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GIEDE: Four lessons from COVID-19 we must never forget

“Perhaps the reason the talk around the pandemic ceased so abruptly is it was revealing too clearly how broken Canada is as well as who is responsible for this sorry state of affairs.”




Due to church fires and wildfires, the pandemic has evaporated from public discussion. But before the virus disappears in a cloud of smoke, I am offering a final meditation that is equal parts obituary, valediction, and prophesy. British Columbians lived under the tyranny of covidism for exactly 472 days, from St. Pat’s 2020 to Canada Day 2021. Such an unprecedented time in history is worthy of an epilogue.

In case anyone east of the Rockies is unclear as to the situation in BC, it could not be put more bluntly: we are fully open, phases and updates be damned. Supposedly, we’re in phase three with phase four still to go, but most people are maskless in stores, the pressure to vaccinate is dissipating, and church services, as well as weddings and funerals, are allotted full capacity. It looks like summer 2019 around my home city.

Conveniently, all this started on July 1st. I will forever maintain that Dr. Bonnie Henry and Premier John Horgan saw the writing on the wall from Victoria Day onwards and simply desired to not be left behind, forcing themselves to the front of a parade they had lost any control over. But if you want to believe the Wuhan Flu suddenly became non-lethal on our national birthday, I have monorail to sell you.

COVID-19 was the third major disaster with massive economic repercussions to strike during my short adulthood. I was born in 1990: in 2008, I watched the world financial system collapse, followed by the never ending recession; in 2014, having just entered the trades as a welder, oil crashed; and in 2020, having just financed my first truck, my burgeoning career as a salesman was declared “non-essential.”

Such a series of unfortunate, unpredictable as well as uncontrollable events might excuse bitterness. But what it actually inspired within me is a profound empathy for those classes I would not have otherwise known due to my privileged upbringing: the downtrodden, the working poor, and the ever expanding category named especially for members of my generation living under the gig economy – the precariat.

The most widely felt effect of the Wuhan Flu was not shortness of breath, loss of taste, nor death itself – it was joblessness. Millions of people became unemployed overnight as their work and workplaces were deemed “non-essential” by a government rubric that has never been properly explained. This in turn revealed just how leveraged most Canadians are at all times and how little room for error there was in the economy.

People were put on the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which exposed another cold reality – our lowest wages had become so stagnant that for many people the CERB was the best cheque they had ever taken home. Of course it had none of its income tax removed – another discussion for a later column – but the fact that it paid better to stay home than to work was a damning charge for our social contract.

The government suddenly became more involved in every area of our lives, attempting to reinvent the wheel on everything from hospital visits, to travel, to schoolyard play, to what ought to be sold in stores. The rules changed so frequently and demanded such metrics that only those fluent in technocratic language or with the staff to handle the mandates were able to stay above water – small businesses drowned.

Meanwhile, the protected class, sometimes called the professional managerial class, got infinitely richer during this crisis. Being able to work from home, commuting costs zeroed while tax credits abounded for home offices. Contractors renovated their homes, third party drivers delivered their meals, and Amazon took their money out of the local economy, all while mom and pop shops closed up just down the road.

The only hardship the PMC suffered was having to directly parent their children , while schools and daycares were briefly closed due to a virus that had little affect on our young people.

But the coup d’grace of COVID-19 was its ability to divide families, congregations, workplaces, and civil society. Neighbours who had tolerated each other throughout every other socio-political upheaval were finally driven into confrontation, even coming to blows over the invisible reality that had gripped the world in terror. The virus remains a winnowing fork of biblical proportions, separating the populace.

What were the lessons that nobody bothered to learn?

First, we are not the sober, rational citizens we declare ourselves to be. From stockpiling toilet paper, to the snitching on social gatherings, Canadians turned on one another viciously.

Second, the economy is far more fragile than we realize, as are those operating in it, particularly at a debt vs. income level. More people were lost to economic despair than COVID-19 over the last 15 months.

Third, those who do not suffer the consequences of their ideology or actions cannot be allowed to make the decisions for those whom their policies do effect. There is no such thing as “non-essential” workers, and lockdown-happy politicians (particularly in Alberta) were only too happy to destroy the lives of others while living it up in illegal rooftop dinner parties.

