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FILDEBRANDT: It’s time for the West to put up, or shut up

The time has come to end the West’s position of purgatory. Western governments should come together to assemble a list of concrete constitutional demands to Ottawa and put them to a referendum as a final and genuine attempt at reconciliation. In the event that this attempt at reconciliation is rejected, we would have little choice left but to hold a second vote; this time on independence.

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The Liberals – second place in the popular vote – form a strong minority government without a single seat between Winnipeg and Vancouver. 

The Bloc Québécois and NDP – fanatic opponents of pipelines and the energy industry – hold the balance of power required for Justin Trudeau to govern. 

The Conservatives – having pandered to Ontario and Quebec – won the popular vote but came nowhere close to forming even a minority government. 

The People’s Party – the only party to even discuss Western issues like Equalization – rolled snake eyes, winning not a single seat. 

The Greens – singularly devoted to stopping Alberta and Saskatchewan from bringing about the apocalypse, tripled their seats from the last election and will serve as a loud and radicalizing voice in Parliament. 

For conservatives broadly – and Westerners in particular – the 2019 federal election was a disaster. 

Preston Manning & Stephen Harper in the Reform Party

In 1988, Preston Manning and his Reformers began to channel Western alienation from turning towards Western independence with their call, “The West Wants In,” but after a decade in opposition, the movement threw in the towel in hopes of gaining a seat at the table, giving birth to the Conservative Party of Canada. 

In government, the Western-friendly Conservatives failed to implement a single point of the famous Alberta Agenda (better known as the Firewall Letter), out of political necessity. The West was content merely having a federal government not out to get them. 

That low bar of expectations was lowered further still when Justin Trudeau swept to power in 2015. Since then, many Westerners put their faith in retaking Ottawa under the Conservatives. 

The Conservatives offered little to Westerners besides promising to repeal Trudeau’s pipeline-ban legislation, but it was better than what the Liberals or NDP had on offer. Scheer ran a campaign with no promise of a balanced budget in the foreseeable future, keeping half of the carbon tax in place (but calling it something else), and not touching the sacred Equalization formula. 

But the Tory’s watered-down, pabulum of a platform was not enough. Trudeau will continue to govern, and will now have to rely on parties even more radically opposed to the existence of the West’s energy industry than his own. 

Beyond the usual naval-gazing academia and punditocracy, it was not hard to predict that Monday night’s election result would lead to widespread revulsion across the West.  

The anger is there, but where will it go? 

Reforming Canada on a basis of equality for the West had been tried before, and gotten nowhere. Independence parties have to date lacked organization, credibility, and a strong enough casus belli for such a radical action. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has promised – more a less – a referendum in 2021 if the Liberal’s anti-energy legislation isn’t repealed. Chances of those bills being repealed are now next to none, and the results would be thrown back in Alberta’s face nonetheless. 

The West’s position in confederation is untenable.

A non-binding referendum without teeth, two years from now will no longer due. It will accomplish nothing, and simply delay the reckoning. 

It’s time for the West to put up, or shut up. Either the West must decide on a concrete path forward, or the West must accept its current place in confederation. 

Reform has become a dead-end, because Ottawa and several provinces hold a veto. Quebec will never allow for a reformed Senate, guaranteed pipeline access, and even minor tinkering with Equalization. Ottawa will never agree to seeing its bottom line threatened by allowing the West to keep more of its own wealth at home. Even if the federal Conservatives were sympathetic, they cannot act on any of these points because they will lose votes elsewhere. 

Westerners are for the most part still proud Canadians, and wish to remain so if possible, but they are being pushed out faster than they can make up excuses to stay. 

The time has come to end the West’s position of purgatory. Western governments should come together to assemble a list of concrete constitutional demands to Ottawa and put them to a referendum as a final and genuine attempt at reconciliation. In the event that this attempt at reconciliation is rejected, we would have little choice left but to hold a second vote; this time on independence.

Without a credible threat of independence hanging over Ottawa, there is little hope that Ottawa will listen. Sadly, it is unlikely that they will listen even with such a threat, but it is worth trying. Canada is a great nation that is worth at least attempting to salvage.

Simply yelling at Ottawa is no longer enough. Simply voting for a party less enthusiastic about the plunder of the West’s wealth is no longer enough. Either we do something about it, or we accept our place and be quiet. 

