In Ayn Rand’s most famous novel, Atlas Shrugged, thinkers and producers responded to a world of strangling state control by going on strike. As an ever hungrier government crushed enterprise while growing into an unsustainable size, producers vanished to a fictional hidden retreat called “Galt’s Gulch” where genuinely free commerce could be practised.
In today’s world of growing state control, Alberta has the potential to become Canada’s “Galt’s Gulch”.
While Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction, it illustrated (at sometimes painful length) how capital and talent will migrate to friendlier jurisdictions when the state becomes too oppressive. Communist nations were aware of this, necessitating them to go to such great lengths to keep their own citizens imprisoned behind walls. Despite the iron-curtain surrounding the Soviet Union and the harsh seas surrounding Cuba, people in these slave-nations still braved the risks to escape and create a better future for themselves and their children. The truly ambitious will always find a way.
While the world has only a few iron-curtains left standing, states are still pressuring their citizens and companies to a point where they are starting to seek out better environments in which to do business.
The exodus of people and businesses from California to Texas over the last decade has been nothing short of a landslide. California used to be an economic powerhouse within the United States but now ranks just 48 out of 50 in both business climate and regulatory burden. The result is capital and people fleeing en-masse for greener pastures. It’s estimated that 13,000 companies left California between 2008 and 2016, and that trend is only accelerating
California has passed the point of no return in ‘progressive’ economic policy. The powers that be know that they are driving their most productive out of the state, but they are so ideologically blinded that they can’t can’t turn back.
While California is losing companies such as Toyota and Oracle as well as people from Joe Rogan to Elon Musk, Texas is welcoming them with open arms.
Texas has retained their frontier, enterprising attitude and it is paying off. Rather than trying to force citizens into high-density population models, they let cities grow organically. This has led to a lower cost of living with a higher standard of living when compared to California. Rather than punish their conventional energy producers, Texas has let them flourish which has helped them attract capital and skilled people from around the world. Now while energy prices lag, Texas is still booming due to an inward migration of domestic refugees from anti-business states such as California.
There is no reason that Alberta can’t do this within Canada.
In the 1990s, Ralph Klein coined the term “Alberta Advantage”. That term was not referring to the advantage of having oil and gas. Oil prices in the late 1990s hit an anemic $10 per barrel. The term was referring to Alberta being a good place in which to invest and move to. We had the advantage of low corporate taxes and a friendly-business climate. That advantage paid off as diverse industries set up shop and located their head offices in the province. We were always much more than oil and gas.
With provinces and cities across Canada embracing the self-destructive policies as we enter 2021, Alberta is well-positioned to embrace economic escapees from those places.
With our relatively low cost of living, our pro-business attitude (for the most part) and a free commercial space developed and available in downtown Calgary, we need to be reaching out and bringing in the ambitious and enterprising from across Canada and the world.
We do have some local issues to resolve first of course.
Calgary has suffered under a decade of the bungling mismanagement of Mayor Naheed Nenshi and a city council that has been driving business from the city for years. They are as responsible for the ghost town in Calgary’s core as the world oil prices are. While we can’t change the price of oil, we will have a chance to fire the mayor and his council cronies next year.
We can then disband Calgary Economic Development which squanders the $100 million taken from taxpayers. With a genuinely pro-business city administration managing Calgary, the opportunities will be myriad.
Provincially, we need to lower our corporate and business taxes even further. Yes, Rachel Notley will light her hair on fire and claim that money is being given away. So what? An influx of businesses and jobs will deflate her hysteric efforts and in the long run, Premier Kenney will be able to position himself as the next Ralph Klein.
Enterprise across Canada is suffering. As with California, governments across the country will not back off policies that cause their businesses to flee them. Bike lanes, public art and local poets do not draw enterprise. Low taxes, reasonable regulations and a business-friendly climate do.
Alberta is hurting right now but we also have a huge opportunity in front us. We can capitalize on the post-pandemic recovery and become the last great refuge of free enterprise within Canada. It will take a political battle and a lot of courage on the part of the politicians, but it can be done.
Cory Morgan is the Podcast Editor and a columnist for the Western Standard
SPENCER FERNANDO: Imagine what the Tories would be saying if Trudeau had hired a former Huawei VP
Why would the CPC undermine their own messaging on China and put their supporters in a difficult position?
