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MORGANTE: Recall elections are not the answer

“Initiatives would worsen political myopia, fail to promote accountability.”

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Recall elections date back to the Roman Republic and have supporters on both ends of the ideological spectrum, from James Madison to Karl Marx. The initiative for responsive democracy has unified voters in Alberta, but they should reject it as a distraction.

Citizens of various inclinations have banded together to protest the hypocrisy of senior United Conservative Party (UCP) officials who ignored their own recommendations and went on Christmas vacation. One minister resigned, five  Members of the Alberta Legislative Assembly (MLAs) face minor disciplinary action, and several staffers were fired (with generous severance packages).

In the February 2020 Throne Speech and in Premier Jason Kenney’s 2019 electoral campaign, the UCP promised to enact recall elections. Rather than wait years, voters could petition for swift removal. 

Kenney has characterized recall elections as an “instrument of accountability.” However, British Columbia is the only province with a recall act, and it has proved feckless. Of 26 petitions, not one has (officially) succeeded.

Despite this most recent Alberta example of the hypocrisy of politicians and justified public outrage, the bigger issue is that of short-termism and our descent towards mob rule. 

Amid cancel culture and intense scrutiny, public officials already walk on eggshells – lest they become another Derek Sloan or Stockwell Day. Do we want to embolden the mob with another brick to throw?

As economist Thomas Sowell has written, “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” By worsening the tendency of politics to devolve into mob rule, we risk regime uncertainty, infrastructure neglect, and capital flight.

A recall act would exacerbate a vulnerability of Western politicians: short political-time horizons. Edge of Chaos author Dambisa Moyo offers a critique of the short-termism embedded in liberal democracy and how it stifles economic growth. 

In behavioural economics, present bias refers to people’s preference for payoffs closer to the present when contemplating tradeoffs between two future moments. Immediate gratification trumps what is best for future generations. Since politicians are usually in office for five years or less, they curry favour with the electorate and campaign donors rather than address long-term policy concerns.

Consider Social Security in the United States, which Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman referred to as “the biggest Ponzi scheme on Earth.” This widely supported but unsustainable policy epitomizes voters’ predilection for populist pandering.

To circumvent this political myopia, Moyo proposes extending term limits to better align with economic cycles (five to seven years). Singapore’s public-sector corporate governance, for example, increases accountability and rewards politicians for long-term thinking. This includes bonuses or clawbacks based on economic performance.

Politicians face difficult choices, and recall elections worsen the tyranny of majority rule. Restraining social-service spending in the face of unprecedented national debt, for example, would be prudent but could be unpopular enough to spark a recall. 

Consider Colorado, where in 2013 voters in two districts for the first time recalled their state senators. Neither had been accused of malfeasance, illegal activities, or misconduct. The recall was politically motivated; the senators had voted to limit gun rights.

Political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels of Princeton University say the public has a hard time attributing responsibility in times of crisis. Voters often reward or punish representatives for things they are not responsible for, such as natural disasters. Former President Donald Trump took heat for COVID-19, which originated outside the United States. Similarly, Barack Obama suffered from the 2008 financial crisis, which preceded his inauguration.

The ability to recall a politician is alluring, but be careful what you wish for. Western society suffers from condensed news cycles, daily swings in opinion, and the vagaries of political correctness. We need politicians and policies that ignore the ephemeral news stories and contemplate long-term consequences. Recall elections sound wonderful in theory but are deleterious in practice.

Caitlin Rose Morgante is a columnist for the Western Standard

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  1. Bert McFadyen

    March 23, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Would a better idea not be to establish a Second legislature with defined long term objectives, populated by Senior elected representatives of sober second thought representing districts without the popularist, non responible existing Legislature. Call ir what you like but in the Republic to our South, it is called a senate and each State has one. Maybe then we could, in good conscience, demand a EEE Senate in Ottawa before the elitist, progressives.OVERRULE all of our non urban lands and people!!!!!!!!

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Opinion

MORGAN: Trudeau’s radical new environment minister prepares to kill the West’s energy sector

“Justin Trudeau never made a secret of his ambitions to be known to posterity as The Prime Minister Who Saved The World from Climate Change.”

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The world is in the grips of an energy crisis.

