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MORGAN: Anger isn’t enough. Sovereigntists need organization.

The problem is, unless this anger is organized into something cohesive, it won’t be going anywhere.

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The West is furious and the rage is still blazing hot. The internet is boiling over with secessionist sentiment while hastily organized meetings are packing halls. Western independence supporting websites are being formed, parties are being proposed and groups are starting speaking tours.

The problem is, unless this anger is organized into something cohesive, it won’t be going anywhere.

Anger always fades in time and unless it is harnessed early in order to turn it into something lasting, it is simply a wasted emotion.

In looking at the political landscape in the West right now, I envision an anthill that has been stirred by a stick. Thousands of ants scurry in all directions in rage at the indignity inflicted upon the home they worked so hard to build. Eventually the ants calm down and rebuild their hill which remains as vulnerable to future attacks as it ever has been.

In doing a short search of Facebook, I found more independence leaning groups than I could count. While most of these groups number in the thousands of supporters (as far as online support is concerned), they seem to be little more than repositories of anti-Trudeau memes and conspiracy theories. They are places where people can vent their rage to each other but they are not going anywhere.

Pages and groups claiming to by the Alberta Independence Party (source: Facebook)

As far as independence minded political parties go in Alberta, they are either inactive or in turmoil. No less than three Facebook pages claim to speak for the Alberta Independence Party which appears to be fronting a new board and leader every few weeks or so. The Freedom Conservative Party, Alberta Advantage Party Alberta Reform Party all appear to be spinning their wheels.

The “Wexit” gang is proposing forming yet another provincial party if Jason Kenney dares to refuse to embrace their list of demands (he won’t).

Meanwhile, “Wexit” held a well attended townhall meeting where the Canadian flag was hung upside down and under a pair of Alberta flags. Brilliant strategy right before Remembrance Day.

I know, I know. The hanging of an upside down flag is the international symbol of distress. That tends to apply to countries undergoing a military coup however; not the re-election of a blackface-wearing imbecile. Stunts like that only make the group look like petulant children and will not draw the broader support that they need if they really want to go somewhere.

Gathering 700 people into a capacity room on a Saturday night is impressive. Citizens are looking for a movement to join and support in the long run. I am sure that a great mailing list was compiled and some funds were raised. It has to be remembered though that there are 4.3 million Albertans out there and over half of them must be fully won over before independence becomes a reality. Right now the support is not even close.

Wexit rally in Edmonton (source: Wexit Facebook group)

Building a lasting political movement takes years and it takes a lot of work. These are realities that many who are demanding independence don’t want to face. They are howling for a referendum tomorrow.

Well, there are two problems with that. We won’t be holding one, and it wouldn’t even come close to winning. In fact, it’s doubtful that there will even be one on Equalization.

The reality of building a political party is that much of it is tedious and tough.

Look at the evolution of what finally became the United Conservative Party which formed government in Alberta this year.

I got involved with the Alberta Alliance Party in 2002. At that time we had about 3000 members, a lone MLA in the legislature and perhaps a couple thousand dollars in the bank. We pounded the pavement, did flyer drops, and held sparsely attended town hall meetings throughout the province. We sat through long board meetings and painful policy conventions. We lost by-elections and lost our sole seat in the next general election.

We suffered infighting and had our party split when the “Wildrose” group was formed. We finally came together in a merger and formed the “Wildrose Alliance Party” in 2008. That act of unity brought us new funding, new members and new energy which led to a by-election win along with some floor-crossers who built us a modest caucus.

We then moved on to form official opposition, and nearly government. Then, we lost two-thirds of our caucus in the mass floor-crossing of December 2014, and the NDP came up the middle.

If Jason Kenney had not started the ball rolling and gotten the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Parties to merge, it is not impossible to imagine that we could have suffered under another four years of socialist government in Alberta.

It took leadership, organization and unity in order to unseat the entrenched Notley government.

If the independence movement wants to morph into something real and lasting they would be well served to study that recent chain of political events in Alberta history.

The Freedom Conservative Party and the Alberta Independence Party are sitting on the wall, too afraid to ask anyone to dance.

Yes. A new party can form government. It will take years though and it won’t be easy. Accept that and work from that basis.

The other difficult thing to accomplish will be unity and leadership. There has to be one dominant and overwhelming group which will sweep aside the growing collection of fringe groups. This group has to be rational and has to have a solid plan. This group has to be willing and able to endure the years of dull meetings from which a lasting foundation can be built.

