On June 13, 2019 Bill C-69, the “No-More Pipelines” bill was voted into law. One lesser known aspect of this Bill, is that it dismantled the National Energy Board. On August 28, 2019 the Liberal government replaced the National Energy Board with the Canadian Energy Regulator and the NEB Board Members were summarily dismissed.
The NEB was established in 1959 because it was recognized that good projects could be rejected due to political expediency and controversial projects had the potential to end political careers. The NEB was created to be an independent, expert tribunal whose members were appointed for a period that overlapped the parliamentary election cycle. Full time board Members of the NEB were appointed by cabinet with seven-year, good behavior tenures, and these individuals could only be removed from office upon address ofGovernment. The protections afforded Board Members were in place to prevent political interference in decision making. Over the following 60 years the NEB was responsible for regulating interprovincial and international pipelines and power lines.
More recently, environmentalists and the Liberal party, unhappy with certain board decisions, began claiming that the NEB was a ‘captured board’, ‘too cozy with industry’ and had ‘lost the confidence of the Canadian public’. If the affected Board Members had indeed caused the public to lose confidence in the NEB, then those members should have been brought before a joint session of the House of Commons and the Senate to answer the charges against them. Instead of using due process, the Liberal government used legislation to eliminate the board, setting a dangerous precedent for future political interference with other administrative tribunals and courts of law, including the new CER.
The example most often given for the Liberals actions was the “Charest affair,” when the Board Chair, Peter Watson and two other NEB board members discussed board business privately with former Quebec Premier Jean Charest in January 2015. Mr. Charest was, at the time advising TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. on its, Energy East Pipeline project.
Interestingly, on August 28, 2019 when the new legislation was brought into force, seven of the eight NEB Board Members were removed. One was retained, the former Chair, Peter Watson, who continues to serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the new Canada Energy Regulator. Obviously there is a gap between the Liberals rhetoric and their actions.
The NEB was accused of having a revolving door with industry; a statement used by the Liberals to bolster their claim that the NEB had lost the confidence of the public. However, one of the new commissioners at the “modernized” CER, appointed by the Liberals, is a lawyer who had served as a senior legal counsel at TransCanada Pipelines and prior to that, legal counsel for the National Energy Board. He also worked in the PMO for Paul Martin and was Chief of Staff for Liberal MP Ken Dryden as well as being the Liberal Candidate for Humber West in 2011. There are clear questions of independence and conflict that arise from these appointments. Being involved in politics should not bar a good candidate but again, there is a gap between the Liberals rhetoric and actions. The Liberals also claimed the NEB needed to be modernized in terms of having more Indigenous and scientific representation. One of the board members dismissed was a highly-regarded, Indigenous scientist from Labrador with a PhD in Ecology and years of experience in environmental issues. Among the newly-appointed CER commissioners, there is one with a science background while the others are all lawyers.
The NEB was not an agent of the Crown; it was deliberately structured to be an independent, quasi-judicial agency. Regrettably, the new CER is an agent of the Crown, meaning that the cabinet can instruct the commission to do something on its behalf rendering the commission, an agency of government with diminished transparency and open to charges of bias. What are the status of CER, quasi-judicial rulings on the Trans Mountain pipeline in which an agent of the Crown (CER) makes decisions directly affecting a pipeline (TMX) that is wholly owned by the Crown? Does this situation improve public confidence in the independence of CER rulings?
Former Board Member Wallace argued that: “Replacing an independent expert, quasi-judicial decision-making body like the NEB with an agency that is essentially an arm of government will degrade regulatory processes and render them increasingly politicized.” This prediction has apparently come to pass.
Additionally, Bill C-69 introduced significant new ministerial discretions. Under the new legislation, federal ministers can interfere at any time in the process and the government has been granted a veto on approving major projects, which means a project could be arbitrarily cancelled at the end of an onerous, costly and lengthy process. How likely is it that large energy projects will be proposed in Canada?
The NEB was created in the 1950’s because it was recognized that the contentious nature of energy projects could prove to be a political landmine. Good projects in the national interest could fall victim to the short-sighted wrangling of politicians and be quashed. An independent, expert tribunal was, and still is, needed to ensure that each project is evaluated on its own merits without the risks of political interference.
