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GIEDE: British Columbians must stand up to the lockdown authoritarians

“Regardless of what Dr. Henry might say, the Queen’s road shall have no tolls.”

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In 2019, if someone had said the world would be shut down and locked inside by a virus from China, I’d have of laughed. In 2020, if someone said that our border with the US would be closed and Canadian citizens coerced into quarantine “hotels” at their own expense, I’d have taken away your Kool-Aid. In January 2021, if you’d said BC Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry would order the RCMP to cosplay as roguish highwaymen, I’d have you certified.

No one is laughing anymore. Summer is here in British Columbia. A quick spring melt, temperatures climbing well into the teens and beyond means RVs are being cleaned out, motorcycles insured, and campfire foods are being purchased. After the last 15 months, people are ready to get outside and imbibe in some pale ales, canoe paddles, and perfect skies. But a cloud from Victoria looms over “The Most Beautiful Place on Earth,” oddly resembling the sullen, tired face of our provincial hall monitor.

As of this week, our leaders have declared a ban on travel for anything other than work or medical care. There have been threats of spot checks both on the highway and off into campgrounds, as well as the banning of RVs from going onto BC Ferries headed for the island. It reads like a pathetic sophomore’s attempt at dystopian fiction, but it’s all too real – our constitutional rights to freely move within our own country are being openly and unapologetically infringed. Behave, because Big Bonnie is watching you.

Neither our federal nor provincial courts are known for their expedient application of the law — even on questions of serious or timely concern that require test cases. However, I’m tempted to flaunt this latest provincial decree and have it tested by our justices. Constitutional freedoms are not optional, regardless of what Section One might say. What unelected health official has the authority to say what is or is not essential travel? Was that an elective course in medical school?

I’m planning on getting married in the near future. And I already knew that it would be a “COVID-wedding.” I had mentally prepared for an empty church with my bride, priest, and perhaps a choir all streamed live to the family far away. Whatever the reception might look like, ultimately everything would be small and intimate. To be honest, that actually appealed to me as I hate the garish and irreverent actions at most weddings I’ve seen — it’s about the sacrament, not the pictures.

But the tradeoff was that I would get to show off my beloved (and she to show off me) to all our far flung family members through this summer as payment in lieu of being able to come and witness our union. At least the right people had the chance to meet the respective future spouse — at least they got to cast their vote or give their blessing as to our future together. That is the definition of essential in the faith we both hold: that the community and Holy Mother Church approves of our matrimonial intentions.

Now that’s threatened by a school marm who has the audacity to tell me what’s appropriate behaviour. I finally understand what totalitarianism is — it’s the state of life where you can concede all that is demanded — even with courtesy — and when it comes time to be given your small lot, the pittance of your birthright, even that is taken from you. The authoritarians will stop at nothing.

I for one will not be curtailing my travel plans because the people who’ve been wrong for more than a year say so. I already go on my motorbike in our fair weather to neighborhoods that aren’t mine, for reasons that are none of Big Bonnie’s business. I plan to continue interacting with my community as often as I please, and when the time comes, I will show off my beloved to all welcoming family members. I never believed this could be an act of rebellion.

I have no intentions of passing on the virus. I already observe dozens of precautions by force of habit after the year of indoctrination provided to us by nearly every media outlet on the planet. But I’ll not have my most fundamental physical freedom — to travel — restricted. There’s an ancient law which declares the Queen’s road shall have no tolls. That remains on the books, regardless of what Dr. Henry might say.

Nathan Giede is the BC Political Columnist for the Western Standard and the Host of Mountain Standard Time

Nathan Giede is the British Columbia Political Columnist & Host of Mountain Standard Time for the Western Standard. Nathan was the Right-of-Centre Columnist for the Prince George Citizen where he wrote about B.C. politics and First Nations issues. ngiede@westernstandardonline.com

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Claudette Leece

    May 20, 2021 at 8:32 am

    We have the same issues with Sherrif Hinshaw, powers gone to her head, she often contradicts King Kenney and people wonder, why this has been a Covid of confusion

  2. Left Coast

    April 29, 2021 at 3:55 pm

    Dr. Bonnie, Horgan & Dix have learned absolutely nothing in the last 13 months . . . still doing the same Chinese Style Lockdowns over and over while expecting a different result.
    Einstein said that was the definition of insanity . . .

    Why not have a look around . . . What was Sweden doing & South Dakota?
    Gov De Santis of Florida said his 1 lockdown was a huge mistake . . . Florida doing just fine today, Disneyland has been open for months.

    States that eliminated the zero science Mask Mandate saw cases drop to nothing, while Mask States saw number increase . . .

    Time for this insanity to end . . . last year, if you eliminate the explosion in Drug Overdose Deaths . . . fewer people died in 2020 than in 2019. Won’t see that on the 6 oclock News on the FakeStream Media.

