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MORGAN: Far from uniting, Kenney has created a new Wildrose

“When the major options become unpalatable, Albertans create new ones. That is why we have spawned new parties and obliterated existing parties repeatedly in the last century, and the last decade.”

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While Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has proven to be adept at talking-the-talk in standing up to Ottawa, he has consistently refused to walk-the-walk.

While Kenney now has more than two years as premier under his belt now, his government has failed to implement any major policy to protect Alberta from an increasingly hostile federal government. Albertans concerned with provincial rights have clearly become tired of Kenney’s all-talk, no-action policy when it comes to Ottawa.

In a poll from Mainstreet Research, commissioned by the Western Standard, the nascent Wildrose Independence Party has shot up to 16% support province-wide. Lacklustre UCP performance has led to a modest uptick in support for the NDP, but it’s clear most of the UCP support is bleeding to the right.

In constituencies, the two big cities — Edmonton and Calgary — it’s become a real three-way race between the NDP, UCP, and WIP. While support for the Wildrose is softer in urban constituencies, its support is high enough to be a determining factor in many races. NDP support is likely to remain static in rural regions, while the Wildrose is only one more big fight with Ottawa in taking a commanding lead in those constituencies. Premier Kenney is going to have to start making inroads with autonomists and sovereigntists soon if he’s to have any hope of turning the tide. That will mean less talk, and more action.

In a recent interview in response to Quebec’s attempt to unilaterally have itself declared a nation within Canada, Premier Kenney talked up a great game as usual.

“I may not agree with Quebec on every point of policy, but they fight for their province using every legal tool at their disposal,” said Kenney in a Friday interview.

That sounds nice, but Kenney hasn’t even opened up the toolbox of provincial rights, much less utilized any of them. Citizens concerned about Alberta’s treatment and its role within confederation are finished with doublespeak and lip service. With Paul Hinman and the Wildrose becoming a credible player on the electoral landscape, Kenney can no longer keep up his carrot and stick game. “The base” he says he wants to replace now has somewhere else to go. And the polls are showing, they’re leaving.

After the Supreme Court ruled in March that federally-imposed carbon taxes are indeed constitutional, Kenney came out roaring, with talk.

“We’re going to consider all options, listen to Albertans, and see what they want to do. Two-thirds of Albertans continue to oppose a carbon tax,” said Kenney

Then CPC leader Erin O’Toole broke his word and proposed a convoluted and expensive carbon tax of his own.

Jason Kenney’s silence was, and remains, deafening. A month and-a half-later, Kenney has yet to utter a single word about his ally’s carbon tax, despite dozens of inquires from Western Standard reporters. Kenney appears to be knowingly ignoring the will of two-thirds of Albertans when its his own party in Ottawa.

When none of the major federal parties will protect Alberta from taxes designed to target its industries, Albertans have to look to provincial leadership to protect them. Kenney refuses to provide that leadership. This has led to a spike in support for Jay Hill’s Maverick Party and, of course, contributed strongly to the surge in Wildrose support.

It has become clear the “Fair Deal” panel hearings were little more than an exercise to pacify Albertans who had regional concerns. The months have turned into years since Kenney was elected on a platform of standing up for Alberta that would be “strong and free,” yet not a single major plank of the “Fair Deal” recommendations reached the stage of even proposed legislation.

In standing up for our energy sector, the Kenney government has proven no less flaccid in its approach than it has proven to be with Ottawa. The ‘war room’ morphed into an expensive national laughingstock which even pro-energy advocates don’t take seriously. The inquiry into foreign funding of anti-Alberta energy groups has turned into a bad joke as Steve Allen has sought – and received – their fourth extension for his report. Tree sloths move with more speed and vigor than Allen’s inquiry and it’s leading Albertans to conclude it’s leading to a multi-million dollar nothing burger.

