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Global Warning is the must-watch documentary on the climate change debate

‘Global Warning’ explores both sides of the climate debate shaping our times, and its effect on Western energy workers.




Calgary filmmaker Mathew Embry set out to make a documentary on global warming that was fair with people on both sides of the contentious issue.

With his 95-minute documentary Global Warning he has certainly done all that, and more.

“It’s a film I wanted to make since 2008 when I started seeing problems developing in the oil patch and in Calgary and how it was being portrayed in the media,” Embry told the Western Standard in an interview.

Embry met with producer Peter Beyak, who shared a similar interest, and after some fundraising, the project was underway.

The issue is not a new one for Embry; his fifth-grade science project on global warming was an early sign.

Embry and his Grade 5 project

But the father of two knew it was time to jump into action and Global Warning is the end of almost a decade of work.

“I want my kids to live in a world that is [as] good or better than the one I live in,” said Embry.

“People have to be realistic – cheap energy is part of our quality of life. We need energy to survive.”

Embry describes himself as a “social justice” filmmaker whose past projects have included a look at the opioid crisis and multiple sclerosis. Up next is a project on concussions.

The argument about climate change has been ongoing for years. Some scientists say the research is obvious that climate change is underway and that mankind is responsible. Other scientists disagree.

The documentary provides both sides of the argument and wraps up with a debate between University of Ottawa climate scientist Dr. Ian Clarke and Catherine Abreu, the executive director of the Climate Action Network, which represents more than 100 different activist groups.

Catherine Abreu

Abreu, along with the Pope, has been named one of the top 100 influential people on climate change in the world. Clark has devoted 30 years to researching the effects of CO2 on climate change.

The exchange comes at the end of a documentary whose maker travelled the world in his research.

It starts with an ominous warning from controversial U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” AOC has said.

Embry notes the effect an international social media campaign has had in casting the Alberta oil sands in a negative light. Hollywood heavyweights, including Leonardo DiCaprio, have visited Fort McMurray and have been part of the campaign. DiCaprio said that the oil sands looked like a scene from Mordor in the Lord of the Rings.

Distressing scenes are shown in the film of the “chilling effect” of empty Calgary offices, and former politician turned radio talk-show host, Danielle Smith fighting back tears as she discusses a caller who was about to layoff 25 per cent of his workforce.

Calgary protest

About 25 per cent of downtown offices in Calgary sit empty after the world price of oil dropped because of a price war between Russia and the Saudi, and a chronic lack of pipeline capacity which effectively landlocks Alberta.

“This is not the city I grew up in,” says Embry.

Calgary environmental protests are recognized along with footage of a heckler being dragged away by Calgary police after interrupting a forum at the Global Petroleum Show.

But the oil industry is starting to fight back and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. – one of Canada’s largest producers – gave Embry “unprecedented access” to their oil sands operations to show what they are doing to help the environment.

Joy Romero, CRNL’s vice-president, Technology and Innovations, said the reclamation projects the company has done “look like national parks.” A CRNL worker is shown in front of a pipe discharging effluent into the notorious tailings ponds that have drawn worldwide attention.

Tailings pond

“It doesn’t look pretty,” admitted CRNL Manager of Mine Technical Services Todd Draper.

But looks do not tell the whole story, as Draper points out, detailing all the efforts made by CRNL are making on the environment protection side and cleaning up tailings ponds.

Embry said documenting the open pit mining by CNRL “was uncomfortable filming” and the scenes looked “surreal.”

“Mining is not pretty,” said Embry adding it’s difficult to show the 100 year difference reclamation will do for the environment in a single National Geographic photo.

Alberta mining site

Legendary oilman Gwyn Morgan – founder of EnCana – told Embry the energy industry is currently in “political purgatory.”

“Albertans are resiliant, they are hard to keep down,” said Morgan, adding he now senses Albertans have “lost hope.”

Gwyn Morgan

Embry argues the main problem Alberta is facing is the lack of pipeline capacity.

And while a large number of Indigenous groups support, and would benefit economically from pipelines, others are using treaties signed by the federal government in the 1700’s to make their case against them.

“It’s the white guys who make the rules,” said Raymond Owl, founder of the Traditional Ecological Knowledge Elders.

Raymond Owl

“We mean business. We’ve been too timid. What would you do if you had the government by the balls?

“Science is a farce, a theory. It’s not a fact.”

Embry notes the large quantities of oil imported into Eastern Canada because of the lack of a cross-Canada pipeline.