I don’t see this group coming together in Alberta yet.

Anger alone will make for some great rallies and meetings. Unless a leader emerges to form a solid base and plan from these gatherings, the anger will fade like a fart in the wind and nothing will change in the long run.

Opinion

LETTER: BLM mural is expensive virtual signalling

A reader says that Calgary’s mayor and councillors that want the BLM mural can pay for it themselves, and shouldn’t paint over what’s there already.

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This BLM [Black Lives Matter] progressive virtual signalling by Calgary City Council has gone too far.  Look farther into BLM and you will see a well organized political movement. Now, funded by City Council to the tune of $120,000 of our taxpayers dollars for BLM murals in Calgary that helps this political movement. How does that help taxpayers Mayor Nenshi? 

 A respected Calgary artist, Doug Driediger, gave us (1995) Giving Wings to the Dream. Which in my opinion deserves respect from a virtual signalling city council. Our city is in a financial crisis, but city hall seems to find cash for pet projects that make little sense to hard working people who are just making it.  

Why are we, as a city funding this mural? It’s not public art, but it is a political statement from a BLM political movement! If BLM wants to paint murals, then BLM can fund that themselves and I hope not erase (paint over) a mural that may Calgarians have enjoyed over the years in downtown Calgary.  

Easy to virtual signal for a cause when it comes out of the taxpayers pockets Mayor Nenshi. You and city council want BLM murals then chip in and pay for it yourselves.  

It’s time for a change at City Council, time for a change from progressive virtual signalling councillors to fiscal responsible councillors who won’t get caught up in political movements and then pass the bill onto the taxpayers so they can pat themselves on the back. 

Respect of cultures all cultures.  

Steven Ruthven
Calgary, AB

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Opinion

CLEMENT: China’s Hong Kong crackdown comes to Canada

China isn’t just extending its iron rule over Hong Kong, but now charging non-Chinese citizens in the West for supporting the democratic resistance.

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Hong Kong’s National Security Law is just over a month old and the Chinese Communist Party is already wreaking havoc in what was once one of the freest places on earth. The law – which effectively silences almost all criticism of the government in Beijing – has quickly been used to arrest pro-democracy voices in Hong Kong.

What started with the rounding up of pro-democracy students and political leaders has now turned to arresting prominent Hong Kong business figures, including Apple Daily’s founder Jimmy Lai. Lai was arrested this week on charges of “colluding with foreign powers,” when in reality his crime is that Apple Daily is a wildly popular source of pro-democracy news and commentary in Hong Kong. 

To make matters worse, the National Security law is also being used to target anti-communist voices abroad. The CCP formally charged a handful of pro-democratic leaders who have successfully sought asylum abroad. In addition to that, the CCP extended itself to charge Samuel Chu, who has been a naturalized US citizen for over 25 years. When asked about the charges laid against him, Chu stated “I might be the first non-Chinese citizen to be targeted, but I will not be the last. If I am targeted, any American and any citizen of any nation who speaks out for Hong Kong can, and will be, too”.

A foreign power charging non-citizens for violating laws in a country they don’t live in shows that in the eyes of Beijing’s CCP, their reach knows no bounds. That overreach, and persistent threat, landed on Canadian shores just this week. Sing Tao – Canada’s largest Chinese language newspaper – rejected an advertisement that spoke out against Hong Kong’s National Security Law. 

While the paper is free (in Canada) to run whatever ads it likes, and reject whichever ads it doesn’t, it does raise questions as to why the paper would turn away several thousands of dollars in advertisement money. It isn’t baseless speculation to assume that the paper rejected the pro-democracy ad because it would put those involved on Beijing’s blacklist. The CCP has already signaled that it will charge US citizens for supposed crimes against the Chinese state, so naturally that same adventurism would extend to Canadians guilty of promoting democracy in Hong Kong.

This over-step by Beijing demonstrates that the CCP won’t just oppress their own citizens, which adds more fuel to the fire regarding how Canada should treat companies like Huawei or Tik Tok. Beijing’s 2014 Counter-Espionage law and their 2017 National Intelligence Law mandates that individuals and firms must support state intelligence work when asked, which pretty much guarantees that your data could be handed over to the Chinese government if Beijing were to ask for it. While these companies may claim that they are independent from the Chinese state, it’s incredibly unlikely that these companies wouldn’t comply if asked for data. If these companies didn’t comply, it is certain that the Chinese state would simply take what it requested, and reprimand those who didn’t comply. 

