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BROWN: Ontario’s experiment in self-destruction

“Ontario Premier Doug Ford is now ‘social distancing’ himself from reality.”




Guest Column from Alexander Brown Communications Director for the National Citizens Coalition.

In a now-infamous column in The Atlantic – written back in those halcyon days where we viewed NPIs (read: lockdowns) as sacred and unquestionable – a journalist castigated “Georgia’s Experiment in Human Sacrifice” as the state looked to reopen.

And then something funny happened. In the months to follow, the apocalypse never came. Georgia ended up with fewer COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people than 18 other U.S. states. Many of those states had the strictest of lockdowns.

Today in Atlanta, the Braves are now playing baseball in front of 40,000 cheering fans.

If Ontario Premier Doug Ford was capable of recognizing these myriad, incongruous moments, or if he’d even taken the time to read the now dozens of studies that highlight the rather dubious efficacy behind small business lockdowns, school closures, and particularly any limitations on the safety of the great outdoors, perhaps Ontarians wouldn’t once again find themselves welded inside of their own homes.

But after 15 months of zero lessons learned, Ontario feels like it’s back to square one, when in reality, we’re so close to the finish line.

It never had to get this bad.

As much as the premier has been preyed upon by every union, special-interest, and conflict-of-interest under the Toronto sun, as of late, he only has himself to blame.

Why is that?

Doug Ford has a problem. And no, it’s not just Ontario’s notoriously over-stuffed, and mismanaged hospitals, although that has certainly compounded the province’s present-day calamity in regards to a worrying, end-of-respiratory-season hospitalization peak, and a relentless, daily ‘messaging apocalypse’ carried out by government, media, and a rotating cast of television doctors with side businesses.

His problem lies in that ‘messaging apocalypse’. Even as the province begins to turn the corner, the Ford is – somewhat ironically – utterly immune to inspiring positivity.

This Friday, not one day after New York City announced a hopeful “full reopening” for summer, Ford held a press conference from home, and inexplicably decided to start sounding the alarm on the threat of a “fourth wave”, and “deadly, vaccine-resistant variants”.

If this was a clumsy attempt to shift some of the blame back onto Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for what Ford perceives as a failure to secure the border, it’s irresponsible at best, and dangerous at worst. One should not be fomenting fears at a moment when the provinces should be encouraging the efficacy of vaccines as an option for those who want one, and laying out clear exit strategies for Canadians to follow.

As the National Post’s Chris Selley has pointed out numerous times, “This province’s ability to maximize misery while minimizing results and refusing to keep anything in perspective should be bottled and fired into the sun.

This was one of those moments. This was the new ‘premier dad’ at his absolute worst. It’s often hard to believe that Ford occupies the same landmass as a BC Medical Officer of Health who speaks positively about being in a “post-pandemic world this summer”, and who actually encourages happy, healthy outdoor behaviour. (As of writing, golf, tennis, basketball, and most forms of outdoor recreation are still banned in the province of Ontario.)

As the likes of Selley, Furey, Lilley, and Randall Denley noticed in the early days of COVID-19, something was rotten in the state of Denmark when it came to Ford’s stage presence. An early pandemic darling for his can-do attitude his empathy for those who were as scared as he was, Ford would still stride to the podium like he was in the midst of passing a kidney stone. And eventually, as the needs of greater public health – like Ontario’s millions of missed cancer screenings, and a major mental health crisis – started to push the premier to (rightfully) reopen the province, his status as a pandemic darling began to wane.

His new friends abandoned him in record time. And his once rock-solid ‘Ford nation’ base felt increasingly alienated by his tepid endorsements of small business, and his continued myopic approach to lockdowns. 

15 months later, and that hasn’t changed, even as the world has changed around Ontario.

At this point, that should only be hard to believe for those who haven’t been paying attention.

We now know definitively that you’re supposed to put resources before restrictions. That you should never close schools. And for the love of all things good and holy, you need to let people exercise and stay healthy when they’re faced with an endemic virus with a proven track record against those dealing with obesity and high blood pressure.

Going forward, this leaves Ontarians in an uncomfortable position. Either the premier’s hyperbolic, hyper-negative messaging on ‘fourth waves’ and the futile nature of vaccines shows that ‘premier dad’ really does care more than others, or, he really does plan on being one of the last leaders in the free world to move on from COVID-19.

Rational Ontarians, of course, know that it’s the latter.

If only he’d just come out and say it: he’s scared. He’s not ready to move forward, or to get back to normal. It’s hard to begrudge someone their fears, frustrations, and resentments, especially after a 2020-21 was spent fielding demands, anguished cries, and vile abuse. 

