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ANDERSON: Kenney shoots the messenger

“Former Wildrose MLAs have approached the government repeatedly to raise such concerns, only to be dismissed out of hand.”

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Guest Column: Nathan is a longtime communications specialist and member of the UCP and Wildrose Party.

Three years ago, shortly after taking the reins as interim leader of the newly formed United Conservative Party, now Alberta Legislature Speaker Nathan Cooper made an astute observation.

“Unity,” he said, “is not the outcome of a vote. It is a process that must continue today, tomorrow, and every day moving forward.”

Jason Kenney wasn’t listening.

For months now, conservatives have been warning Kenney that he is losing public and party support. Longtime volunteers are leavingDonations are drying up. MLAs, like the people they represent, were demanding change. They were ignored.

Yesterday, hoping to jolt the Premier out of a cocoon of self-delusion, Kenney’s own caucus chair resigned. Rather than face the realities caused by his aloof leadership style, Kenney opted to kill the messenger.

MLA Todd Loewen thought he was simply fulfilling his duty to represent both frustrated caucus members and angry constituents. You see, Loewen comes from the former-Wildrose wing of the UCP, and that is a philosophy that Kenney fundamentally opposes.

The Wildrose commitment to grassroots democracy wasn’t a marketing slogan. It wasn’t just another talking point. It was a principle embedded into the very DNA of the movement. If the Wildrose Party had its own 10 commandments, the first three commandments were all the same:  “The first duty of an MLA is to represent his or her constituents.”

UCP leadership candidate Kenney – back when he was getting decent advice – at least paid lip service to this notion with his “Grassroots Guarantee.” While that guarantee went out the window the moment after Kenney’s leadership victory, it was one of the key commitments that made unity possible in the first place.

However, about year into Kenney’s first term as premier it became clear that his idea of grassroots democracy begins and ends with whatever is convenient for him personally.

Unlike Alberta governments of the past, Kenney’s government would not seek caucus input or approval for new initiatives. For example, when the government announced its $10 billion “stimulus” spending plan in the summer of 2020, caucus was not even informed of the details until after it had been announced publicly. 

Kenney sees no reason for caucus to weigh in on such initiatives, and MLAs only have an opportunity to represent their constituents during votes in the legislature. 

The idea that MLAs might have some expertise to contribute to such policies, or that the grassroots might have some thoughts on such matters isn’t even an after thought for Kenney’s government. After all, this is not how democracy worked in Ottawa during Kenney’s time in government.  The federal Conservatives regularly relied on massive omnibus budget bills to implement a wide variety of policy changes, often with no input from caucus or the grassroots whatsoever.

Is this how democracy is supposed to work? Kenney thinks so. In fact, he thinks he is running the most transparent government in a generation. 

Many Albertans, particularly those who turned their back on the former PC Party in favour of the Wildrose, do not. 

Former Wildrose MLAs have approached the government repeatedly to raise such concerns, only to be dismissed out of hand. Even as public support for the UCP falls well behind the NDP, and even as fundraising dries up, the government refuses to accept input from those who got them elected in the first place.

This is ultimately what makes Jason Kenney so dangerous to the future of the conservative movement in Alberta. His brand of democracy is incompatible with the ideals of a wide swath of the conservatives he purports to lead.

Unlike the last provincial election, the next one will not be a referendum on the leadership of Rachel Notley. It will be a referendum on Jason Kenney.

For the first time since Kenney came back from Ottawa, Alberta conservatives will be forced to ask themselves a simple question: Does Jason Kenney share my values?

After watching Kenney outspend the previous NDP government, sideline caucus members, barricade churches, arrest pastors, kowtow to Trudeau, and vilify many of the people who voted for him in 2019, today we are forced to ask ourselves the same question.

For me, the answer is no. Jason Kenney does not share my values.

If unity is a process, that process is dead. Jason Kenney killed it. 

For the UCP to be re-elected, Jason Kenney must resign.

Guest Column: Nathan is a longtime communications specialist and member of the UCP and Wildrose Party.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Baron Not Baron

    May 15, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    Kenny is agitated, infuriated, desperate, by his own failure, by his own oath to the wrong entity. The state of mind associated with that, is making this individual reckless. He will further fail, doing worse in his possessed mind. He’s not “a man of God”. He’s an anti-Christ servant, as he’s punishing Christianity.