Decades of well-meaning but naive energy transition efforts in developed nations have created a fragile world energy grid that is now faltering.

While Germany was once celebrated as a world leader in renewable green energy, coal has returned to the top spot as their source of electricity generation, while electricity prices have risen 500% in Europe. India and China are increasing coal production and are in a bidding war for Russian natural gas. Energy price spikes are feeding a rising cost of living, which in turn is impacting the standard of living for the entire planet.

It’s not even winter yet.

So how is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responding to this looming energy catastrophe? Will he help facilitate the production and export of ethical Canadian energy products in order to ease the burden on our European and Asian customers? Will he ease regulations on Canada’s petrochemical sector in order to mitigate domestic inflationary pressures as energy production increases? Will Trudeau applaud Western Canadian energy production as a means of employing Canadians while paying for COVID-19 measures?

Of course not.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his new cabinet appointments to signal that he is declaring an all-out war upon conventional energy generation in Canada. In appointing radical enviornmentalist Steven Guilbeault to the position of environment minister, Trudeau is making it clear he has no interest in allowing Canada’s petrochemical sector to continue upon its path to net-zero emissions. The prime minister wants to shut down the fossil fuel industry altogether — and he wants to do it soon.

For those unfamiliar with Steven Guilbeault’s history, he has been involved in extreme environmental actions for decades. In 2001, Guilbeault was arrested and charged for hanging from the CN Tower in Toronto in a Greenpeace protest. His act put emergency responders in real danger. Guilbeault was involved with a group of protestors who terrorized then Alberta Premier Ralph Klein’s family as they climbed upon the roof of the premier’s home as a protest stunt in 2002. Guilbeault is not a run of the mill environmental activist; he is from the extreme fringe of activists.

Government cabinets are very carefully selected. The people chosen to fill cabinet roles represent the direction the government plans to go in. Justin Trudeau never made a secret of his ambitions to be known to posterity as The Prime Minister Who Saved The World from Climate Change. The cabinet selections of Tuesday make clear that Trudeau no longer wants to just talk and tax about climate change; he wants to act. Westerners had best take heed.

With six years in office as prime minister, Trudeau has little he can point to as an established legacy besides a crippling debt that will last generations. The clock is ticking and if nothing changes, he will be remembered as being little aside from a vacuous placeholder with a famous name in the Prime Minister’s Office. Justin Trudeau’s almost debilitating vanity is well established. He does not want to go out that way, and he plans to make battling climate change his legacy.

While battling climate change could be accomplished though mitigating efforts such as carbon-capture and selling clean burning natural gas to the world, in appointing Guilbeault as Canada’s environment minister Trudeau made it clear he wants to fight climate change through shutting down Canada’s fossil fuel and petrochemical sector. Guilbeault has expressly stated that it is is goal, and it was no mistake that Trudeau gave him the authority to do it.

Trudeau has been candid in stating he doesn’t pay attention to monetary policy and fiscal issues. He doesn’t care that the world is in an energy crisis and doesn’t understand what shutting down Canada’s petrochemical industry will do to the economy. Trudeau’s foresight doesn’t extend beyond his own nose and all he’s envisioning is being enshrined as the crusader who defeated the hated oil industry.

Alberta should be the leading province standing up for and defending the energy sector against an ideologically driven federal government. Unfortunately, Premier Jason Kenney has proven himself to be long on talk and short on action when it comes to standing up to Ottawa. Kenney is also now distracted with a breaking sexual harassment lawsuit against one of his cabinet ministers. He won’t have the time to mount a spirited defense of Alberta’s industries, nor does he have the public support to be taken seriously in such a defence. Western Canadian energy companies and workers are vulnerable and Trudeau knows it.

There will be no help coming from our new federal natural resources minister either. Minister Jonathan Wilkanson comes from a history of renewable energy development. He will be tickled pink to see petrochemical companies driven from Canada’s economy.

The chill is already happening. Getting investment into Canadian conventional energy projects was already a tough task due to Ottawa’s hostility towards the sector. In light of the new federal cabinet in Ottawa, finding investment will be nearly impossible. Would you invest in a Canadian energy project when the prime minister has appointed a cabinet determined to shut down the industry?

