Danielle Smith and the Environment

Jonathan Williams
Calgary Conservative Examiner
April 14, 2010

Climate change has been on the mind of most people last year. The mostly failed Copenhagen summit was big news last year. Amongst all this discussion Danielle Smith was elected leader of the Wildrose Alliance party.

Considered a climate change denier and an enemy of the environment Smith has worked hard to show that she and the party are willing to work with environmentalists to better green Alberta. In this two part series it will look first at the origins of Smith’s environmental policy history and how it has guided her.

In the second part we will look at her positions on Alberta environmental policy and her positions on some of the challenges facing Alberta today.

Smith described her interest in the environment as one that started early in her life. As someone interested in economics it was obvious that environmental policy would play its part as an factor in the health of the economy.

“If you look at my history I have always taken an interest in the environment,” Smith said, “When I first graduated university I had a year long internship at the Fraser Institute and my project there was looking at environmental indicators for Canada and the US.”

The idea was to measure where the Canada and the US were in 1970 to the mid-nineties, in this way they could identify the strengths and weaknesses of the way the two governments and businesses have dealt with biodiversity, land management, pollution, water and solid waste management.

“When you look back at the first earth day in 1970 verses where we are today we have come a long way in improving overall quality of our environment over a whole range of indicators,” Smith said, while indicating that there has been somethings that still needed work.

Smith also co-authored a study called Achieving Eco-Prosperity: SMEs’ perspectives on the environment. Her conclusions from the study was that small businesses wanted a strong healthy environment and economy at the same time. Smith said, “You cannot sacrifice one for the other and you shouldn’t sacrifice have too, it is possible to have both.”

Smith explained that she has three guiding principles on environment.

“Number one, we have to make sure we are identifying the right things to fix. Number two we have to make sure we are identifying real solutions and number three we have to make sure we are following up to demonstrate that we actually have real outcomes,” explained Smith.

Critics on the other hand have accused her of being in the pockets of big oil and soft on corporations that pollute. As she became a leader of the Wildrose Alliance these calls have come more often because of stances she and the party have made over Alberta’s resources.

“We are the party of small business if you look at the people that supported us in the (donations) from last year it was mostly individuals and small business owners and there is a reason for that,” sad Smith in answer to those charges, “Big corporations often have the ability to lobby to get relaxations on environmental rules, and if you look at the history of some of our worst pollution problems, this has been documented.”

Smith studied a book published by Elizabeth Brubaker which noted that big corporations would use the government as a shield as they were creating many of the pollution problems. Brubaker argued that corporations must live up to expectations and not be bad citizens.

“There is no right to pollute. You are not permitted to use your property in a way that causes harm to another person’s property,” said Smith, “If we got more serious on following through on some of the protections that we have through common law, riparian law (water rights), (and) through nuisance law we would be able to resolve many of the issues of pollution that have gone on unabated for a period of time.”

Brubaker is a member of Environment Probe International whose goal is to champion “the use of property rights, markets, and decentralized decision making to empower individuals and communities to protect the environment.”

If one wants to understand where Danielle Smith is coming from on the environment one would say that Brubaker might be a good place to start.


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