Finally, given the frustration people feel about our leadership class and the direction of our country, “building back better” was a phrase that could capture imaginations everywhere. Of course, all the useful idiots in our governments decided this meant a “great reset” which would accord even more power and less accountability to themselves, because they had displayed such wisdom during the pandemic.

Perhaps the reason the talk around the pandemic ceased so abruptly is it was revealing too clearly how broken Canada is as well as who is responsible for this sorry state of affairs. COVID-19 did present a real possibility of re-imagining the social contract – the first such instance for radical improvement that occurred in my lifetime.

That opportunity has passed us by, leaving us angry and hungry for real change.

Nathan Giede is the BC Affairs Columnist 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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  1. Left Coast

    July 26, 2021 at 9:59 am

    Kissinger quote from a speech to the WHO Council on Eugenics, February 25th 2009:

    “Once the herd accepts mandatory vaccinations, It’s GAME OVER. They will accept anything – Forcible blood or organ donation- “For the greater good”.

    We can genetically modify children and sterilize them- “For the greater good”. Control sheep minds and you control the herd.

    Vaccine makers stand to make billions. And many of you in this room are investors. It’s a BIG win/win. We thin out the herd, and the herd pays us for extermination services”

    Henry Kissinger~

    Lets ask an Expert . . .
    Dr. Robert Malone, MRNA inventor . . .

    He said mRNA vaccines are not vaccines. The process of using nucleic acids to alter cell function is more properly called gene therapy. That’s why Dr. Malone’s Wikipedia bio disappeared along with all the articles praising him for developing DNA/RNA transfection technology. Dr. Malone developed transfection technology in 1988, while working at the Salk Institute, and the covid mRNA vaccines are based on Dr. Malone’s transfection technology. So what exactly is transfection technology and what is it used for?

    Transfection is described as “the process of artificially introducing nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) into cells, utilizing means other than viral infection.” According to Britannica, “it’s used to insert foreign nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) into a cell, typically with the intention of altering the properties of the cell.”

    Dr. Hodkinson . . .
    “Believe nothing you’re being told. It’s all a pack of lies from start to finish! Pure, unopposed propaganda, plain and simple. This is nothing more than a bad seasonal flu with certain minor exceptions,” the pathologist said.

    I now suspect that the Virus Leak from the Wuhan Lab was a Planned Event . . . funded by Dr. Fauci’s Agency.
    You can bet the farm that Fauci & Gates were at that WHO meeting in 2009!

  2. Susan Grant

    July 23, 2021 at 8:09 am

    I learned that MOST of ALBERTA is NOT Conservative, but rather Socialisim lovers who demand the “state” protect their hurt feelings. They are sheep that want the toys and fun and so they bent over like Lieberals instead of seraching for the truth. In the face of so many lies and inconsistent hidden facts, I learned that professionals will go along with the Tyranny becasue it serves thier pockets. #GrossGreed #WrathOfGod #LackOfCourage #LackOfConscience. I learned that too many people cant be bothered to open their minds to possiblity, have been manipulated by MSM propaganda and dont want to see the truth! #SHEEPLE. I have learned that soon ALL the sheeple will loose EVERYTHING, own NOTHING and stick thier arms out for another JAB EXPERIMENT that chnages their DNA to plug them in to hive computer! I learned most Albertans like the #MATRIX

  3. Cosmo Kramer

    July 21, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    I agree with much of the comments here. The very sad thing is how unified all of these political parties (federal, provincial, municipal) are under the globalists. With the exception like a few (Maxime Bernier, Derek Sloan) there has been no criticism of the Chinese virus policies whereas in the USA there were many prominent critics at the federal and state levels. The public health and medical establishment clearly showed that health is not their priority but act according to the demands of big pharma.

    I hope I am wrong but I suspect this is not over. When fall approaches and many injected (it is not a vaccine) fall ill the blame will be put on non-injected “anti-vaxxers” and as Biden already mentioned (Canada always follows) we can end up with public health officials or the military at our doors to give out jabs. A two tier system may be put in place where the uninjected have less rights. This has already started in Manitoba under the vile and evil Pallister.

