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United Conservative Leader Danielle Smith apologized Monday after a 2021 video surfaced of her saying she wouldn’t wear a Remembrance Day poppy while comparing those who got the COVID-19 vaccine to followers of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany.

Alberta's election is set for May 29.

“I’ve always remained a friend to the Jewish community, to Israel and to our veterans,” Smith told reporters Monday, deferring further comment to a statement from her campaign office.

In the statement, Smith said while the comment was made during her previous career as a journalist and pundit, any comparisons involving the horrors of the Nazi regime are offside.

“As everyone knows, I was against the use of vaccine mandates during COVID,” Smith wrote.

“However, the horrors of the Holocaust are without precedent."

She said in the statement that no one should minimize the suffering under Hitler or the sacrifice of veterans.

“I apologize for any offensive language used regarding this issue made while on talk radio or podcasts during my previous career.

"COVID was a divisive and painful period for so many, including myself, but is thankfully now over. I would hope we can all move on to talk about issues that currently matter to Albertans and their families."

Alberta premier @ABDanielleSmith apologizes for comments linking COVID vaccinated to Nazi followers. #ABPoli #Covid19

The Calgary Jewish Federation, responding on Twitter, said it spoke out during the pandemic about disturbing rhetoric linking vaccine mandates to the Holocaust but declined further comment Monday, saying, “In today’s campaign climate it is important that our community is not used as a wedge between political parties.”

Since becoming premier in October, Smith has been dogged by past statements, including saying people are responsible for contracting their own early-stage cancer and that the COVID unvaccinated have faced the most discrimination of any group she has seen in her lifetime.

Smith's comments from a Nov. 10, 2021, interview on social media resurfaced over the weekend. In it, Smith points out she is not wearing a poppy because of the actions of politicians during the pandemic.

“They ruined it for me this year — the political leaders standing on their soapbox … pretending they understand the sacrifice and not understanding that their actions are exactly the actions that our brave men and women in uniform are fighting against," Smith said in the video.

Smith then moves on to compare those who received COVID vaccinations to those in Hitler's Germany who "succumbed to the charms of a tyrant, somebody telling them that they have all the answers."

Of the pandemic vaccinated, she says, “We have 75 per cent of the public who say, ‘Not only hit me, but hit me harder, and keep me away from those dirty unvaxxed.’

“We're already hearing about people being denied treatment for not being vaccinated, being taken off the organ donor list. What are we becoming?

“It is diabolical.”

In November, the board of Smith’s UCP disqualified a potential candidate for its Livingstone-Macleod constituency in part for past comments comparing COVID vaccine passports to policies enacted under Hitler’s regime.

Smith also faced questions Monday for a second video that surfaced from a speech she gave to party members at a Calgary rally Saturday in which she tips off her supporters that her government was set to announce the province would declare a state of emergency due to wildfires that have forced thousands to flee their homes.

Such a declaration allows the province to access additional funding and resources.

“You guys are the first to hear about it, so you got a little bit of inside information," Smith is seen telling supporters on the video, obtained by The Canadian Press.

Colin Aitchison, a spokesman for Smith in her role as premier, declined to answer an emailed question on why Smith felt it was appropriate to make the announcement to supporters before telling the public at large.

“The decision was made by the Emergency Management Cabinet Committee prior to the press conference,” said Aitchison in a statement.

“Prior to the press conference, we also notified the NDP of the decision.”

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley, speaking to reporters in Calgary, said once cabinet makes a decision, the premier can disclose it when and how she wants.

“This is more about the judgment that she is demonstrating by choosing to share it with a bunch of campaign supporters before she shares it with those Albertans who are so deeply impacted by this crisis," she said.

Notley called the Nazi comments "utterly horrifying."

“What we have here is a premier who is looking at over 75 per cent of Albertans who stepped up, who followed the (COVID) science and respected the requests that were made by public health officials to protect themselves, their neighbours and Alberta's most vulnerable citizens and everybody who needed our hospitals — and she's comparing those Albertans, 75 per cent of them, to the architects of an antisemitic genocide.

