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WAGNER: Anti-Albertaism comes from Eastern anti-Americanism

In both Ontario and Quebec, the ideal of Canadian identity includes a particular negative conception of the United States.

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There is a sense in which Albertans are different from other Canadians. This has been recognized by many scholars and other commentators over the years. One of the factors that some have indicated distinguishes Albertans is a similarity to Americans that other Canadians don’t share. This factor certainly would not apply to every individual Albertan, but it has been noted in a general sense. Being like Americans is, of course, considered to be a really bad thing by many Canadians, especially those on the left.

Political scientist Richard Avramenko of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has written about the identification of Albertans with Americans and its implications. His 2013 his article, “Of Homesteaders and Orangemen: An Archeology of Western Canadian Political Identity” was published in the book, Hunting and Weaving: Empiricism and Political Philosophy. That book – edited by Thomas Heilke and John von Heyking – was produced in honour of Barry Cooper of the University of Calgary – the foremost theorist of Western Canadian identity, and an internationally-renowned political philosopher.

In his article, Avramenko analyzes the federal election campaign that ran from November 29, 2005 through to January 23, 2006. During that campaign, certain attitudes about Alberta and Albertans were on clear display from two major political parties. Both the Liberal Party and Bloc Québécois played on fears that Albertans were bad guys, just like the Americans.

For example, in the midst of the campaign, infamous abortionist Henry Morgentaler was brought out to publicly declare the Conservative Party to be a threat to abortion rights. As Avramenko explains, “The Conservative Party, of course, was led by an Albertan, Stephen Harper. Abortion was not even an issue in the election, but the meaning is clear: Not only do these Albertans dwell on a lower moral plane, they are like Americans.”

More disturbing was the rhetoric of Gilles Duceppe and his Bloc Québécois. According to Avramenko, “pointing to the West, and Alberta in particular, as the enemy is de rigueur for Quebecers.” During the 2005-2006 election campaign, the West was “symbolized in Duceppe’s ads in Quebec by a cowboy hat over the word ‘Calgary.’ Albertans, Quebecers are being told, are outsiders, and, with their interest in oil, they are decidedly Texan Americans.” 

The Liberals, of course, couldn’t resist their natural anti-Alberta posture. Avramenko writes that, “then-Prime Minister Paul Martin invoked the anti-Alberta rhetoric during the campaign, suggesting the Alberta-led Conservatives had plans to create ‘two-tier healthcare,’ which everybody knows is code for ‘American.’ Anti-Albertanism, not surprisingly, is predicated on the same identity-giving premise the Loyalists and Orangemen brought to Upper Canada: anti-Americanism. Americans, after all, are gun-toting, money-grubbing, selfish, religious nuts, are they not? Just like those Albertans.”

Avramenko points out that the identification between America and Alberta has some plausible support. It is commonly known that individual rights and personal liberty were major themes in the American War of Independence. He sees some of those same philosophical emphases in Alberta. Accordingly, after America became independent it was left with “a tradition strongly imbued with liberty associated with self-reliance, personal responsibility, and rugged individualism. In this sense, Alberta is like America. The immigrants who arrived on the prairie were the tired, the poor, the wretched, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” In fact, many early immigrants to Alberta, were in fact Americans

Avramenko concludes his article by noting that what is known as “Canadian identity” is largely based on the experiences of Central Canada, especially the narrative of the French-English conflict. As he writes, “The effort to construct a national identity based on problems descending from this conflict is inappropriate for the West. Albertans have an identity – an identity that might very well be symbolized by a cowboy hat. It is not an identity and tradition needing to be invented, nor one for which apology is needed.”

An advertisement run by the Bloc Quebecois in Le Journal De Quebec in 2006.

Avramenko is not alone in making a connection between America and Alberta. Barry Cooper (mentioned above) also refers to the phenomenon in his 2009 book, It’s the Regime, Stupid!: A Report from the Cowboy West on Why Stephen Harper Matters. In particular, Cooper critically analyses the views expressed by Doreen Barrie, who also teaches political science at the University of Calgary. Explaining Barrie’s perspective, he notes that, “As a symbol, ‘America’ and ‘Americans’ loom large in what is wrong with Alberta and especially with Calgary, ‘the most American city in Canada’s most American province.’”