Regardless of what mainland owned firms want to be, their ties to the CCP are undeniable. Coupled with the fact that Beijing will not hesitate to charge non-citizens with crimes against the state makes for a toxic cocktail of privacy violations and state oppression. 

That’s why in liberal democracies, we must remain vigilant and support our fellow democratic voices who end up in the CCP’s crosshairs. Because at one point or another, this could affect people in our nations.

David Clement is a columnist for the Western Standard, a Director at 21Democracy and the North American Affairs Manager with the Consumer Choice Center.

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Opinion

MORGAN: It’s time for Joe to go

Cory Morgan writes that other politicians have been driven from office for much, much less than what Joe did.

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With news that the Calgary Police Service has asked the RCMP to begin an independent investigation into Councilor Joe Magliocca’s expense scandal, it becomes clear that it is time for Mr. Magliocca to step aside from his council seat.

Citizens have little patience for well-heeled politicians abusing expense accounts on the backs of taxpayers. In 2012, a $16 glass of orange juice expensed by Conservative cabinet minister MP Bev Oda caused such outrage that Oda eventually resigned in disgrace. It may have been small peanuts and the controversy overblown, but it was a symbol of disrespect to taxpayers, rightly or wrongly. Magliocca’s abuse of his expense account is much worse than anything Oda did.

This wasn’t a one-off – or even an accident – for Joe. A forensic audit concluded that there has been a pattern of personal expense abuse carried out by Magliocca for years. From room upgrades to luxury hotels, to airline seat upgrades, to what appears to be the outright fraudulent efforts to cover up the event hosting expenses by falsely adding names of attendees who were never there, it is clear that Magliocca has a serious and ongoing problem with abusing the taxpayer’s trust. Any private organization would have fired Magliocca years ago.

Conservatives are few and far between on Calgary’s city council. Councilor Joe Magliocca had been considered one of them. That makes Magliocca’s repeated and flagrant abuse of taxpayer’s dollars for his personal benefit all the more odious and damaging. Nothing undercuts calls for fiscal restraint more effectively than hypocrisy. How could or would anybody take Magliocca’s calls for the city to tighten it’s fiscal belt when he has so brazenly gorged on the taxpayer’s flesh himself?

It’s not as if Magliocca wasn’t paid enough as a counselor to begin with. With a base salary of $113,416 plus benefits and pension, along with an already generous expense policy, there was no excuse for Maglioca’s abuse his expense account so flagrantly. It is a slap in the face to taxpayers who are currently wondering how they are going to make their mortgage payments in light of ceaseless city tax increases and who can’t afford to go on vacations, much less lavish ones fully expensed by their employers.

So far Magliocca has been silent and keeping a low profile. Yes, he paid back a few thousand dollars, but that was of course only after he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Joe knows he can’t justify this, so I am guessing that he hopes that if he keeps his head low that this will blow over. This is not going to blow over.

At this point, the only acceptable response from Joe Magliocca should be his immediate resignation as a city councilor. This may even serve Joe’s interests in a sense, because if there does indeed turn out to be criminal wrongdoing found and he is convicted, at least some evidence of remorse will have been shown prior to sentencing.

The next best thing at least would be for Magliocca to openly announce that he will not be running in the next election. His brand is befouled and there is no way he could win his seat on council again. It would leave Joe as a lame-duck councillor, but at least the path would be cleared for for principled candidates to begin campaigning to replace him in 2021.

If Magliocca does run again, he could cause damage to the entire outcome of the election. Joe could split the vote with a real conservative and put yet another free-spending councilor at the table at a time when Calgary can least afford one. Magliocca’s presence in the election would likely turn into a sideshow where his ill-behavior is used to try and discredit conservatives running in other wards or even for Mayor.

Joe Magliocca’s political reputation is irreparably damaged even if he doesn’t know it yet. The best thing Joe can do for the city of Calgary now is to step aside. This election is much too important and we can’t allow this circus to keep us all from finally getting the fiscally responsible mayor and council that we so desperately need.

Politicians have been driven from office for much, much less than what Joe did. It’s time for Councilor Magliocca to do the right thing.

Cory Morgan and a columnist for the Western Standard and a business owner in Priddis, Alberta.

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