  2. Barbara

    May 14, 2021 at 8:53 am

    The MLAs who voted out Barnes and Loewen could have stopped Kenny but chose not to.
    The only reason Kenny can do what he does is because we/they let him.
    If you can’t call your mlas and tell them you’re angry Or that you are leaving the party you can’t blame them.

    They could still make statements like Loewen did today. It’s quite simple really if people would act.

  3. Earl Hildebrand

    May 14, 2021 at 8:33 am

    I gave up trying to defend the guy last November on government policy as he always changed course. It was frustrating to say the least. I can’t imagine being an MLA with the same amount of knowledge as Joe Voter trying to explain to his constituents what the hell the government is doing. Just the sheer lack of respect for your caucus to even let them know what you’re doing is enough to be shown the plank

  4. Joni Menz

    May 14, 2021 at 8:29 am

    I thought that Alberta would be the beacon to all of Canada and reject lockdowns. I truly believe that pro-lockdown people are a minority now. And the fact that our leaders are not listening to us is aggravating to say the least. We give them data and they double-down on their power with no proof. Ignoring the proof that lockdowns are more damaging to us. Kenney had the opportunity to show his unified leadership and has shown us that he is just another power hungry bureaucrat.

  5. Josh

    May 14, 2021 at 8:00 am

    If Kenney really wanted to start clearing his name he would take his hands off the covid situation and get his government out of the way. Nothing would damage the NDP more then everything going back to normal. We know she is gonna try making things more strict and worse but that will be near impossible if people have had time to adjust to the way things were. People hopefully this time won’t just hand their freedom over on a silver platter.

  6. Claudette Leece

    May 14, 2021 at 7:51 am

    Great article and spot on, if Kenney even lasts long enough to get that vote. Kenney doesn’t know how to play well with others

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Manitoba response to Freedom Convoy has politicians cowering

“Truckers rolling down the highways — determined heroes in thousands of rigs, trucks, and cars — have unleashed a righteous beast in Canadians fed up with bullies messing with their freedoms and livelihoods and treating the unvaccinated as second-class lepers.”

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Federal politicians and bureaucrats will probably be hiding in their closets or under their desks, frozen in fear, when the massive Freedom Convoy arrives in Ottawa.

And they should hide in shame until they get it straight — that they were elected to carry out the will of the people; that it’s long past time to start listening.

Maybe a crescendo of blaring horns in the capital will improve their hearing.

They’ve created a big COVID-19 mess, underestimated the Canadians they’ve tormented and tried to crush, pulled cheap stunts, and delivered fancy, empty condescending lectures.

Few are listening to them anymore. Truckers have taken the wheel and won the trust and respect and hearts and minds of countless Canadians who oppose vaccine mandates and freedom of speech being trampled on. 

Elected pooh-bahs who’ve lost any esteem they may have had just don’t know what to do about that. 

Truckers rolling down the highways — determined heroes in thousands of rigs, trucks, and cars — have unleashed a righteous beast in Canadians fed up with bullies messing with their freedoms and livelihoods and treating the unvaccinated as second-class lepers.

That’s why hundreds of freezing supporters braved -30C temperatures to greet the convoy when it blared into Brandon, Man., population 60,000, around noon Tuesday.

A driver going the other way told the Western Standard the convoy was 100 km long.

It was a magnificent, electric scene that has, and will continue to repeat itself along highways, roads and overpasses in towns and cities across Canada until convoys coming from several directions converge on the capital January 29.

The cheering Brandon supporters didn’t come empty-handed. They brought more than 1,000 bagged lunches — sandwiches, homemade cookies, muffins, puffed wheat cakes — prepared in kitchens throughout the province. 

Someone even very thoughtfully hauled in porta-potties.

These regular Canadians don’t have much use for most politicians (Of course, Carlton MP Pierre Poilievre is an exception).

But Canadians love, love, love the truckers!

“People have been dropping food and drinks off all morning,” said Virden’s Ingrid Wilkinson, who organized the bagged lunches served at several stations.

“I’m doing it for all the harm that’s been caused. I personally know many people who have been greatly harmed. I’m doing this for our parents who had to live through Nazi occupation. Thankfully, they’re not in this world now. I do it for the kids, their future,” said Wilkinson.

“This is not sustainable. It’s a big lie.”

Virden menu for truckers

The Virden group had $825 left over from money raised to buy food to donate it to the trucker’s GoFundMe which stands at $4.6 million and counting. This amazing feat was accomplished in just 10 days.