Derek Fildebrandt is the Publisher, President & CEO of Western Standard New Media Corp. He served from 2015-2019 as a Member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly in the Wildrose and Freedom Conservative parties. From 2009-2014 he was the National Research Director and Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Terry

    October 27, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Y describe the situation to a tee.

  2. Bob C

    October 25, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Reconciliation?? What? How? With Who? Don’t you get it? The East isn’t listening, they don’t care, I live in Ontario, nobody out here wants to hear about Western alienation, Anytime I brought it up, it was met with uninterested indifference,In the east they think government debt and deficits is sustainable.

    There will be a lot of talk and posturing about what needs to be done to bring Canada together, however, Westerners have to understand that the situation is irreconcilable, to continue in Canada is like living with a serial abuser, when faced with your ultimatum, they are going to be contrite and temporarily co-operative, but as soon as you drop your guard the abuse resumes, that is no way to live, resign yourselves to the fact that independence is the only solution and get on with it.

    Over the years, the West has worked the hardest at keeping the failed marriage that is Canada together, when your partners continually have no respect for your efforts, then enough is enough, if Provincial regionalism and protectionism’s are going to supersede nationalism, then what practical point can be made for Canada, when one province can impede the prosperity of another without Federal intervention, then there is no valid reason to continue in the federation.

    Save yourselves Alta. and Sask., by freeing yourselves, you will free the rest of us as well

    A friend from Ontario

  3. Gordon Blakeburn

    October 24, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Why Albertans could not see that their support for the Lib/con politics of the effete Andrew Scheer would not have helped win or lose is beyond me.
    This was the best chance to put forward a real conservative party and split away from this left-leaning mess of anti-conservative contradictions and corporate pandering bootlickers the CCP has become.
    Alberta should have put all those riding wins into the PPC hands and there would have at least been a wake-up message sent to our east coast rulers the likes that have never been seen before.

    • Morrigan

      October 25, 2019 at 1:21 pm

      The PPC guy in our local riding was a jerk. I would have voted for the PPC, but not someone who voted (rudely!) to defund our local libraries. I think the PPC needed better people, and better advertising.

  4. Paul Scofield

    October 23, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Welcome back! Even though I live in the States, I am thrilled to see that the “Western Standard” is back and going….

    There are a lot of people here south of the 49th parallel pulling hard for our fellow patriots in Canada, however they choose to resolve the issues they are facing.

  5. Paul Scofield

    October 23, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Welcome back! Even though I live in the States, I am thrilled to see that the “Western Standard” is back and going….

    There are a lot of people here south of the 49th parallel pulling hard for our fellow patriots in the Canadian west, however they choose to resolve the issues they are facing.

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Krahnicle’s Cartoon: January 18, 2022

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KAY: Why is Prince Andrew the only one being held accountable?

“All I am saying is that the price he is paying — a royal castaway, shunned for the sake of The Firm’s continued good health, and relegated to a social Devil’s island — is very, very high, much higher than would have been the case for an ordinary man.”

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It was with a pang that I was informed by People.com that “Queen Elizabeth strips Prince Andrew of [his eight] military titles and patronages amid sexual assault lawsuit,” as the headline read. A day after a judge rejected Prince Andrew’s attempt to have a civil lawsuit quashed, alleging sexual misconduct against him in 2001 by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims, Virginia Giuffre, the axe fell.

Thursday, the royal palace announced, “With the Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen.” Although still nominally a prince, Andrew will no longer have the right to be addressed as His Royal Highness (HRH). No more public duties for the dozens of charities for whom he has been a patron. “The Duke of York is defending this case,” the statement informed us, “as a private citizen.”

Why do I shudder slightly at those words, “private citizen,” and greet the news in general with a “pang,” though? Prince Andrew is nothing to me personally. He got himself into a very tawdry mess through his own appallingly bad judgment. The allegations surfaced in 2019, so this was no surprise. And it is not the first occasion in which bad judgment and a sense of entitlement has led “Randy Andy” into temptation of one kind or another, and thence onward to, at best, unethical behaviour, and at worst — oh dear, oh dear.

