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Alliance. Adding to their recent popularity is the addition of two former members of the PC’s who crossed the floor to sit as elected representatives for the Wildrose Alliance, and a by-election win in the fall of 2009, giving them three seats in the Legislature.

The most talked about politician in Canada is

the Wildrose Alliance’s leader Danielle Smith who is riding the groundswell of support for her and her party. Daric Harrison had the pleasure of sitting down with Ms. Smith in her new office in Calgary for a one-one interview for Politics magazine.

Politics interview with Danielle Smith [By Daric Harrison]

Politics: You have an extensive background in journalism, media and also in business. What drove you to be Leader of your Party; and how has your professional and person- al life prepared you for the world of politics?

Danielle Smith: There are a couple of ways that I think my background, especially working on the editorial board of the Calgary Herald has helped me. At the Herald editorial board we had a pret- ty diverse group that would get together in the morning, identify issues that were important, and then have a robust debate about which position we should take on them. It seems to me that this is ex- actly the process a caucus should use when devel- oping their position on a variety of policies. I think that what we see right now with the current gov- ernment is that the leadership appears to be afraid of dissenting opinion, there isn’t a lot of caucus democracy, there’s not a lot of caucus debate but I feel very comfortable being able to have a vibrant debate where you consider a variety of viewpoints before you make a decision. I think that’s the way you make the best decision; you make sure that you hear from all sides. So that I think came to me from my experience in journalism. In business I worked for the CFIB as their Al-

berta chief advocate and lobbyist and I think there are a couple of things I was able to see from that perspective. I was able to see the relationship be- tween politicians and the bureaucracy. I think this is fairly important as the government we have now seems to be driven heavily by the bureaucracy and there isn’t a lot of political leadership. So I think being able to see how that was working is one of the reasons that convinced me that I needed to get into politics myself. But from a business per- spective, hearing about the concerns small busi- ness owners have; about the level of the tax burden and the regulatory burden, which falls particularly hard on small and medium business owners. Their concerns about being able to find qualified staff, which albeit in a recession can be less of a concern, but in a couple years we’re going to be in a posi- tion we were in a couple years ago, where we had a very hot economy and a shortage of people to fill those positions. Those to me are going to be

issues currently, they were issues in the past and they’re going to be issues in the future and I think I got some good feedback from the members of CFIB on how to tackle those. So both of those experiences, I think have been perfect primers for the kind of issues I’ve had to deal with should our party form government.

New media like blogs and magazine’s with online platforms provide a challenge to traditional media to bring up their game and that’s good, competition works in politics, business, and media.

Politics: As someone garnering national attention and holding a powerful political position in a tradi- tionally male-dominated profession in Canada, do you view yourself as a role model for women in- terested in politics and public policy? What advice would you give young women and men looking for a career in politics?

Danielle Smith: I’m struck by a story I read years ago about Margaret Thatcher’s young son, who when asked in class ‘don’t you want to be Prime Minister when you grow up?’ answered that, he didn’t know boys could be Prime Minister. I think there are a lot of women who have al-

ready been great role models for women in poli- tics. Margaret Thatcher of course is the role model for me but even in the United States you see strong women whether they’re in the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.

Canada has had less success at seeing women in the top job. We haven’t had as good a record at having women be successful in the top job, that doesn’t mean that we won’t, it just means we’re a little further behind other countries. We see more and more women in the top positions in business and the legal and medical professions, so I think

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