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WS EDITORIAL: Westerners should vote their conscience

We break down the options for Westerners this election.

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

Most of the old legacy newspapers make a big show about their editorial board’s official endorsement of a candidate or party before election day. 

We think it’s doubtful anybody much cares what an unnamed group of columnists, editors and publishers tell people how to vote, so we’ll spare you the sanctimony. The Western Standard does not endorse any one leader, party, or candidate this election, although our editorial board members certainly do have their personal favourites. 

Instead, we encourage Western Standard readers to vote their conscience. This can mean very different things to even similarly-minded people in an election like this. 

So let’s go through the options. 

The Conservatives

Firstly, none of the major parties deserve the unquestioning support of Westerners. The Conservative Party of Canada has long taken the support of Westerners – especially interior BC, most of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and rural Manitoba – for granted. Without any real competition for Western votes, the Tories have had little incentive to do more than pay lip service to their concerns. 

This has never been clearer than in this election, where Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has thrown out conservative articles of faith for many Westerners in his crusade for Eastern votes. Westerners overwhelmingly oppose a carbon tax, but O’Toole is campaigning on one that is in many ways, worse than Justin Trudeau’s. It was also a grossly dishonest move after he pledged himself in writing to scrap the carbon tax – full stop, no wiggle room – when he ran for the Conservative leadership. 

O’Toole has also flip-flopped on another key conservative and Western-friendly policy: scrapping Trudeau’s illogical gun grab. Trying to have it both ways during one of the three French language debates, O’Toole muddied the waters of his own otherwise reasonable and moderate gun policy, forcing him to adopt the Trudeau policy a few days later. The controversy was of his own making. But when real leaders face controversy, they address it head on. 

Strategic Voting

Still, we can well appreciate that for many voters, the priority is voting out Justin Trudeau regardless of how weak his primary opponent may be. This is the “lesser evils” argument, and it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Trudeau has been openly hostile toward the West, and it is in the clear interest of Westerners to see him out of office promptly. The easiest way to do this would be to vote Conservative, as it is the party with the best chance of defeating him under Canada’s centuries-old ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system. 

People’s Party

The People’s Party of Canada (PPC) has impressed even the most skeptical observers this election. They have grown from roughly 2% in the polls at the start of the campaign, to as high as 11% in some recent polls. They have continued to see their momentum grow despite their leader Maxime Bernier being unjustly excluded from all the leaders debates. 

The PPC still has a few rough edges to sand off before it is ready for prime time, but they have – better than any other party thus far – understood that lockdowns, forced-masking, and vaccine passports are a grave threat to liberty. They have been unafraid of taking a firm  stance in opposition based on the principles of respect, responsibility, fairness, and freedom to the quickly encroaching authoritarianism embraced by all of the major parties and provincial governments. This isn’t just good policy, but has turned out to be good politics as Canadians from across the political spectrum have been flocking to Bernier rallies to voice their dissent. 

But we should be realistic about the PPC’s chances. They aren’t going to form government, and Bernier isn’t going to be prime minister on September 21. Bernier himself stands a reasonable chance of recapturing his Beauce seat in Quebec, but the party’s support is unlikely to be concentrated enough to elect more than a handful of seats elsewhere. 

But this doesn’t make the PPC not worth voting for. Sending even a single PPC MP to Ottawa would give voice to millions of Westerners and other Canadians who are currently without one. With even the good Conservative MPs muzzled from speaking freely and forcefully, there needs to be someone in Ottawa speaking unapologetically for liberty. 

Maverick Party

The Maverick Party is an idea whose time has come. Westerners have been without a clear and distinctive voice in Ottawa for their interests since the Canadian Alliance/Reform Party merged with the Progressive Conservatives in 2003. That union put a badly needed end to Paul Martin’s Liberal government in 2006, but inevitably saw Central and Eastern Canadian interests trump Western interests more often than not when they conflicted. In order to win seats in the East, the CPC jettisoned most of the Reform Party’s big platform items, like a triple-E (equal, elected, and effective) Senate. 

