fbpx
Connect with us

Opinion

FILDEBRANDT: The unions bought city hall

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

mm

Published

on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could Farkas have won?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard

Derek Fildebrandt is the Publisher, President & CEO of Western Standard New Media Corp. He served from 2015-2019 as a Member of the Alberta Legislative Assembly in the Wildrose and Freedom Conservative parties. From 2009-2014 he was the National Research Director and Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

Continue Reading
7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Mars Hill

    October 21, 2021 at 12:04 pm

    The more I think about this election the more I would be less surprised that a ‘sting’ was in place; it would uncover who was saying one thing and doing another and more ammo for the soon to be big world wide changes. If I’m wrong about how I see things I’m already planning to move to a red state.

  2. The Real Kevin

    October 20, 2021 at 10:10 am

    The one thing all true conservatives need to do, is stop promising to fix things for everyone. Don’t say what you would have done differently. Don’t offer sympathy. Simply tell people, “this is what you voted for, you deserve the inflation/unemployment/tax increases/intrusive bureaucracy you are experiencing”.

    If you want to be rewarded, you have to take a risk. If you want different government, you have to vote for different governance. They use your own good will and charitable instincts against you. You never assume crime, you assume mistake. You never assume fraud, you assume misunderstanding. One cannot win a fight, until one realizes, that you are in a fight.

    It should be pretty clear to people by now, that there is not much (if there is anything), left to lose. If we remain in our seats and do nothing, death is guaranteed. If we charge the cockpit, we could still die, but the guarantee is gone. ‘The Flight 93 Election’ Micheal Anton.

  3. Claudette Leece

    October 20, 2021 at 7:16 am

    Of coarse unions were behind Edmonton and Calgary elections. Being an ex union my mailboxes were bombarded by who union leaders thought would best support , “ our” beliefs. You mean who would make sure unions bled taxpayers dry. And sad Kenney , who talked all tough with unions when he was running, is just a shorter OToole, has folded on all his promises. AUPE already got it’s first raise. Well if it didn’t effect my family too,I would say let these lefties put the economy in a total spiral, let the dirty 20s happen, then maybe some would wake up to what their doing. Youth now have never know hard times, maybe they need that lesson

  4. Seven-Zero-One

    October 20, 2021 at 12:51 am

    Now.She needs 2 deliver the following: Begin increase property taxes in order for unions to get pay rise.

  5. Kelly Carter

    October 19, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    I agree with Tony. Looks like those of us who want fiscally responsible SMALL government with fewer regulations and less bureaucracy are getting fewer all the time. Government has a lot of solutions looking for problems. Personally, I think government needs to step out and leave most things alone. I am so disappointed with Calgary voters!

  6. Mars Hill

    October 19, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    Thanks for breakdown Derek, that’s about it……blm and antifa are listening for the dog whistles that will surely come…..it’s gonna be a ‘ring a ding dong dandy’

  7. Tony

    October 19, 2021 at 6:58 pm

    The great Ludwig von Mises captured it best decades ago when he analyzed “The Bureaucrat as a Voter”. Excerpt attached below. The “only” people who Farkas represented were those who have grown tired of paying for an expansionist/redistributionist government. His only supporters are those who want fiscal sobriety and a proper and restrained role for government. I guess there just aren’t that many of us anymore. Read the Mises excerpt below…..it is more relevant today than when first written in 1944.https://mises.org/library/bureaucrat-voter

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Opinion

WAGNER: Hydrocarbon based fuels are here to stay

“Think of it as telling people to step out of a perfectly serviceable airplane without a parachute, with assurances that politicians will work out alternatives on the way down.”

mm

Published

on

Alberta’s future is threatened by a national campaign to dramatically reduce the production of hydrocarbons.

The political and media elite repeatedly assure everyone that such fuels can be replaced by new “green” energy sources such as wind and solar power. People currently employed in the oil and gas industry will supposedly transition into green energy production and life will continue on as before, except with fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Indeed, Justin Trudeau’s federal government has committed to transitioning Canada’s economy to producing net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.

Trudeau’s scheme is a fairy tale. Hydrocarbons are going to be required for a very long time because current green energy technology is nowhere near where it needs to be to replace them. Currently, there are no realistic alternatives to oil and gas, so reducing their production will only lead to energy shortages.

