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JAY HILL: Timeline for Western Independence

Edmonton and Regina should both be debating referenda legislation right now, and that the timeline for holding the vote should be in conjunction with the next Saskatchewan provincial election in a year.

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Perhaps I’ve been wrong. I know, I know, I was in a bit of shock when I first considered the possibility too.

I wasn’t wrong about reluctantly coming to the realization that the West separating from the ROC (Rest of Canada) is the only sensible option remaining, just perhaps wrong about the timeline and process to achieve independence.

Like so many prairie westerners, as I watched the televised election results on Monday, October 21stroll across the screen, my emotions went from disappointment to dismay to anger and finally to resignation.  

Resignation and sadness that the country I loved no longer worked for me. Realization that the East, especially the “Middle East” of Ontario and Quebec, would never understand the West, or even make much effort to understand it.

Perhaps this realization was more front-of-mind because in partnership with my good friend, Dave Rutherford and our producers (wives), over the past year we recorded over 50 episodes of our You Tube blog “The Dave and Jay Show.”  Most episodes attempted to inform Canadians of the harm Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government was inflicting on Canada, in particular Western Canada. 

But it was more than just disbelief that so many voters east of Manitoba chose to re-elect a Prime Minister that has proven to be so blackfaced, arrogant, shallow, ethically challenged and narcissistic.

It was also the realization that the political structure of Canada ensures that regardless of who wins, nothing will ever fundamentally change when it comes to regional fairness. Political success at the polls requires that all parties and their leaders make concessions to the Middle East of Canada, where the majority of seats are (199 of 338) and where far too many don’t care and aren’t willing to listen to the concerns of the West. That believe we’re just whiners, and we’ll “get over it” …again.

So naturally with this realization that’s been developing for some time, once the goal of independence became fixed in my mind, I simply wanted to get on with it!  Understandable, right?

Due to my experience as an early Reformer and the difficulty of building a new political party from scratch, I do not believe that is the most expedient path towards achieving the goal.  I have refrained from becoming a member WEXIT, the Alberta First Party, Western Canada Party, Western Independence Party, Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta (can you see a potential problem developing?) or any other entity seeking to form a separatist party.

Source: Facebook

Additionally, I have always felt that in the past lack of sound leadership was the undoing of Western independence parties. In other words, they were prone towards self-destruction. I am a huge supporter of both Premier Jason Kenney here in Alberta, and his partner, Premier Scott Moe in Saskatchewan. They are both doing a terrific job of representing their citizens, so it makes no sense to run someone against them.

Had Andrew Scheer won, I believe he deserved the opportunity to prove himself. Likewise, I am prepared to defend Kenney and Moe and also give them the opportunity to try to save Canada.

So, this is where I’ve perhaps been wrong to want to rush ahead with a referendum before allowing them both a chance to fix confederation. I don’t really believe it can be fixed, and in particular, I don’t believe Justin Trudeau gives a damn. 

Nevertheless, I also believe that if there is even the remotest chance Trudeau and indeed Canadians east of Manitoba will take our concerns seriously, it will only be because they come to believe Westerners are serious about seeking a divorce.

And that is why I believe the legislatures in Edmonton and Regina should both be debating referenda legislation right now, and that the timeline for holding the vote should be in conjunction with the next Saskatchewan provincial election in a year. 

A year should be more than enough time for Trudeau to take action on renegotiating the equalization formula, scrapping his carbon tax, building the TMX pipeline, amending Bill C-69 and other steps the Premiers are seeking to address the fires of disunity he’s fueled across the prairies. 

Like Quebec, these steps to achieve greater autonomy under confederation would give us greater control of our own destiny.  My suggestion is that, if there has been no or little progress on these issues by next summer, Westerners should proceed with a public debate followed by provincial referendums in the fall. Then Prairie Westerners can decide their own future.   

Hon. Jay Hill, is a Columnist for the Western Standard. He was the Member of Parliament for Prince George – Peace River for 17 years, held the position of Whip of his party four times, and served twice as House Leader.