But he owes it to Ontarians to just come out and say it.

“Folks, I’m not ready. In fact, I don’t know when I’ll be.”

Either set a date for reopening, or set them free.

Guest Column from Alexander Brown Communications Director for the National Citizens Coalition.

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  1. lajc63@gmail.com

    May 14, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    Todd Loewen for UCP premier!!!

  2. Claudette Leece

    May 5, 2021 at 8:52 am

    Kenney has finally caved to the unions and this complete failure of a medical system Alberta has always had. Hospitals in Alberta have always been full, always behind surgeries, but this has nothing to do with toverwhelmed system, which it’s not. This is a line in the sand from the dictator Kenney, the rodeo was a “ how dare you” and now everyone will pay the price for their courage. Well don’t think Kenney realized what ripple effect he’s caused by crossing the floor to the unions and NDP, that all those conservative votes he and his MLA will never get from Alberta, will be lost to OToole, because he’s shown your only his base, only his supporters if you be good little kids and not crosss them, so say good bye to the conservatives and God I hope the UCP on May the 5 th. Kenneys day he showed you can lose your complete base in one day.

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65 signs that you might be an Albertan

Crackmacs, prairie oysters, Stampede, rat genocide, caesars, and weird small town kitsch are just a few of the signs that you might be an Albertan.




Albertans are a special breed. There’s no one quite like us anywhere else in the world.

What makes us unique as a people? That’s the question the Western Standard Editorial Board has been contemplating since going to a bar after work is illegal.

We spent some time on the project, and with the help of some brilliant friends across the country, came up with a still-growing list of some of the things that make us just a wee bit different.

“Crackmacs” in Calgary

65 – Crackmacs

You should avoid going there.

Prairie oysters

64 – Prairie Oysters

You have to try them before you can become one of us.

63 – Newcomers

You are a more fanatical Alberta patriot if you weren’t born here.

62 – Quebec

You don’t know why, but you really don’t like it.

61 – Saskatchewan

You don’t know why, but you like it.

60 – Newfies

They might talk funny, but they’re the best Albertans around. 


59 – Toronto

You may not like Quebec, but you hate Toronto. 

58 – Vancouver 

You both love and hate Vancouver.

57 – Ottawa

A place your money goes to be spent somewhere else.

56 – Getup

You wear a decent pair of cowboy boots, a Stetson, and a pair of Wranglers on at least one day during Calgary Stampede or whatever Klondike days is calling itself these days. 

Cowboy boots

55 – Boots

You can pull off cowboy boots at a downtown office any time of the year. 

54 – Rodeo

It’s not your first one.

53 – Cowboys

You think you’re one because you dressed up for Stampede and have been to the Last Chance Saloon outside Drumheller. 

52 – Calgary Stampede 

It’s redneck Oktoberfest.

51 – K-Days

Something Edmonton does because it doesn’t have Stampede.

A “Rat Patrol” propoganda poster

50 – Rat Genocide

You live in the only place on earth (other than Antarctica) with zero rats because your government has an actual department called the Rat Patrol. Killing them is a civil duty, and you don’t think this is weird at all. 

Main characters of the Trailer Park Boys

49 – Trailer Park Boys

What you think the East coast is really like.

48 – Hail Caesar 

You drink caesars, not bloody Marys. And you drink them with pride knowing they were invented in Calgary by Walter Chell, at the Owl’s Nest in the Westin Hotel.

47 – The Metric System 

You’re still not completely sold on it.

Ginger fried beef

46 – Prairie Chinese food

You’re proud that the best Chinese food in the world comes from the other side of the planet from China: prairie ginger beef.

45 – Chinese and Western

You don’t think there’s anything strange about a small village’s only eatery being a ‘Chinese and Western’ restaurant that serves ginger beef alongside hamburgers and fries. 

44 – Breakfast beer

You don’t see anything wrong with pouring some Clamato in your beer to take the hair off the dog. 

Ian Tyson

43 – Four Strong Winds

You tear up when listening to Four Strong Winds, by Ian Tyson.

42 – Four Strong Winds (II)

You burst into rage after listening to Four Strong Winds, by Neil Young.

41 – Alberta Bound

You’re unable to remain composed or resist singing it at the top of your lungs whenever it comes on. 

Big Sugar frontman Gordie Johnson (photo credit: Big Sugar)

40 – All Hell for a Basement

You stand up proud at attention as Big Sugar’s Alberta national anthem plays on the radio.

39 – Nickelback

You either want to forget about it, or think that it’s our greatest cultural export. 

kd lang

38 – k.d. lang

When she belted out Hallelujah during the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver, you were sure she’s Alberta’s patron saint. 