Embry drives across Texas, where close to one million wells are pumping and firing the state’s economy. The U.S. is now on course to be the biggest oil producer in the world.

Abreu is shown attending a UN climate change conference in Germany. She told Embry most of the information she uses are from the independent UN group Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Abreu is shown attending a UN climate change conference in Germany. She told Embry most of the information she uses are from the independent UN group Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

One of the key interviews in the film is with Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the original founders of Greenpeace.

Moore proudly shows off photos of the Greenpeace Zodiac getting between whaling ships and their prey, along with a photo of him protecting a baby seal from being clubbed in Labrador.

Dr. Patrick Moore

But Moore has now left the organization after it turned from a volunteer group to an international business with more than 2,000 staff.

He describe some of Greenpeace’s work now on climate change as a “racket” and have “manufactured a climate crisis.”

“I found it surprising a well known environmentalist has a counter position to the current environmental argument,” said Embry.

The University of Ottawa’s Clark noted there have been warming periods every thousand years, from the Roman era to the Middle Ages, to now.

“The science is never settled. Open debate is what we need to have,” said Clark, adding there is “zero evidence” of CO2 emissions causing climate change.

Dr. Ian Clark

“The hysteria is inbred and ingrained in the younger generation. They don’t have a clue what they are talking about.”

German climate scientist, and wind power expert, Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt told Embry climate action benefits countries like Russia, China and Saudi Arabia who don’t play by the rules.

Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt

He said it will lead to “exploding” energy prices and increasing blackouts around the world.

“The real players need to be at the table,” said Vahrenholt. “Other countries just won’t follow Canada.”

Embry said the part of the film that strikes with him the most is seeing all the wind farms across the length of Germany. “There is a vastness to it that is hard to capture.”

Geopolitical author John Perkins argued that Canada faces the real threat of falling into a crisis like the one that Venezuela is currently experiencing.

Embry argues a third way of thinking, a middle-way approach, is needed to help address the issue in Canada, which has the third largest energy reserves in to the world and some of the best “clean energy” technology.

“We can show the world how it can be done,” said Embry.

The documentary ends with Clark and Abreu arguing passionately their side of the story. Both agree, their hearts are in the right place. They want what’s best for their children and grandchildren. And that’s what Emry says he wants for his children.

“I hope people on both sides of the issue take the time to watch the documentary,” said Embry.

Global Warning is a must watch for people on both sides of the debate.

You can watch a trailer and buy the VOD here:

The main trailer is on Youtube at

It’s also available on SuperChannel in Canada.


When pacifists become fighters

Herbert Hildebrandt, son of Church of God pastor Henry in Aylmer, Ont., said his dad and the congregation showed that kind of leadership when confronted with the pandemic lockdowns.




Canadian economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said: “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”

Herbert Hildebrandt, son of Church of God pastor Henry in Aylmer, Ont., said his dad and the congregation showed that kind of leadership when confronted with the pandemic lockdowns.

“My dad’s preaching going, ‘Something feels off, but I don’t know exactly what it is,’” Hildebrandt told the Western Standard as he recalled steps taken by the Ontario government a year ago.

“And then, it’s week one and then week two, and week three, and then the narrative changes, and it’s week four. And then people were like, ‘Okay, hold on a second.’”

The congregation was ready for their pastor’s defiance long before four weeks became fifty.

“There was a grassroots driven push, like if you’re going to step out, we will back you up,” Hildebrandt recalled.

“The vast majority of the congregation was ready for him to take a step, and they have been consistently pushing him to keep doing that. He’s not acting as a lone wolf by any means. He’s providing leadership, but it’s also leadership that is being fostered through the congregation.”

Few Canadian clergy have openly defied the lockdowns and Hildebrandt believes he knows why.

“Instead of leaders leading, they’re doing the same thing in many churches that they’re doing in politics, which is governing by poll. So it’s polling your congregation going, yeah, they’re kind of 50-50. And I know this because I’ve spoken to some that have said that… And they’re like, ‘I don’t really like what’s going on, but we need to just sit this out for a bit. Now is not the time.’”

Some believers have opposed the church instead of the government.

“Some of our largest pushback outside of the political sphere is coming from churches that either disagree or do not want to get involved…a large group that is more than happy to do nothing besides criticize those that do. And some of that may be out of ignorance. And some of that may be because they simply just prefer to not have to do the heavy lifting right now.”

In an old Bible story, Queen Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life for unjust reasons. In his distress, he told God he was the last true prophet standing, but God said he counted 7,000 other faithful people.

