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ALBERS: The moral imperative of independence

If the Americans had a moral imperative to seek their independence over a small tax imposed by others, then most clearly, Westerners have the right, even the duty, to seek theirs.

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Jim Albers is a guest columnist for the Western Standard

The discussion around Western alienation and independence has taken on new life after a federal election that saw a wildly unpopular leader re-elected in spite of glaring deficiencies in character and quality. A lot of talk has been focussed on policy and legislation that has for the most part been aimed directly at the energy sector in the West, and which has had the effect of harming the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of Westerners. 

But as people consider the possibility of Western independence, they struggle with the enormity of what it means. Should we seriously be considering secession from the nation of our history, and in many cases, birth? It is right to take pause. 

Alberta – and the West more broadly – have endured hardships in the past; it is part of what has defined us. Our fierce independence comes from our history and so to does our big-heartedness in never hesitating to help out our neighbors. No matter the circumstances, Alberta and the West have never flinched in committing our help and resources for the good of the country. Is this simply another time of hardship, of toughing it out? Or is it something else? Is there any hope of reforming confederation, or is it cemented in stasis? That is the question at the heart of our dilemma.

For there to be any serious consideration of independence – for people of reasonable temperament and sincere tolerance to even brook the thought of such an action – there must be a compelling moral imperative. If we look at the sovereigntist movement in Quebec, it was that lack of a moral imperative that prevented it from achieving its aims. It is not that they didn’t have a strong argument for the uniqueness of their culture and language, but that they sought to liberate themselves from a government in which they were the dominant force to begin with. Their argument was one of ethnicity, culture and language, not a moral one of liberation.

As we consider the status of the West, we ask ourselves this question: Is this merely an economic issue, or also a moral one? To answer that question, we have to define two things: the role of government, and the power structure of Canada’s.

In western democracies, the role of government has broadly become defined by the social contract. Stated simply, the people agree to be governed so long as that government acts within a strict set of boundaries, for the good of the people. Those boundaries have traditionally been defined as coming from natural law. That is, that all men and women have certain inalienable rights such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This has never more eloquently been put than in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

In short, governments and constitutions do not give the people rights. The people have God-given natural rights, and governments and constitutions must protect them. When a government fails to do so and becomes tyrannical, they have broken the social contract, and it is the right and duty of the people to change it.

In the American Revolution, ‘tyranny’ was understood to mean actions of government or the powerful that infringed upon those inalienable rights, imposed or impeded the liberties of the people, or prevented them from their full and just exercise of self-determination. 

‘Tyranny,’ might be too strong a strong word in today’s parlance, but ‘arbitrary’ and ‘domineering’ would be appropriate terms for us to consider. Is our federal government ‘arbitrary’ and ‘domineering’? And if so, is there a moral imperative for Western independence?

Through the imposition of taxation, legislation, and regulation designed specifically to prevent the West from meeting its full economic and social potential, the federal government – without the consent of the West – has arbitrarily violated the liberties of Westerners. 

The very structure of confederation was designed to prevent the West from any meaningful voice in government by ensuring that in both the House of Commons and in the Senate, that the power of the West would never exceed that of Quebec and Ontario. 

Albertans have by far the most voters per MP, and are arbitrarily limited to less Senators than tiny New Brunswick or Nova Scotia, despite having nearly twice the population of all four Atlantic provinces combined. By any definition, this is domination by a distant power.

The West suffers under a kind of non-violent, benign despotism. In his treatise, ‘Democracy in America’ 19th Century writer Alexis de Tocqueville undertook an examination of American democracy as compared to the French version which had failed and collapsed into chaos. He noted that the American version of democracy would be impervious to blunt applications of tyranny. In his estimation, Americans would rise up against it; but could well be overcome by a much subtler form of despotism.

He didn’t name it, but described it as a form of government that through a growing web of regulations, bureaucracy and subtle indoctrination would rob its citizens of their capacity for free agency. It would not cause men to rise up, but would prevent or constrain free thinkers from acting. 

“Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.

It is this soft despotism that has spawned a backlash across the world, from Brexit to Brazil, from Austria, France, and from Hong Kong to Italy, to the United States. It is this soft despotism that is confronting us here in the West, in the form of a domineering government rooted in structural Eastern power, exercising its will arbitrarily.

If the Americans had a moral imperative to seek their independence over a small tax imposed by others on tea, then most clearly, Westerners have the right, even the duty, to seek theirs.  

Jim Albers is a guest columnist for the Western Standard

Energy

VENKATACHALAM & KAPLAN: Oil and gas production is essential to BC’s economy

Here’s another slice of statistical bread to consider: In 2017 the BC oil and gas industry purchased $5.6 billion worth of goods and services from other sectors.

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Guest column by Ven Venkatachalam and Lennie Kaplan of the Canadian Energy Centre

British Columbia has been producing oil and natural gas since 1952. In fact, as of 2018, BC produced 32% of Canada’s natural gas production and 2% of Canada’s conventional daily oil production. British Columbia collects royalties from oil and gas development, supporting the economic prosperity in the province.