As Dr. Henry Geraedts put it recently in the Financial Post, “The ultimate goal of net-zero politics is to impose a radical energy transition that demands a top-to-bottom physical and social-economic restructuring of society, with no credible road map in sight. Think of it as telling people to step out of a perfectly serviceable airplane without a parachute, with assurances that politicians will work out alternatives on the way down.”

Geraedts’ Financial Post column is a brief description of a policy report he produced in June 2021, and how it was ignored because its conclusions contradict the ideological perspective that university professors are expected to support. He didn’t toe the party line, in other words, and therefore got the cold shoulder.

Geraedts’ report, Net Zero 2050: Rhetoric and Realities, is available online at the website of the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy which is affiliated with both the University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina. It’s a very credible piece of work.

Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons and Geraedts points out “hydrocarbons are nature’s most efficient embodiment of primary energy: the combination of high energy density, abundance, stability, safety, portability and affordability is unmatched by any other source of energy.”

Currently, hydrocarbons comprise about 80% of global primary energy. This is essentially the same percentage as 30 years ago, when the global warming craze began. Despite years of favourable government policies and billions of dollars in government subsidies, green technology such as wind and solar energy remain relatively small contributors to the world’s energy supply.

Geraedts also describes the negative environmental impacts caused by so-called green energy technology. Among the most interesting details he mentions is: “Neither turbine blades nor solar panels nor lithium-ion batteries are physically or economically recyclable. They are instead, at an alarming rate, ending up in landfills leaching toxic chemicals — an estimated 10 million tons/year of batteries by 2030 alone.” So much for protecting the environment.

Geraedts is not a so-called “denier.” He points to data from reliable sources indicating global temperatures have increased by one degree Celsius since 1900. But he also explains “the projections used to justify net zero policies and the Paris Accord, are based on fundamentally flawed computer climate models that overstate warming by some 200%.”

Not only that, but “observational, empirical evidence remains agnostic as to what, with requisite confidence levels, is attributable to anthropogenic influences vs. natural variability.” In other words, it cannot be determined with certainty to what degree the gradual temperature increase is the result of human activities.

But climate change worries aside, there is still a fatal lack of realistic alternatives to hydrocarbons. The International Energy Agency forecasts that even if all countries fulfill their Paris Accord commitments — an unlikely prospect — hydrocarbons will still account for 60% of primary energy in 2040. With accelerating energy demand in Africa and Asia, Geraedts expects hydrocarbons will remain the dominant energy source for decades to come.

This is what it all means: If we put progressive ideology aside and take a hard, honest look at the energy situation, hydrocarbons are here to stay for quite a while. Knowing the ingenuity of human beings in a free society, the discovery of new energy sources is likely at some point in the future. For now, though, we need oil and gas, and Alberta has lots of both.

With strong international demand for hydrocarbons forecast to last for decades, there is no reason why these resources cannot continue to provide the foundation of economic prosperity for the province. The biggest obstacle to such prosperity, of course, is the federal government. Due to its determination to prevent the development of hydrocarbons, independence may be the only way to maintain and increase the resource-based wealth that is Alberta’s birthright.

An independent Alberta could implement policies maximizing economic growth and avoid the suffocating policies of Canada’s central government. A free Alberta would be a prosperous Alberta.

Michael Wagner is a columnist for the Western Standard

Continue Reading

Opinion

Stirling: Suzuki is a superspreader of alarmism

By actively denigrating people who hold rational, dissenting views on climate change, Suzuki and his fellow travelers have created a very dangerous situation today.

mm

Published

on

Guest Column by Michelle Stirling, Communications Manager for Friends of Science Society

In 2015, Reader’s Digest counted David Suzuki as the number one most trusted influencer in Canada. He had already lost his shine with the oil patch working people of the West thanks to his performance in the appalling 2011 CBC co-production shlockumentary, “The Tipping Point: Age of the Oil Sands.” Others recoiled at the equally dreadful, “Where Will Santa Live?” fundraiser which suggested to kids Santa will drown unless your parents send cash. Yet for many, he still resonates as a kind of wise elder.

People of influence should be very careful about what they say.

