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FILDEBRANDT: Ottawa is at war with Alberta, and There’s no “Fair Deal” to be had

Ottawa isn’t just unfriendly towards Alberta. It is a colonial government at war with it. And the sooner we realized it, the fast we can begin to fight back with equal force.

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On February 6th, I wrote on these pages that “If Trudeau kills Teck, It’s War“. Now, on February 23th, it’s war.

This marks the day when many at the Western Standard and elsewhere predicted, the Liberals would kill the $20 billion Teck oilsands mine investment, eliminating 7,000 jobs in the process. As predicted, the Liberals would not risk the political backlash of stabbing the Teck project in the heart. Instead, they would put it in a torture chamber of a thousand regulations and political hurdles that would be impossible to meet, forcing Teck to kill itself.

While the Liberals were not found standing over the body, they have been stalking it for months, warning that it would not be approved, and floating the prospect of an “economic aid” package to pacify angry Albertans once it was dead.

Teck Resources President and CEO Don Lindsay, explained in the politest language he could find why the project was being shelved.

“Global capital markets are changing rapidly and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products. This does not yet exist here today and, unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved. In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project.”

In short, warnings that the federal government’s butchering of Canada’s once sane energy approvals process is politicized, and there is no path forward without being required to meet unreasonable demands.

Lindsay continued, “Frontier, however, has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward. Ultimately, that should take place without a looming regulatory deadline.”

That is, it is no longer about the merits of a given energy project, but about the global crusade against fossil fuels, and Teck Frontier is public enemy number one. The “looming regulatory deadline” which the Liberals dragged to the last minute, made the decision politically explosive.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney issued a statement after word seeped out. He laid blame at the federal government’s feet, and was none-to-happy about it, but he shied away from more heated language. He refrained from calling out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by name – something he did daily before winning the 2019 election – and went to pains to emphasize how cooperative he has been with Ottawa on the Teck front.

“The Government of Alberta agreed to every request and condition raised by the federal government for approving the Frontier project, including protecting bison and caribou habitat, regulation of oilsands emissions, and securing full Indigenous support.”

It’s surprising that Kenney would admit openly that his government largely capitulated to many of Ottawa’s demands in an area of Alberta’s clear domain of interest, but he must believe that it is better to have appeared the victim that tried, than the victim that resisted compromise.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley took a different approach, blaming the entire thing – lock, stock and barrel – squarely on Kenney.

“The heated rhetoric and constant conflict generated by Jason Kenney and the UCP is the primary reason for withdrawal of Teck’s application.”

It is a bizarre line of attack most likely written by an over-caffeinated NDP staffer drinking the bathwater of the “Kenney is a crypto-fascist” cult.

If Keneny has any fault in the matter, it is for not taking a much harder line in forcing Ottawa’s hand. Since the October federal election, Kenney has radically changed his tone with the Trudeau government, and has gone out of his way to deescalate the rising tide of sovereigntist support in Alberta. While he has commendably commissioned the Fair Deal Panel to explore ways in which Alberta might better assert its autonomy within confederation, he has shied away from drawing a line in the sand.

Michelle Rempel Garner and three other federal Conservative MPs took up that challenge last week, when they issued the Buffalo Declaration. Not content to merely withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan and RCMP, the Buffalo MPs demanded constitutional reform to make Alberta – and the West – equal partners in Confederation. The strong implication of their declaration, was “or else”.

While not quite coming out for independence themselves, they made clear where things are headed if things don’t change: “they [Albertans] will be equal or they will seek independence.”

This is the clear and unmistakable line in the sand that many Albertans believe it is past time to draw. Justin Trudeau being nicer, or Peter MacKay reversing some of the most explicitly anti-Western policies is no longer enough. The constitution must be reformed to stop federal governments in Ottawa from attacking Alberta, or Alberta must take matters into its own hands.

Kenney would serve Alberta well to take up this call. UCP MLA and Fair Deal Panel Member Drew Barnes already has, coming out in support of the Buffalo Declaration.

