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SLOBODIAN: Irwin has no one to blame but herself

She’s a well-paid elected official representing Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood who behaved in a juvenile, offensive manner that’s unacceptable and unbecoming of someone who holds public office.

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NDP MLA Janis Irwin is not a victim; of homophobia or any other martyr label she chooses to throw around.

She’s a well-paid elected official representing Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood who behaved in a juvenile, offensive manner that’s unacceptable and unbecoming of someone who holds public office. 

She wasn’t, as she claimed, “targeted by a far-right news outlet.”

If any other politician or public figure did what she did, they’d be subject to exactly the same scrutiny she received in this column Monday. 

Being female and gay doesn’t excuse one from being held accountable for mocking and offending the Christian community — precisely what Irwin did – some of whom she was elected to represent.

Too often, when people fail to do their jobs properly they deflect warranted criticism by accusing others of persecuting them because they are female, or gay, or a certain skin colour, or suffer white privilege, or ate Cheerios for breakfast, or whatever excuse they can conjure up. 

They camouflage this tactic by presenting themselves as caring champions for for the downtrodden. And maybe they are – that still doesn’t excuse poor conduct.

The victimhood complex excuse won’t work here.

Few – if any – care about Irwin’s sexual preferences or identity. They are her business, and her’s alone. It is Irwin herself who never misses a chance to speak about herself to the exclusion of most other issues that are of public concern.

Irwin claimed she was targeted by Western Standard for innocently “popping by” Pride Corner, located on Whyte Avenue and Calgary Trail in Edmonton, last Friday.

That’s dishonest and misleading. 

She mocked Jesus and the Bible, used bully and intimidation tactics, and encouraged vigilantism against a street preacher holding a sign saying: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” 

I don’t recall Irwin or her far-left ilk similarly disrespecting the religious beliefs of minority religious faiths with similar worldview.

One woman held signs saying: ‘Respect my existence or expect my resistance’ and another ‘Keeping YEG hate free.’

Proof that Irwin didn’t just pop by lies in the photo she posted of her grinning broadly standing there holding two signs saying: ‘This is homophobia disguised as Bible quotes’ and ‘Hate speech is not welcome here.”

Janis Irwin at street protest

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

When this was accurately reported in this column, predictably, accusations of homophobia manifested.

Twitter activist Kathleen Smith took exception to Irwin being called out for “mocking supporters of God’ and wondered: “What did Janis do to be accused of such a thing?” 

Hey Kathy, check out the photo Irwin posted.

Then Smith piously opined: “This is what gaslighting LGBTQ2 persons looks like. This is what (very) thinly veiled homophobia looks like.”

Oh please. This is what displeasure at Jesus being mocked looks like and concern about a politician behaving badly looks like. Don’t make stuff up. 

Now, how did Irwin – Alberta’s Official Opposition and critic for LGBTQ2S+ issues – respond?

Did she assure Christians in her constituency that she’d represent – or at least respect – them?

Did she apologize for disrespecting their religion, while giving a pass to other faiths?

Hard no. She doubled down. Her response makes one wonder if she sits in a high school classroom or in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta.

Irwin posted a letter from a young, gay, female who is part of a racial minority. 

It’s possible someone who fits this description contacted Irwin and wrote these words.

It says: “It makes me feel safer knowing that there is someone in the government who understands empathy and compassion and is rooting for kids like me.”

It also said: “Every time I see the guy with those Jesus signs screaming about our sins I feel like he is yelling at me.”

Irwin throwing gas on the problem helps this young woman how?

Which brings us to the street preachers.

Strathcona Baptist Church, located in the area, isn’t involved in street preaching.

Pastor Eric Brooks “struggles” with the method used at times.

“I understand the heart of what they’re doing. A lot of times the approach they’re taking is aggressive, it’s confrontational, it comes across as judgmental and it’s not out of relationship. I would say that’s disrespectful. And I would say those streets preachers do receive a lot of disrespect,” said Brooks.

“The targeted message seems to be at that particular segment. There are other sinful actions that we’re all engaged in. If the motivation’s judgementalism or an assumption of we’re better because we know that what you’re doing is a sin, then that’s equally sinful,” he said.

“That’s coming from a position of pride and judgment rather than a position of love, compassion, humility and grace. The message of the gospel is about grace for sinners,” said Brooks.

