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MORGAN: So, you want an Independent West?

If you want to set Western independence back another 20 years, hold a referendum tomorrow and take a double digit loss. We need to do a lot of groundwork first.

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Welcome to the club. I have been here a long time and since leading the Alberta Independence Party into the 2001 provincial election I have never seen regionalist sentiment explode like it has today. If a lasting movement is going to form which will eventually lead to the secession of Alberta and/or other Western provinces & territories it has to be done right. I have learned some things while running in separatist circles these last couple decades. 

To begin with, you need patience. I know. You’re done. You’re furious. You’re done with confederation and you want out yesterday. You have to remember though that despite the general fury of Albertans right now, most still will not be ready to pull the trigger to go when push comes to shove. I see people demanding a referendum on secession right now. People will vote yes in internet polls and formal polls in great numbers but I can assure you that if the real question was before them in a voting booth today, support would be 25% at best. If you want to set Western independence back another 20 years, hold a referendum tomorrow and take a double digit loss. We need to do a lot of groundwork first. 

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you really mean it. Are you just raging today or are you in this for the long game? If you try to keep one foot on either side of the line, you will simply damage the movement. When the Alberta Independence Party of 2001 embraced the mantra of “separation if necessary, but not necessarily separation”, they neutered themselves right out of the gate. Set the goal as independence and keep your eye on the prize. Be honest about it. If you just want to use the threat of secession as a tool to express rage, you will only damage the movement.

Preston Manning & Stephen Harper in the Reform Party

Understand and spread the word that it is the system of confederation that is broken rather than just the party which is at the head of it today. The realization that we are hamsters on a wheel and will always remain the lapdogs of confederation no matter which party is at the top is what creates true and permanent secessionists. Trudeau will be gone one day but will Alberta’s fate be any better in the long run? How did we do under Mulroney? Harper was less damaging than a Liberal Prime Minister would be but did he reform equalization? Did he end supply management? Did he cut the massive subsidies poured into Quebec in so many ways? Did he implement or even encourage even one element of the “Alberta Agenda” which he co-authored? Of course not. To do so would be political suicide. The system forces Prime Ministers to cater to Central Canada at the expense of the West no matter what. 

For an independence movement to gain popular support, it has to begin by weeding out and isolating the crazies. Vocal nutbars have killed countless nascent movements of all types. Conspiracy theorists, religious extremists, racists and pretty much every other type of fringe lunatics are always drawn to small movements. They like to feel like a big fish in a small pond and independence groups and parties have provided a home for them for some time now. Oh I know the vast majority of independence supporters are genuine and sane people. They always have been. Given a platform though, a tiny minority of lunatics can drag down a large majority of rational people in a movement quickly. The wackos need to be sidelined ASAP.

We need to clean up our own back yard first if we want to build a realistic secessionist movement. I didn’t bother calling openly for secession for the last 12 years or so because I knew that it was hopeless unless we could demonstrate that we would act better on our own. How could we do that when our provincial governments run massive deficits and infringe upon individual rights? We have finally shed the NDP government which is a great step. Now lets see some movement towards responsible provincial management so that we can climb upon the high horse that we need. My response to folks pushing secessionism in the last four years has been “Would you want to separate and have to say ‘President Notley’”?

We have to build the foundation of an independent Alberta before we put it to the question. Let’s dig up and implement that “Alberta Agenda”. Form that provincial pension plan. Form a provincial police force. Collect our own taxes. Take solid control of every tool within provincial jurisdiction without apology. Want to create permanent secessionists? There are few better ways than walking down the path towards provincial autonomy within confederation only to be attacked and possibly shut down by the federal central powers. Rest assured central Canada will not take kindly to Alberta trying to distance itself from their control in any way. 

Let’s get on with that referendum on equalization. This will be a great referendum practice run for us. It will also bring out and expose the vitriol and anti-Alberta sentiment from central Canada as they will attack us for daring to stand up for ourselves and attacking the status-quo which serves them so well. Even if an overwhelming majority of Albertans vote to dump equalization, it is very unlikely that the divisive program will be ended, much less reformed. That builds the support for the next referendum though which will be based on the Clarity Act. 

When Alberta has tried to use every tool within confederation to take care of itself only to find itself remaining in an abusive relationship, we will reach that tipping point where an independence vote becomes truly viable. The final tool is a referendum on independence and we have to be careful not to invoke it before it is time. When we see a Facebook page such as Wexit go from 20,000 members to over 220,000 members in a matter of two days, we are indeed seeing a groundswell of secessionist sentiment unlike any seen before. Bear in mind though that secession will need the support of millions in order to happen and that support will have to run deeper than clicking “like” on a Facebook page. We are well on our way today but we have to tread with care if we want to turn this into a lasting movement rather than an enraged flash in the pan. 

