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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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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Geraldine

    July 28, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    A very well-written article about yet another bully attacking the Christian community because they don’t agree with what the Bible says (repeatedly) about homosexuality.

    Well done Linda and keep up the good work. I have bookmarked your page to check in for more of your upcoming stories.

  2. 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.

  3. Shrieked

    July 21, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    This is stupid and you wasted my time.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. Andrew

    July 20, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    BINGO

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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: 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.

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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
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

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.

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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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Opinion

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.

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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.
makichukd@gmail.com

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