Opinion

NAVARRO-GENIE: Trudeau’s failed power grab an attack on democracy

Government without limitations is very rarely good government. The lack of limitations always opens greater avenues for abusing power.

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The Trudeau government’s effort to transfer power temporarily from the House of Commons to the Office of the Finance Minister was an unconstitutional attempt to bypass the will of Canadians as expressed in the 2019 election. By stopping them, the opposition parties have done great service to the country.

The effort is puzzling because no such move is contemplated in the Emergencies Act. The Act was designed to transfer enormous ability to the federal sphere, including powers from exclusive provincial jurisdictions, for renewable periods of 90 days. But no previous Parliament considering emergencies had contemplated what Prime Minister Trudeau wanted: to relieve the House of Commons of one of its most significant constitutional features, and for along period of time.  

Why would the House of Commons delegate to the finance minister the most important power it holds for a period that is seven times longer than the time the Emergencies Act contemplates for the transferring of lesser powers? 

The 90-day requirement in the Act is a deliberate limitation on government power, placed in the understanding that power can be abused, and concentrated power can be abused the more. 

Let’s ask what about the present situation is so radically unusual to warrant the deviation? What is so different about this government that Canadians should trust them seven times more than they have contemplated to trust previous governments with emergency powers in the past? 

The wish to augment its influence was not about taxes and spending. This was about removing constitutional restrictions and a government wishing to free itself from limitations that voters recently placed on it. 

To limit government power and to protect our individual liberties and property, our constitutional traditions place the power to spend and tax in the House of Commons. The lion’s share of the obligations to limit power and protect citizens falls on the shoulders of the House of Commons as a check on the executive power. 

Emanating from the same tradition – and going as far back as Magna Carta in 1215 – governments may not appropriate the fruits of their citizen’s labour – of which taxing is one manifestation – without their consent. In our parliamentary democracy, only the House of Commons may grant such consent. What the Trudeau government wanted to do is not contemplated in the Emergencies Act because it is unconstitutional.  

Nor can the consent to tax be farmed out. In Eurig Estate (1998), the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the principle that taxation must originate in the House of Commons and cannot constitutionally be delegated to any one government officer or department. 

The full consent of the House of Commons to tax and spend is so crucial a piece in our constitutional tradition that losing the confidence of the House may trigger the demise of a government (and therefore an election). 

And here is the core of the matter. 

We have a minority government, intending to shield itself from the cornerstone principle of responsible government by dispensing with the confidence of the House, circumventing the oversight of Parliament for 21 months.

But why? Not many will believe that Justin Trudeau stealthily intended to start paving a road for Canada to become a banana republic.

The move simply sought to take advantage of a crisis to gain self-serving political convenience. It would have insulated the minority government from all possibility of losing a vote on a money bill for the subsequent 21 months, turning a minority government into an invincible super minority. In fact, Trudeau’s minority government would be even more powerful than the majority government he led before that.  

It would have entirely freed the Liberal government from the annoyance of opposition, allowing them to govern in minority without having to satisfy the House on financial matters, and without having to make the compromises that are typical of regular politics.  

The opposition parties (less the Bloc which rolled over) deserve good credit here. Government without limitations is very rarely good government. The lack of limitations always opens greater avenues for abusing power. And this government has already been repeatedly reluctant to follow rules and respect the law.

Last fall – with scant representation from Western Canada, and second place in the popular vote – Canadians sent the Trudeau Liberals back to Parliament to form a minority government, thus placing greater limitations on their power than before.  

This week, we saw an attempt to shake lose from the inconvenience of that electoral outcome. What we witnessed was a bold attempt at usurping popular power. 

Marco Navarro-Génie is a columnist for the Western Standard, the President of the Haultain Research Institute and Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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Opinion

LETTER: MP pay hike during crisis is shameful

They are a shameful and embarrassing lot.

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RE: CTF calls on MPs to reject pay hike

On April 1, 2020, the Members of Parliament and the Senators will be receiving an annual pay raise of 1.7 per cent, to give MPs $181,900/year, Senators $ 156,500, and the Prime Minister $363,900. 