The Maverick Party grew out of the WEXIT movement, which caught fire in the days immediately after Justin Trudeau’s re-election in 2019. WEXIT received a huge boost in its recruitment of former senior Conservative cabinet minister Jay Hill as its interim leader. Hill brought discipline and credibility to the party as it transformed from WEXIT to Maverick. 

Their “two-track” program of attempting to reform confederation inside of Canada before considering a push for formal independence is perhaps a bit mild for some Westerners fed-up with Ottawa, but it’s an idea that should have broad appeal if marketed effectively. Anyone watching the platform given Quebec when the Bloc leader gets to participate even in the English debates, should be jealous of the voice given that province. It would serve Westerners well to have a similar voice in Parliament. 

Liberals, NDP, Greens

If you’re a regular Western Standard reader, there’s a pretty small chance that you’re contemplating voting Liberal, NDP or Green. And for good reason. All three of these parties make little effort to disguise their hostility toward most people living between Vancouver Island and Kenora. So, for brevity’s sake, we’ll just skip past them. 

Vote-Splitting

As any non-Conservative Party candidate on the right will know, voters at the doors are concerned about ‘vote-splitting.’ That is, by voting for the candidate that you most want to support, you risk electing the candidate that you most oppose. 

This is a real phenomenon, but only in certain circumstances. Where two or more parties share most of the same policies and principles, a ‘vote-split’ can indeed occur. But where these parties have real differences beyond the colour of their lawn signs, there is no ‘vote-split’ to be had. 

On many issues — carbon taxes, equalization, gun rights, deficits, corporate welfare, lockdowns, vaccine passports — the Conservatives now have much more in common with the Liberals than they do with the PPC or the Mavericks. 

If one’s only – and we mean only – goal is to defeat Justin Trudeau the man, then voting Conservative is the best option. But if one’s goal is broader – like defeating Justin Trudeau’s policies and agenda – then Westerners should not fear any ‘vote-split’. 

In fact, in most of interior BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and rural Manitoba constituencies, even a ‘vote-split’ is highly unlikely to elect a leftist candidate. In most of those constituencies, the worst-case scenario would just be a Conservative re-elected with a smaller margin of victory, but being sent back to Ottawa afraid for their jobs if they pander too much to the East and statists. That’s not a bad thing. 

For its part, the Mavericks have self-imposed a policy of not running in any constituencies where they might ‘split-the-vote.’ While we appreciate them not wanting to ever see a Liberal or New Democratic elected in the West, we believe this undermines their mission of establishing themselves as a clear Western alternative. No party has a right to anyone’s vote, and the Conservatives should not be granted a pass as the default party of the West, in any constituency. If the Conservatives want Western votes, they should have to work for them. 

Neither PPC or Mavericks are going to be forming government this election; but even if the PPC or Mavericks elected just a small handful MPs, their voices would likely punch above their weight; just think of how the small Green Party caucus has been able to put extreme global warming policies on the national agenda to the point where even the Conservatives have adopted the main tenants of their faith. A handful of PPC or Maverick MPs would similarly be able to force issues onto the agenda that the bigger parties would find difficult to ignore. 

Vote your conscience

If you’ve read this far, we hope you are carefully considering where to cast your ballot. This is not an easy decision this time around for many. 

Our recommendation to Western Standard readers is simple: vote for the candidate that best reflects your values and your priorities. 

If your values match that of Erin O’Toole, his platform, and his candidate in your constituency, vote Conservative. Ottawa needs less Justin Trudeau. But we urge you not to vote for them just because you might feel someone has a right to your vote. Give it to them if you feel they have earned it. 

If your values match that of Maxime Bernier, his platform, and his candidate in your constituency, vote PPC. Ottawa needs a voice for liberty that is unafraid of being called names by the media and leftist parties. But we urge you not to vote for them just because you are angry at Erin O’Toole and Justin Trudeau. Give it to them if you feel they have earned it. 

If your values match that of Jay Hill, his platform, and his candidate in your constituency, vote Maverick. Ottawa needs a voice for the West that isn’t worried about pandering for votes in the East. But we urge you not to vote for them just because you might feel you’ve run out of options. 