Let us not, though, count the ways that make this ultimate disgrace a deserved punishment for Andrew’s sins. Or rather, let other commentators — those who experience an uprush of joy or schadenfreude in their hearts when white males of extreme privilege are brought low, instead of a pang — do that.

When I unpack my pang a bit, what comes to mind is I know this had to be done; I know he deserved it; I know he is a wastrel. But oh, the mortification! And not for love, like Harry’s for Meghan or his great-uncle, Edward VIII’s for Wallis. At least they got to ride off to the colonies believing at the time they made the decision, anyway, their lives as royals were well lost for the glittering prize that had chosen them.

Even though he was of weak character — a suspected Nazi sympathizer, amongst other cases of bad judgment — Edward, Duke of Windsor was still a duke in exile. He was given royal sinecures to keep him busy. He was still a social asset outside Britain. Harry isn’t technically a Royal; he gave up his title voluntarily, but he’s good enough for Hollywood. So he has all the perks of royalty — money-making sinecures, constant attention, lots of social adulation — and none of the tedium. And when he comes home to visit, he still gets to mingle with the family. He has disappointed his family by quitting The Firm, and embarrassed them by foolishly airing private laundry, but he has not brought shame on the House of Windsor. He was not cast out. He left.

But for Andrew it’s the opposite. He cannot leave, but he has been “effectively banished.” There is no corner of the English-speaking world in which he can relax and just be himself. Himself? What would “himself” look like, stripped of what has defined him as a human being for all his 61 years? A turtle without a shell to retreat into. And no natural habitat. His gorgeous military uniforms will hang lifeless in his closets. Forever. I am trying to imagine what a future social life might look like. But I can’t.

Of course, there’s the saving grace of ex-wife Fergie to keep him company. Nobody is less likely to be judgmental, or more likely to empathize with the results of bad judgment in a buddy than Sarah Ferguson. I suspect she will eventually be remembered for her loyalty to Andrew in exile. He will have company watching Netflix. (Do you remember the scene in The Crown where the Duke — played by the wonderful actor Michael Kitchen — and Duchess of Windsor are watching Elizabeth’s televised coronation from their home in France? Oh, the suffering etched on Kitchen’s face.)

Andrew is often referred to as his mother’s favourite child, and that is how he was portrayed in The Crown as a boy on the cusp of manhood. He was buoyant, confident and ready for adventures of all kinds, military (at which he excelled) and prankish — even then, a bit of a wild card, but endearing to his mother on that account. In Philip’s general mold, but without Philip’s maturity, intellect and sense of duty.

But back to my pang. Consider: Stupid as he was, the woman accusing him of being party to her sex trafficking was 17 at the time of the alleged encounter. The age of consent in the U.K. as well as in 32 U.S. states is 16. A lot of other rich and famous men palled around with Epstein and made use of his private plane and visited his island home(s). How come their names didn’t come up in Maxwell’s trial? So maybe my pang has something to do with the murkiness surrounding the alleged encounter, and the fact that Andrew seems to have been cut from the herd to keep all eyes on him and all eyes off the American guys.

The only other man Giuffre publicly charged with sexual assault was celebrated lawyer Alan Dershowitz in 2019, who had defended Epstein in his 2005 sex-trafficking charges. Dershowitz immediately counter-attacked Giuffre in his typical take-no-prisoners style, and that turned into a nightmare of a legal circus that is apparently still unresolved. I imagine Giuffre took a lesson from her challenge to a lion. Next to Dershowitz, Andrew must look a lot like a sacrificial lamb.

Andrew is what he is, and I am not making the case he shouldn’t have paid an appropriate price for his bad behaviour — bad whether he slept with Giuffre or didn’t. All I am saying is that the price he is paying — a royal castaway, shunned for the sake of The Firm’s continued good health, and relegated to a social Devil’s island — is very, very high, much higher than would have been the case for an ordinary man. There is no court of appeal for this lifetime sentence.

Barbara Kay is a senior columnist for the Western Standard.
kbarb@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter: @BarbaraRKay

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THOMAS: Gondek’s legacy could very well be an empty parking lot

“There can be no doubt that more than a few Calgarians, who are against using public money to help build the Event Centre, have benefited from the owners’ largess.”

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Most of the people who have held the office of mayor of Calgary probably hoped to leave a legacy that people recognize as a positive contribution to the city.

