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CARPAY vs. MORGAN: Alberta’s conscience rights bill

John Carpay and Cory Morgan debate the UCP’s Bill 207, conscience rights legislation.




The new Western Standard is proud to announce the return of one of our most popular features from the original magazine: Western Standard Debates.

In this feature, we will select prominent conservatives and libertarians and give them a topic which may divide them to debate. Both authors agreed to share their original notes with one another, and then their drafts, so that they can rebut their opponent’s main points as best they can.

In the first return of the Western Standard Debates, John Carpay and Cory Morgan tackle the Alberta UCP’s Bill 207, generally known as the “conscience rights bill.”

We welcome readers to comment below with their own thoughts and suggest future topics for debate.

Cory Morgan

John Carpay

Last spring, I and many thousands of other Albertans strongly and vocally supported the United Conservative Party. As is typical, the left claimed that conservatives held a hidden agenda to legislate on issues such as abortion. Kenney directly addressed that in February in no uncertain terms saying, “A United Conservative government will not address this issue, will not engage in this debate, will not initiate legislation.” Here we are less than a year later watching our legislature getting mired in the abortion debate due to Bill 207. 

Conscience rights for medical practitioners are already strongly protected by the Charter and by their professional associations. No doctor or nurse is forced to take part in abortions or assisted death nor are they losing their jobs for refusing to do so. I could not find any examples or complaints from Alberta medical providers on this issue so one has to wonder if there is an issue that needs to be addressed at all with further legislation.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta lays out the obligations of practitioners quite clearly:

“When Charter freedom of conscience and religion prevent a regulated member from providing or offering access to information about a legally available medical or surgical treatment or service, the regulated member must ensure that the patient who seeks such advice or medical care is offered timely access to:

  • a regulated member who is willing to provide the medical treatment, service or information; or
  • a resource that will provide accurate information about all available medical options.”

Simple and clear. Nobody is forced to do any procedure which conflicts with their conscience and all they have to do is provide a referral. In Alberta that referral could be something as simple as giving the patient a brochure directing them to another provider. This is not unreasonable. 

Bill 207 wants to remove the obligation of referral even from medical practitioners. This is an attempt through incremental hindrance to keep patients from finding their way to services that may offend the conscience of the provider. This may sound minor but for a stressed and frightened young patient dealing with an unplanned pregnancy or a person living in chronic pain to the point of considering assisted death, these hindrances can turn into outright roadblocks. They may not have the time or ability to research and find the most appropriate medical provider to fill their needs. That is of course exactly what the proponents of this bill are counting on. 

If we are talking about services such as waxing or meat cutting services, it is not unreasonable for service providers to decline service to people based on conscience issues without offering guidance as to where those services can be alternatively found. Medical services however are an entirely different matter, particularly when the government holds a monopoly over it. A person may not consider suicide for lack of having their genitals waxed, but a confused young girl seeking birth control options may. For a person in pain and medical distress who is considering medically assisted death, being forced to dig around and research to find a provider is more than a simple inconvenience.

Proponents of this bill are guided by ideology and are of the “if it saves just one life” mentality. They are willing to derail an entire legislature in the hope of getting a bill through which may just hinder patients enough that they choose to take an unplanned pregnancy to term, or may choose to die a slow agonizing death rather than get medical assistance with it. 

Politically, the damage caused by this bill may be catastrophic. If enough government members support this pointless bill to become legislation, the election of conservative governments across the entire nation will become much more difficult. How can we federally campaign against hidden agenda accusations when a provincial government just passed backdoor legislation to hinder abortion? How can we say (and we did) that a conservative government will never change or legislate on these things?  

The first reading of the bill was essentially a formality. The NDP set a trap by calling for a vote on the reading (an uncommon practice) and the UCP fell right into it. By all appearances from that vote, it looked like the UCP is fully behind this bill. During second and possibly third readings we will be able to see whether or not the UCP government wants to dive into the abortion debate or kill this bill in its tracks. If they pass this legislation, the accusations of a hidden agenda will have been proven true. This was never campaigned upon and yet another party split may come of it. We have many issues more important to deal with in the legislature than opening up dead issues and bringing them back to life.