And if you don’t feel well enough informed about the options — and don’t plan to be — then please, don’t vote. This might be contrary to the civil-religion of ‘voting as a sacred act’ doctrine, but casting a vote without any real research does nobody any good, including yourself. 

However you choose to vote on September 20, make sure it’s a choice that is informed, principled, and well thought out. 

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

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

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. mm

    Andrew Allison

    September 16, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    “[F]or many voters, the priority is voting out Justin Trudeau regardless of how weak his primary opponent may be. This is the “lesser evils” argument, and it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand” and “none of the major parties deserve the unquestioning support of Westerners” are both absolutely true.
    There is good reason to want Trudeau out. But with O’Toole in, how much better off will the West be? A vote for Bernier or Hill may be a vote for Trudeau, but a vote for O’Toole is still a vote for O’Toole. Ask yourself how much better that is.

  2. Scott Simpson

    September 16, 2021 at 6:16 am

    The most important thing in this election for m!is to get rid of trudeau, so I’ll hold my nose and vote Conservative

  3. Fergus Hodgson

    September 15, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you for the balanced, careful article. Westerners have a tough choice. Although I favor the PPC (and Western independence), I can see how people are tempted by O’Toole.

  4. Kelly Carter

    September 14, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    I disagree. If you don’t know who to vote for or are unsatisfied with the options, DO VOTE! But spoil your ballot. Every election the low voter turnout is shrugged off as people who don’t care to participate instead of being recorded as large numbers of unhappy people who are not satisfied with their options. A spoiled ballot gets counted, and makes it very clear the person is unhappy with the options provided. Always vote!

  5. d.r.cmolloy@gmail.com

    September 14, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    The option that some Westerners believe makes a ton of sense is to support the maverick party an the peoples party.Since you only get to vote once . Your best bet is at the federal election vote the peoples party and when the provincial election comes up vote the maverick party and kick the UCP to the curb. Any government that allows the AHS to dictate the rules of our existence our security and right to travel and personnel freedom as the cowboys say kick ass.This is what happens when you are bribed with your own monies.

  6. Seven-Zero-One

    September 14, 2021 at 10:00 am

    ♥️Sovereignty for Alberta♥️

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Opinion

McCAFFREY: Don’t let Calgary ruin the region

Central planning doesn’t work and the current government should reverse this mistake as soon as possible by abolishing the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board and allowing municipalities to return to cooperating on a voluntary basis.

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The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) was created in 2015 by the NDP government to control planning and development for the entirety of the Calgary region. 

Since then, this unelected body has been working on creating a new growth plan for the region that contains some of the most radical changes to development and planning rules ever proposed in Alberta.

With the enactment of this growth plan, the CMRB is set to become what will effectively be a fourth level of government for citizens of the Calgary region and will allow Calgary to export its bad policies across all the other municipalities of the region.

Yet barely anyone in the Calgary region has even heard of the board.

How is it possible a new level of government could be introduced without anyone noticing?

Well, in part, that’s thanks to a very deliberate effort by the former NDP government, and the board itself, to keep the powers and potential wide-ranging influence of the board as below the radar as possible for as long as possible.

The board, at least according to its designers, is simply meant to help manage planning and development issues, in order to help manage the significant population growth that the Calgary region is expected to experience in the coming decades.

Make no mistake about it, though, the CMRB and its growth plan do much more than this.

The entire growth plan is based on the philosophy that a small group of people, in this case, bureaucrats and city planners—particularly in Calgary—can do a better job planning and managing population and employment growth than the free market can.

The central planners believe the challenges of growth are better addressed by forcing the municipalities in the Calgary region to cooperate rather than compete to provide these services and facilities.

Rather than merely permitting cooperation between municipalities as claimed, however, the creation of the CMRB and the implementation of the growth plan actually forces Calgary and the surrounding municipalities to cooperate on many issues, even when this goes against the wishes of the municipalities and their residents.

Requiring municipalities to cooperate even if they believe it’s against their and their residents’ interests to do so is bound to lead to less fair and less equitable outcomes for the whole of the Calgary region.

Even worse, the forced co-operation doesn’t go both ways.