Ottawa’s strangulation of the Teck Frontier oilsands mine isn’t just another injury that Alberta can abide. It is a clear and unmistakable sign that Ottawa means to “phase out” Alberta’s oil and gas industry, as Trudeau himself has put it. This isn’t a policy that would be tolerated towards any other region of Canada, but was welcomed with joy by throngs of eco-radicals in the East, and by a large segment of the minority federalist-left in Alberta.

Left powerless for all their tough talk, is Alberta’s federalist-right.

Alberta can no longer afford to brace itself and keep skating after hits from Ottawa. These attacks are deliberate, and in the long term, fatal to our exsistence.

Ottawa isn’t just unfriendly towards Alberta. It is a colonial government at war with it. And the sooner we realized it, the faster we can begin to fight back with equal force.

Derek Fildebrandt is the Publisher of the Western Standard and President and CEO of Wildrose Media Corp.

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 2009-2012 he was the National Research Director and Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

MORGAN: Should potentially dangerous candidates be given the voters list?

“One potential option would be moving for a court injunction against candidates – like Johnston – that have clearly signalled their willingness or intent to abuse the information found in the electors list.”

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Voter lists have long been provided to registered candidates in elections at all levels of government. Candidates have to affirm they will only use the information for campaign purposes and there can be significant penalties for misuse of voter lists.

Those voters lists are often, unfortunately, misused by some unprincipled candidates for everything from telemarketing to campaigning during non-election periods. While these abuses are not to be disregarded, they tend to be mere annoyances in most cases.

That has changed with the prospect controversial Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston may get access to electors lists.

While every candidate – including fringe candidates – has received the electors lists in the past without issue, Johnston is presenting a new problem. He has openly vowed to track down AHS employees and make an armed visit to their homes. This may just be Johnston’s usual hyperbolic online ranting, but it cannot be easily dismissed.

Johnston’s history shows him to be a very troubled individual who could very possibly be dangerous. He is facing multiple charges right now in different provinces, including assault. He has been known for targeted harassment of individuals on a racial basis. In Ontario he harassed and defamed a restaurant owner so badly that an Ontario court awarded the restaurant owner $2.5 million in a suit against Johnston. That kind of settlement is extraordinarily rare in Canada.

In light of his history, how comfortable should we be with the likes of Johnston having access to the address and phone numbers of everybody in your household? Unless things change, that’s exactly what will happen this fall.

This developing issue has many concerned. Most people didn’t even realize that candidates for office had access to these lists, and they are beginning to ask why candidates have access to such information in the first place.

There are three reasons candidates get access to voters lists.

One is they are very valuable tools for campaigning.

The second is that by providing challengers with the list, it evens the playing field with incumbents and well-funded candidates who have their own database.

The third and more important reason is that giving candidates access to these lists offers a layer of protection against electoral fraud.

In our electoral system, the candidates themselves actually offer the best oversight and scrutiny in order to ensure there has been no abuse of the process. Every candidate is allowed to have scrutineers who represent them during every aspect of the voting process from ensuring the ballot boxes are empty before being used, to ensuring that nobody is trying to influence electors in polling places to being present during the counting of the ballots. In giving access to the process for every candidate, the system has a very good internal checking method that actually doesn’t cost taxpayers any money.

Part of that access to the process includes giving candidates the list of electors. If candidates didn’t have voters lists, how could they ensure that a person wasn’t registered to vote multiple times? How could it be discovered if one household somehow had 50 registered voters within it? Would it ever be caught if a deceased person had somehow cast a ballot? While uncommon, these kinds of things have happened before in elections around the world – or inner party nomination races here – and tha’is why modern election systems give candidates the means to watch for these kinds of abuses.

Mayoral candidate Jyoti Gondek has been requesting the practice of sharing electoral lists with candidates be ended for everyone. There’s merit to considering this, but it has to be understood in doing so with such relatively short notice, this will come at a cost.

Checks and balances can be created that would help candidates ensure the integrity of the electoral process without actually giving the candidates full access to the lists of electors. That sort of policy would take time to formulate, and there is no way such a policy could be in place in time for an election this fall. That would mean if electoral lists were not given to candidates this year, we would be losing that layer of protection in the process. This would unlikely make much difference to outcomes, but you can rest assured many people would use this as an excuse to question the process and the outcomes of the election.