About 193 km away in Headingley, more food and support awaited the convoy where Hutterite communities prepared for the arrival of the “dear” truckers.

“We are setting up kitchens n gonna feed you all. We are with you, and we fully support this massive convoy for freedom,” tweeted Paul Kleinsasser. “May God protect you on your journey, keep on going, we are praying for you. God bless.”

The convoy was expected to arrive in Winnipeg a few hours later.

The truckers oppose the cross-border vaccine mandates that severely impact their livelihoods.

The truckers also oppose vaccine mandates inflicted on everyone else — nurses, police, military, worshipers, children, students — everyone. 

Canadians embrace and are emboldened by their courage and stamina. 

So yes, they are well fed, dearly loved, and, it appears, to be shunned by most politicians.

However, Conservative MPs Andrew Scheer and Warrant Steinley did show up to greet the convoy in Regina Monday night.

Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen blasted the Liberal government and threw her support behind truckers.

“I support peaceful demonstrations against these mandates, and our truckers from Portage-Lisgar and from across Canada,” the Portage-Lisgar MP tweeted Tuesday.

Bergen said Trudeau “dealt our crumbling supply chain another blow” when he implemented mandates making 26,000 truckers unable to transport of goods across the Canada-U.S. border “which will only drive inflation higher than it’s been in over 30 years.

“Conservatives have been opposed to federal mandated vaccines since Trudeau introduced them: and we oppose the mandatory vaccine on Canadian truckers.”

Bergen noted that truckers bring much-needed supplies to Canada and “worked tirelessly over the pandemic” to keep supplies moving.

“Hamstringing this essential industry is nothing more than a political move to further divide Canadians.”

As for the main event in Ottawa, count on People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier to be there.

But hell will freeze over before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds the courage or respect to greet the convoy that speaks for a huge segment of the country.

Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole repeatedly dodged questions Monday about whether he supports the truckers offering a wishy-washy non-committal word salad. So no, he’ll be absent. Lord help the Conservative party while he’s at the helm.

Let these two ‘leaders’ hide in the closet from the big rigs, blaring horns, and burly truckers headed their way.

Time has passed for them to speak. Nobody cares about what they have to say anymore.

The people have spoken. 

It’s time for the politicians and unelected bureaucrats to listen.

And with every blaring horn, the message gets stronger and clearer: Enough!

Exciting times.

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

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Opinion

SELICK: Ontario’s health minister should get a second opinion

“In normal times, doctors frequently disagree with one another. That’s why patients often do seek out second opinions. “

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Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott is apparently unfamiliar with the concept of getting a second opinion from a different doctor when the first doctor’s advice doesn’t seem to be producing the desired results.

In a widely publicized speech she made on January 19, Elliott said: “I want to respond to some extremely concerning reports that some doctors are spreading misinformation about vaccines. At a time when it’s never been more important for Ontarians to have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, this [dissenting advice] is unacceptable. I will be sending a letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) urging them to do everything that is possible to put an end to this behaviour. They should consider all options in doing so, including reviewing the licenses of physicians found to be spreading misinformation.”

It is certainly true that some Ontario doctors have departed from the “must-vaccinate” narrative of the majority and the CPSO. However, it is not a mere handful that are creating such stress for the health minister. Forty MDs were already under investigation by the CPSO before Ms. Elliott expressed her wish for an even broader witch hunt.

There are many other dissenters that the CPSO has not yet targeted. For instance, a group calling itself Canadian Physicians for Science and Truth posted a declaration on May 9, 2021 responding to the CPSO’s April 30th threat to impose disciplinary action on any physician who questions or debates COVID-19 orthodoxy. The declaration has garnered 718 signatures from healthcare professionals (many of whom have shown their credentials as “MD”), as well as 20,171 signatures from ordinary citizens. Those signing the declaration accuse the CPSO of ordering physicians to depart from the scientific method by shying away from debate on scientific subjects.

Another group, the Canadian Covid Care Alliance, is more protective of the identities of its members but indicates that it is an “alliance of over 500 independent Canadian doctors, scientists, and health care providers…committed to providing quality, balanced, evidence-based information to the Canadian public about COVID-19 so that hospitalizations can be reduced, lives saved, and our country safely restored to normal as quickly as possible.”

Health Minister Elliott must surely share those goals, so why has she moved so pre-emptively and harshly to demonize a contingent of her fellow travelers? She herself is not a doctor or scientist, and not independently qualified to determine which group of doctors really does have an accurate view of the facts.

