Braid: Premier Smith said to greet Carlson 'invasion' with plea for energy understanding

The premier’s office presents the conversation as a public-relations opportunity to spread Alberta’s energy and environment message internationally

Get the latest from Don Braid, Calgary Herald straight to your inbox

Article content

Tucker Carlson, acting as his own Tucker Trooper, begins the invasion of Canada on Jan. 24.

He’ll be in Calgary as a guest speaker — with Premier Danielle Smith by his side.

Article content

The fired former Fox News host infamously said the U.S. should invade Canada to save us all from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.

No surprise there. His job is to anger and inflame as many people as possible. The shock was that some Canadians seemed to agree with him.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Now comes the latest jolt.

We know that Smith is an ardent believer in free speech, especially her own, but how can she appear with Carlson, who has spread slurs about immigrants, Black people, LGBTQ+ people, the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising and his country’s entire northern neighbour?

NDP critic Shannon Phillips said “Tucker Carlson is a pro-Putin white nationalist, so naturally Danielle Smith is scheduled to help him promote his event in Calgary.”

Here’s the rationale from a senior source in the premier’s office: “She (Smith) feels that with Carlson having the largest reach of any commentator in the western world, it’s an opportunity to explain to folks of his political persuasion that emissions reduction and energy development are not mutually exclusive, and it’s important that conservatives lead and advocate for this position rather than do nothing.

“We need to win converts all over North America to Alberta’s position on this.”

Basically, they present it as a public-relations opportunity to spread Alberta’s energy and environment message internationally.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Tucker Carlson
Tucker Carlson speaks at the Turning Point Action conference on Saturday, July 15, 2023, in West Palm Beach, Fla. The divisive right-wing news commentator is to have a conversation with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in January, when he’s scheduled to speak in Calgary. Lynne Sladky/The Canadian Press/AP

On the question of why the premier would associate herself with Carlson’s extreme views, her office also said in a statement: “The premier participates in a variety of public and private events and does interviews with dozens of reporters, broadcasters and podcasters from across the political spectrum.

“Obviously, she does not subscribe to every view of every interviewer or reporter she speaks with, whether that’s the CBC, the Toronto Star or Tucker Carlson.

“The premier aims to share Alberta’s message with as many people as possible, whether they’re from Alberta, Canada or around the world.”

The problem is that Carlson carries his own message without even opening his mouth. In the wider world, Alberta will be linked to his persona, not hers.

Also, responding to reporters’ routine questions, whether from the CBC or the Western Standard, is very different than appearing on stage with a speaker like Carlson.

This is another sign that there’s no longer an off-switch for speech in Canada. Hate speech laws are out the window. The lack of action against regular antisemitic rants stemming from Israel’s war with terrorists is plain proof of that.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Related Stories

Smith surely knows this is a provocative thing to do. She could easily give it a pass without any political impact, one way or the other. Her stated goal on emissions and environment promotion will be a tough sell with Carlson’s acolytes.

She also disagrees with Carlson on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She doesn’t share his intolerance toward gays, immigrants and people of colour.

His “invade Canada” pitch was to be a special TV item until he was fired by Fox. His whole shock-talk pitch for invasion was incredibly condescending and insulting.

So, apart from her energy and environment message, there’s still the obvious question about why Smith is doing this.

At least in part, it’s a stick-it-up-your-nose gesture to the hard left and what conservatives deride as cancel culture.

Many of the nearly 4,000 delegates to last weekend’s UCP convention were motivated by the belief that civilization itself is being warped by the left through manipulating schools and other public institutions, including health care.

The reaction was counter-censorship. Delegates called almost unanimously for banning books they don’t like from school libraries.

Smith isn’t going to hurt herself with those folks by appearing with Carlson. Whether she hurts Alberta is another question.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

X: @DonBraid

Article content

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.