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SLOBODIAN: Gay Alberta NDP MLA openly mocks believers of God

And she sported a huge grin during a stunning display of reprehensibly rabid intolerance on Friday.




Edmonton NDP MLA Janis Irwin mocked Jesus and the Bible, used bully tactics, interfered with a citizen’s right to free speech, and encouraged vigilantism against a street preacher.

And she sported a huge grin during a stunning display of reprehensibly rabid intolerance on Friday. 

In a climate where Christians are perceived as fair targets and churches are being burned and vandalized, a politician promoting this appalling behaviour shows pathetically poor judgment at best.

This is Alberta’s Official Opposition Deputy Whip, critic for women’s and LGBTQ2S+ issues, someone who peddles herself as committed to social justice (apparently only for whom she agrees with).

Irwin proudly tweeted and posted a photo on Facebook of herself intimidating a street preacher. She included childish emojis and an invite for others to join in the harassment “every Friday” at Pride Corner, located on Whyte Avenue and Calgary Trail, not even in the Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood riding she represents.

Irwin in street protest

She posted these comments:

“On my way back home and I couldn’t possibly drive past Pride Corner without stopping.”

“Stayed just long enough to hear about my sins and dance a little too.”

“Stop by! They’re there every Friday night til late, drowning out the hate.”

Stop by to do what exactly? Sounds like an invitation to harass, or possibly worse, a street preacher. 

Mission accomplished. Several fuming people promised to head on down to do just that.

The photo shows a male holding a sign saying: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be Saved.’

A female, attempting to block him, holds signs saying: ‘Respect my existence or expect my resistance’ and ‘Keeping YEG hate free.’

Fine. Two people expressing their views.

The problem is the other person in the photo, that being Irwin, holding signs saying: ’This is homophobia disguised as Bible quotes’ and ‘Hate speech is not welcome here.’

A politician inserting herself into this is a pure intimidation tactic against someone she disagrees with.

It takes imagination to conclude the male’s sign spews hate.

One person who commented on Facebook was hardly impressed.

“The Christian has every right to be there – freedom of speech – preaching what he genuinely believes. You are the ones invading his space to make a scene and to provoke a reaction.”

Amen, brother!

Another person wrote: “I am confused, the scripture on the sign has no reference to homosexuality. How is that hate speech?”

Irwin retorted that the preacher says “hateful and harmful” words but neglected to elaborate.

“His preacher friend across the street confirmed to me that I am, in fact ,going to hell,” she claimed, not elaborating on how that alleged encounter transpired.

“I can laugh, but it’s not about me. It’s about that young kid struggling with their sexuality,” she added.

Oh, save it. That young kid deserves a role model who doesn’t condone double standards.

Irwin’s openly gay. 

Yeah, about that…don’t care. The concern here is character and actions, not where one’s affections lie.

When a politician promotes tolerance for me, but not for thee, there’s a serious problem.

Irwin’s Facebook page is saturated with selfies, promoting LGBTQ2S+ issues, and condemnation of Kerry Diotte, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Griesbach, who defeated her in the 2015 federal election.

A red flag about her credibility with facts swirls around false accusations that Diotte promotes conversion therapy.

He has stated that “conversion therapy is a harmful practice and should be banned.”

But he voted against a final “flawed” Liberal Bill C-6 failing to address what would be considered conversion therapy on the grounds that it could “jeopardize or even criminalize some conversations with religious leaders and others when counselling someone.”

The point is Irwin has dishonestly, relentlessly portrayed Diotte as an intolerant hater.

Having known Diotte for many years, it can be stated with absolute surety that he is decidedly not intolerant of gays or anyone, regardless of skin colour or religion.

A new attack appeared Friday on Irwin’s Facebook page spewing the same lies.

When contacted to get his take on whether Irwin crossed a political line, Diotte wondered what her performance has to do with provincial politics.

“People have a right to free speech no matter who they choose to worship. If somebody is fomenting hatred, we have laws against that. The correct thing to do is call the police and make a complaint. If a person is saying something hateful, it is your duty to report, not to incite,” said Diotte.

“What on earth is wrong with spreading the word of God? What kind of world do we live in when people are mocked for that? It’s seriously a sick world when that happens,” he said.

