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EDITORIAL: NDP platform a free-spending socialist dream

The Western Standard read the entire NDP platform so you don’t have to.

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When Canadians go to the polls September 20 to elect a new Parliament, they must decide if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals deserve a third term in office and if that term should be a majority or minority mandate.

If another minority mandate is in the offing, he will most likely have to rely on the NDP to prop him up again. For the sake of the country’s economy, social fabric, unity, and basic accounting principles, Canadians should pray this is not the case. As undeserving and destructive as a restored Trudeau majority would be, a Trudeau minority relying upon the NDP for support would somehow be worse.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh released his party’s platform on August 12, several days before the campaign even officially began. At 115 pages it’s long, but it’s hardly detailed, and entirely un-costed. The platform is less a list of policy pledges and more of a long-winded manifesto of leftist grievances peppered with the odd specific – or vague – promise.

The Western Standard analyzed the NDP plan – if it can be called that – in detail, as we did earlier with O’Toole’s Conservative platform. If it can be summed up in four words, it is “free stuff for everyone.” While overwhelmingly unrealistic and naive, it does contain the odd interesting proposal that we will give a fair hearing.

Taxes (F)

Unsurprisingly, the NDP proposes new taxes; lots of them.

This includes a “temporary COVID-19 excess profit tax that puts an additional 15% tax on large corporate windfall profits during the pandemic.”

Certainly, some companies were successful during the pandemic, but how could the NDP possibly know which companies generated “windfall profits” because of the pandemic? Is it just possible that some new businesses were just coming online as the pandemic started, or had made major investments that began to pay off at this time? Of course, they don’t. It is the simple politics of envy preying on low information voters.

Right on cue, the NDP have also trotted out their make “the wealthiest individuals [pay] their fair share” trope; as if people paying half their incomes toward the government were not paying their “fair share” already. To this, the NDP would increase the capital gains tax rate to an incredible 75%. This would have devastating effects on investment in general, and small business owners in particular.

The NDP also pledge to increase the top marginal tax rate by another two points, further discouraging people from obtaining a high-quality education or start a business that will pay them and their families instead of the government.

While it would net next to no revenue, they continue with their jealousy-based politics by calling for a “luxury goods tax” and impose a further “wealth tax.” A wealth tax isn’t even a tax on income. It’s a tax on money that people have already paid tax on and put into the bank. If the NDP is hoping to drive savings offshore into jurisdictions that would like their money, this is how they would do it.

They will raise corporate (that is, business) taxes by 3%, and join the Liberals and Conservatives in taxing online services, like Netflix.

Carbon Taxes (F)

When it comes to carbon taxes, the NDP stands alongside the Liberals and Conservatives. On such a divisive issue, there is remarkably little difference between the three big parties. The only party currently represented in Parliament that breaks with them is the Greens, which predictably want an ever-larger tax-take on driving one’s car or heating one’s home.

Global Warming & Industry (F)

With the Green Party in a state of civil war-induced collapse, the NDP sharpened its environmentalist credentials even further in hopes of poaching their voters.

Its platform includes alarmist trinkets like the appointment of a “Climate Emergency Committee of Cabinet,” where presumably Singh and his ministers can heroically forestall the end of the world.

They will also fund “fare-free transit,” a set a target of “net-zero electricity by 2030 and move to 100% non-emitting electricity by 2040.”

For good measure, they will “immediately ban single-use plastics,” while promising to transition workers in this huge Western industry to more appropriate lines of work which will no doubt be subsidized by the taxpayers.

In a nod to the most extreme wing of the radical eco-movement, they will “create an Office of Environmental Justice to address the disproportionate impacts of pollution and loss of biodiversity on low-income, racialized and other marginalized communities.”

Because we all know that global warming is racist.

The party commits to having Canada at 50% of its 2005 carbon emissions levels by 2030, just nine years from now. Even if Jagmeet Singh were to form a majority government and have all of the money in the world, he would be unable to reach this target without a Chinese Cultural Revolution-style upheaval of society. Smart New Democrats know they could never reach this target on this timeline, but they know that they will not be the government and therefore will not have to fulfill any of their promises.

