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Independence’s would-be leaders not willing to stand up, yet

Polls can continue to show large numbers of Westerns ready to cut the cord, but until something changes, independence will continue to remain a statistic.

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The intellectual heavy weights that any credible Western independence movement would need in its leadership cadre are still not ready to step up, and possibly with good reason. Meetings keep being held, but the movement can’t seem to get past first base. 

This Saturday marked the third and, so far, largest conference discussing Alberta’s uneasy place in confederation since the federal election. The online Alberta Proud activist network packed 700 (mostly conservative) activists and businesspeople into the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary for a “Value of Alberta” all-day chinwag.

For all its impressive lineup of speakers, the conference did mostly what the two conferences preceding it did: discuss independence at the margins, without its would-be leaders willing to put their hands up to lead it. 

Former Alberta finance minister Ted Morton was one of the original authors of the 2001 ‘Firewall Letter’ and was the last hope of saving the PCs from a progressive takeover by Allison Redford. His speech titled ‘The West Wants In: A Worthwhile Failure or Just a Failure?’ would have been cutting-edge a year or even six months ago. Likewise with University of Calgary’s Jack Mintz and business mogul Brett Wilson. 

‘The West has good cause to seek independence and would be better off on its own, but it’s not yet the time,’ more-a-less sums up the speakers from all three conferences since October. 

It wouldn’t be a stretch to guess that in their hearts, these men are already supporters of independence, but they couldn’t yet bring themselves to say it out loud. The story is similar for almost all potential intellectual, business and political leaders of the nascent independence movement.

Why are the would-be leaders of a movement with a large and growing support not – as yet –willing to step up? Why is no one – as yet – willing to step forward and say, “I will lead”?

For one, many Westerners still hold lingering hopes of reform, or a ‘fair deal.’ Memory of the Reform Party’s crusade for such a deal have largely faded out of memory. Few understand that even under the a Western-led Conservative government that the West was plundered with equal measure, if not equal enthusiasm. 

Hope for reform – however unlikely – will continue to string many Western patriots along. 

Importantly, most would-be independence leaders are still wed to existing political institutions in the form of the federal and provincial Tories. For many, the Reform-PC division federally, and the Wildrose-PC division in Alberta are too traumatic to repeat in any form. Fear of breaking away from the party motherships holds even greater fear than breaking away from Ottawa. 

Independence almost certainly would require an alternative partisan vehicle, and as yet, no viable one exists. In Alberta, Wexit activists are attempting to register a third political party in addition to the Alberta Independence Party and the Freedom Conservative Party. On their own, none of them are likely to achieve a critical mass to breakthrough. Sovereigntists will need to unite themselves before they can have any hope of uniting Albertans. 

At the federal level, Wexit has obtained the signatures to form a political party, but shows little sign of achieving credibility. It will be formed as a private club without a leadership election, democratic candidate nominations, or a binding constitution. Its underlying mission may be noble, but its rhetoric is more concerned with provoking media outrage than with building a credible case for independence. 

The independence movement’s would-be leaders surveying this landscape see an angry people with a just cause. They see a large minority of people ready to move, and a majority of people that could be convinced if getting a ‘fair deal’ fails. But they also see a movement lacking coherence or a willingness to make the tough decisions necessary to progress from angry rabble to organized army. 

Polls can continue to show large numbers of Westerns ready to cut the cord, but until something changes, independence will continue to remain a statistic. 

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard and the President of Wildrose Media Inc.

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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