“There are many homeless people in the market with various addictions and maybe the preacher will reach even just one of them and turn their lives around,” said Diotte.

Irwin is obliged to fairly represent Christians in her constituency. With her intolerant bias, can she?

Christians leaders must step out from behind the safety of their pulpits and tell this MLA to respectfully stop mocking Jesus and those who, in Irwin’s view, have the audacity to worship Him.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard 

Linda Slobodian is the Manitoba Senior Columnist for the Western Standard. She has been an investigative columnist with the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, and Alberta Report. lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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  1. Left Coast

    July 21, 2021 at 11:23 am

    @ Ostbear . . . .

    Last time I checked the Street Preacher was NOT a Politician . . . and for a little while yet Free Speech is still lawful in Canada . . . yes?

    Irwin IS a Politician and represents ALL the people of her district, not her own personal hobby horse. She like many on the far-left is not bright enough to understand this obviously.

    Like is so often the case . . . these same-sexers become unhinged . . . here’s a perfect example.

    Author of the world-famous Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, is one of the few celebrities calling out the hypocrisy of the left’s so-called equality. Rowling, who has been in the “woke” movement’s crosshairs before, fired back against trans activists who have made deadly threats against her.

    Rowling retweeted the thread, responding, “Judging by the tsunami of supportive emails and letters I’ve received, if women learned anything from the response to my post it wasn’t that they should sit down and shut up. Solidarity to the brave and fabulous @millihill (and I love your books, by the way!).”

    Another trans activist user then Tweeted to Rowling, “I wish you a very nice pipebomb in mailbox.” It’s doubtful Twitter will suspend the activist’s account for inciting violence, but we digress. One user responded to the discussion asking, “Is this still because of her comments about the safety of women in toilets/changing rooms if men can use them by simply saying they identify as a woman?”

    Rowling screenshotted the condescending tweet and laid out the reality of these “loving activists” who just want equality. “Yes, but now hundreds of trans activists have threatened to beat, rape, assassinate and bomb me I’ve realized that this movement poses no risk to women whatsoever.”

  2. OSTBear

    July 20, 2021 at 11:39 pm

    Help me understand the logic here: That street preacher can stand out there and yell condemnations — she didn’t need to elaborate. I’ve been down Whyte, I know EXACTLY the kind of things they yell at people — but she can’t go there, hold a sign… and dance? This really has my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ up in arms? Who cares that she’s a politician, that means she’s a guardian of the very freedoms we enjoy… So why is she not allowed to enjoy them?

    If the issue is a power dynamic, might I remind you the same kind of power dynamic exists for the priest as well; As an anointed clergyman he’s intimidating children of God and, apparently, condemning them to hell.

    If you’re going to attempt to call Janis a hypocrite here, I think you yourself need to own your hypocrisy.

  3. Fred

    July 20, 2021 at 8:54 pm

    Wow she is just a wonderful human. Standing up to the intolerance that that man puts up every day. Bravo Janis you are the real hero.

  4. liarspeaksthetruth

    July 20, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    You didn’t even have the gonads to publish an actual comment from an actual long-time conservative.

    I’ve been cancelled. How ironic.

    Thank you, but no, your journalism is skewed, vapid, and blind to the circumstances real people face.

    In turns, we’ll do the same. I won’t expect anyone to reach out – I’ve been cancelled by you, after all. It’s no real comfort that no one on staff possesses the intellectual aplomb or emotional depth to write serious journalism.

    Fringe radicals are as fringe radicals do. The Western Standard is where unemployed journalists go to die.


  5. Ken Durham

    July 20, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    Dear Linda Slobodan,

    Mocking the Bible, Jesus, and every single other aspect of your batshit crazy beliefs is the very epitome of the right to Free Expression.

    Your religion does NOT have rights.
    It’s an idea and ideas don’t have rights.
    People do.

    Fucking moron.

  6. Mary

    July 20, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    More people should stand up to the bigoted street preachers on Whyte Ave. Way to go Janis! We need more politicians like Janis!

