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FORBES: Be prepared for the next big disaster

This week’s headlines are a reminder to prepare your 72-hour kit… while you still can

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snow storm

Newfoundland is finally beginning to recover from a massive snowstorm that prompted a state of emergency one week ago. With many roads completely covered and businesses unable to operate, residents were stuck in their homes for several days before the roads were cleared enough to go out.

When the grocery stores opened up after four days, hundreds of people lined up around the block to get the food, medicine, and other essential supplies that they needed. Some items were carefully rationed to make sure there was enough for everyone.

Meanwhile, Wuhan, China and surrounding communities are now on lockdown to stop the spread of the deadly new coronavirus. As of the time of writing, at least 41 people have died from the virus. With public transportation shut down, millions of people will have limited opportunities to replenish their own food stocks for the foreseeable future.

Empty shelves before Hurricane Lane in Honolulu, 2018 (Source: Daniel Ramirez, WikiCommons)

And now, in all likelihood, the disease may have already made its way to Canada. There have been confirmed cases in the United States, and several individuals in Canada are currently being monitored as potential carriers.

We all like to think that such disasters will never happen to us, but how many people in Newfoundland and Wuhan thought the same thing? Too many of us think we can wait until a state of emergency is declared to suddenly do something about it. But if everyone else is buying up food and essentials in a panic, you may find the grocery store shelves are empty by the time you show up. The best time to prepare for an emergency is now, before any danger is apparent.

Official government websites usually advise that you have the ability to take care of yourself for at least 72-hours in case emergency crews are not able to assist you before that time. The Government of Alberta, for example, advises that everyone prepare at least a 3-day supply of water (4 litres per person per day), 3-day supply of food for all family members and pets, a first-aid kit, flashlight, sanitation supplies, extra batteries, and more. For the full list, click here.

Snow blowing across a road (Source: Ian Furst, WikiCommons)

Natural disasters have a funny way of bringing out both the best and worst of humanity. In Newfoundland, most people showed great patience and understanding for one another while waiting in long grocery lines. Several volunteered their time to help shovel driveways and walkways for the elderly, and some taxi drivers took people to the grocery store for free. Their spirit of charity is an inspiration. But we may not always be able to count on the kindness of strangers under desperate circumstances.

Imagine how people in Wuhan, a city with a population of 11 million, will fare after a week or two of quarantine? What about a month? With limited transportation to bring supplies into the city and restrictions on residents going out into public to replenish their supplies, Wuhan is in a vulnerable situation. There is a real danger for those who have not prepared sufficient supplies to last the entire duration of the lockdown, and I shudder to think what will happen when they begin to run out.

An earlier generation of Western Canadians grew at least a portion of their own food, processed that food for long-term storage, and kept a well-stocked pantry to get through hard times. But in today’s age of industrialized plenty, too many of us have gotten used to the convenience of going to the store or restaurants anytime we want, sometimes several times a week. We must consider what would happen if that entire supply chain (the highways, the delivery trucks, the stores themselves) was shut down for several days in a row, as it was in Newfoundland and now in Wuhan. A little bit of foresight could go a long way in mitigating such a crisis.

Illustration of a pantry from 1892 (Source: WikiCommons)

Now is the time to check if you and your household are ready for an emergency. Massive natural disasters and epidemics may seem like science fiction, but it is the reality for millions of people at this very moment. This week’s headlines are a wake-up call to stock up your pantry and make a 72-hour emergency plan… while you still can.

James Forbes is a columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in History and writes about the history of politics, culture, and religion in Canada. (Twitter: @TartanTie)

Opinion

LETTER: Erin O’Toole isn’t “woke” enough to beat Trudeau in the East

A reader says that Erin O’Toole isn’t “woke” enough to beat Trudeau in the East.

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In this ‘Era of Wokeness” along with the ascension of Black Lives Matter into the public consciousness, I believe that it would be detrimental to the Conservative Party of Canada to have Erin O’Toole as
it’s leader.

Mr O’Toole recently refused to use the word ‘racism’ and did not answer clearly when pressed on whether he believes it even exists. Erin O’Toole will hand the Trudeau Liberals an easy victory during the next election, should he become Tory leader. Canada cannot afford another four years of Justin Trudeau. 

Like it or not, most people in Ontario and Quebec (where all federal elections are ultimately decided owing to their number of allotted seats), are very much ‘woke’ on the issue of racism, as well as
sexism, homophobia, ect. In my experience, this also includes most Conservative Party of Canada voters in Eastern Canada.

Right-wing populism and social conservatism does well in Western Canada – but centrist Red Toryism is all they are prepared to accept in most of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. CPC members in Western Canada need to keep this in mind when voting for their next leader. 

CPC members need to be sensible and realistic if they want to win the next federal election. 

