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GIEDE: Why are Canada’s Conservative leaders so terrible?

“We conservatives are in dire straights if the most we can do is ape our opposition, and badly to boot.”

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Why does every Conservative leadership winner go on to be a colossal disappointment?

While most of us are still reeling from Erin O’Toole’s announcement last week of his carbon tax that “isn’t a carbon tax”, all I can feel is a sense of deep disenchantment. Like many social conservatives, I marked O’Toole as my second choice on the ballot, after Derek Sloan. I even wrote a column at my old digs telling others to do the same.

With the announcement of a carbon tax that goes into an O’Toole Petro Points rewards program, I find myself in the same position as people 30 years my senior, who recall scraping Mulroney’s stickers off their bumpers after the 1988 election. Was there ever any hope at all? Did O’Toole just get some bad advice? Or were we lied to the entire time?

Those of us who consider themselves loyal conservatives, feel a deep sense of personal betrayal.

But maybe we true believers need to open our eyes. The empirical evidence is there for all to see: centre-right parties in Canada and their leaders have not been the disruptors we elect them to be. If one looks to the past or to the present, most Canadian “conservatives” are just Liberals driving the speed limit.

Stephen Harper just finished addressing the rebranded Manning conference as a guest speaker, along with former British Prime Minister David Cameron. With US President Donald Trump safely out of office, both Cameron and Harper — clearly tapped to represent pre-2016 Toryism — exhorted the faithful to repent of nationalist populism, and turn to a conservatism more confirmable with global collaboration.

Some might argue retirement has changed Harper. But looking back at his government, the policy choices made weren’t boldly conservative: micro-targeted tax credits don’t fix our torturous tax code; scrapping the long gun registry didn’t stop nonsensical model and class bans — some of which happened under Harper — and the minor austerity that closed lighthouses and veterans affairs offices saved nothing compared to the colossal expenses of the CBC and equalization.

Our former Right Honorable needed to use those omnibus bills to radically alter Canadian government. He needed to stack the Senate instead of letting the seats go empty to be filled by his enemies later, and he needed to articulate a vision for his movement as well as the country. “Strong, stable, national, Conservative majority government,” looks great on a whiteboard, but it doesn’t mean anything in the real world and its means even less once a party inevitably losses power.

Let us turn now to our most prominent Conservatives leaders: premiers Kenney, Pallister, and Ford. Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic is throwing them through an unexpected loop, but outside that, what about their leadership inspires? Did voting for Kenney get Ottawa to listen, or Ford to bring common sense back to the largest provincial government, or Pallister to reform school taxes on rural and agricultural land?

Premier Ford bringing Toronto to heel appeased his base and sent a clear message to urban latte liberals that no “creature of the province” was beyond being taken down a peg. Premier Pallister did fulfill his less-than-intelligent promise to lower the provincial sales tax, while keeping most distributive taxes high. Premier Kenney’s tough rhetoric victory in Alberta inspired all of us in the West in a moment of triumph, only to see most of the NDP’s policies continue with little harassment.

But in policy terms the only thing that Tories seem to know is austerity, which riles up front line civil servants, teachers, or nurses and kills voter support while making useless management teams bigger and richer. Friends and staff of the premiers always receive lucrative, noncompetitive contracts. And in the end, they normally fail to be tough enough to reduce the size of the government payroll in any meaningful way.

On COVID-19, “Conservative” governments have been the harshest, striping away liberties more often than their NDP or Liberal counterparts.

Danny Williams took down the Maple Leaf in Newfoundland to make a point, and Christie Clark played both the “pro-development” as well as “anti-pipeline” camps to gain concessions from Ottawa. Contrast this to our most “conservative” provinces; their citizens have no more liberties than anywhere else, their governments are no more efficient, and their leaders are no better at fulfilling the promises they make.

Which brings us back to O’Toole. If his solution to the questions around climate and revenue is to imitate Justin Trudeau with a policy that makes even less sense, why would anyone vote Conservative? Liberals may as well vote for the real thing, and conservatives have nothing to vote for at all.

Canadian conservatism is in dire straights if the most we can do is ape our opposition — and badly to boot.

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

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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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Baron Not Baron

    April 23, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    There’s no conservatorism left at all. The so-called conservators are now soulless, as the devil surely took possession of them. At least for the West there’s another avenue: separation/independence, which it is paramount without doubt.
    All of that carbon tax is unjustified, therefore it is largely a cash grab in the name of anything they want to name it.. Tomorrow it will have another name. For some reason all that Western sweat is all funneled into the same pockets in Ottawa, and from there also to their supporting oligarchs.
    I said it many times that Alberta is improperly named a “have province”. It is not. It is a not have province, or more precisely a plantation, where the resources are to be shipped to the south and the money to be milked by Ottawa and its eastern bloc supporters. Therefore Alberta is left with poverty and suicides and increasing problems that compound every day.