Want to know how important the oil and natural gas industry is to the BC economy? Using customized Statistic Canada data from 2017 (the latest year available for this comparison), it turns out oil and gas in BC  generated about $18 billion in outputs, consisting primarily of the value of goods and services produced, as well as a GDP of $9.5 billion.

As for what most of us can relate to — jobs — the BC oil and gas industry was responsible for nearly 26,500 direct jobs and more than 36,100 indirect jobs (62,602 jobs in total) in 2017. Also relevant: The oil and gas sector paid out over $3.1 billion in wages and salaries to BC workers that year.

Here’s another slice of statistical bread to consider: In 2017 the BC oil and gas industry purchased $5.6 billion worth of goods and services from other sectors. That included $600 million from the finance and insurance sector, $770 million in professional services, and $2.8 billion from the manufacturing sector, to name just three examples.

Spending by the oil and gas sector in BC is not the only way to consider the impact of the industry. Given that a large chunk of the oil and gas sector is next door in Alberta, let’s look at what Alberta’s trade relationship with its westerly neighbour does for BC.

BC’s interprovincial trade in total with all provinces in 2017 amounted to $39.4 billion. Alberta was responsible for the largest amount at $15.4 billion, or about 38%, of that trade.

That share of BC’s trade exports is remarkable, given that Alberta’s share of Canada’s population was just 11.5 percent in 2017. Alberta consumers, businesses and governments buy far more from BC in goods and services than its population as a share of Canada would suggest would be the case. Alberta’s capital-intensive, high-wage-paying oil and gas sector is a major reason why.

If Alberta were a country, the province’s $15.4 billion in trade with BC would come in behind only the United States (about $22.3 billion in purchases of goods and services from BC) in 2017. In fact, Alberta’s importance to B.C. exports was ranked far ahead of China ($6.9 billion), Japan ($4.5 billion), and South Korea ($2.9 billion)—the next biggest destinations for BC’s trade exports.

BC has a natural advantage for market access in some respects when compared to the United States. For instance, BC’s coast is near to many Asian-Pacific markets than are U.S. Gulf Coast facilities. The distance between the U.S. Gulf Coast and to the Japanese ports of Himeji and Sodegaura is more than 9,000 nautical miles, compared to less than 4,200 nautical miles between those two Japanese ports and the coast of BC.

The recent demand for natural gas in Asia, especially Japan (the largest importer of LNG) and price increase for natural gas, presents an exciting opportunity for BC oil and gas industry. The IEA predicts that by 2024 , natural gas demand forecast in Asia will be up 7% from 2019’s pre-COVID-19  levels. 

Be it in employment, salaries and wages paid, GDP, or the purchase of goods and services, the impact of oil and natural gas (and Alberta) on BC’s economy and trade flows is significant.

Guest column by Ven Venkatachalam and Lennie Kaplan are with the Canadian Energy Centre

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Schuler the black sheep of the Manitoba Tory family

While piously bleating about responsibility in a pandemic, these sheep are cleverly deflecting from their sinister stand on something they don’t support — one’s right to medical privacy.

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One Manitoba MLA — the only one of 57 — has the courage to fight for the right to protect private health information. 

The rest are either timidly silent or scampering to microphones to vilify this flock member for daring to not run with their sheep in-crowd. 

Progressive Conservative Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler is on the verge of getting ousted from Premier Heather Stefanson’s cabinet and banned from the legislature for refusing to reveal his COVID-19 vaccination status.

Stefanson decreed a COVID-19 vaccination mandate effective December 15 for everyone entering the building.

Years of hard work — Schuler was first elected in 1999, won five subsequent elections, and has held impressive posts — suddenly matter not. 

What about the constituents who democratically elected him to represent them? Pfft. Nobody cares.

Like health workers, teachers, oil workers, police officers, firefighters, restaurant employees, Manitobans from all walks of life who won’t comply with questionable, harsh forced mandates, Schuler may be deprived of a right to earn a living

And the lone elected voice of reason in perennial COVID-19 hysteria will be muzzled. 

The right to work is now taken away just because something irks elected officials. Not providing proof of COVID-19 vaccination irks them so much they casually destroy careers and lives.

Maybe Schuler’s vaccinated. Maybe he isn’t. He says it’s nobody’s business but his.

“As stated in the house, no one in Caucus is opposed to vaccinations, however, my personal health information is a private matter and I do not discuss my personal health information publicly,” said the Springfield-Ritchot MLA in a written statement to Western Standard.

He refuses media interview requests. Can’t blame him.

The Winnipeg Free Press polled all MLAs about their vaccination status. Aha! Schuler and Seine River PC MLA Janice Morley-Lecomte were outed for refusing to cough up personal information. Morley-Lecomte buckled to pressure and confirmed she’s vaccinated.

