fbpx
Connect with us

Features

Manning Talks Western Alienation, Independence in Regina

Manning is touring Canada with his new book on Canadian conservatism.

mm

Published

on

Alberta and its energy sector languish under a Trudeau Liberal government. An upstart populist rival nibbles on the right of the Conservatives. Feelings of injustice and alienation fuel a Western independence movement. It seems a lot like the 1980s, and that gives Canadians all the more reason to listen to someone who navigated those waters. In his new book, “Do Something!” Preston Manning speaks to those issues while encouraging Canadians to get into the process.

“I feel that democracy is in trouble,” Manning told a Regina crowd of 100, the third gathering of his seven-city book tour. “The voter turnout is declining, and the number of people that just express just a lack of confidence in the institutions and in the parties and candidates.”

Manning’s book includes 365 ways that Canadians can make a difference. The conservative patriarch is 77 now, but has his mind on those younger. Whereas Conservative parties won one-third of elections in the 20th Century, he wants them to win two-thirds of the 21St Century ballots.

The task of reaching youth for conservatism starts with getting them interested in democracy. “If you tell it as a story that started 26 centuries ago in Ancient Greece…rather than as a sort of political science doctrine, I think you’ll get a lot further with the younger people,” Manning says.

Manning says millennials reject the left-right spectrum, which leaves politicos searching for some other axis they might identify with, such as direct democracy vs elite rule. 

A thoughtful Manning wonders why millennials working at Starbucks get 15 hours of training, but lawmakers get zero. Even a sausage maker gets more training than MPs.

“Making laws is a little bit like making sausage,” he paraphrased Otto von Bismarck. “You probably don’t want to know everything that’s in there.”

As for right-wing political recipes, Manning believes they do need to change from time to time. He mentioned the efforts of Reform, the Alliance, and then the merger with the Progressive Conservatives as federal examples, with the Saskatchewan Party being a provincial example.

Preston Manning signed a copy of his book “Do Something!” in Regina, SK

“You don’t want to do these realignments everyday, but every 10, 15 years if you can, look at the structure to know if we’ve got to change direction in order to be more relevant.”

Manning knows it’s tempting for the political establishment to look down on new populist parties. He says Trump and Brexit are examples enough to show why they ignore populism at their peril.

“The worst possible reaction is to ignore what they’re doing and saying or to be contemptuous, that it’s a bunch of ignorant people that don’t know what’s good for them, they’re probably people chasing after some charismatic leader, little leader with no more than glib.”

Manning says the Western independence movement is rooted in legitimate concerns.

“The basic root of it is that the West is treated unfairly in the federation, treated unfairly in the constitution, it’s unfairly represented in the federal power in the House of Commons – particularly in the Senate, and in the federal civil service. It’s unfairly represented with respect to Equalization and federal transfers and the joint provincial programs. It’s unfairly treated with its inability to get unobstructed transportation corridors to the Atlantic and the Pacific.”

Manning – whose father Ernest was Alberta’s longest-serving premier – is on Jason Kenney’s Fair Deal Panel. Manning says those concerned with Western alienation must determine what fairness looks like. From there, the broadest coalition should be pulled together to push towards those specific reforms.

As for independence, Manning believes “much more work has to be done by the people that are advocating secession to make it a credible option.” He believes that an independent Alberta and Saskatchewan would have much less clout than a united independent West. Besides that, a constitution needs to be proposed so people know exactly what this new country would be.

Although Manning welcomes political realignments, he wishes that conservatives worked less in silos and reached to like-minded organizations and think tanks and even between provincial and federal levels.

Preston is maintaining the Manning Foundation, but has released its networking conference to embrace a new identity and name. He believes conservatives would be much stronger if they networked even more.

“Right now there’s seven – nominally at least – conservative provincial governments in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick is hanging by a thread, and on a good day the CAQ in Québec, and PEI. If put the door knocking capacity, the fundraising capacity, the memberships of those partners together with the federal party you have the strongest political force in the country. It’s three and a half times the size of the federal Liberal party – if it acted as an army. But if everyone acts as a platoon, then we don’t have that strength.”

The Manning “Do Something!” tour will be in Edmonton Friday February 28, Victoria on Saturday February 29, and Monday March 2 in Vancouver.

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Affairs Columnist for the Western Standard. He is also a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and is the former Saskatchewan Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Features

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.

mm

Published

on

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
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

Continue Reading

Features

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.

mm

Published

on

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
makichukd@gmail.com

Continue Reading

Features

MAKICHUK: Secret war: China, US in AI tech dogfight

“It is the future of combat.”

mm

Published

on

A war is being waged — but nobody is getting killed or injured and nobody really knows much about it, except for the insiders.

It is without doubt that artificial intelligence, or AI, is the foundation of China’s People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) mission to become a world-class military, capable of rivalling its main adversary, the United States.

It is the future of combat.

Unveiled in 2017, Beijing’s New Generation AI Development Plan established China’s goal to become “the world leader” in AI by 2030 — and this obviously extends to military affairs.

In a major development in this field, for the first time on record earlier this year, an artificial intelligence system reportedly beat one of the PLA’s top fighter pilots in a simulated dogfight, according to a report by research analyst Ryan Fedasiuk for Breaking Defense

Chinese state media outlet, The Global Times, hailed it as a watershed moment in the country’s military modernization. 

An aviation brigade affiliated with the PLA Central Theater Command Air Force held a training simulation in early summer in which Fang Guoyu, a group leader of the brigade, was shot down in a mock aerial battle against an AI aircraft in a simulator, the PLA Daily reported.

“The AI has shown adept flight control skills and errorless tactical decisions, making it a valuable opponent to hone our capabilities,” Du Jianfeng, commander of the brigade, was quoted as saying. 

