thumb-2023-05-07-danielle-smith-remembrance-day-poppies This article is more than 1 year old

Danielle Smith Boycotted Remembrance Day Poppies, Railed Against ‘Mainstream’ Medicine on Podcast

UCP leader pushed COVID-19 misinformation and suggested the military, not doctors, should be in charge of future pandemics

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United Conservative Party leader Danielle Smith boycotted Remembrance Day poppies in protest of COVID-19 public health measures, something she described as “diabolical” and comparable to life in Nazi Germany.

Smith shared the unusual revelation during an episode of a podcast produced by a wealth management firm that was recorded on November 10, 2021.

Podcast host Andrew Ruhland, a Calgary wealth adviser, recounted the liberation of Nazi-occupied Holland by Canadian troops in the Second World War, lamenting to the future UCP leader and Premier of Alberta that COVID-19 lockdowns have taken away the freedoms that previous generations “died for.”

Smith agreed.

“I noticed you’re not wearing a poppy, I’m not wearing a poppy,” Smith remarks to Ruhland during the podcast. “They ruined it for me this year.”

“The political leaders standing on their soapbox pretending that they care about all the things you just talked about, pretending they understand the sacrifice and not understanding that their actions are exactly the actions that our brave men and women in uniform are fighting against.”

Smith mentions she streamed a Netflix series called “How to become a tyrant” and suggests public health measures and vaccines have made life in Canada comparable to life under Nazi rule.

“One academic says — they must have filmed this before COVID — so many people will say that they would not have succumbed to the charms of a tyrant, somebody telling them that they have all the answers, and he said ‘I guarantee you would’.”

Smith suggests high vaccination rates and uptake in booster shots prove a majority of Canadians have personality traits that are deferential to authoritarian figures.

“We’ve seen it,” Smith says. “We have 75% of the public who say not only ‘hit me’, but ‘hit me harder and keep me away from those dirty unvaxxed’.”

Smith asserts that the “unvaxxed” are facing Nazi-like persecution in Canada: “Even on the cover of the Toronto Star, saying ‘I want people who are unvaxxed to get sick and die and I don’t even care’.”

“What are we becoming?”

“That’s vile and diabolical,” Ruhland says. Smith agrees it is “diabolical.”

“I want to be able to wear a poppy next year, I hope the politicians that have ruined it for me this year are gone.”

Eleven months after the podcast was recorded, Smith replaced Jason Kenney as Premier of Alberta following an internal party revolt by UCP members.

It remains unclear what actual relevance Remembrance Day has to Smith’s grievances about COVID-19 public health measures and vaccines.

The United Conservative Party did not respond to multiple requests for comment from PressProgress about Smith’s statements in the podcast, including whether the UCP leader continues to boycott Remembrance Day poppies.

The 2021 podcast was resurfaced by Calgary-based Twitter user @DisorderedYYC, who posted video clips from the podcast Sunday evening.

In the same podcast, Smith also rails against “mainstream” science for refusing to entertain alternative medicine approaches to COVID-19 and says she believes the military, not doctors, should be in charge of future pandemics.

“The problem — and I hope we never do this again — with putting doctors in charge is they seem to be hardwired against criticism,” Smith says.

“They seem to have a medical profession that is almost like a military-command structure, that the person at the top cannot be argued with, cannot be contradicted, otherwise it’s some crime that’s worthy of punishment.”

“If that’s the way the medical profession operates,” Smith says, “then I don’t think we can have them in charge again in a future pandemic.”

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Despite criticizing the medical profession for supposedly following a military-style chain-of-command, in the next breath, Smith confusingly suggests the military’s chain-of-command is what makes it best equipped to be in charge of a pandemic.

“It’s got to be something more like a military chain-of-command, actually,” Smith says.

“Military chain-of-command, yeah — there is a top guy, but they give a lot of latitude to people in the field to make their own judgment,” Smith explains. “You can’t micromanage every decision from the top when you’re in a combat theatre.”

“I think our military is actually better trained to understand the balance between chain-of-command and frontline decision making, they’re certainly better trained in understanding our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

In the podcast, Smith links her criticism of “mainstream” medicine to a lawsuit that she was helping to crowdfund money for — but never went forward with.

Last week, CTV News reported $100,000 raised for the lawsuit was never used and Smith donated $90,000 to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a highly controversial right-wing charity that played a central role in the Freedom Convoy and hired private investigator to follow and surveil a judge.

Two Justice Centre lawyers, including the charity’s president, are now facing criminal charges for obstruction of justice and intimidation of a judge.

In the wide-ranging, and at times meandering podcast, Smith also promotes an anonymous website that compiles studies on “potential different treatments” for COVID-19, but which has been identified as one of the “leading Ivermectin sites.”

“Yes, there’s a couple of the controversial drugs on there,” Smith concedes.

Smith also falsely speculated that California Governor Gavin Newsom developed Guillain-Barre Syndrome after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.



Update: Following publication of this story, UCP leader Danielle Smith issued a public statement apologizing for “any offensive language” she had made in the past on “talk radio or podcasts” comparing vaccine programs to Nazi Germany.

“The horrors of the Holocaust are without precedent, and no one should make any modern-day comparisons that minimize the experience of the Holocaust and suffering under Hitler, nor the sacrifice of our veterans,” said Smith’s statement.

The statement did not explicitly acknowledge Smith’s comments comparing millions of vaccinated Albertans to Nazi supporters or her boycott of Remembrance Day poppies.

Monday afternoon, the Alberta-Northwest Terrorities section of the Royal Canadian Legion issued a public statement reacting to Smith’s comments about poppies:

“The Poppy is a symbol of remembrance of those who have served Canada and made the supreme sacrifice in the name of democracy. It has no role in politics.”

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Luke LeBrun
Luke LeBrun is the Editor of PressProgress. His reporting focuses on the federal political scene, right-wing politics as well as issues in technology, media and culture.

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