Premier Danielle Smith made a remarkable journey, making a cycle of advocacy, journalism, and political leadership twice..M Danielle Smith, whose real first name is Marlaina, was born in Calgary April 1, 1971, the eldest daughter and second child of Doug and Sharon Smith. Smith enjoyed girl guides in her childhood, raised by parents she would later describe as “reliably conservative” with jobs in the oil patch. In high school, she worked at a McDonald’s and a bingo parlour. In university, she worked at the oyster bar Cannery Row..Smith graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1993 and an economics degree in 1995. There she became president of the campus Progressive Conservative club and met first husband Sean McKinsey. Her classmates included Ezra Levant, Rob Anders, Naheed Nenshi. Peter Lougheed and Tom Flanagan were among her professors, and Ian Brodie was a teacher’s assistant for one of her classes..In 1996, Smith interned with the Fraser Institute. In 1998, she won a seat on the Calgary Board of Education. The provincial minister of learning dissolved the board due to its apparent dysfunction. Smith worked as an advocate with the Alberta Property Rights Initiative and the Canadian Property Rights Research Institute..Smith became a columnist for the Calgary Herald, succeeded Charles Adler as host of the national TV program Global Sunday. There she met producer David Moretta, whom she eventually wed. Today they co-own a restaurant in High River..In 2006, Smith hosted the Calgary Congress, a national assembly to consider federal economic and constitutional reforms. That same year, she became the Alberta director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business..Smith supported Ted Morton for the 2006 PC leadership race and became disillusioned with the “free-spending ways” of premier Ed Stelmach. She felt the party lost its way and quit the party in 2009 to join the Wildrose Alliance. When MLA Rob Anderson tried to talk Smith out of the decision, she told him, “This government is beyond redemption. It’s out of control.”.After Smith was elected Wildrose leader in October 2009, MLAs Anderson, Heather Forsyth, and Guy Boutiller joined her party..Alison Redford led the PCs to an election win in 2012, but the Wildrose took 17 seats on 34.3% of the popular vote to take opposition status. As leader of the Opposition, Smith represented the riding of Highwood, just south of Calgary. Former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice took over the PC’s from Alison Redford and swept four provincial by-elections in October 2014. .Two Wildrose MLAs defected to the PCs in November 2014, then Smith, deputy leader Rob Anderson, and seven other Wildrose MLAs followed in December. Smith failed to win the PC nomination in Highwood and Wildrose won the seat. Smith went on to host a radio talk show at CHQR in Calgary, became a lobbyist and president of the Alberta Enterprise Group, and returned to journalism with the Western Standard..In May 2022, Smith announced her intention to seek the leadership of the United Conservative Party. Armed with the promise of an Alberta Sovereignty Act, she won the UCP leadership vote on Oct.6, 2022, taking 53.77% of the vote on the sixth ballot. On Nov. 8, 2022, Smith took 54% of the vote in a Brooks-Medicine Hat by-election to return to the legislature..A profile on NDP leader Rachel Notley is forthcoming.