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Opinion

THOMAS: How Western Canada fared in to 2021 housing market

“That didn’t happen. By early summer, sales picked up, prices steadied and the industry hasn’t looked back since, with some markets setting sales records in 2021.”

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When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, like many industries, the lockdowns and restrictions shut down housing industry operations.

Home sales and prices plummeted, adding to the fear of the virus that homeowners would lose their homes’ equity. 

That didn’t happen. By early summer, sales picked up, prices steadied and the industry hasn’t looked back since, with some markets setting sales records in 2021. 

Here’s how major markets in Western Canada fared last year.

Winnipeg

It was the third year in a row with record-breaking sales and dollar volumes.

“Both 2020 and 2021 were remarkable years in delivering sales gains from the previous year,” said Kourosh Doustshenas, outgoing president of the Winnipeg Regional Real Estate Board. “Last year saw an increase of more than 2,500 sales compared to 2020 and 33% sales growth over the previous five-year average.”

Sales of existing homes in 2021 reached 18,575 units with the dollar sales volume reaching $6.25 billion, up 28% from 2020.

Single-family homes and condominiums were the most popular, with market shares of 68% and 14% respectively.

Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Realtors Association’s (SRA) report covers all sales in the province. 

A record 17,387 sales were recorded in 2021, surpassing the previous record in 2007 by 17%.

While the pandemic triggered disruptions in some sectors of the economy, housing boomed, said SRA CEO, Chris Guérette.

“Improved savings from those not financially impacted by COVID-19, combined with low lending rates have supported the strong sales environment we saw throughout 2021,” said Guérette, adding inventory levels in the province were 16% below long-term trends.

“This resulted in the MLS Home Price Index (HPI) composite benchmark price* gaining more than seven percent.”

Calgary

Sales of existing homes in Calgary soared in 2021, reaching a record 27,686, nearly 72% higher than 2020 and more than 44% higher than the 10-year average, says the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB).

“Concerns over inflation and rising lending rates likely created more urgency with buyers over the past few months, said CREB’s chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. “However, the supply has not kept pace with the demand, causing strong price growth.” 

The year-end benchmark price was $451,567, up 8% from 2020. 

“We enter 2022 with some of the tightest conditions in over a decade,” said Lurie. “In December, inventory was nearly 25% lower than long-term averages, which will impact our housing market in 2022.”

Edmonton

“2021 was an incredible year for the Greater Edmonton Area (GEA),” says Realtors Association of Edmonton chair Tom Shearer. “The year-over-year stats for sales and listings in the GEA were significantly higher than December 2020.”

Last December, single-family home sales rose 16.5% from December 2020.  Condo sales increased 25.6% from December 2020. Duplex/rowhouse sales increased 16.8% year-over-year.

The HPI benchmark price in the GEA came in at $410,900, a 5.2% increase from December 2020.

Metro Vancouver

Home sales reached an all-time high in 2021, with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reporting a total of 43,999, a 4% increase over the previous record of 42,326 in 2015.

The HPI composite benchmark price at the end of 2021 was $1,230,200, a 17.3% increase from December 2020.

“While steady, home listing activity didn’t keep pace with the record demand we saw throughout 2021. This imbalance caused residential home prices to rise over the past 12 months,” said Keith Stewart, REBGV economist.

“Detached home and townhome benchmark prices increased 22% last year, while apartments increased 12.8%.”

Victoria

There were 10,052 properties sold in 2021, close to the record of 10,622 sales in 2016.

“The theme of this year has been very consistent,” says Victoria Real Estate Board president David Langlois. “Each month a high demand for homes paired with record low inventory has put strong pressure on pricing and attainability.”

The single-family HPI benchmark price in the Victoria Core in December 2021 was $1,144,900, up 25.1% from $1,122,600 in November. The HPI benchmark price for a condominium in the area in December 2020 was $570,600 up from $487,100 a year earlier. 

Housing supply across the country is a concern, said Langlois

“We have spoken throughout the year about the need for new housing supply at all levels to help moderate prices and improve attainability,” he said. “Some of our municipalities have begun to look at ways to make it easier for new homes to be brought to market and we applaud and encourage any movement in this area.”

*The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) is a measure of real estate prices that provides a clearer picture of market trends over traditional tools such as mean or median average prices. It is designed to be a reliable, consistent, and timely way of measuring changes in home prices over time.

Myke Thomas is a Western Standard contributor. He started in radio as a child voice actor, also working in television and as the real estate columnist, reporter and editor at the Calgary Sun for 22 years.
mykethomas@live.com

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Opinion

MAKICHUK: Flaming question: Should we let them go, or not?

“Maybe Gondek can take a holiday in Mexico? Pretty please?”

