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FILDEBRANDT: Kenney moves to firewall off growing sovereigntist movement

Firewallers – lonely or consigned to the fringe for so long – are now squarely in the centre of gravity.




Something that’s become increasing apparent since the federal election became official in Red Deer Saturday: the “Firewallers” are the new moderates.

In 2000, Stephen Harper and five other prominent conservatives signed what they called the “Alberta Agenda,” but which its detractors quickly labelled the “Firewall Letter.” After a federal election in which the West – and Alberta in particular – was used as a whipping boy – by a corrupt Liberal government seeking re-election, the authors sought for Alberta to strengthen it’s control over areas within its own constitutional jurisdiction, and build “firewalls” against federal intrusion.

At the time, they were dismissed even by Ralph Klein, and consigned to the crank fringe. As prime minister six years later, Stephen Harper declined to act on a single item in the letter.

At the Manning Centre’s Alberta conference in Red Deer, former Alberta finance minister and signatory to the famous “Firewall Letter”, Ted Morton spoke in the morning of the rising independence movement and its growing ability to tear the UCP asunder.

“If he [Kenney] goes too fast, he losses moderates. But if he goes too slow, he risks Wexit and other groups rising up.”

In short, the centre of political gravity in Alberta has shifted radically.

Manning Centre panel discussion in Red Deer, Alberta

Where an Ottawaphilic NDP was elected without federal concerns in 2015, a UCP promising a confrontation with Trudeau on Equalization and pipelines came to power in 2019.

Parties campaigning for independence (AIP) or firewalling (my own FCP) faired poorly.

On October 20th, the centre of Alberta’s politics was comfortable with fist-shaking at Ottawa.

Post-October 21st, the firewallers – lonely or consigned to the fringe for so long – are now squarely in the centre of gravity. It’s likely that in this world, sovereigntists outnumber status-quo federalists.

As Morton warned earlier in the morning, Kenney has to walk a fine balance in not spooking federalists, but not appearing overly timid in the face of the growing independence movement.

Kenney did his best to walk that rope when he took the stage that evening.

In a relatively long speech, Kenney laid out his government’s grievances with Ottawa. They were familiar themes: Equalization, pipelines, tanker bans.

He then proceeded to lay out his actions against Ottawa thus far. Mostly, proclaiming the NDP’s Bill 12 into law, and talking to federal Senate committees. He didn’t say as much, but Kenney knows that in today’s explosive enviornment, it didn’t amount to much. He was going to have to do better to win this crowd over.

The crowd was polite, but surprising reserved in its adulation until he came to next steps.

Kenney announced the members of his new “Fair Deal Panel,” including Preston Manning and several of his MLAs. It was the panel’s mandate – rather than its members – that attracted the most attention.

The panel will be tasked with making recommendations to the government on implementing several key planks of the until recently anathema, Firewall Letter.

Should Alberta establish its own revenue collection agency, and stop allowing Ottawa to collect provincial taxes? If so, should Alberta emulate Quebec and request that it also be allowed to collect federal taxes in Alberta? The Fair Deal Panel will tackle it.

Should Alberta withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan, and like Quebec establish its own? The Fair Deal Panel will tell us.

Should Alberta end its contract with the RCMP and establish its own provincial police force? Fair Deal Panel.

Should Alberta withdraw from the Parol Board of Canada and establish its own? FDP.

Should Alberta directly appoint its own Chief Firearms Officer to administer the federal Firearms Act? FDP.

Should Alberta establish its own Alberta constitution and charter? FDP.

The FDP’s mandate read like the platform of my own Freedom Conservative Party’s platform from the last election, (for all the good it did me), less the threat that if Ottawa did not agree to a fair deal for Alberta, that an independence vote would be held.

It was likely a tough call for Kenney to make as an ardent federalist, but it was likely the least aggressive move he could make right now.

While Kenney’s move to firewall off federal intrusions can largely succeed without any thumbs up from Ottawa, several key items for provincial equality like Senate reform, Equalization, and free trade, require federal consent. No matter how many referendums Alberta holds, they will never give it.

While Kenney shifted to stake out the middle ground on the Western question, Notley stayed pat where she was: Ottawaphilic.

“Instead of getting to work on the priorities of Albertans; getting the pipeline built, growing our economy, and creating jobs, he [Kenney] is exploiting the real frustrations of everyday Albertans by sowing the seeds of separation with tired ideas from decades ago. Alberta is part of Canada, and Jason Kenney needs to accept that. “

Notley’s position seems wildly tone-deaf to the frustrations that have many Albertans ready to throw tea into the Bow River.

Alberta’s politics are still defined broadly across a left-right axis, but are quickly transforming into three camps: federalist, reformist, and sovereigntist. The federalists as represented by Notley seem to have almost nothing in common with the other two. Kenney has now clearly grasped the reformist torch. If it’s enough to pacify the sovereigntists or not is still to be played out.