For decades, Suzuki has been calling scientists and scholars who challenge his climate catastrophe narrative ‘deniers.’ He’s called for them to be silenced and censored, despite the fact when interviewed in Australia on television, the self-styled king of climate change was unable to understand a question from the audience that referred to the commonly known temperature data sets used in climate science. It seems he’d never heard of them.

By actively denigrating people who hold rational, dissenting views on climate change, Suzuki and his fellow travelers created a very dangerous situation today. There are many people who are genuinely frightened there might be only “10 years left” as Suzuki claims and they are like a tinderbox looking for a flame. Suzuki lit a spark for them a couple of weeks ago with his irresponsible musing about pipelines being blown up. His tepid apology will not put that genie back in the bottle.

Imagine if we had had open, civil debate on climate change in the media for the past 20 years. Imagine if, when Suzuki claimed there was a climate crisis, an atmospheric scientist like Dr. Richard Lindzen could show him why this is imaginary and how claims of a climate emergency are just a means for renewables promoters to push their wares.

Imagine if when Suzuki claimed Santa would drown and take the polar bears with him, an expert like geoscientist Dr. Ian Clark, who actually hikes the Arctic for his research, could show him that during the Holocene Hypsithermal of about 8,000 years ago, the Arctic was ice-free, rather balmy, and the polar bears were all fine.

Imagine if when Suzuki invokes “consensus,” (which forms the basis of the Toronto Star’s refusal to run any report that conflicts with the alleged 97% consensus), if someone like astrophysicist Dr. Nir Shaviv could have been invited to explain that science is not a democracy, it’s about evidence. While all scientists agree climate does change, they disagree on what ratio is human-caused versus natural influences like the sun and oceans. Scientists don’t all agree that taxing people will stop climate change, and most scientists are not convinced anymore that carbon dioxide is the control knob on climate.

This kind of open, civil debate, based on facts and evidence rather than emotional hyperbole would take society a long way toward more rational responses on climate and energy policies.

Unfortunately, it looks like things will get much worse as “The Climate Coverage in Canada Report” has run a consensus survey of its own, and Canadian journalists concluded that “large majorities … somewhat or strongly agree there is a climate crisis and the news media should report on it that way.”

In the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (AR6), the word “crisis” is only used once, and only in reference to media coverage on climate. Otherwise, there’s no crisis stated in that 4,000-page science report.

The mainstream media in Canada has been parroting Suzuki’s hyperbolic words, republishing his op-eds posted by the David Suzuki Foundation and obligingly blocking any dissenting views for decades.

Canadian media have made his incendiary words go viral — making him a super spreader of a contagious social disease called anarchy. Suzuki began this soft incitement years ago asking people if they were “radically Canadian” or not.

It’s time the media and Suzuki stopped the spread of alarmism and incitement and asked people to be rational instead.

Guest Column by Michelle Stirling is Communications Manager for Friends of Science Society. This op-ed expresses her personal opinion.

Continue Reading

Opinion

MAKICHUK: Fear, loathing and the desolation of late night TV

My generation is fading fast, and soon, it will be gone — but at least we had the best of late night television. It was great, while it lasted.

mm

Published

on

I miss David Letterman.

I really, really miss him and his Late Night television show.

I even miss Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, for God sakes.

They were great entertaining programs and Dave had the best band going, led by Canada’s own Paul Shaffer.

It never got better than that, in my humble opinion.

And it was just about a window on the world, not only politics.

Conan is OK, he can be funny, especially when he goes abroad and I think he got screwed over. Fallon, the young gun, and making $12 million a year … I just want to punch in the face.

Cordon, he’s always shouting and I think he’s over-rated as a celeb although his bit with Paul McCartney in Liverpool was epic.

Colbert, I fear, has jumped the shark and Meyers is a lightweight. Don’t even know why that guy has a show.

I also didn’t mind Craig Ferguson, the Scottish comedian, I thought he was good. But then, he too got shown the door.

The greatest of them all, of course, was Johnny Carson. The king of late night television.

During his three-decade tenure, virtually every North American with a television set saw and heard a Carson monologue at some point. At his height, between 10 million and 15 million viewers slept better weeknights because of him.

I actually got the chance to see his show live, in the summer of 1976, in L.A. My buddy Whitey and I waited all night at the door in Burbank for tickets.

