October 24, 2022

-Global News

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said she will be cancelling a health consulting agreement involving the World Economic Forum, saying the province’s health care issues must be solved internally.

The WEF invited Alberta Health Services to join the Global Coalition for Value in Healthcare in 2020, an international network that aims to advance health care around the world. Members of the coalition include public and private healthcare stakeholders, including those involved in COVID-19 research.

The WEF has been the focus of right-wing conspiracy theories which claim the organization is secretly taking over the world and destroying capitalism.

Smith criticized AHS’ agreement with the WEF in a live internet stream last Friday, where she asked why the AHS has to be involved with the WEF at all.

Smith has since refused to elaborate on her statement, brushing off reporters who asked for clarification after her keynote speech at the United Conservative Party’s annual general meeting.

On Monday, Smith refused to say if she believes in the conspiracy theories but did say she will consult local doctors and nurses for health care advice.

“I think it makes sense to make health decisions based on health experts. The group that you mentioned and the person at the helm of it… I don’t think he’s a medical doctor. I don’t think he’s a nurse. I don’t think he’s a paramedic,” Smith said during a news conference after the cabinet swearing-in ceremony.

“I’m here to govern. I’m here to talk about the things that are most important to Albertans… I think it makes sense to make health decisions based on health experts.”

Some experts are raising concerns over Smith’s remarks because they may affect government policies in the next seven months.

Lori Williams, a political science professor at Mount Royal University, was confused by Smith’s statement because the coalition is made of highly credible organizations that are involved in cutting-edge medical research, including Harvard University and the Mayo Clinic. She questioned the premier’s ability to distinguish conspiracy and credible information.

“This is not the first time she’s made comments about the World Economic Forum, nor the first time she has seemed receptive to discredited health care information,” Williams told 770 CHQR.

“She has suggested that alternatives like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin are effective against COVID-19, in spite of the evidence that exists out there. That is problematic.

“Her critical assessment of the information that comes before her doesn’t seem to reflect good judgment.”

Williams also said Smith’s statements may be alienating a large majority of Albertans ahead of next year’s provincial election. The political scientist said Smith is undermining her message early into her premiership.

“(The premier’s statements) can very well affect policy but it could affect trust in terms of her leadership and our views about the reliability of her leadership. Is she able to win the next election and is she able to effectively address the health care crisis and other issues in Alberta?” Williams said.

“She has to persuade the broader electorate and the 40,000 Albertans that voted for her. She has to persuade a majority of voters that she is competent, but at the same time hold her party together… That’s a very, very tall order.”