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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  1. A. B Cutterwood

    November 10, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Kenny is suspiciously and purposefully dragging his ass through the pension plan withdrawal, equalization payments and a referendum for independence… It’s oddly strange that he is pushing all this two years down the road closer to the time that he will be running for reelection. Does it seem strange to anybody else that this seems more like a campaign platform than looking out for the people that originally elected him to do a job. I beg Albertans to phone write letters or email Jason Kenney outlining to him that not only that he works for us but a two year wait on action that needs to happen now is unacceptable. Please inundate Kenny with letters emails and phone calls until the heat that he is feeling reflects what’s happening in our lives. Regarding equalization payments Kenny is only seeking a difference of $1.7 billion from the almost 14 being paid now and the 23 that we pay across Canada… And we have to wait two years to see almost a $30 billion net loss to Quebec before anything happens to the equalization payments… Once again this is unacceptabl.!!

  2. A. B Cutterwood

    November 10, 2019 at 5:49 pm

    I wonder if he is as enthusiastic now as he was when he got his marching orders from Ottawa to come and acquire the upstart homegrown Wild Rose party and displace all the top people through a merger… Jason Kenney played on the emotions of people almost like emotional blackmail forcing them to except a merger and getting his good old boys back in the game… He had everyone convinced that If we didn’t merger the NDP would win a second election… What a crock.!! Kenny has been mired in controversy most of his career with poorly use taxpayer dollars and possibly some illegal moves with those same said dollars.. anything that happens to them now that is either uncomfortable or career ending is by his own hand.

  3. Godot

    November 10, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    The time for talking is over. Action is required. Kenney needs to read Peter Downing’s open letter again, and without delay, implement The Inferno Wall Protocol.

  4. Matthew

    November 10, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Its delicious to watch. Want to really burn things to the ground? Have a joint ASPP and have more cooperation between Saskatchewan and Alberta, a lloydminster accord of sorts. In every single facet of life the ones that pay the freight make the rules, the exception..this broken Confederation. The eastern provinces would back off if Saskatchewan joined on the panel as well. What we need to do is start thinking major league. I refuse to let our brothers and sisters just east of Us go it alone while we have this panel. If we integrate(Alberta and Saskatchewan)we dictate the terms from the “have” provinces…not take our orders from the “have nots” in the East.

  5. Weyland Yutani

    November 10, 2019 at 8:26 am

    Appoint a panel and study it to death. And what need of a panel to come to conclusions that are blindingly obvious?

    It’s not only Notley who seems tone-deaf to what Albertans want. And not just Albertans- Saskatchewan and most of BC and Manitoba are realizing that Canada is a failed marriage. It’s time for a divorce.

  6. Vic

    November 9, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    Pretty much recycle politics.With bill C-69 and C – 48 in place.Alberta is under economic sanction by Fed.gov and we are paying for all of this circus trough equalization!
    Independence is solution,not a problem.

  7. Barry Stephenson

    November 9, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    You bet Derek….Kenny is caught between a rock and a hard place . He miscalculated in the end.

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MORGAN: Big labour wants big government in Calgary’s civic election

“Calgary’s Future used to be called “Calgarians for a Progressive Future” and the Canadian Union for Public Employees pumped nearly $1.4 million into the group in 2019 alone.”




Alberta’s civic election fundraising laws used to be pretty ‘wild west’. There were no contribution limits for candidates. Disclosure requirements on contributors were loose and candidates could spend contributions on whatever they pleased.

Just think about how ridiculous that was. A person, company, or union could give tens of thousands of dollars to a candidate and we were supposed to pretend that it wouldn’t impact how they govern. There was no formal campaign period, so fundraising could happen during the entire term of the councillor. The official didn’t have to actually spend the funds on their campaign. They could and did build surpluses in their campaign accounts. It was a perfect system for (soft) bribery and money laundering, and let’s not pretend that it never happened.

Campaign accounts could be used as retirement funds for city councillors. Upon leaving office, whatever surplus funds were in the campaign account could go to the councillor as a tax-free gift.

Ward 11 councilor Barry Erskine was so flagrant in his abuse of the system, he can at least be credited for helping spur the reform of it. In 2004, Erskine claimed $67,000 in election expenses while he was acclaimed. How do you spend so much on a campaign against nobody? In 2007, Erskine pretended an intent to run right up until a couple of days before the deadline. He then dropped out of the race, pocketed whatever campaign funds were in his account, and rode off into the sunset. While the act was grossly unprincipled, it was entirely legal.

Multiple campaign finance reform bills have been passed since the unregulated days of 2007. Unions and corporations can no longer donate to candidates and the maximum that anybody can donate to a campaign is $5,000 per year.