Instead of “modernizing” the Board by increasing its independence both from industry and politics, the Liberal government has ignored the advice from experts and industry and stripped away much of the independence of the board while binding the CER to Cabinet. This makes the CER liable to the charge that its decisions will be based as much on the prevailing political winds as on the merits of the individual projects.
To paraphrase the Honorable Jody Wilson Raybould, “We either have a system that is based on the rule of law, the independence of the quasi-judicial functions and respect for those charged to use their discretion and powers in particular ways, or we do not.”
Tessa Littlejohn is a Contributor for the Western Standard
Royal Canadian Legion ‘saddened’ over vaccine-related protests
Several vaccine related incidents unfolded on Remembrance Day, including the desecration of a war memorial.
The BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion released a statement regarding vaccine related disruptions that took place during Remembrance Day ceremonies, as well as the desecration of a war memorial.
“We are the keepers of remembrance in Canada. As long as we exist we will uphold the tradition of remembrance to ensure Canada’s fallen will not be forgotten,” said Val MacGregor, President of BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.
“We are saddened that anyone would feel it necessary to distract from the sacrifice of our veterans and their families with political agendas. Especially, on Remembrance Day.”
In Cranbrook, RCMP were notified that someone defaced the cities Cenotaph mere hours before the Remembrance Day ceremony was set to take place. Spray-painted across the memorial were the words “the real heroes are the vaccinated.”
In Kelowna, police were called to an unofficial Remembrance Day event at City Park where hundreds of people gathered to pay respect to fallen Canadians. Amid the gathering, a small handful of people protesting COVID-19 vaccine related measures set up a microphone and began speaking over attendees.
“Have you forgotten? You have forgotten,” the woman interrupting the ceremony says.
Standing to her left was Bruce Orydzuk, a well known protester in the Kelowna area who went viral in July after berating a security guard at a vaccine clinic.
“I was there with my wife. Veterans were quite upset and a lot of people were screaming at each other. Never thought a remembrance day ceremony would be controversial but here we are. Really sad,” tweeted Matt Glen.
“Not the right time, not the right place,” one man can be heard shouting.
About 166 km away, a similar incident unfolded in Kamloops at the Riverside Park Cenotaph where people had organized their own unofficial ceremony before it was sidelined by anti-mandate protesters.
After going viral, the two latter incidents prompted wide-scale dispute on social media among individuals who would have been fundamentally aligned not so long ago.
Following the provincial declaration of a state of emergency in March 2020, British Columbians have been subjected to 19 months of lock-downs, vaccine passports, and forced business closures. Many live in a state of frustration and rage as a result — thus leading to more forceful behaviour such as what was displayed on Remembrance Day.
“Government breaks soldiers after extracting everything it can out of them. They then leave them with a single day of the year to be acknowledged,” Kip Warner, Executive Director of the Canadian Society for the Advancement of Science in Public Policy (CSASPP) told the Western Standard.
“Protesters have 364 days of the year to protest and be heard. Whether they are protesting COVID-19 related measures, or advocating for them in recently spray painting over a war memorial that the real heroes are the injected, stop doing it. We are Canadians and we should all expect better of ourselves.”
Warner served as an infantry officer in a light infantry regiment part-time for four years while working in tech. He now spearheads CSASPP, a non-profit organization that seeks to reverse COVID-19 related measures in BC. So far CSASPP has raised nearly $150,000 — all of which is regularly audited and available for donors to monitor. No members receive any profit.
The organization’s progress — which has seen three days in court thus far — can be followed here.
While there are a multitude of like-minded individuals across the province working meticulously to combat what they perceive as blatant tyranny on behalf of the state, their endeavour is not simple, and it is frequently sidelined by hot-heads seemingly incapable of reading the room.
“Emotions are one of the main things that derail communication. Once people get upset at one another, rational thinking goes out of the window,” writes former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss in his book Never Split the Difference.
Voss has explained how human beings are influenced by the level of respect they feel they’re given — complying in response to perceived fairness, whilst lashing out at what they feel is unfair.