Some did. Some didn’t. A couple of ‘dids’ come to mind. 

As mayor from 1980 to 1989, Ralph Klein’s legacy is as being part of the team that brought the 1988 Winter Olympics to Calgary, which resulted in the Saddledome being built, which brought the Calgary Flames to the city.

Dave Bronconnier, mayor from 2001 to 2010, also left a legacy near the Saddledome.

East Village: It’s the area directly east of city hall, stretching to Fort Calgary, with the Bow River on the north and 9 Ave. southeast on the south side.

When ‘Bronco’ took over the mayor’s chair, East Village was the most dangerous area of the city. Totally run down, it was a centre of illegal drug activity and the ‘office’ for sex workers. In earlier years, it served as the Calgary dump. It was not an area you wanted to be in, especially after dark.

Bronco, vowing to clean it up, approached the development community to gauge any interest in participating. 

There was no interest. Developers told him the cost to remediate the area was too high, but if the city undertook the task, there would be interest in building condo-apartment buildings. 

So, the mayor introduced the Tax Incremental Funding (TIF) program, with the blessing of the Alberta government. The way a TIF works is, an area for redevelopment is identified and for 20 years, all taxes collected in that area are used to pay infrastructure costs incurred by the city to get the job done. 

No tax money comes out of the city’s general revenues. Only money from taxes collected in the designated area. 

It obviously worked. The TIF helped pay for, among other things, the new central library, and East Village is now an urban oasis of apartments and retailers.

The TIF worked so well, city council decided to expand the area it financed, calling it the Rivers District, which runs from the banks of the Bow River south to 25 Ave. S.W., with Macleod Tr. as its western border. Eventually, the Bow Building was added to the Rivers District because of the high taxes it would pay, which would contribute greatly to the TIF, now renamed the Community Revitalization Levy (CRL).

Here, from the City’s website, its (abbreviated) definition of the CRL. 

“(The) Community Revitalization Levy substantially funds the delivery of the Rivers District Revitalization Plan. The levy provides a means to segregate increased property tax revenues in the Rivers District, which result from redevelopment into a fund that will be used to pay for the new infrastructure required. The end result is improvements in the Rivers District are self-funded without any additional tax burden on the balance of the city, and at the end of the CRL period, the amounts that were charged under the CRL would become general property tax revenues and flow into the general revenues of the city and the province.”

There’s a lot of work going on in the East Victoria Park area within the Rivers District, including the RoundUp Centre upgrade, the demolition of the Corral and a lot more to come. Plans include homes for 8,000 new residents in the community, with approximately four million square feet of absorbable mixed-use development, a Stampede Trail retail street and the LRT Green Line extension. All of this development might even give some justification to converting the empty downtown office buildings into residences. 

Up until about a month ago, the plans included a new Event Centre, to be built on a couple of mostly empty parking lots north of Stampede Park. The cost of the centre would have been shared by the Calgary Flames organization and the City of Calgary. 

That deal is dead.

How vital was/is the Event Centre to the success of the Rivers District? 

If the district was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Event Centre would be Tom Brady.

The Event Centre would be home to more than the Calgary Flames. It would put Calgary in the big leagues in attracting major concerts and other events (hence the name). Under the dead deal with the Flames, the City of Calgary would have received a percentage of ticket sales to every event. There are other opportunities for revenue generation for the city that are now in jeopardy.

However, without the Flames as a partner in some fashion, there isn’t likely to be an event centre.

The Flames ownership group is first and foremost a collection of very successful and astute business people. They are not the billionaire robber barons some Calgarians claim them to be. 

Bringing NHL hockey to Calgary was a great contribution, but their greatest contribution is the millions and millions of dollars they have donated to charities, to build major medical facilities and more. There can be no doubt more than a few Calgarians who are against using public money to help build the Event Centre have benefited from the owners’ largess. 

Without a new, reasonable deal would the ownership group move the Flames out of the city? 

They absolutely would.

That would be Mayor Jyoti Gondek’s legacy.

Myke Thomas is a Western Standard contributor. He started in radio as a child voice actor, also working in television and as the real estate columnist, reporter and editor at the Calgary Sun for 22 years.
mykethomas@live.com

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