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JAY HILL: East and West are worlds apart

And, they’re perplexed that some of us have become resigned to the fact that independence is the only viable option left. No longer just frustrated and angry… but resolutely resigned.

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If men are from Mars and women from Venus, then the majority of Calgarians must be from Mercury and Torontonians from Uranus. While we are just 3500 kilometers apart by road, in reality we are worlds apart in our thinking and there is no evidence this will change anytime soon.

At its epicentre, this fact is why I’m convinced that any efforts to achieve greater autonomy within confederation will never produce a “Fair Deal” for Western Canada.

The majority of Canadians from the “middle east” triangle of Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa have become so consumed by the mass climate change hysteria – propagated by no less an authority than the youthful Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg – that they will never see the real world as we in the West see it.  

I cannot understand, and never will understand, how they fail to see the absolute hypocrisy of their position on so many issues connected to what they consider to be a four-letter word: oil.

They don’t see the hypocrisy of imposing a tanker ban (Bill C-48) on most of the Pacific coast of Canada while allowing tankers importing unethical foreign oil unfettered access to our Atlantic ports.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks to the Manning Centre in Red Deer (source: Western Standard)

They don’t understand, or even care, that the imposition of unworkable regulations (Bill C-69) ostensibly to combat climate change, will cripple future development of our greatest wealth generating and job creating natural resource industry.

They don’t see, or want to admit, the hypocrisy of snootily turning up their collective noses at our own Western Canadian oil and gas industry as they pull up to the pumps to fill their gas guzzling SUVs with fuel produced from oil imported from the USA, Saudi Arabia, or Iraq.

For example, despite sitting atop an ocean of proven oil reserves, Canada continues to spend billions every year buying oil from Saudi Arabia, a country that executes homosexuals, stones women, flogs dissidents and has a nasty habit of funding Islamic extremism.

Over a ten-year period, Canada spent over $20 billion importing Saudi oil, 20 per cent more than the estimated cost to build the Energy East pipeline that would substitute Western Canadian oil produced under the most stringent environmental, labour and human rights laws in the world.  

While Canadians in Canada’s middle east continue to turn blind eyes to oil importation from the USA, Americans continue to fund environmental activists that spread lies and work to keep our oil land locked and only available to themselves at a vastly discounted price, as they increase their own oil production. 

All this with not a bleat from the Liberal sheep in Central Canada! 

And, they’re perplexed that some of us have become resigned to the fact that independence is the only viable option left.  No longer just frustrated and angry… but resolutely resigned.  

I fail to see how Premier Kenney’s Fair Deal Panel will ever be able to address the fundamental and unalterable fact that even under future Conservative governments issues like amending the Equalization formula, imposition of a national carbon tax (which some are now advocating increase from $50 to $210 per tonne) and reversal of Bills C-48 and C-69 will never happen without a 180 degree change in the thinking of Liberal voters in Central Canada.  And, if you believe that, I’ll sell you a pipeline across Quebec. 

Is there someone – anyone – who can convince them of the folly of their thinking?

I’m not saying that ideas such as withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan in favour of a new provincial agency, replacing the RCMP in western Canada, collecting taxes and submitting a fair share to Ottawa, gaining greater control and autonomy over healthcare, or establishing a formalized provincial constitution are bad ideas.  I just don’t see how they will ever get pipelines built, attract investment back to our oil patch or get what most of us consider a Fair Deal from our Mideast.

Why? It is actually quite simple: that is where the people are, millions of voters. This is why even Conservative leaders will not be willing to enact or advocate policies contrary to the thinking of Central Canadian voters.  

Or, they will lose, just as happened on October 21st.   

Hon. Jay Hill, PC was the Member of Parliament for Prince George – Peace River in north-east British Columbia for 17 years. He held the position of Whip of his party four times, and served twice as House Leader, both in opposition and government.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Jackie Littler

    November 30, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    An excellent article . Votes based on population riding system. Alberta will never have any say as our population is and always will be smaller than Quebec and Ontario. The first constitution was made by easterners to benefit easterners, the second the same. They were not thinking of Canada as a whole but of themselves.

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Opinion

FILDEBRANDT: Leadership vote on Scheer would have been a sham anyway

With a shambolic process of removing the leaders, it’s no wonder that they are forced out through messier, less formal means.

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That didn’t take long. Andrew Scheer – pledging days earlier to fight to the bitter end to stay on as federal Conservative Leader – fell on his sword Wednesday morning. Just two weeks ago, Scheer pleaded with Alberta Tories that loyalty to the party meant loyalty to him personally.

Conservatives organizing to oust Scheer from the top job told me at the time that they expected to have him out before Christmas. I agreed that Scheer had little chance of surviving, but considered their prognostications of a pre-Christmas bloodletting wildly optimistic. For not the first time, I was wrong.

Joining a large contingent of grassroots members and activists calling for his head was a respectable number of insiders who’s careers are mostly as political operators. Scheer denounced them as elitists, but is himself surrounded by the same kind.

