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MORGAN: Dogfight on the right in Alberta

“A riding that has normally been considered a lock for the CPC is turning into a microcosm for the broader conservative movement and its internal battles across Canada.”

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Infighting and division within political parties is par for the course. Strongly held ideological positions coupled with strong personalities are always a recipe for trouble.

It is found on both the left and the right. The federal Green Party is practicing political self-immolation as they battle their own leader while the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) is facing no fewer than three splinter movements led by former MPs from once within their ranks.

Some movements come and go with little notice while others endure for a while and often fold back into the party that they broke away from in the first place. Right now, Maxime Bernier is leading the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), Jay Hill is leading the Maverick Party, and Derek Sloan is running as an independent with plans to create the “True North Party”, ostensibly as a social conservative party. Each party is staking out a distinctive spot in the conservative constelation.

What’s curious is that they are all coming to a head in the Alberta constituency of Banff-Airdrie.

Banff-Airdrie is a solidly conservative Alberta riding, with the CPC incumbent Blake Richards winning his seat in the 2015 election with a comfortable 71% of the vote. Alternative parties need not fear splitting the right as left-leaning parties struggle to break into double-digit support within the riding. This makes Banff-Airdrie a natural target for alternative conservative parties to try and make their mark.

Independent candidate Derek Sloan lit up the battle when he parachuted in from his Ontario home. Sloan’s campaign kickoff was attended by former Reform Party MPs Art Hanger, Rob Anders, and Eric Lowther. While Sloan doesn’t have a party at his disposal, he has clear support from the established social-conservative right. Sloan is unapologetically socially conservative and he is courting that segment of the electorate effectively. Sloan truly ignited the conflict when he called for the candidates from both the Maverick Party and the PPC to stand down during an interview with the Western Standard’s James Finkbeiner. Sloan claims to be the only candidate who can win the riding.

PPC Leader Maxime Bernier dismissed Sloan’s call as being arrogant. Bernier has been making multiple appearances in Banff-Airdrie to shore up candidate Nadine Wellwood who is running for her second time in the riding for the PPC. During an exclusive interview with me in the Western Standard‘s Calgary studio, Bernier said that O’Toole’s CPC is splitting the vote with the Trudeau Liberals. Bernier then referred to Jay Hill’s Maverick Party as being “muppets” of the Tories.

Incensed at being labeled a muppet, Jay Hill said “I would say that I have never figured out why he called his party, the People’s Party when he’s had no convention, no constitution and never had any input from anybody other than Max Bernier.” Hill also invited Bernier to go back and campaign in Quebec.

The Maverick Party has vowed to remain exclusively a Western Canadian party and to stand up for provincial rights. There has been some ambiguity on their independence stance, but they are unapologetically a party that puts Western interests first.

Tariq Elnaga is a strong local candidate from the Airdrie region. Elnaga is inviting democratic competition and is hoping that tones can stay civil between parties for the duration of the campaign. Time will tell if that comes into being. He’s caught some attention for his unusual profile as a candidate. An Arab from Dubai, he is now a gut-totting rancher fighting for Western independence.

We have a grumpy and volatile electorate right now, particularly in Alberta. While it is unlikely that the CPC will be dethroned in Banff-Airdrie, we may see some interesting showings from the alternative parties. We certainly are seeing some interesting interactions between them.

A riding that has normally been considered a lock for the CPC is turning into a microcosm for the broader conservative movement and its internal battles across Canada. It surely will be a riding to watch on election night.

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

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. murray. graham

    September 10, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    That idea of voting for a political party just to get rid of the bad guy has been trued it don’t work the maverick party have stated their position. Quite well and we already know how PC look at the west a good place to tax same as liberals this climate thing they are pushing is not all our doing the carbon tax is just grab for the feds it will not affect the climate

  2. Cytotoxic

    September 5, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks for being a perfect example of the anti-intellectual know-nothing I was talking about.

  3. Cytotoxic

    September 4, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks for being a vivid and perfect example of the anti-intellectual know-nothing I was just talking about. I do love how you lobotomites never fail to demonstrate my point to be true.

  4. Left Coast

    September 3, 2021 at 9:42 am

    Hey CY . . .
    you sound like Rachel Nutbar, who wants to manage your life and keep you masked & locked in your room.

    It is people like you that have created this Mess we call Canada today. Do you think Canada is ever going to recover? In 6 short years we have gone from Balanced Budgets & Surpluses to almost A Trillion more in debt. And loons like you are worried if someone goes to Church?

    What is dying off are the Stupid Leftists . . . the one’s who got the Jab of an Experimental mRNA so-called Vaccine. Wait till October it is going to get worse.
    Already several countries are seeing the Bulk of New Infections amongst the Vaxed!

  5. Cytotoxic

    September 2, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    “Dogfight” -more like dog’s breakfast, or dog’s droppings. This is the product of the right’s descent into anti-intellectual know-nothingism. None of these people have any serious philosophical mooring except Sloan whose ‘philosophy’ boils down to ‘you can’t becuz Jesus!’. The SoCons really need to die off already.

    Maverick is honestly the least bad of these buffoons-at least they have some strategy and hoensty-but they still don’t have a serious philosophy, as Tariq’s horrific call for oil import taxes demonstrates. Geographical affinity isn’t enough.

  6. ABRancher

    September 2, 2021 at 7:13 am

    Since the oil/gas crash fueled rural crime spree in this riding(ie Manywounds et al)and woeful RCMP responses many have installed steel gates and guard dogs to better protect our properties from criminals/politicians…don’t call me,I’ll call you…later

  7. Dennis

    September 2, 2021 at 6:36 am

    I am tired of hearing about Splitting the Vote. It’s time people wake up and vote for the party or person they believe in and not just vote for the lesser of the evils. That’s what got us in this mess in the first place.

