Danielle Smith, the former leader of the Wildrose Party, is making a public plea to get rid of education workers that are “trash-talking” the oil sands. In an op-ed piece for the Calgary Herald, Smith derides teachers and school administrators for pushing “anti-oil sands rhetoric.”

The basis for her attacks is a Grade 10 social sciences test. In it, students are asked to identify the bias of a statement that is critical of oil sands development.

The question is not even centred around the validity of the statement. It is merely an exercise in critical thinking to help students identify an author’s predispositions.

Smith takes offense to this question. For her, this sort of critical thinking is, as she puts it, “indoctrination.” She labels those who administered this test as “detractors” and equivocates their curriculum to Uighur concentration camps.

She ends her op-ed by calling for a purge of any school staff that dares administer “tests like this.” Clearly, critical thinking is tantamount to treason in Kenney’s dystopian Alberta.

What Smith overlooks entirely, is that she stands completely opposed to her own idea. The whole point of her argument, supposedly, is to take politics out of the classroom. Instead what she is, in fact, arguing for is making political propaganda central to what is taught in public schools.

Alberta’s conservatives want a public education system that reveres Alberta’s oil sands, a purge of any teacher that dissents and a ban on critical thinking. That should worry everyone. 

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