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MAKICHUK: Autonomy now – it’s time to go our own way

While Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Justin the Younger are pointing us in a mystical green direction — complete with unicorns and imaginary six-figure eco jobs — I only see looming disaster.




We called him Uncle Fred.

My illustrious uncle from Winnipeg, who actually came to Canada from the old country in Ukraine at the turn of the century, and lived to 103 years of age.

There was not a kinder, more generous man in our family. “Freddy” as we called him would go out of his way to help anyone.

Besides working at a potato chip company — he often gave us kids, boxes of delicious potato chips, which we loved! — he had an amazing background.

Freddy had done it all, at one time he was a professional hockey scout, baseball coach and also an avid photographer.

As a youngster, I remember him telling us to watch out for a First Nations player by the name of Reggie Leach whom he claimed to have scouted.

We didn’t pay any heed, of course. It was just another one of Uncle Fred’s stories. 

Well, the rest is history. Reggie Leach, who played for the Broad Street Bullies — the Philadelphia Flyers of Fred Shero fame — would retire after having played 934 career NHL games, scoring 381 goals and 285 assists for 666 points. He would also win a Stanley Cup in 1975 with the Flyers.

And then, there was Tarzan. Yes, Tarzan. The famed movie actor Johnny Weissmuller.

Freddy told us during a jaunt to the US he taught Weissmuller how to swim! It was one of our favourite family stories.

But while we all loved Freddy, in a way he would be the black sheep of the family and I often got into arguments with him over politics. He would take the side of the Soviet Union and me, the American way.

You see, Uncle Fred was a communist. A through-and-through, card-carrying communist.

We had no doubts he was on the RCMP’s watchlist. 

He would often hand us brochures which had titles like, “Our friends to the north,” and other commie stuff which we would quickly deep-six.

That did not stop us from visiting with Uncle Fred nor did it affect our deep respect for him. He was a good man and we shall always remember him as such.

But you see, history has repeated itself. I too have become the black sheep of my family.

I’m a separatist. A dyed in the wool, redneck Alberta separatist. Put me in a cage and poke me with a stick. I will hiss and shake the bars. 

Yes, that’s me. I want out now. I have had it with Ottawa and its despicable clownish shenanigans.

I honestly see no future for my daughter or the children of my nieces and nephews – not under the catastrophic leadership being offered to us.

While Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Justin the Younger are pointing us in a mystical green direction — complete with unicorns and imaginary six-figure eco-jobs — I only see looming disaster.

Every time those two idiots open their mouths, I want to jump off a bridge.

While I probably would settle for a new deal under Confederation, I would rather smash it into a thousand pieces.

First off, let’s get rid of the Mounties. 

I won’t trash talk them. They are mostly good dudes who do great work, but we need to get rid of them and start our own Alberta police force.

Ontario has the OPP, Quebec has the QPP. If they can do it, we can too and we can do it better. Think of the jobs that would create.

Second, initiate an Alberta pension.

Friends who bristle at my independence views say we can’t afford it.

Balderdash. If New Zealand can afford one, so can we. It can be done.

The businesses will all leave, just like what happened in Quebec, others say.

No, they won’t. That was a language issue, this is about business and freedom. We have oil, we have resources, we have good universities, we have talented people, we have tourism, agriculture, cattle and more. 

There is nothing stopping us from building a new Alberta dream if we put our minds to it.

As in China, we could easily establish Free Trade Zones (FTZs), where companies, both domestic and foreign, could operate with preferential customs and tax rules.

In other words, let’s do everything we can do to attract investors without federal interference.

Oh, and by the way, the first such zone globally was established at Shannon airport in Ireland to encourage trade at this transit location.

Thirdly, let’s build a fast train from Calgary to Edmonton.

While the cost of such a project would be hefty it would spur development along the line, much like what happened in Spain.

Of course, that would require rural Albertans who tend to resist change to think outside the box. 

Which brings me to the dreaded sales tax. Independence from the rest of Canada — with, or without the other western provinces and northern territories — would require it.

Keep in mind the dreaded carbon tax would also be axed which would bring some relief to Albertans.

But — and this is awesome — no more transfer payments. 

To quote Roberto Durán who, in the 8th round of his epic battle with Sugar Ray Leonard, told the referee, “No más” (No more), not another goddam dollar will go to Quebec.