With the Conservatives struggling in the polls and growing reports of internal divisions within the CPC on the issue of Erin O’Toole’s leadership, one bright spot for the Conservatives has been their courageous approach to confronting China.
The messaging from the party has been strong, with them warning of the threat of Huawei, pushing back against China’s attempts to intimidate people in Canada, and calling out China’s genocide of the Uyghurs, leading to a moment of moral clarity in the House of Commons that exposed the cowardice of the Trudeau cabinet.
The Conservatives managed to fully line up with Canadian public opinion, take a stand for Canadian values, and bring other parties along in that noble endeavour.
And yet, they have since partially undermined themselves.
A few days ago, it was revealed the Conservative Party hired Jake Enwright to be their director of issues management.
Now, Enwright has a history in the Conservative Party, having worked for Andrew Scheer and Rona Ambrose when she was interim CPC leader.
However, he also spent about a year working for Huawei Canada, including as their vice-president of corporate affairs.
While it was a short portion of his overall career, the hiring of someone with Huawei connections is an odd move for a party that had made anti-Huawei rhetoric such a strong feature of their messaging.
Notably, Erin O’Toole has accused Huawei of industrial espionage and facilitating the destruction of Nortel.
“The rise of Huawei was itself facilitated by years of industrial espionage conducted by China against Nortel. Intellectual-property theft, counterfeiting and digital piracy are not exceptions to our dealings with China. They are the reality, and it’s high time our government and many corporate leaders realize that. We may have lost Nortel to Huawei but we can and must learn from it. Because if we don’t, we have to accept that another company will be next,” O’Toole said.
Additionally, a top Conservative MP was very critical of former Liberal Operative Morgan Elliott working for Huawei:
This raises the following question:
If Huawei is committing industrial espionage in Canada, if Huawei is a threat, and if a past Liberal political operative should be condemned for working for Huawei, then why should the Conservatives get a free pass when they hire a former Huawei executive to be a political operative for them?
If it’s wrong when the Liberals do it, it’s wrong when the Conservatives do it.
Just imagine what the Conservatives would be saying if Trudeau had hired a former Huawei executive?
We would be hearing how “this further shows how Trudeau is in bed with the Communist State,” how Trudeau is “betraying Canada,” how he is “selling us out to China,” how he “can’t be trusted on China,” etc…
And the Conservatives would have had immense credibility in saying this, because under O’Toole they have been much tougher on China than the Trudeau cabinet.
However, much of that credibility is wasted when they hire a former Huawei executive and just expect everyone to go along with it.
It’s also an insult to Conservative Party supporters, who are being forced to defend something that puts them in the embarrassing position of trying to justify something they would be condemning the Liberals for.
With much of the Conservative base already seemingly demoralized, the party’s strong position and sense of values on China was something to hold onto, but hiring a former Huawei executive takes even that away.
Now, the point here is not that Enwright is some sort of evil dude, as I’m sure he’s not. And I’m not a fan of cancel culture. After all, given my past involvement in different political parties, there are lots of people who see me as a hypocrite. That’s just how things go.
However, it is simply absurd that the Conservative Party can’t see how terrible it looks to make an anti-Huawei, anti-CCP message a huge portion of their offering to voters, slam the Liberals for Huawei ties, position Huawei as a serious threat to Canada, and then hire someone who held a high-level position with Huawei in Canada.
It looks like the same arrogance we so often see from the Trudeau government, who expect everyone to ignore how their words and actions rarely ever match up.
The Conservative base, made up of committed, hardworking, patriotic Canadians, deserves better than a party brass that takes them for granted and forces them to defend absurd and hypocritical decisions.
And all Canadians deserve better.
With surveys showing a clear consensus among the Canadian people on Huawei and China, all of our political parties should be reducing their connections to the Communist state and distancing themselves from companies connected to China.
When it comes to China, Canadians have spoken, and our leaders need to listen.
Spencer Fernando s a columnist for the Western Standard and the owner/author of spencerfernando.com from Winnipeg, Manitoba.
NAVARRO-GENIE: Joe Biden has killed the Alberta-51 option
“The AB51 option was always a long, long shot, but Joe Biden’s arrival may have driven a stake through its heart.”
About a solid third of Albertans steadily favour breaking away from Canada. That number has recently been as high as 50% (February 2020, Angus Reid). A minority among them believe that joining the US as a 51st state is the best option. But that’s not likely the case anymore.
