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Opinion

An Open Letter To Premier Kenney: A New Alberta Agenda

It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction.

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The original letter and petition to support the New Alberta Agenda can be viewed HERE.

Dear Premier Kenney,

During and since the recent federal election, we have been among a large number of Albertans discussing the future of our province.

In our view, the Trudeau government undertook a series of attacks not merely designed to defeat its partisan opponents, but to marginalize Alberta and Albertans within Canada’s political system.

One well-documented incident was the Prime Minister’s attack against Alberta’s energy sector during the French-language debate.

Alberta’s economy has been struggling for years, hundreds of thousands of Albertans are out of work or underemployed, businesses are closing, and capital is fleeing at an astonishing pace.

Instead of helping Alberta address these challenges, Ottawa has taken the opportunity to aggravate the situation and only made things worse.

Taxes and regulations have wrecked our economy, while radical environmental regulations threaten to prevent any possible recovery by shutting down our resource industry – an explicitly stated goal of our Prime Minister.

Many held out hope that the federal election would solve Alberta’s problems, and given the result, they now see separation from Canada as the only remaining solution.

Their frustrations are entirely valid, but why should we be the ones forced out of Confederation?

Alberta has been an essential part of Confederation for 114 years.

Alberta has contributed resources, ideas, jobs, and, yes, hundreds of billions of dollars to Confederation and all we ask in return is to be allowed to continue doing so.

Yet, if Ottawa remains unwilling to listen to Alberta’s plea, then separatist sentiment will grow even further.

Before Albertans take that step, however, we owe it to those who came before us, who have worked so hard to build Canada, to first provide an alternative to breaking up our country.

It’s time to fight for a new vision of Canada where regional differences are respected, where different provinces are allowed to try different policies, and where Albertans have the freedom to choose our own destiny.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney

Mr. Premier, we are grateful that you have vehemently protested the unprecedented attacks that the federal government has launched against Alberta’s economy in recent years.

However, while your protest was necessary and appreciated by Albertans, it is not enough.

If the government in Ottawa concludes that Alberta is a soft target, we will be subjected to much worse.

It is time for Albertans to boldly stand up for our own future and seek, as much as possible, to be the masters of our own destiny.

This means resuming control of the powers that we possess under the Constitution of Canada but which we have allowed the federal government to exercise for too long.

Poised and purposeful use of these powers will help Alberta build a safer, stronger, and more prosperous future in spite of a government in Ottawa that has never been more hostile to our values and interests.

Mr. Premier, it is critical for you to take all possible political and legal measures to reduce the financial raid of Alberta perpetuated by Canada’s tax-and-transfer system.

The most recent estimates are that Albertans transfer $5200 per capita annually to other Canadians, for a total outflow from our province approaching $22 billion a year and $600 billion over the last 60 years.

Equalization by province

The same federal politicians who wish to shut down Alberta’s key industries have no compunction about appropriating our Canadian dollars, generated by those industries, to buy votes elsewhere in the country. 

Under the heading of “A New Alberta Agenda,” we propose that our province move forward on the following fronts:

  • Hold an immediate referendum to abolish Canada’s Equalization program. You have already committed to holding such a referendum in 2021, but this must now be done as soon as possible to force Ottawa to the bargaining table.

  • Hold an immediate referendum to clarify Section 92 and Section 121 of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1867 to make clear that Canadians have a right to unrestricted free trade across provincial borders for goods, services, and infrastructure such as pipelines.

  • Hold an immediate referendum to reform the Senate of Canada to be a Triple-E senate – equal, elected, and effective. You have already committed to restoring senatorial elections – now is the time to drive the issue further.

  • Collect our own revenue from personal income tax, as we already do for corporate income tax. Any incremental cost of collecting our own personal income tax would be far outweighed by the policy flexibility that Alberta would gain, as Quebec’s experience has shown.

  • Withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan to create an Alberta Pension Plan offering the same benefits at a lower cost while giving Alberta control, as Quebec has done from the beginning. If Quebec can do it, why not Alberta?

  • Withdraw from the Canadian Employment Insurance program to create an Alberta Employment Insurance program offering the same benefits at a lower cost while giving Alberta control.

