Something that’s become increasing apparent since the federal election became official in Red Deer Saturday: the “Firewallers” are the new moderates.
In 2000, Stephen Harper and five other prominent conservatives signed what they called the “Alberta Agenda,” but which its detractors quickly labelled the “Firewall Letter.” After a federal election in which the West – and Alberta in particular – was used as a whipping boy – by a corrupt Liberal government seeking re-election, the authors sought for Alberta to strengthen it’s control over areas within its own constitutional jurisdiction, and build “firewalls” against federal intrusion.
At the time, they were dismissed even by Ralph Klein, and consigned to the crank fringe. As prime minister six years later, Stephen Harper declined to act on a single item in the letter.
At the Manning Centre’s Alberta conference in Red Deer, former Alberta finance minister and signatory to the famous “Firewall Letter”, Ted Morton spoke in the morning of the rising independence movement and its growing ability to tear the UCP asunder.
“If he [Kenney] goes too fast, he losses moderates. But if he goes too slow, he risks Wexit and other groups rising up.”
In short, the centre of political gravity in Alberta has shifted radically.
Where an Ottawaphilic NDP was elected without federal concerns in 2015, a UCP promising a confrontation with Trudeau on Equalization and pipelines came to power in 2019.
Parties campaigning for independence (AIP) or firewalling (my own FCP) faired poorly.
On October 20th, the centre of Alberta’s politics was comfortable with fist-shaking at Ottawa.
Post-October 21st, the firewallers – lonely or consigned to the fringe for so long – are now squarely in the centre of gravity. It’s likely that in this world, sovereigntists outnumber status-quo federalists.
As Morton warned earlier in the morning, Kenney has to walk a fine balance in not spooking federalists, but not appearing overly timid in the face of the growing independence movement.
Kenney did his best to walk that rope when he took the stage that evening.
In a relatively long speech, Kenney laid out his government’s grievances with Ottawa. They were familiar themes: Equalization, pipelines, tanker bans.
He then proceeded to lay out his actions against Ottawa thus far. Mostly, proclaiming the NDP’s Bill 12 into law, and talking to federal Senate committees. He didn’t say as much, but Kenney knows that in today’s explosive enviornment, it didn’t amount to much. He was going to have to do better to win this crowd over.
The crowd was polite, but surprising reserved in its adulation until he came to next steps.
Kenney announced the members of his new “Fair Deal Panel,” including Preston Manning and several of his MLAs. It was the panel’s mandate – rather than its members – that attracted the most attention.
The panel will be tasked with making recommendations to the government on implementing several key planks of the until recently anathema, Firewall Letter.
Should Alberta establish its own revenue collection agency, and stop allowing Ottawa to collect provincial taxes? If so, should Alberta emulate Quebec and request that it also be allowed to collect federal taxes in Alberta? The Fair Deal Panel will tackle it.
Should Alberta withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan, and like Quebec establish its own? The Fair Deal Panel will tell us.
Should Alberta end its contract with the RCMP and establish its own provincial police force? Fair Deal Panel.
Should Alberta withdraw from the Parol Board of Canada and establish its own? FDP.
Should Alberta directly appoint its own Chief Firearms Officer to administer the federal Firearms Act? FDP.
Should Alberta establish its own Alberta constitution and charter? FDP.
The FDP’s mandate read like the platform of my own Freedom Conservative Party’s platform from the last election, (for all the good it did me), less the threat that if Ottawa did not agree to a fair deal for Alberta, that an independence vote would be held.
It was likely a tough call for Kenney to make as an ardent federalist, but it was likely the least aggressive move he could make right now.
While Kenney’s move to firewall off federal intrusions can largely succeed without any thumbs up from Ottawa, several key items for provincial equality like Senate reform, Equalization, and free trade, require federal consent. No matter how many referendums Alberta holds, they will never give it.
While Kenney shifted to stake out the middle ground on the Western question, Notley stayed pat where she was: Ottawaphilic.
“Instead of getting to work on the priorities of Albertans; getting the pipeline built, growing our economy, and creating jobs, he [Kenney] is exploiting the real frustrations of everyday Albertans by sowing the seeds of separation with tired ideas from decades ago. Alberta is part of Canada, and Jason Kenney needs to accept that. “
Notley’s position seems wildly tone-deaf to the frustrations that have many Albertans ready to throw tea into the Bow River.
Alberta’s politics are still defined broadly across a left-right axis, but are quickly transforming into three camps: federalist, reformist, and sovereigntist. The federalists as represented by Notley seem to have almost nothing in common with the other two. Kenney has now clearly grasped the reformist torch. If it’s enough to pacify the sovereigntists or not is still to be played out.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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. email@example.com
Kenney in isolation after top minister catches COVID-19
NDP prop up Trudeau’s Liberals in confidence vote
WATCH: The Pipeline October 21, 2020
EXCLUSIVE: CN Rail to send emergency propane shipments to Quebec
EXCLUSIVE: Teamsters union could block emergency propane shipment to Quebec
ANDRUS: Trudeau has bet double-or-nothing on Freeland to pacify with West
Sign up for the Western Standard Newsletter
News2 days ago
Prof says Alberta government ‘obsessed’ with COVID-19 stats, while masks don’t work
Opinion4 days ago
It’s time for a “Made in Alberta” economic strategy
Opinion1 day ago
Nenshi’s threat to annex surrounding communities is petty bullying
News1 day ago
Liberals approve Alberta pipeline
News3 hours ago
NDP prop up Trudeau’s Liberals in confidence vote
News1 day ago
B.C. premier sued for breaking election law
News1 day ago
Sask. Buffalo Party sued by PGIB
Watch2 days ago
WATCH: UCP MLA Drew Barnes calls for the creation of an Alberta constitution