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Terence M

    October 31, 2019 at 11:17 am

    If you can unwrap yourself from the Canadian flag and the ’emotional attachment’ to Canada then cold critical thinking will tell you that this political construct (Canada) has no benefit on balance for the west. What is DESPERATELY needed is a ‘common sense’ study that shows that separation makes sense. People will not jump from a frying pan into the fire because security trumps emotion. This movement will fail if the little guy fears the unknown. This should be an obvious way forward to the ‘leaders’ of the separatist movement.

  2. Bob C

    October 26, 2019 at 11:58 am

    There will be a lot of talk and posturing about what needs to be done to unite Canada in the coming months, however, Westerners have to realize that the situation is not fixable, the united prosperous Canada the west desires, for some reason is not acceptable to the east, particularly Quebec, who seem to be spitefully against western prosperity, it’s a dysfunctional, irreconcilable marriage, 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

    • Jimmy D

      October 28, 2019 at 11:45 am

      I totally agree with your sentiment about the quandary Alberta is in as a province in confederation, but separation from Canada is a non starter with the Alberta electorate. Like the article says, a referendum on Alberta sovereignty would be soundly defeated. Even if it was held today a week after the disappointing results of the federal election. Can you even imagine the fear mongering campaign that would be launched by the federal gov’t, Eastern Canada, environmentalists, Natives, and foreign interest groups if Alberta were to announce a referendum on separation? It would be colossal and likely scare many thousands of would be separatists into the safe haven of a united Canada.

      I think gradually adopting all of the autonomous recommendations suggested in this article and accelerating the referendum on equalization to 2020 from 2021 are the reasonable alternatives to separation. Things will have to get a whole lot worse economically for most Albertans to pull the plug on Canada.

  3. Leanna

    October 26, 2019 at 9:11 am

    I am almost 60, and remember Trudeau Sr. I cannot wait and do nothing, this isn’t a last minute feeling. I quit singing the anthem 30 years ago.

  4. john cox

    October 25, 2019 at 11:49 am

    I agree with your sentiment that Alberta needs to get it’s house in order, start our own police, tax collection, pension plan and everything else we came take away from the corrupt bureaucracy and Lieberal controlled central Canada government. Nothing changed with the CPC in power, as every political party needs the support of central and eastern Canada to stay in the big chair.

  5. B BAKER

    October 25, 2019 at 9:55 am

    I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.
    Isoroku Yamamoto

  6. Marcos Réal

    October 25, 2019 at 9:07 am

    Time for a Western Bloc party?

  7. Jess Sandhu

    October 25, 2019 at 7:18 am

    Thank you for helping make sense of this complex subject. It was sobering to read your thoughts, however it would be a pity to lose this momentum, so a referendum on equalization should be tabled as soon as possible

  8. Douglas W Warawa

    October 24, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    Interesting article Cory. I do believe that now is not the time to sit back and wait for separation to happen. We must make it happen. The sooner the better. We have to change Jason Kenney’s mind and that’s not going to be easy. We have to get tough and be tough!! Have a great day. Without Prejudice. Sincerely Douglas W Warawa PS just Google Douglas W Warawa to see who I am.

  9. Thor Thorgeirson

    October 24, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Interesting that you say you have been active in this movement for a long time but no one has even superficially codified what it should look like after decades of consideration?

    You vehemently council that we need to be patient and NOT strike while the iron is hot – no no wait some more until the “details” can be ironed out – hmmm.

    You also spend alot of ink warning of “fringe” “conspiracists” and “lunatics” and the like – these are all completely subjective states of being and you fail to give any guidance as to just what might qualify some one for such a label – seems problamatic.

    You seem to want Albertans to be scared of “the feds” (deep state?) and lean toward allowing the perfect to derail the currently possible – if you play it too safe you will get no where but maybe that is actually what you want. I’m not accusing you I’m just noticing that if I was setting out to stop a movement I would say pretty much what you did in this post.

    • Mike Clark

      October 26, 2019 at 1:20 pm

      Cory is right to push patience. It’s not about playing it safe, is about playing it smart. This isn’t checkers, it’s chess. The separatist movement is going to have to start ramping up fundraising efforts if any kind of meaningful campaign is to take place, and so we are going to have to be very mindful of who is out there seeking funding. Are they true believers, or are they looking to make a quick buck? The people in the position to contribute heavily to the cause will want to be assured that their money is being spent wisely by an effective team with a reasonable plan.