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So, do we care if the Flames leave, or not?

That, my friends, is the question. 

While it appears Mayor Jyoti Gondek was instrumental in letting the arena deal die, it’s never quite as simple as that.

I wouldn’t exactly put halos over the heads of the Flames owners either.

Someone suggested the right people to negotiate this thing are not in place — that actually sounds like it might have some merit.

It reminds me of when the Flames decided to trade Doug Gilmour, the player who helped them win the Stanley Cup.

At that time, sources told me the team and Gilmour were not that far apart in the money department. In fact, it was pocket change compared to what they pay players now.

I won’t go over the Gilmour-Leeman trade, it’s too painful for Flames fans to have to endure, and, well, I’m not that cruel of a person.

But really, are we that far apart now? We all know construction costs are soaring, but slamming the door shut on this deal, is not the way to go, IMO.

Even though I can’t stand the Flames. Why?

Well, for starters, I’m a Red Wings fan, all the way.

Secondly, when I worked at the Calgary Sun, whenever the Flames went into the playoffs we would end up working 12-hour days until the ordeal was over.

We did well against the competition, having a good stable of writers who worked their tails off. Not to mention the best sports photogs in the city.

As we got no extra overtime pay for all this extra effort and hardly saw our families during these times — which were exciting, of course, no argument there — it just got to be too much.

We would kill forests of trees to pound out pages on the Flames and their playoff adventures. 

In the end, whenever the Flames were eliminated, we would hold the “Thank You Flames Open” — a golf tournament, complete with prizes, and, a Green Jacket, which we purchased at Goodwill for $8.

The winner would get to wear the green jacket in the office, for an entire year — a tremendous honour!

But I’m not here to beat up on the Flames. I know how important this team is to the city.

While personally I don’t care if they stay or go, I know a lot of people want them to stay because they have become such an important symbol of our city.

Some of the best hockey ever played was between the Flames and, those guys up north … what’s their name again? Oil something?

Anyway, you get the picture. We happen to have a big rivalry with the folks in Edmonton who seem to get things done better and faster than our city council.

Case in point, Rogers Place. How come they could get it done and we couldn’t? 

That project also went over-budget, and led to a similar standoff. Clearly, cooler heads prevailed and Edmonton’s council approved the funding for the House of McDavid … and the rest, as they say, is history.

By the way, they also have better winter snow removal according to what I’ve been told.

So do we care or not? Should we try to resurrect this deal or not? 

Should Gondek — she of the climate emergency no one cares about — swallow her pride and step aside from the negotiation process?

Or, well … should we let them go and build a brand new stadium for the Calgary Stampeders instead? Believe it or not, they actually do need a new stadium.

As much as I love McMahon stadium, it is seriously out of date. I mean, even Regina has a much better football stadium, for crissakes. Regina!

If you ask me, I’d rather axe the Green Line, and other such Nero-like mega-projects of the previous mayor and use that money elsewhere.

But let’s get back to the Flames. Remember Winnipeg, who went through a dark period after their NHL team left town?

Glen Murray was city councillor for Winnipeg’s Fort Rouge ward at the time and was elected as the city’s mayor in 1998. He watched as Winnipeg’s team slipped away, eventually moving to Phoenix, where hockey never really caught on.

“It was heartbreaking because the provincial and the municipal governments who were subsidizing [the team] couldn’t sustain it,” Murray told the CBC.

“Every proposal for a new arena involved hundreds of millions of dollars, which no one in the community could raise at the time,” he said. “It was a real dark period for the city because people love their hockey team.”

When the much-despised NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the return of the then still-to-be-named team in May 2011, the excitement in the city was palpable.

“In all my years as a reporter, I have never seen a city stop before,” said Marjorie Dowhos, a CBC Manitoba reporter. 

“Cheers immediately broke out, some people had tears in their eyes and I had shivers up my spine as I watched all of this,” she said.

Season tickets went on sale to the general public on June 4 and sold out in 17 minutes.

What more do I have to say? Do we really want to go the way of the Winnipeg Jets?

Let me finish, with a little story.

Back in 1967, my Dad took me to my first NHL hockey game at the Olympia in Detroit. They were sold out, so we bought $3 standing room tickets.

The first thing I saw was Gordie Howe score effortlessly on Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Terry Sawchuk, on a breakaway. The place went nuts, it literally shook.

That, and many other experiences that evening, would change my life. I saw walls of Red Wings paraphernalia, none of which we could afford. I think all we came home with was a cheap program.

To this day, I will never forget that first experience of watching the Wings play and seeing them walk off the ice on a carpet, right in front of me.

Hockey gods they were — not like today’s overpaid prima donnas.

One can’t really put a dollar value on that. I don’t know how much the Flames bring to the city, financially, but I would imagine it’s significant. But then, there’s that emotional attachment, too. 

