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NAVARRO-GENIE: In disrespecting public officials, we disrespect ourselves

“In fairness, checking on whether a random selection of public officials is conforming to the rules that they make or apply would be legitimate. But targeting the presiding judge under whom one has a case pending in court would be appallingly bad judgement for any individual or lawyer.”

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The trend of harassing and intimidating public officials has a harmful effect on the state of our polity and the quality of our public officials and representatives. 

People will disagree with public officials and their decisions. In a democratic arrangement, there is an expectation people will address their differences respectfully, and even in friendship. Frederick Haultain, the founder of Alberta and Saskatchewan, was notorious for his kind and respectful ways. Unlike our contemporary crop of leaders, he never insulted even his most vicious or slandering opponents. 

Some will dismiss the concern saying if one does not have the toughness to deal with belligerent opponents, one has no business being in politics. But robust debate and legitimate opposition have nothing to do with harassing, threatening and openly insulting officials and their families. 

While attending Canada Day celebrations in Calgary, a mobbish group of protestors accosted Alberta Health Minister Tylor Shandro and his family. The group shouted intimidating insults and profanity at the minister, with his wife and children beside him. Premier Jason Kenney has also spoken about receiving threats, some of which he says were directed at his elderly mother. Some media have given special attention to abuse heaped on women politicians.

That is the sort of behaviour that keeps good people from public service. Most people do not want to see their spouses, children or mothers be subject to abuse or intimidation of any sort.  

The recent development in which the president of a public law firm, a registered charity, hired a private investigator to tail a Manitoba judge to see if the judge violated COVID-19 health restrictions is similar. (Full disclosure: I was briefly employed by and served as board member of the public law firm in question).

On its face, one might defend it as harmless: What could be bad about secretly photographing a judge violating – like so many politicians – the health rules? What’s wrong with exposing hypocrisy? 

A second of reflection would lead to the possibility of being discovered and to consider what the judge might experience. Who, being unskillfully followed, would not feel intimidated upon discovery? And then what? The defense there was no attempt to intimidate the judge does not obscure the pursuit of an end justifying the means, lathered with a languid lack of imagination. 

It is also different because the judge is not elected; because a good PI is not supposed to be seen; and because an organization mandated to uphold the protection of citizens’ rights is governed by higher standards of behaviour.

Those in the liberty movement learned from Milton Freedman policy and actions must be evaluated by their outcomes and not exclusively by their intentions. The apparent result is that Justice Glenn Joyal felt intimidated when he discovered he was being followed. In a country adhering to the rule of law traditions, it’s unlawful to intimidate members of the judiciary. 

The crucial distinction is the appearance of intimidation comes from a public law firm, whose president is a lawyer. And lawyers are officers of the court: they are expected to behave with integrity so as not to bring into disrepute the administration of justice. Lawyers are supposed to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. 

The stated mission of the public law firm “is to defend the constitutional freedoms of Canadians through litigation and education.” It will be up to the organization’s board to determine whether following judges is a legal or educational strategy. Canada is not a banana republic. It will be up to donors to determine whether to continue their support or object to seeing their funds directed to hiring unskilled investigators to follow a judge around.

In fairness, checking on whether a random selection of public officials is conforming to the rules that they make or apply would be legitimate. But targeting the presiding judge under whom one has a case pending in court would be appallingly bad judgement for any individual or lawyer. For a public law firm designed to be a guardian against constitutional abuses, it is somewhat off the scale.  

In the end, insulting, intimidating, or threatening public officials is an unhealthy trend in a liberal democracy. Let’s not ignore those being intimidated, and their loved ones, suffer from it. But as they represent us, public authority and the fabric of the community is also damaged. It erodes the faith potential officials have in the benevolence of community members, corrodes friendships, and results in poorer politics for us all.  

Marco Navarro-Genie is a Columnist for the Western Standard. He is also a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre and president of the Haultain Research Institute. He is co-author, with Barry Cooper, of COVID-19: The Politics of a Pandemic Moral Panic, 2020.