But almost as significant was the fact that it came just months after the US military had achieved the same milestone.

In a 5 to 0 sweep, an “AI pilot” developed by Heron Systems beat one of the Air Force’s top F-16 fighter pilots in a simulated aerial dogfight contest held by The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) .

The three-day trials showed that AI systems can maneuver an aircraft in a simple, one-on-one combat scenario and shoot its forward guns in a classic World War Two-style dogfight.

For years, experts have written of China’s plan to wield AI for battlefield advantage but cited US advantages in hardware and workforce development as sources of US strength.

As tensions mount between the US and China, and some experts warn of an impending crisis over Taiwan — China claims the democratic island nation as its own under the “One China” policy — US policymakers and defense planners are faced with the challenge of taking steps to defend the United States’ edge.

This past week, H-6J strategic bombers armed with anti-ship missiles practiced “island bombing” as the PLA Navy (PLAN), projected its nascent power in the disputed South China Sea.

More broadly, China appears on the edge of joining the tiny group of states that possess a nuclear triad.

According to a Department of Defense report, Beijing has accelerated its nuclear expansion, which may enable the China to have up to “700 deliverable nuclear warheads by 2027 and likely intends to have at least 1,000 warheads by 2030.”

On top of that, China “is building hundreds of new ICBM silos, and is on the cusp of a large silo-based ICBM force expansion comparable to those undertaken by other major powers.”

China’s navy, the PLAN, is now larger than that of the United States Naval forces, by a large margin — and getting stronger and more powerful by the day.

Meanwhile, China’s efforts to build an “intelligentized” force was recently detailed in a new report for Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), co-authored by Fedasiuk.

Many of the AI projects identified in the study are explicitly focused on degrading and countering systems at the heart of the US military’s Joint Warfighting Concept, using techniques like adaptive radar jamming and vulnerability fuzzing, Fedasiuk writes. 

Research papers from China’s defense universities even discuss using machine learning systems to counter specific US drone swarm projects like Locust and Gremlins.

What’s more, the PLA is backing up its ambitious AI development goals with significant investment. 

Despite the several-hundred-billion-dollar difference in the topline budgets of the US and Chinese militaries, countries are investing about the same amount in AI for military use — in the low billions of dollars each year, Fedasiuk says. 

Between April and December 2020, more than one in 20 public contracts awarded by the PLA’s main service branches were related to AI or “intelligent” equipment. 

In particular, the PLA is investing in AI capabilities meant to jam, blind, and hack the C4ISR systems (Command, Control, Communications, Computers Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) that bind US assets together. 

PLA units and state-backed research institutions have also awarded contracts for “microwave reconnaissance jamming drones” and “electromagnetic weapon” payloads that can be attached to swarms of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and flown into enemy airspace, Fedasiuk says. 

China is clearly not alone in the relentless push for AI weaponization — US technology is also racing ahead and it’s a lead it does not want to relinquish.

This week, for example, US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said the service hopes to give the secretive new Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider stealth bomber a drone sidekick.

“The B-21 is a very expensive aircraft. It has a certain payload and range. We’d like to amplify that capability it has to penetrate, which is valuable,” Kendall said during a Defense One event.

The Air Force has floated the idea of a “Loyal Wingman”-style drone that would accompany fighter jets into combat and operate with some level of artificial intelligence. 

The service is developing an autonomy module under the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Skyborg program and has already integrated and flown that system with the uncrewed Kratos UTAP-22 Mako and General Atomics’ MQ-20 Avenger.

But despite the PLA’s significant progress in adopting AI-enabled systems, there are at least two clear vulnerabilities in its blueprint, Fedasiuk points out.

First, while Chinese military leaders plan to exploit weaknesses in US sensor and communication networks, it is not clear how they plan to build resilient, cloud-based networks of their own. 

While the US military is susceptible to information manipulation and data poisoning, the so-called “Achilles’ heel” of the US joint all-domain command and control strategy, in a potential conflict, the PLA itself would also likely struggle to ensure the integrity of data used to train its own AI systems — to say nothing of the inherent fragility of AI-based computer vision and object recognition systems. 

SecondChina’s “intelligentization” strategy is entirely predicated on access to AI chips designed by US companies and manufactured in Taiwan and South Korea. The supply of these high-end microelectronics, however, is far from guaranteed. 

Both the US and its allies have already adopted several measures to starve Chinese military companies of the chips required to train advanced machine learning models.

China’s technology giants have been pushing to develop their own chips, with the goal to become self-reliant in the critical technology.

In reality, China is still a long way off even if it’s one step closer to self-sufficiency.

US Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offered some perspective on China’s technological advancements and subsequent rise to power in an interview this week with Breaking Defense.

“If you look at again, 40 years ago, they had zero satellites. Look at what they’ve got today. They had no ICBMs. Look at what they’ve got today. They had no nuclear weapons. Look at what they’ve got today,” he said.

“They had no fourth or fifth generation fighters or even more advanced fighters, back then. Look at what they’ve got today. They had no navy. Look what they have today. 

“They had no sub force. Look at what they have today.

“We’re witnessing, in my view, we’re witnessing one of the largest shifts in global geostrategic power that the world has witnessed.”

Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the Calgary correspondent for ChinaFactor.news
makichukd@gmail.com

Continue Reading

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Share

Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

1,097 signatures

No Media Bailouts

The fourth estate is critical to a functioning democracy in holding the government to account. An objective media can't maintain editorial integrity when it accepts money from a government we expect it to be critical of.

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

**your signature**



The Western Standard will never accept government bailout money. By becoming a Western Standard member, you are supporting government bailout-free and proudly western media that is on your side. With your support, we can give Westerners a voice that doesn\'t need taxpayers money.

Share this with your friends:

Trending

Copyright © Western Standard New Media Corp.