Those days would be over. And what glory days they would be.

First Nations would also have to be on the same page, and consultations would have to become a priority — they would have to get a big piece of the pie.

I think it would also be cool to establish a new First Nations university — to tap into the talent and potential of Alberta’s indigenous people.

Also a bigger emphasis on First Nations culture, music, art and history should be part of the curriculum of every school in the province.

It’s time we taught our history, not anybody else’s. 

And every child in the school system should tour the Lancaster bomber in their local museum to see what past generations sacrificed to give them freedom.

It would not be easy. I’m not saying autonomy would be. 

Nor am I quoting the same three or four so-called economic experts in Alberta that every media does for “expert” reaction. 

If we listened to those guys we’d still be in the Stone Age.

It’s time to blow this pop stand, folks. The sooner the better.

Dave Makichuk is a veteran journalist who has worked with both the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald.

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  1. Andrew Red Deer

    August 26, 2021 at 6:18 am

    Here here lets get this done. I support Left Coast view on this, you are either an Albertan or your not. We dont need Apartheid here. Canada as a country has stood up on its hind legs and shouted to the world its support of murderers in South Africa and other vile nations, we need to stop this now. Treat ALL Albertans equally.

  2. RM

    August 25, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    Vancouver Island, Greater Vancouver, and Surrey are happy with the Liberals and NDP. They would never go for separation. The interior of the province and the north are a different story. People there are much more closely aligned with the thinking of Albertans. Right now, if a separation vote was taken on a riding by riding basis there would be significant support in that part of BC.

  3. Station

    August 24, 2021 at 11:18 am

    Completely axe BC and Manitoba and we would have a fighting chance.

  4. Andrew

    August 24, 2021 at 11:02 am

    vote Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta in 2023

  5. Left Coast

    August 24, 2021 at 10:34 am

    Agree with you Dave that the “Green” Economy will be a massive JOKE on the taxpayers.

    Have been a Western Separatist for 40 years . . . there is absolutely nothing east of Manitoba that the West needs. They have picked our pockets since Confederation . . .

    But in a new Free West there can be only ONE class of citizen . . . ALL pay taxes & ALL work to lift up themselves & their families. And schools would teach REAL history, not the fables of the not really first nations. This is a Billion $$ Albatros that needs to be eliminated.

  6. Darlene Belford

    August 24, 2021 at 10:24 am

    There is much to like in this article. Let’s start with doing with we can in Alberta–our own pension plan, police force; indigenous participation; etc. For sure, what we do in Alberta should NOT depend on whether or not southern BC agrees.

  7. berta baby

    August 24, 2021 at 10:02 am

    Southern BC are never going to go for it

  8. Josh

    August 24, 2021 at 9:47 am

    I totally agree with working together with the first nations.

    I hope undrip doesn’t make that irrelevant.

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MORGAN: It’s time for municipal political parties in Alberta

Conservatives had an opportunity to get a slate of small-government representatives into office and we blew it.




The union-backed coalition of candidates in Calgary’s civic election decisively won the day. With 27 candidates running for mayor and nearly 100 candidates vying for one of 14 council seats, it was a bewildering mix of candidates for voters to choose from.

Only one candidate out of all of the races won with more than 50% of the vote. In Ward 7, the vote was so diluted, Terry Wong won the seat with only 25% support. Union endorsed candidates took nine out of 15 spots, including the mayoral chair.

The 2021 municipal election offered the largest turnover of elected positions we have seen at city hall in a generation. Conservatives had an opportunity to get a slate of small-government representatives into office and we blew it. Rather than gripe about how the union coalition took city hall, we need to learn from it. If we don’t change how we approach civic elections, left-progressives will keep winning them.

Some people have been scratching their heads over why Calgary votes so conservatively federally and provincially while so progressively when it comes to their municipal elections. The difference is the party system. Conservatives need to form a municipal political party if they want to displace the union-progressive bloc dominating Calgary’s municipal government.

Progressives may be ideologically delusional, but they aren’t stupid. They know they won’t win as many municipal seats if they actually run on a left-wing platform. They run right and govern left. Once they are in office, they can rely on incumbency and an apathetic electorate in order to retain their seats. They don’t need a large number of voters in order to keep their seats, they can simply let conservatives keep splitting the vote in future elections. That tactic kept Druh Farrell in office for 20 years despite her only winning over 50% of the vote once.