      We can’t afford to be associated with the usual suspects of right wing activism in Alberta. Well meaning as they are, the George Clarks and yellow vesters aren’t going to do is any favours. One only need to look at the involvement of Doug Christie in the 80s for an example of how the movement can be easily poisoned by the baggage of individuals. The right alone isn’t going to get this done. We’re going to have to make compromises and have a more centrist approach if we are to build a base of support broad enough to get the supermajority we’re looking for.

      • Thor Thorgeirson

        October 28, 2019 at 5:37 pm

        Unless and until the question is at least formally asked on the record and for real nothing will happen – full stop. How do I know this? Because people have been in this space for decades and nobody has a plan ready to throw down to get this rolling ? – No one has put any ducks in a row ? I guess not – whats every one been doing all this time?

        So now Albertans need to wait another 19 months? 27 months?(how long?) while who exactly (?) attempts to maybe make a plan so maybe you build a consensus around that and then maybe have a vote that will get the brexit footdrag treatment.

        Seems like a tedious and pointless path. I council cage rattling of the first order.

    • Jeff Gibson

      November 1, 2019 at 11:28 pm

      I concur with your premise.

  10. Steve Thompson

    October 24, 2019 at 11:29 am

    I hope you’ll attend the EEA conference on Nov 15/16 to share these wise words. Serious adult conversation needs to take place in crafting a path forward.

  11. Craig B. Chandler

    October 24, 2019 at 10:26 am

    Thank you for fighting!

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Opinion

MORGAN: Albertans need real recall legislation now

“The UCP needs to bring their recall legislation back to the legislature, correct the flaws in it, and proclaim it into active law as soon as possible.”

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Nobody should have the ability to remove an elected official from office aside from the electors who put them there in the first place. Recalling a politician should never be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible either.

If some of the allegations against embattled Calgary City Councilor Sean Chu prove to be true, there will be little the constituents of Ward 4 will be able to do about it, other than ask him to step down. Chu doesn’t face any criminal charges nor has he been convicted of any, which would be required for any legal by other councillors to expel him. It would be up to Chu to decide if he wants to continue to sit as city councilor until the end of his term or not.

Even if Chu can provide proof exonerating himself of the acts he has been accused of, a terrible flaw in our electoral system has been exposed. Alberta needs viable voter recall legislation. Citizens need to be empowered to fire elected officials before the end of their term in exceptional circumstances.

Recall legislation was a key promise made by Jason Kenney and the UCP in the last election. While the government did table a form of recall legislation in the last legislative session, it was an anemic, nearly useless bill, and the government hasn’t bothered itself to formally proclaim it into active law yet.

Even if the new recall legislation was active right now, it couldn’t be applied in Chu’s case. The legislation doesn’t allow a recall to be initiated until at least one and-a-half years after the most recent election. While this clause was built in to prevent people from trying to frivolously recall politicians the day after an election, it leaves a gaping hole in the intent. In both Chu’s and Liberal MP George Chahal’s cases for example, allegations of wrongdoing surfaced literally within days of their having been elected.

While the need to recall elected officials is thankfully rare, it happens often enough to demonstrate a need for viable legislation. The Alberta Party had not one, but two of its former candidates convicted of child sex crimes. What would have happened if they had been elected? In 2018, former Wildrose MLA Don MacIntyre was charged with heinous child sex crimes. MacIntyre resigned and was subsequently convicted of sexual interference. Had MacIntyre refused to resign however, the constituents of Innisfail-Sylvan Lake would have had to endure being represented by a convicted and imprisoned child sex predator until the 2019 election.

Many Albertans can remember the bizarre saga of Lethbridge city councilor Dar Heatherington. Heatherington made international headlines when she disappeared from a conference in Montana. She later surfaced in Las Vegas and claimed she had been abducted and raped. An investigation later found Heatherington had fabricated the entire episode along with other stories of a fictional stalker. Heatherington was eventually convicted of mischief which allowed the Lethbridge city council to have her removed from her seat. The issue began with rage, but later turned into pity as it became evident Heatherington was suffering from serious mental illness. Recall would have been an act of mercy for her and her family were she not convicted.

Kenney’s recall legislation is an unworkable bill modeled to pay lip service to the principle of recall but is built in such a way it will likely never be used. The bar for petitioning is set too high, and the timelines for petitioning are far too tight. Even in the most egregious of cases, it would be exceedingly difficult for any elected official to be recalled.