Paul Hinman is no slouch as a political player. He was key in developing the conservative policies that built the Wildrose Party into an electoral force a decade ago. He knows the fiscal policies and democratic reforms Albertans want to see. He doesn’t need to re-invent any wheels here. Gaining the support of Albertan regionalists was the low-hanging fruit for the upstart party. The party has seen massive growth driven by Kenney’s lockdowns, pastor imprisonments, church closures, and attacks on civil liberties across the board. Now Hinman will target those who want to see taxation and spending brought under control, along with citizens concerned with individual rights and democratic reform. The UCP has given more than enough to work with.

Public opinion on lockdown measures is also beginning to sway as found in another poll conducted for the Western Standard. As he did in dealing with Ottawa, Jason Kenney talked a good game when it comes to protecting businesses and individual rights during COVID-19, but played a different one when it came to actual legislation and regulation. Fatigue with restrictions is wearing on citizens and as the lone significant party standing in opposition to lockdowns, Wildrose is well placed to garner support as the economic consequences of extended lockdowns become more evident.

Bait-and-switch tactics with the electorate will only work in a two-party system. If voters feel there is nowhere else to go, they will stick with the tried and true. There is a third player on the block now.

Albertans historically have not been inclined to holding their noses. They are what Preston Manning called, “political entrepreneurs.” When the major options become unpalatable, they create new ones. That’s why we have spawned new parties and obliterated existing parties repeatedly in the last century, and the last decade.

The UCP may well become the shortest-lived governing party in Alberta history if Kenney doesn’t stop talking and start acting soon.

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

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Seven-Zero-One

    May 25, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    I could never understand.Why Albertans pay for child care and tuition fee’s in Quebec trough Equalization.
    The Pro Colonists / Pro Canada UCP will defend status quo. I will not be surprise .If UCP getting in coalition with NDP in order to stop 🌹Wildrose🌹
    Which means Albertans will continue to pay Federal Tax, Carbon Tax, Equalization…
    Think about this.With majority 🌹Wildrose government.Its huge impact on Federation. By creating Alberta Revenue Agency. Albertans will keep all the money in Alberta.

  2. K

    May 25, 2021 at 8:22 am

    You’d have to be stupid to vote for anyone OTHER than Wildrose. This nightmare needs to END.

  3. Barbara

    May 24, 2021 at 11:26 am

    Chris Sky May 23 Coming here to Edmonton May 26

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26nmf7kGEKQ

  4. John Lankers

    May 24, 2021 at 10:39 am

    @Left Coast, check out ‘Russian Plus’ and ‘Yeah Russia’ on YT, it is a real eye opener. If it wasn’t for the language barrier…

  5. Left Coast

    May 24, 2021 at 10:14 am

    My wife has been watching U-tube videos of life in Russia . . . interesting stuff.
    There is a couple with a pet Cougar, and others who take you on tours of the Malls & big cities like St. Petersburg & Moscow.
    What jumps out at you right away is how far they have come in just 30 years. High speed rail links their major cities, Malls are full of businesses, grocery stores are loaded with products, cars are everywhere . . . wages are low by our standards, but you can buy a new home for $10,000.
    Have a look folks . . . they are likely doing much better than many Canooks these days.
    The Russians have been gaining more & more freedom in recent decades, while we in the land of the Canooks have been losing our freedoms, even before Covid.

  6. berta baby

    May 24, 2021 at 7:29 am

    Wildrose all the way…when someone offers you advise on voting for Jason kenney the cool thing to do is just say no!!

  7. Baron Not Baron

    May 23, 2021 at 10:34 pm

    Well.. what is there really to add about Kenney? He will always find another reason to prolong lockdowns – as he is directed by his devil master.. Kenney is not here to do well for Alberta but quite the opposite – to keep Alberta in its current state of a colony. You see what is going on in the world.. Kenney is a paid mercenary. He can talk, he can smile, he can bury you without any problem, sleeping like a baby at night.
    For any sane Albertan, right now Wildrose Independence Party is the only way to get out of this misery.

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Pickup trucks are a plague on Canadian streets — Gee, did he get it wrong?

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

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Across Canada’s untamed urban frontier, when pickup truck drivers aren’t wrestling wild hogs, they’re on the road tailgating electric cars and cyclists for sport.

