An electric vehicle at a charging station.
Snow or no snow, Guilbeault or no Guilbeault, electric vehicles are coming – and Alberta Premier Danielle Smith evidently doesn’t like it. Credit: Midwest Renewable Energy Association Credit: Midwest Renewable Energy Association

Who’s writing Danielle Smith’s unhinged rants?

Whoever it is, as an Alberta taxpayer I sincerely hope we’re not paying them by the word, because their screeds are definitely getting longer!

Regardless of what it sounds like, we know it’s not some guy with a long beard and a dirty robe scratching his observations on a piece of stone out in the badlands east of Drumheller – that would take too long. There’s definitely a word-processing computer application somewhere in the mix. 

Less than a week after the last one, there was another on the Government of Alberta’s official web page yesterday, this time ranting about federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s plan for new rules to help phase out sales of cars and trucks powered only by gasoline by 2035.

Don’t panic, in the unlikely event Guilbeault’s new rules are actually implemented as described, gasoline-and-electric-powered hybrid vehicles would still be permitted for those who live too many kilometres away from a charging station. 

But judging from the news coverage, the idea sounds overly complicated, unable to pass muster with voters in many parts of Canada – even places inclined to vote for federal Liberals – and not likely to have their advertised impact on the supply of electric vehicles if consumer demand for the machines continues to rise. 

In other words, just like a lot of the stuff the UCP does, the Guilbeault Plan sounds highly performative – possibly in this case to counter Conservative attacks on federal subsidies intended to ensure that electric vehicle manufacturing capacity gets built in Canada. 

Be that as it may, there’s something about Guilbeault that makes the UCP in general and Smith in particular just go nuts, right off their collective rocker, completely over the edge – virtually diagnosable, if you know what I mean. 

In other words, Guilbeault has become the new Tzeporah Berman, who always struck me as a basically reasonable person but one who had a similar ability to drive Jason Kenney, the previous UCP premier, up the proverbial wall. 

Or maybe he’s the new David Suzuki, another public figure who seemed able to push Mr. Kenney over the edge by just saying stuff, although to give the unhappy former premier his due, he never went completely bonkers, he just did dumb angry things that did more harm than good to his personal and political ambitions. 

Well, forget him. He’s history now. Literally, as a matter of fact. Eventually he’ll probably end up in the same book as his musical grandad Mart!

So, here’s Danielle Smith – or perhaps I should say, “Danielle Smith” – on Minister Guilbeault’s plan to get us all behind the wheel of a Tesla or equivalent: “In another show of total disregard for the well-being of Canadians, the federal government has unilaterally imposed an unconstitutional edict with a bizarrely impossible timeline that will result in massive increases in the cost of vehicles and utility bills, vehicle rationing and wait lists, increased costs to businesses and elevated difficulty and safety risk for hundreds of thousands of Albertans and Canadians just trying to get to work and family activities in our unpredictable, and often cold, climate.”

(Take a breath! And don’t worry about that cold climate, Smith, it’s definitely getting warmer around here … and please stop shouting!)

That’s just the start. It goes on … “no legal or moral authority to tell Albertans what vehicles they can and cannot buy “… “sheer hypocrisy” … “disaster” … “trying to force increased demands on the electricity grid while simultaneously weakening Alberta’s” … “delusional timelines” … “freezing with their families in -30 C on the side of a rural road is not an option” … “destructive virtue-signalling” … blah-blah-blah

The screed concludes with a screechy sounding vow to launch yet another constitutional challenge. 

Smith is certainly not being truthful when she claims in the statement that she supports Albertans who wish to drive lower-emission vehicles.

And she’s just trying to stall meaningful climate action when she talks about hydrogen-powered vehicles having the potential to rival electric vehicles. That dog won’t hunt.

But she does have a point when she says the federal plan isn’t a formula for success if there’s no buy-in from car and truck users and auto manufacturers. 

But the thing that really gets up her nose, I strongly suspect, is that there is considerable demand for EVs and a lot of car makers that are gearing up to meet it. 

With or without Guilbeault’s new rules, that’s going to have an impact on Alberta’s one-note economy if we continue to refuse to face up to reality – as Ms. Smith and the UCP clearly think we should. 

In the meantime, I don’t know about you, but I’m sure getting tired of this hysterical nonsense. I expect a lot of people are starting to tune Smith out as a result.

As for who’s writing this drivel, I don’t suppose it really matters. I just hope for their sake they have a good union job in the public service in case Guilbeault up and leaves politics for one reason or another. 

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...