“That same analogy goes for us and my dad uses it a lot. It’s that, you know what, God still has his 7,000,” Hildebrandt said.

“We’ve met so many wonderful new people that we never would have known without this [pandemic who] have really stepped out…from across this region, the province, Canada, and the world that we are now in constant communication and fellowship with, that has just made it worthwhile.”

A holy rebellion may be underfoot, he said.

“The government is just so far out of their lane; they’re not recognizing any sort of sphere of sovereignty in the church,” Hildebrandt said.

“Other pastors have risen up and said, ‘Enough’s enough,’ and they’re seeing the same thing. They’re shedding some people, they’re losing people. But at the same token, there’s many new people that are coming in and going, ‘I was looking for a godly leader. Thank you.’”

Aylmer Church of God has faced off against the government before. Twenty years ago, child protective services took the seven children from a couple in their congregation for a time because they spanked their children using a switch or paddles. Some families went to the U.S. as a result, and four families went to Chihuahua, Mexico where Herbert’s brother Peter pastored a church.

More recently, Hildebrandt has thought about his family’s journey to Canada.

“My family came early, right? When the first rumblings in Russia were going on in the Ukraine back in the 1870s, they went to Manitoba, and then Saskatchewan and other places,” Hildebrandt said.

“My wife fled the Soviet Union as a German expat with her parents at six years old in 1989 and was able to get an exit visa and get out…My wife’s grandmother spent time in the work camps. Her grandfather was taken to the Gulag for some time. They know all this. And I’m not saying Canada right now is where the Soviet Union was in the ‘60’s or ‘70’s, but it’s a scary, scary proposition to see how quickly we can get our heading in that direction.”

Harding is a Western Standard correspondent based in Saskatchewan

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The Second Battle of the Plains of Abraham: The critical battle you’ve never heard of

A critical battle of the American War of Independence was fought on the same ground in Quebec City as the decisive battle of the Seven Years War. And you’ve probably never heard of it.




Snow swirled furiously around the fortified walls of Quebec on that fateful night. It was New Year’s Eve – December 31, 1775 – and the Red Coats who defended the city were on the lookout for American troops. They knew the Americans were out there somewhere – the city of Montreal had already fallen to the Americans only a month earlier. But for now, the British troops in the citadel of Quebec couldn’t see anything beyond the blizzard. And that is exactly why the Americans chose that moment to strike.

Of all the days in the American War for Independence, that snowy New Year’s Eve stands out as a pivotal moment in the overlapping histories of Canada and the United States. If the events of that day had gone differently, Canada as we know it might not exist today.

How poetic that the fate of Canada would yet again be decided on that same field outside the old citadel, the Plains of Abraham. Only sixteen years earlier (1759) this battlefield had seen the final blow in Britain’s conquest of New France. Now, during the American Revolution, it would play host to a new crucial contest. Perhaps we should begin to think of this night as the Battle of the Plains of Abraham II.

To the American mind at the time, it seemed natural that the Quebecois would join their fight against the British Empire. After all, the British Conquest of Quebec was a relatively fresh wound. Since that time, the French-Canadians had lived under the rule of their historic enemy. Quebec would surely jump at the opportunity to throw off the yoke of their British oppressors. Many Americans expected the French-Canadians would greet their army as liberators. 

Before the outbreak of war, the Americans wrote a series of letters to Quebec, asking them to join in solidarity against Britain: “The injuries of Boston have roused and associated every colony, from Nova-Scotia to Georgia. Your province is the only link wanting, to complete the bright and strong chain of union.”

Later – during the American occupation of Montreal – the Americans distributed propaganda flyers promising that they were fighting for “your liberty, your honour, and your happiness.”

In hindsight, one wonders how many times that old American pick-up line about being “liberators” has actually worked. It certainly didn’t work on Quebec. Whatever hope the Americans had of convincing the French-Canadians to toss away the Union Jack and join their revolution, such hopes were dashed throughout the winter of 1775-76. Even before the fateful Second Battle of the Plains of Abraham, there were already clear signs that the Quebecois were just not interested in America’s bold advances.

The first challenge was religious. The Quebecois were French-Catholics and the Americans were overwhelmingly Anglo-Protestants. Sure, the British were Anglo-Protestant too, but by the 1770s they had learned a thing or two about how to treat a papist right. They guaranteed Catholic freedom of religion, including the collection of tithes for the church. They also allowed Catholics to hold government positions, which was not allowed in other parts of the British Empire at the time.

