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WAGNER: Reform 2.0? O’Toole’s shift left opens up space in the West

“Were O’Toole to win a minority government, the new Western-based party could provide support to pass any legislation beneficial for the West, as the Bloc does for Quebec. That would be a very positive outcome.”

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Since becoming the leader of the federal Conservatives, Erin O’Toole has worked feverishly to shed the remnants of social conservatism, libertarianism, and Western populism within the party. He has been trying to abandon an important part of the CPC’s legacy, namely, the elements of the Reform Party of Canada it inherited when the Canadian Alliance amalgamated with the old Progressive Conservative Party in 2003.

It is well known that no political party can form the government without winning in Central Canada. The math is pretty simple. As time and experience have so often demonstrated, that means catering to people in Ontario and Quebec, normally at the expense of the West. One needs to look little further than O’Toole’s enthusiastic embrace of a massive carbon tax, continued deficits, and increased federal spending. A Western Standard analysis of the Conservative platform found promises aplenty for Quebec, with little more than lip service for the West.

O’Toole has been playing this game well. In the National Post, Sabrina Maddeaux wrote about his efforts to create a “blue wave” in Quebec. It seems O’Toole’s efforts to refashion the CPC have been paying off for him there.

Maddeaux quotes Christian Bourque, executive director of the polling firm Léger, as saying: “In Quebec, you can’t be seen or perceived as being socially conservative. It’s a no-go. But, if you can convince Quebecers you’re a modern version of the Progressive Conservative party, more like Joe Clark or Brian Mulroney, there’s a chance. If you’re seen as just the Reform Party under a new name, it’s basically impossible to gain more seats.”

This explains why O’Toole has been so eager to remake the CPC into an image of the old federal Progressive Conservative Party. He wants to be more like Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney and less like Stephen Harper and Preston Manning.

People in the West remember Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney. In fact, Mulroney was a key factor in provoking Westerners to revolt in the creation of the Reform Party in 1987. Mulroney’s government favoured Quebec at the expense of the West at almost every turn: the CF-18 maintenance contract, the constitution, and conservatism itself.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise then that as O’Toole tries to imitate Mulroney, increasing numbers of Westerners – although far from a wave as yet – are turning to new political parties and movements. Today, many conservatives in Alberta have left the CPC to support Max Bernier’s People’s Party and Jay Hill’s Maverick Party. Derek Sloan says he is creating a new political party, but he is still running as an independent, and while he may be running in the West, he isn’t a Westerner.

There’s a sense in which the disaffected conservatives now supporting these groups are in many ways the same constituency as those who supported the old Reform Party of Canada. Indeed, the Maverick Party is led by a former Reform MP and Sloan is getting public support from other former Reform MPs like Art Hanger.

As the CPC shifts left and more overtly favours Central Canada, many Westerners instinctively realize that they need something new. While still not likely to win any seats, recent polling has shown the People’s Party making significant gains in Alberta. In the 2019 election, the People’s Party received 2.2% of the vote in the province, and it seems certain to double that in 2021, or more. By comparison, the Reform Party won 15.4% of the vote in Alberta in the 1988 federal election. That was just before it took off, so an optimistic PPC supporter could see grounds for hope.

At the same time, CPC support in Alberta has dropped from 69.2% in 2019 to about 44% now. That’s a huge drop, but the CPC won’t mind. Its leaders are happy to lose the support of Western hicks in exchange for support from respectable people in Toronto. Even at 44%, the Tories can sleep safe knowing that they will still win the overwhelming majority of seats in Alberta.

Who knows, it could be a winning strategy for the Tories. Erin O’Toole can tell people in Central and Atlantic Canada that the Western conservative base of his party is long gone, so they can now safely vote for him. Perhaps jettisoning the CPC’s Western base will be his path to power.

Meanwhile, Westerners are once again developing new political parties to defend their interests. If the CPC’s former Western base could create an effective alternative – whether it be the Maverick Party or the People’s Party – the West will acquire better representation at the federal level.

