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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks to reporters on the sidelines of the Canada Strong and Free Network event in Ottawa, on April 12.Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith must awaken each morning and think: what fresh havoc can I wreak today?

What’s remarkable is that she continues to get away with just about every crazy idea that pops into her head. There is virtually no one holding her accountable. She is a right-wing ideologue on the loose, free to indulge her libertarian, Justin Trudeau-despising whims as she wishes.

She gets away with it largely because conservative politicians in Alberta have trained the populace to despise Ottawa, too, or at least “liberal” Ottawa. Alberta premiers have often secured their position by bashing Liberal leadership in our capital as often as they can, sowing distrust in our federal institutions along the way.

Ms. Smith’s latest effort to do this is Bill 18, the Provincial Priorities Act. The law would prevent provincial entities such as municipalities, school boards and universities from entering into funding agreements directly with the federal government – that is, unless they are approved by the United Conservative Party government.

The red tape this law will create is almost unimaginable. All in the name of sticking it to the Trudeau Liberals. But this is the UCP government’s overriding mantra – its raison d’être.

It matters not that this new law flies in the face of some of Ms. Smith’s previously publicly stated positions. A couple of years ago, for instance, she was on a podcast talking about sovereignty. “We should have our municipal levels of government be able to be sovereign in the decisions that they make that are within their municipal boundaries,” she said at the time. But this new law is precisely the opposite of that.

What it’s intended to do is block municipalities from signing direct funding deals with Ottawa around areas such as housing. The last thing Ms. Smith wants is the federal Liberals getting any credit in Alberta for doing something good, even if it fills a desperate need like housing. She will have none of it.

But the bill is even more nefarious than that.

Through it, Ms. Smith, and her soulmates in government, will now vet any research funding universities receive from the federal government for ideological bias. She doesn’t care that these grants are administered through impartial, third-party committees made up of academics and others. What matters is the impression the law is intended to leave: that the UCP government has its elbows up and is using them to keep Ottawa out of the province.

Ms. Smith doesn’t care who or what her ideological pursuits hurt or destroy along the way.

This bill is arguably the most dangerous piece of legislation that the UCP has yet tabled. On CBC’s Power and Politics, Ms. Smith defended Bill 18, telling host David Cochrane that the federal Liberals were only funding “certain types of opinions, certain types of researchers and I don’t think that’s fair.”

And what was the basis for her charge of political bias? “I have heard enough from some of our academics about how difficult it can be to access some of that funding,” she said. Note: one academic she has championed is Dr. Jordan Peterson, who will fill anyone’s ear with his suspicions about research funding.

Dr. Peterson once had a grant application turned down, he claimed, on the basis of his opposition to gender-neutral pronouns and the modern notion of gender as fluid.

In defending her bill, Ms. Smith told Mr. Cochrane that the legislation was aimed at establishing a “balance” on university campuses, where there would be “just as many conservative commentators as we have liberal commentators out of journalism schools, see just as many conservative-minded journalists graduate as progressive-minded journalists.”

So, this is her real target? Journalism schools?

Note to the Premier: these aren’t governed by grants from the federal government. Students apply and their resumes are adjudicated by staff in the school’s journalism department. Most if not all journalism schools in Canada train students to be reporters, not commentators. (Although there are courses offered on opinion writing, to be sure.)

Most commentators I know distinguished themselves as reporters first, before earning the privilege of being an opinion writer.

Is Ms. Smith suggesting that journalism schools in Alberta start vetting prospective entrants on the basis of their political beliefs? Because it sure sounds like that’s what she’s proposing in order to have a more “balanced discussion in the broader public sphere.”

Ms. Smith’s fixation with liberal media bias is perplexing, especially given that she rules a province governed for decades by conservative governments (save for the recent four-year reign of the NDP).

Who knows where this latest bit of Danielle Smith whackery will lead. But people should know it’s credibly the most dangerous legislative gambit she’s made yet.

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