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ANDRUS: Quebec wins, the West loses

“For those keeping track, that’s three debates held in French, and only one held in English, despite only one out of every four Canadians speaking French.”

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Depending on how you define a debate, this year’s federal election campaign trail is set to include four debates over the next week.

On Sunday, the French language version of CBC, Radio-Canada, conducted back-to-back video interviews with each of the federal party leaders.

This will be followed tonight by another series of back-to-back video interviews, again in French, on TVA.

These will be joined by two traditional debates – one in French next Wednesday and one in English next Thursday – organized by the federal debates commission.

For those keeping track, that’s three debates held in French, and only one held in English, despite only one out of every four Canadians speaking French.

This might leave many English-speakers wondering why there is such an imbalance.

No-one is suggesting that there not be a French debate, of course.

But why should three-quarters of the debates be inaccessible to three-quarters of Canadians?

The question isn’t just about language, but also about policy and fairness for other regions of the country.

There is no doubt that the French language debates won’t just be conducted in French but also will focus on issues that are of more interest to francophones.

With only one debate in English, how likely is it that issues that matter to Alberta and Saskatchewan residents will get much coverage? 

Well, the not-so-easy on the ears answer is that all the leaders have an interest in avoiding a debate on the issues that affect Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Alberta and Saskatchewan have only has thirty-four and fourteen seats, respectively, in the House of Commons, while Quebec alone has seventy-eight.

Not to mention the fact that it’s never really a race out here in the West.

Every election for as long as most can remember, Albertans have voted solidly conservative.

Winning or losing a few percentages of support in Alberta or Saskatchewan is unlikely to change the outcome of very many seats at all, if any.

Yet, the things that the various party leaders would have to say to win support in the West would likely cost them support in areas of the country that have far more seats.

The truth is, no matter where you held a federal election debate, it will go down in one of two ways.

Either Alberta and Saskatchewan will be used as a punching bag for the leaders to one up each other by highlighting their commitment to climate change, or they will be largely ignored as a wasteland of conservative voters.

Thanks to the Conservatives’ recent back-peddling, all five parties on the debate stage tonight now have strong commitments to the Paris Climate Change targets, and support carbon taxes that would shut down our energy sector and kill all the well-paying jobs that come with fossil fuels.

The energy sector is the heartbeat of the economy of the West. It has allowed our people to flourish, and it has funded the lavish ‘lifestyle’ of the Quebec government for decades.

Yet, we now live in a Canada where defending the oil and gas industry is a net vote-loser for a politician.

So, whether we’re talking about the election debates, or the election itself, once again, Quebec wins, and the West loses.

But what else is new?

Twenty years ago, a team of leading Western intellectuals – including future Prime Minister Stephen Harper – released a letter calling for a firewall around Alberta to protect our interests.

But the fire is already here, it’s already in Alberta, and it’s burning down our industries and livelihoods.

We’ll see if any of the federal leaders are willing to address this in any meaningful way, in any of the debates, in any language.

If not, perhaps more drastic action is required.

Josh Andrus is a columnist for the Western Standard. He is also the Executive Director of Project Confederation.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Donald KEVIN Lafayette

    September 4, 2021 at 11:13 pm

    I am just wondering why anyone would bother to watch it.

    If Max is there, it will just be everyone else shouting Bernier down. If it’s not Max, it will be O’Toole, leader of the “we have conservative in our name, but the NAZIs weren’t socialists” party.

  2. Left Coast

    September 4, 2021 at 3:31 pm

    Did the Politicians talk about China and their negative effects on he people of Canada?

    Of course they did not . . . many of them are on the CCP Payroll . . . as is much of the Media and of course our far-left Universities.

  3. Seven-Zero-One

    September 3, 2021 at 11:59 am

    “What illusion of democracy” We need to leave ASAP.That way.We can control everything on our turn’s.Alberta First!
    🌹Wildrose 2023🌹

  4. Cosmo Kramer

    September 3, 2021 at 11:40 am

    Yes, 3 debates in French and one in English is unfair and sides with Quebec concerns. However, sinking into ethnic hatred such as with the post by Stew James only helps Trudeau and the leftists. There are some French communities in central Alberta and many in Northern Alberta (Peace country, Lake district, and many communities north of Edmonton) with a strong French history, culture, and identity. Most of these people are politically and culturally conservative. However, no western independence political movement will win over their substantial votes if they stray from legitimate concerns about Quebec’s beneficial status in this rotten confederation to ethnic hatred towards all French people. Also ethnic hatred is also a turn off to most non-French people.

    Quebec some of its clout by realizing this sham confederation and pushing for sovereignty. This is something that Alberta should be doing. Alberta really needs to focus on our own sovereignty and rights. Part of that will involve red pilling our Albertan neighbors who have been brainwashed that Canada is the best country in the world as to the abuses, non-political representation and theft Albertans suffer.

    Perceived ethnic hatred plays right into Liberal and NDP hands.

  5. AM

    September 3, 2021 at 9:27 am

    True, but nothing new here. Alberta will get what Alberta deserves. The solution to Alberta’s issues lie within Alberta at the provincial level. The federal election just re-enforces Alberta’s (and western Canada’s) position in confederation as a colony to Ontario and Quebec. Any province can follow the Quebec model and be a strong independent province. But, for some reason, we choose to to be a sub-servant colony to the East. I don’t understand why, except to say, Alberta gets what Alberta deserves.

  6. James Taylor

    September 3, 2021 at 9:25 am

    We need to secede from this corrupt filth. Let them have their own nation and we can have ours. Sharing a powerful central government with people who lives thousands of miles away with no cultural commonality is stupid to say the least. Confederation is a sham that needs to be abolished.

  7. Left Coast

    September 3, 2021 at 9:07 am

    Might as well hold the debates in Arabic today . . .
    French is a dying language even in France!

  8. Kelly Carter

    September 3, 2021 at 5:52 am

    Yep! I would aalso add that the only other place that matters to any of the parties is the GTA, and possibly lower main land BC. I will not be voting for any of the main parties, and I encourage everyone to seriously consider anything but the main parties.

  9. Chris

    September 2, 2021 at 10:16 pm

    Saskatchewan will stay with confederation, period.

    Albertan’s have to smarten up and vote for independence. Unfortunately many Albertan’s have not suffered enough under Ottawa’s grip.

  10. Stew James

    September 2, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    Well, the French debates! As far as I’m concerned all of these assholes best before date is long over due!
    Please take all of these french cocksuckers and fuck off! I’m so sick and tired of these leeches on canada. I wouldn’t cross the street to piss on one if they were on fire…let em burn!

  11. Eldon

    September 2, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Great commentary Josh! The time for more drastic action is now!
    Westerners need to take a long hard look at where we’ve been and where we want to be. As it looks now, there is only one party that can truly say they are looking out for Westerners.

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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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Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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No Media Bailouts

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