United Conservative Party leader Danielle Smith was under fire at the start of week two of the 2023 Alberta Election, over allegations that she compared vaccinated Albertans to being followers of Adolph Hitler.
Overnight on May 7, a clip of Smith speaking on a podcast from November 2021, went viral sparking both thousands of views and widespread condemnation—and some defense of Smith’s views.
Speaking on the Big Picture Podcast, Smith outlined why she was not wearing a Remembrance Day poppy, but also her views on what she said were a majority of the public’s views about vaccinated Canadians. The topic of the show was energy, free speech, functioning health care and honest politicians.
“I noticed you’re not wearing a poppy. I’m not wearing a poppy, but they ruined it for me this year. The political leaders standing on their soapbox pretending that they care about all the things that you just talked about,” Smith said.
“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.”
Speaking to the host of the podcast, she asked if he had a chance to watch the Netflix series How to Become a Tyrant, referencing the first episode’s topic about seizing power with a focus on Adolph Hitler.
“They must have filmed this before COVID—so many people say that they would not have succumbed to the charms of a tyrant, somebody telling them that they have all the answers, and he said I guarantee you would. And that’s the test here is we’ve seen it,” Smith said.
“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 unvaccinated.”
On November 11, 2021, the day after the podcast was posted and the closest day that the Alberta Government provided data on Covid-19 cases in the province, 2,863 people had died from the disease, and 85.3 per cent of Albertans over the age of 12—some 3,208,549 out of 3,761,140 people—had received at least a first vaccination dose.
As of May 1, 2023, 5,720 people have died from Covid-19. A total of 91.1 per cent of all Albertans over the age of 12, or 3,422,881 people, have received at least a first done of a Covid-19 vaccine.
As of May 8, all of the Big Picture Podcasts, regardless of topic, had been removed from the website on which they were hosted.
Smith apologizes, but apology not accepted says Alberta NDP leader
Smith apologized for her words on Monday afternoon, saying that “as everyone knows, I was against the use of vaccine mandates during COVID.”
“However, the horrors of the Holocaust are without precedent, and no one should make any modern-day comparisons that minimize the experience of the Holocaust and suffering under Hitler, nor the sacrifice of our veterans,” read a statement.
“I have always been and remain a friend to the Jewish community, Israel and our veterans, and I apologize for any offensive language used regarding this 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 NDP leader Rachel Notley rebuked Smith’s apology and her claims while speaking in Calgary on May 8.
“Some comments just demonstrate an incredible lack of information. Some comments demonstrate a plan which would be very hurtful to other people. Some comments demonstrate a set of values which no level of apology can ever make up for,” Notley said.
“They’re different and it’s not possible to inoculate herself by doing one grand apology for a whole range of statements that reveal bad judgment, hurtful intent, and deeply, deeply questionable values.”
Notley alleged that Smith’s statements directly compared vaccinated Albertans to followers of Hitler and that she also disrespected the wearing of the poppy.
“These comments are utterly horrifying,” she said.
“What we have here is a premier who is looking at over 75 per cent of Albertans who stepped up who followed the 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.”
Smith’s latest apology mirror those made in 2021 on Nazi experimentation
The apology made by Smith on Monday mirrored one that Smith made on an opinion article she wrote in March of 2021 for Postmedia, connecting mRNA vaccines to the Nuremberg Trials and human experimentation.
While apologizing for references to the Holocaust, she did not apologize for her views on mRNA vaccines being experimental.
That same view had been widely shared by individuals in conspiracy circles in 2021. However, those claims had been widely debunked by legal experts and medical, as the general use of mRNA vaccines to protect Canadians was not experimental as clinical trials had been completed, nor were any experiments being performed on those who received the vaccines.
“We are now even having a national discussion of whether people should be forced to take one of the new mRNA vaccines, as if the Nuremberg trials never happened,” Smith wrote.
“Recall, the 10-principle Nuremberg Code was formulated more than 70 years ago by American judges sitting in judgment of Nazi doctors accused of conducting human experiments in concentration camps. It states as its first principle that the voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential in conducting medical experiments.”
Her apology wrote that “the horrors of the Holocaust are without precedent, and no modern-day event should ever be compared to it.”
“The author’s reference to the Nuremberg Code was not to draw equivalency but to underscore the historical fact that the Nuremberg Code formed the basis for modern medical ethics, the first principle of which is that a person must be able to choose if they want to receive experimental medical treatments.”