By contrast, the American soldiers who marched into Quebec in 1775 had little respect for the Catholic religion. Some American soldiers even desecrated Catholic shrines and churches. The local clergy soon learned to distrust the occupying army, and warned their parishioners to do the same.

The second challenge was logistical. How do you feed a thousand soldiers occupying a foreign city over several hard winter months? You either bring your own food or you take it from locals. The American soldiers seized the supplies they needed, understandably leading to further local resentment.

The British wooing of Quebec at this time was clear from the Quebec Act of 1774. The act dramatically expanded the size of the colony: to the east it included Labrador, and to the west and southwest it covered parts of present-day Ontario, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. This move benefited Montreal’s fur-trading industry and shut out American ambitions for westward expansion.

The Americans listed the Quebec Act among the “Intolerable Acts” imposed by Britain, alongside acts which put Massachusetts under military rule and allowed the seizing of colonists’ property for British soldiers. The Americans would surely overturn the Quebec Act as soon as they won the war. With both sides’ intentions clear, Quebec’s elites naturally preferred British victory in the war.

That brings us back to New Year’s Eve 1775. The American side was led by two officers, Benedict Arnold (who would later – and infamously – defect to the British) and Richard Montgomery. Their combined force had only about 1,200 troops. The British side numbered about 1,800 and they also had the advantage of heavy artillery and shelter behind the fortified walls of Quebec City.

The American attempt to take the city was a disaster from the start. They launched a two-pronged attack, with Montgomery’s forces attacking the south of the city, and Arnold’s troops attacking the north. The snowstorm at first gave them the element of surprise, but it soon proved to be more trouble than it was worth. Without cover, the Americans’ guns were fully exposed to the snow, which risked dampening their gunpowder. To make up for the poor visibility, some Americans lit lanterns which only made them walking targets. 

On the south side, the British noticed the American lanterns. They waited until the Americans were at close range before opening fire. General Montgomery was killed in the barrage, causing many of his men to panic and retreat. 

On the north side, Arnold started his assault after the British were already alerted to their presence. Arnold’s troops faced a barrage of musket fire, but they finally managed to enter the city gates. During the breach, Arnold’s leg was hit and he had to fall back. Arnold’s company was quickly taken over by Daniel Morgan, who led them further into the city where they had planned to meet up with Montgomery’s troops. Of course, Montgomery never made it that far, and Morgan’s men were left completely alone. A street fight ensued for several hours, but Morgan’s men were vastly outnumbered and surrounded. They eventually surrendered at 9 a.m. the following morning, and 400 American soldiers were taken prisoner.

Meanwhile in Montreal, American soldiers continued to occupy that city for several more months until British reinforcements sailed down the St. Lawrence in May 1776. Vastly outnumbered, the Americans fled to the south and their Quebec campaign was over.

By the time the Americans launched their surprise attack on the Plains of Abraham, they had already failed to win the hearts and minds of the Quebecois. The British had promised them the moon and won the cooperation of Quebec elites. The Americans’ crushing military defeat during Plains of Abraham II ultimately put a nail in the coffin of their ambitions for Quebec to join the revolution. Although the Americans would go on to win the independence of 13 colonies, Quebec would not be among them.

Most people have never heard of this critical battle, possibly because all sides would rather forget about it. For the Americans, it was an embarrassing early defeat that fits awkwardly with the patriotic narrative of their successful revolution. For the British, the victory was overshadowed by their devastating loss of the 13 Colonies. For Quebecois nationalists who decry Anglo rule, it may be an embarrassment to remember that when faced with the choice to throw off the Union Jack or keep it, Quebec chose to keep it.

Still, the long-term consequences of this battle cannot be overlooked. The fact that the British kept Quebec meant that they would continue to have a strong presence in the heart of North America despite ultimately losing the American War for Independence. From that foothold they could rebuild their English population north of the St. Lawrence and in the Maritimes, starting with the Loyalist Migrations of 1780s. Without that British imperial presence in North America, the state of Canada as we know it simply could not exist today.

And it all took place one snowy night on that little patch of land on the banks of the St. Lawrence. As it did sixteen years earlier, the Plains of Abraham once again determined the fate of empires, nations, and the future of North America.

James Forbes is the Western Heritage Columnist for the Western Standard

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WESTROCK: Whitesnake’s Hoekstra on his new solo album and recording during lockdowns

Ernest Skinner interviews Joel Hoekstra. He even plays a few preview chords just for Western Readers.




