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MAKICHUK: Remembering the legend of rodeo writer ‘Big D’

Some called him Dwayno, The Cowboy, and … well, other names I can’t mention because there might be ladies present.

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We called him Big D.

But the big fella had several nicknames in the newsroom.

Some called him Dwayno, The Cowboy, and … well, other names I can’t mention because there might be ladies present.

But call him what you want, he was the best damn rodeo writer in Alberta and possibly North America.

And it was an honour and a privilege to work with him at the Calgary Sun, and later the Herald.

A lot of people feared Big D, because, well … he could be a mean cuss. As mean as they come, in the John Ford brilliant way.

But inside, I would later find out, he was a softie with a heart of gold.

He was just a cowboy and he grew up in “God’s country,” he would say, east of Edmonton. God help anyone who doubted him. 

I first got to know him when I joined the Sun sports team in the mid-1980s.

I was a newbie, a raw newbie and I was new to Alberta, too, so the presence of Big D — a rancher turned rodeo journo — was something I could not quite get my head around.

Nevertheless in those days, the Sun sports types stuck together; we worked together, golfed together, hit the Top Brass together. 

As I recall when Big D hit the bar he would order three shooters of God knows what and then down those in succession. Then, and only then, was he ready to “start” drinking.

And it was not unusual to see a tray of shooters appear later in the night, courtesy of The Cowboy, who loved his Rum & Coke.

Quite often he would be loaded horizontally into a cab at the end of the night.

Once, I actually met him for a quiet night at the Brass, just him and me. And suddenly all his John Wayne-esque outward personality disappeared.

He became just a regular guy and I would find out that he travelled to Africa, really enjoyed it, and that he collected flags. Something he never ever admitted when he had his game face on at the Sun.

And don’t even try picking up the tab. Not a chance. If you were drinking with Big D, he paid — plain and simple.

“Don’t worry about it son,” he would say with that smile on his face. You didn’t dare touch your wallet.

He would also tip the copy runner heavy too when they went on a burger run on weekends. The only guy who did so.

And after every Stampede, he would often hand me a beautiful Stampede pin without saying a word. And some of them were actually quite elaborate and collectible.

And speaking of that game face, when I was promoted to Sunday sports editor I had to manage Big D, which it turned out was easy as pie.

I would just give him the biggest story of the day, like the US Open, and two pages. He wouldn’t say a word, just walk away. 

And, yes, he always, always blew deadline, but those two pages were the best in the goddam paper. So well written, so well done, so well edited. Big D was a master storyteller and didn’t give a damn about deadlines.

His best work, in my opinion, was a series of rodeo pieces he did in the lead-up, and following the Calgary Stampede. He travelled with the cowboys on the infamous “Black Snake” highway through the northwest US.

And let me tell you, every single one of those pieces was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. To think of it today, it almost brings me to tears.

And my one regret is that I didn’t save those pieces, every one, and put together a book or a blog in his honour. It is one of those treasures that is now buried in the Sun archives.

And my boss at the time made me chop down those pieces to fit into the Sun partials. Again, one of my biggest regrets — I should have stood up for the big guy.

I should have said something. I should have been a man. 

Cutting those pieces down was like chopping a masterpiece. Dwayne should have gotten a page for every story but at the Sun that just was not gonna happen.

Anyway, Dwayne would ride on, covering numerous rodeo events in Alberta and Las Vegas throughout his career, in that special Big D style for both the Sun and the Herald.

He loved every minute of it and earned the respect of everyone in the business, especially the rodeo cowboys. 

I also have to say he inspired me to develop my own writing style and to toss the CP Stylebook — the journalist’s bible — into the garbage.

Though he died of cancer at the age of 75, in the spring of 2013, I still channel him to this day on everything I write.

There is a famous Willie Nelson song, Mama Don’t Let Your Baby’s Grow Up To Be Cowboys

And there is one lyric, that described Big D, to a T.

Cowboys like smoky old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings,
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night,
Them that don’t know him won’t like him and them that do,
Sometimes won’t know how to take him,
He ain’t wrong, he’s just different but his pride won’t let him,
Do things to make you think he’s right

That, my friends, was Big D. 

Oh, right … his name was Dwayne Erickson. Guess I should tell you that, eh?

RIP Big D and keep riding buddy. You were the best.

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 military editor for the Asia Times.
makichukd@gmail.com

Dave Makichuck is a Columnist for the Western Standard. He is a 35-year veteran journalist who has served at both the Calgary Sun and Calgary Herald.

Energy

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

Barbara Kay’s debut column with the Western Standard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barbra Kay is a Senior Columnist for the Western Standard

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Energy

Why oil and gas matters to Ontario

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

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By Ven Venkatachalam and Lennie Kaplan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Opinion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This raid came from the CPSA, said Rath.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s next? You?

Sue away.

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

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

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