  8. Westcanguy

    September 2, 2021 at 6:36 am

    Why does this publication give time to a displaced Easterner who is the political equivalent of an ambulance chaser?
    I’m also tired of people saying they need to vote CPC in order to not split the vote. How about voting your conscience? Now please enjoy the first of two debate in the minority language in Canada… smh

  9. Andrew Red Deer

    September 2, 2021 at 6:16 am

    We have no power in the west, we will never have power in the west under this governmental structure as it stands today, whoever wins Banff-Airdrie will make no difference in Ottawa. NONE! We have two choices, submit or leave. And actually leaving with a block of ridings in the West is the only way to get respect from the center of the universe Toronto. Think Quebec anyone???

  10. Donald KEVIN Lafayette

    September 1, 2021 at 8:14 pm

    Both interesting, and accurate, that O’Toole’s picture does not appear in the “dog fight on the right” picture.

    Glad I am not the only one who sees, that the CPoC is conservative in name only.

  11. Henry Oudshoorn

    September 1, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    I am totally in favour of a more right wing government. The problem I see is that these parties are so new that the outcome will split the vote. Withthat the Liberal’s will win another election. The best would be for us to vote for CPC and let these new parties continue to grow and educate the masses.

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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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Opinion

SELICK: If the gov’t wants to kick the unvaccinated off healthcare, then give us back our taxes & let us pay for our own

If the unvaxxed are to be excluded from government services, refund their taxes.

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The Ontario Vaccine Contact Centre phoned me bright and early Monday morning to ask whether I’d like information on where I could get vaccinated.

I wanted information, all right — but not about where I could get vaccinated. I wanted to know where they had got my phone number, and what made them select me for such a phone call. My family doctor had retired in March and I didn’t think it was anyone else’s business to keep track of what medical procedures I had undergone since then.

The young lady never got her question answered, but she did answer mine. Her phone call resulted from a project of the Ontario government to correlate vaccination records with OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) coverage. As an Ontario resident, I am of course covered by the government-owned health insurance plan.

They got my phone number from my OHIP records. They’ve been combing through those records looking for individuals who aren’t also in the COVID vaccination database, and that’s why they chose to call me. It’s official now: all unvaccinated Ontarians  can expect such a call eventually.

She had a prepared script for dealing with recalcitrant refuseniks like me. The statutory authority for this intrusive data transfer, she read, is paragraph 37(1)(c) of the Personal Health Information Protection Act. That’s a misnamed statute if ever there was one. I’d call it the Personal Health Information Invasion Act. She even volunteered the phone numbers of the Information and Privacy Commissioner in case I wanted to lodge a complaint.

But she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) tell me whether the intrusions would escalate if I continued to defy the government’s wishes that I be vaccinated.

My suspicion is that my OHIP coverage will eventually be suspended or canceled if I fail to comply. Twitter is already rife with such suggestions, and CTV news seems to be drumming up support for this by commissioning a public opinion poll in which almost two-thirds of Canadians supported the idea of refusing treatment to “threatening or disrespectful patients who are unvaccinated against COVID-19.” CTV apparently believes all unvaccinated patients are by definition threatening and disrespectful, because they didn’t ask how respondents felt about providing treatment to respectful, non-threatening unvaccinated people.

Already, Alberta residents have reported incidents of being denied health care due to their unvaccinated status.

In Colorado, people awaiting kidney transplants were recently notified their applications are being “inactivated” if they’re unvaccinated.

My concern, therefore, is not an idle one. There are many people who’d like to see unvaccinated people denied health care, and they’re pushing governments to implement such policies.

Personally, I’d be willing to forego OHIP coverage under two conditions. First, I shouldn’t have to pay taxes for something I’m not getting. Ontario’s 2020-21 budget shows health care outlays constitute 42% of the province’s base program expenditures. Therefore, if they’d refund 42% of my provincial taxes (income tax, sales tax, gasoline tax, property tax, etc.) plus 42% of the federal transfer payment that came out of my federal taxes, that would provide a tidy sum out of which to pay privately for direct health services and private health insurance.

But condition two would have to be satisfied as well: the government would have to eliminate its monopoly on the provision of health insurance, hospitals, and medical licensure.

Let the unvaccinated have our tax money back to purchase goods and services in a free market, and I’ll gladly let the vaccinated wallow in their decrepit socialist system without troubling them for help. Let dissenting medical doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors and other complementary practitioners practice according to their professional judgment without fear of de-licensing and I’ll take my chances.

In truth, I already do. I hadn’t actually seen my former doctor since June 2019, and I didn’t usually go more than once a year. OHIP was already spending far less on me than on the average person, who makes 2.8 doctor visits per year. As a senior, I’m theoretically entitled to have government-paid prescriptions for any of 4,400 different drugs — but I don’t use a single one of them, unlike the average person in my age who reportedly fills 8.3 drug prescriptions annually.

It’s not mere happenstance that I have fewer ailments than average. I spend my own after-tax dollars on organic food, nutritional supplements, exercise equipment and more exotic health maintenance devices such as infrared light therapy. I also spend many hours keeping informed about the science of wellness and life extension.

I have long resented paying taxes to provide obsolete and often counterproductive “health care” to those less conscientious than I am about their own well-being. My resentment is now reaching new heights, as the ignorant accuse me of causing sickness by not taking an injection which even the CDC now admits doesn’t live up to its promises of near-total prevention of either viral transmission or infection.

Let’s go our own separate ways— vaxxed and unvaxxed. Time will tell who made the smarter decision.

Selick is a Western Standard columnist

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