Were O’Toole to win a minority government, the new Western-based party could provide support to pass any legislation beneficial for the West, as the Bloc does for Quebec. That would be a very positive outcome.

However things turn out, it’s clear that since O’Toole is recreating the old Mulroney Progressive Conservative Party, a new party along the lines of Reform needs to take flight as well. The West is never going to get fair treatment from any party focused on Toronto and Montreal, so something new and different is needed.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

Michael Wagner is a Senior Alberta Columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include 'Alberta: Separatism Then and Now' and 'True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.' mwagner@westernstandardonline.com

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Jason Delaney

    September 21, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    There’s no chance of changing the rules for this game, not when your opponents are dealing themselves a royal flush every single hand. There’s only one option for Alberta everyone knows it but do they have the courage to make a future for their grandchildren? Independence is the only course.

  2. Baron Not Baron

    September 1, 2021 at 9:00 pm

    WILDROSE INDEPENDENCE PARTY !! Everything else is NOISE!

  3. David

    August 30, 2021 at 6:23 pm

    Manning could have accomplished nothing without legislative authority; he and his party would have been like jackasses braying in the wilderness.

    The sad truth is Alberta has tried the “specialty protest” party path many times: with UFA in the 1920’s; with the Social Credit in the 1930’s; the Reform Party in the 1990. Sending yet another such party will meet the same fate.

    Only a unilateral declaration of independence can carries enough weight to begin the process of changing confederation and our constitution.

    And you know what? If Alberta does declare independence, in all likelihood the rest of Canada would not “negotiate” our return to the fold. Saskatchewan might decide to join us, perhaps. BC would find itself in a real quandry, but Ontario and Quebec would find the loss acceptable and move on.

  4. Joseph Quesnel

    August 30, 2021 at 4:56 pm

    Right, and the Conservative Party learned nothing from its time in the wilderness with Reform/Alliance?
    This commentary is full of such unwarranted assumptions. This is NOT 1987. This piece is stuck in the past. This is only the second Conservative government since Harper. Give O’Toole a chance to actually govern before you decide that he would not do anything for the West.
    I truly hope people reading this will see how premature and stuck in the past this commentary is. I worked for Reform in my teen years in the late 1980s. I have learned a lot since then. This country needs a broad inclusive right-leaning party, not splintered right learning third parties. IT doesn’t work well in our system and it left small c conservatives out of power. It also did not advance the Western agenda very much.

  5. Andrew Red Deer

    August 29, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    the Reform Window was open once. Only until the Liberals in 1993 accepted the BQ as the official “LOYAL” opposition. Preston had the opportunity at the time, to take all of his MPS west and set up anywhere west of the MB ONT border and stay there until the Feds recognized them as the official AND Loyal opposition. Would have made a world of difference. maybe even advanced western separation a lot further than even is evident today.

  6. David

    August 29, 2021 at 8:46 am

    The “Reform” window was never open.

    The “independence” window remains open just a crack. Everyone in Alberta needs to understand any vote for a mainstream party in the next provincial election will be a vote for the coming social credit score tyranny.

    After that, there will be no need to vote at all. Your ballot will be marked for you.

  7. Steven

    August 28, 2021 at 8:20 pm

    After reading this article. I am more then convinced that a vote for the Maverick Party is the correct choice for Western Canada; especially Alberta. Go Maverick.

    Wildrose in 2023 for sure Andrew & Seven-Zero-One.

  8. William

    August 28, 2021 at 10:22 am

    A vote for the CPC is a vote for the same old stupid bullshit. Massive amounts of our money going to assholes who hate our guts in Quebec and the maritimes and the continued sabotage of the energy industry.

  9. Andrew

    August 28, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Wildrose 2023!

