United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith says she will not support another Calgary Olympic bid if she becomes Alberta’s premier.

In November  2018, 56.4% of Calgarians voted to stop the exploration of a 2026 Olympics bid.

“I think the people have spoken,” Smith said on Wednesday’s episode of the Western Standard’s  Cory Morgan Show.

“It went to a referendum and Calgarians said ‘no,’” she said. “I think that people have spoken. So I think it’s a bit of a non-starter unless there’s a new way of approaching it.”

The leadership candidate also said an Olympic bid would be “massively expensive” and there’s no appetite for the province to take it on.

“Look what happened to Japan for heaven’s sake with the disruption that occurred because of COVID,” Smith told Morgan.

“I think that they ended up spending over $10 billion on that (Tokyo Games), I think we have to be realistic about it.”

Her comments come after Alberta Culture Minister Ron Orr on Tuesday said “it’s possible” the Olympics will come back to Alberta. The province has been involved in the “initial process of exploring a bid,” he said.

“There is a small group of individuals who have put together some proposals for a future opportunity and we will certainly be looking at those as they come and as it becomes appropriate to talk about details,” Orr said.

He also announced $17.5 million in provincial funding for upgrades at the Frank King Day Lodge, which was used as the media centre in Calgary’s 1988 Winter Olympic Games.

“The City of Calgary has almost all of the amenities it would need for Games at this stage,” Orr said. “And, of course, this kind of redevelopment would obviously add to that.”

Of the seven UCP leadership candidates, polling shows Smith is most likely to take over as Alberta’s premier on Thursday. 

The results will be announced at an event in Calgary on Thursday night. Most party members have sent their vote via mail-in ballot, but there’s also an option to vote in-person on Thursday.

True North will be hosting a live UCP leadership results show Thursday starting at 5:00pm MT.


  • Rachel Emmanuel

    Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.