  7. David Ross

    July 20, 2021 at 12:05 pm

    Linda Sobodian, for someone who “doesn’t care” that Janis is gay, you sure like to bring it up and discredit her for it in every other sentence… Seems fishy

  8. Clash

    July 20, 2021 at 11:43 am

    This is obviously a “Media Stunt” to garner some notoriety, and some press. The worse thing in the World is happening to the Gays and the LGBTQ2S community, The public no longer care!! Go live your lives as you wish, “BE HAPPY” with your chosen life. “NOBODY CARES”!!!

  9. JamesHaIifax

    July 20, 2021 at 10:40 am

    What a singuIarIy ugIy individuaI; both outside and in.

    Based upon what I couId see, the onIy Iesbian who wouId be interested in her huge ugIy moutch and bad skin….wouId be a woman who wanted to date a guy…but hates penises.

  10. Desiderius Erasmus

    July 20, 2021 at 9:54 am

    What good Christians we have here. “Vile c*nt.” “I wouldn’t believe in God either if I was born with a face like that.” “horse-face” I’m sure those are the exact words Jesus would have used in this situation. You don’t have to like her or believe in what she’s doing, but attacking her based on her looks is pathetic. Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” You really think Jesus wants people like you in heaven? I don’t think so.

  11. Left Coast

    July 20, 2021 at 9:43 am

    One look at Irwin and you can see that the Elevator does not go all the way to the TOP!

    This marxist Heterophobe is one of many who have infiltrated our Politics, Media, School System and all areas of Govt. They have an Agenda . . . as some of their more radical members like Irwin are happy to announce.

    When the left calls for “tolerance,” are they asking parents to “tolerate” pedophilia and sexual abuse? Are they asking parents to “tolerate” others teaching their children about sex? What is it that the left themselves are required to “tolerate”?

    Anyone who was old enough in the early 80s & the Aids outbreak surely remembers the Bath Houses in San Fran that were closed down by the City because they were a transmission vectors. The “gay” community would hand out memberships at the local High Schools . . .

    “Hundreds of homosexual activists rushed out of bars and swarmed a group of Christians who were singing songs in San Francisco’s Castro District – and some even threatened to kill the worshippers.”

  12. Dennis

    July 20, 2021 at 9:26 am

    Wildrose.party 2023

  13. Josh

    July 20, 2021 at 9:10 am

    Does seeing the sign “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” convict this person?

  14. Wesley

    July 20, 2021 at 8:48 am

    This is only one reason I could never support the NDP. Although they spout that they are the tolerant ones these social warriors are the most intolerant!

  15. Olwyn

    July 19, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    That street preacher is NOTORIOUS for spewing hate at people on Whyte Ave and if you’ve ever been on Whyte in the evenings or at night you’ve liked heard some of the bigoted and disrespectful things they’ve said to passersby unprovoked. People like that make me embarrassed to be a Christian. I don’t blame these people for trying to fight back after all these years. Bright signs and smiles are hardly a violent response.

  16. Baron Not Baron

    July 19, 2021 at 9:16 pm

    Marxism = Marc6sm = Mark 6(ism) = Mark 666. Choose wisely.

    WIPA !!!

  17. Baron Not Baron

    July 19, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    Gordo the weirdo!

  18. Concerned Christian

    July 19, 2021 at 7:48 pm

    Does anyone else see the hypocrisy here? I do and it’s probably not what most of you are thinking. As a practicing Christian I have been the target of street preachers in Edmonton who told me that I was a sinner and going to hell. Why? I had just exited a pub…. exiting a pub = eternal damnation? You claim the right to free speech but tolerate attacks on others in the name of Christianity? These two individuals are called out for their behavior but are viciously attacked on social media and even in the comments of this article? I choose to stand with the God of love, grace, forgiveness and understanding because I believe that was and continues to be the example of Jesus.

  19. Brent Altheim

    July 19, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    You conveniently left out the fact that the ‘street preacher’ in question regularly spews intolerance and thinly veiled misogyny and homophobia as part of his ‘sermons’. Listening to his words have made me, a straight white christian male, uncomfortable. It would be 100x worse for someone who looked different. Freedom of speech is different than freedom from consequences. The action taken to counter his ‘preaching’ is perfectly appropriate. Of course, I don’t expect you to consider anything the NDP does as appropriate, since it would be bad for your bottom line, and that is all that really matters, isn’t it?