  2. Left Coast

    April 21, 2021 at 9:48 am

    Conservative leaders in Canada are Spineless . . . even Harper, who was the Best PM in 50 years, lacked the killer instinct to Flush the CBC the moment he got he mandate.

    But todays’ leaders have less intestinal fortitude than Joe Clark . . who had none.

    What does the movement need? A real leader, a Trump, someone who has accomplished in life, not another “Politician” . . . Politics is usually where the stupid people go, those who cannot make it in real life. Just look at some of the “Lifers” in Canadian Politics, that proves my point !

  3. Mervin

    April 21, 2021 at 6:58 am

    Leaving twenty-two (22) vacant Senate seats for the Liberals to fill was a political blunder of colossal proportions. It’ll take generations of Canadians (if ever) to rectify.

  4. Wesley Yaciuk

    April 20, 2021 at 7:01 pm

    Excellent article. Hit the nail on the head!

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Opinion

OPEN LETTER: Health care workers against mandatory vaccinations

The letter was signed by 3,544 health care workers including 73 physicians, 1,111 nurses, 227 paramedics and thousands of allied health professionals, pharmacists, dentists, lab workers, psychologists and counselling professionals, medical students, AHS administrative and support staff and other health care professionals.

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An open letter penned by Alberta Health Services (AHS) workers was sent to AHS on Monday by Calgary constitutional lawyer Carol Crosson.

The letter was signed by 3,544 health care workers including 73 physicians, 1,111 nurses, 227 paramedics and thousands of allied health professionals, pharmacists, dentists, lab workers, psychologists and counselling professionals, medical students, AHS administrative and support staff and other health care professionals.

Dear Dr. Verna Yiu:

This open letter is in response to your announcement of mandatory full vaccination for all AHS staff by Oct 31, 2021. We represent a wide range of vaccinated and unvaccinated health care professionals from multiple disciplines, who are deeply concerned about these mandatory vaccinations.

There are many reasons why we stand against mandatory vaccination and highlight some of them below. These concerns are supported by peer-reviewed publications and statements by established organizations:

• These mRNA vaccines have not been proven to prevent disease uptake nor disease transmission supported by the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report August 6, 2021 / 70(31);1059-1062 (among other reports) where it is stated “Real-time RT-PCR Ct values in specimens from 127 fully vaccinated patients (median = 22.77) were similar to those among 84 patients who were unvaccinated, not fully vaccinated, or whose vaccination status was unknown (median = 21.54)”. Asymptomatic unvaccinated people have never been proven to be more infectious or transmit more disease than vaccinated individuals.

• The overall survival rate from COVID is approximately 99.7% and varies by age and underlying health status.

• The vaccine is showing weakened efficacy after only a few months. AHS’s own data shows currently approximately 25% of all new cases are in fully vaccinated patients and over 18% of hospitalizations are also fully vaccinated with percentages increasing as weeks go by.

• The United Kingdom and Israel – two highly vaccinated countries have extremely high percentages of hospitalized patients being fully vaccinated. Indeed, the Israeli Public Health Department recently estimated the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine had fallen to 39% against the Delta variant and another recent study from the Mayo clinic had similar numbers at 42%

• Historically, scientific consensus has been that natural immunity is superior to vaccine immunity. Many health care workers are already Covid recovered and immune. What evidence does AHS have for mandatory vaccines in those individuals?

As front-line health care workers, we have witnessed serious adverse events, including deaths, that were temporally, closely associated from the administration of these vaccines.

• As per VAERS data (US vaccine injury database), Aug. 27, 2021, at least 650,077 people in the US have been injured and 13,911 people have died soon after the administration of the Covid vaccine. These numbers could actually be 10-100x higher as a Harvard study showed only 1-10% of all adverse events are actually recorded. The Harvard study’s findings are corroborated by our experience that the vast majority of temporally related adverse events are not being correlated and reported by healthcare workers. If we don’t correlate these temporally related events and report them, the data will never be there to accurately assess causality and truly ensure safety, which is the bedrock to obtaining proper informed consent.