Cory Morgan is a columnist for the Western Standard and a business owner in Pridis, Alberta. 

Bill 207 enshrines “freedom of conscience and religion” – protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms– for Alberta’s health care providers. For many years, Premier Jason Kenney has consistently and publicly supported protecting freedom of conscience, so nobody should be surprised if he supports this Private Member’s Bill.

Bill 207 will not limit patient access to abortion. Firstly, abortion does not require a referral, as any abortion clinic will tell you when you call and ask. Secondly, even if abortion did require a referral, if one physician refuses to provide such referral then the patient would simply go to another doctor. Inconvenient? Yes, absolutely. In a free country, the right to honour one’s conscience trumps someone else’s interest in not being inconvenienced.

Forcing someone to do something that they believe to be wrong is serious business. It is also a hallmark of totalitarian states. But in free and democratic societies, the government will bend over backwards to avoid coercing citizens to participate in what they see as evil. This is why the Charter describes freedom of conscience and religion as “fundamental,” and mentions it ahead of the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.

When a democracy is at war, the pacifists who oppose killing another human being will not be required by government to serve on the front lines and shoot at foreign troops. A democracy can continue with its war efforts without requiring every citizen to be willing to kill enemy soldiers.

Just because pork is legal and popular does not mean that all butchers should be forced, by law, to sell it. Some Muslim and Orthodox Jewish butchers will refuse to handle or sell pork, and no doubt this refusal will inconvenience some customers. The disappointed customers will need to go elsewhere, upon learning that the store they travelled to does not carry what they want.

The BC Human Rights Tribunal recently issued a pro-freedom ruling that female estheticians could refuse to wax the male genitalia of Jessica (Jonathan) Yaniv, for religious and other reasons. Yaniv will be inconvenienced by having to locate a waxologist who is willing and able to provide a Brazilian bikini wax for male genitals. But not forcing women to handle male genitalia is more important than sparing someone the inconvenience of going elsewhere.

Put simply: in a free society, you do not have the right to require other people to do things that they do not wish to do. In a free country, nobody has a legal right to be free from the inconvenience of needing to look elsewhere for a product or service. This respect for freedom is consistent with – or is supposed to be consistent with – the philosophy of the United Conservative Party.

Bill 207 protects doctors from being required to assist their patients in committing suicide, as one example of a medical service that some doctors see as wrong. Many non-religious doctors believe on conscientious grounds that suicide is not a valid or legitimate medical treatment.

Providing a referral is active participation. This is why the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario prohibits doctors from performing female genital mutilation (FGM) and also prohibits doctors from referring for this medical service. If it’s wrong to remove portions of a young girl’s genitals, then it’s also wrong to refer her to another doctor who will provide that same service.  As in Ontario, Alberta’s College states that “no physician should perform such procedures, irrespective of cultural norms in other societies, and no physician should be complicit in allowing such procedures to go ahead.” To refer for FGM is to be complicit in FGM. Requiring doctors to refer for a service they believe to be wrong is to violate the conscience of doctors.

And yet the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons requires doctors to refer for assisted suicide. Bill 207 addresses this problem by protecting the fundamental Charter freedoms of doctors and other health care providers. A vote for Bill 2017 is a vote for freedom.