  10. Time For Reform

    August 28, 2021 at 9:08 am

    It would be nice to know where the momentum in a the Lakeland riding…Maverick or PPC? I know I’m not voting for the Toole, but I would like to be somewhat strategic with my protest vote

  11. Seven-Zero-One

    August 28, 2021 at 6:14 am

    The outcome of this election is = ” Another empty conversation”
    More stagnation in Alberta, more taxes, more regulations… maybe another bailout for Bombardier in Quebec or Canada post … Maintain status quo and enjoy.Last train for Alberta 2023
    🌺Wildrose🌺

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Energy

KAY: Green extremists ignore indigenous voices that don’t fall in line

Barbara Kay’s debut column with the Western Standard.

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In mid-November, a handful of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in BC spearheaded yet another attempt — thwarted by the RCMP — to scuttle Coastal GasLink’s $6.6 billion natural gas pipeline. The half-completed pipeline will run 670 km from Dawson Creek in northeast BC to Kitimat on the west coast, there to be processed in an $18-billion terminal financed by LNG Canada’s joint partnership, then exported as low-emission liquified gas to replace high-emission coal-based energy in client Asian countries.

In their latest act of mischief earlier this month, the scofflaws blockaded a workers’ camp, trapping up to 500 workers without food or water before the blockage was dismantled; they stole or vandalized heavy machinery, and they caused destruction to forestry roads sufficient to bring the movement of police and industry personnel to a halt. 

It certainly doesn’t help matters when prominent voices on the left egg on the activists. Longtime political gadfly David Suzuki was roundly criticized when he opined, at an Extinction Rebellion event, that “there are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on.” This was a shockingly imprudent impulse. Most of Canada’s energy and transportation hubs run through native lands that cannot be adequately policed against sabotage. (He has since apologized, but the unfiltered instinct to say it remains “problematic,” a word frequently trotted out by progressives when critiquing the manifold perceived sins of conservatives.)

It also doesn’t help when our political and cultural elites continually harp on Canadians’ inherent shame as collective genocidaires, not to mention endless land acknowledgements that beg the question of why we seem to admit the land was “stolen,” but don’t give it back. 

Instead of inviting reconciliation, our various forms of breast-beating are inspiring revanchism. The mantra one hears with increasing frequency amongst indigenous activists these days, “Land Back,” means exactly what it says. Those chanting it have been encouraged to believe, by non-indigenous allies in government, academic and environmental-activist circles, that their hunting and gathering ancestors understood the concept of land “ownership” as we do today, and that consequently, 3% of the Canadian population deserves legal title to a third of our land mass. 

That is not going to happen, and such lines of thought should be discouraged by everyone with political and cultural influence. The 1997 Supreme Court Delgamuukw ruling made clear that Wet’suwet’en land title is limited, and that the Crown has use of the title land for the public good.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault recently tweeted: “Indigenous peoples have been stewards of this planet since time immemorial. The fight against climate change is not possible without their knowledge and leadership.” But whose leadership exactly? Elected band council leaders who signed on to the pipeline project, or a small group of unelected hereditary chiefs who do not enjoy support from more than a tiny fraction of their people? There is little clarity on this important distinction from government officials.

And whose “knowledge”? The CGL met the highest environmental standards in planning its project. They complied with all provisions set out in eight provincial and federal regulatory environmental Acts. They requested meetings with the Office of the Wet’suwet’en (which represents the hereditary chiefs) to discuss issues related to the project over 40 times, with no response from them. If the hereditary chiefs had “knowledge” it was important for CGL to know, they had ample occasion to share it and chose not to.

None of our climate-obsessed progressive elites ever emphasize what an economic boon and lifeline to independence this pipeline and other eco-responsible projects are to indigenous peoples (a far greater boon than government handouts). While indigenous Canadians make up 3.3% of our general workforce, they represent 7.4% of the country’s oil and gas sector workforce. 

