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FORBES REVIEW: The Kite is a book of the old West that the new West needs to read

This classic novel is a veritable love letter to small prairie towns and to the people who call the West home.




The name W.O. Mitchell will ring a bell for those who are familiar with Western Canadian literature. He is perhaps best known for his 1947 hit novel Who Has Seen the Wind. Renowned for his descriptive prose about the prairies and poetic reflections on mortality, Mitchell has earned his place on bookshelves all throughout the West. Upon recently reading his 1962 novel The Kite, I believe Mitchell deserves to be discovered by a new generation of Western Canadians.

Mitchell’s second novel, The Kite takes place in a small town in southern Alberta in 1960. The protagonist is a writer and TV personality David Lang, who is unsatisfied with his professional life in Toronto and Montreal. At the beginning he is assigned to a story that brings him back to the place of his upbringing in the foothills of Alberta.

The purpose of David’s assignment is to interview and write about a spirited old man named Daddy Sherry, who is about to turn 111 years old. The writer is at first disappointed in his assignment, and the task seems impossible upon discovering Daddy Sherry’s apparent senility. However, David soon realizes that this assignment is also an opportunity for him to rediscover his roots. As he gets to know Daddy Sherry and the other colourful characters of the fictional Shelby, Alberta, David soon begins to appreciate the sense of community and connectedness that was missing in his ambitious career-driven life out east.

Mitchell masterfully weaves together an entertaining narrative. He keeps the pages turning by treating the reader to a series of unique and occasionally absurd scenarios, including a short-lived trapeze show in a barn, a tense confrontation with an elusive and legendary goose, an unexpected trip down river, and a most unfortunate end to an otherwise cordial birthday party. With amusing dialogue, Mitchell somehow manages to scatter hilariously comedic moments in amongst heartfelt and sometimes tragic reflections upon life and loss. Such drastic contrasts must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Fort MacLeod, Alberta in the 1940s-1950s (Source: Galt Museum & Archives, WikiCommons)

The story of The Kite explores themes of aging, impermanence, and the essential connections between past and future generations. Through the eyes of 111-year-old Daddy Sherry, readers will consider what is most important at the end of the day – and they will laugh out loud all along the way.

The author, who passed away in Calgary in 1998, came by his love of the prairies naturally. William Ormond Mitchell was born and raised in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. He studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of Alberta, and worked briefly as a writer out east for Maclean’s Magazine before returning west and settling in High River, Alberta. Most of Mitchell’s works reflect this lifelong attachment to the West, and The Kite upholds that pattern proudly.

This story is fundamentally about Westerners, for Westerners, and written by a Westerner. Like Mitchell himself, the character of David Lang returned home to the West after a time away for career reasons. With this background in mind, Lang’s comments comparing “the tempo of Yonge with the leisurely saunter of a foothills main street” take on a personal significance for the author.

A driver in Fort MacLeod, Alberta in the 1940s (Source: Galt Museum & Archives, WikiCommons)

Mitchell’s vivid descriptions clearly reflect a strong appreciation for the natural majesty of this land, and his colourful cast of characters convey a profound tenderness for the people of the prairies. Readers throughout the West may see something of their own lives and upbringings reflected in these pages.

This classic novel is a veritable love letter to small prairie towns and to the people who call the West home. Whether you are already a W.O. Mitchell fan or you are just discovering his works for the first time, you will want to add The Kite to your library list (or Christmas list) today.

James Forbes is a Columnist for the Western Standard

James Forbes is the Western Heritage Columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in History and writes about the history of politics, culture, and religion in Canada.


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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