And the biggest polluters aren’t factories in China, India and elsewhere ceaselessly spewing smoke and chemicals into the air.

Nasty pickup-driving soccer moms rolling coal in mall parking lots are the ones killing the planet!
At least, that’s how Globe and Mail writer Marcus Gee sees it.

Thank goodness he ventured out of his urban bubble to set people straight on the devastating impact of the vile permeation of pickup trucks in North America.

Hopefully, Gee’s Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, with a heaping topping of utter contempt, didn’t dribble down his elitist chin whilst he penned a recent snobbish attack on the character of pickup truck drivers.

It doesn’t take long for the initial surprise at the absurdity of his sanctimonious reasoning to turn into laughter.

Gee lamented that last spring – in the midst of a pandemic yet – Americans bought more pickup trucks than cars. And, if you can imagine, for years, Canadians have had the audacity to make Ford’s F-150 a best-selling vehicle.

“For heaven’s sake why? Most people no longer use pickups to haul bales of hay. They drive them to the mall to shop or the soccer field to drop off their kids. Why anyone thinks they need to do that is an abiding mystery,” anguished Gee.

“Once the vehicle of the cowboy, the contractor, and the good old boy, pickups have become the continent’s mainstream ride,” wrote Gee.

“A vehicle that started as a practical tool for hard-working people has become, for many, an obnoxious assertion of dominance and division,” wrote Gee.

What a clever ploy! Pretend you’re purchasing pickup trucks to haul things, make a living, or for safe driving in brutal weather conditions, when the real intent is to achieve dominance and create division.
Do pickup truck drivers hold super-secret meetings like the Illuminati or the Bilderberg Group to achieve this nefarious goal?

Gee referred to a survey – no, he didn’t identify it – that claimed three-quarters of pickup drivers use their trucks only once, or not at all, for hauling each year.

That would come as a shock to farmers, contractors, tradesmen, delivery companies, utility repairmen, movers, people who haul loads to the dump or the whole team’s gear to regular sports events, and a host of other pickup truck drivers.

“Buyers can drop $100,000 on luxury models, which most will spend more time polishing than loading,” he wrote.

“Even if they weren’t polluting and dangerous, the parade of pickups would be a blight on the roadscape and a finger in the eye of other drivers – a way of saying to everyone else: ‘I am bigger, badder and richer than you.”

No, Gee didn’t say what message is sent by purchasers of the $93,000 Audi e-tron Sportback or the $170,000 BMW i8 Roadster, or other expensive electric or hybrid vehicles he prefers.

Gee’s entitled to his opinion. But it evolved into a personal attack on people who drive vehicles he doesn’t like. He portrayed them as reckless bullies on the hunt for targets.

That’s inexcusable.

“In the charming practice known as rolling coal, some pickup drivers blow past cyclists and electric vehicles and deliberately spew black smoke at them,” claimed Gee.

Yup, those hordes of pickup truck drivers – even the soccer moms – spend their spare time modifying diesel engines so they can hunt down targets to spew sooty exhaust fumes on. Great fun!
Can anyone possibly be so detached from reality?

But Gee wasn’t finished flinging wild accusations: “Then there is safety. Anyone who has travelled a Canadian highway lately has been tailgated by a speeding pickup driver. Being up there in that big cab over the huge engine seems to make the drivers think they own the road; lesser vehicles be damned.”
Now that’s a fabricated, irrational fear, right up there with monsters hiding under the bed or in the closet.

And the good old boys Gee mocked still drive pickups. They’re everywhere. They’re the first to stop on the highway in frigid, stormy weather to pull vehicles that jackknifed and slid off the road out of the ditch, never expecting more than a thank you.

He’s right about farmers not using pickups to haul bales, particularly in Manitoba now. That’s because there are no bales to haul to feed the cattle they’re forced to sell because of drought and grasshoppers.
Meanwhile, many people, especially in Alberta, are using their pickup trucks to move their possessions out of the homes they’ve lost because clueless and destructive environmentalists successfully campaigned against the energy industry.