National Post columnist Rex Murphy isn’t wrong in pointing out that these insiders were primarily responsible for Scheer’s ouster, leaking news of his use of party funds to pay for his children’s private school tuition. Murphy is wrong however in bemoaning the fact that Conservative Party members were denied the right to make this decision for themselves at a scheduled leadership review vote in April.

Normally one of the most (if not the most) sober-minded writers on Canadian politics, Murphy takes it as a given that this vote would be conducted with any democratic norms that we would expect in a regular election. This is not the case.

Justin Trudeau, Andrew Scheer and Yves-François Blanchet

Leadership review votes are themselves undemocratic. In most parties, they are only even held if a leader fails to win government in the preceding election. In essence, this means that winning an election removes even the pretence that a party’s members should have any say whatsoever in who their leader is. Effectively, party leaders are elected for life, so long as they can deliver power. If we applied this version of inner-party democracy in our intra-party democracy, a prime minster that wins power would never have to face another election again. Because he won. We scoff at this idea for intra-party elections, but accept it as gospel for inner-party elections.

In the United States’ primary system, even sitting presidents that win elections are not guaranteed their party’s nomination and leadership for the next go-around. They are forced to face their party’s supporters in a primary election, every single time.

In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson crushed Republican challenger Barry Goldwater 61 per cent to 39 per cent; but just four years later he retired the Oval Office without a fight because he knew that he could not win his party’s nomination again in the face of opposition over the Vietnam War. In Canada’s parties, a sitting prime minister not automatically continuing as leader as long as he or she pleases is unthinkable.

In cases where leaders fail to win power and are forced to endure the nuisance of a leadership review vote, they are a sham in any case. Anyone who has observed them with a critical eye knows that they are anything but democratic.

Typically, members are herded into a large hall to listen to a lineup of loyalists preceding the actual leader, extolling the virtues of his or her continuing in the job. After this, members captive in the hall listen to a long and rousing speech from the leader, often with the caucus forced to stand nearby as an implicit signal of support from them. Few MPs or MLAs would dare not do so for fear of retribution. To the leader’s speech there is no rebuttal from those in opposition. There is no “question and answer” period to grill the leader off script. Party members are handed swag and signs with the leader’s name, which most will wear and wave out of peer pressure.

Once the show of unity is over, members are sent straight off to cast their ballots, without time for consideration or debate. It is little different than voters being sent to cast their ballot on the prime minister minutes after he gives a speech to a captive audience, with no debate or chance for rebuttal from his opponents. Inner-party leadership reviews resemble Venezuelan elections more than Canadian ones.

If after all this careful stage management, the members still decide that it is time for the boss to go, it’s difficult to trust the results. Inner-party democracy is not overseen by non-partisan outside officials like general elections. It is run entirely by party insiders, sometimes with agendas. Local MP or MLA nominations are notoriously corrupt.

In its 2017 leadership vote, the Conservative Party insiders oversaw the ballot counting, and inexplicably destroyed the records even before the results were announced. In a race that saw Andrew Scheer edge out Maxime Bernier by less than 1 per cent of the vote on the final ballot. If there was dirty play or not, it was a disturbing move that undermines the election’s credibility. In general elections, ballots are kept in safe sealed boxes for months afterward in close races so that recounts can be conducted and the integrity of the process kept above reproach. No such protections exist in the Conservative Party, or most parties.

This all combines to make the leadership review process a sham. In the history of Canada’s major political parties, there has only ever been a single case of a sitting leader of a political party actually losing a leadership review vote; Thomas Mulcair. Unofficially, John Diefenbaker is in that club as well, so let’s be charitable and call it two.

Do we really believe that only twice in the history of Canada and its ten provinces have party members wanted to replace their leader? The question is wildly rhetorical.

Without any formal mechanism for removing sitting prime ministers and premiers in most parties, and a shambolic process of removing the leaders of opposition parties, it’s no wonder that all of them that leave unwillingly, are forced out through messier, less formal means. This doesn’t make it right, but there is little other choice for party members that want new management.

There’s a simpler and much more democratic solution to this; take a page from the US primary system and require all leaders, MPs and MLAs to go through automatic, neutrally managed nominations before every election, win or lose.

Members wanting change and leaders wanting to face members directly would both be better served by it.

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Opinion

GIESBRECHT: A Pipeline to Seattle?

Canada is the only oil and gas exporting nation in the world intent on committing fossil fuel suicide. By contrast, the United States has gone from being an energy importing nation to energy self-sufficiency

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Canada is in trouble. Half of the population believes we are in a climate crisis, one requiring shutting down our oil and gas industry. The other half recognizes that our oil and gas industry is vital, and our ecological problems can be managed. To make matters worse, the fault line for these competing sets of beliefs runs roughly along an east-west divide, and the re-elected Liberal Party ran on an unwritten policy of “screw the West – we’ll take the rest”. This country is in serious trouble.

There is talk of separation in the West, and it is not just angry talk of rabble rousers. Some influential and serious people are considering redrawing the map to have the western provinces function as a separate country. The election result will accentuate this divide.