  20. berta baby

    July 19, 2021 at 6:57 pm

    what a hate filled bigot…. just sad how angry she comes off, why does she feel so much blatant rage by a human holding a sign ? I think she has mental problems to be so intolerant of other people.

    Notley obviously embraces this kind of hate because she hasn’t condemned this intolerance

  21. NeverKerry

    July 19, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    As a long time born again Christian I am appalled by the unloving, unkind, un-self-controlled, impatient, unfaithful comments on this article (fruit of the Spirit anyone?) and shake my head at the writer of this article. My representative, Janis Irwin, is certainly not bullying or intimidating. In fact she is positively and kindly responding to what this “preacher” is doing. Shouting at people, saying “you are going to hell”, saying “God hates…” etc. This is not the approach Christ used with those who did not know Him. Christ treated the prostitute with compassion, the sinner with mercy, the doubters with patience. If Janis sins (in any way, for example by being overly proud of her cat Oregano lol) as we all do, it is primarily between her and God. If you are her friends or her community or her loving neighbour and you believe she sins or does wrong, then you have the relationship to suggest this to her in LOVE. At any rate I am pretty sure no one here including me has this right.
    And Kerry Diottes comment? Right. I’m sure he would be just as supportive of a extremist Islamic screaming on a street corner than “Infidels must die”. Right Kerry? Just as supportive of Christians as of Muslims? Doubtful. Because this guy on the corner is an extremist Christian who preaches not out of love but out of self righteousness and condemnation.

  22. Ray

    July 19, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    Oh you poor lil fragile loons. Anything to keep the truth from people. There is not a genuine bone behind anything you write. It’s pathetic. I have pics of my comment as I figured you’d censor it while approving men making fun of women’s’ appearances (very on brand)🙄🙄🙄🙄 You truly are so weak, that’s why no one is worried. Take care out there.

  23. Ray

    July 19, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    You all are so easily duped!! Not even a Google search, just straight up full blind belief in a propaganda opinion section😂😂😂😂 That dude with god sign, who you all seem to be running to their defense, has been out on that corner of Whyte Ave day and night for years calling queer life an abomination and using slurs any chance he can. People fight back with love and you loose your minds. Y’all are simple.

  24. Steven

    July 19, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    That’s a very good point Willian. I wonder what former Premier Notley would have to say if she attacked the Muslim faith & mocked them? Hmmm?

  25. Steven

    July 19, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    She’s exposing herself as a gay bigot with no tolerance for others whom don’t fit her lifestyle. Her lifestyle isn’t under attack like it was years ago, but what she needs to remember is, now she is now doing the dirty work of which the church use to be so hated for. Crazy world we live in.

    I say live and let live because in the end we will all meet the maker; one way or the other. Not her job to condemn or judge. One of the hardest things I have to work at also.

  26. Penny4YourThouhts

    July 19, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    Shame is as powerful as fear and this MLA is carrying around a TON of shame. Perhaps if she actually took the time to learn the teachings of Jesus Christ she would learn how to accept herself and quit projecting her shame onto Christians.

  27. Gloria Bult

    July 19, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    I pray for her conversion.

  28. William

    July 19, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    What would be the NDP reaction if she was mocking Muslim?

  29. Adam Bartlett

    July 19, 2021 at 12:29 pm

    I wouldn’t believe in God either if I was born with a face like that.

  30. Andrew

    July 19, 2021 at 11:49 am

    She needs to be voted out of office. I encourage everyone in the riding she is elected to get it done! Wildrose!

  31. K

    July 19, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Pathetic and reprehensible behaviour, but not shocking coming from that horse-face. The more they engage in acts like this, the stupider they look. I say, bring it on. The best way to bring attention to your mental illness is to show it off for all to see. God will not be mocked.

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SLOBODIAN: Doug Ford’s daughter could teach her father a thing or two about freedom

Daughter champions freedoms, daddy seizes them. Some who despise Premier Dad’s authoritarian decrees say the wrong family member heads Ontario.




Krista Ford Haynes, daughter of Ontario Premier Doug Ford, is going to make for some interesting Thanksgiving Dinner family conversation.

On Tuesday, Krista issued another dire warning against governments forcing vaccine passports, urging people to “collectively wake up” and not be obedient and unquestioning.