It was well worth it — we got to see the entire show, which was during the Montreal Olympics. No big stars but it was great just to see Johnny do his thing and admonish us for not laughing at his terrible opening monologue.

Legendary Carson sets made the careers of people like Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Jerry Seinfeld, Drew Carey, Garry Shandling, Steve Martin and many more.

On any given night, comedian Don Rickles (“Mr. Warmth”), Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Bob Hope could show up. Mayhem would ensue and Johnny just rolled with it.

“Anyone looking at the show 100 years from now,” said Tom Shales, The Washington Post television critic, at the time of Mr. Carson’s retirement from “Tonight” in 1992, “will probably have no trouble understanding what made Carson so widely popular and permitted him such longevity. 

“He was affable, accessible, charming and amusing, not just a very funny comedian but the kind of guy you would gladly welcome into your home.”

But then I go back to another late night show, which was just as good as Johnny, the Steve Allen show.

Despite all these attempts to re-invent late night television, Allen always said that it basically came down to a desk and some chairs, nothing more.

But then he had brilliant comedians such as Don Knotts, Louis Nye and Tom Poston to call on. The crazy man on the street stunts were hilarious, and no doubt influenced Carson.

And even before that, I remember the brilliance of Jack Paar. Check out some of his interviews on YouTube, you will be amazed by the people who appeared on his show.

Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro, himself, Senator John F. Kennedy, William F. Buckley Jr., Nobel laureate Albert Schweitzer and Richard M. Nixon, among others.

“Anyone who saw him when he was in his prime knew he was a great television original,” Ron Simon, a television curator at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York, told The Washington Post. 

“You never knew what was going to happen . . . He was the catalyst for ways the talk shows would go.

“The whole idea of intermingling politics with entertainment on a talk show really began with Jack Paar,” Simon said.

Now, it’s just a parade of beautiful people, musicians and singers. The problem with late night TV these days is that it has no soul. 

It lacks the interpersonal humanity of a Jack Paar, a Steve Allen or a Johnny Carson.

These guys could make you laugh. It made your life a little better. 

Aside from Jimmy Kimmel, who’s actually not a bad guy and the only late night guy I PVR, it’s a late night wasteland.

As for Dave, The Atlantic reported he might have been the last true innovator in late-night comedy and I totally agree with that.

In his interview with The New York Times, Letterman says his disorderly streak was honed early on by NBC’s strictures.

“[The network] came to us and he said: ‘You can’t have a band. You can have a combo. You can’t do a monologue. You can’t do, like, Aunt Blabby. You can’t do Tea Time Movie Matinee.’ There were so many restrictions. So that was the framework we were handed, which was fine because then they gave us an excuse not to think of that thing to do.”

Letterman came across as someone who had stolen a camera crew and broken into an empty studio, The Atlantic reported. 

“Stupid Pet Tricks,” for example, became an audience favourite and reflected his unique brand of caustic humour. 

Chris Elliott’s “Guy under the stairs” skits also added to the fresh approach to comedy. His spearing of an aging Marlon Brando remains a comedic classic. 

And again, Paul Shaffer and his fabulous band, along with numerous musical guests, many of which can still be seen on YouTube. 

As Christmas approaches, I will definitely miss hanging with Dave, hearing that great story of the Lone Ranger (Google it) as told by Jay Thomas, and of course, the spectacular Darlene Love belting out Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).

My generation is fading fast, and soon, it will be gone — but at least we had the best of late night television.

It was great while it lasted.

Dave Makichuk is a Western Standard contributor
He has worked in the media for decades, including as an editor for the Calgary Herald. He is also the Calgary correspondent for ChinaFactor.news
makichukd@gmail.com

Continue Reading

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Share

Petition: No Media Bailouts

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

828 signatures

No Media Bailouts

The fourth estate is critical to a functioning democracy in holding the government to account. An objective media can't maintain editorial integrity when it accepts money from a government we expect it to be critical of.

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

**your signature**



The Western Standard will never accept government bailout money. By becoming a Western Standard member, you are supporting government bailout-free and proudly western media that is on your side. With your support, we can give Westerners a voice that doesn\'t need taxpayers money.

Share this with your friends:

Trending

Copyright © Western Standard New Media Corp.