What are the Jewish themes on the ballot in Alberta’s election? Three expert observers explain the current political landscape

Former premier Rachel Notley, left, and Premier Danielle Smith during a debate on May 18, 2023. (Screenshot from Global News/YouTube)

On May 29, Albertans will go to the polls in an election that will either return sitting Premier Danielle Smith of the United Conservative Party for a full second term, or turf her in favour of former premier Rachel Notley, who ran Alberta under an NDP government from 2015 to 2019.

Smith was sworn in just seven months ago, in October 2022, after the resignation of her predecessor, Jason Kenney. She’d already been in politics for years, but even outside of that realm, she has never shied away from voicing her opinions, writing columns for the Calgary Herald before her political career and hosting a talk radio show since 2015. In recent years, some of Smith’s comments have outraged Jewish groups, especially the Calgary Jewish Federation, B’nai Brith and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center. She has posted links from her blog to antisemitic websites and has likened people who took COVID vaccines to the followers of Hitler. Smith has apologized for those remarks, but the impact still reverberates.

She’s also been dogged by a slew of other controversies: a UCP candidate compared transgender people to feces; a Muslim multiculturalism advisor was found to have posted antisemitic comments on social media; and, on May 18, Smith herself was found to have breached the government’s conflict of interest ethics. She tried to influence criminal proceedings against an anti-COVID protestor convicted of blockading the Canadian border at Coutts during the truckers’ convoy in February 2022.

Observers feel the election is too close to call because the outcome depends heavily on which party wins key ridings in and around Calgary and Edmonton. So The CJN Daily assembled a trio of commentators to weigh in on the 31st Albertan election: in Calgary, Maxine Fischbein, a Jewish community leader and journalist; from Edmonton, Abe Silverman, a Holocaust survivor who is also B’nai Brith’s regional representative; and Laurence Abbott, a former Beth Shalom synagogue president who is a professor at the University of Alberta.

What we talked about

  • Read Josh Lieblein on Danielle Smith’s comparing COVID-vaccinated Albertans to followers of the Nazis, in The CJN
  • Why a member of Danielle Smith’s new multicultural council had to resign over antisemitic social media posts, in The CJN
  • B’nai Brith wants Alberta man charged with hate crimes over anti-Semitic articles, in The CJN


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.