In the great green upheaval, however, the NDP promise they will “create good jobs in all regions, with green infrastructure investments that will ensure that working people are not left behind as the world moves to a zero-carbon economy.”

This will be cold comfort to oil patch workers in Alberta and Saskatchewan that will be thrown out of their jobs and reassigned to assembling government-subsidized windmills.

The NDP says “the workers most impacted by the changes in our economy cannot pay the price of action on climate change.” But just in case there aren’t enough solar-panel technician jobs to go around, the NDP promises it would expand EI benefits to those that they put out of work. Westerners by-and-large have avoided the “pogey-culture” that plagues many areas in Atlantic Canada, but this seems a sure-fire way to make the West fit right in.

The West (F)

While the NDP manifesto devotes page-after-page to the importance of Ontario’s auto sector and Quebec’s aluminum industry, it doesn’t mention the West’s energy industry. Not once. In fact, a search of the document doesn’t find the word ‘Alberta’ at all. A search for ‘Saskatchewan’ turns up only one result, in reference to that province’s first socialist premier, Tommy Douglas.

The Singh plan says it continues to oppose the Kinder-Morgan pipeline, but stops short of saying that it will tear it out of the ground. We suppose that this is progress for the NDP.

Senate Reform (C+)

The NDP promise to abolish the Senate. This would require the unanimous agreement of the federal government and all 10 provinces, so even if a Prime Minister Singh had a majority government, he would almost certainly be unable to effect this promise.

A functioning upper house of the legislature (Senate) is a key element of every functioning democratic federation in the world; including the United States, Germany, and Australia. Canada is the lone democratic federation on the planet without an upper house that has democratic legitimacy or seat-balance to protect the smaller members. Remedying this – however unlikely – is key to any hope of fairness for the West within Canada.

The NDP proposal would do away with it entirely. While far worse an option than a radically reformed Senate, it would in fact be much better than the status quo that sees provinces like Alberta (with more than twice the population of all four Atlantic provinces combined) have roughly half the seats of just Nova Scotia.

Electoral Reform (B)

Justin Trudeau promised 2015 would be the last election held under the “first-past-the-post” system. But once that system won him a majority government without a majority of the votes, he decided that it was just fine after all.

It is increasingly obvious that Canadians – and Westerners in particular – are not well served by this ancient form of elections, with constituencies drawn up arbitrarily on a political whim. Some form of proportional representation would be positive, and allow voters to cast their ballots for the party of their choice, and not have to worry about the “splitting the vote” boogeyman.

Conservatives, for instance, could stop worrying about the incessant problem of holding together an over-broad coalition of voters that often have contrary interests. In place of the Conservative Party of Canada, a group of smaller parties could focus on their own voter groups, with parties dedicated to: social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, libertarians, Red Tories, Westerners, and Quebec nationalists. In the end, that coalition of parties would likely prove more successful than a catch-all Conservative Party that leaves most less than happy.

The NDP’s platform commits to moving to a mixed-member proportional representation system that would continue to have locally elected MPs, but also “at-large” MPs representing parties that received a sufficient level of the vote, but didn’t win any local races in gerrymandered constituencies. This is a tried-and-tested form of proportional representation used in many successful democracies including: Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, and Scotland.

But such extensive changes to the fundamental nature of our democracy requires broad buy-in before they can be enacted. Unfortunately, the NDP’s plan would simply impose it without a referendum first. Even if their intentions are good, this is a dangerously authoritarian move.

Student Debt and Post-Secondary Education (F)

The NDP platform doesn’t see a problem that can’t be fixed without throwing more money at it. A favourite in the plan is post-secondary education. The party promises to make “post-secondary education part of our public education system.” What few bright spots of learning can still be found on these campuses would be brought down to the same level of uninspiring mediocrity as Canada’s public K-12 schools. Luckily, this would be wildly unconstitutional for the NDP to impose, since universities are under provincial jurisdiction. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has proven unwilling to protect provincial jurisdiction under the constitution in areas like healthcare, social services, and now even in control of natural resources.

