Tucker Carlson, acting as his own Tucker Trooper, begins the invasion of Canada on Jan. 24.
He’ll be in Calgary as a guest speaker — with Premier Danielle Smith by his side.
The fired former Fox News host infamously said the U.S. should invade Canada to save us all from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.
No surprise there. His job is to anger and inflame as many people as possible. The shock was that some Canadians seemed to agree with him.
Now comes the latest jolt.
We know that Smith is an ardent believer in free speech, especially her own, but how can she appear with Carlson, who has spread slurs about immigrants, Black people, LGBTQ+ people, the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising and his country’s entire northern neighbour?
Here’s the rationale from a senior source in the premier’s office: “She (Smith) feels that with Carlson having the largest reach of any commentator in the western world, it’s an opportunity to explain to folks of his political persuasion that emissions reduction and energy development are not mutually exclusive, and it’s important that conservatives lead and advocate for this position rather than do nothing.
“We need to win converts all over North America to Alberta’s position on this.”
Basically, they present it as a public-relations opportunity to spread Alberta’s energy and environment message internationally.
On the question of why the premier would associate herself with Carlson’s extreme views, her office also said in a statement: “The premier participates in a variety of public and private events and does interviews with dozens of reporters, broadcasters and podcasters from across the political spectrum.
“Obviously, she does not subscribe to every view of every interviewer or reporter she speaks with, whether that’s the CBC, the Toronto Star or Tucker Carlson.
“The premier aims to share Alberta’s message with as many people as possible, whether they’re from Alberta, Canada or around the world.”
The problem is that Carlson carries his own message without even opening his mouth. In the wider world, Alberta will be linked to his persona, not hers.
Also, responding to reporters’ routine questions, whether from the CBC or the Western Standard, is very different than appearing on stage with a speaker like Carlson.
This is another sign that there’s no longer an off-switch for speech in Canada. Hate speech laws are out the window. The lack of action against regular antisemitic rants stemming from Israel’s war with terrorists is plain proof of that.
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Smith surely knows this is a provocative thing to do. She could easily give it a pass without any political impact, one way or the other. Her stated goal on emissions and environment promotion will be a tough sell with Carlson’s acolytes.
She also disagrees with Carlson on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She doesn’t share his intolerance toward gays, immigrants and people of colour.
His “invade Canada” pitch was to be a special TV item until he was fired by Fox. His whole shock-talk pitch for invasion was incredibly condescending and insulting.
So, apart from her energy and environment message, there’s still the obvious question about why Smith is doing this.
At least in part, it’s a stick-it-up-your-nose gesture to the hard left and what conservatives deride as cancel culture.
Many of the nearly 4,000 delegates to last weekend’s UCP convention were motivated by the belief that civilization itself is being warped by the left through manipulating schools and other public institutions, including health care.
The reaction was counter-censorship. Delegates called almost unanimously for banning books they don’t like from school libraries.
Smith isn’t going to hurt herself with those folks by appearing with Carlson. Whether she hurts Alberta is another question.
Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald