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BARNES: An independent Alberta would be less landlocked than a provincial Alberta

Drew Barnes writes that an independent Alberta would have more tools to fight its landlocked status than a provincial Alberta.

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Federalists endlessly argue that Alberta could never become an independent nation because it is landlocked. It has been since Ottawa created the province in 1905 without negotiating with the First Nations and settlers here.

While being landlocked presents challenges for a national Alberta, those challenges are not as great as those currently facing a provincial Alberta. 

How to deal with being landlocked is a frequent and fundamental question when talking about getting a fair deal for Alberta, as a province, or as an independent nation. While being landlocked is an issue, it is not the make-or-break issue for Alberta that federalists claim it to be. Instead, the federalists should consider how Alberta’s landlocked status could force it to seek independence if a genuine “fair deal” fails to be obtained. 

In seeking a fair deal, we should consider what leverage a landlocked national Alberta would have in achieving market access. 

As a province, there is little to no ability for Alberta to build adequate pipeline capacity. Politically and legally, we have run out of options. For more than a decade, Ottawa, B.C., and Quebec have blocked market access to the oceans that all functioning countries on the planet allow; that is, as a province. This is not how Canada’s founding fathers intended confederation to work in 1867, but it is where we are today. 

Peter Lougheed secured Section 92A of the Constitution with the goal of ensuring provincial control over resource development in the 1982 negotiations, but successive federal governments have piled on unilateral environmental policies to limit that development. Now, not only are we landlocked, we are policy-locked and regulation-locked. These are not geographic facts. These are political facts. And unlike geography, political facts can be changed. 

Federalists – both inside and outside of Alberta – point only to the geographic fact. An independent national Alberta would have no border with an ocean. They assume as a given that a post-independence Ottawa would build walls around the new nation and seek to starve it into economic and political submission. This ignores three vital considerations.

Firstly, most of Alberta’s trade goes neither east or west, but south. The Americans would be happy to continue trading with Alberta. In fact, our trading relationship with the U.S. would most likely be stronger than it currently is, hemmed in as it is by Ottawa’s obsession with Ontario and Quebec in trade negotiations. Without the need to protect Quebec’s supply-managed dairy cartel and Ontario’s auto and aluminum sectors, Alberta would be free to negotiate much more favorable trade terms with the Americans. 

Secondly, it would not be in Ottawa’s interest to effectively embargo Alberta. As much as leftist governments in Ottawa and several provinces might protest, they still need Alberta’s energy. Without it, energy prices across Canada would skyrocket.

Thirdly – and most importantly – Canada needs to trade through Alberta much more than Alberta needs to trade through Canada. If a vengeful Ottawa were to disallow pipelines and trade westward through B.C., Alberta could stop all trade in both directions between B.C. and Eastern Canada. Unless Ottawa proposed to build a wildly expensive highway and railroad through the Arctic muskeg and permafrost, B.C. would be turned into a proverbial East Prussia; that is, an exclave separated by Alberta and two oceans from the rest of Canada. This option would be untenable for obvious reasons. Ottawa would be cutting of its nose to spite its face to vengefully try to isolate an independent Alberta. 

As an independent nation, Alberta would have the legal and political right to play hardball with Ottawa to force market access. As a province, all Alberta can do is complain. 

Also, being a landlocked nation is no guarantee of doom. On the contrary, some of the wealthiest nations on Earth are landlocked. Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg are all in the top 20 highest GDP per capita in the world. An independent Alberta would place 11th, just below Switzerland and Luxembourg, and ahead of Austria without even accounting for all of the transfers that would stay at home. 

These three countries are landlocked by larger nations, but they and their neighbours understand the mutually advantageous benefit of trade. And as independent nations, they cannot be so easily bullied – even by Germany, France, and Italy – as Alberta can be by Ottawa. 

Many Albertans are ready to move toward independence right now. Some say that they are unconditional federalists. But many more want a fair deal within confederation that would see Alberta become autonomous, retain its wealth, and trade freely. And if this proves impossible, then seek independence. 

Alberta has the capacity to be the freest, wealthiest place in the world to raise strong families, strong communities, as a strong province or nation. It is up to Ottawa to decide how that sentence ends. 

Drew Barnes is the UCP MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat

Opinion

GEROW: Canada’s Libertarian leader bids adieu after fighting the good fight

“The liberty movement, the country, and myself personally, owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Moen for his principled, steadfast stand to make Canada a freer place to live and do business.”

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“I want gay married couples to be able to protect their marijuana plants with guns.” 

When Tim Moen was the newly elected leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada, his viral meme with this unforgettable passage garnered attention across Canada, and even overseas. 

His philosophy is a simple one of non-aggression and peaceful, voluntary cooperation. It can be boiled down even further to, “Don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff.” Unfortunately, too many Canadians don’t appreciate that sentiment. Since its founding in 1972, the LPoC has never won a seat in parliament, or even come close. 

Moen is an anarcho-capitalist and draws influence from the great liberal enlightenment thinkers from John Locke, through to the Austrians – Mises and Rothbard – and appreciates the work of present-day intellectuals like Jordan Peterson. He thinks winning elections will happen when there’s more people who share his philosophy, hence the LPoC’s focus on ideas for the time being, over electoral success. His strategy has been to inspire people, and he has succeeded in doing that; at least for myself.

He took over as leader of the Libertarian Party in 2014, has ran in several elections. He’s not a career politician and it shows. He’s genuine, caring, and real.

His influence has reached outside of Canada as well. He was the opening speaker at the American Libertarian National convention – to record breaking attendance – and he’s shared a stage in Acapulco with libertarian heavyweights like Ron Paul. For LPoC faithful it has been difficult to reconcile his popularity abroad with the lack of traction here at home. That hasn’t stopped him from showing up every day with his work boots on for liberty movement.

Despite the lack of electoral success, there have been victories. The LPoC had advocated for cannabis legalization since the party’s inception. Likewise for same-sex marriage. Both are now the law and are broadly supported by the major parties. 

Advocating for liberty in Canada is not easy. People have confused cumbersome bureaucracies – like the health care system and rent-seeking corporations like Air Canada and the railways – into a disastrous national identity crisis. Thanks to those types of institutions and the political class that have enabled them, the strong and free country that built them and incorporated them into the national fabric no longer exists. Tim Moen tried to explain this to people and was met with disdain, repudiation, and insults, even from some fellow travellers on the libertarian journey. 

Moen rolled the dice in supporting the candidacy of Maxime Bernier for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. He saw it as a rare chance for a libertarian to mount a real challenge for Canada’s top office, and it nearly panned out. 

In 2018, after years of friendship and collaboration, the two had a falling out over Bernier’s creation of the PPC. It appeared at the time the party might be finished. It would have been easy for him to walk away. Instead he muscled through the storms and kept the ship on course until he found a safe place to land it.

Moen will not be seeking re-election as party leader. It is a blow to a very important voice on Canada’s political stage. He’s not walking away from movement, and he says he will retain his membership with the LPoC. The small party will now have to elect his replacement. 

The liberty movement, the country, and myself personally, owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Moen for his principled, steadfast stand to make Canada a freer place to live and do business. Most Canadians may still not know him, but they owe him as well. 

Darcy Gerow is a columnist for the Western Standard 

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Opinion

SELICK: Skelly trial will demolish Ford’s justifications for lockdowns

“Will the judge have the courage to accept evidence that flies in the face of all the propaganda we’ve been fed for the past year and a half?”

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Remember Adam Skelly?  He’s the owner of Adamson Barbecue, the Ontario restaurant that refused to close down indoor dining when Ontario issued yet another lockdown order in November 2020. You may recall the videos of police arriving several days in a row to shut the place down, as Skelly continued to defy the order and enthusiastic patrons swarmed in to support him. Ultimately, Skelly was charged with six different offences, some provincial and some federal.