As for unfairness, veterans living in BC are not allowed to enter fitness facilities, attend sporting events, or even grab a drink at a restaurant if they are unvaccinated — and the Royal Canadian Legion has not condemned the policy. This treatment of not only those who have served, but British Columbians as a whole, provides causal explanation for the lashing out of protesters as of recently — it is human nature, after all.
Capuchin monkeys behave the same way when treated unfairly.
However, what separates human beings from monkeys is the ability feel emotion well up from the carnal abyss, and subsequently detach from it. An understanding that lashing out — although feeling like the right move — may serve no benefit in a specific context.
This can be be observed in the Kelowna example. The outcome of which not only lacked benefit towards the cause protesters claim to be fighting for, but sent potential fence-sitters running the other direction. The scene resembled little difference from a bunch of capuchin monkeys screeching over who gets the banana — all the while those in power swirl their scotch glasses, laughing opportunistically at how they will further exploit the chaos.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn said “a state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”
The narrative peddled from the top down is that Canadians are locked in a deadly war with a virus and therefore sweeping mandates must be implemented for “our safety.” This narrative has driven people into not only accepting, but encouraging the states’ ever tightening grasp. The policies are masked under compassion, but beneath the sheepskin resides an opportunistic snake — and to assume human beings have evolved beyond our proclivity towards consented despotism is detrimentally naive.
Pulling back from the brink requires a methodical approach. Attempting to change one’s beliefs by interrupting and scolding them is like trying to push water uphill, and those who do so fail to recognize how they themselves are contributors to the problem they claim to fight.
WATCH: Calgary psychologist says lockdowns, mandates creating serious mental crisis
From people fearing the collapse of our healthcare system to government mandates, Dr. Angela Grace said it’s an “incredibly stressful time for people” who need to make “very tough decisions.”
A prominent Calgary psychologist said she’s seen an increase in clients coming to her in crisis — especially frontline and healthcare workers — over the last 20 months.
Registered psychologist Dr. Angela Grace shared her perspective on supporting her clients through the COVID-19 pandemic in an exclusive interview with the Western Standard.
Along with providing “trauma work” for first responders in her private practice at Heart Centered Counselling, Grace also offers professional counselling and school assessments for children.
“What I found immediately [when the pandemic began] was an increase in crisis in clients,” said Grace, who explained she was also navigating the complexity of pivoting from in-person to online counselling, while also dealing with the impacts of the pandemic on her children and family.
“What was a seven-out-of-10 crisis before is now a 12 out of 10. What was a client who was doing really really well and hadn’t been to counselling in a while was all of the sudden back in the chair in distress.”
Grace said her clients went from worrying about the pandemic and how life was going to change for them and their families to worrying about decisions around getting the COVID-19 vaccine or not and the bullying and isolation people faced with that “tough decision.”
She said she has also seen an increase in first responders and healthcare workers coming to see her in distress over the fear of losing their careers and livelihoods due to mandatory vaccination policies.
“It’s moving beyond a sense of stress and trauma from the pandemic to now moving into moral injuries,” said Grace.
Medical workers have gone from “being a praised hero” to being “vilified because they don’t want to get the vaccine,” said Grace adding that normal job stressors for these workers have been exaggerated so much more because of these moral injuries.
Grace said the situation created “confusion and mistrust” among healthcare workers and first responders who navigated through the first, second and third waves of the pandemic without being vaccinated but have now been told they can no longer work unless they get the jab.
“Not only is there this divisiveness, but there’s this increasing lack of trust they (medical workers) are going to be taken care of,” said Grace.
According to Grace, children are also being impacted by the pandemic, especially those from divorced homes where parents have differing opinions on issues around how to best protect their children.
Teens “have really been struggling,” said Grace.
“Since the beginning of COVID, there has been a tremendous increase in eating disorders,” said Grace, who explained it’s often a result of an inability to cope and social isolation.
Grace said much of the social anxiety for teens is centred around returning to school after gaps of time when normal socialization was absent.
For younger children, especially those in the formative years, Grace said those learning gaps are leading to children missing out on normal development without the foundation of normal schooling.
From people fearing the collapse of the healthcare system to lockdowns and mandatory vaccination and masking, Grace said it’s an “incredibly stressful time for people” who need to make “very tough decisions.”