37 –Cal-gree”

You know when someone isn’t originally from here, because they pronounce it ‘Cal-ga-ree’ not the proper ‘Cal-gree’.

Banff National Park

36 – Banff

The reason Calgary thinks it’s better than Edmonton.

35 – Jasper

Where Edmontonians go to pretend they’re in Banff.

34 – The River Valley

The reason Edmontonians think their city is better than Calgary. 

33 – Red Deer

It’s neutral meeting ground for Calgarians and Edmontonians. 

Head smashed in buffalo jump

32 Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

An actual place.

31 – Tar Sands

You’ll murder anyone in cold blood who calls them that.

30 – Fracking

Something you do to extract oil and gas, or with your significant other. 

29 – Separatism

You want to separate from Canada when you’re 10 beers deep, but sing O’Canada when you sober up. 

28 – Canada Day

A day off to get ready for the Calgary Stampede

27 – MPs

People we send to Ottawa to forget about.

Courtesy dailiyxtra.com

26 – Anyone named Trudeau

You, your parents, and grandparents hate everyone with the name.

25 – National Energy Program

You will never forget. 

24 – Petro Canada

You remember when for decades the Petro Canada Tower was the largest building in Calgary, and you hated everything it represented. 

23 – The government

You worked for four years to vote out the NDP, and still hate the government.

22 – Federal elections

You, your parents, and grandparents federal voting history is a straight line. 

21 – Your provincial vote

You don’t care that you voted for the Conservatives federally and voted Wildrose or NDP provincially.

Spring camping in Alberta

20 – Spring blizzard camping

You’re so sick of winter that you don’t care if there’s a snow storm when you go camping on the May long weekend. 

19 – Patio season

You take the patio furniture out of the garage and hit the local bar patio as soon as the temperature soars to a high of 10C.

Summer in Calgary. Courtesy CBC

18 – Summer

There is no such thing. Only construction season.

17 – Labour Day

You know Labour Day has been set aside as a CFL Battle of Alberta. And winter starts tomorrow.

16 – Winter BBQ

You don’t think there’s anything strange about firing up the BBQ to grill some steaks when it’s -30C. 

15 – Cabins

You go away for the weekend to a cabin, not a cottage.

Image Credit: CBC

14 – Gun Control

You think ‘gun control’ means being able to shoot a moose at 100 yards with iron sights. 

13 – Lindsay Park

You refuse to call it the Talisman Centre.

The Big Beaver in Beaver Lodge, AB

12 – Weird, giant small-town kitsch 

Your idea of a romantic first date is to drive to Beaver Lodge to see the big beaver. 

11 – Ukrainians

You don’t really know why the Ukrainians in Alberta are the word leaders of weird small-town kitsch, with the giant pysanka (Easter egg) in Vegreville, the World’s largest kielbasa sausage in Mundare, or the massive perogy in Glendon. 

Bow Island Pinto Bean

10 – Pinto Beans

You’ve seen the Bow Island Pinto Bean, and it scared the hell out of you as a child.

The USS Enterprise in Vulcan, Alberta (Image Credit: Travel Alberta)

9 – Vulcans

You don’t have to be a Trekie to make pilgrimage to Vulcan and take in the small town’s fanatical devotion to Commander Spock, and its own weird, giant small-town kitsch: a massive model of the USS Enterprise.

8– More Aliens

You know that there’s an actual UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul, and you don’t think there’s anything weird about that. 

UFO Landing Site in St. Paul, AB

7 – French

‘Poutine’ is the extent of it.

6 – The Great Ones

You know who Gretz, Mess, Lanny, Iggy and Kipper are.

The Greatest One

5 – Vegetables

Your potato salad on the side of your beef-on-a-bun is sufficient. 

4 – Brooks

A place where cattle go to die.


A place where the glorious dead feast, and a few guys farm wheat. 

T-Rex in downtown Drumheller

2 – Dinosaurs

You think you know all about them because you went to the Drumheller.

1 – Deerfoot Trail

You agree that it is one of the worst-designed roads in the history of Western civilization.

So that’s a less-than-scientific rundown on what makes Albertans. But have we missed any? Let us know at dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com and we will run a list of some reader-inspired “You know you’re from Alberta when …?”

Western Standard Editorial Board

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Loewen predicts Kenney removal before 2023 election

Poll after poll has shown if an election was held today, Rachel Notley’s NDP would sweep back to power with a majority.




Alberta MLA Todd Loewen – who kicked off a firestorm Thursday by calling on Jason Kenney to resign – thinks there is little chance the premier can survive to lead the UCP into the 2023 election.

