Oct. 11, 2022

Alberta’s new premier a UCalgary graduate

Danielle Smith is province’s premier-designate after winning her party’s leadership race
Twitter photo @ABDanielleSmith
Danielle Smith celebrates her victory Oct. 6 as the new leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta. Twitter photo @ABDanielleSmith

Once the student president of a campus Conservative club, Alberta’s 19th premier is also a dual-degree holder from the University of Calgary.

Premier-designate Danielle Smith, who won the leadership of Alberta’s United Conservative Party on the sixth ballot last Thursday, graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, and a Bachelor of Arts in English.

In between studying for two degrees, Smith led the Conservative student club of that era, a distinction the current club appreciates.

“The UCC (University of Calgary Conservatives) has a proud tradition of having its members being elected into office or holding prestigious positions,” says Leam Dunn-Opper, current president of the University of Calgary Conservatives.

From club president to Wildrose leader

Calgary-born Smith has cited her time with the campus Tories as her inspiration for pursuing political office.

After graduating, Smith served a one-year internship with the Fraser Institute, before successfully running for a seat on the Calgary Board of Education board of trustees in 1998. That political experience was followed up in 2009, when she was elected leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party.

Five years later, after serving as leader of Alberta’s official opposition, Smith defected to the provincial Progressive Conservative party, but then lost her bid to be named a PC candidate in the next election.

Break from politics, then back again

A break from political office followed, and Smith returned to journalism as the host of a radio talk show on Calgary’s CHQR, having previously worked as a Calgary Herald columnist and host of the national current affairs program Global Sunday, on Global television.

Last May, Smith announced she would run for the leadership of the United Conservative Party of Alberta, following the resignation of Jason Kenney, and last Thursday, Smith’s campaign for more autonomy for Alberta in Confederation paid off in a victory that made her the province’s 19th premier.