Grace said she is also concerned post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will be a “massive burden” on society in the coming months.
“We are in traumatic stress right now. We have to survive the trauma then the healing can happen,” said Grace.
When asked for her advice to those dealing with heightened anxiety and stress, Grace said the first step is to “acknowledge the stressors and reach out for help.”
“As much as possible, shut off the news, shut off social media and focus on what do I need to do today to look after myself and my family,” said Grace.
Turning to exercise, hobbies, art, games, colouring, pets and mindfulness activities are some other ways Grace suggests people handle feelings of stress, isolation and depression. She also highlighted the importance of “continuing to build connections”, whether by phone or video chats.
“I call it pockets of peace; what are the things you do in your everyday life — every day, every week, every month — routines that give you a sense of peace and calm,” said Grace.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can also be an issue for people through the dark winter months, Grace explained admitting she suffers from the disorder.
According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. SAD begins in the fall and continues through the winter months leaving those affected feeling tired and moody.
To ward off the effects of SAD, Grace suggests taking Vitamin C, D and Omega fatty acids and eating nutrient-rich foods as well as investing in a SAD lamp and spending 15-20 minutes in front of it daily.
Grace also pointed to the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta website as a referral source for seeking a professional psychologist and recommended their free resources, webinars and tip sheets.
Albertans can access help from the Mental Health Foundation Alberta, the Distress Centre and the Calgary Counselling Centre while the Kids Help Phone and the Canadian Mental Health Association are national support providers.
Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
Elon Musk’s nine must-read books
Musk, co-founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, credits his success to reading books.
When Elon Musk tires of the world of AI, solar energy and underground tunnelling beneath Los Angeles, what’s left but to get lost in a good book?
Musk, co-founder of Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company, credits his success to the printed word, according to an article on blinkist.com
“I read books,” Musk said when asked how he learned to build rockets.
Here are the nine must-read books Musk believes everyone should read:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Wikipedia description: “Steve Jobs is the authorized self-titled biography of American business magnate and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. The book was written at the request of Jobs by Walter Isaacson, a former executive at CNN and TIME who has written best-selling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.”
Human Compatible by Stuart Russell
Wikipedia description: “Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control is a 2019 non-fiction book by computer scientist Stuart J. Russell. It asserts that risk to humanity from advanced artificial intelligence (AI) is a serious concern despite the uncertainty surrounding future progress in AI.”
Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
Wikipedia description: “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future is a 2014 book by the American entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel, co-written with Blake Masters. It is a condensed and updated version of the highly popular set of online notes taken by Masters for the CS183 class on startups, as taught by Thiel at Stanford University in spring 2012.”
Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes & Erik M. Conway
Wikipedia description: “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming is a 2010 non-fiction book by American historians of science Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. It identifies parallels between the global warming controversy and earlier controversies over tobacco smoking, acid rain, DDT and a hole in the ozone layer.”
Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark
Wikipedia description: “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is a book by Swedish-American cosmologist Max Tegmark from MIT. Life 3.0 discusses Artificial Intelligence and its impact on the future of life on earth and beyond. The book discusses a variety of societal implications, what can be done to maximize the chances of a positive outcome and potential futures for humanity, technology and combinations thereof.”
The Big Picture by Sean M. Carroll
Wikipedia description: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself is a non-fiction book by American theoretical physicist Sean M. Carroll, published in 2016. In his fourth book, Carroll defends the argument the universe can be completely interpreted by science, introducing “poetic naturalism” as a philosophy that explains the world.”
Lying by Sam Harris
Wikipedia description: “Lying is a 2011 long-form essay book by American author and neuroscience expert Sam Harris. Harris argues that we can radically simplify our lives and improve society by merely telling the truth in situations where others often lie.”
Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom
Wikipedia description: “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies is a 2014 book by the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom from the University of Oxford. It argues if machine brains surpass human brains in general intelligence, then this new super intelligence could replace humans as the dominant life form on Earth. Sufficiently intelligent machines could improve their own capabilities faster than human computer scientists and the outcome could be an existential catastrophe for humans.”
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Wikipedia description: “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title, The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world’s first collected descriptions of what builds nations’ wealth and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution”
Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
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