The NDP promises to make student debt programs interest-free and extend debt forgiveness, up to $20,000. But that’s just the start. They will “move away from loans and permanently double non-repayable Canada student grants.”

For those of us who took on student debt and managed to pay it back by working and saving, this is a hard pill to swallow.

It’s also wildly “classist” to use an NDP socialist term. Post-secondary education is a path to high incomes – something the NDP instinctively loath – yet it’s asking working-class taxpayers to pay for the education of people who will earn much more than they do.

Canada Post (F)

Speaking of making the poor pay for the wealthy, the NDP commit to restoring door-to-door mail delivery for neighbourhoods delisted under the Harper government. Many of those areas are older, upper-income neighbourhoods, who now have to walk to a community mailbox like the rest of us. We all hate walking down the block to get our mail, but snail mail is the way of the past, and Canada Post needs to adapt. If the government must continue to own and control the delivery of our mail, it should be the same for every taxpayer.

Gas Prices (D)

Incredibly, the NDP is concerned about gas prices.

“New Democrats [will] make sure that prices at the pumps are fair by creating a Fair Gasoline Prices Watchdog to investigate complaints about gouging, and boost the power of the Competition Bureau to proactively investigate allegations of anti-competitive activity in the gasoline market.”

As much as we all hate to see the price rise at the pump, there simply hasn’t been any proven cases of price-fixing. In fact, the fuel sales industry is hyper-competitive.

This is a sop to low information voters who hate high gas prices, while deflecting attention away from the over-obvious fact the most persistent and non-competitive aspect of gas prices is, in fact, taxes. If the NDP want to address the high cost of gasoline (although probably not diesel) at the pump, they should revisit their enthusiastic support of carbon taxes. In fact, all three big parties should do so.

EI (D)

Margaret Thatcher once said: “The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples’ money.” That doesn’t stop the NDP’s platform from promising even more money for people to not work, many of which would be driven into the unemployment line by their very policies.

The platform is promising a massive enrichment of the program, including extra benefits for “seasonal workers” (that is: Atlantic fishermen). Of course, these extra benefits will do little to help the tens of thousands of energy industry workers their platform would throw out of a job.

One saving grace to the NDP’s EI proposals is to “make EI available to people who quit their jobs to go back to school.” Many Canadians who have never collected EI in their lives are unable to leave their jobs to upgrade their skills so that they can re-enter the labour market with a higher income. Allowing these people to collect EI that they have paid to draw from it while they go back to school is a positive measure that deserves a tip of the hat.

Guaranteed Income (F)

Speaking of free money, the NDP is promising the introduction of a “Guaranteed Livable Income” for all Canadians. This is not the Milton Friedman-style plan of abolishing the bureaucratic welfare state and its social programs for replacement with a single subsidy. Instead, it would see existing social programs and handouts expanded across the board, with a massive new handout program added onto it all. A program of this magnitude would bankrupt Canada all on its own, and add to the already serious unemployment problem.

Daycare (F)

One thing can be said for the New Democrats: they are consistent. As they have for every election for decades on end, they are promising the imposition of a federal $10/day government daycare program on the provinces. While the NDP has never formed government, the pressure they exert on the left-flank of the Liberals seems at long last to have paid off for them, as Trudeau is signing deals with provinces right now.

Daycare is a necessity for many families that choose to have both parents work, but it is not the answer for every family. A government-run daycare program will hurt the quality of daycare provided and deprive many families of the choice they deserve in how to care for their children.

Labour and Unions (F)

Before the NDP went down the road of eco-radicalism, they were at their core a socialist labour party. They haven’t lost this sense of mission in their platform, although it consumes much less ink than their environmental promises and bromides.