A political party will solve many of the issues leading to the chronic defeat of conservative candidates in Calgary and to some extent, Edmonton.

A political party provides for a nomination system. Prospective candidates are vetted by members in a race for the right to run. This helps expose any past scandals or other issues making candidates inappropriate for office before election time. Nomination scrutiny will test conservative credentials. It is tough for progressive candidates to slide through party scrutiny. Some contenders for office may have fantastic resumes, but be terrible campaigners or fundraisers. A nomination is a dry run and the best prospective candidates will usually rise to the top.

The vote-splitting issue will be mitigated by a single party endorsing only one candidate per ward and for the mayor. There will surely be other conservative candidates running in every race — as is their right — but when name recognition is so difficult to attain in civic politics, they won’t be able to garner more profile than a party-endorsed candidate. There were multiple progressive candidates in many of the races in the last election, but none of them outperformed the union endorsed ones with the lone exception Richard Pootmans. Again, we need to learn from them.

A political party can provide the organization and training independent candidates lack. Some conservative candidates may have had excellent credentials but simply couldn’t put a cohesive campaign team together. A candidate may have a fantastic policy set but had never actually written a press release before. Campaigning is a unique set of skills. Parties provide standardized and shared campaign training to their candidates and volunteers. A party provides a support system and it allows the candidates to focus on important elements of their campaign without getting mired in electoral details party volunteers can handle.

A party can provide uniform branding for its candidates and offer a centralized advertising strategy. The union PAC in the last election had nearly two million dollars to spend on advertising for their chosen candidates. We can’t pretend the union spending didn’t make a difference on those races. A party can advertise the brand while all of their endorsed candidates benefit. TV advertising is a huge expense and is of little benefit to individual candidates for councilor. If the advertising is focused on a shared brand through a party though, it can benefit every party candidate. Only through strong and consistent advertising will candidates be able to defeat incumbents relying on name recognition.

Funds can’t be directly given to candidates by a party but there would be great cost savings in being part of a party. Candidates will be able to get together on orders for sign and literature printing which will bring the costs down tremendously due to the scale of the orders. Campaign office space could be potentially shared and many other cost-saving collaborations between candidates can happen as they work together under one banner.

There could be pitfalls with a political party as well of course. A new party would have to ensure it’s not tied in any way to federal or provincial parties. We’ve already seen how toxic branding from other levels of government can impact elections on other levels.

In bringing a slate together under one brand, not only could all candidates rise with the party, they could fall with it. If there are party missteps or candidate scandals, it could drag down every candidate in the party.

Candidates will also have to ensure they will be beholden to their constituents first and the party second. Importantly, candidates elected to council under a party banner should be free to vote however they choose, with no party whip standing over them. It can be a fine line to walk, but it has to be done. Local government is important and electors don’t want to think their representatives won’t have the ability to use discretion on issues not gelling with the party as a whole.

The only thing worse than an official political party in an election is an unofficial political party. Public service unions have created an unofficial party and it won Calgary’s civic election. If we want to change the status-quo, we will have to change the way we have been playing the game. We need a conservative party to contest the next civic election in Calgary and we need to get on organizing it soon. Otherwise, we will continue spinning our wheels while progressive councilors trot into re-election with ease.

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

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FILDEBRANDT: The unions bought city hall

It’s a clean sweep that puts Calgary on a course for a more interventionist government for at least the next four years and, with Calgary’s tendency to re-elect municipal incumbents in perpetuity, potentially much longer.




Jyoti Gondek is Calgary’s new mayor-elect. She largely represents a continuation of Naheed Nenshi’s purple reign that has led the city’s council and government since 2010, although there are hopeful signs that personality-wise she has less of the outgoing mayor’s Jupiter-sized ego and petulance.

Gondek’s victory means not only that Jeromy Farkas will not be the mayor, but he will no longer continue in his role as the unofficial leader of the opposition on council. The size of the conservative bloc on council may end up relatively similar to its pre-election makeup, but it’s influence will be much diminished.

In addition to Farkas, the conservative bloc lost Joe Magliocca, and while Sean Chu won the day, his scandal involving a minor in 1997 continues to deepen. CTV is reporting salacious new details that could make his continued position untenable. Chu denied the allegations in an exclusive interview with the Western Standard, but more evidence will need to be produced one way or another to determine who’s telling the truth. The jury is still very much out on this one.