  4. Penny4YourThouhts

    July 21, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    Well, I don’t know about anyone else, but I learned that the number of politicians willing to risk their careers to tell the truth, is nearly ZERO. Who, aside from Derek Sloan, had the guts to do what he could to get the truth past the censors? Where are all the conservatives who are ready to fight against the spread of communism in this country? Are they actively working to change legislation to protect us from the extreme left? OR are they trying to figure out how to win the votes of both sides? Maybe they’re just finding ways to make deals with the extreme left and communist countries hoping they will save the economy?

    As far as doctors go, the number of doctors who were brave enough to actually READ ALL the science was also incredibly small. What does that say about ethics in medicine? As far as I’m concerned, if a doctor is choosing their jobs over the lives of their patient they obviously do not take the oath to do any harm seriously. I’m sure not going to trust any one of them with my life – not to mention they obviously didn’t learn to think critically which kind of comes in handy in the field of medicine.

    Finally, I’ve learned that this whole covid conspiracy obviously runs deep. The fact that every government, worldwide, was willing to sell out their countrymen for a one-world government? Wow. That makes Hitler’s Nazi Germany look like amateurs.

  5. Clash

    July 21, 2021 at 5:17 am

    I predict that by October we are locked down again. It will be variant BlahBlah by then. And they will do it easier than last time. They are already sending swarms of Storm troopers, or Gestapo to individuals homes in the middle of the night to terrorize an unprepared helpless population. They scare people with; “Climate Change”, “Covid ##”, eventually it will get to be 6 Storm Troopers at your door in the middle of the night. Then if Bill C-36 is passed, and your neighbours or acquaintances getting $20k for reporting something on you, you will be afraid to move or talk. I’ve said before, We are Cuba 60 years ago. Look to Cuba to see what is in store for us.

  6. Kelly Carter

    July 21, 2021 at 12:00 am

    I agree with the author and left coast. I find it shocking how easily so many people were manipulated and wanted the government to be in charge of our lives. The snitching and locking up pastors was also shocking considering we used to pride ourselves in fighting for freedom. The moral supremacy of those who did everything asked of them by the government and social media for the sake of saving someone who might be at risk and not know it 🙄. The idea that anyone or government could assess a person’s risk better than that person.

    I have lost a lot of friends over COVID, and find myself disgusted by the government employees or upper management and government itself who never missed a pay day and often had less work to do. I am very bitter over an entire year of lost wages for my husband. I know more people coming out of this with substance abuse problems, and I know of as many suicides as COVID victims. There was no logic or science to what government did and I am fuming mad over it. This was not the Black Plague or even the Spanish flu.

    I don’t understand the fear other than it is clear that the majority of people fear their own mortality to such an extent that they are willing to sacrifice living to have a heart beat. It is incomprehensible, but for sure the history books are going to write Trudeau as a saviour, and COVID as the worst public health threat ever with the vaccine as the only option to save us all. I plan on writing my own account from my own perspective, and I encourage everyone else to do the same as this will be white washed in 10-20 years time when you remember when….

  7. Josh

    July 20, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    -Dr. Hoffe says he can not long work anywhere else cause he has been charged with speaking out. (Canada)
    -Dr. Christian says hes in the same boat. He has been charged (Canada)
    -Dr. Trozzi gave up his license cause he could not comply. (Canada)
    -Chris Scott lost his property and as far as I know im not sure AHS has given him right back to it. (Canada)
    -Pastor Coates losing his church (Canada)
    -Pastor Stephens being arrested 2 times (Canada)
    -Pastor Pawlowski being arrested in the street (Canada)
    -Dr. Bridle He received horrible treatment from his peers and threats (Canada)
    -Abigail Lost her job at Eddie Bauer in BC for following provincial rules (Canada)
    -Northcott Has been fined for trying to make a living (Canada)
    -Dr. Coleman Has lost his career for speaking the truth and is worried his time is near (UK)
    -A police officer that risked his career to obtain a vile of the pfizer shot for research (Spain)

    The list goes on and on but these were some I could think of off the top of my head.

  8. John Galbraith

    July 20, 2021 at 9:06 pm

    Who risked a lot?

  9. K

    July 20, 2021 at 11:39 am

    Excellent summation, and I agree with everything the author states here. However, make no mistake that this live exercise has ended. They have merely turned down the heat for the summer so they can crank it right back up again in the fall.