  • Allow the contract with the RCMP to run out in 2032 (or negotiate an earlier exit if possible) and create (or convert the Alberta Sheriff’s branch into) an Alberta Provincial Police Force. Alberta can, like Ontario and Quebec, operate its own provincial police force and can do so more efficiently and more effectively than Ottawa ever could.

  • Establish an independent Alberta immigration system to replace the federal government’s existing system, as exists in Quebec. This would allow Alberta to implement a privately-sponsored immigration system that has been repeatedly proven to be more effective and can more easily be tailored to Alberta’s labour-force needs.

  • Resume provincial responsibility for healthcare, social policy, and infrastructure paid for by replacing the Canada Health Transfer, Canada Social Transfer, and various Infrastructure Transfers with a transfer of tax points, as Quebec has argued for many years.


Mr. Premier, we acknowledge the bold and ambitious reforms that your government is implementing – balancing the budget, paying down the provincial debt, privatizing government services, getting Albertans back to work, restoring a single-rate tax, reducing business taxes, ending corporate welfare, and many other beneficial changes.

But Alberta must fight on multiple fronts in order to secure its future.

The government in Ottawa will always be tempted to take advantage of Alberta’s prosperity, to redistribute income from Alberta to residents of other provinces in order to keep itself in power.

It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction.

If we succeed, we may rescue a Confederation which has never been so divided.

Then, once Alberta’s position is secured, only our imagination will limit the prospects for our great province.

Sincerely yours,

The original letter and petition to support the New Alberta Agenda can be viewed HERE

Opinion

Nenshi’s threat to annex surrounding communities is petty bullying

Bruce McAllister writes that Nenshi’s is threatening to annex surrounding communities to sap competition.

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Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi isn’t happy to rule his meagre plot of land; he wants to extend his reach beyond Calgary’s borders over rural and small town Albertans not yet under his direct watch. He’s doing such a good job keeping taxes and spending under control in Calgary that he wants control of neighbouring lands as well. Y

You can’t make this stuff up. During discussions at the Priorities and Finance Committee meeting on October 19th, Mayor Nenshi dropped the bombshell that their intergovernmental affairs committee is preparing an annexation strategy to secure new industrial lands outside their borders for the next 30 years. 

He wants to “protect” agricultural lands from simpleton farmers who do not know how to use their own land. He’s read a book and he’s ready to make it a protectorate of his city. This from the same mayor that approved 14 new communities in Calgary last year and is eyeing up the approval of 11 more. This municipal government chews up land faster than the legendary Kobayashi chews through hot dogs. 

But while expansive development on rural lands is fine within Calgary city limits, Nenshi will go to any end to stop or retard it in neighbourling municipalities. 

This should not be surprising. It is the same language of those who have his ear. Trico homes vice-president Wanda Palmer believes that rural Albertans east of Calgary represent a market loss to Calgary. These “smaller satellite communities outside Calgary” are merely a barrier to be overcome in the great Calgary sprawl experiment.

These are not protectors. They are preventers. Preventers of their neighbours from working their own land as they see fit. If you can’t beat them in the market, take control of their land, regulate it, and ensure that it does not have the same opportunities for development.  

Calgary’s mayor wants to protect agriculture lands about as badly as the rest us want to hear about a second and third COVID lockdown. This is the same mayor that loves agriculture so much that he threw a tantrum trying to stop Harmony Beef from setting up in Rocky View. In this, he attempted to quash development of a facility that have allowed ranchers and farmers excellent access and employ 500 Albertans within sight of his city. But because it would not pay taxes into his coffers, Nenshi tried to can it. Hardly the great agriculture protector in the region.

This mayor is creating one thing: economic uncertainty in the region. Investors are pulling out. This should come as no surprise to those of us following the going’s on of the Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board (CMRB). This board was set up for one reason; to quash competition and limit growth in the rural regions around Calgary. Municipalities should compete because we all win when there is choice and competition in the marketplace. If the “smaller satellite communities outside Calgary” offer better tax rates, a better way of life, and better business environments, so be it. Compete. But the CMRB eliminates this competition and NEnshi gets to decide what goes where and who gets water and servicing. It’s downright un-Albertan.