Adding to the conservative bloc is Terry Wong, who replaced one of the most stridently leftist members of council, Druh Farrell, as well as Dan McLean, who unseated weather vane incumbent Diane Colley-Urquhart.

Centre-right former councillor Andre Chabot also returns to council, as does the swing vote Peter Demong (who was the only incumbent with no union candidate against him).

Taken together, the conservative bloc will likely be made up of four councillors — if Chu can hang on. If they can sway Demong, they can make up five votes, soaking wet, well short of the eight votes needed to win a majority on any given issue.

The union super-PAC (political action committee) Calgary’s Future swept the table. Their candidates took the mayor’s chair, and eight council seats, although their leftist bloc will likely be joined by the non-union endorsed Richard Pootmans. That brings the union-progressive bloc to 10 votes.

Ten union-progressives, four conservatives, and one swing. It’s a clean sweep that puts Calgary on a course for a more interventionist government for at least the next four years and, with Calgary’s tendency to re-elect municipal incumbents in perpetuity, potentially much longer.

Could Farkas have won?

It’s always an error to add up the votes of the “also ran” candidates and add them to the total of the runner up as if a party or candidate has any kind of ownership over them, but let’s just do it for the sake of the hypotheticals.

Since well before the official campaign period kicked off, Jeromy Farkas was the clear conservative standard bearer for the mayor’s chair. He led the conservative bloc on council, sometimes as a vote of one on more controversial issues. He led every poll in the race until the very end, and other centre-right(ish) candidates never came close to catching him. On election night, he polled 30% of the vote to Gondek’s 45%.

Jeff Davidson ran in the mould of a business conservative, promising a more enterprise-friendly environment, but not going to war with the city’s administration. The card-carrying Conservative polled a respectable 13% on election night.

Similarly, Brad Field ran a semi-conservative, business-friendly campaign, pulling down 5% of the vote.

Together, the 18% of the vote earned by these two candidates could theoretically have put Farkas over the top. Of course, that’s bad math. Just as federal Tories have no right to votes of the PPC, or the federal Liberals have no right to the votes of the NDP or Greens, Farkas has no inherent right to the votes of Davidson and Field. The only people with a right to someone’s vote, are voters themselves.

But it is worth asking why there were three credible centre-to-right candidates on the ballot, but only one credible left-progressive. In the absence of a municipal party system, big-money PACs have filled the void, effectively picking candidates with their war chest. On the union-progressive side, Calgary’s Future had an incredible $1.7 million to spend on its slate, effectively clearing the field of nuisance progressive candidates for clear front-runners to emerge for the mayor’s chair, and in most of the wards. Progressives like former federal Liberal cabinet minister Kent Hehr saw the writing on the wall soon after he declared. This effectively consolidated the vote behind a single candidate, allowing them to stand out from the pack, and in 10 of 14 races, win.

The conservative side of the fight was much less clean cut. There was no single, dominating super-PAC able to effectively bankroll a slate of candidates and clear the field. Until very late in the game, big business and the conservative establishment were hesitant to get behind Farkas. He may have been a conservative, but he was not their man. Farkas was a libertarian who hailed from the old Wildrose Party, and a protégé of Preston Manning. He opposed major corporate welfare projects often supported by much of the business community. They tended to prefer more moderate conservatives less likely to throw a hand grenade into the council chamber.

But Farkas had built up enough public profile and locked in a solid base of support before the conservative establishment could anoint their own candidate. As reported in a Western Standard exclusive one year ago, a party insider said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney himself was on the hunt for a more amenable conservative mayoral candidate, who’s name was not Jeromy Farkas.

The usual Tory establishment voices pleading for “unity” and to not “split the vote” were seldom to be heard beseeching Davidson and Field to get behind Farkas.

The outsized role of union money in the campaign is curious, not so much because they tried (and succeeded) in buying a majority on council to sign their contracts, but because it was allowed to happen at all.

The Alberta UCP government introduced stiff new legislation curtailing the ability of unions to collect money from their members for use in political purposes without their direct consent. The legislation would require that unions bosses obtain the sign-off of individual union members to opt-in to using their dues for political activity, rather than just spending it without their consent, as is historically been the case.

