What the Alberta Policy Changes Mean to Me
I started publicly speaking out against gender ideology about four and a half years ago—not nearly as long as many others in this fight, but long enough that it used to feel like only a handful of us understood the gravity of these strange new cult-like beliefs that were slowly seeping their way through society, largely unnoticed by the masses. I hope this context helps to impress upon the reader how unreal it feels to me that Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has now also taken up the cause.
I remember telling my sisters on the first day of 2020 that everything would change in this fight during this decade. I guess we are nearly halfway through it, but somehow I still didn’t expect a day like this would actually come, not with the other side digging their heels in and getting more deranged than I ever thought possible. But now, Alberta has come out with a more comprehensive set of policies tackling these issues than any other Canadian province so far. You can read more about the details of these policies over at The Distance.
But this announcement isn’t just significant to me because a major politician is finally paying attention to a cause I care about. It’s also about who is doing it. Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that I’m probably one of Danielle Smith’s biggest supporters (or rather, fans) and it has nothing to do with this particular issue. She is my personal hero. But this wasn’t always the case.
I first learned about Smith in my early 20s when she became the leader of the right-of-center provincial. Wildrose Party, which formed the Official Opposition after the 2012 election. At that point, my naive political analysis consisted entirely of “conservative = bad” so, needless to say, I was no fan of the party. But, somehow, I couldn’t bring myself to dislike Smith herself. She just seemed too friendly and kind.
In 2014, Smith and eight other Wildrose members crossed the floor to join the ruling Progressive Conservative party in a move that, well, pretty much completely backfired. All of them lost their seats in the next election and Smith became very unpopular in Alberta, to put it lightly.
After this, Smith worked in talk radio for a number of years. I wasn’t following her, but here and there when I came across something she said or something she wrote I generally found myself agreeing with it.
Around 2019 my own political opinions began radically changing—or, as I like to think about it, I simply started being honest with myself. It was very hard to disabuse myself of the idea that, as a millennial lesbian, I was beholden to always support and vote for progressives. To my great and eternal shame, I voted for the federal liberals under Justin Trudeau one single time (my riding was blue, so don’t kill me!). But, eventually, I reprogrammed myself.
Fast forward to May of 2022, when Tara and I heard that Smith was running for leadership of the United Conservative Party. We instantly wanted to become party members so that we could vote for her, only to discover we were one minute too late to do so (the deadline was midnight of the day we found out, and we landed on the website at exactly 12:01 a.m.).
The funny thing is that, up to that point, we had never discussed Smith and the fact that our opinions about her had changed. For some reason, we just both felt very positively about her return to politics.
As the leadership race went on and it didn’t seem like things were going all that well for Smith, I disappointedly stopped paying attention. Then, On October 6, 2022, Tara came home and excitedly told me that Smith had won the leadership after all! What?!
I instantly watched her acceptance speech in disbelief that she had pulled it off and for the first time feeling genuinely excited and hopeful about politics. She had done it. After the disastrous events of 2014, she was finally the Premier of Alberta.
The next big hurdle was the 2023 general election. It was a nail-biter, but Smith led the UCP to a majority government on May 29, 2023. I was thrilled.
See, up to that point, my reasons for supporting Smith had nothing whatsoever to do with gender ideology. She had not uttered one single word about it. I had every confidence that one day she would, as I knew the issue was growing too big for politicians to ignore forever. But I still liked and supported her regardless, and I didn’t really expect her to tackle it any time soon.
So, you can imagine my utter disbelief when, not six months after the election, I was invited to a meeting with none other than Premier Danielle Smith, along with my friends Lois and James, to talk about the issue that was most important to me.
I’m sitting here almost three months later and it still feels surreal—even more so in light of the recent policy announcement. That Smith has now taken up this cause, and in a way I can truly respect, seems like the best of all possible worlds.
I know some people think I am silly and will roll their eyes at what they see as “hero worship,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I actually think idolization is a form of dehumanization. I’ve never believed in the adage “never meet your heroes,” because I know my heroes are human and so their humanity is not going to disappoint me. But that’s precisely what makes it so meaningful when someone who is just human champions a cause like this in the face of what she surely knew would be an overwhelming and hysterical backlash.
Currently, the front page of every mainstream media publication is featuring several articles monstering Smith for her proposed policies. She’s being painted as a hateful bigot seeking to politicize the plight of “trans kids” or worse—as the cause of their potential suicides. The attempts at emotional manipulation are at a fever pitch, and it certainly isn’t easy to deal with.
Even if Smith was sure that her base would welcome the policies, it was still a risk. And she could have played it safe and focused solely on schools as New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have done, but she went further and decided to lead the way on the issues of the medicalization of minors and women’s sports as well.
Being the first to do something on such a contentious issue is no walk in the park. My own minor experience of being a small-time writer in this space hasn’t been easy. I know some people are cynical and think it is all politics, but I believe she approached this the way she did because she really does care. That’s the sense I got in our meeting and I continue to believe that. And I couldn’t be happier.
Eva’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.