Another consequence of the removal of access to electoral lists to candidates would be it would add to the already formidable advantage held by incumbent or major candidates. In municipal politics, incumbents already have massive fundraising and name recognition advantages over challenging candidates. While they will never admit it, you can rest assured incumbents still have copies of the electoral lists from past elections. While the data would be four years out of date, it would still be very valuable to the campaign. It defies belief no candidates would use those lists in the coming campaign while up-and-coming candidates are forced to build their own databases through manual door knocking. Coun. Gondek is well aware of this.

In all probability, Gondek, Farkas, and perhaps a few other more established candidates already have access to an older list. Freezing candidates out of obtaining the list would provide the big candidates with a huge, unfair advantage.

It’s worth considering ending the practice of sharing this information with candidates in the future. I know I wouldn’t want my personal information going to an individual such as Kevin Johnston, along with a number of the other candidates in the race for that matter. We have to remember, however, changing the policy on the fly like this will have an impact on the ability of many to campaign and it will reduce electoral scrutiny this fall.

One potential option would be moving for a court injunction against candidates – like Johnston – that have clearly signalled their willingness or intent to abuse the information found in the electors list. No city bureaucrat could be trusted with a delicate decision like this, but if it can be sufficiently proven in court, it should be fair enough.

Our political environment is far too charged right now for any nuanced policy debates to happen. Particularly in Calgary, where the mayor has been race-baiting and sowing division among the public and other elected officials. It’s clear we will have to address this issue of the privacy and safety of the electorate.

The only question right now is when.

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

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Energy

GARYK: How environmental groups use kids as props

“There’s plenty of time to indoctrinate our offspring later. Is it too much to ask that the eco-extremists keep their politics out of the classroom?”

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Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and others were quick to attack the Canadian Energy Centre – better known as the ‘War Room’ – for expressing their disdain over an inaccurate representation of the oil and gas industry in the Netflix movie Bigfoot Family, which depicted a mountain top being blown up to extract oil. 

It was overkill that brought some justified criticism upon the War Room, but there isn’t any fuss when these same groups use children to promote their extremist agenda. 

This agenda is pushed on young kids across North America. The made-in-Canada 3% Project, founded by self-described climate change activist Steven Lee in 2012 when he was 19 years old, tours across the country holding free assemblies in schools.      

Their website is transparent about their objectives.

“Our goals are simple: to achieve more consensus Canada-wide that climate change is real, that its biggest cause is human-created, and to empower youth to take local action towards climate change solutions in their communities.”

The 3% Project’s founder knows how to influence young people. He’s a policy advocate to the UN, a public speaker at international forums — including UNICEF, G8 Summits, NATO and UNESCO — and his website says he was trained by Al Gore as a Climate Reality Leader. It’s this extensive experience that has allowed him to realize “starting these projects young is a great way to keep climate change and empowerment at the forefront of a learning, growing mind. The leaders of tomorrow are already in our schools.” 

In Alberta, it may be up to individual teachers and boards to decide who gets an audience with their students; however, it doesn’t enhance learning to invite non-expert activists with an anti-oil and gas agenda that use extremist, fearmongering, and indoctrination tactics into schools. 

Climate science is a complex topic that’s worthy of serious study; however, without presenting a clear argument on both sides — and one that includes the positives that result from having access to abundant affordable energy — young people are not being offered enough information to make their own informed opinions. Rather, they’re being told what to think.    

There’s a push to create youth activists in schools. Under the guidance of a Coquitlam school counsellor, a group of BC youth researched plastics pollution and “plotted strategy” that resulted in a meeting with BC’s Environment Minister. Their request? Give municipal governments the power to ban single-use plastics. 

The group is a hodgepodge of students ranging in age from 11 to 17. One has to wonder how they happened to come together and whether they freely chose the cause they did? 

There’s also the metastasizing of climate lawsuits by young people around the globe. There was a recent lawsuit lead by Ecojustice, where seven Ontario youth took the Ford government to court alleging “the Government of Ontario’s weakening of its climate targets will lead to widespread illness and death and violates Ontarians’ Charter-protected rights to life, liberty, and security of the person.” 

Where did youth aged 13 to 25 get enough money to fund a climate-related lawsuit, and how did the seed for the idea germinate? 