Kenney’s reticence in providing viable recall legislation to Albertans has managed to come back to haunt him. Pressure is being put upon both Kenney and Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver to intervene and somehow block Chu from taking his seat on council. There likely is little the provincial government can do in this case since Chu hasn’t been criminally charged, much less convicted of anything. Chu’s sanctions were from within the police force, not the justice system. Kenney could have taken the pressure off himself if he had given Albertans recall legislation as he had promised. Kenney could have pointed to it today and said the issue was in the hands of the voters of Ward 4.

Adding salt to the wound, is the fact that Kenney has allowed the Recall Act it sit in legislative limbo, unproclaimed into active law despite being long ago passed by the legislature. The cynics among us may suspect he may fear its use against him and his caucus.

We need a mechanism to remove elected officials from office before their term is up if they prove to be unfit for office. We can’t put that power into the hands of other elected officials who would inevitably abuse it. Do we really want to see the premier able to fire elected mayors and councils in Alberta? In looking at how vitriolic and tribal some municipal councils are, could you imagine what would happen if these councils and mayors had the ability to fire each other? Former Calgary Mayor Haheed Nenshi and his gang on Calgary city council likely would have had Jeromy Farkas kicked out of city hall within his first year in office for being a nuisance.

The UCP needs to bring their recall legislation back to the legislature, correct the flaws in it, and proclaim it into active law as soon as possible. The wheel does not need to be reinvented here. Workable recall legislation exists in many jurisdictions. Electors deserve nothing less.

Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and Host of the Cory Morgan Show

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Maskless Maintoba ministers get free pass from top health doc

However, since 99.999% of Manitobans don’t get to go to a ball, let’s look at other indoor situations they regularly find themselves in. 

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Manitoba’s chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin essentially leapt to the defense of three cabinet ministers — including the health minister — who appeared maskless at a recent ball.

Roussin gave the ministers a pass for taking a photo wearing no masks at last weekend’s event held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

“For the most part, that mask should be on. There are brief periods where it’s reasonable for it to come off,” said Roussin. “If it was simply to remove a mask for the purposes of getting a photograph, and then you put it back on, then … that’s in keeping with advice we’ve provided.”

Well, it wasn’t quite ‘simply’ that. 

Unmasked Health Minister Audrey Gordon, Minister of Families Rochelle Squires and Minister of Sport, Culture, and Heritage Cathy Cox posed for a photo with three other women. 

Squires posted it to her Instagram page. (Do you think the other two are still talking to her for outing them? Maybe eating at different lunch table at the legislature shooting glare darts in between bites?? Did they unfriend her on social media yet?)

Yes, yes, Gordon and Squires said they were really, very sorry. Gordon and Cox adamantly said they had removed their masks to eat, then spontaneously jumped up only to take the photo. 

Hmmm … is that really the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

It isn’t.

Manitoba COVID-19 public health orders require mask use in all indoor public places, with some exemptions, including temporarily removing masks to eat, drink, give a speech or receive a service that requires them to be removed.

On Monday, Roussin issued a dire prediction that all harsh rules will likely remain in place through to spring.

Roussin said he wasn’t familiar with all of details of what transpired at the ball, so let’s enlighten the good doctor.

Squires posted another photo. She was seated at a table. Gordon and Cox, Winnipeg city Councilor Marcus Chambers, and several other people were standing behind her. No masks. No social distancing. None of that.

Roussin didn’t specifically elaborate on mask protocol while standing and socializing at balls. 

Thankfully, Manitobans can follow the health minister’s lead on acceptable guidelines.

However, since 99.999% of Manitobans don’t get to go to a ball, let’s look at other indoor situations they regularly find themselves in. 

An indoor venue is an indoor venue, right?

Surely the same rules apply to both politicians and regular folk in all indoor situations.

So, go ahead, be like Gordon. If you’re at the grocery store and see people you know, or even people you don’t know, by all means, rip off those cumbersome masks, stand really close, and visit — chat up a storm as long as you like. 

Same applies for acceptable mask protocol in Walmart, Home Depot, the gas station, school hallways, drug stores, the kid’s hockey game, etc.

And if the mask police descend and try to give you a $298 ticket — just whip out a copy of the photo of the health minister doing exactly that at an indoor event when tough COVID-19 mask restrictions are in place.

Remind them in a reasonable, calm manner the ministers have not been slapped with such silly fines. So, you shouldn’t be either.