As for indigenous peoples being “stewards” of the planet: Even if we all agreed that indigenous people are “stewards” of the land, why should we assume that all indigenous people are of the same mind as Steven Guilbeault in his opposition to resource development? There is plenty of diversity amongst stakeholder populations, including amongst the hereditary chiefs. Yet the establishment media rarely draw attention to this diversity, preferring, as befits the modern, culturally self-loathing progressive spirit, to romance the anarchic dissenters.

Majority Wet’suwet’en opinion is pro-resource development, and it is time their voices were heard and respected. I, therefore, recommend a visit to the Canada Action site, where you will find many strong statements such as these below: 

  • “There’s quite a bit of support for this project,” says Bonnie George, Witset First nation, Wet’suwet’en. “But people are afraid to speak up because, in the past few years, people that [have] spoken up were either ostracized…[or] ridiculed, bullied, harassed, threatened, and being called a traitor – a sellout….There’s a small group of members from the Wet’suwet’en Nation that doesn’t support the [CGL] projects.”
  • “Twenty First Nations participated extensively during five years of consultation on the pipeline and have successfully negotiated agreements with [CGL]. This is on the public record,” says Karen Ogen-Toews of the First Nations LNG Alliance.
  • Theresa Tait-Day, a hereditary chief of Wet’suwet’en Nation, says the voices of female hereditary chiefs “are not being heard. “We have been working particularly with LNG and [CGL]. Our people wanted a benefit and they wanted to be able to make a decision on a positive note. However, we’ve experienced lateral violence and coercion since then by the five chiefs who claim to represent the nation” (since then, two chiefs of the five have dropped out of activating)…The protest organizers are conveniently hiding beneath our blanket as indigenous people, while forcing their policy goals at our expense.”
  • The Haisla Nation are associated with the Kitimat terminal project. Speaking for them, Crystal Smith says, “I’ve seen the impacts first hand. I’ve felt the impacts firsthand. The focus for us is the long-term careers. For the first time, we’re funding culture and language programs…This independence is what we want. This is what we need more of in our community. We need to heal our people. No other government…has been able to heal our people the way they need it.”
  • Also for Haisla Nation, former chief councillor Ellis Ross: “Professional protesters and well-funded NGOs have merely seized the opportunity to divide our communities for their own gains…and ultimately will leave us penniless when they suddenly leave.”
  • “This is one of the biggest projects in Canada, who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?” asks Derek Orr, former chief, McLeod lake Indian Band.

Who indeed? Only virtue-signalling enviro-alarmism obsessives, irresponsible disruptors who get a thrill out of “direct action” that sows chaos and disorder, and patronizing Nanny Statists who prefer that indigenous peoples continue to boil their drinking water than admit that responsible capitalism providing work, resources and human dignity is the way forward for Indigenous populations.

Barbra Kay is a Senior Columnist for the Western Standard

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Energy

Why oil and gas matters to Ontario

Many Canadians may not be aware that the first commercial oil production in North America started in Ontario in 1858.

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By Ven Venkatachalam and Lennie Kaplan

The headline screamed: “The end of oil age” in the Economist in 2003. Fast forward 18 years and that still doesn’t make sense in many ways. The demand for oil is increasing across the globe. Even U.S. President Joe Biden is now asking OPEC to produce more oil.

You don’t have to go far to fill your gas tank to see the rise in fuel prices in recent months. Who says oil is dead? Just look at the growing global disconnect between supply and demand, where the need for natural gas threatens all sorts of shortages.

Many environmental groups have been calling for divestment from oil and gas, yet, they ignore the realities on the ground. Divestment from oil and gas harms not only the many energy companies that are creating jobs in the economy, but also investors, such as the middle-class and seniors, and other value chain sectors that depend on oil and gas.

Let’s look at Ontario, as a prime example.

Many Canadians may not be aware the first commercial oil production in North America started in Ontario in 1858. Since then, the oil and gas sector has played a significant role in the provincial economy. Though Ontario is not a major producer of oil and gas, there are still some 3,000 oil and gas wells active in the province.