The party would ban replacement workers during strikes (which they call “scabs”), and impose an unconstitutional federal minimum wage of $20 an hour. Those with even an elementary understanding of economics will know this will drive inflation and put huge numbers of lower-skilled labourers and young workers out of work.

The party would also ban unpaid internships. Post-secondary students often take these unpaid positions as a way of building their resumes so that they have something to show potential employers when they graduate. It may pay less than a job at McDonald’s, but it holds much more weight on a CV. The NDP plan to ban these positions will just mean fewer graduates able to earn the trust of an employer to hire them when they are finished school.

Supply Management (F)

Like carbon taxes, the NDP are joined in unanimity by the Liberals and Conservatives in supporting Canada’s Soviet-style “supply management” system in several sectors of agriculture. While the NDP has never seen a sector of the economy it didn’t think the government should run or own, the evidence is abundantly clear “supply management” subsidizes certain farmers who own quota at the expense of working families that must pay above-market prices for their dairy, eggs and poultry. This is a regressive policy that disproportionately hurts poor and working-class families, groups for which the NDP claim to be champions.

Pacific Coast Fishing (B)

Salmon fishing on the West coast is a critical industry for many British Columbians, but it has come under increasing stress from offshore salmon farms. These farms severely pollute the waters around them, disrupting the environment and causing the artificial spread of diseases in the wild salmon population.

The NDP’s platform says that it will “implement the recommendations of the Cohen Commission and work with the province of British Columbia and First Nations to support the transition to land-based closed-containment systems.”

This is a positive move, so long as it is done carefully to transition the offshore salmon farmers to land-based operations in a way that is fair and respectful of their current investments.

Seniors (D)

The NDP has never met an institution it didn’t believe should be directly owned and run by the government, including seniors’ homes.

The NDP platform says it “will end private, for-profit long-term care and bring long-term care homes under the public umbrella.” Grandma and grandpa who saved during their working careers so they can enjoy a relatively comfortable, private seniors-care home, would ostensibly be uprooted and placed into government-run institutions. This is poor economics, expensive, and most importantly, disrespectful to our seniors who didn’t spend all of their money, but instead saved for a more comfortable retirement.

Pharma, Dental and Mental Care (D)

Under the NDP platform, pharmaceuticals, dental care, and mental care would all be free. Further intruding into provincial jurisdiction, they would impose these as government programs. All of these things are critical for a healthy, productive, and happy population, but there is scant evidence government could do any better than the private sector.

Drug Reform and Addictions (A)

Less a matter of libertarian choice than a matter of harm reduction for the New Democrats, they have put forward a bold plan to decriminalize drug use while redoubling efforts to crack down on the real criminals: traffickers.

While this proposal may make some voters nervous, it is worthy of serious consideration. Hear us out.

Canadians addicted to narcotics are not going to stop just because they aren’t allowed to do them. Putting drug users in prison for their personal choices (however poor) without hurting anyone else is not going to make them stop. The answer for addicts is not jail time; it is treatment and compassion. The NDP has shown bravery here and the other parties should follow suit.

The NDP also hit the nail on the head with their commitment to “expunge criminal records for Canadians convicted of minor cannabis possession.”

This is a common-sense move that should be getting more attention from the other big parties. Cannabis possession is now legal in Canada, and it is unfair people who have a criminal record for smoking a joint in university have to carry that burden for the rest of their lives.

CBC and Media Bailout (F)

The NDP (predictably) promises to “increase funding for CBC and Radio-Canada,” which does so much to broadcast NDP-Liberal friendly news and opinion.

While they don’t address the issue directly, the platform strongly implies it supports the Trudeau government’s media bailout, and might even go further.

“We will also extend support to Canadian media to assist them in making the digital transition.”

The media have had nearly 30 years to make the transition. Those that haven’t are dinosaurs and deserve to share their fate.

Sex Changes and Race (F)

According to the platform, “Access to gender confirming procedures and medication can be life-saving for some transgender people. New Democrats will work with the provinces to make sure that there is equal access to gender confirming surgery across the country, and these procedures and medications are covered by public health plans.”