The following day, her father, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, launched COVID-19 vaccine passports, forcing people to choose between taking the jab, or losing many of their most basic freedoms. He claimed the passports are temporary.

Sure, they are. And 14 days would flatten the curve. No government relinquishes control it grabs. When COVID eventually passes, the newly established government powers will be turned elsewhere.

Daughter champions freedoms, daddy seizes them. Some who despise Premier Dad’s authoritarian decrees say the wrong family member heads Ontario.

Ford family get-togethers can’t be fun. Hopefully, they’re amicable. That’s not always the case.

Polarizing COVID-19 views about forced-masking, lockdowns, vaccines, and mandatory vaccine passports are dividing and destroying families and friendships.

Screaming matches and brawls over masks and social distancing aren’t confined to the aisles of Walmart among strangers.

Loved ones nearly, or maybe do, come to blows at dinner tables before the soup gets cold. That only happens when the government permits them to visit in between intermittent lockdowns.

Everyone’s ready to fall on their swords, convinced that their side — whichever it is — is solely righteous and right.

Haynes, 30, is an anti-vax crusader. Insults are hurled at her. The indignant demand she is reported. She’s been called “ignorant.” She makes people’s “blood boil.”

The feisty Haynes won’t back down from views some declare extreme.

Haynes, with thousands of followers, delivered her latest message in a video posted to Instagram after the federal election.

“Good morning, everyone. Happy Tuesday. As we could have all expected, the Liberal government won last night with a minority government,” said Haynes.

The Liberals will carry on “stripping our freedoms away one day at a time,” she said.

Haynes has long warned that forced masking was a steppingstone to vaccine passports. She was mocked. Few are laughing now.

The passports are here. Alberta succumbed, despite Premier Jason Kenney’s solemn vow to gallantly fight the feds if they forced them. Then he did a 180 and imposed them with a vengeance.

Now Haynes warns vaccine passports are a steppingstone to more controls and lost freedoms.

“When I posted in May or June of last year about the upcoming mask mandates and not to comply, this is why I wanted people, urged people, not to comply,” she said.

“We found out right away that masks weren’t very effective at all based on how people were wearing and revising them, and it actually could have made things a lot worse for some people and are making things a lot worse for certain age groups today.”

“That was one, but we complied, we complied. We could have put our foot down collectively, and we didn’t.”

So, the worst of it has arrived?

“You think it’s just going to be movie theatres, restaurants, gyms. That’s the first step. The first step. They’re going to take it all. They’re going to take it all and we’ve allowed it.”

Australians wore their masks and obeyed ‘temporary’ lockdown orders. The former penal colony turned into one of the freest countries, has become an effective police state. Citizens face the most extreme lockdowns globally. Wednesday, police fired rubber bullets into a crowd of 400 unarmed and peaceful protestors against severe lockdowns and vaccine passports.

Chaos erupts around the world. People fear pandemic “mandates” have morphed into a sinister grab for complete control over their lives to advance ever-greater government control.

Many are losing their jobs for no good reason.

Citizens are enraged their children suffer abuse, being forced to wear masks with little proof they effectively prevent transmission of COVID.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s booster (third) shot six months after full immunization for the elderly and high-risk. It rejected an application to approve booster shots for all Americans 16 and older. They’ll circle back to that.

Haynes urged people to ask questions, discuss, research. She, like others who advocate this, are ridiculed, attacked, discredited, even fired.

Their critics just want everyone to comply with the latest orders and shut up.

Fear, anger and distrust over this curse called COVID-19 prevail. There’s little common ground.

Doctors who question the official doctrine are dismissed, shamed, and now, being fired in some cases.

Asking questions is a good thing. Blindly complying isn’t.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard

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NARVO-GENIE: Harsher restrictions don’t save lives

Infected Albertans have so far survived COVID-19 at three times the rate of Quebeckers, and nearly at twice the rate of the average Canadian.




The most cited reason for COVID-19 lockdowns has been the protection of health care systems. The claim is that such protection saves lives. So, it is fair to ask how health systems are performing in their lockdown life-saving duty? 

There are several points from which one can compare health jurisdictions and how they have done in their fight against COVID-19. One can compare rates of infection, number of deaths, deaths per capita, survival rates, and so forth. No point of comparison is perfect, and each has its own limitations. The size of a country, the concentration of its population, its geography, its wealth, its pre-COVID-19 healthiness, and its policies can all be influences or justifications for the difference.