John Carpay is a columnist with the Western Standard and the President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

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  1. Ron Lacombe

    November 12, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    I side with Morgan. Carpay’s assumption of just going to another doctor or clinic may work in metropolitan areas but in rural areas that option may not be available. Opening up this debate and because these two are debating it is officially a debate, is harmful as Cory mentioned as Sheer and others promise “we won’t open that debate”

  2. Pamela Sinclair

    November 12, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    I agree with both comments…more so with Cory though as ALBERTA DOES NOT NEED THIS CONTROVERSY AT THIS TIME. As some one who works in women’s health I’m not sure any young woman goes to their doctor for an abortion referral in the first place, If they do its because they already have a relationship with their doctor and know they will not be judged. Most business at the clinic came from a phone call by the patient themselves in my experience. Having said that this whole conversation needs to be put to bed and I would like to know what idiot brought it up.

    as for physician assisted suicide …the law as it is written is not a good one and I can understand why physicians would not want any association with it. I am all for the intent of this law but the parameters and choices currently allowed are loose and the potential for blow back on a physician is high. Many “progressive” Albertans will scream about this one but if you read the rules as it stands…it lends itself to very lose interpretation of what applies and many people incapacitated with mental illness could fall victim to it… Amend the criteria and tighten up loop holes and I’m with you Cory…let it be

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Prof says technocracy envisioned in federal document advanced by pandemic

In an interview with the Western Standard, he said recent scientific advances have made the technocratic dreams of Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) an impending possibility.




The COVID-19 pandemic has advanced the transhumanist vision of a federal policy paper released two years ago, according to a Canadian academic.

When Concordia University political science professor Travis Smith wrote his 2005 PhD dissertation at Harvard University, he argued medicine could be used to destroy liberal democracy.

In an interview with the Western Standard, he said recent scientific advances have made the technocratic dreams of Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) an impending possibility.

“There is no end and no restrictions upon the kinds of experiments that we would conduct upon nature, including human nature, in order to transform it. ‘Supersede’ it is the language that Francis Bacon used. The goal is to supersede humanity, and to super impose upon us new natures,” Smith said.

“It was envisioned that there should be effectively a single authority politically, but really, the real rulers were the scientists — so, an oligarchy of the wise.”

Smith said a Policy Horizons Canada document called “Exploring Biodigital Convergence” manifests the centuries-old concept. The February 2020 paper said Canadian policy makers should support and guide a process where human existence is transformed by the merger of man and machine.

“It actually promises that we’re going to change bodies, change minds, and change behavior,” Smith said. “So what kind of democratic free person reads that and thinks, ‘Oh that sounds like a good thing. I can’t wait to sign up to having my body, my mind, my behavior changed by whoever’s in charge’?”

To illustrate this potential future, the authors envision surveillance “bugbots” to guard against intruders, artificial intelligence to monitor neighbourhoods for pathogens, municipalities that regularly check household feces for disease, and building codes that require automated efficiency and capture carbon for credits.

Smith said there’s nothing “idyllic or idealistic or romantic” about the portrayal.

“There’ll be thousands of thousands of minute regulations of your everyday existence [by] artificial intelligences that surround you, watch you, make its recommendations to you, and I’m sure, apply sanctions to you, both rewards and punishments, for making the correct choices to earn more carbon credits or earn more social credits.”

The pandemic has brought this techno-regulated world closer according to Smith. In the province of Quebec where he teaches, two doses of COVID-19 vaccines no longer allow recipients into bars and restaurants. The QR-coded vaccine passport now requires three doses

“There’s no limit to what treatments they could require or procedures you would have to undergo… to continue enjoying whatever freedoms they permit you to continue to indulge in. But [it’s] your freedom in the Orwellian sense in which slavery is freedom because you only get your freedoms because you obey. And what choices are going to be left to you?”

As lockdowns, social distancing, masks, and vaccines were imposed worldwide, Smith saw more evidence that all humanity is being steered to a similar and possibly post-human existence.

“With the direction that the current last two years has shown us that we’re on track for, why would you expect there’ll be different rules in different places?” Smith asked.

“The convergence, it will mean a great deal of homogeneity, a great deal of uniformity… The only difference would be, are you among the ultra elite or are you among the masses? Are you among those who make the rules and benefit the most from everybody else’s compliance? Or are you one of the ones that submits?”

Smith says a two-tiered humanity is inherent to this futurist vision, yet even those on top will still be bound in many ways.