What about those who mock Jesus and the Bible? 

Well, Brooks choose to shy away from getting involved in anything controversial like that.

“My responsibility is not to be Jesus’ bodyguard. In the end, they have to stand before Jesus and give an account for that,” he said.

There is a problem in the area.

The question is what’s the responsible thing for a politician to do?

Inject herself into the fray? Or live up to her obligation when she took the oath of office – which, by the way, mentions God twice – and figure out how to fix problems?

Pride Corner is in Edmonton Strathcona, the constituency represented by NDP leader Rachel Notley.

What’s she doing to bring peace and unity to the area?

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

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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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Scott

    July 22, 2021 at 6:11 am

    She needs to lose her job. Unacceptable behaviour. Immature, irresponsible, and childlike. She is just as bad as whomever bullied her. And by the looks of it, she was probably an easy target for them. Grow some balls and get a life.

  2. Shrieked

    July 21, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    This is stupid and you wasted my time.

  3. Patricia Lineker

    July 21, 2021 at 9:48 am

    My take on her behaviour is that she feels some kind of guilt or responsibility for her actions and lifestyle. Does she believe she’s a sinner? That is entirely HER problem. Aren’t we ALL sinners? So we all need to do a little dance to mock Christian beliefs? Does she think it’s an issue that we’re not all gay? The sign is a message of love. I didn’t see her name on it to repent. The only problem I have with the sign is “In” was spelled wrong.

  4. Wesley

    July 21, 2021 at 9:45 am

    Thank you Linda for a well written article exposing this NDP MLA’s hypocrisy. This is pretty normal for the NDP.

  5. Dennis

    July 21, 2021 at 7:37 am

    Great story Linda. These people need to be called out for the morons they are. Well said, keep up the good work.

  6. Claudette Leece

    July 21, 2021 at 7:31 am

    Well it’s time voters quit jumping on these socialist bandwagons and really look at serious topics. Sadly Edmonton deserves everything it gets, voting in many of these NDP that are not about the people they pretend to care about, but the folks running for these offices to serve their own interests. Make better choices Edmonton or quit bellyaching. I wonder how often the NDPp have to check the bottom of their shoes, to see if they stepped in it

  7. Clash

    July 21, 2021 at 6:02 am

    I think the 3 people in this picture are gay. Including the person holding the Religious sign and hiding his/her(??) face. This seems like a Total Setup to incite a negative response or create a Publicity Stunt. This is getting very close to a “Hate Crime” against Christians, especially when Christians and their churches are being attacked. These kind of tactics become necessary when the general Public doesn’t care about the LGBTQS2 community anymore.

  8. Andrew

    July 20, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    BINGO

  9. Kelly Carter

    July 20, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    The other thought I have is the WORST bullies are always those who were themselves bullied. Shame really because you would think they would be more companionate because they know what it feels like to be bullied.

  10. Kelly Carter

    July 20, 2021 at 7:43 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with this column! Respect is earned, and bad behaviour no matter who you are should not be condoned. Acceptance is exactly that. Acceptance of the person in front of you for who they are not their identities. Irwin is clearly nothing more than a school yard bully who happens to be well paid and in a position of authority. If the roles were reversed we would be screaming about this. Walk a mile in another’s shoes before judging, and people living in glass houses should not throw stones!

  11. Steven

    July 20, 2021 at 6:14 pm

    I’ve no problem with a pride corner, but take as good as you give NDP MLA Janis Irwin. Hurts, eh? When the elected one doing the prancing & dancing around issues gets called out for being bigoted.

    I personally don’t give a hoot about your sexual orientation Janis, but I do give a damn about your lack of responsibility to the riding Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood that you represent.

    Former Premier Rachel Notley will try and cover this embarrassment up with her socialist spin.

  12. K

    July 20, 2021 at 5:38 pm

    What exactly is this person doing to better their community? Prancing around like a mentally-ill lunatic and insulting a large amount of the people she was unfortunately elected to represent does not better the cause of anything. Being obsessed with sex and sexual identity is representative of a degenerate mind.

  13. Darlene Craig

    July 20, 2021 at 4:43 pm

    Maybe my “privilege “ is showing – and I mean that – but when will we move past the need for “pride corner, “ pride month” etc. When will ones sexual preference become just one thing about a person?

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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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