Remember the big run in 2004? We all do. Hell, even I was popping shooters on 17 Avenue!

So yeah, hell, let’s try to keep the Flames. Let’s give it another go and hope that as good citizens the Flames owners group will cut us some slack in this time of financial disarray. And let’s get the right people in there, to get this done.

Maybe Gondek can take a holiday in Mexico? Pretty please?

And really, let’s leave this “line in the sand” crap to Vladimir Putin and his maniacal ambitions. 

We’re better than that, I’m sure of it. Let’s get ‘er done.

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 Calgary correspondent for ChinaFactor.news
makichukd@gmail.com

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Truckers going pedal-to-the-metal for Canadian freedoms

“We feel that the trucking industry is literally this country’s last hope to potentially getting our freedoms back.”

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The complainers started calling Richland Transport Inc. while Rick Wall was still at the Canada-U.S. border protesting federal mandates requiring cross-border truckers to be fully COVID-19 vaccinated.

Wall, president of the Winkler, Man. trucking firm, organized Convoy Against Mandates. Semi-trucks drove along Highway 75 to the Pembina-Emerson port of entry in Southern Manitoba Monday. Pickups, tractors, and cars joined in.

“I love the haters. We’ll go out there all day long and battle for them as much as we will for any supporters. We were out there uniting the truck industry to fight all mandates for everyone,” Wall told the Western Standard

“This country has been ripped apart. We need to reunite and love and respect each other like we used to. Our government has done a tremendous job of dividing us, destroying us.

“We’re supposed to hate each other based on medical decisions. That is not right… We need to open our eyes.”

One caller who threatened to cut Richland’s phone lines “because your boss is stupid” might change his mind when the impact of the Liberal mandate personally affects him.

The mandate requiring truckers returning from the U.S. to be fully vaccinated or quarantine took effect January 15.

“Whether you support our movement or not, it will affect you. You wouldn’t see an instant effect from what we haul. It’s a trickle effect. It’s all linked,” said Wall.

With fewer drivers delivering loads, the supply chain will be heavily impacted. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) anticipates a loss of 12,000-16,000 cross-border commercial drivers. Some estimates peg it higher at 20,000-26,000.

Unvaccinated American drivers will be denied entry.

“You’re going to see price increases on basically everything, especially food. I think you’ll see a lot of empty grocery store shelves. We’re in the middle of winter and our food is getting trucked in. Nobody’s growing gardens this time of year. They couldn’t have picked a worse time to do this. So much of our produce comes from the southern U.S.”

Meanwhile, unvaccinated truckers forced into quarantine — after they deliver their loads — lose income. 

“In a lot of scenarios, it’s basically taking that particular driver’s right to provide a livelihood for his family away from him. It’s detrimental to these families. There’s a lot of drivers not willing to participate in this mandate. The vaccines are clearly not working, that’s my view on it.”

Truckers have been treated shamefully by a Liberal government that kept changing direction. 

Since mid-November, the government was in a state of confusion over the requirements, announcing different rollout criteria, then going back to the original plan.

“It’s been a really, really tiring battle. Our heads have been spinning for months. Clearly, we saw how chaotic that was last week on how the government flip-flopped right until the very end,” said Wall.

“We had no solid information on the Canadian side basically until they started enforcing it on our drivers. It was pretty tough for us to navigate and try to figure out what do we tell our drivers.”

When the mandate kicked in, Richland’s first returning driver ran into problems at the border.

“He was down in the U.S. for a week. He came across Saturday morning. He was verbally abused by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers at Emerson port of entry. He was treated horribly and was finally released after an hour and-a-half and told to go quarantine.

“Most of these guys know their rights. They will cite their rights and try to stand up for themselves. I’m very proud of them for doing that. We should all have that right.”

Some CBSA officers treat truckers with “utmost” respect.

“But the next guy is on a complete power trip giving the driver a really hard time, disrespecting them, denouncing everything the driver will say in his own defense.

“Goodness gracious, you’re coming home to your own country where you pay your taxes. And quite frankly, that officer’s salary… They come back home, and they’re treated like criminals. 

“Our system is incredibly broken…Something has to be done.”

Well, never underestimate the grit and stamina of truckers.

They’re just getting started. More rallies are planned.

A convoy rally will be held January 24 in Winnipeg. It will circle the perimeter of the city then head to the legislature.

A cross-Canada trucking convoy starting January 23 in Vancouver working its way east will gain momentum as it crosses the country. Truckers from across Canada will convene in Ottawa.

“It’ll just take a few more of us to stand up and say this isn’t right and try to unite the people. We need to end all these totalitarian mandates,” said Wall.

“We feel that the trucking industry is literally this country’s last hope to potentially getting our freedoms back.”

And our shelves stocked.

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

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