Despite claims the board is based on cooperation, the 10-member municipalities are being forced to participate in the organization, they cannot leave, and the voting system of the board effectively gives a veto to the Calgary on every issue.

In effect, this puts Calgary politicians and bureaucrats in charge of planning and development for the entire region, as without Calgary’s approval, no plan or development can go ahead.

This is no accident, the board was very deliberately created to do exactly this.

For years, Calgary has pursued bad public policies that have increased rules, regulations, red tape, and taxes on businesses and residents of Calgary.

The situation has become so dire that now many businesses and residents are leaving Calgary entirely and setting up their operations and family lives outside of the city in one of the many surrounding municipalities, where regulations and taxes are lighter.

Essentially, Calgary has become noncompetitive with other municipalities in the region, but planners in Calgary don’t see this as a problem, rather they see it as an opportunity.

But Calgary didn’t want to fix the problem by cutting red tape, getting taxes and spending under control, and working to become competitive again.

Rather, the city lobbied the provincial government to help them out by giving Calgary the power to impose the same high levels of regulations across the entire region—essentially killing off the competition.

It was perhaps not surprising that the former NDP government was willing to give Calgary this power, as the NDP government do not understand or believe in the benefits of free market competition to begin with.

But the current Alberta government has repeatedly stated its core focus is on reducing red tape and unleashing Alberta’s economy. They have put significant effort into achieving this goal in many other policy areas.

Yet, when it comes to regional planning they have, so far at least, permitted the exact opposite to continue.

Rather than reducing red tape and regulation to get the Calgary region’s economy going, in almost every policy area the growth plan goes in completely the other direction and essentially centralizes planning decisions for the entire region.

All types of development—single family houses, row houses, apartments, shopping malls, retail stores, manufacturing, warehouses, agricultural services, and more—will now have to be approved not only by the local municipality but also by an unelected board dominated by Calgary.

Thrown out the window is any concept of the free market, individual choice, property rights, competition and, frankly, basic economics.

This dramatic centralization will impose a series of significant direct and indirect costs on the economy of the Calgary region, none of which are considered by the CMRB in its growth plan.

These costs include the millions of dollars spent creating and operating what is effectively a fourth level of government, the significant costs to Calgary businesses, residents, and the economy as a result of this extra bureaucracy, the dramatic costs that would be incurred by projects being reduced, relocated, or cancelled under the growth plan, as well as indirect and intangible costs.

The plan also runs roughshod over local democracy in the member municipalities, and over the property rights of the residents of those municipalities.

What, exactly, is the point of electing a local council in your district or town, if planning and development rules—until now one of the most important tasks of a local government—will now be controlled centrally by an unelected board?

Worse yet, this move from voluntary cooperation to forced cooperation will not solve the very problems the CMRB and the growth plan were designed to fix.

The end result of a growth plan that replaces voluntary cooperation and competition with forced collaboration will be higher taxes and higher fees, more regulation and red tape, increased housing and infrastructure costs, less efficient delivery of utilities and services, and worse environmental outcomes for the entire region.

There are far better ways to accommodate future population growth in the Calgary region than via a top-down, centrally controlled regional growth plan that violates the values that made Alberta what it is today: individual freedom, personal choice, fiscal responsibility, property rights, and a free market built on competition rather than government diktat.

The proposed growth plan would block billions of dollars of investment, redirect billions more out of the Calgary region, and cost tens of thousands of jobs. This is the exact opposite of what the Calgary region needs right now.

The CMRB, and the requirement for them to create a growth plan to control development in the region, were an ideological creation of the former provincial government, based on the idea that top-down central planning is the best way to run an economy.

Central planning doesn’t work and the current government should reverse this mistake as soon as possible by abolishing the CMRB and allowing municipalities to return to cooperating on a voluntary basis.

Peter McCaffrey is the President of the Alberta Institute, an independent, libertarian-minded, public policy think tank that aims to advance personal freedom and choice in Alberta.

The Alberta Institute has prepared an academic research paper outlining the history of regional planning in the Calgary Region, and looking at the implications of the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board on jobs, investment and democracy for Alberta.