And go ahead, post photos of the visits on Instagram, Facebook, wherever. Squires did that. So, there’s apparently nothing to hide.

The defense rests, your Honour. 

The only problem is — unlike the cabinet ministers — you probably wouldn’t get a pass.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

SELICK: If the gov’t wants to kick the unvaccinated off healthcare, then give us back our taxes & let us pay for our own

If the unvaxxed are to be excluded from government services, refund their taxes.

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The Ontario Vaccine Contact Centre phoned me bright and early Monday morning to ask whether I’d like information on where I could get vaccinated.

I wanted information, all right — but not about where I could get vaccinated. I wanted to know where they had got my phone number, and what made them select me for such a phone call. My family doctor had retired in March and I didn’t think it was anyone else’s business to keep track of what medical procedures I had undergone since then.

The young lady never got her question answered, but she did answer mine. Her phone call resulted from a project of the Ontario government to correlate vaccination records with OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) coverage. As an Ontario resident, I am of course covered by the government-owned health insurance plan.

They got my phone number from my OHIP records. They’ve been combing through those records looking for individuals who aren’t also in the COVID vaccination database, and that’s why they chose to call me. It’s official now: all unvaccinated Ontarians  can expect such a call eventually.

She had a prepared script for dealing with recalcitrant refuseniks like me. The statutory authority for this intrusive data transfer, she read, is paragraph 37(1)(c) of the Personal Health Information Protection Act. That’s a misnamed statute if ever there was one. I’d call it the Personal Health Information Invasion Act. She even volunteered the phone numbers of the Information and Privacy Commissioner in case I wanted to lodge a complaint.

But she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) tell me whether the intrusions would escalate if I continued to defy the government’s wishes that I be vaccinated.

My suspicion is that my OHIP coverage will eventually be suspended or canceled if I fail to comply. Twitter is already rife with such suggestions, and CTV news seems to be drumming up support for this by commissioning a public opinion poll in which almost two-thirds of Canadians supported the idea of refusing treatment to “threatening or disrespectful patients who are unvaccinated against COVID-19.” CTV apparently believes all unvaccinated patients are by definition threatening and disrespectful, because they didn’t ask how respondents felt about providing treatment to respectful, non-threatening unvaccinated people.

Already, Alberta residents have reported incidents of being denied health care due to their unvaccinated status.

In Colorado, people awaiting kidney transplants were recently notified their applications are being “inactivated” if they’re unvaccinated.

My concern, therefore, is not an idle one. There are many people who’d like to see unvaccinated people denied health care, and they’re pushing governments to implement such policies.

Personally, I’d be willing to forego OHIP coverage under two conditions. First, I shouldn’t have to pay taxes for something I’m not getting. Ontario’s 2020-21 budget shows health care outlays constitute 42% of the province’s base program expenditures. Therefore, if they’d refund 42% of my provincial taxes (income tax, sales tax, gasoline tax, property tax, etc.) plus 42% of the federal transfer payment that came out of my federal taxes, that would provide a tidy sum out of which to pay privately for direct health services and private health insurance.

But condition two would have to be satisfied as well: the government would have to eliminate its monopoly on the provision of health insurance, hospitals, and medical licensure.

Let the unvaccinated have our tax money back to purchase goods and services in a free market, and I’ll gladly let the vaccinated wallow in their decrepit socialist system without troubling them for help. Let dissenting medical doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors and other complementary practitioners practice according to their professional judgment without fear of de-licensing and I’ll take my chances.

In truth, I already do. I hadn’t actually seen my former doctor since June 2019, and I didn’t usually go more than once a year. OHIP was already spending far less on me than on the average person, who makes 2.8 doctor visits per year. As a senior, I’m theoretically entitled to have government-paid prescriptions for any of 4,400 different drugs — but I don’t use a single one of them, unlike the average person in my age who reportedly fills 8.3 drug prescriptions annually.

It’s not mere happenstance that I have fewer ailments than average. I spend my own after-tax dollars on organic food, nutritional supplements, exercise equipment and more exotic health maintenance devices such as infrared light therapy. I also spend many hours keeping informed about the science of wellness and life extension.

I have long resented paying taxes to provide obsolete and often counterproductive “health care” to those less conscientious than I am about their own well-being. My resentment is now reaching new heights, as the ignorant accuse me of causing sickness by not taking an injection which even the CDC now admits doesn’t live up to its promises of near-total prevention of either viral transmission or infection.

Let’s go our own separate ways— vaxxed and unvaxxed. Time will tell who made the smarter decision.

Selick is a Western Standard columnist

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