Gila Kibner 
Edmonton, Alberta

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Opinion

LETTER: While Trudeau mislabels regular guns “military-style”, he is handing real assault weapons to the police

A reader says that Trudeau is militarizing the police while disarming Canadians.

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RE: Canada’s cops worried Liberal gun ban will hamper training

I enjoyed your article on the gun ban and how it will affect cops. A point of view the CBC would never share.

Perhaps another topic should be brought to the public is this: Although Justin Trudeau said there is no place for these weapons in Canada and Bill Blair said these  weapons have only one purpose – and that is for one soldier to kill another soldier – they gifted more deadly weapons to our local police forces through the Canadian Armed Forces., as was done recently in my hometown of St Thomas, Ontario.

What is the government’s agenda in giving true military assault weapons to the police and banning “military-style” (no legal definition) weapons from civilians. 

John Siberry
St. Thomas, ON

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Opinion

WAGNER: Don’t make the tent too big – the independence movement must be conservative

Michael Wagner writes that there is little point in pursuing Western independence if the new country looks like the old.

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In recent years some people have argued that the Western independence movement should encompass people from the entire political spectrum. Support for independence, they argue, is not a specifically conservative or right-wing phenomenon. To generate enough political support to achieve Alberta’s independence, people of all sorts of ideological positions will be needed.

For example, early in 2018, one well-meaning independence activist posted a message on Facebook stating, “We all need to remember that you don’t have to be a conservative to be a separatist. We will need people from all sides in this.”

Similarly, in a conversation at a meeting, one person seriously suggested to me that independence supporters could bring Millennials on board by telling them that the money Alberta saved from cancelling transfer payments to Canada would be used to offer free university tuition and free dental care for all Albertans. This is essentially the Bernie Sanders appeal – support Alberta independence so that you will get “free” stuff from the government. 

If that’s the direction the independence movement were to take, it would become empty and meaningless. Proposing an even greater role for government – that is, even more socialism – as the antidote to Eastern Canadian “progressive” liberalism, entirely defeats the purpose of a free West. If socialistic policies are acceptable, then Canada is already suitable and getting better every year. An Alberta version of Bernie Sanders is not an improvement on Justin Trudeau. In attempting to widen their appeal to the left, support for independence would likely shed far more fertile and dedicated support on the right.

Instead of offering socialistic goodies or opting for flimsy policies in an appeal to people from across the political spectrum, the independence movement should be clearly grounded in small-c conservative thinking that values free enterprise, private property, the family, respect for first peoples, and the historic virtues of Western civilization. That is, after all, Alberta’s heritage.

An independent Western Canada must protect property rights, and the protection of property rights will not appeal broadly to the left. An independent Western Canada must allow for the genuine freedoms that modern “progressives” too often to despise. Progressives often view conservative viewpoints and traditional Christian perspectives as “hate” that should be banned. An independent West that embraced such progressivism would be no better than the existing Canadian federation, and might even become worse.

When the Alberta independence movement first appeared in the 1970s and 1980s, there was no doubt that it was a right-of-centre phenomenon. In the early 1980s, the Western Canada Concept Party of Alberta – the Alberta WCC – produced a four-page document entitled, “Our Statement of Principles.” It contained 24 points. The first point was, “We believe in responsibility and self-reliance.” The second was, “We believe in private enterprise.” Thirdly, it declared, “We believe in smaller government.” 

The fifth point stated, “We believe in the right to own property.” The explanatory paragraph for this point was as follows: “The power of the state to occupy, seize or expropriate private property is a violation of personal freedom. Any limitation of the freedom of the individual to own what he or she acquires, reduces the freedom and prosperity of the whole society.”

Many of the initial points in the statement focus on individual freedom and entrepreneurship, whereas the subsequent points tend to focus more on the specific role of government.

The twelfth point is noteworthy: “The strength of the family is the strength of the nation.” The explanatory paragraph for this point states: “Healthy, close-nit, nurturing families assure the future of a society by molding responsible, self-reliant, hard-working citizens. Healthy families transmit healthy values – which strengthen the community and the nation.”

The Alberta WCC Statement of Principles cannot be understood as anything other than a small-c conservative document, and it provides a shining example of the kinds of principles any future independence organization or party should embrace. The pioneers of the Western independence movement had this right.

The goals of the independence movement are self-determination and greater freedom for the West, and these goals only make sense from a conservative or libertarian perspective. Therefore, watering down principles in order to appeal for wider support from the political centre or left would ultimately defeat the purpose of the independence movement. Achieving an independent West that favoured political preferences resembling Toronto and Montreal would be an empty victory not worth the fight.

Michael Wagner is columnist for the Western Standard. He has a PhD in political science from the University of Alberta. His books include ‘Alberta: Separatism Then and Now’ and ‘True Right: Genuine Conservative Leaders of Western Canada.’

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