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FILDEBRANDT: Rick Peterson moves to outflank rivals for Western votes at Calgary stop

Rick Peterson faces long odds, but he understands that any path to victory runs straight through the unoccupied political space between Vancouver and Winnipeg right now.

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Give him an “A” for effort. If nothing else, Rick Peterson is making the most direct pitch we’ve heard so far from any of the federal Tory leadership candidates for Western support. The Vancouver-Edmonton businessman made a swing through Calgary’s Petroleum Club on Tuesday and he was swinging clubs that the other candidates thus far haven’t touched.

Peterson is introduced at the podium by his Calgary organizer, Craig Chandler. Chandler is a social conservative who’s lately been spotted speaking at Wexit rallies, but stops short of coming out as a full sovereigntist. Some fancy Tories don’t like him around, but anyone in Calgary’s political circles knows that he comes with a formidable organizing capacity. The room was filled mostly with Conservatives of the old Wildrose tribe.

Unlike in federal elections, Western support matters in the proportional representation model of the Conservative Party of Canada’s (CPC) leadership voting system.

To date, most Western Conservatives haven’t seen a lot of reason to be inspired in a race dominated by two big candidates from the East: Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole. Of those two, O’Toole has been most aggressive in courting support West of the Lakehead, landing the endorsement of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney last week; but other than proudly claiming support for the energy industry, there hasn’t been much in the way of substantive policy from the big candidates that should light a fire under anyone.

Rick Peterson came in 12th out of 14 in the 2017 leadership race, but is banking on the Western and libertarian vacuum to give him a fighting chance this time.

In a February Leadership Profile by the Western Standard, Peterson was explicit in his desire to take up the mantle of Maxime Bernier, now leading the upstart People’s Party through the wilderness.

At his campaign stop in Calgary, Peterson put a little more meat on his Western and libertarian bonafides. Some of it was genuinely bold, some of it milquetoast Toryism, some of it contradictory.

In the bold category is taxes. In his own words, Peterson said he would “viciously cut taxes”, and his specifics backed that up, and then some. He pledged to move Canada to a single, 15 per cent flat personal income tax rate.

Peterson then spikes the ball with a promise of eliminating corporate income taxes. It’s a wildly ambitious policy that would put him to the right of the People’s Party on fiscal policy, straight on into Libertarian Party territory. It’s bold in the extreme for an otherwise mainstream politician, but candidates fighting from the outside have to be bold.

Speaking of Bernier policies, Peterson picked up the mantle of the crusade against Ottawa’s Soviet-style supply management system. If Peterson’s campaign were to gain enough steam to challenge MacKay or O’Toole, he can count on the remobilization of the supply management lobby to keep the natural order of things. He promises to propose a detailed compensation and transition program at a later date.

About half an hour after losing the Tory leadership by a hair in 2017, Bernier half-jokingly told his campaign team that if he ever ran again, “there would be no compensation.” In short, there is no transition which the dairy cartel will accept.

In the meantime, Peterson’s pledge to scrap the cartel is a nice reminder that not all federal Tories are willing to blindly embrace a feudal economic model in the name of vote-pandering.

Peterson’s stance on the West’s place in Canada was strong, but a bit contradictory.

He repeats that he understands why many in Alberta and Saskatchewan have embraced the independence movement, and that their grievances are real. He even gives a shout-out to the Buffalo Declaration penned by Michelle Rempel-Garner and three other Conservative MPs willing to stick their necks out.

But then Peterson goes on to say – in effect – that he won’t act on most its core recommendations.

“Opening the constitution is priority number 29.”

Most of the Buffalo Delcaration’s core recommendations revolve around constitutional reform, like the Senate, House of Commons, and Equalization.

Since the courts have shut down any Senate reform without reopening the constitution, Peterson promises to appoint better senators. It’s a promise made by every Liberal and Tory running for the prime minister’s job since Sir John A. MacDonald, less Stephen Harper in his earlier terms.

While Equalization is in the constitution, changing the formula of its collection and redistribution can be achieved by legislative means with a simple majority in Parliament. Peterson’s “Equalization Reform” policy doesn’t actually touch on Equalization however. Four of his policy’s five points deal with the “Fiscal Stabilization Fund”, which would effectively turn Alberta into another recipient of federal largess in the short term. Only the fifth policy point on Equalization deals with Equalization, and it is to strike a Royal Commission to ask Canadians about what to do about it (Spoiler: the East says, “Nothing”).

Still, Peterson seems to understand that Westerners want to talk about it, even if most of the Tory leadership candidates don’t.

Peterson’s riff on Western themes continues to his promise to scrap the federal carbon tax. Sort of. He tells the room of (mostly) ex-Wildrosers gathered at the Petroleum Club that “climate change is real”, and that the other candidates “can’t win Ontario without a carbon tax policy”. For Easterners he says, “it’s a loser” to not have a robust carbon tax and climate change plan.

The regular interruptions of applause for his earlier statements were noticeably absent on this point.

Peterson tries to bring it closer to home. He says that he will adopt the carbon tax model of Alberta’s UCP government, which saw the consumer carbon tax repealed, but leave in place the NDP’s industrial carbon tax under the renamed TIER (Technology Innovation and Emissions Regulation). This might be Alberta UCP government policy, but it’s not a policy that its rank-and-file members are especially enthusiastic about being reminded of.

As is customary at federal political events in Alberta, Peterson showed off his (seemingly) fluent French. Judging from the blank faces in the crowd, it’s unlikely that anyone besides Peterson understood a word of what he was saying, but assuming that what he said was good, some politely clapped anyhow.

Most columnists – including yours truly – assumed that Peter Mackay had the whole thing sown up and was measuring the drapes of the Opposition Leader’s Office. Kenney’s endorsement of Erin O’Toole last week was the surest sign yet that there is significant discomfort in Western Conservative ranks with that theory.

Peterson still faces long odds for the top Tory job, but he seems to recognize that any path to victory for anyone not named Peter Mackay, runs straight through the unoccupied political space between Vancouver and Winnipeg right now.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher & CEO of the Western Standard
dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter: @dfildebrandt

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 2009-2014 he was the National Research Director and Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

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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