Campaign finance reforms have not stopped the influence of well-heeled groups, however. Rather than donating directly to candidates as they used to, organizations have formed a myriad of Third-Party Advertiser (TPA) groups and have been funneling a lot of money into them. Most of these groups have modest funding. A TPA called “Calgary’s Future” is an exception and is sitting on a $1.7 million campaign war chest.

While contributions to TPAs are capped at $30,000 now, there was no limit on contributions to them prior to 2021. Calgary’s Future used to be called “Calgarians for a Progressive Future” and the Canadian Union for Public Employees pumped nearly $1.4 million into the group in 2019 alone.

Calgary’s Future may have dropped the term “progressive” from their name, but their leftward slant isn’t hard to see on their website. Every candidate that they have endorsed is running on a progressive platform. The group gives an impression of transparency but no organizers or principles behind the organization are disclosed beyond first names. It is hardly a secret that they are a creation of government unions.

We can try to cork the bottle when it comes to campaign funding, but big money will always find another way to influence candidates. Having nearly $2 million in union dues directed towards promoting a specific set of candidates is surely going to impact the election. There is no TPA with a budget even close to Calgary’s Future. No other TPA has the paycheques of thousands of union members to tap for funding either.

If any of the candidates being backed by Calgary’s Future do get elected, they will have more than a little bias in favour of labour unions when contract negotiations with civil service unions are done. We are in a period of fiscal crisis and need councilors who will stand up to organized labour as opposed to being beholden to it.

We clearly needed to fix our unregulated campaign funding system; but have we now created a monster worse than what we had to begin with? Things are less transparent than ever and the dollars are bigger. Interest groups with multi-million dollar budgets will be supporting campaigns while the average voter doesn’t even realize it. It is more difficult to tie a candidate to who their backers may actually be. The money is still there, but now it is indirect.

It is too late to change the campaign funding system for 2021, but we should work to expose it. Organized labour is funding a large campaign for a small number of candidates. Calgary needs councilors who are working for the interest of the city as a whole rather than the labour unions for city employees. If Calgarians want the city to return to fiscal responsibility, they need to look at the list of candidates being endorsed by Calgary’s Future and choose not to vote for them.

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

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Allison: Official bilingualism creates a regional power imbalance

Westerners must join the elite minority of bilinguals by learning a second language or be left behind when it comes to rising the ranks of Canada’s federal institutions.




Bilinguals make up only 18% of our population, yet they dominate our federal institutions.

The reason for this is no secret. Canada’s official bilingualism, legally enshrined in the Official Languages Act (1969), gives a distinct advantage to one class of Canadians; bilinguals, over all others. The Act requires that federal institutions provide services in both French and English. The result is that 40% of federal public service jobs are “designated bilingual.” This means that some 300,000 jobs which make up our federal bureaucracies are available only to 18% of Canadians and closed to the other 82%

What does this mean for regional representation in our federal institutions? It means overrepresentation from Quebec and underrepresentation from the West. About 45% of Quebecers are bilingual whereas only 7% of those in the prairie provinces are bilingual. Thus, the pool of qualified candidates for federal public service jobs is going to be overwhelmingly filled with Quebecers while having scarcely any Westerners. As spokesman for Canadians for Language Fairness, Gordon Miller, writes: “The Official Languages Act has allowed this group [the “Laurentian elite”] to dominate the federal government bureaucracy and further entrench the dominance of the Eastern provinces in federal affairs.”

The Laurentian elite does dominate the federal public service. A total of 67% of the federal public service is made up of Quebecers and Ontarians and only 11% are from the prairie provinces. Of course, official bilingualism is not the only cause that has explanatory power in the case of this discrepancy. The federal capital being located on the border between the two most populous provinces also plays a significant role in determining the regional makeup of the federal public service (a separate and distinct advantage that the Laurentians have over Westerners in controlling federal institutions). In fact, 42% of federal public service employees live in the National Capital Region in Ottawa-Gatineau.

But, when it comes to those who rise the ranks in Canada’s federal bureaucracy, official bilingualism provides an explanation for its overwhelmingly Quebecer makeup. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Richard Wagner, the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Appeal Marc Noël, the Governor of the Bank of Canada Tiff Macklem, Government Film Commissioner and Chairperson for the National Film Board of Canada Claude Joli-Coeur, the Director and CEO of the Canada Council of the Arts Simon Brault, the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Stéphane Perrault, and the Director of CSIS David Vigneault are all Quebecers. The board of directors for the CBC, is also made up of 33% Quebecers with only one member hailing from the prairie provinces — Jennifer Moore Rattray from Manitoba. As Washington Post columnist, J.J. McCullough, suggests: “It is really hard to argue that by some massive coincidence the most qualified people for all of these jobs just happen to be Quebecers.”