One way to compare jurisdictions is to ask about the survival chances of those confirmed to have been infected by SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus. Among those infected, how many die and how many survive in a jurisdiction might tell us something about the health of the population or about how a health system reacts and copes with crises.

Some will complain that it’s unfair to evaluate health systems in populations that are older or poorer in such a way. And the criticism would be justified. Comparing Canada to Bolivia, for instance, would be unfair. But comparing Canada with Sweden would be less unfair. And how do Canadian provinces compare to one another? In Canada, we have mechanisms designed to equalize programs delivered to citizens so that Canadians receive accessible and comparable levels of service. This is the case with healthcare.

All things being equal, care for COVID-19 patients in Manitoba should therefore not differ greatly from the care given in Saskatchewan, or even further away in Nova Scotia. Comparatively, regardless of how much each province spends, Canadian provinces have a similar capacity for their health systems, or so we are told.

On a per-capita basis, more COVID-19 patients have died in Sweden than in Canada. As of September 23, Sweden’s 1,449 deaths per million doubled Canada’s 720. Sweden’s case numbers per million (112,713) are three times larger than Canada’s (41,517), even though Sweden’s population is less than one-third that of Canada’s.  Many Canadians have pointed at these ratios, including Alberta’s government, to justify lockdowns by contrast to Sweden’s “softer touch” in dealing with COVID-19.

However, as a percentage of their own respective cases, more have died in Canada than in Sweden. Among people who have contracted COVID-19, the Swedish medical system has saved 34% more of their patients. Or, flipped around, Canadians who contracted COVID-19 have died at a greater ratio than Swedes. This begs the question why, with three times the comparative number of cases, the smaller country’s health system has coped and has saved more of their sick than Canada has: 1.3% of infected Swedes have died versus 1.73% of Canadians.

And what of our provinces? Here are the current percentages of deaths among the confirmed COVID-19 cases: 1.06 in British Columbia; 0.91 in Alberta; 1.03 in Saskatchewan; 2.02 in Manitoba; 1.66 in Ontario; 2.8 in Quebec; 1.34 in New Brunswick; 1.47 in Nova Scotia; 0 in PEI; and 0.44 in Newfoundland and Labrador.

There are far too many variables at play to generalize as to why these numbers are so. But for all that is being said about Alberta today, infected Albertans have so far survived COVID-19 at three times the rate of Quebeckers, and nearly at twice the rate of the average Canadian.

Albertans with COVID-19 have had a better chance than infected people in any other province except for PEI and Newfoundland. Manitobans would do well to ask how their COVID-19-stricken have died at twice the rate of those in Saskatchewan. Urban Ontario’s lockdowns have been quite brutal but the ratio of death per case in the province is roughly on the Canadian average.

The ferocity of police enforcement with border closures and tight general curfews in Quebec’s lockdowns stand out with the worst record of deaths per infected case in the country. Theirs is more comparable to Italy, which has the worst record among Western European states, and it is worse than Russia’s. Quebecers must ask themselves why.

In Western Europe, like in Canada, the jurisdictions with the most repressive lockdowns have typically had the higher death rates per case. The harder these jurisdictions have professed to protect their health system, the less well they have done at protecting people who are actually infected. It seems more than irony. It looks like a correlation.

Marco Navarro-Genie is a columnist for the Western Standard and is president of the Haultain Research Institute, a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. With Barry Cooper, he is co-author of COVID-19: The Politics of a Pandemic Moral Panic(2020).

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Makichuk: Memories of Peter Lougheed, and a different time

After the tumultuous and some might say disastrous administration of Jason Kenney’s UCP party, I feel the need to look back upon a time, when Alberta was being guided by a man with sterling character and vision.




Randy Hill’s voice was knowing and sure as we chatted over the phone.

A good friend for, what … four decades? … he was the legendary photographer for the Calgary Sun, who covered every major story in the city.

I am asking him to recount his media relationship with one of Alberta’s greatest political leaders, none other than Peter Lougheed.

After the tumultuous and some might say disastrous administration of Jason Kenney’s UCP party, I feel the need to look back upon a time when Alberta was being guided by a man with sterling character and vision.