The federal deficit for the year ending March 31, 2020 is projected to be some $26 billion, excluding the emergency budgeting of $82 billion for the current crisis. Their provincial counterparts have either had a freeze for several years, or have taken a decrease. But, too many of our uninformed, underproductive MPs just can’t keep their grubby hands out of the public purse, even at a time of a national devastating crisis. They are a shameful and embarrassing lot.

Larry Samcoe

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Opinion

MCALLISTER: Drug overdoses fill our ER spaces needed for COVID-19

Our emergency rooms have become the detox room for drug users.

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Walk through an Alberta hospital emergency department these days and you might be surprised. It is not the Covid-19 virus that is taxing our system and its resources. We have another problem on our hands, one that has been brewing for a long time.

 Our emergency rooms have become the detox room for drug users.

You name the drug and you will meet it there: meth, crack, alcohol, and more. Drugs and alcohol are wreaking havoc in people’s lives, and as they turn to a substance to turn off the noise and voices, they are turning up in droves at Alberta emergency rooms.

Drugs are brutal. Drugs take over and come out in rage.  People are out of control, incomprehensible, and it is our health care workers – not professional drug addiction counsellors and police officers -who are first in line to take the brunt of the black out.

On any given night, many of the patients who show up to the hospital for treatment have overdosed. They are real problems and real people and they need help, but there must be a better way. They are taking up valuable space and capacity when our ER’s and staff have precious little to spare.

One nurse I know works on those front lines. She and her colleagues are no strangers to being kicked, punched, spit at, sworn at, and threatened by drug users, and that’s only this week. ER nurses and doctors are miracle workers, keeping truly sick people alive. Yet they are often stuck baby-sitting high or drunk entitled teenagers screaming and demanding care after their latest drug experiment.

Drugs make people unpredictable, and it is our ER nurses and doctors who face that unpredictability. Nurses have the bruises to show for it. In fact, nurses face among the highest workplace violence rates in Canada, and that’s not including the viruses and diseases.

This drug-use epidemic has been taxing our ER system for too long. Our emergency rooms and hospitals have become the default catch-all for those using drugs and alcohol to the detriment of themselves and others. While our nurses and doctors are doubling up and prepping for an onslaught from a virus to which we have no cure and expect to impact the lives of millions, drug abuse is a costly drain on our system. If we want to save a few dollars and save lives, we need to get creative and do something about it.

While some drug users do need acute care and psychiatric interventions, help perhaps as they choke on their own vomit, or emergency NARCAN injections for opioid overdoses, most do not.

A kicking and swearing teenager who got high after a fight with her boyfriend is not an emergency. Under current laws, the ER cannot turn anyone away. The drunk teen can take up a bed any day of the week until they sleep it off, and they know it. Despite their belligerence, they are even provided a warm blanket and ice water. Sleep tight little angel while others wait in line. Some have even made these cozy ER stays a regular part of their week. It’s downright selfish.

Alberta has something to learn from this crisis, something we should have done long ago. We should have designated places for drug users to turn to when they have overdosed – places where they could recover and seek the mental health care that their disease requires. Social workers and other services have long been in place to help addicts and troubled people in our society, but ER rooms should no longer be the primary place where they seek help. As we face something much bigger, it might be time we make the changes that make sense for our emergency health services. Let’s create a place where this problem can truly be addressed and these addicts can be helped to get off the substances wreaking havoc on their lives.

We are on the verge of a major health care crisis. We need our health care workers, every doctor, and nurse to be at the ready for whatever Covid-19 brings our way. These are the best our province has and while most of us shelter in place, these workers don’t. They will not only be fighting a virus that they don’t have immunity over, but many this week will be spat on by drug users who simply don’t care.

These are some of Alberta’s heroes and as Albertans it is time we stand in their corner and give them the advantage in this fight for our lives.

Bruce McAllister is Executive Director Rocky View 2020 & is the former Wildrose and PC MLA for Chestermere-Rockyview

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