Indeed, it is no coincidence. Since all federal institutions must provide services in both French and English, it is likely to have a bilingual in charge of these federal bureaucracies in order to ensure that these institutions run smoothly. As a result, Quebecers with their disproportionate number of bilinguals, have come to dominate the highest ranks of these bureaucracies.

Official bilingualism lays the groundwork for these regional disparities in Canada’s federal bureaucracies. Quebecers are overwhelmingly more likely to be bilingual than Westerners. As such, Westerners must join the elite minority of bilinguals by learning a second language or be left behind when it comes to rising the ranks of Canada’s federal institutions.

Andrew Allison is a PhD philosophy student at the University of Calgary

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SLOBODIAN: Doug Ford’s daughter could teach her father a thing or two about freedom

Daughter champions freedoms, daddy seizes them. Some who despise Premier Dad’s authoritarian decrees say the wrong family member heads Ontario.




Krista Ford Haynes, daughter of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, is going to make for some interesting Thanksgiving Dinner family conversation.

On Tuesday, Krista issued another dire warning against governments forcing vaccine passports, urging people to “collectively wake up” and not be obedient and unquestioning.

The following day, her father, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, launched COVID-19 vaccine passports, forcing people to choose between taking the jab, or losing many of their most basic freedoms. He claimed the passports are temporary.

Sure, they are. And 14 days would flatten the curve. No government relinquishes control it grabs. When COVID eventually passes, the newly established government powers will be turned elsewhere.

Daughter champions freedoms, daddy seizes them. Some who despise Premier Dad’s authoritarian decrees say the wrong family member heads Ontario.

Ford family get-togethers can’t be fun. Hopefully, they’re amicable. That’s not always the case.

Polarizing COVID-19 views about forced-masking, lockdowns, vaccines, and mandatory vaccine passports are dividing and destroying families and friendships.

Screaming matches and brawls over masks and social distancing aren’t confined to the aisles of Walmart among strangers.

Loved ones nearly, or maybe do, come to blows at dinner tables before the soup gets cold. That only happens when the government permits them to visit in between intermittent lockdowns.

Everyone’s ready to fall on their swords, convinced that their side — whichever it is — is solely righteous and right.

Haynes, 30, is an anti-vax crusader. Insults are hurled at her. The indignant demand she is reported. She’s been called “ignorant.” She makes people’s “blood boil.”

The feisty Haynes won’t back down from views some declare extreme.

Haynes, with thousands of followers, delivered her latest message in a video posted to Instagram after the federal election.

“Good morning, everyone. Happy Tuesday. As we could have all expected, the Liberal government won last night with a minority government,” said Haynes.

The Liberals will carry on “stripping our freedoms away one day at a time,” she said.

Haynes has long warned that forced masking was a steppingstone to vaccine passports. She was mocked. Few are laughing now.

The passports are here. Alberta succumbed, despite Premier Jason Kenney’s solemn vow to gallantly fight the feds if they forced them. Then he did a 180 and imposed them with a vengeance.

Now Haynes warns vaccine passports are a steppingstone to more controls and lost freedoms.

“When I posted in May or June of last year about the upcoming mask mandates and not to comply, this is why I wanted people, urged people, not to comply,” she said.

“We found out right away that masks weren’t very effective at all based on how people were wearing and revising them, and it actually could have made things a lot worse for some people and are making things a lot worse for certain age groups today.”

“That was one, but we complied, we complied. We could have put our foot down collectively, and we didn’t.”

So, the worst of it has arrived?

“You think it’s just going to be movie theatres, restaurants, gyms. That’s the first step. The first step. They’re going to take it all. They’re going to take it all and we’ve allowed it.”

Australians wore their masks and obeyed ‘temporary’ lockdown orders. The former penal colony turned into one of the freest countries, has become an effective police state. Citizens face the most extreme lockdowns globally. Wednesday, police fired rubber bullets into a crowd of 400 unarmed and peaceful protestors against severe lockdowns and vaccine passports.

Chaos erupts around the world. People fear pandemic “mandates” have morphed into a sinister grab for complete control over their lives to advance ever-greater government control.

Many are losing their jobs for no good reason.

Citizens are enraged their children suffer abuse, being forced to wear masks with little proof they effectively prevent transmission of COVID.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s booster (third) shot six months after full immunization for the elderly and high-risk. It rejected an application to approve booster shots for all Americans 16 and older. They’ll circle back to that.

Haynes urged people to ask questions, discuss, research. She, like others who advocate this, are ridiculed, attacked, discredited, even fired.

Their critics just want everyone to comply with the latest orders and shut up.

Fear, anger and distrust over this curse called COVID-19 prevail. There’s little common ground.

Doctors who question the official doctrine are dismissed, shamed, and now, being fired in some cases.

Asking questions is a good thing. Blindly complying isn’t.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard

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