Cooper provides more details of Barrie’s description of the province’s image in this way: “Compared to the ‘pan-Canadian political culture’ Alberta supplies a negative stereotype, ‘as unsophisticated cowboys, as right-wing rednecks who care little about their fellow Canadians.’ They are social conservatives, homophobic, and against both abortion and ‘gun control.’”

As Cooper explains further, Barrie believes that Albertans need to change in order to become proper Canadians. This was amply illustrated when Toronto’s Globe and Mail ran the front-page headline, “Alberta steps into the present” after the Progressive Conservatives elected Alison Redford as their leader and premier in 2011. 

Part of this change involves adopting the same attitude toward the United States as Central Canadians holds: “The ever-elusive ‘national unity’ has been subverted by the friendliness of Albertans toward the United States. The patriotic duty of Albertans is to become as anti-American as Easterners, especially Loyalist Laurentian Canadians, and to do so in the name of national unity.”

In both Ontario and Quebec, the ideal of Canadian identity includes a particular negative conception of the United States. However, the anti-Americanism such an identity requires has never held sway in Alberta, at least not to the degree that it exists in the East. On this point, then, Alberta sticks out like a sore thumb and is excluded from a particular core aspect of “Canadian identity.” Generally speaking, there is a gap between Alberta and central Canada in how they view the United States. This is another cultural feature that distinguishes Alberta from much of the rest of the country.

Michael Wagner is columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include ‘Alberta: Separatism Then and Now’ and ‘True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.’

Michael Wagner is a Senior Columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include 'Alberta: Separatism Then and Now' and 'True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.' mwagner@westernstandardonline.com

Opinion

WAGNER: Central Canada’s decades-long attack on Alberta oil drives the need for independence

“Within Canada, Alberta’s economy will be smothered by anti-oil policies and general hostility to resource development. Outside of Canada, Alberta’s economy can flourish and supply much-needed energy to willing customers.”

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A new book by Western Standard Senior Columnist Michael Wagner makes the case that Alberta must become independent. The following is a brief excerpt from No Other Option: Self-Determination for Alberta.

Alberta is rich in fossil fuels, which are essential components for advanced modern economies. With the energy crisis of the 1970s, Central Canada benefited enormously from Alberta’s abundance through government-imposed low oil prices and an export tax on oil. Subsequently, as Alberta’s oil was later allowed to reach world price levels, the federal government continued to reap large financial rewards at Alberta’s expense.

Now, many voters in Central Canada want Alberta’s fossil fuels to be locked in the ground, supposedly to prevent climate change. What this would mean for Albertans is crystal clear: poverty and a future without economic hope. In effect, Central Canada wants Alberta to return to its status of a have-not province, like it was before the discovery of oil at Leduc in 1947. To see the future that voters in Toronto and Montreal envision for Alberta, simply look back to the economic struggles the province experienced in its first few decades. It’s not a pretty picture.

But there is absolutely no reason why Albertans should accept this fate. Albertans have the opportunity to determine their own future, and they should do so. Through entirely peaceful, legal, and constitutional means, Albertans have the power to choose a future of self-determination and prosperity. That is, Alberta can become an independent country.

Seceding from Canada to form an independent country is certainly a drastic step. But there really is no other option. Serious proposals have been made in the past to reform Canada so the West could receive a greater voice in national institutions. These kinds of reforms – with the Triple-E (equal, elected, and effective) Senate being top of the list – have been rejected and are no longer viable. This means Albertans face a stark choice between the status quo, with its inevitable economic decline, or independence.

Many people in Alberta are very hesitant to embrace secession due to strong personal and emotional ties to Canada. This is reasonable and completely understandable. There is much laudable about Canada, including the freedom and prosperity it offers to its citizens. Canadians also have much to be proud of in their past, such as the courageous exploits of the Canadian military in the world wars, as well as other conflicts. Indeed, there is much to admire about Canada when it is compared to the other countries of the world.

Nevertheless, Canada has been going in a rather unhappy direction since the late 1960s. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had a vision for a different kind of country that he did much to accomplish. It’s not a coincidence that the first efforts to create a separatist organization in Alberta took place during Trudeau’s first term as prime minister. Today, Pierre’s son, Justin, pursues a different set of policies that harm Alberta’s future. 

