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News from Imperial Washington: Alberta Diary's surprise endorsement (sort of) from afar

Danielle Smith

Your blogger is normally disinclined to give too much of this space over to people he disagrees with, on the perfectly sensible grounds they have access to more and better publicity opportunities of their own. Heck, some of them even own their own presses -- for all the good that’s doing anyone nowadays.

Plus, of course, that's what the comments section's for beneath this blog.

But what the heck, it’s a slow news night, I’ve been sitting in a couple of airplanes all afternoon feeling cranky and increasingly hot (and not in a good way, either), and in defending herself against my suggestion she'd talk to anyone about selling Canadian water, the leader of Alberta's Opposition Wildrose Party has gone and said something nice about me, in a backhanded sort of way.

So I suppose I'll indulge Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and me too and reprint some of the comments from her travel blog.

Smith was in Imperial Washington last night for the opening engagement of her First International Tour, see posts passim, camped right across the street from the site of a famous American attempted assassination. (with one of her personal heroes in the crosshairs, one feels fairly confident to state, no less.)

From that historical address, she writes: "Normally I like reading Dave Climenhaga's blog, but his recent uncharacteristically inflammatory posting seems to demand a response. For the record, I think Climenhaga gets it right more often than he gets it wrong. He is often the first to break news stories and political gossip (he outed my run for the Wildrose leadership before anyone else) and his analysis is usually very good, even if I don't always agree with him." (Emphasis added, of course.)

There, see, I wasn't making it up about scooping the world about Smith's leadership run. However, she goes on, "but he does stray into the realm of kooky conspiracy in his latest posting on my trip, hosted by the U.S. International Visitor Leadership Program."

This, naturally, is a reference to my suggestion in this space two days ago that "it makes my blood run cold when I hear a committed market fundamentalist like Smith musing about the need to chat about water with our American cousins…"

First, I have to observe that I'm obviously falling down on the job if that post was "uncharacteristically inflammatory." Now, last night's blog -- which was about Premier Alison Redford, Smith should note -- really was uncharacteristically inflammatory. The one about Smith was pretty tame by comparison.

Nevertheless, if you ask me, it's hardly evidence of over-fondness for kooky conspiracy theories or the desire to wear an aluminum-foil hat to bed to find oneself worrying about the dangerous mix of market fundamentalists like Smith and cool, clean Canadian water.

Indeed, not so long ago, the Fraser Institute, Smith's erstwhile employer, produced a report that tried to make the case "water exports can be undertaken responsibly," "water export can be environmentally sustainable," and "reconsideration of the issue is warranted."

Actually, what the report says is that "fact-based reconsideration of the issue is warranted." The trouble is, the kind of facts the market fundy Fraserites retail could be called "Fraser Facts," and they aren't necessarily exactly the same as the real thing.

Regardless, this paper touts the economic benefits to Canadians of exporting our water to the USA, and calls (in violation of the institute's tax exempt status) for governments to "repeal prohibitions against water exports," replacing them with "institutional mechanisms for assigning private water rights."

Well, you get the general idea here. This is why I worry, when I hear people like Smith want to talk about water -- even if it's not, as she insists, in a private chat with anyone. Although how public the chats are she's having with the various folks the State Department’s IVLP have lined her up with is subject to a certain amount of interpretation.

Nor do I feel completely reassured by Smith's lengthy recitation of the perfectly legitimate reasons she needs to think about water in her Highwood riding -- which, as she accurately points out, is alternately parched and flooded every year. You can read the complete list for yourself by clicking here.

Still, kooky conspiracy theorizing or not, I continue to think these guys bear watching -- even though I'm sincerely grateful to Smith for her assessment that I am Alberta's must-read blogger. This is a view, needless to say, with which I heartily agree. It also makes up -- somewhat -- for the disappointment of this week's kind letter about my Peter Lougheed post from Jeffrey Simpson, when he turned out to be the Jeffrey Simpson of Vancouver. 

Smith closes her post by itemizing her expenses and comparing the modest sum ($876.13, including $8 for taxis) to the (not all that much) larger bills reported by Premier Redford when she is on the road. In fairness though, Uncle Sam is not paying for Redford's hotel room or her airplane ride.

As for me, my cab ride last night in Lethbridge, Alberta, cost $16, so taxis must be a better deal in D.C. than in "L.A."

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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