There are many ways the oil and gas sector benefits the Ontario economy, in addition to reliable energy supply. Thousand of kilometres of pipelines in Ontario move oil and gas to the U.S., creating many jobs in Ontario. The refining industry also creates employment and contributes to the provincial economy. And many value chain sectors in Ontario supply goods and services to oil and gas companies.

Looking at the most recent (2017) comprehensive data available from Statistics Canada, it turns out the oil and natural gas industry was responsible for adding $7.7 billion in nominal GDP to Ontario’s economy and more than 71,000 jobs. Many of these jobs are indirect, but just as critical to the oil and gas sector. Think of oil and natural gas employment in Ontario as engineers and manufacturers hired to design and build oil and gas operating equipment and facilities, a building in Edmonton or in downtown Toronto, or an investment firm tasked with raising capital for a natural gas company operating in northern Alberta or B.C. Also think of an Alberta oil sands company whose local spending on office furniture results in jobs created in the Ontario firm that produces that furniture. 

In 2017, the oil and gas industry purchased $7.3 billion worth of goods and services in Ontario, including $4.3 billion from Ontario’s manufacturing sector alone. Other “big ticket” purchases include $700 million from the Ontario finance and insurance sector, $600 million from the professional, scientific and technical services sector, and $300 million from transportation and warehousing. Overall, $2.1 billion in salaries and wages were generated as the result of oil and gas industry spending in Ontario. 

Beyond the impact of the oil and gas sector, let’s widen the look at Alberta’s impact on Ontario’s economy. In 2017, Alberta’s population was 11.6% of the national total, while Alberta’s share of purchases from Ontario’s manufacturing sector was 21% of Ontario’s total interprovincial trade in manufacturing. That’s nearly twice Alberta’s share of Canada’s population. In fact, Alberta’s consumers, businesses, and governments were responsible for nearly 24%, or $32.5 billion, of Ontario’s total interprovincial trade in 2017. This was second only to Ontario’s next-door neighbour, Quebec.

Now consider Alberta’s share of Ontario’s interprovincial and export trade and how it compares to selected countries. Alberta’s $32.5 billion in purchases from Ontario in 2017 was behind only the United States ($197 billion), but ahead of the United Kingdom ($14.7 billion), China ($3.4 billion), Mexico ($3.2 billion), and Germany ($1.9 billion), among others. Add up the goods and services purchased by Alberta consumers, businesses, and governments from Ontario firms between 2012 and 2017, and the total value was about $193 billion.

Economies may be locally based, but local businesses and jobs are impacted by investment and trade flows from other places. Whenever someone says oil and gas doesn’t matter to Ontario, tell them to look at the “on the ground” realities. From Bay Street to Yonge Street to Main Street, people living across Ontario benefit from a thriving oil and gas sector.

Ven Venkatachalam and Lennie Kaplan are with the Canadian Energy Centre, an Alberta government corporation funded by carbon taxes. They are authors of $193 billion and 71,000 jobs: The Impact of Oil and Gas (and Alberta) on Ontario’s Economy.    

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Kenney needs to stop ‘criminal’ searches of doctors’ offices

“Unless criminal charges are laid against those two so-called investigators, the CPSA itself is a criminal organization,” said lawyer Jeff Rath.

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Do not relent on the demand for a criminal investigation and sue their sorry asses off.

Accessing medical files under allegedly false pretenses while a legal challenge is underway is despicable and can’t be legal. 

This kind of medical “fascism” has no place in Canada. 

Investigators for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) went too far with what could be interpreted as either a shut-up tactic or dirt-digging hunt against Jeffrey Rath, a lawyer acting on behalf of several clients involved in litigation against the CPSA.

If the two CPSA investigators who raided a doctor’s office Thursday get away with this shockingly unethical stunt, then no one — vaccinated or unvaccinated — will be safe from these tyrants who think they have the authority to do whatever they want, rights and freedoms and privacy be damned.

This is utterly chilling. Jeff Rath, of Rath & Company, called it “medical fascism.” He’s right. 