“There’s no way a power that could create superhumans yields equality. The essence of the project is to generate superiority, and it will depend on the generation of inferiority as well. The project is you create superhumans and subhumans,” he said.

“We all know with totalitarian societies that the elites are always forced to conform and have to behave in fashions that reach consensus and uniformity because failing to conform is to be guaranteed rejection from the elite.”

Smith said there’s a “good chance” technocrats could one day control our actions, speech, and thoughts in ways not yet possible. Alternatively, disillusionment over the failure of lockdowns and the vaccine to stop the pandemic could create a backlash to forestall a technocratic agenda.

“Human beings aren’t going to consent to all of this all at once… It requires manipulation, or it requires dissimulation, or it requires coercion, or at least a heck of a lot of cajoling,” Smith said.

“To use the language of The Godfather, they have to be given an offer they can’t refuse. What’s the alternative? The alternative is, if anybody’s allowed to opt out, they get to live in a Brave New World style savage reservation.”

Lee Harding is a freelance journalist living in Saskatchewan.

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These Yellowstone-Alberta memes capture the soul of Wild Rose Country

The Montana-based violent drama has found its way into the hearts of Albertans — it even mentioned the friendliness of the Calgary Stampede — with a new meme circulating on Facebook.




The Paramount Network smash-hit Yellowstone is wildly the most popular show on cable and streaming on Amazon Prime.

Although the network blockbuster starring Kevin Costner drew more than 11 million viewers for its fourth season finale earlier this month, without streaming, it has gone virtually unnoticed by award shows until Wednesday — receiving its first major nomination for a Screen Actors Guild award.

The Montana-based violent drama has found its way into the hearts of Albertans — it even mentioned the friendliness of the Calgary Stampede — with a new meme circulating on Facebook.

The meme depicts show characters as a representation of towns and small cities throughout Alberta.

The character Beth Dutton played by Kelly Reilly is captioned with Alberta’s St. Paul and has the most comments of all the characters listed in the meme, likely due to her merciless, tougher-than-tough, bad-ass nature.

“She’s a Cockroach. A Superhero Without the Cape,” said Reilly reflecting on her character Beth in a recent article in Esquire.

Tanya Hollasch — calling herself a Beth look-a-like — commented on Ms. Dutton’s image with an attached picture of herself — bright purple shiner and all.

“I’ve been told I’m a Beth look-a-like from Bonnyville🙈 ….I’m just not bad-ass enough 🤣 just a boring story of a horse mishap😂”

Many of the main characters from the show are featured in the meme including Costner representing Nanton.

Hundreds of people have chimed in from picture to picture either agreeing wholeheartedly with each character’s related Alberta location or have inserted their own suggested location comparison.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard

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MAKICHUK: Unholy alliance: America faces a formidable two-front crisis

That might be the diplomatic view, but two against one was never a fair fight.




The year is 2065.

Russia and China have combined their space programs and now have a functioning, expansive joint lunar station.

Advanced Chinese shuttle landers are making regular visits to the base, which has pioneered major mining projects below the lunar surface with the use of robot devices.

The station generates its own food, water and oxygen, and the landers regularly deliver workers and supplies and return shipments of valuable minerals.

America, a once-great power in space could not keep up with the expanding space gap, nor the military gap, or even the technology gap and now trails the two nations that formed a strong alliance early into the new century.

Back on earth, China, with Russian help, invaded Taiwan and now controls the former democratic island, enforcing a strict Communist crackdown on the helpless populace. 

The US, a country racked by crumbling infrastructure, runaway poverty and deep political divisions and now dwarfed by the Sino-Russian alliance, did nothing — except to place more useless sanctions on Beijing.

This may sound like a dream, or perhaps even a nightmare, depending on what your perspective is.

Could it happen? Nobody knows, of course. But the way things are going an alliance of this nature appears to be growing with each day, week and month.

