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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s inexcusable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

These Uber boys are so sadly out of touch.

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

Rev those engines, folks!

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

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Opinion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Help too little, too late for Manitoba farmers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He’s concerned about the cattle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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