CPSA investigators Dr. Jeff Robinson and Jason MacDonald searched the files of Calgary family practitioner Dr. Dan Botha for patients he granted COVID-19 medical exemptions. 

One of the few files — out of about 10,000 — they suspiciously accessed was Rath’s. 

“We’re in active litigation with these people and they think they can send investors in to access my medical files,” Rath told Western Standard.

“I wonder how a judge would feel if a judge found out these people could go through a judge’s medical file while a hearing with regard to the College’s conduct was before that particular judge.”

You can bet Alberta Health Services (AHS) — which pushes the boundaries of its authority beyond acceptable limits — had its mitts on this. 

Apparently, AHS didn’t let Premier Jason Kenney in on the plot.

“Neither the premier nor the Premier’s Office has any knowledge of the alleged events you describe. You’d need to contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons directly,” said spokesman Christine Myatt.

The investigators searched Botha’s files under the guise of a benign practice review they alleged was part of normal oversight procedures under the Health Professions Act.

Botha told Western Standard’s Melanie Risdon he was handed a one-page letter requesting he provide access to his patient files for the inspectors “under section 53.1 of the Health Professions Act (HPA).” It indicated the inspection was to “ensure the issuance of medical exemptions for vaccination against COVID-19 are in adherence to the provincial vaccination exemption program, medical exemptions for face mask are in adherence to provincial public health orders and the prescribing of Ivermectin is in adherence with CPSA Standards of Practice.”

This raid came from the CPSA, said Rath.

“I’ve sent several letters to the College of Physicians and Surgeons regarding concerns that my clients have with the CPSA basically interfering in doctor/patient relationships in Alberta. They’re telling doctors what they can and can’t prescribe, telling doctors what exceptions they can and can’t write,” said Rath.

“A week or so ago I wrote the College a letter saying how dare you tell doctors what medical exemptions they can’t write or threaten doctors with misconduct because they’ve written medical exemptions.

“The College replied: ‘Oh no, no, no, we’re not the ones coming up with these medical exemption restrictions, that’s coming from AHS.’ I said there’s an inherent conflict of interest in AHS setting out what the criteria are for medical exemptions to the vaccine and then having the College enforce it after the fact.”

On the heels of the raid, Rath fired off a letter demanding Robinson have his medical license suspended and that a criminal investigation be opened against both Robinson and MacDonald.

“As far as I’m concerned, they were illegally accessing my files under false pretenses that they were acting appropriately under the Health Professions Act.”

“Unless criminal charges are laid against those two so-called investigators, the CPSA itself is a criminal organization.”

Sadly, for the CPSA, there’s no dirt to be found in Rath’s medical file.

“There’s nothing in the damn thing anyway. It’s not like my doctor’s doing anything wrong regarding prescriptions. My privacy’s been violated. I feel personally violated. That invasion of my personal privacy is absolutely beyond belief.

“If they’re there — ostensibly conducting a random investigation of a doctor’s practice under the Health Professions Act to make sure that he’s conducting himself professionally with regard to mask exemptions or whatever — what business do they have targeting the medical file of a lawyer acting against the CPSA?”

“I grew up in a public health family. I’m watching what’s happening to the medical profession in this country and the complete lack of ethical conduct by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in this province. I don’t even recognize this to be my province anymore.”

Meanwhile, the family of a two-year-old whose file was seized is considering a lawsuit for the breach of privacy. 

Botha, treating the child with Rett syndrome, has provided a permanent mask exemption.

“Think about the poor mother. You can imagine how that family suffered already and you’ve got agents of the CPSA poking around in her poor little daughter’s medical file to decide if Dr. Botha appropriately granted this little girl a masking exemption. This family’s being terrorized by the College,” said Rath.

Time for the terrorizing to stop. It started with pastors and now has progressed to target little girls and lawyers. 

Who’s next? You?

Sue away.

What say you, Jason Kenney? Time to put a leash on these people.

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

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