“People now distrust him. I don’t think the position that he’s in right now is recoverable,” Loewen told the Western Standard.

“It’s easy to see by the numbers. Premier Kenney is very unpopular in the province. By his actions, he is handing the NDP the next election.”

Poll after poll has shown if an election was held today, Rachel Notley’s NDP would sweep back to power with a majority.

Loewen’s letter on Thursday comes as Kenney’s leadership is already on the ropes. More than a dozen UCP constituency associations have already passed special resolutions demanding a leadership review, however Kenney poured cold water on the idea, pushing the vote to just six months before the next election

On Thursday, just after midnight, Loewen posted a letter to his Facebook account calling on Kenney to resign. One of the things the scathing missive said was Kenney had lost the trust of the Alberta electorate.

During a secret vote the following afternoon, Loewen was expelled from the UCP caucus. Also getting the boot was Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes, who has been a constant thorn in Kenney’s side since the UCP came to power. MLA David Hanson issued a declaration of support for Loewen but he escaped the wrath of colleagues.

Even though it had been brewing for 18 months, it was a cancelled caucus meeting on Wednesday that led to the “gut-wrenching” letter, said Loewen.

“We had two canceled caucus meetings in a row, without any explanation. Why? There are a lot of things going on, a lot of input caucus could have had. That’s not democracy. That’s disrespectful,” he said.

Loewen did say he and Barnes got some support at the virtually caucus meeting

In terms of running as an independent in the next election in 2023, Loewen said a decision hasn’t been made.

“I just know I slept very well last night and I’m sure I will tonight,” he said.

Loewen’s Facebook posting Thursday triggered a firestorm of political intrigue in the UCP.

“The government’s response to a hostile federal government has been perceived as weak and ineffective. Albertans have lost trust in the leadership of our government and are no longer willing to extend to us any benefit of the doubt on most issues,” said Loewen in the letter.

“Albertans perceive our government as out-of-touch and arrogant, and they expect our caucus to bring their issues of concern to the government. Many of us have tried to do so repeatedly, only to be ignored and dismissed. When the Premier chooses not to listen to caucus, is it any wonder why the people choose to stop listening to the government? Our supporters and those I represent can no longer tolerate this. These folks have not abandoned the principles and values of the UCP, but they have abandoned you specifically.”

Growing caucus tension also bubbled to the surface when 17 UCP MLAs signed an open letter condemning Kenney for putting Alberta back under a third lockdown. Kenney’s dismissal of the letter led to a series of leaks from the UCP caucus, with several MLAs telling the Western Standard the premier threatened them with an early election if they did not have confidence in his leadership.

Soon after the rogue rodeo in Bowden, Alta. to protest the third lockdown, UCP MLAs told the Western Standard Kenney said in reference to the attendees, ““If they are our base, I want a new base.”

Kenney denied the story as “fake news” and said that the comments were only referring to people making death threats against him, but UCP MLAs told the Western Standard Kenney was “lying.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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NOW HIRING: Reporters in Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg & Ottawa




Canada’s fastest growing independent media company is looking for a new senior reporters for the position of bureau chief in Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, and Ottawa.

Position Overview

The Bureau Chief is the manager and chief reporter responsible for overseeing the News Division in a given province or region for the Western Standard.

Bureau Chiefs working outside of the Company’s Calgary headquarters may in some circumstances work from a home office.

The Western Standard produces a high volume of news and opinion content on a daily basis.

Reporting and Parameters

The Bureau Chief reports directly to the Editing News Director. 

He or she will have their performance reviewed on an annual basis. 

Major Duties & Responsibilities                                                                         

  • Write frequent and compelling news copy with a rapid turn-around. 
  • Use the Freedom of Information Act and other tools available to obtain compelling and important content for news copy.
  • Oversee and edit the copy of the employees and contractors in the News Division’s Bureau.
  • Meet with the Editing News Director and subordinate employees and contractors to assess the direction of the News Division’s Bureau, develop short and long-term goals, and ensure compliance with the Western Standard’s Editorial Principles.
  • Listen to the viewpoints and reports of the News Division’s Bureau employees and contractors. 
  • Maintain awareness and knowledge of the Western Standard’s readership and editorial metrics.
  • Maintain a reasonable and professional social media presence.  

Job Requirements

  • A Bachelor’s Degree in journalism or communications is preferred but not required.
  • 5-8 years’ industry experience.
  • Passion for writing and editing interesting copy.
  • A portfolio of published copy.
  • Strong knowledge of the media process and industry.
  • Excellent communications and research skills
  • Self-starting

If you believe that this a challenge that is right for you, send your resume and cover letter to careers@westernstandardonline.com.

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