While most Canadians are comfortable letting individuals decide for themselves how they wish to identify, the NDP believes that the government needs to step in, as well as taxpayers. This is disappointing, but hardly surprising for a party infected by the most virulent strains of wokism.

The party will also “prioritize the collection of race-based data on health, employment, policing and more with the goal of improving outcomes for racialized communities.”

French and Quebec (F)

Despite losing their Orange Wave in Quebec, the NDP are intent on seducing back La Belle Provence. The party says that it will strengthen the Official Languages Act, and even promise an extra special status for French beyond that given to minority English communities.

“We will also adopt the principle of asymmetry, which recognizes that as a minority official language, French requires particular protection and promotion.”

The English-speaking minority about to be effectively outlawed in Quebec might have something to say about it, but all the big parties ignore them as an inconvenient reality.

Overall Platform (F)

Admittedly, it’s difficult for an eco-socialist party to score well with the Western Standard Editorial Board, but we did our best to be as open as possible to good ideas, regardless of the party or its ideology. And we did in fact find a few nuggets. But even grading the NDP on a curve and searching for these tickets of sanity, there is little of value for most Westerners to find in the party’s platform.

The best Westerns can hope for if Trudeau wins re-election, is that he will not have to rely on a party this captured by extremism for support in Parliament.

This Editorial was jointly written by the Editorial Board of the Western Standard

The Western Standard Editorial Board is composed of the senior editorial staff of the Western Standard. Editorials written by the WSEB are jointly written and reflect the shared position of the company.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Andrew

    August 19, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    GTFO of Alberta a$$hole!

  2. Stew James

    August 19, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    Singh, you should do it right, wrap your turbin around your neck! The stupidity of these NDP clowns is painful!
    The only people to vote for these people are the ones looking for a hand out!

  3. Left Coast

    August 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Even Putin is less radical than these Communists in the NDP Party . . .

    Watch the couple with the Cougar on U-tube . . . life seems pretty good for the average Russian today 30 years after the collapse of the USSR.

    Not so in Canada though . . . today 1000s live on the streets, Industry is long gone, and Taxes & Inflation are killing the rest.

    Singh along with Jagmeet will just make you poorer & dumber !

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Opinion

The Western Standard at two years old

Western Standard Publisher Derek Fildebrandt on the journey from scrappy-startup to one of the most-read media platforms in Western Canada.

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Today marks two years since the Western Standard was reestablished and returned to publication. It has been a wild ride and has succeeded far beyond my expectations.

In August 2019, I began putting together a business plan for a new media company that would speak for Western Canadians who do not see themselves reflected in the priorities of the large legacy media outfits. I wanted to build something that would carry the mantel of the old Western Standard and the Alberta Report before it.

I consulted with some of the best in the business, and while their advice was critical to launching us on a solid footing, the outlook for success was far from certain.

As the plan began to come together, the opportunity presented itself to purchase the rights to the old Western Standard brand from an employee of the original company, Matthew Johnston. The Western Standard was far-and-away my favourite magazine to read between Marxist theory classes while I attended Carleton University in the mid-2000s. I remembered Mark Steyn’s back-cover columns forcing me to the ground as I rolled in laughter.

We had a name at least, even if it had been forgotten by many.

Media is a hurting industry in Canada. Even with a generous $600 million bailout subsidy from Ottawa, legacy media are struggling to keep their heads above water. Newsrooms across Canada are a macabre, pale reflection of their former glory. How would we break into an already dying industry and succeed without accepting the federal cash? It was a daunting prospect.

The one good thing going for us was that, unlike many other businesses, an online media company could get started with remarkably little upfront capital.

With a few thousand dollars and dozens of hours of YouTube tutorials, we managed to put together the basics of the technology required.

With no other capital available, we needed an innovative way to pay reporters, columnists, and other contributors. So instead of paying a salary, wage, or for each submission from writers, the decision was made to pay them based on a combination of revenues generated by the company, relative to how many readers each received on their contributions.

