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Danielle Smith, new leader of the United Conservative PartyScreenshot / YouTube

CALGARY, Alberta (LifeSiteNews) – Danielle Smith was elected as the United Conservative Party (UCP) leader on Thursday, which de facto made her the premier of the Western Canadian province due to the fact that the UCP is in power.

Smith received 54 per cent of the vote, beating out numerous other candidates and replacing Jason Kenney.

After her victory was made official, she said to supporters at the BMO Centre in Calgary: “I’m back!… I am grateful to have earned this second chance from you. I will never forget it and I pledge to you tonight I will not let you down.”

Smith was previously the leader of the Wildrose party, an alternative conservative party in Alberta that was dissolved when it merged with the old Progressive Conservative Party in 2017 to form the UCP.

Smith was an MLA from 2012-2015.

Her bid to become the UCP leader in 2022 centred on her populist objection to vaccine mandates and lockdown restrictions.

Smith’s anti lockdown and anti-mandate sentiment fueled her departure from a talk radio position she held for years.

In one of her earliest campaign videos from June, she said: “What happened over the last two years must never happen again… Let me be clear: As your Premier, our province will never lock down again.”

She also promised to take a stand against encroachment from the federal government, and said that if “Ottawa attacks” Charter rights and freedoms in Alberta, those actions would not be enforced in the province.

Furthermore, Smith promised to ensure sovereignty for Alberta by proposing an Alberta sovereignty act to allow the province to ignore federal laws and court orders deemed not in its interests, a move that was backed by Canadian Charter co-author Brian Peckford.

Peckford called the move a “bargaining chip” that would allow Alberta to protect itself from draconian mandates related to public health, as well as being protecting the province from environmentalist measures that strangle the oil and gas sector in Alberta.

“Alberta feels particularly aggrieved in that its oil and gas resources, which are under the Province, have resulted in huge revenues to the Province and there has over time been an imbalance in how much Alberta pays into the Federal Government and how much it gets back,” Peckford wrote.

Support for abortion

Despite Smith’s seeming credentials as a pro-individual liberty advocate, her lack of socially conservative positions have left some conservatives nervous, particularly regarding pro-life and LGBT issues.

Smith told LifeSiteNews that she would not revisit the “bubble zone” law in effect in Alberta, which was enacted under the far-left New Democratic Party government in 2018 and penalizes any pro-life activism within 50 metres of an abortion mill. In 2018, she declared she was “pro-choice,” and “could” support abortion up to 24 weeks. Smith added that her “position on abortion doesn’t really align with either side in the polarized debate.”

Smith has also expressed her support for using transgender pronouns, telling LifeSiteNews she believes it is “polite” to use preferred pronouns that do not match the biology of the person.