“My relationship with Peter Lougheed was just amazing because I knew him before he really got into politics,” said Hill, who is now retired and living in a rural area.

The Harvard grad who played two seasons for the Eskimos, who would later battle his political adversary Pierre Trudeau and the National Energy Program, who helped fortify Alberta’s infrastructure by building roads, schools and hospitals and would protect Kananaskis Country, had humble beginnings as a politician, said Hill.

“When I first met him, it was in the Lougheed building, and I was there to get a picture of him. He was stuffing envelopes — the start of his political career. My assignment for the Albertan was to photograph this guy.

Randy Hill

“So how do you get a good picture out of a guy stuffing envelopes? I had to come back with the best picture I could get.”

Hill suddenly got an idea.

He sliced open an envelope and placed his camera behind it, with a wide-angle lens, which expressed the moment perfectly. There was this guy, Peter Lougheed, stuffing envelopes, and hoping for a political career.

It would run on the front page and apparently Mr. Lougheed would remember.

So let’s fast forward to another momentous occasion — the moment when Peter Lougheed toured what is now the Kananaskis region with a pilot and photographer Hill in back.

A small four-seater aircraft was getting kicked around like a toy by the strong winds coming off the mighty peaks.

Says Hill: “All I remember was that Peter was sitting up front, on the right next to the pilot and I was sitting behind him, with a camera around my neck.

“The point,” says Hill, “was to get a picture from up there, with Peter Lougheed looking down, at whatever he was looking at.”

Hill remembers they were flying very close to the mountain peaks, coming from west to east to get a good view, when the winds picked up.

After passing a ridge, the plane literally dropped out of the sky, catching a downdraft. Hill thought the wings would tear off. He thought it was over.

Despite having seat belts on, both he and Lougheed would bash their heads on the roof of the plane, so dramatic was the fall-off. Hill’s camera also smashed him in the face, temporarily stunning him.

Thankfully, everyone made it back OK, and Hill got the photo he needed, as usual.

While the date of this flight is not known, what we do know is thanks to lobbying efforts by Calgary-based environmentalist Bill Milne and MLA Clarence Copithorne, in 1978 Lougheed would create a large protected area to preserve the magnificent ranges and valleys, flourishing forests and emerald-green waterways which we now call Kananaskis Country.

A protected, ecological reserve and recreation area, it covers 4,000 square kilometres (1,544 square miles) of formally designated wildland parks, provincial parks, recreation parks, ecological reserves and cultural zones.

However, it was not only Lougheed’s political accomplishments and visionary approach that was admired, it was also his way of doing business.

Fast forward to a dinner party in McKenzie Towne with assorted media types and I happen to be sitting next to a woman who was in Lougheed’s inner circle during that era.

I make the mistake of asking her, what was it like “being in power with Peter Lougheed.”

She was horrified by the question and told me so. But then she went on to explain why.

The staff were never, ever allowed to say or express the equivalent of the word “power” in front of Peter Lougheed.

According to this woman, Lougheed vehemently insisted, demanded that his staff understood clearly, that they represented the people of Alberta and power had nothing to do with it.

God help you if you used the word “power” she said, adding that working with Lougheed was “an amazing experience.”

It was also Lougheed who instructed his cabinet to have nothing to do with a certain high-level German arms lobbyist, who would later be embroiled in a scandal with a former prime minister and end up serving a term in a Munich prison.

Lougheed simply didn’t tolerate that kind of nonsense.

Hill would also remember a fancy dinner function that marked the purchase of the Albertan by the Sun, which was attended by bigwigs, a.k.a. carpetbaggers from Toronto and, the premier and his wife.

Hill, who was assigned to get a photo, was tossed into a corner away from the action, when Lougheed shouted across the room: “Hey Randy, what are you doing sitting there?”

He called him over to the main table, moved his wife aside, and made room for him — which stunned the Sun brass into silence.

“You know, from taking the photo of him stuffing the envelope, to the airplane flight, to these people from Toronto who didn’t know me from Adam … and here the premier of Alberta is making it seem like I’m somebody important and making a fuss.”

And we wonder why Alberta is in the mess it’s in. Perhaps we should start by looking at the people at the top.

Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the military editor for the Asia Times.

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