Gee was applauded by his colleague Gary Mason who tweeted: “This is a column I wish I’d written.”

These Uber boys are so sadly out of touch.

Most Canadians are fed up with condescending so-called elitists who look down on them believing they have the right to tell them how to live and what to buy.

Rev those engines, folks!

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

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Opinion

WAGNER: Election of Maverick MPs would send a clear message of Western defiance

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats?

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The May poll showing emerging support for the Maverick Party is good news for Alberta. The party is beginning to build its profile and may become competitive in some ridings. As time goes by, more and more Albertans will hear about the party and see it as a viable alternative worthy of their vote.

A federal election will likely occur this year (very soon, according to Brian Lilley in the Toronto Sun), and almost all of Alberta’s seats are currently safe havens for Conservative MPs. A result like 2019 where every seat except one goes Conservative will be met by a shrug in Ottawa. That’s just business as usual. 

But what if – instead of business as usual – the Mavericks picked up a few Alberta seats? A result like that would set off a firestorm. Nothing would catch the attention of people in Central Canada more abruptly than Albertans sending some so-called “separatist” MPs to Ottawa. Bloc Quebecois MPs don’t raise too many eyebrows down there. They are, after all, from Central Canada too, and share the same “progressive” values and anti-oil sentiment exhibited by most of the other parties. But sovereigntist MPs from Alberta? That would be something else altogether.

There are many good Conservative MPs from Alberta who undoubtedly do their best for their constituents. But right now, the West needs MPs who can speak out publicly without the fear of retribution by party leadership whose ambitions are always to please Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal – MPs, that is, whose only loyalty is to Alberta and the West.

From a Western regionalist perspective, a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the status quo. Alberta needs something different now, something that offers a full-frontal challenge to Central Canada’s political elite. Electing politicians from the old-line parties just won’t do it. But electing Maverick candidates might.

The ridings most likely to show support for Maverick candidates are in rural Alberta. Ridings like Battle River—Crowfoot and Red Deer—Mountain View are unfamiliar to people in places like Toronto. But if those ridings sent Maverick MPs to Ottawa, people in Central Canada would suddenly hear about them, for all the right reasons. 

The large Wexit meetings that were held in the wake of the October 2019 federal election generated some attention down East. A prominent Toronto-based magazine, The Walrus, even produced a cover feature on Wexit with two major articles, The New Separatists and Meet the Albertans Who Want to Start Their Own Country. But as the Wexit meetings dissipated due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and perhaps declining enthusiasm, Central Canada once again forgot about Western discontent.

Having a Maverick presence in the House of Commons would ensure Western concerns would not be forgotten or ignored. Maverick MPs would be a continual reminder that things are not okay and big changes are needed. 

It’s true that only a provincial government can hold a referendum on independence. Even with elected MPs, a federal party cannot initiate any measures that would lead to Western independence. As a result, some people question the necessity of a federal sovereigntist party. However, if a referendum on Alberta independence were held under the Clarity Act, the House of Commons would determine whether the referendum question on independence was “clear.” The presence of MPs whose only loyalty is to the West could be crucial in getting a fair judgment on that point. 

Maverick MPs would represent the West’s interests in other important matters as well, of course. We know that Quebecers believe there are advantages to sending committed sovereigntist MPs to Ottawa because they repeatedly elect candidates from the Bloc Quebecois. The West can do likewise.

If Alberta and Saskatchewan send full slates of Conservative MPs to Ottawa after the next election, no one will be surprised and Canadian politics would continue as usual. However, if Alberta – and perhaps the other Western provinces – send some Maverick MPs to Ottawa, that would convey an unmistakable message of defiance.

It would be a clear signal that the West has had enough.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Help too little, too late for Manitoba farmers

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

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A disaster relief program announced Thursday for drought-stricken Manitoba farmers is too little too late to save too many.

And the package, although welcomed, doesn’t address other critical problems.

Severe drought and a grasshopper invasion have left parched watering holes and destroyed crops and pastures, forcing producers to sell cattle they can’t feed at emergency auctions.