There is a lesson to be drawn from these two periods of Trudeau administrations: If Albertans don’t choose a new direction for their province, they will forever be entangled in cyclical periods of hostile federal policies.

In short, Albertans must choose between the status quo and independence. Within Canada, Alberta’s economy will be smothered by anti-oil policies and general hostility to resource development. Outside Canada, Alberta’s economy can flourish and supply much-needed energy to willing customers. This latter option will lead to prosperity for Albertans and their children. The choice is clear.

You can order a copy of Michael Wagner’s new book, No Other Option: Self-Determination for Alberta on Amazon

Michael Wagner is a Senior Columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Docs who speak out about COVID facing brutal suppression

Whistleblowers say doctors who disobey are investigated and face having their medical licences revoked.

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Doctors and nurses, the heroes who bravely stand between COVID-19 and Canadians, are being bullied, threatened and censored.

They’re warned: Challenge the COVID-19 narrative or reveal serious flaws in how the pandemic’s handled and pay a heavy price.

Whistleblowers say doctors who disobey are investigated and face having their medical licences revoked. 

Nurses fear being fired if they expose manipulated and inflated numbers or cases of vaccinated patients with COVID-19.

Physicians and a researcher spoke on behalf of many colleagues at a press conference on censorship of doctors, scientists and medical information held on Parliament Hill Thursday, hosted by Ontario MP Derek Sloan.

“Many people at high levels across the federal and provincial governments are misleading the public,” said Sloan.

He recently issued a call to medical and scientific whistleblowers. The response is shocking.

Medical professionals are viciously muzzled.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) issued an April 30 statement warning doctors against going public with questioning the status quo or revealing what they witness in hospitals and clinics.

The College of Nurses of Ontario forbid nurses to talk about what they’ve experienced.

Dr. Byram Bridle, associate professor and viral immunologist in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph, dares to question vaccines. 

“I, along with a large number of collaborators both within Canada and internationally, have developed serious concerns about COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.

He’s under brutal attack.

“I’m undergoing a very public smear campaign right now,” said Welsh, adding he also receives hundreds of supportive emails from across Canada and the world.

“Since the pandemic was declared, I’ve been trying to serve as a voice of objective, scientific opinion so that the public can make the most informed decisions for themselves possible when it comes to issues related to COVID-19,” said Bridle.

“I’m a publicly-funded servant. You pay for me, Canadians, with your tax dollars.”

In an interview, he was asked if there’s a link between COVID-19 vaccines and cases of heart inflammation in young males. The connection was recently flagged in Israeli studies.

Bridle, a vaccinologist whose research program is based on development of novel vaccines, said it’s possible.

“After the interview, five minutes, it was like a nuclear bomb went off in my world. My life was thrown upside down. I’m sure my life will never be the same again,” he said. 

A fake Twitter account slanders him. Calls and email attacks continue daily.

He’s harassed by some work colleagues. Fortunately, the University of Guelph administration supports him.

Bridle wrote a comprehensive guide for parents to make informed decisions about vaccinating their children.

“I accept that early in the pandemic and when we first rolling out these vaccines we’ve had to largely work based on assumptions. The scientific literature has exploded over the last 16 months. We understand so much more. Now we’re looking at vaccinating children and it’s no longer OK to proceed based on assumptions,” he said.

Proper studies haven’t been conducted, he warned.

“Mass vaccination of millions of healthy Canadian children demands that the level of safety associated with this, the assessed safety profile has to be exceptionally high,” he said.

“By expressing this my career may very well have been destroyed. It’s incomprehensible to me that this has happened.

“I don’t recognize the country that I was born into.”

However, warnings like that issued by the CPSO backfire.

“Doctors, nurses, scientists and other medical experts have indeed reached out to me through various channels to tell me their stories.” said Sloan.

“These honest and hardworking doctors are fully galvanized against the regressive, authoritarian overreach of the CPSO and other similar governing bodies.

“The purpose of governing bodies like the CPSO is to protect the public, not to stifle legitimate scientific inquiry or dissent by professional doctors.”

Dr. Patrick Phillips, an Ontario family and emergency physician went public after seeing his patients suffering “massive harms” from lockdowns, including those with advanced cancer walking into emergency.