On June 28 and 29, his numerous charges will be heard in court. An expertly run crowdfunding campaign has garnered more than $338,000 to be used towards his legal fees and related expenses. He plans to make good use of it. 

Skelly is challenging the constitutionality of the legislation that gave rise to the charges. In my view, the lockdown and stay-at-home orders violate several provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, and the right to life, liberty and security of the person – to name a few. 

But the Charter also contains what I call the “weasel clause,” section 1, which gives governments the right to trample all over individuals’ rights and freedoms provided it can later convince a court the trampling was “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” 

This is where the big fight will occur. The Ontario government’s position is lockdowns have been necessary for public health purposes. Skelly’s legal team and expert witnesses are eager to demolish that argument. 

Ontario’s evidence is contained within a single 14-page affidavit, sworn by Dr. Matthew Hodge, a member of the province’s public health team. It contains the usual talking points that Premier (Doug) Ford and his minions have made throughout the pandemic, referring to guidance from the World Health Organization, and relying on 19 exhibits, including an article from The Toronto Star. If you want to finally find out what the premier has been relying on when he chose to destroy Ontario’s economy and bankrupt many of its citizens, these exhibits are the place to look. 

By contrast, the evidence on behalf of Skelly is contained in 10 affidavits from five expert witnesses (each witness provided an initial affidavit and a rebuttal to Dr. Hodge). The witnesses’ credentials and the subjects they have testified on are summarized in a video posted to Rumble. The evidence covers a broad range of issues, challenging each and every assumption made by provincial authorities in their decision-making process. 

For instance, the province advances uncritically the proposition that there had been 499,412 “cases” of COVID-19 at the time Dr. Hodge swore his affidavit on May 14, 2021. However, the evidence of Dr. Byram Bridle in his 48-page affidavit contains a detailed discussion of the flaws in the PCR tests that the government used to establish its case count. Anyone who has been reading alternative media throughout the pandemic is already well aware that the PCR tests were never designed to be used as diagnostic tools, and that they are being operated at cycle thresholds which even the famous Dr. Fauci has admitted will return large numbers of false positives. Dr. Bridle drives this point home with numerous cross-references to scientific studies. He concludes: “PCR testing…in the context of high Ct values (i.e. greater than 22-30 cycles), is an inaccurate way to diagnose cases of COVID-19. A substantial, but unknown number of cases of COVID-19 that have been reported in Ontario…were never true cases of disease.” 

In other words, the government based its actions upon false beliefs. Garbage in, garbage out. 

One of the constant criticisms made of Ontario’s lockdown policy by individuals such as MPP Roman Baber (who got thrown out of the Conservative caucus for his pains) is lockdowns have done – and continue to do – more harm than good. Bankruptcies, suicides, cancer deaths, crime and family violence have all risen dramatically since the start of 2020 and are now causing more death and suffering than the virus.

This is corroborated by the evidence Dr. Douglas Allen, an economics professor at Simon Fraser University. Professor Allen examined over 80 studies to perform a thorough cost/benefit analysis of Ontario’s policies, something the government apparently never bothered to do. Stated in terms of life-years lost, and using a range of assumptions, he calculates that the lockdowns cost the population somewhere between 3.6 years of life and 282 years of life for every year of life they saved. 

There are many more goodies in store for those who watch the hearing, including a discussion of ivermectin, an effective and inexpensive COVID treatment governments across Canada have steadfastly ignored. The existence of this safe, effective treatment completely undermines the government’s case that lockdowns were justified. 

Will the judge have the courage to accept evidence that flies in the face of all the propaganda we’ve been fed for the past year and-a-half? We’ll know soon.

Karen Selick is a Columnist for the Western Standard. She is the former Litigation Lawyer of the Canadian Constitution Foundation and is the owner of KeenEyesEditing.ca.