There is a way to stop this, but it requires the UCP and Premier Kenney to show renewed courage and end the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board. The premier will have to do some of the things he told us he stood for during the election campaign: enable free enterprise, protect the autonomy of local governments, defend property rights, and eliminate government systems and unnecessary boards that stop up progress. The premier can still do this by putting principle ahead of politics on this issue and stand up for rural and small-town Albertans facing Mayor Nenshi’s latest land grab.

In 1995, Premier Ralph Klein and Municipal Affairs Minister Steve West had the wisdom to eliminate central planning boards. So far, Premier Kenney, former Minister Kaycee Madu and current Minister of Municipal Affairs Tracy Allard seem incapable of doing the right thing. They’re turning a blind eye while the mighty mayor is eye-balling the land rights of rural Albertans.

Bruce McAllister is a columnist for the Western Standard, Executive Director Rocky View 2020 & is the former Wildrose and PC MLA for Chestermere-Rockyview

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Opinion

It’s time for a “Made in Alberta” economic strategy

Guest columnist CW Alexander writes that independence gives Alberta the ability to decide its own trade and economic development.

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It’s time to end the economic surrender of Alberta’s interests to foreign and Eastern interests in favour of a “Made in Alberta” strategy.

Career politicians – both federally and provincially – are quick to jump on any bandwagon, as they are “front run” by foreign jurisdictions years ahead of their own narrative, as geopolitical decisions are made, all putting international interests ahead of Alberta’s interests.

The Chinese own over 136 Alberta companies, most of which are fronts by state-owned corporations controlled by that country’s communist dictatorship. They do this to steal Albertan-developed technology, then covertly block pipelines like Northern Gateway to prevent access to competitors like Japan in the growing Taiwan-Asia border disagreements.

The Saudis buy depressed shares in Alberta’s energy companies, as Alberta’s energy businesses are crushed by sabotaging federal policies like C-48, C-69 and carbon taxes, while supplying Eastern refineries with foreign oil using shipping lines owned by Eastern Liberal family businesses.

The USMCA trade agreement maintains Quebec and Ontario’s interests while the Americans strip $25-35 billion annually in lost differentials from Alberta’s energy sector. 

U.S. President Donald Trump has backed the proposed Alberta to Alaska (A2A)rail line. If completed, this line will see commodities like grain, sulphur and potash moving in part through Alaskan ports, rather than Vancouver; another reason for Trudeau to threaten to block it

The Americans operate an under-utilized, high-cost heated pipeline in Alaska, and are looking to fill it with Alberta bitumen. The Americans will use A2A to secure their long-term position in the oil sands, as it consolidates under the stress of regulatory strangling from Ottawa.

The Chinese strip coal from Alberta to power plants in China (that have no carbon tax) for a low-cost competitive edge, and the Americans strip low valued bitumen by rail to process in similarly un-carbon taxed U.S. refineries.

Are either any different or acting in the sole interest of Alberta? They are acting in their own interests, as rational states do. 

While Canadian conservative federalists and their support for an energy corridor across Canada is 20 years behind, and the Liberal-Green-NDP alliance touts no pipelines at all. Both the Tories and the leftist bloc are either too far behind the geopolitics to make a corridor ever happen in time, or have outright disdain for Alberta respectively.

Albertans have been ripped off for decades. It’s time to get Ottawa’s, the Chinese, and at times even the Americans, out of Alberta’s proverbial cookie jar. It’s time for a made in Alberta resource strategy.

An independent Republic of Alberta would no longer be subject to federalist trade deals that sacrifice Alberta’s energy industry; freeing Albertans to maximize value of our resource wealth.

Albertans could immediately build strategic oil reserves, paid for by an Alberta military budget out of the net $41 Billion per year saved in federal taxes no longer paid to Ottawa, eliminating “end of pipe” spot pricing. This will create improved returns for Alberta businesses and the Alberta treasury, attracting additional resource investment.

Our new borders would unlock access to tidewater as we provide permission to international interests, such as China, B.C., the U.S. and the rest of Canada to cross our strategic boundary both by land and air. As others have discussed, Canada and B.C. need to cross Alberta’s borders much more urgently than Alberta need to cross theirs. 

Our energy deals will no longer be one-sided as we choose to ally with the U.S. as a logical market proximate to our borders, while remaining cognisant of the need to cultivate an international market to maximize resource value.