The impulse to reject Canada is not new. It is as old as British North America and it is rooted in issues that flare time and again. Those issues have not been addressed to the satisfaction of most Albertans. One of these is natural resources. It took Alberta and Saskatchewan 20 years to wrestle from Ottawa the lawful ownership of the natural resources that Wilfred Laurier refused to them at birth.
Resources were then a source of dispute with the federal government, and that conflict continues today. It has become even more acute with Justin Trudeau’s desire further to subjugate Alberta to Central Canadian interests.
Trudeau’s energy and environmental policies have become new instruments through which Ottawa seeks to exert control of Alberta’s hydrocarbon energy resources. Under the alarmist guise of saving the planet, the federal government manipulates and chokes the development, extraction and commercialization of Alberta’s oil and gas through federal taxation, tanker and infrastructure legislation, and development regulations. Creating laws and regulations that do not apply to similar industries or even to the energy industry in other parts of Canada, Ottawa has blocked the further development of oil sands projects, the construction of more pipelines to distribute production, and the construction of new terminals to sell Alberta hydrocarbons in national and international markets. In short, these Laurentian controls attack Alberta’s wealth, and prevent its growth and development.
Conversely, Ottawa is happy to syphon Alberta’s wealth and distribute it in Laurentian Canada and in its policy-induced poorer vassals in Maritime Canada. Adding grievous insult to haemorrhaging injury, the Laurentian province most committed to killing Alberta’s oil industry – Quebec – benefits the most from the wealth transfers. They have received an average of $15 billion per year in the last 20 years. The federal government generously distributes money from the very industry they mean to kill to those working hard to kill it.
There is no shelter from this scheme for Alberta. The institutions of the federation have been rigged to make “the regions,” as Ottawa bureaucrats refer to the periphery, subjects and suppliers of wealth and resources.
Ottawa and its institutions set the rules by which the Laurentians exact their tribute. Multiple reform attempts have failed to balance the tilted equation, and these failures have convinced many Albertans that abandoning the abusive arrangement is the sole path to a better future.
The AB51 hope is that as an American state, Alberta would be clear to manage its own resources, pursue their development, build infrastructure to get its resources to market and keep a larger chunk of its wealth. The elected US Senate would guarantee equal and maybe better representation.
However, this option was largely predicated on the affinity of Alberta’s interests with the now extinct Trump administration. The Biden Administration’s affinity for a Green New Deal and a Great Reset shows the same hostility for hydrocarbon energy that Justin Trudeau’s Ottawa does. Immediately on arrival to the White House, President Biden shut down Keystone XL pipeline, reaffirming a commitment to adhere to the Paris Accord. The Green New Deal is yet to unfold, but whatever it may be, it does not spell good news for the Alberta energy sector. As a 51st state, Alberta would be subject to similar treatment from Biden’s Washington, or any other such administration with similar goals, as it does from Ottawa.
Alberta’s democratic representation might improve as a member of the southern federation, but the fortunes of its energy resources would only improve marginally. The American energy market would become a domestic market for Alberta. That would be good for the currently discounted sales into it, but that market’s expansion is highly threatened by the doomsday ideology of the Green Tzars who rule it. We have not yet seen the litany of barriers and restrictions that Green ideologues are capable of inflicting on the industry.
A future Republican administration might once again be friendly to hydrocarbon energy, but that would only offer limited reprieve. The industry would be just as politicised and subject to the same political ups and downs under which it currently lives in Canada. Alberta would still be subject to a faraway federal government, largely out of its control.
The AB51 option was always a long, long shot, but Joe Biden’s arrival may have driven a stake through its heart.
Marco Navarro-Genie is a columnist for the Western Standard, President of the Haultain Research Institute and Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. He is author, with Barry Cooper, of COVID-19: The Politics of a Pandemic Moral Panic (2020).
WAGNER: The struggle for conservative & libertarian ideas in North America’s universities
“Progressives like to talk about the need for “diversity,” but do students in the social sciences really get exposed to a diversity of intellectual opinion on controversial topics?”
In 1981, preeminent American conservative political philosopher Harry Jaffa wrote an article entitled, “On the Necessity of a Scholarship of the Politics of Freedom.” In it, he bemoaned the fact that leftist thinking dominated the academic fields of history, political science, and the other social sciences. Deterministic theories like Marxism were prevalent. These theories deny mankind’s metaphysical freedom, and he added, “from the denial of man’s metaphysical freedom to the denial of any right to moral or political freedom, is but a short step.”