“Albertans, you deserve better. You deserve so much better.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2023.

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Cringe...and sigh Canadians. What is it with this generation of politicians who shoot off their mouths in public and private with loopy, ill informed, or elitist, or wildly provocative pronouncements smugly assured they will get "clicks" and send journalists into frenzies of speculation? Is it really worth the mini tornadoes, names in the press etc. when within hours fact checking, disgust and polarization arises from the dust of your passing? Polarization is a dumb strategy for winning elections. Remember your history? Divide and conquer is how rebels, insurgents, invaders, etc. wipe out empires and civilizations. Not always to their own benefit.

Huge correction needed here though; it's ONLY the conservative politicians doing this. The fact that you don't differentiate this is actually more proof of why and how the bombast works for them-- because of the widely respected creed of "bothsidesism" attached to journalism, a "fair and balanced" creed that is still amazingly afloat despite what Fox News has done with it. Also amazing because conservatives also own OUR mainstream media, so Linda Solomon Wood and the women who started Narwhal and the Tyee are truly our heroes and our new models for the times.
But perpetually perpetrating the "unprecedented" is obviously key to why and how this contrived craziness works because clearly people freeze in the face of it, including the media. Trump has done the same thing with the presidency, leaving all other institutions up for grabs, thereby encompassing democracy itself.
And speaking of contrived craziness, somehow religion has made the cut by hiding in plain sight as usual, it's ultimate power probably being ITS ubiquitousness on both sides of the aisle, but it's arguably also a principal architect, owning the patent as it does for the magical thinking required to justify upending it ALL in order to "put things right." After all, "divine" law obviously trumps the pesky, pedestrian rule of law, so stacking the Supreme Court with true believers makes perfect sense; the sacred ends absolutely justify the means.
But is a theocracy also capable of being a democracy once it comes out once and for all?

The Liberal strategy of saying one thing and doing the opposite is not without its costs as well...

Apples and oranges.

Using Smith Math, no less than 92% of all Canadian citizens who got COVID shot #1 are followers of Hitler, who died 77 years ago, but whose narrative lives on in the hearts of a tiny fringe, some in Smith's own UCP base.

What the hell is going on in Alberta? There oughta be warning signs posted at the provincial borders. Keep it up and BC could very well win a referendum on separation -- not from Canada, but from being forced to be attached to such a looney neighbour.

Good comments. Though I am optimistic that many acquaintances really dislike the UCP and Smith in particular.
What is going on is the ultra right are trying to be the controlling force behind the Premier and make us more religious, conservative, and family values whatever that means. And listening g to Parker, we r in for a rough ride under the UCP . Smith is a declared Libertarian which means much less government and they harp on freedom when we live in one of the if not the world's freest countries. Most ultra rights have no concept of what freedom means other than personal gain.

Actually, they did formulate one concept of freedom -- to assemble a convoy of big trucks that occupied the entire downtown of a major city and hold 30,000 residents, workers and businesses hostage for three weeks. They ironically named it the "Freedom" Convoy.

What I love about this case is that the same abused citizens have freedom too, enough to sign up for a class action lawsuit against the convoy organizers, individual truckers who participated, the truck owners and companies whose employees went rogue using company equipment to deny the freedom of citizens. The number being sued now totals about 400. The class action area was expanded to include Ottawa's Byward Market and a couple of other areas.

It's a work quietly in progress, but it will burst into the news once it gets to court, perhaps later this year. Many truckers and organizers will lose their trucks, possibly their homes in the most egregious cases.

My only slight defence (and hope) is that the UCP won, but with only 55% of the vote and that the "united" clown posse is actually disintegrating back into its composite parts, sabotaged yet again by the more religious contingent involved, i.e. the "Wild" Rose.....

I think she'll find the Israelis she's so at pains to emphasize she's a great friend of, did plenty of vaccinating (except in Gaza, where they blocked vaccine from arriving). So she was actually calling her Israeli best buds Nazis.

For that matter I doubt the Canadian Jewish community includes very many alt-right anti-vaxxer morons.