Marco Navarro-Génie is a Columnist for the Western Standard. He is President of the Haultain Research Institute and a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Claudette Leece

    July 17, 2021 at 6:18 am

    Baron on Baron, I am thinking only bad judgement anyone made is WS and there choice of bleeding heart contributors, if this is the direction WS is going in, will be moving on from this now Liberal bent paper

  2. Claudette Leece

    July 17, 2021 at 6:15 am

    Ironic this article points out poor Shandro had to endure a bit of name calling and to be held accountable , for his hundreds of screw ups , but his RCMP henshmen sure didn’t care what they put the pastors young children thru when they arrested him like he was a murderer, then threw him in a maximum security jail, Shandro didn’t have to spend one minute in a jail where he belonged for his sins. Western Standards getting more articles, where they sound like Liberal bleeding hearts. There doing themselves no favors. Out of all the people they report on John Carpay, Chris Scott and the pastors are the only heros for standing up for our constitutional rights, while the politicians hide behind laws they just make up and these weasel judges are in AHS pockets but you cry tears for them. Give me a break. There are no heros, while Chris Scott and the pastors went to jail for our freedoms that WS always talks about, the politicians had fine dining on the patio

  3. paul bryce

    July 16, 2021 at 10:09 am

    I am not sure its that big a deal but maybe bad judgement. Nothing illegal was done and “digging up dirt’ on opponents is done every day. The media wouldn’t have any news without it. Sounds like it was kind of poorly done operation. Your government breaks the law and spies on you every day. They make up fancy excuses like “national security”.

  4. Baron Not Baron

    July 16, 2021 at 7:59 am

    Totally the wrong thinking, by the author. The banana republic is advising the public to snitch.. How is this to be respected? By having a gvt title, apparently, the criminals can impose any restrictions they please, on the taxpayers that pays them in the first place. What rule is this, really, as the ones with the guns control, rule and punish the ones without, bypassing any constitutional rights.

    Mr. author, your lack of analysing the total amount of facts leads to qualify you as “society evolution blind” (short range perception), as you cannot determine where certain gvt actions lead.

    Mr. author, if you rather kiss gvt arse, then I don’t understand your place in WS.

    Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for PUBLIC POLICY(?)- give me a break.

  5. Barbara

    July 15, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    What about how the poor public service disrespected us, took away our rights, destroyed small businesses, jailed pastors, and TOOK AWAY OUR VOICE with the help of the media .
    NOW they are trying to force /bribe / scare us into taking an untested vaccine, like we’re lab rights.
    Judges and prosectors have lost all senses of the law and impartiality, jailing a pastor FOR 35 DAYS, NOT ALLOWING DEFENCE ATTORNEYS TO QUESTION THE VALIDITY OF THE RESTRICTIONS
    and your worried we were mean to them and don’t show them respect?
    YOU need to go and write for CBC where you belong.

  6. Left Coast

    July 15, 2021 at 6:28 pm

    I disagree . . . Canada is becoming a Banana Republic.
    A country where the Crime Minister just makes it up as he goes, panders to Keybec and completely disregards the Law & the Rights & Freedoms of the Citizens . . . is no longer a democracy nor a civilized country.
    We watched for 18 months while 10 Premiers all acted like robots . . . NOT ONE learned anything as we watched the Wuhan Virus mostly attack the elderly. After 3 or 4 or 5 completely useless Lockdowns. Crushed small business & closed Churches while big donor Corporations stayed open and made a fortune.
    When all the peripheral Damage is added up . . . the damage from the Govt Actions will number far higher than the Wuhan Flu deaths.

    Judges in Canada command little respect, because like our Politicians they have not earned any!

  7. Declan Carroll

    July 15, 2021 at 6:09 pm

    Shandro and Kenney trashed our economy and trampled our rights over an an obvious fake fraudulent scam and everyone knows it. He took the side of Big Pharma and the Party of Davos over the will and rights of his constituency. Zero sympathy.

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Manitoba response to Freedom Convoy has politicians cowering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Someone even very thoughtfully hauled in porta-potties.

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

But Canadians love, love, love the truckers!

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

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

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

Virden menu for truckers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canadians embrace and are emboldened by their courage and stamina. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The people have spoken. 

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

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

Exciting times.

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

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Opinion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karen Selick is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

WAGNER: The benefits of a federal Western independence party

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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