Those revenues wouldn’t be very significant for some time to come. We had no investors. We had no advertisers. We couldn’t put in place a paywall and expect people to pay for something that they knew nothing about. For the first while, it would take reporters and columnists willing to do this as a labour of love.

On Oct. 23, 2019 we launched. It was just two days after the federal election that saw Justin Trudeau re-elected with a minority government. Westerners were incredulous that a self-righteous woke Liberal could be returned to power after a flood of pictures showing him in racist blackface was made public. Overnight, the WEXIT movement caught fire as many Westerners — especially Albertans and Saskatchewanians — began to believe Canada was a futile project designed to serve the interests of the East. With particular insight into what was driving these people — and who these people were — the Western Standard was in pole position to cover the movement.

Within our first week, Dave Naylor joined the team as news editor. It was a fateful moment for our growth as an organization. Dave brought with him 30 years of experience as a respected newsman at the Calgary Sun. From there, he built a small but mighty news division in the organization that would break a disproportionate number of exclusive stories and put the Western Standard on the map.

By January 1, 2020, we were already on track to be one of the most-read media platforms in Alberta, with promising signs that we could replicate this in the other Western provinces.

2020 was a long, hard year for us. We continued to slog away at delivering a high-volume of news and opinion content, but on a shoestring budget. We were still too new and unproven to attract major advertisers, and we had only a voluntary donation option to receive support from readers. Reporters, columnists and other contributors were all chronically underpaid, we worked from home, and had little in the way of a budget to professionalize our operations.

Some of the Western Standard staff in the Calgary Office, September 28, 2021

All of this began to turn around in December 2020. Advertisers began to take notice of the Western Standard. Readership reached new heights. And investors began to show interest.

March 2021 was the decisive month when the Western Standard began to move from a scrappy startup, to a professional media platform capable of challenging some of the biggest players in the Western media market.

Firstly, we implemented a soft paywall for readers. That is, we allowed readers to continue to consume a high volume of Western Standard content, but would eventually require those readers to pay if they read a lot. We were extremely hesitant to do this. There was no way that we could grow to where we wanted to be without asking readers to contribute towards our editorial work, but we wanted to keep our content open to as many readers as possible. That’s why we settled on a “soft-paywall.” The results were incredible. Readers signed up in huge numbers, and we reinvested every dollar back into professionalizing our editorial and operational capacities.

Those operational capacities included investments into our website (ending the constant crashes whenever we posted big breaking stories), renting sufficient office space, and building a professional studio to provide high-quality video and podcasts.

Investment in our editorial capacity was also significant. Staff and freelance contributors were actually paid fairly for their work. This incentivized them to provide content of a higher quality, and at a higher volume.

Daily Readership, October 2019-September 2021

The result was a continuing increase in Western Standard readership. In the period between January 1 and Sept. 30, 2021, the Western Standard had 9.5 million readers, triple that of the same period in 2020.

Much of this is driven by our focus on issues and angles that are too often ignored or not understood by the older legacy media. Our news division is professional and includes several veterans of the industry, but it looks at stories from perspectives not shared by a majority of reporters.

Probably the most obvious example of this is in our coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Legacy media have almost exclusively taken the view that governments must — as a default — exercise extraordinary powers to eliminate the virus through the imposition of lockdowns, forced-masking, vaccine passports, and other coercive measures. Those concerned with retaining their liberties are portrayed as a bunch of cranky, conspiracy theorist hillbillies.

The Western Standard took a different approach. We have taken COVID-19 seriously and covered government and medical pronouncements as fairly and objectively as we can, and we have had a zero-tolerance policy for giving credibility or a platform to conspiracy theories. But we have also not drank the Kool-Aid of accepting everything the government tells us. We have applied a critical lens to government actions and their justifications for them. We have done our very best to provide readers with a perspective that simultaneously takes the science around COVID-19 seriously, as well as the protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As we complete our second year of operations, I’m immensely grateful to our staff, freelance contractors, advertisers, and individual members who have allowed us to get this far. We have gone from an idea on a piece of paper in 2019, to a well-read garage startup in 2020, to a professional media outlet that we can all be proud of in 2021.