The only advice I can offer to Canadians right now is to buckle in and get ready for a rough ride. Trudeau will be attending the 26th UN Climate Conference in Glasgow next week and he will be strutting. You can imagine Trudeau will be bragging to them all about how he will be setting up Canada as an example on how to battle climate change. Trudeau has always had trouble being taken seriously by other world leaders. He sees this as an opportunity to set himself up as a player on the world stage.

When Justin Trudeau gets back from the Glasgow summit, watch out. He has loaded the gun with his new cabinet. He will be fired up and ready to shoot and the first target will be Alberta.

Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and Host of the Cory Morgan Show

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Manitoba Tory election about substance, not gender

Stefanson appears to be the favorite, having garnered the backing of the majority of caucus before Glover entered the race.

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Manitoba’s next premier will be named Saturday when the governing PC party’s new leader is chosen.

Candidates Shelly Glover, 54, and Heather Stefanson, 51, are both seasoned politicians.

Much breathless ado has been made over the fact the province’s next premier will be a woman; which is somewhat baffling considering that glass ceiling was already shattered with subsequent performances offering not a lot to boast about.

Think Alberta and Ontario. But that can be attributed to party affiliation and accompanying destructive policies, as much as abysmal leadership failure that harmed both provinces.

It’s about substance, not gender.

Roughly 24,000 Manitoba PC party members eligible to vote cast their ballots by mail or delivery to the party’s Winnipeg office.

The results will be announced during an in-person event at Winnipeg’s Victoria Inn, allowing limited attendees who all must be fully vaccinated. So, to be clear, unvaccinated votes are most welcome, but those who cast them, stay away.

And that brings us to a core issue the candidates differ on that is paramount in the minds of voting members: getting through COVID and mandates in place.

“I believe no one should lose their job because of their personal health decision,” said Stefanson — who served as health minister until she bailed to run for the leadership — in reference to vaccination requirements.

Yet she staunchly supports the strict COVID mandates and compulsory vaccinations she helped put in place that are causing people, including front-line health workers, to lose their jobs.

Glover said alternatives must be found to mandatory vaccinations because reducing the number of employees caring for patients isn’t an option.

Shelley Glover. Courtesy CBC

She promised no more vilifying or firing the unvaccinated, or blanket lockdowns for small and medium-sized businesses.

In fact, Glover said former premier Brian Pallister’s “tyranny is over” for both Manitobans and MLAs he kept on a tight leash.

Stefanson appears to be the favorite, having garnered the backing of the majority of caucus before Glover entered the race. However, political pundits opine Glover shouldn’t be counted out.

On the surface the race has been amicable. There was a wee back and forth over Stefanson’s claim that Glover would fire or try to oust MLAs who didn’t support her. Glover challenged her to prove it. She didn’t.

Stefanson, the establishment candidate, was first elected in Tuxedo in 2000. She has served as deputy premier, justice minister, minister of families, and most recently as health minister when appointed January 2021.

Glover, embraced as the grassroots candidate, is a 28-year Winnipeg Police Service veteran.

She was elected as a member of Parliament in the 2008 federal election and served the Saint Boniface riding until 2015. She was a member of the Privy Council of Canada and served as heritage minister.

The membership also weighed both candidate’s stands on strengthening the economy, education, and health care systems; building better relations with the province’s indigenous groups; and supporting business.

The winner, to be sworn in at a later date, will replace interim Premier Kelvin Goertzen who took over when Pallister resigned as premier September 1.

Whoever emerges victorious faces the formidable task of reviving support for a party losing ground to the NDP.

And regaining the trust of Manitobans.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

MAKICHUK: Trudeau shows true colours with transfer slap in the face to Alberta

The Eastern Laurentian elites will continue to screw us over. It will never stop. 

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He mocked us.

He mocked us, he mocked us.

That Jack-in-Office at the PMO threw dirt as good, hard-working, God-fearing Albertans trundled off to the polls to have their say on transfer payments that have soaked us dry of billions of oil patch dollars for decades.

The very man who, in recent years, has spent more time in the ethics office than any other politician in Canada, had the absolute gall to marginalize our province, and our premier, by saying the issue was “incredibly political.”

Regardless of how they voted (Elections Alberta reported 61.7% of voters said “yes,” to ending Equalization, with 38.3% checking “no”), they had a fair, democratic right to choose.

