thing and ensure that Aleena receives the treatment she so desperately needs. It’s the role of government to protect and ensure fair and equitable access to Health Care for all Canadians, regardless of which Province they happen to live in. The Isaac Foundation joins Mr. Khan in calling on this government to take action and save the life of this child. She can’t afford to wait.”

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For more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview to discuss, please call Andrew at 613-328-9136 or email Andrew at mcfadyena@me.com.

Stephen Khan’s full statement can be found here.

Heather Forsyth’s full letter to Minister Horne can be found here.