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Bell: Danielle Smith, will the real Danielle please stand up?


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No, it isn’t.

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It’s not the doling out of dough or an action plan to fix health care or even the commitment to fight the good fight against Ottawa.

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That’s not where we find the big question to be asked of Premier Danielle Smith after her Tuesday TV appearance.

The nugget is in the last bit of Smith’s address to Albertans where you see the bottom line of what she hoped to accomplish Tuesday night.

It is long after she rolls out her Christmas-comes-early money designed to help people cope with the cost of living.

“I wish to speak about something personal,” says Smith, knowing when you tell people you have to talk to them about something personal you’ve usually got their attention.

Can hear it now.

Come here, Henry. Thank God she’s talking about something other than politics. She’s getting personal.

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All that’s missing is a surprise appearance by Oprah Winfrey.

“I know that I am far from perfect and I make mistakes,” says the premier.

What mistakes? What mistakes?

Smith says she’s spent decades in media and hosting talk shows but that’s not her job now.

She’s discussed hundreds of different topics and sometimes taken controversial stands.

She says many of her positions “have evolved or changed.”

Such as what controversial positions? Evolved from what to what?

The unnamed positions evolved or changed because Smith says she has “grown” and “learned from listening” to Albertans.

How did she grow? What did she learn? What did she hear from Albertans?

Voters have a right to pose these puzzlers because they will be required to make an informed decision in May about who should lead the province for the next four years.

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One wise soul of the conservative persuasion says Smith is a jumble of ideas, many of them erupting from her self-styled libertarian brain.

But now, since Smith is in power, staffers around her actually wanting to win the next election are trying to massage, dare I say mould, the premier’s message and image so she can emerge victorious in the May election.

Details, details but just for the hell of it.

Is what she’s saying, like, real? To what degree are we seeing a new and improved Danielle Smith?

A Smith 2.0 or 3.0. An upgrade.

Hell, if I know.

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Once again, in her TV spot, Smith tells us she is “imperfect” for a second time.

She tells us she is “humble” for a second time.

She tells us she will “listen” for a second time.

Still, the premier wants to project a strong profile.

Smith says she is strong and focused and determined to do, in her words, “what I believe to be in the best interests of Albertans no matter how hard that is.”

Example?

The premier had only 10 minutes. There’s still some time on the clock in the weeks ahead for explanations.

And, though loyal readers knew most of the story, Smith did fill in the blanks about who is getting how much from the province’s barrels of black ink, surplus dollars flowing in large part from the oilpatch.

Will the bucks going out the door move the people Smith’s way?

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For seniors with a household income below $180,000 a year, they will score $600 over six months.

For families with a household income below $180,000 a year, they will scoop $600 over six months for any child under 18.

The same cash will go to the severely handicapped on AISH, those with developmental disabilities on PDD and individuals on Income Support.

The province’s fuel tax will get the heave-ho for at least six months.

Benefits will go up with inflation. A bigger rebate on electricity bills in the winter adds up to $200 a household.

The premier says there is more to do.

Smith again pledges to fix long emergency-room waits and long waits for surgeries and ambulances.

Smith also vows for the umpteenth time to stand up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his crowd through what is now called The Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act, refusing to enforce Ottawa laws attacking the province.

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Saying Alberta sovereignty in “a united Canada” is supposed to make you sleep better at night, in the fetal position clutching your Canadian passport.

And, before the 10 minutes are relegated to the dustbin of history, Smith does hitch her wagon to former premier Ralph Klein’s playbook and his willingness to admit what he saw as screw-ups.

Smith says when she’s wrong she’ll admit it and learn from it.

Funny, when she mentions Ralph I think back to the former premier’s TV address from what seems like a million years ago, when he told Albertans his government would balance the province’s books in four years by cutting spending big-time.

“There it is, folks. No hidden agenda,” he told Albertans.

Smith now has six months to convince Albertans she can truthfully make the same claim.

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