Rational people – when faced with a choice between two opposing scientific opinions – examine both of them closely and give due consideration to the viewpoints of all the people more highly credentialed than themselves. They don’t behave like Ms. Elliott did – pretending to know that one group is wrong while the other has a monopoly on truth.

In normal times, doctors frequently disagree with one another. That’s why patients often do seek out second opinions. Sometimes the second doctor, or even the third or fourth, has a more satisfactory answer than the first did.

Ms. Elliott must surely realize by now that the experts she has been relying on for the past two years have not served the people of Ontario well. It’s high time she abandoned her arrogant attitude towards those who are offering a different opinion and started listening to them instead of threatening them with the loss of their livelihoods.

Karen Selick is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

WAGNER: The benefits of a federal Western independence party

“As long as Albertans continue to vote Conservative federally, Justin Trudeau knows that he has nothing to worry about.”

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For Alberta to become independent, there must be a provincial referendum on independence that receives a clear majority vote. For the referendum to take place, there must be a party in power willing to hold one. That requires the election of a provincial political party that favours asking Albertans whether they want to remain in Canada or choose a path towards self-determination and prosperity. The need for a provincial independence party is clear and easy to understand.

But some people ask: what about a federal Western independence party? What would be the point of that? It could neither mandate the necessary referendum nor pass federal legislation benefiting the West. Such a party therefore seems pointless, they suggest.

However, there are some clear benefits to a federal political party that should be considered.

For one thing, a federal Western independence party gives pro-independence voters an option besides the pro-federalist parties currently on offer. Patriotic Alberta voters who reject the Central Canadian parties would at least have someone they can conscientiously support. They could “vote their values,” so to speak, and send a message to Ottawa that voting for other parties doesn’t accomplish.

Right now, many independence-minded Albertans support Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party. The People’s Party has a unique and beneficial message that is attractive to conservative-minded Westerners, so that’s understandable. Bernier’s opposition to the Paris Climate Accord would mean that a Peoples’ Party federal government would eliminate the kinds of policies that prevent Western freedom and prosperity.

That is excellent, of course. However, because the People’s Party doesn’t restrict its focus to Western interests, it can’t represent the West in the same way that an exclusively Western party could. This is not to disparage the People’s Party, but simply to note that as a pan-Canadian party it must represent the interests of every region in the country, not just the West.

Having a federal independence party – such as the Maverick Party – does more than simply provide an option for Western regionalist voters. If it were to win a substantial number of votes (whether in a by-election or general election), that would alert Central Canadians to the increasing anger towards Ottawa in the West. 

As long as Albertans continue to vote Conservative federally, Justin Trudeau knows he has nothing to worry about. Conservative MPs from Alberta undoubtedly sympathize with the plight of the West, but their options to help are severely constrained by the need to appeal to voters in places like Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. The Conservative Party wants more than anything to achieve power, and the path to power runs through Central Canada. Thus, the interests of Alberta will always be a very low priority for the Conservative Party.

In contrast, were one or more Western independence MPs to be elected, Trudeau would see the West was not just going to lie down and let him run us over. He might finally understand that his anti-oil industry policies would be met by stiff resistance and that he was in for a real fight.

Most importantly of all, though, is that the election of one or more Maverick Party MPs would provide a significant morale boost for the entire Western independence movement. There would be lots of excitement that would lead to increased support, even at the provincial level.

There’s something about an electoral victory that generates credibility, even if power is not attained by the victor. That is, even though Maverick MPs would not form government or exercise power, the fact that they received voter support would provide credibility for the independence movement as a whole. In this kind of situation, quality leaders would likely emerge who could take the movement forward.

Some people point out that there have been Bloc Québécois MPs in Ottawa for years and they have done little for Quebec. Therefore, Maverick MPs from Alberta would be just as pointless.

However, everyone expects Quebec to send separatist MPs to Ottawa. They’ve been doing that for decades. Alberta sending independence-minded MPs to Ottawa would be entirely different. The election of Maverick MPs would constitute a political earthquake that would rock the nation. It would be the Canadian news story of the decade, and it would generate new interest and energy in the Western independence movement.

In short, a federal political party could potentially play a meaningful role in the move towards Alberta independence. A federal party is not as essential as a provincial party for the independence movement to succeed, but the potential benefits it could provide should not be overlooked.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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