Most curiously, Kenney never proclaimed the legislation into law, even though it has long passed all stages of the Legislative Assembly. The union bosses took note, and raised more money than ever for their candidates.

In the place of political parties running our civic elections, Calgarians have woken up to a council bought and paid for by the government unions.

Who’s to blame is a debate that needs to be had in earnest.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard

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SLOBODIAN: Manitoba cabinet ministers are maskless belles of the ball as pastor arrested

Is this like one of those cases where the criminal is crying to get caught?




In a photo that surfaced on social media, Manitoba’s Health Minister Audrey Gordon looked lovely all dressed up for the ball. 

But something was missing in that photo snapped at Winnipeg Art Gallery’s annual fundraising gala held last weekend.

Pretty dress. Check! Earrings. Check! Big happy smile. Check! 

Hold on…big happy smile? Uh-oh. No mask.

Who was that other unmasked woman standing to her far right at the indoor public event? Why, it was none other than Minister of Families Rochelle Squires. 

And the other one? Minister of Sport, Culture, and Heritage Cathy Cox, also sans mask.

The damning photo outing them for violating a COVID mandate — masks must be worn at indoor public events — dictated by their PC party, was posted to Squires’ Instagram page. 

Is this like one of those cases where the criminal is crying to get caught?

Of course, after catching flak for the mask faux pas, the ministers were filled with remorse for violating one of the harsh mandates inflicted on other Manitobans, some of whom don’t get to go to work, never mind fancy balls.

Apparently, they were at the table, maybe munching on cake, when someone hollered something like “photo time.”

“I got up and joined the group in the photo, neglecting to wear my mask. It’s unfortunate and it was wrong, and it should not have happened and for that, I deeply apologize,” said Gordon. “I do believe as minister of health, I should be held to a higher standard, and I have always upheld that standard.”

Gordon said she’d “gladly” pay a fine should one be issued. 

Chances are zip of a motorcade of police and health officers showing up — like they do for other mandate violators — to hand the ministers hefty tickets.

The law’s too busy hunting down other delinquents. And they’ll be doing that for some time. It’s still too risky to wander around not wearing masks and such, says the province.

In fact, the gala barely wrapped up when Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin told Manitobans they’ll likely have to endure tough COVID-19 restrictions in place well into spring.

Hours later a Manitoba pastor was arrested for violation of health orders.

Tobias Tissen, minister at the Church of God Restoration in Steinbach, was picked up Monday night on an arrest warrant issued during the summer for defying health orders. 

“Tobias will be kept in custody overnight and is scheduled to appear before a magistrate tomorrow where he will most likely be asked to sign conditions to obtain his release,” it said on a Twitter account in his name.

Tissen and the church have been slapped with several fines for violating in-person gatherings.

If Tissen had just gone to the ball instead of standing in the pulpit trying to save souls, he wouldn’t have landed behind bars.

Meanwhile, the day before the ball Gordon met with health officials in the province’s southern region. They had to figure out a plan for looking after seniors at care homes in case of staff shortages when Monday’s vaccination deadline for frontline workers arrived. 

Whether Gordon wore a mask at the meeting remains unknown. 

Two personal care homes scrambled last week to alert families they might have to come in and care for their loved ones or take them home, as part of a worst-case scenario contingency plan when unvaccinated workers were shut out and suspended without pay.

Family members were told only days before they might be called upon to do laundry, brush teeth, feed, dress, and clean their elderly relatives in care at Salem Home in Winkler, and Taber Home in Morden.

Apparently staffing levels at these homes were fine the first day of the crackdown. Things may change when more unvaccinated workers can’t work shifts. 

However, the province said 30 health care workers were sent home for not being vaccinated and refusing to comply with COVID-19 testing. Expect that number to rise. More than 1,800 health workers have refused the jab based on religious, medical, or freedom of choice concerns.

No one should begrudge ministers Gordon, Squires and Cox for wanting to doll up and head out on the town. People need to have a little fun.

People need their jobs, too.

People need the right to freedom of choice. 

You don’t get to violate provincial orders when others are punished by being thrown in jail or forced to choose between a paycheck and being injected with a vaccine they oppose.

The ministers are really, very sorry for not wearing masks. They apologized. Their remorse is misplaced. Perhaps they should reflect more on the lives the province is callously messing with, instead of what they didn’t wear at the ball.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard

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