I had the chance to chat with Whitesnake guitarist Joel Hoekstra about his dynamite solo project Hoekstra 13. This is his second solo album after Running Games from Hoekstra 13 and it has been getting rave reviews from around the world since he released a couple tracks in advance of the February 12 release date for the commoners.

When I tell you the Whitesnake and Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO) guitar player’s new album is dynamite, it’s because it truly is. It is more work to BS your way through a subpar performance than to just avoid it altogether, so referring to the above, it’s seriously on the mark as one of the best new hard rock melodic albums I have heard in a few years.

Joel Hoekstra has a special preview for western standard readers

In case you have been in lockdown for the better part of the last 20 years, Joel is one of the classiest axe masters out there. He has toured as Cher’s guitarist, performed in Broadway’s Rock of Ages, and had stints with Night Ranger, but his claim to fame is clearly his stage presence and melodic mastery with Whitesnake and the TSO.

To sum up Running Games, it’s a very smooth and crunchy riff-oriented album with power vocals from Russell Allen, who many would agree is one of the best all-around singers in the world. Early on, Russ made a name for himself by belting them out with hard rock legends Symphony X.

Listening to the album, you are going to hear many great things, and an Yngwie Malmsteen vibe is one of them for many a reason. Rounding out the all-star lineup are Derek Sherinian (Sons of Apollo, Dream Theatre), Tony Franklin (Blue Murder, The Firm), Vinny Appice (Dio, Black Sabbath), and last but not least, Jeff Scott Soto (Sons of Apollo, Yngwie Malmsteen, TSO) on backing vocals.

The musical influences that Joel is fond of are apparent at times. In addition to his own style – which encompasses a vast library of sounds – there is no doubt that Satriani, Vai, Vandenberg, Viv Campbell, David Gilmour – and maybe even Ernest Skinner – are part of his musical DNA.

On tracks from the album “Fantasy” and “Reach the Sky”, I hear a Whitesnake-meets-Led Zeppelin beat, and Pink Floyd guitar tone at times.

To put things in perspective, I spoke with three world-class guitarists and had them listen to the album and this is what they told me.

Rik Emmett (Triumph): “There is an elite group of rock guitarists on the planet, a small handful of consummate professionals who can play with full mastery of technique and passion.  Joel Hoekstra is one of them. When it comes to the added value of stage presence, charisma, and physical style, he’s the total rock god package. Running Games is dynamite, but on the track (Finish Line) he’s a full-blown fire-breathing monster. There are arc-welding sparks flying off the guitar parts on this track.”

Sean Kelly (Nelly Furtado, Lee Aaron, Helix, Crash Kelly): “Joel is one of the best guitarists I have ever seen live; a perfect blend of melodic maturity and dazzling technical proficiency. I had the pleasure of sharing a bill with him in Oklahoma when I was in Helix and he was in Night Ranger. Running Games is an amazing piece of Classic melodic metal art with a modern production touch. It is delivered with all the taste and firepower we’ve come to expect from Joel.”

Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal: “[I] love this album and Joel! Joel has it all – emotion, virtuosity, identity; he’s a great songwriter, great showman, and he’s a great dude.”

Before you go and order the album and read my summary of my chat with Joel; check out this wild tune below and you’ll hear what all the fuss is about. I also need to ask: is it me, or does anybody else feel a Surfing with the Alien nostalgia via Joe Satriani with this animated video and Joes’ album cover?

Family Dude

Joel was just as upbeat as the first time I interviewed him. Sometimes you can sense that the artist is tired, bored, or just doesn’t want to repeat the same thing over and over again. Joel’s energy was ceaseless from the time he picked up the phone with a “hey dude”.

We didn’t just talk music, but also his family. The rock star is refreshingly grounded with his wife of 17-years and two youngsters, aged nine and five. Following in his old man’s footsteps, his nine-year-old son is currently into Iron Maiden. When asked what his five-year-old daughter listens to, he responds with a chuckle, “Frozen.”  

If you’re a guitarist and are wondering; he used about three guitars in recording Running Games. He used a Taylor on acoustic, a Strat for the cleaner parts, and of course his prized gold top Les Paul. The album was recorded remotely during the COVID lockdown, and Joel thinks it is the way to go.”It doesn’t put pressure on you playing in your own studio, as you play when you are in the mood”

I could go on about Running Games and Joel, but I have to get back to listening to it. Get your copy via Amazon, Apple Music, or check out his website at

On a somber note – please keep Rik Emmett in your thoughts tonight, as he told me his father passed away yesterday morning.

Ernest Skinner is the Westrock columnist for the Western Standard

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