To counter leftist ideology in universities – “the scholarship of unfreedom” – Jaffa called for a new cohort of scholars to step forward in defence of Western civilization’s historic liberties: “there must be a scholarship of the politics of freedom, one that stands in as fundamental an opposition to the scholarship of unfreedom, as constitutional government stands in opposition to totalitarian tyranny.”
There is good reason to believe that leftist thinking dominates the fields of history and social science today as much as in 1981, if not more so. Therefore, “a scholarship of the politics of freedom” is needed now more than ever, if the Western world is to be delivered from the left’s statist agenda.
Although freedom-oriented thinkers are relatively rare in the universities, there are some noteworthy exceptions. Despite the dominance of ideological progressivism, there are yet some conservative and libertarian political scientists, historians, economists, sociologists, and others in academia.
Although he died in 2015, Harry Jaffa himself was one of the most prominent conservative political scientists of the twentieth century. As a speechwriter for Senator Barry Goldwater – and Republican presidential nominee in 1964 – Jaffa wrote a famous line that got included in Goldwater’s convention speech of that year: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” That statement is still discussed today.
Generally speaking, freedom-oriented thinkers in the Anglosphere can be divided into conservatives and libertarians, then subdivided into particular kinds of conservatives and libertarians.
Some libertarian academics were very prominent in the 1980s, with professors Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman likely being the best known. Hayek’s 1944 book, The Road to Serfdom, is a libertarian classic. Also notable are his 1960 book The Constitution of Liberty, and his three-volume set Law, Legislation and Liberty, published during the 1970s. The title of the second volume is especially interesting today – The Mirage of Social Justice. Milton Friedman is particularly known for his 1962 book, Capitalism and Freedom and the more popular 1980 work Free to Choose.
Another significant libertarian is Julian Simon, a University of Maryland economist, who demonstrated in his ground-breaking 1981 book The Ultimate Resource – as well as in his subsequent work – that the single most important factor for economic progress is human ingenuity unleashed by individual liberty and free enterprise.
There are a number of libertarian think tanks that produce academic-level research. The Fraser Institute would be the best-known in Canada. The United States has many more, including the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., and for more radical libertarians, the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama.
There are well-known conservative think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, both based in Washington, D.C. And in 1979, four of Harry Jaffa’s students founded the Claremont Institute in California, which publishes one of the very best conservative periodicals in the English-speaking world, the Claremont Review of Books.
Also noteworthy is the Intercollegiate Studies Institute or ISI. Its purpose is to help college and university students learn and defend the principles that underlie Western civilization. It too, publishes helpful periodicals such as Modern Age as well as scholarly books.
Even the much-maligned social conservatives have some academic champions. Likely the best-known would be Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University and Professor Hadley P. Arkes of Amherst College. Among George’s many books is his 2014 Conjugal Union: What Marriage Is and Why It Matters (co-authored with Patrick Lee) which is a defense of traditional – i.e., monogamous, heterosexual – marriage. Arkes’ 2002 book, Natural Rights and the Right to Choose, articulates the pro-life position on abortion.
In Canada, the “Calgary School” of intellectuals offers a conservative and libertarian perspective, and has been previously covered in the Western Standard.
Despite the tidal wave of progressive ideology overrunning college and university campuses throughout North America, some beacons of the scholarship of the politics of freedom remain. Their books and periodicals are essential reading for conservative and libertarian university students, as well as for parents and grandparents whose children or grandchildren are attending a post-secondary institution. Having academic-level material that refutes leftist views helps students to scrutinize issues more thoroughly and thereby develop a genuine critical thinking capacity, which is a key component of higher education.
Progressives like to talk about the need for “diversity,” but do students in the social sciences really get exposed to a diversity of intellectual opinion on controversial topics? They will if they encounter works by the scholars of freedom such as those mentioned above.
There is a desperate need for Harry Jaffa’s “scholarship of the politics of freedom,” but it will only be able to flourish if young conservatives and libertarians avail themselves of current conservative and libertarian scholarship and build upon it. Hopefully readers of the Western Standard will encourage promising young people to take up this vital challenge.
Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard
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