Alberta bears the brunt of the attack on fossil fuels. Luminaries, such as Elizabeth May and Greta Thunberg, would have Albertans give up their oil and gas careers and find new jobs, while Alberta is forced to transport oil on creaky railway cars and sell it at a ruinous discount. The combination of unreasonable environmental demands, Indigenous “duty to consult” shakedowns, and a clueless federal minority government has hit Alberta very hard. Combined with obstructionist British Columbia and Quebec provincial governments, it is not difficult to see why westerners are so disillusioned about their country

Trans-Alaska Pipeline (source: WikiCommons)

But, there might not be just a stark choice between separation or the status quo available; a pipeline that can transport Alberta’s oil to the west coast does not necessarily have to go through British Columbia. In fact, it is roughly the same distance from Calgary to Seattle as it is from Calgary to Vancouver. What about a pipeline that goes through Montana and Washington? While there would be complications with such a plan, I bet that ideas like this are being discussed in private by thoughtful people.

Canada is the only oil and gas exporting nation in the world intent on committing fossil fuel suicide. By contrast, the United States has gone from being an energy importing nation to energy self-sufficiency; in 2020, it will be an energy exporter. And, its emissions have gone down, not up, with increased natural gas consumption emitting less than half the carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced by coal. 

I visited what was then the major coal-fired electricity generating station for the American Southwest (Paige, Arizona). It was converting completely to natural gas and is now 100% gas-fired. What was a major source of pollution (sulfur and nitrogen dioxide) has become a clean energy producer through innovation and commonsense.

Canada has huge natural gas resources, but we are afraid to develop them. We let special interest groups and our ideological federal government stop us from marketing cleaner energy to the world. Our gas could replace some of the much dirtier coal plants now relied upon by Asia and Africa. Pipelines are necessary for that to happen. Here, now, we let teenage gurus and virtue-signaling politicians run the show.

Will there ever be a pipeline to Seattle? It is sad such ideas need to be considered. The climate crisis religion is tearing this country apart, and the recent federal election has only made matters worse.

Brian Giesbrecht works for the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

This article was originally published at www.fcpp.org

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Opinion

FRANKS: Time for conservatives to come out on gay rights

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Conservatism is at a crossroads in Canada. The values we identify as being conservative are not the values that the majority of Canadians identify us with. Until this is rectified, our movement will have continued electoral defeats. We see our parties (CPC, UCP) as the one for individual rights; others see us at the party fighting Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs). 

This was apparent in October. The Conservative Party of Canada lost the 905, every major non-Prairie city, and we lost seats in rural Quebec. We have reached the peak of what Reform could ever have done. Congrats everyone from 1993, but now what do we do in 2020 onwards? 

Well, making inroads to the LGBTQ2+ is one. Until we do, and the community knows that we understand their issues, and works towards solving them, then we will remain in the backbenches with this large and politically motivated group. This is not an overnight change. It took years to make inroads with new Canadians under our then federal Immigration Minster Jason Kenney, and this is no less of a struggle. 

As a gay man living in downtown Calgary, and having been a part of the PC Party (now UCP) and worked in Ottawa as a Conservative staffer, I have seen over the last 15 years what has changed for the better, and what still needs to done. More still can be done, and we can be a part of that progress.

The blood donation ban is still in place; members of the trans community still face discrimination; a disproportionate number of homeless youth are LGBTQ2+ who had to flee their home, or were kicked out; which in some part is a result of the barbaric practice of conversion therapy that still occurs in Canada. These issues need to be addressed, and our party can show leadership by taking them on. 

Even after winning a large majority, the Liberals in Ottawa have done nothing. Everything I wrote above still occurs. Let us show the LGBTQ2+ community that we value them, and will fight for their equality as we do with the same passion for every other individual rights and freedoms.

Bridges are built by handshakes, and for many of us in the community a gin and soda also. Pride is just one time of the year, but it does not stop after the parade ends. There are countless community events to attend throughout the year, and even more groups that do amazing work, but lack stable funding sources. 

Conservative politicians regularly attend hundreds of ethnic community events and hand out grants to support them every year. But no UCP MLAs showed up this year to the Calgary Pride Parade, or to the beer gardens. 

Only our newly elected Calgary Centre Conservative MP did. For an event brings in 100,000 people on a single day, the lack of representation from conservative ranks was noticed. If conservatives do not show up, the politicians on the left will, and they carry the narrative that we do not care and that only they have their back, an argument that has some merit. If we are to make inroads, showing up is the first step. 

Finally, there are many gay conservatives, but it is not an easy thing to say you voted conservative in the LGBTQ2+ community, when many believe our party to be a direct threat to their values, and rights. Many friends have whispered in my ear that they voted for conservative, but we need to better, and faster. If we make inroads, and start moving on the issues that matter to the LGBTQ2+ community listed above, then instead of whispering to me they can say it louder, and the ballot box will start to change in our favour in ridings where 100 votes does make the difference. 

Actions matter, and our conservative family, on all levels of government needs to be better. Until we make the first steps and in a meaningful way, the results of Octobers federal election will be a frustrating, and common occurrence.

Dustin Franks is a longtime Conservative organizer and political staffer 

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