We have big plans for 2022, and I hope that you will be a part of that journey with us.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher, President & CEO of Western Standard New Media Corp.

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Opinion

MORGAN: Albertans need real recall legislation now

“The UCP needs to bring their recall legislation back to the legislature, correct the flaws in it, and proclaim it into active law as soon as possible.”

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Nobody should have the ability to remove an elected official from office aside from the electors who put them there in the first place. Recalling a politician should never be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible either.

If some of the allegations against embattled Calgary City Councilor Sean Chu prove to be true, there will be little the constituents of Ward 4 will be able to do about it, other than ask him to step down. Chu doesn’t face any criminal charges nor has he been convicted of any, which would be required for any legal by other councillors to expel him. It would be up to Chu to decide if he wants to continue to sit as city councilor until the end of his term or not.

Even if Chu can provide proof exonerating himself of the acts he has been accused of, a terrible flaw in our electoral system has been exposed. Alberta needs viable voter recall legislation. Citizens need to be empowered to fire elected officials before the end of their term in exceptional circumstances.

Recall legislation was a key promise made by Jason Kenney and the UCP in the last election. While the government did table a form of recall legislation in the last legislative session, it was an anemic, nearly useless bill, and the government hasn’t bothered itself to formally proclaim it into active law yet.

Even if the new recall legislation was active right now, it couldn’t be applied in Chu’s case. The legislation doesn’t allow a recall to be initiated until at least one and-a-half years after the most recent election. While this clause was built in to prevent people from trying to frivolously recall politicians the day after an election, it leaves a gaping hole in the intent. In both Chu’s and Liberal MP George Chahal’s cases for example, allegations of wrongdoing surfaced literally within days of their having been elected.

While the need to recall elected officials is thankfully rare, it happens often enough to demonstrate a need for viable legislation. The Alberta Party had not one, but two of its former candidates convicted of child sex crimes. What would have happened if they had been elected? In 2018, former Wildrose MLA Don MacIntyre was charged with heinous child sex crimes. MacIntyre resigned and was subsequently convicted of sexual interference. Had MacIntyre refused to resign however, the constituents of Innisfail-Sylvan Lake would have had to endure being represented by a convicted and imprisoned child sex predator until the 2019 election.

Many Albertans can remember the bizarre saga of Lethbridge city councilor Dar Heatherington. Heatherington made international headlines when she disappeared from a conference in Montana. She later surfaced in Las Vegas and claimed she had been abducted and raped. An investigation later found Heatherington had fabricated the entire episode along with other stories of a fictional stalker. Heatherington was eventually convicted of mischief which allowed the Lethbridge city council to have her removed from her seat. The issue began with rage, but later turned into pity as it became evident Heatherington was suffering from serious mental illness. Recall would have been an act of mercy for her and her family were she not convicted.

Kenney’s recall legislation is an unworkable bill modeled to pay lip service to the principle of recall but is built in such a way it will likely never be used. The bar for petitioning is set too high, and the timelines for petitioning are far too tight. Even in the most egregious of cases, it would be exceedingly difficult for any elected official to be recalled.

Kenney’s reticence in providing viable recall legislation to Albertans has managed to come back to haunt him. Pressure is being put upon both Kenney and Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver to intervene and somehow block Chu from taking his seat on council. There likely is little the provincial government can do in this case since Chu hasn’t been criminally charged, much less convicted of anything. Chu’s sanctions were from within the police force, not the justice system. Kenney could have taken the pressure off himself if he had given Albertans recall legislation as he had promised. Kenney could have pointed to it today and said the issue was in the hands of the voters of Ward 4.

Adding salt to the wound, is the fact that Kenney has allowed the Recall Act it sit in legislative limbo, unproclaimed into active law despite being long ago passed by the legislature. The cynics among us may suspect he may fear its use against him and his caucus.