No one appears to have a problem with media infringing on liberty and freedom by giving itself licence to poke into something that — until COVID-19 was sacred — an individual’s right to keep health information private. 

In this COVID-19 madness, the obliging media increasingly oversteps boundaries it’s supposed to protect.

Angus Reid recently found 70% of 1,000 Canadians surveyed believe employees should be fired if they refuse to be vaccinated. That means they must reveal vaccination status which is private health information.

Would those surveyed feel the same way if a reporter chasing a story asked them about that embarrassing rash in private places, an abortion, reliance on anti-depressants, or any other medical conditions?

If so, it would be useless to run to one’s MLA for help. Readers revealed to me that one Manitoba MLA flippantly told an oil worker who refused the vaccine for religious convictions to just go get vaccinated. He lost his job. Another MLA coolly told a constituent to go hire a lawyer if she didn’t like the rules.

Schuler’s vaccination status commanded new attention when it was revealed that a 70-year-old assistant in his constituency office died of COVID-19. 

No details were provided on whether the assistant was vaccinated or where she contracted COVID-19. 

But NDP house leader and justice critic Nahanni Fontaine pounced, calling for Schuler to be booted from cabinet, saying it would be “unconscionable” if he remained.

To his credit, Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont said it would be wrong to jump to conclusions about the tragic death, but yes, Schuler should be tossed.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon told media she’s a “vaccine ambassador.”

“I’ve always tried to lead by example in my life. I’m a vaccine ambassador, and if others want to follow my lead, I strongly encourage them to do so,” said Gordon, who with two other cabinet ministers was outed for violating mandates whilst frolicking at a gala sans masks and social distancing.

Schuler has been participating in question period virtually for a few months. The chamber already only allows MLAs in who have received two doses.

Nonetheless, Stefanson imposed a tougher rule — get vaccinated or get banished. 

Back to the NDP’s Fontaine who told the Winnipeg Sun MLAs must “step up.” 

“And if MLAs don’t stand up, who the heck is supposed to step up?”

Oh, the irony of chastising an MLA who is doing exactly that. Schuler is stepping up heroically, not only for himself but for all being bullied into sharing personal information.

Former Ontario privacy commissioner Dr. Ann Cavoukian recently told Blacklock’s Reporter she rejects vaccine passports in any form.

“You’re talking about people’s personal health information. That is between your doctor and yourself. Now all of that has changed … I find it abhorrent,” said Cavoukian.

“People’s health status is considered to be the most private, sensitive information they have … The problem is privacy protection measures, once they are lifted in an emergency, are seldom restored.” 

Schuler appears to understand the sinister ramifications of that. This is about more than him.

The premier and MLAs who choose to represent only Manitobans who dutifully obey them may silence him.

While piously bleating about responsibility in a pandemic, these sheep are cleverly deflecting from their sinister stand on something they don’t support — one’s right to medical privacy.

Baaaa….

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

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Opinion

LOGAN: It’s time to divest from Suzuki

“It’s time to send a message to Suzuki where it will hurt the most – his donors.”

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Eco-alarmist David Suzuki has become more than just your everyday environmental activist — he’s become a well-known Canadian brand.

And it’s a brand that helped create the David Suzuki Foundation, which in 2020 raised more than $13 million for various environmental causes.

But what happens when the namesake of your charitable foundation not only feeds into, but repeats the dangerous rhetoric being employed by extreme environmental groups like Extinction Rebellion?

It was at an Extinction Rebellion event in Victoria in November that Suzuki crossed the line between peaceful activism and extremism.

“There are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on,” vowed the 85-year-old activist, best known for hosting CBC’s The Nature of Things.

And he wasn’t ready to back down following the outrage sparked by his comments, telling Victoria’s CHEK News it was “absurd” for people to think he was inciting violence and didn’t regret his comment.

“I meant it. I said it. I regret that the media … would take the context of that article, which was a fine report, and put the headline that totally slants it as if I’m inciting violence,” Suzuki said.

The Foundation that bears his name was quick to distance itself from the co-founder’s comments, saying Suzuki wasn’t speaking on their behalf.

Suzuki eventually apologized for his remarks, saying they were said out of “extreme frustration,” and not meant to support violence.

But despite the apology, Suzuki refused to condemn Extinction Rebellion’s defense of his own comments, which only further raised the temperature.

“Not only will pipelines be blown up, but we can be certain that world leaders will be put on trial for treason or worse — be killed,” said Extinction Rebellion’s National Action & Strategy Coordinator Zain Haq, doubling down on Suzuki’s comment.

It’s time to send a message to Suzuki where it will hurt the most — his donors.

You can send a letter today to the David Suzuki Foundation’s largest donors telling them that his violent rhetoric is unacceptable. Just click on this link.

If activists like Suzuki won’t hold themselves accountable, you can do your part to make them accountable to the people who write their paycheque.

Let these companies and foundations know that it’s time to divest from Suzuki!

Guest column by Shawn Logan with the Canadian Energy Centre

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