“I’ve never seen so many suicidal children,” said Phillips.

The letter from the CPSO is “chilling,” he said.

“It basically saying it’s the professional responsibility of all physicians not to communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti-distancing, and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19,” he said.

He’s one of many physicians under investigation, facing his medical licence being revoked for promoting treatments like Vitamin D and Ivermectin, both proven to work in numerous trials.

“There’s something bigger than my medical career at this point because lives are being lost and we need to speak out.”

Dr. Don Welsh, a PhD and professor of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Western Ontario, laments physicians under attack.

“This behaviour’s unacceptable in Canada,” he said emotionally.

“We have been told by the public health community to follow the science. I want to be clear – science hasn’t been functioning properly the last 13 months as we address COVID-19.”

Welsh called for “full and robust Royal Commission to publicly address the many flaws that underlie this public response” to COVID-19.

Canadians also need to know who tells tyrants to issue shut-up decrees. 

Where’s Dr. Theresa Tam? Silent.

Odd, you’d think Canada’s chief public health officer would leap to the defense of besieged medical professionals.

Slobodian is a Manitoba based columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

FROM: Property rights advocates should think twice about an Alberta constitution

“While there is merit to enshrining property rights in a potential new Alberta constitution, there are cautions that Albertans should consider first.”

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Canada is nearly alone in the world as a liberal democracy having a written constitution lacking any explicit protection for property rights.  Albertans- many of whom are weary of confederation – have often bandied about the idea of a provincial constitution protecting property rights. While there is merit to enshrining property rights in a potential new Alberta constitution, there are cautions that Albertans should consider first.

Property rights are already protected by the common law. For example, in 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada said, “Anglo-Canadian jurisprudence has traditionally recognized, as a fundamental freedom, the right of the individual to the enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof, or any interest therein, save by due process of law.”

But the common law lacks the power of entrenched constitutional protection because any Canadian legislature could modify it by ordinary statute.

In 1978, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s government introduced Bill C-60, the Constitutional Amendment Act, in parliament.  The bill contained a guarantee of, “the right of the individual to the use and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with law.”

This may be a verboten topic in the West, but Trudeau (The First) even tried to have property rights included in the Charter in 1982. This was opposed — no surprise — by the NDP, special interest groups and others. The Liberal government eventually gave up trying.

But maybe that was a good thing. Constitutionally entrenching property rights has long been the goal of many on the political right, but is it the panacea many assume?

The Americans have explicit protection for property in their constitution’s Bill of Rights, and they have the advantage of a rich intellectual tradition acknowledging the moral and instrumental value of property rights. Nevertheless, their courts have whittled it away, piece by piece, until property rights have become wrought with caveats and exemptions borne of a similar rights balancing approach upon which our courts rely.

There is also a question regarding how effectively a province could protect property rights on its own. If Alberta were to entrench its own protection for property rights, it would apply only to the provincial government and municipalities. It would not prevent the federal government – which would not be bound by Alberta’s constitution – from continuing to violate our property rights. 

A perfect example of this was demonstrated earlier this year when the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the federal carbon tax legislation, which greatly interferes with the property rights of Albertans. Unless something entirely unforeseen changes, Albertans will be forever powerless to stop this sort of federal violation of property rights. Entrenching property rights in an Alberta constitution will have no bearing on any federal violations.   

And lastly, the term “property rights” means something very specific to its advocates, but not to everyone. It’s a vague and uncertain term. Generally, advocates mean legal authority to possess, control, exclude and transfer an interest in something tangible, like land or chattels.  But there are others who believe property rights should include socio-economic rights to education, healthcare, pensions and other benefits. This is a debate Albertans have never thoroughly had, and thankfully our courts have shown reluctance to adopt socio-economic rights without that debate.

And lastly, if Alberta did entrench property rights, are we naive enough to believe all currently existing legislation would not be immediately grandfathered? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is a very good chance that nothing would change.

In my view, property is both a moral and legal concept foundational to the success of all free and prosperous societies. Governments should be greatly circumscribed in their authority to take or devalue property. But this is a complicated topic, and property rights should not be entrenched on a whim.

Derek From is Columnist for the Western Standard and an associate lawyer with WKA Lawyers

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