    The unvaxxed will be blamed for the resurgence of the ‘deadly virus’ that is killing next to no one.

    They will likely spin this as ‘the vaccines don’t work unless we all take them’. Remain vigilant. This is far from over, and has the potential to get VERY ugly.

    Vaccine passports were always the plan, and they will be pushed in one way or another. They must be fought at all costs.

  10. Left Coast

    July 20, 2021 at 10:17 am

    Canada . . . being run by some of the least impressive, least intelligent people among us . . . like the 2 time U dropout drama teacher Crime Minister, never had a Real Job Horgan, unable to Lead Kenney, the incredibly ignorant Ford, and Chairman Pallister. A collection of Unimpressive Fools.

    None of the above had enough Brains to get informed, back in May 2020 they could have called the Gov of South Dakota, Florida or a country like Sweden that took a different approach. They didn’t . . . instead they followed the Crime Minister with his WHO tyrant Tam down the CCP rabbit hole.

    In May 2020, according to the USA CDC, we knew that the under 70 healthy population had only less than a .5% chance of dying from the Virus. Under 18 was virtually so small that is was ZERO.
    So the fools locked them indoors . . . where virtually ALL transmission occurred.
    Repeated the process 3 or 4 times . . . that is the definition of Insanity!

    Then they dragged out the PCR Test . . . rotating 35 to 40 times to gin up “Cases” which were NOT Sick People. The PCR Test is a forensic device not a Medical Test . . . it was ALL Fraud. Did I mention . . . MASKS are Useless . . . 12 studies out there and not one supports mask wearing . . . and NOT ONE of the So-called Leaders informed the population that . . . HCQ, Ivermectin, Zinc & Vit. D/C would have kept 1000s from having to go to the Hospital . . .

    Our Hospitals sat mostly empty for months . . . while the Govt employees never missed a payday . . . I went for a day-surgery procedure in May 2020, that had been postponed from March. Asked the Nurses what they had been doing . . . “absolutely nothing” they replied.

    By the summer of 2020 . . . the increase in Drug Overdoses deaths in BC was Double the Wuhan Virus deaths . . . and no one cared.

    Meanwhile the FakeStream Media preached Fear & Scare & Misinformation 24/7 . . .

    Today . . . I know more people who have died or had problems with the Vaccine than people who actually had the Virus. My wife got the Wuhan Flu at the end of November 2019, when it first went through the West Coast. She was sick for 2 weeks but recovered. I had a sore throat & caugh for 2 days and was fine. We likely both have natural immunity today, which Stanford Drs. say is far better than the Vax.

    When the Damage from the Insane Lockdowns is finally added up . . . it will likely dwarf the Covid numbers in Canada by a bunch.

    Another question no one will ask . . . how many Millions is the Federal Govt saving today on the Pension File, as the vast majority of the Deaths in Canada averaged close to 80 years of age?

    We must NEVER let them pull a stunt like this again . . . NEVER ! ! !

  11. Del French

    July 20, 2021 at 9:01 am

    Give politicians a little bit of illegal power and they will run with it and destroy a great country. If people let this flu run it’s course like any other flu it would have died out a long time ago like all the other flues. I didn’t think Canadians were such sheep but I was wrong. Trudoh’s new world plan will destroy this great country. He has to go in the next election.

  12. Josh

    July 20, 2021 at 8:50 am

    Perhaps the reason the talk around the pandemic ceased so abruptly is it was revealing too clearly how broken Canada is as well as who is responsible for this sorry state of affairs.

    I think many know the real reason why talk around this planned pandemic ceased. With Anthony being discovered, the lab in Winnipeg, riots forming in South Africa and soon to be France. With Dr. David Martin making claims with patents he has found and now all of a sudden the federal government claims censorship protects democracy? The Government knows they cant hide this forever and I’m surprised they did it for a year and a half. If we had more people willing to critically think we would not be in this mess.

  13. Josh

    July 20, 2021 at 8:42 am

    That first point

    “First, we are not the sober, rational citizens we declare ourselves to be. From stockpiling toilet paper, to the snitching on social gatherings, Canadians turned on one another viciously.”

    Is really insulting to those that risked a lot to lead the way forward by example.

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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.




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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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?




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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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.




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 

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