We believe that the proposed vaccine mandate is contrary to section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms “freedom of conscience and religion” as well as section 7, “the right to life, liberty and the security of the person and the right to not be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Based on our experience, the above arguments (plus others not listed in this letter) and our evaluation of the current literature, we decisively conclude that we are in strong opposition to mandatory vaccination. As of Nov 1, 2021, or earlier, AHS’s decision to implement such a mandate will prevent many dedicated health care workers and other AHS staff from performing the jobs they have done valiantly over the past eighteen months. This will put our currently severely strained health care system under further undue and needless pressure and put more Albertans at risk due to our inability to provide care for our patients. We respectfully request that the vaccine mandate be rescinded immediately so that AHS Health care workers can continue to provide care for Albertans.

cc. Dr. Laura McDougall, Senior Medical Officer of Health, AHS
Dr. Francis Belanger, Vice-President of Quality and CMO, AHS
Dr. Debrah Wirtzfield, Associate CMO, Physician Health, Diversity & Wellness, AHS
Patrick Dumelie, Covenant Health
Dr. Owen Heisler, Covenant Health

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Krahnicle’s Cartoon: Why Conservatives Lost

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AHS investigating Western Standard for restrictions, vaxport non-compliance

The AHS employee responded, “Some of these [regulations] are good, and some of these are, you know…”

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Update from the Publisher

This isn’t a regular news story since its about ourselves; so rather than drink our own bathwater and send this to one of our reporters, I’ve decided to publish this as an update from the publisher.

At 10:25 a.m. MST, the Western Standard received a telephone call from Alberta Health Services (AHS) on our office line. The AHS official — whom I will not name — dialed through to speak with yours truly.

He informed me that AHS had received a complaint that the Western Standard was not complying with government-ordered restrictions and vaccine passports. I responded plainly: “That is correct.”

He was silent for a moment, not quite knowing how to respond to my admission of guilt. He inquired further, asking the same question another way.

Please forgive me the indulgence of quoting myself.

“I take the health of my employees and those around us seriously. I and my employees take COVID seriously. I would be happy to review any recommendations that you may have for us, but I do not recognize the right of the government to tell me how I must run my own office space. Any government official wishing to enter the property must produce a warrant, otherwise they will not be permitted entry.

“Western Standard employees are free men and free women, and as such, I trust them to make responsible decisions about their own risk tolerances. Any Western Standard employee that feels that they would be unsafe in the office has only to inform me and we will make reasonable accommodations.”

The AHS employee was a perfect gentleman and handled himself well. He was just a little taken aback at my answer.

We also discussed the Alberta vaccine passport orders, and the Calgary mayor and city council’s decision to ban non-vaxport compliant “non-essential businesses.”

My response again was simple.

“Media is an essential service and I do not recognize the right of the government to decided if we are essential or not.”

The AHS employee responded: “Some of these [regulations] are good, and some of these are, you know…”

Fair enough.

So AHS is investigating to see if we are deserving of a visit from them and the police or not. We’ll see what comes of it.

One way or another, our policy will not change:

  • Employees are free to make their own choices about their personal enforcement of restrictions;
  • Employees may work from home if they feel that they are at unreasonable risk;
  • Employees must work from home if they are sick or anyone they are in close contact with contracts COVID-19;
  • And, employees are encouraged, but free to make their own informed choices about vaccines.

I suspect that the complaint came from a crank on Twitter that’s upset with my not-so-secret policies as it concerns compliance with government orders.

We take COVID-19 seriously. This isn’t some made-up conspiracy of a mysterious cabal in a dark and smokey room. I personally trust my doctor’s advise on COVID-19 vaccination, and got my jab as soon as I possibly could. I have always encouraged an open dialogue about vaccines with those in my social and professional circles, encouraging it, but never, ever demanding or requiring it.

Alberta’s ICUs are facing incredible pressure right now and necessary “elective surgeries” are being postponed. This is driven by the fact that Alberta’s government has not built up the necessary ICU capacity — despite having one of the most expensive health care systems on the planet — and 19 months since COVID-19 landed to do it. Lockdowns and vaxports will not solve this problem.

COVID-19 will continue to mutate and evade efforts to eradicate it. Alas, it may be with us for a long, long time. Even locked-down island nations like Australia cannot eradicate it, despite turning that once-free country into a veritable police state.

Despite my hopes the vaccines would eliminate it, COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. There appears to be no way around the fact that COVID-19 is going to tear its way through the population until it burns itself out. The cost is, and will be, terrible. But there appears to be no way to stop it, even with a never-ending cycle of lockdowns, and the positive effects of vaccines.

All we can do is build our health care capacity to deal with predictable surges, as the fourth wave was, protect those who are genuinely vulnerable, and make the best of a bad situation.

And as we struggle through this, we cannot lose what is most important in life. We cannot surrender our long-fought freedoms for short-term security. We cannot take away the best years of our children’s lives. We cannot forbid loved ones from mourning their dead at funerals. We cannot outlaw family and friends from gathering for weddings. We cannot forcibly segregate people from these events because of their private medical decisions, even if we disagree with them.

Which brings me back to AHS’s investigation of the Western Standard. I care more about our employees than any government official will. We will be responsible and take necessary precautions, but as we see fit as free men and free women capable of making our own decisions.

Any government official who thinks otherwise had better get a warrant.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard

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