Farmers are exhausted from hauling water to thirsty animals and a prolonged fight for survival.

An exodus from the devastated industry is underway. Forage livestock commodity producers – beef, sheep, goats, buffalo and horses – are planning, in some cases, permanent exit strategies.

“This could be the end of the industry here. By the time most people are forced out, they’re not going to have enough money to go back into it,” Orval Procter, a beef producer and councillor for the R.M. of Woodlands, just north of Winnipeg, told the Western Standard.

“These announcements are wonderful but there needs to be strong dialogue provincially, federally, with all the commodity groups to figure out as best a path as we can to benefit everybody.

“This is a small drop in what we need. Not all of what we need is money. We need good planning and regulations or restrictions to add some control to the marketplace.”

Agriculture contributes $7 billion a year to Manitoba’s economy and $1 billion of that is attributed directly to livestock. 

The ripple effect of an exodus would devastate communities and businesses within them.

Manitoba’s suffering its fourth year of drought. Areas where cattle production is prevalent are hardest hit.

“Livestock producers are unique in that we’re struggling, and we have live animals that we’re dealing with. Grain producers who are struggling aren’t putting animals at risk,” said Procter.

Over the past two years with feed in short supply, farmers have had to sell one-third of their breeding stock.

But for 11 years, the resilience of economically crippled farmers and producers has been severely tested by a string of blows including BSE (mad cow disease), flooding, drought, economic recessions, and the impact of COVID-19.

“Because we’ve had so many issues, nobody has the financial resources, and nobody knows where we can get enough feed. It’s dire,” said Procter.

Through it all, they’ve mostly had to go it alone because there was “minimal recognition” by the government of the crushing economic damage to the industry, said Procter. 

He helped organize a July 21 rally to call for immediate federal and provincial government help. Nearly 100 producers showed up. Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Ralph Eichler didn’t attend for health reasons and didn’t send anyone from the agriculture department in his place.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau visited drought-stricken areas Thursday and announced federal/provincial relief programs.

Through the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s Hay Disaster Benefit, insured livestock feed producers will get an extra $44 per tonne to offset replacement feed and transportation costs. Changes to the AgriInsurance program allow some crops damaged by drought to be sold as feed.

“What they’re really announcing is a top-up to the insurance programs to make sure there’s enough money to increase benefits to producers for hay shortages based on the extra cost. That price is typically set almost on a national scale, so when you get in situations like we have, where the price is triple what it was last year and they pay you out on last year’s costs, it doesn’t let you buy much,” said Procter.

He’s concerned about the cattle.

“There’s about 450,000 cows in Manitoba. Most producers are being affected by this,” said Procter.

“One of the biggest things that scares me, and nobody’s talking about it, there’s obviously going to be a huge influx of cattle into the market. Where are these cattle going to go? Are we going to have days with 5,000 head showing up an auction mart with three days selling? How many days before they’re moved? Who’s going to want them?” 

Every bit of hay that comes into the system is desperately needed. Eight bales saves one cow.

But pleas for more Crown land and wildlife management areas to be opened for haying and grazing, appear futile.

“The department has let land out, but they’ve not let all of it out. Areas still aren’t open and that’s to no one’s benefit,” said Procter.

“There’s no engagement. We asked for a contact to meet with, it’s been three weeks and we haven’t been given that. We got a roundabout response that it probably wasn’t going to happen.”

Meanwhile, skyrocketing feed costs and negative sales returns have resulted in producers receiving up to $400 less per animal than the cost of raising it.

“We haven’t even been in a break-even position for some time. We get 19% of the final cost, feed lots get 19%, and the rest is taken up by slaughter plants and retail,” said Procter.

“I’ve got receipts from 2002 – $1.87 a pound for a 400-500-pound steer was pretty common. I got the same price a month ago.” 

Producers are demanding a “government-driven investigation into the system that prices meat products, from the farmer’s gate to the consumer’s plate.”

The price producers receive isn’t reflected in what consumers pay for meat products.

“What’s hamburger worth? That’s your cheapest cut,” said Procter.

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

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