“To eliminate equalization, which is what’s proposed in Jason Kenney’s referendum, is something that cannot be done by the federal government,” Justin Trudeau said with a sardonic smile.

“It needs to be done by the federal government working with seven provinces or territories representing over 50% of the Canadian population.”

Sorry pal, that’s not true and you know it.

If Alberta wants to opt-out, it can opt out … and praise God, someday that will happen. 

That Ottawa-based baboon can’t stop us if we wish to go our own way. Especially if we embark on a balanced journey of provincial autonomy over the next decade. 

To borrow a quote from his father — who had cajones — “Just watch (us)!”

The entire issue was summed up by the increasingly leftist Globe & Mail, with a disgustingly overbearing and insulting headline that read: “Don’t take Alberta’s referendum seriously.”

I won’t offer any further details, the headline was enough. 

Between the Globe and the federal freeloaders in Ottawa, it’s not hard to figure out the West will never, ever be taken seriously or treated fairly and equally with the bully boys: Quebec and Ontario and their media cronies.

The Eastern Laurentian elites will continue to screw us over. It will never stop. 

And you know as well as I do, with the rapidly increasing national debt, it ain’t gonna get better.

Not for you, me, or the generations to come.

Columnist Rex Murphy summed up Alberta’s plight very well, in a 2019 piece in the National Post:

The Suzukis, the Sierra Clubs, the always railing Greenpeacers, the fund-raising behemoths of the eco-industry, and the swarms of petty NGOs, self-appointed activists, and trippy climate celebrities — Bill Nye the Foolish Guy may stand for them all — have feasted on the portrayal of Alberta energy as world-damaging, nature-offending and planet-despoiling.

It was and is a gang-up on a global scale. One fragment, one singular project of an entire world industry in a little corner of Alberta has been painted as the villain of planetary disaster. Under the specious umbrella of “we must save the planet”  and “global warming is an existential crisis” the energy industry of a single province has endured a vicious, unfair and fanatic assault.

A while back, I was having a beer at one of my favourite establishments, the Border Crossing, down on 17 Ave. S.E.

They make an escargot dish with melted cheese and toast that is to die for and a nice deck in the back where a guy can enjoy a nice Cuban cigarillo in peace. 

Anyway, I was chatting with a fellow who did time in the “Big House.”

He seemed a good, hard-working fellow who made a mistake, paid the price and learned from it and then moved on.

I asked him what was it like in there?

‘You don’t wanna go there, man … you don’t,” he said. The serious look on his face added to that sentiment.

“But let me tell you something. If you ever do end up there, the biggest, toughest guy in the joint is going to come up to you and set you straight.

“And you can’t back down, you have to show no fear and stand up to him.”

Terrible images raced through my head.

“But what if he’s way bigger than me and tougher?” I pleaded.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “If you don’t stand up to him then, you are done for.”

The reality of that discussion never left me. Knock on wood, I don’t ever end up in the clink!

But this, my friends, is exactly how we must deal with the pin-striped snakes in Ottawa.

We can’t be afraid, we can’t back down … we look them in the eye, and fight back with every peaceful but effective, and hopefully legal means in our toolbox, and with every ounce of strength we can garner.

They are nothing but a bunch of overpaid federal nabobs, led by the trumped-up party boy himself and backed by Mountie strong arm men.

Recently, I was chatting with an esteemed friend of mine on Facebook — a man much more accomplished than I.

He told me that the mere mention of Alberta with Eastern friends conjures up vitriolic hate and derision as if we were the bad guys.

Other friends have told me the same.

Well, that’s just fine, I don’t mind playing the part of Jack Palance in Shane, I don’t give a damn if they hate us. I really don’t.

But damn it all to hell, one day they might just respect us and fear us.

Take our money in transfer payments but block our pipelines and demonize us? 

Sure, go ahead and embrace token Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s so-called Green restart. 

See where that gets you. See if it pays your mortgage, your car payment, your daycare and your groceries.

One day, mark my words, the West will rise. As forceful and beautiful as the early morning light on the Alberta foothills.

To quote the great Winston Churchill, “Without courage, all other virtues lose their meaning.”

Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the military editor for the Asia Times.
makichukd@gmail.com

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