We will acquire strategic international assets to secure a home for our bitumen and upgraded products as we refine our own bitumen at home to the best fuel standards on Earth, building a vast hydrogen network for the future from abundant natural gas and renewable biomass. 

The economic fortune of Alberta will shift course in Albertans’ favour once a united independent Alberta is achieved. Only then will our future be in our own hands. 

CW Alexander is a guest columnist and the Executive Director of Alberta4All

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Opinion

After today’s murder, the Western Standard is republishing the “Muhammad cartoons”

In 2006, the Western Standard was one of the only media outlets on the planet to publish the blasphemous cartoons. After another murder for showing them, we are pleased to republish them again.

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In 2006, radical Islamists around the world launched a long series of riots in response to a cartoon from Denmark portraying Islam’s founder Muhammad. Most Westerners in the advanced world were left bewildered at how so much violence and death could erupt over a mere cartoon. 

Despite the widespread curiosity, nearly every single media outlet on the planet refused to reprint the blasphemous cartoons that were at the heart of the biggest story in the world for months on end. 

Every single media outlet in Canada – and almost globally – except for one: The Western Standard

While the Toronto Star and CBC were cowered by “cultural sensitivity” (sensitivity that they showed for no other group), the Western Standard ran an entire special edition on the cartoons, including the front cover. 

Rioters burn the Danish flag in protest of cartoons

This simple act of journalism landed the Western Standard in the courts, as the Canadian Human Rights Commission tried to enforce what amounted to a medieval blasphemy law under the guise of “inciting hate”. 

The cartoons were perhaps offensive to some, but they hardly constituted “hate”. In reality, this was the Canadian justice system enforcing Islamic law’s forbidding of any portrayal of their prophet.

I was a chirpy student at the radical-left Carleton University at the time. I remember proudly posting a few of the cartoons clipped from the magazine on a wall, just to see what happened. 

Since then, there have been a long string of murders related to these cartoons, and others, like the mass murder of Charlie Hebdo staff in 2015. 

In October 2020, the cartoon-blasphemy murders continue.

Reuters wire service is reporting that a Paris-area school teacher was brutally beheaded by an Islamist extremist. His crime? During a class on freedom of speech, he showed his students the cartoons forbidden by God. 

The man is believed to have screamed the traditional battle-cry, “Allah Akbar!” before beheading the blasphemer. 

The alleged killer’s Twitter account posted, “o Macron, the leader of the infidels, I executed one of your hellhounds who dared to belittle Muhammad.”

Several reports out of Europe claim that the attacker managed to upload a picture of the beheading to his Twitter account before it was taken down.

He was apprehended by police, and resisting while still armed with his knife, was shot dead. 

Blasphemy murders happen more frequently than we in North America know, because most of them are in Europe. Only when the body count reaches toward the double-digits (like the Charlie Hebdo massacre) do we read about it here.

The 2006 blasphemy charges against the Western Standard were dropped in a humiliating retreat for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and since then, there is reason to hope that at least segments of the Canadian (and Western world’s) media have been shamed out of their complacency. The coming days will tell. 

But we owe it to the victims of these murders, and to our own fundamental freedoms, to openly defy threats from medieval thugs that would take would take them away. Media outlets that claim to defend freedoms of speech and of the press, have a duty to publish them; or in the case of the Western Standard, republish them. 

Understandably, some media outlets will fear for the lives of those working there. This is a very real threat. And I can understand not publishing the cartoons on those grounds. It isn’t the right thing to do, but it is understandable. 

But media that refuse to publish these cartoons – that continue to reverberate around the world – on the grounds of sensitivity, should hand in their “free press” credentials now, and apply for a government media license

In honour of the victim of today’s blasphemy murder, and in defence of a free press, I have decided that the Western Standard will again publish some of the cartoons that have motivated the murder of so many. 

This has nothing to do with Islam, or religion for us. If anyone was murdered for displaying Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, we would would publish it as well. Allas, 33 years and counting, nobody has.

So sit back, lock your doors, and enjoy some blasphemy.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard and President of Wildrose Media Corp. dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

Muhammad cartoon
Muhammad cartoons
Muhammad cartoon from Charlie Hebdo
Muhammad cartoon from Charlie Hebdo after the mass-murder of its staff
Muhammad with Jesus and the Buddha in South Park

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