We need a mechanism to remove elected officials from office before their term is up if they prove to be unfit for office. We can’t put that power into the hands of other elected officials who would inevitably abuse it. Do we really want to see the premier able to fire elected mayors and councils in Alberta? In looking at how vitriolic and tribal some municipal councils are, could you imagine what would happen if these councils and mayors had the ability to fire each other? Former Calgary Mayor Haheed Nenshi and his gang on Calgary city council likely would have had Jeromy Farkas kicked out of city hall within his first year in office for being a nuisance.

The UCP needs to bring their recall legislation back to the legislature, correct the flaws in it, and proclaim it into active law as soon as possible. The wheel does not need to be reinvented here. Workable recall legislation exists in many jurisdictions. Electors deserve nothing less.

Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and Host of the Cory Morgan Show

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Maskless Maintoba ministers get free pass from top health doc

However, since 99.999% of Manitobans don’t get to go to a ball, let’s look at other indoor situations they regularly find themselves in. 

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Manitoba’s chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin essentially leapt to the defense of three cabinet ministers — including the health minister — who appeared maskless at a recent ball.

Roussin gave the ministers a pass for taking a photo wearing no masks at last weekend’s event held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

“For the most part, that mask should be on. There are brief periods where it’s reasonable for it to come off,” said Roussin. “If it was simply to remove a mask for the purposes of getting a photograph, and then you put it back on, then … that’s in keeping with advice we’ve provided.”

Well, it wasn’t quite ‘simply’ that. 

Unmasked Health Minister Audrey Gordon, Minister of Families Rochelle Squires and Minister of Sport, Culture, and Heritage Cathy Cox posed for a photo with three other women. 

Squires posted it to her Instagram page. (Do you think the other two are still talking to her for outing them? Maybe eating at different lunch table at the legislature shooting glare darts in between bites?? Did they unfriend her on social media yet?)

Yes, yes, Gordon and Squires said they were really, very sorry. Gordon and Cox adamantly said they had removed their masks to eat, then spontaneously jumped up only to take the photo. 

Hmmm … is that really the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

It isn’t.

Manitoba COVID-19 public health orders require mask use in all indoor public places, with some exemptions, including temporarily removing masks to eat, drink, give a speech or receive a service that requires them to be removed.

On Monday, Roussin issued a dire prediction that all harsh rules will likely remain in place through to spring.

Roussin said he wasn’t familiar with all of details of what transpired at the ball, so let’s enlighten the good doctor.

Squires posted another photo. She was seated at a table. Gordon and Cox, Winnipeg city Councilor Marcus Chambers, and several other people were standing behind her. No masks. No social distancing. None of that.

Roussin didn’t specifically elaborate on mask protocol while standing and socializing at balls. 

Thankfully, Manitobans can follow the health minister’s lead on acceptable guidelines.

However, since 99.999% of Manitobans don’t get to go to a ball, let’s look at other indoor situations they regularly find themselves in. 

An indoor venue is an indoor venue, right?

Surely the same rules apply to both politicians and regular folk in all indoor situations.

So, go ahead, be like Gordon. If you’re at the grocery store and see people you know, or even people you don’t know, by all means, rip off those cumbersome masks, stand really close, and visit — chat up a storm as long as you like. 

Same applies for acceptable mask protocol in Walmart, Home Depot, the gas station, school hallways, drug stores, the kid’s hockey game, etc.

And if the mask police descend and try to give you a $298 ticket — just whip out a copy of the photo of the health minister doing exactly that at an indoor event when tough COVID-19 mask restrictions are in place.

Remind them in a reasonable, calm manner the ministers have not been slapped with such silly fines. So, you shouldn’t be either.

And go ahead, post photos of the visits on Instagram, Facebook, wherever. Squires did that. So, there’s apparently nothing to hide.

The defense rests, your Honour. 

The only problem is — unlike the cabinet ministers — you probably wouldn’t get a pass.

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

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