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Opinion

WAGNER: By delegitimizing Canada, the woke-left helps the cause of Alberta independence

“By undermining citizens’ attachment to their country, the leftists are helping to clear the pathway for an independent Alberta. If Canada is such a horrible place, then there’s all the more reason for Alberta to leave.”

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It’s somewhat disconcerting to see the way Canada is being portrayed by the left in 2021. Statues of major historical figures are being vandalized and torn down while the country is widely condemned in the media for “systemic” racism and discrimination. Canada, it turns out, is not the wonderful country we were led to believe it was. 

When I went to government schools decades ago, Canada was considered to be a welcoming and tolerant place. According to the new cultural leading lights, though, I was sadly misled by the government’s school teachers.

Jonathan Kay’s recent column in the National Post provides an excellent description of the new wave of anti-patriotism.

“Once imagined by the left as a light unto nations, Canada is now trashed in newspaper columns and the social media feeds of blue-check Can-con culturati as an incurably bigoted colonialist artifice. At the Toronto Star, one author recently instructed us to avoid singing the national anthem on Canada Day, and instead spend the day reflecting gloomily ‘on the many lives that the building of the Canadian state has cost.’ Another Star writer described Canada’s creation as coterminous with ‘intentional genocide,’ as if we were, and remain, a snowy version of the Belgian Congo.”

This, of course, is a very distorted view of Canada based on extreme “intersectional” ideology. Canada is being misconstrued in order to lay the groundwork for political change. It is historical revisionism of the worst kind. When the country is situated within a proper historical context – and in relation to the other countries of the world – it doesn’t look all that bad. But defending Canada in the current atmosphere could get one cancelled.

Alberta sovereigntists, however, might consider sitting back and letting the woke-left rip apart the moral fabric of the state that now appears to have become a mutual enemy. How can people who see Canada as an inherently sinister regime defend it against those who wish to seek independence from it? How can the Canadian state be an indivisible, sacrosanct light unto the nations and simultaneously be an evil, genocidal blight on human progress that must atone for original sin? It can’t. 

Anyone who really believes Canada to be little better than a crypto-fascist imperial state will be unable to mount a credible defence of its existence. In fact, if Canada is as bad as progressives claim it is, then they should celebrate its break up.

Years ago, Dr. Roger Gibbins of the Canada West Foundation recognized the argument for Alberta remaining in Canada was fundamentally based on emotional attachment to Canada. As the Globe and Mail put it in 2003, Gibbins described the case for Alberta to remain part of confederation as, “An affair of the heart, not of the head.” That’s because there are no credible economic arguments in favour of Alberta remaining in Canada. It was only love for Canada that kept the province in. But how can anyone love a country as horrible as the progressives say Canada is?

The economic arguments for Alberta to remain in Canada became obsolete generations ago. The remaining cornerstone of emotional attachment to Canada is rapidly being undermined by the country’s intellectual and media elites. Judging by the kinds of statements they’re making, these elites hate their own country, so they shouldn’t mind when Alberta leaves.

There might be a temptation to defend Canada because the extreme denunciations cast upon it are so obviously over-the-top. Instead, however, sovereigntists may just sit back and let it play out. The progressives are plowing the ground so that the seeds of independence can more easily take root as commitment to Canada is undermined.

In effect, the leftists are handing Alberta secessionists a stick with which to beat the federalists. Secessionists can now ask federalists – in tones of feigned moral indignation – “How can you defend an incurably bigoted country like Canada?” 

The attacks upon Canada as a systemically racist and all-round illegitimate state are sad. Hundreds of thousands of people from across the world pour into Canada every year – and millions more want to. Clearly, most of the world judges Canada to be a much better place than our homegrown leftists do. 

Be that as it may, by undermining citizens’ attachment to their country, the leftists are helping to clear the pathway for an independent Alberta. If Canada is such a horrible place, then there’s all the more reason for Alberta to leave.

Michael Wagner is a Senior Columnist for the Western Standard

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