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Alberta Premier's controversial policies serve as political weapon for Justin Trudeau.

Analysis | Danielle Smith and Justin Trudeau, the good enemies

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The adversity between Danielle Smith and Justin Trudeau is paying off for both politicians.

  • Louis Blouin (View profile)Louis Blouin

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According to our information, neither Justin Trudeau nor Danielle Smith requested a face-to-face meeting during the Alberta Prime Minister's visit to Ottawa on Monday. One more sign that in this relationship between the two politicians, adversity is mutually more profitable than collaboration.

It is a carefully planned political operation. Danielle Smith visits the heart of the Canadian capital to reopen an Alberta office. Its mission: to advance the interests of the province with the federal government. A sort of embassy in foreign territory.

The desired image: a Prime Minister who goes to the front against the federal adversary. On several occasions, Danielle Smith attacked the Minister of the Environment, Steven Guilbeault, whom she accused of poisoning the relationship between Alberta and Ottawa. He is an ideologue. He doesn't want to listen. He does not respect the constitution and he continues to charge forward even if his actions are illegal, she declared at a press briefing, once again demanding that he be removed from office.

Alberta's premier carefully maintains her line of attack: Ottawa's environmental actions are harming Albertans and their economy. In particular, she denounces the federal carbon pricing model and its clean energy objectives. A rhetoric that remains profitable in the eyes of the conservative leader, while the feeling of alienation from Ottawa remains strong among her supporters.

According to the latest annual surveys from the Environnics Institute (New window)* from 2019 to 2023, more than 80% of respondents who support Danielle Smith's party believe that the province is not treated with respect that she deserves in Canada.

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Justin Trudeau's Liberals are not left out. Randy Boissonnault, the only Alberta minister in the government, was waiting for Danielle Smith. In her sights, the new policy proposed by Alberta on gender identity.

What [Danielle Smith] proposes, Prohibiting young LGBTQ+ people from being who they are will put lives in danger, declared Minister Boissonnault. Last week, Justin Trudeau accused the Alberta government of putting forward the most anti-LGBT policies in the country.

For the Canadian Prime Minister, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Danielle Smith becomes for him the perfect incarnation of this label that he wants federal conservatives to wear.

Justin Trudeau wishes to portray a movement with extreme positions inspired by the Republican right in the United States. Even better when the Alberta leader appears alongside the sulphurous Tucker Carlson (New window), leading figure of the American extreme right.

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Danielle Smith sent a letter to Justin Trudeau on January 27 asking to meet him in person.

With this in mind, it makes sense that the Liberals are trying to present Pierre Poilievre as an accomplice of Danielle Smith. Pierre Poilievre's entire caucus, including all his Alberta MPs, was muzzled. They were instructed to be silent on this, argued Minister Boissonnault, in reference to the Alberta government's proposals on gender identity.

It is not surprising that the Conservative leader remains cautious and stays away from this thorny confrontation. Asked about this Monday morning, he simply declared that we must let parents raise their children and the provinces run schools and hospitals. Pierre Poilievre did not follow through on a non-binding resolution adopted by his activists last September aimed at banning gender transitions among minors.

More difficult, therefore, to attack Pierre Poilievre head-on on this subject. It is perhaps due to wear and tear that the policies of his Alberta colleague could place him on the defensive, especially in a pre-election context.

In this strange tango, Justin Trudeau and Danielle Smith have something in common: the ability to score political points with their base at each other's expense.

A reminder that the next election will be about contrasts.

But this dynamic also carries risks. The politicization of an issue as sensitive as that of gender identity can quickly get out of hand and accentuate divisions in Canadian society.

The Placing this conversation at the heart of the political arena could harm the holding of a calm debate on a very delicate issue.

L The Environics survey was conducted among 5,300 Canadians using an online questionnaire from January 26 to February 9 among residents of the provinces, and by telephone from January 24 to 26 for residents of the territories.< /p>

  • Louis Blouin (View profile)Louis BlouinFollow

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