Albertans tire of fights with Ottawa, as Danielle Smith ups the ‘anti’

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EDITOR’S NOTE: CBC News and The Road Ahead commissioned this public opinion analysis in mid-October, beginning six days after Danielle Smith received the management of the United Conservative Party.

As with all polls, this one is a snapshot in time. 

This week, Albertans noticed glimpses of the Trudeau authorities’s technique for dealing with new Premier Danielle Smith and her devotion to getting robust with Ottawa, or at the very least Liberal Ottawa.

This early technique is just to indicate up, usually with novelty-sized cheques in hand. While Smith received her rural byelection this week, the Liberals barnstormed the province to advertise their fall financial assertion.

Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne visited Edmonton to subsidize a hydrogen challenge; Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce; Seniors Minister Kamal Khera gave grants to seniors tasks; and Calgary MP George Chahal introduced help for high-speed web.

The parry from the United Conservative Party premier appeared conventional: a public letter to the prime minister, reprising grievances about the carbon tax, the challenge evaluation Bill C-69 and power safety. Smith’s promised subsequent act, later this month, is the temperature-raiser: the untraditional (and constitutionally-questionable) Alberta Sovereignty Act.

But a humorous factor’s occurred over these previous couple of years, as the UCP decided Jason Kenney’s anti-Ottawa act wanted a extra bellicose improve and put in Smith. Albertans have gotten much less offended on federal points, with a waning urge for food for firewalls, honest offers and comparable packages than at any level in the final 4 years.

At a boil? Medium-low warmth, maybe

It’s not that the findings from CBC News’ newest survey of Albertans exhibits an Ottawa love-in. Far from it, with 61 per cent of Albertans nonetheless believing the equalization program is unfair to Alberta, and 57 per cent feeling that different components of Canada will get sorted earlier than Alberta, irrespective of who’s in cost federally.

But after the years of pugilism from Smith and Kenney, alongside with a referendum about equalization, unfavorable sentiments about these federal grants to worse-off provinces are decrease than they had been final 12 months, or in 2020, or in the Notley authorities days of 2018. And that is the first time over that span fewer than 60 per cent of Albertans have felt different provinces had been higher taken care of, in line with the ballot of 1,200 Albertans by Janet Brown Opinion Research.


Pro-separatist sentiment can also be down, which ought to please any federalist in Alberta, of any political stripe. Twenty per cent of respondents really feel the province could be higher off in the event that they left Canada, down from 30 per cent when the identical query was requested in April 2021.

Of course, irrespective of how Smith was accused of selling separatism with her federal-law-defying Sovereignty Act by critics (together with some individuals now in her cupboard), the premier has insisted that is not her sport. The ballot additionally exhibits that the insurance policies she is eager on implementing aren’t rather more in style than idealizing Alberta separation.

Smith campaigned on getting Albertans out of the Canada Pension Plan, however 60 per cent of Albertans oppose that concept and solely 31 per cent agree with it. That’s down from 36 per cent in March 2020, when Kenney’s honest deal panel was busy reviving some of the previous “firewall letter” concepts from a earlier interval of frustration with Ottawa Liberals.


Smith additionally plans to usher in an Alberta provincial police pressure and transition away from native RCMP detachments, exhibiting extra zeal for the concept than Kenney’s crew had. That concept barely has the backing of one-quarter of Albertans, a decrease quantity than a pair years in the past.

The ballot exhibits {that a} province-only pension scheme would particularly stoke anxiousness amongst Alberta seniors, a bunch the UCP can not afford to agitate. Only 22 per cent of them help the concept of an Alberta Pension Plan.

Smith’s stance on policing can also be offside with one other key factor of the UCP voter base — small-city and rural residents. People who reside in these communities with RCMP detachments are as more likely to disagree with the provincial police takeover as residents of Calgary and Edmonton, which have already got their very own police forces.

The ballot did not ask about Smith’s Sovereignty Act; it is onerous to say precisely what it’s going to do earlier than Smith truly introduces this much-hyped laws in late November. However, barely lower than half of Albertans (46 per cent) say that Alberta ought to work towards attaining extra independence from the federal authorities — which implies that at the very least there’s comparatively higher help for the broader goals of Smith’s federal agenda, even when it is nonetheless a minority of individuals. 


But these are all performs to enthuse her political base. The ballot reveals sharp partisan divides. Eighty-two per cent of UCP supporters need extra Alberta sovereignty, whereas 16 per cent of NDP supporters do. For a provincial pension, 57 per cent of UCP voters prefer it, in comparison with 9 per cent of New Democrat voters. Ditching the RCMP wins over 48 per cent of these on Team Smith, and eight per cent on Team Notley

Even Smith’s marketing campaign slogan “Alberta First,” has that very same type of divisiveness. Half of United Conservative supporters say they really feel extra connected to Alberta than Canada, whereas solely 9 per cent of NDP voters do. Albertans typically are most probably to have equal attachment to each the nation and province.

Smith appears to wish to create extra space between herself and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau than Kenney ever did, even when social distancing is not actually a factor anymore. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

The problem for Smith, in choosing the UCP sides of these polarizing debates, is that there are extra Albertans preferring the NDP. She’s 9 proportion factors behind Rachel Notley’s social gathering.

It’s additionally clear that issues with Ottawa aren’t a main concern for Albertans, rating behind well being care, inflation and even the complications induced by the provincial authorities. There have been indicators the new premier will deal with these increased public priorities.

And but, in her byelection victory speech, Smith directed some of her most fiery rhetoric in Ottawa’s path: “Under Trudeau, Confederation has devolved right into a toxic, divisive parent-child relationship.” But Albertans do not appear to seek out it that toxic.

As the province eagerly waits to see how corrosive or flat the Sovereignty Act winds up being, let’s conclude by chewing over one other unasked query. Is the downside that Smith is attaching herself to concepts which are rising extra unpopular, or do these concepts turn out to be much less palatable once they’re connected to Smith?


The CBC News random survey of 1,200 Albertans was performed utilizing a hybrid technique between Oct. 12 and 30, 2022, by Edmonton-based Trend Research beneath the path of Janet Brown Opinion Research. The pattern is consultant of regional, age and gender elements. The margin of error is +/- 2.8 proportion factors, 19 instances out of 20. For subsets, the margin of error is bigger.

The survey used a hybrid methodology that concerned contacting survey respondents by phone and giving them the possibility of finishing the survey at the moment, at one other extra handy time, or receiving an electronic mail hyperlink and finishing the survey on-line. Trend Research contacted individuals utilizing a random listing of numbers, consisting of half landlines and half cellphone numbers. Telephone numbers had been dialed as much as 5 instances at 5 totally different instances of day earlier than one other phone quantity was added to the pattern. The response fee amongst legitimate numbers (i.e. residential and private) was 16.3 per cent.

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