Similarly, the David Suzuki Foundation was “supporting 15 youth from seven provinces and a territory taking the Canadian government to court for violating their [Charter rights by perpetuating climate change.”)

The Suzuki Foundation claims these youth, ages 11 to 20, are part of a global movement of young people holding their governments accountable to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The goal is to reduce global atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 410 to 350 parts per million or lower by the end of the century, by reducing Canada’s emissions and increasing carbon sequestration.”

Children are being taught the fear of climate change at a young age. Youth climate activist Greta Thunberg recently published a children’s book.

“Greta saw living creatures everywhere, struggling to stay alive”…“She saw cities swallowed under rising oceans”…“She saw the smoldering sun scorch the earth, leaving it bone dry”. 

The eco-extreamists are trying to scare our children into believing the world will end if we do not stop driving gas-powered cars. 

No one asks what the proposed solutions are or how what these children are doing as individuals to reach their objectives. Adults are not allowed to question the motivation of the kids or their handlers. Youth are expected to unquestioningly trust these activist’s knowledge of the complex subject matter, yet skeptical adults are expected to keep their distance because they’re “just kids.” 

There’s plenty of time to indoctrinate our offspring later. Is it too much to ask the eco-extremists keep their politics out of the classroom?

Deidra Garyk is a Columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

HARDING: How I was fined $2,800 for reporting on Regina’s freedom rally

“Police interference in media coverage and enforcement of political doctrine might be standard practice in some parts of the world, but not Canada.”

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Sixteen people were fined following their attendance at Saturday’s “illegal” freedom rally in Regina, SK. Despite going to the demonstration to interview the speakers and cover the event, yours truly was among those who received a $2,800 fine. And it happened despite clearly demonstrating to police that I was there for journalistic purposes.

May 8 say hundreds gathered for a freedom rally in Regina’s Victoria Park to hear speakers such as Maxime Bernier, Mark Friesen, and Laura Lynn Thompson. This was a newsworthy event and a journalistic opportunity not to be missed. The opportunity to interview these members of the lockdown resistance movement in person might not come again. As they left the event, I walked with my recording device in hand to seize my final opportunity to get a few quotes.

As the crew readied themselves to get into a truck for subsequent events, police cruisers showed up to hand $2,800 tickets to the three noted above, and another speaker, activist R. B. Ham. At that point I introduced myself to police as a journalist with the Western Standard.

I asked the police if I would have problems if I went back to the event. They suggested I not cut through the park on my way back to the bus. I walked straight down the street and encountered another two police officers, whom I asked the same question: “am I permitted to attend as a journalist?” An officer who had been taking pictures of attendees told me that decision would be made by someone higher up the food chain than him.

At that point I overheard R C the Rapper, who hails from Edmonton. When his performance ended, I interviewed him, walked down the pathway for pictures. We were almost out of the park when police confronted us.

An officer I had not seen before asked for my identification. I told him that I was there as a journalist and showed him my writing portfolios online. Then he asked me why I wasn’t wearing a mask or social distancing. I pulled the mask out of my pocket and told him that I wore it until I got to the park, but after people started staring at me, I took it off. It was a place and time largely reversed from government-endorsed gatherings at Costco, where wearing a mask – outdoors – made one stand out. 

There is no cabinet order from the Moe government requiring one to wear a mask outside; just an order not to protest. 

Regardless, the officer decided to issue me a ticket immediately. (The rapper also received a ticket there, as well as one at an event the following day in Saskatoon.) Oddly enough, as this was happening, Premier Moe announced that as of May 17, the allowable limit for public gatherings would rise from 10 to 150.

My ticket begs some disturbing questions. Are only government-funded journalists that wear a mask outdoors allowed to cover events of this nature without being ticketed? Is it only government-funded media outlets that deceptively say few people were at an event that was, in fact, attended by hundreds? 

Police interference in media coverage and enforcement of political doctrine might be standard practice in some parts of the world, but not Canada. Already, big tech companies censor and regulate dissenting opinion, and Bill C-10 is preparing the way for the federal government to directly control the content not just of online media like the Western Standard, but of individual users. 

Canada, and Saskatchewan, have entered a dark chapter that we are a long way from knowing the end of. 

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Political Columnist for the Western Standard

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