The more the US and its allies place pressure on China for its perceived sins, the more they push the Red Dragon into an unholy alliance with the Russian bear.

Beware of such a development, because it will change the world.

According to a report in the New York Times, the militaries of both countries have stepped up joint exercises and even operations, including in the air and for the first time in October, naval patrols in the Pacific. They have also pledged to explore space together.

Analysts say that an important factor in Russian-Chinese ties is the personal chemistry between Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, both men in their late 60s who have consolidated control over their countries’ political systems, NYT reported. 

Xi has addressed Putin as his “old friend,” while the Russian president called his Chinese counterpart both his “dear friend” and “esteemed friend.”

There is still plenty of historical friction between Russia and China, onetime adversaries that share a land border stretching more than 4,200 km.

But on trade, security and geopolitics they are increasingly on the same page, forming a bloc trying to take on American influence as both countries’ confrontations with the US deepen, the NYT reported.

For Putin, a recent congenial video summit between the two comes at a high-stakes moment in his brinkmanship over Western influence in Ukraine.

The imposing Kremlin leader, facing threats of crushing Western sanctions if Russian forces attack Ukraine, heard Xi propose that Russian and China cooperate to “more effectively safeguard the security interests of both parties.”

Meanwhile, China has come under US and European criticism for human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region and its suppression of political freedoms in Hong Kong as well as its alarming military activity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Make no mistake, the mere thought that two of the strongest military powers in the world may join forces against the US and its allies will send shockwaves through the corridors of Western powers — for the basic fact, it is a two-front crisis that US President Joe Biden can’t win.

And while the two countries have not signed anything official and neither of the leaders can really be trusted further than you can toss a chihuahua, this can’t be ignored.

Yet, the US appears blind to the fact it is pushing China into a corner, with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rejecting so-called “red-lines” in Ukraine and Taiwan — tough talk, but it might just be another hollow gesture.

Words don’t stop tanks, fighter jets, missiles or amphibious landing craft.

Citing human rights concerns, the US, Canada and Australia have declared diplomatic protests over the upcoming 2022 Beijing Summer Games (athletes will still attend), while Putin was the first major leader to RSVP his attendance.

This week, the Biden administration added China’s top military medical research institute to an export blacklist in response to concerns about Beijing’s use of emerging technologies such as biometrics and brain-control weapons.

All that aside, Ukraine is not a member of NATO and does not receive Article 5 protections from the alliance, Defense One reported. But the country does receive regular rotations of US troops and sales of weapons to bolster its self-defense. 

Taiwan is recognized by the Taiwan Relations Act, under which the US provides weapons and training to Taiwan so it too can defend itself. But neither is guaranteed US military protection in case of an attack.

The US, meanwhile, plans to channel US$7.1 billion in defence spending to the Indo-Pacific region in the next financial year, the South China Morning Post reported.

It is turning its entire military might — the Navy, Marines, the Air Force and the Army — toward the Indo-Pacific theater. Even the CIA is following suit, with the creation of a new China mandate, abandoning its Bush-era war on terror.

Zhao Tong, a senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy in Beijing, told the SCMP the funding indicated the US was determined to confront China head-on.

“Beijing is driven by its goals for national rejuvenation and Washington understands that it’s impossible for them to change China’s political mindset, which is counter to the one recognized by the Western world,” Zhao said.

The winds for a perfect storm are howling in both Eastern Europe and the Asia-Pacific just as the Biden administration is reeling from the effects of a chaotic withdrawal from a 20-year war in Afghanistan and a persistent pandemic that has exacerbated sharp political divides at home, Newsweek reported.

“This is a time when democracies are being challenged — some being challenged from within, others being challenged from without,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe press conference. 

“And there is a contest between autocracies and democracies, and as President Biden has spoken to on numerous occasions, that is a fundamental contest of our time.”

That might be the diplomatic view, but two against one was never a fair fight.

Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald and covering military issues in Asia. He is also the Calgary correspondent for ChinaFactor.news

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