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Opinion

Krahnicle’s Cartoon: September 17, 2021

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Opinion

MORGAN: It’s time for Kenney to resign

“I say this regretfully, but it’s time for Jason Kenney to resign as premier of Alberta and as the leader of the United Conservative Party. I wish things had ended differently.”

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Premier Jason Kenney gambled and lost.

His move to declare Alberta as being permanently open for business was a hail-Mary pass for a beleaguered government and it has failed in the worst possible way.

Alberta is in the midst of a health care crisis, deaths are on the rise and we are entering a new period of mandatory vaccine passports, lockdowns, and other restrictions.

I say this regretfully, but it’s time for Jason Kenney to resign as premier of Alberta and as the leader of the United Conservative Party.

I had the highest of hopes for Kenney. I was enthusiastic as he won multiple leadership races and merged the previously intransigent Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties. I was thrilled when Rachel Notley’s NDP government was trounced in the general election. I thought we’d be looking forward to some steady, competent, conservative governance for at least a couple of election cycles.

I was wrong. Boy, was I ever wrong.

Love him or hate him, Jason Kenney is undeniably one of the brightest and hardest working politicians in Canada. He worked his way from advocacy into elected office and then became a respected cabinet minister in a number of portfolios. It appears Kenney met his match when it comes to the party and provincial leadership. He has managed to alienate both the left and the right within the province and I don’t see how he can recover from this.

Kenney’s leadership woes were already appearing well before the COVID-19 pandemic appeared on the scene. The shotgun marriage of the Wildrose Party and the Progressive Conservatives was showing cracks as caucus infighting began to smolder. The pandemic crisis exacerbated the issue and Kenney is now heading up a deeply divided caucus with multiple members having been tossed out of the party or disciplined. This inability to manage his own caucus has shaken the confidence Albertans had in Kenney to manage the province.

The Kenney government has been noteworthy for setting high targets and then failing to move toward them. The Fair Deal panel appeared to be an act of deferral, rather than an exercise to build a stronger, more independent province.

Kenney refused to take strong actions against Ottawa despite the open hostility shown to Alberta by the Trudeau government. This has fed the theory Kenney is using Alberta as a stepping stone towards pursuing a federal run. We can safely say Kenney’s federal career is finished at this point.

It seems that everything Kenney has touches turns to scheiße. The energy “war room” has turned into a running joke and with long and constant delays on its launch. The Allen Report examining groups that attack Alberta’s energy sector has been a waste of time. Energy producers seeking a sense of confidence in Alberta have been left disappointed.

In picking a battle with Alberta’s doctors and nurses, Kenney has drawn fire from all sides of the political spectrum. While there certainly is room to reexamine the agreements with health care providers, it has to be done carefully and with strong leadership. The UCP has appeared ham-handed and virtually leaderless on the issue.

The Kenney government has become election fodder used to hammer the O’Toole Conservatives on the federal front. The UCP looks so inept and unpopular that Trudeau is using it to attack O’Toole, and O’Toole hides from any association with Kenney.

Politicians are by nature self-interested beings. Caucus members within the UCP are surely weighing their options as the Kenney government continues to crash and burn in public opinion. With less than two years to go before the next provincial election comes, they know the window for getting rid of Kenney is closing quickly. The only hope the UCP has of winning the next election is to get a new leader and show some sign of new direction, and soon.

Rumblings from caucus are soon going to become a roar.

There are two options for the UCP right now. They can keep Kenney into the next election and most likely hand Rachel Notley a second NDP term, or they can get on with finding a new leader and reconnecting with Albertans. The UCP now is simply too wildly unpopular to regain the trust of the electorate under Kenney’s leadership.

I still respect Jason Kenney and appreciate what he did on the federal front, along with his efforts to unite conservatives in Alberta. I would like to see Kenney retain what dignity he can by resigning for the sake of Alberta and his party. It would hurt his pride, but it still would be a better end to a political career than being kicked out by his own caucus, or by the electorate in a general election. His “best summer ever” strategy failed and it’s time to face the music.

I wish things had ended differently.

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

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