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Cut off taxpayer funding of questionable “hereditary chiefs”

The “hereditary chiefs” have done a masterful job of pulling the wool over many people’s eyes. It’s time to expose them for the moochers, hypocrites, thugs and impostors they really are.

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Right from the start, I found it disconcerting to see the reverence that pipeline protesters show for the so-called hereditary chiefs, and the disdain they show for the elected Wet’suwet’en band officials. 

Most Canadians – indeed most people in developed countries around the world – consider it to be progress when the power of a hereditary monarch shrivels away to nothing and the population is instead governed by elected representatives. Only radical Canadian aboriginals and their white socialist allies, it seems, want to abandon democracy and move back to hereditary oligarchy. 

Things get even stranger when you look at who, exactly, the alleged hereditary Wet’suwet’en chiefs are. Here’s their website: the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. They’re actually an incorporated non-profit organization.  The “About Our Organization” page boasts that the organization “does not receive core funding (continuous funding from one year to the next) from any form of Government.” That sounds admirable, doesn’t it? 

However, the words “core funding” turn out to be weasel words. The company’s financial statements tell a very different story. Here’s an extract from the statement for the year ended March 31, 2019. 

A total of $5,033,494 – more than 83 per cent of their year’s gross revenue – came from various government sources, federal and provincial. (I.N.A.C., incidentally – revenue line 5 – stands for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.) 

Now, perhaps it’s true that they have to go cap in hand every year and ask for the money, rather than receiving it as “continuous” funding, but still, it’s grossly disingenuous for them to imply that they don’t receive government funding when it’s abundantly clear that they couldn’t exist without it. Indeed, Note 10 of the financial statement is entitled “Economic Dependence” and states: “The Society is dependent upon continuing to secure adequate government funding if it is to maintain its current programs.” 

Things get even more ludicrous when one considers the ostentatious exhibition the chiefs made of themselves at a recent press conference at Tyendinaga, Ontario, where they grandiosely demanded “nation-to-nation” talks in order to terminate the blockades. Nation-to-nation? When one nation supports the other “nation” to the tune of 83 per cent, the relationship looks to me more like a long-suffering parent facing off with a cocky, rebellious teenager.

Now look at Note 1 from the same financial statement: 

The Society is supposed to be engaging in treaty negotiations with the federal and provincial governments for the purpose of resolving land claim and governance issues. Note its formal name at the top of the financial statement: Wet’suwet’en Treaty Office Society. That name is not even mentioned on its website.  

Several other BC aboriginal groups have gone through the negotiation process and come out at the end with a signed treaty satisfactory to all sides. However, according to the website of the B.C. Treaty Commission, the Wet’suwet’en “hereditary chiefs” signed a Statement of Intent to negotiate such a treaty all the way back in July, 1994 – more than a quarter century ago. The negotiations produced a simplistic “Framework Agreement” one year later, and haven’t progressed at all since then. Only three stages of a six-stage process have been completed. 

In fact, the “hereditary chiefs” actually stopped negotiating with the government back in 2009, as their office staff member admitted in response to questions from Rebel Media reporter Keeane Bexte in this video (at about 6:30 minutes in). But that hasn’t stopped the flow of money. 

I’ve heard rumours that the “hereditary chiefs” receive grants from the radical US environmental group the Tides Foundation, but Tides isn’t mentioned in the financial statement. Perhaps the Tides grants are buried in the $355,592 of “Other” revenue. But even so, Tides money would be a mere drop in the bucket compared to the whopping $1,462,040 surplus that the organization generated thanks to federal and provincial government funding. Take note: they had a surplus at a time when the federal government is running deficits.

Make no mistake about it: the group that is currently wrecking Canada’s economy and wants to wreck B.C.’s economy far into the future is doing all this on the federal government’s and B.C. government’s dime. Or more precisely, on the taxpayer’s dime. (The society, of course, is exempt from income tax.) Perhaps the two governments should simply say that the flow of money will cease until the flow of goods across railway tracks resumes. 

As if that weren’t enough, there is a treasure trove of startling facts about the society and the “chiefs” at a well-written website whose author – wisely, in my opinion – goes by a pseudonym. He is apparently an aboriginal residing in Bulkley Valley, B.C. Published at JLSreport.com, it contains this gem, complete with corroborating photographs: the society’s office is heated by liquid natural gas (LNG) that flows there through a pipeline constructed in 1968 and owned by Pacific Natural Gas Ltd. That existing pipeline already runs across the land they are purportedly trying to keep free from pipelines. 

Rita George – an 80-year-old matriarch of the Wet’suwet’en tribe – has had the courage to come forward in a video posted at the J.L.S. Report site, alleging that certain individuals who purport to speak on behalf of the Bear Clan never consulted with the matriarchs or elders of that clan. She doesn’t want the world to believe that the matriarchs support what’s being done in their name. She accuses the “hereditary chiefs” of abandoning the true, ancient ways of their people. She says she and other elders are being attacked and need protection. Her sons and daughters are being bullied. She and her sister were forced to leave an event that they had paid to attend. 

Then there’s this page, which alleges that some of those claiming hereditary chieftain status aren’t even the people who are genuinely entitled to those hereditary titles. This is reminiscent of English history, with its centuries of scheming and intrigue over who would get to wear the crown. That was one of the reasons why Englishmen strove to strip monarchs of their power and transfer it instead to elected governments – so that at least once every four years or so, they could throw out the latest cadre of crooks. 

The “hereditary chiefs” have done a masterful job of pulling the wool over many people’s eyes. It’s time to expose them for the moochers, hypocrites, thugs and impostors they really are. 

Hinda Chana is known to the Western Standard, but writes under a pseudonym to protect herself and property during the militant occupations taking place in eastern Ontario. 

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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Opinion

BARNES: Albertans deserve the right to make the big decisions in referenda law

Guest column from Drew Barnes says that Alberta’s referendum law should be expanded to allow votes on big constitutional issues.

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Guest opinion column from Alberta MLA Drew Barnes

“I am and I will remain a populist, because those who listen to the people are doing their job.” Matteo Salvini.

At its core the word populism is the action that government policies should be determined by the will of the people, not the will of the elite. Direct democracy is the institutional populism in action.

There is debate over whether populism should be termed as a movement or an ideology. Since the actions of populist engagement can transcend the ideological spectrum, I believe it should be viewed as a movement, that can sometimes manifest itself ideologically. As a movement, populist participation can take place on all points of the spectrum. Ultimately, that is what is wanted from a democratic society – engagement from all points of the spectrum.

Now more than ever, we need a new grassroots-populist approach to politics. Grassroots politics by its nature suggests that it is a movement that is sparked from the bottom-up. Politicians who came from grassroots movements must never forget where they came from, or lose sight of what they came to do. We need more of the bottom-up approach to politics, and make listening to the people that elected us a priority.

This is taking place in some measure here in Alberta. Political party policy processes allow for constituency associations to generate policy proposals for conventions, where they are voted on by the membership. Every party in Alberta – with the exception of the NDP – uses a ‘one member, one vote’ system.

Another grassroots/populist tool is referenda, that when used the right way are a valuable democratic tool. Referendums however, must stay true to their purpose, and the process for bringing them forward must allow for citizens to craft their own – fair – wording on a question. This is not to say that any question – however subjectively worded – that anyone wants to ask should be put to a referendum. Therefore, the rules on the use of referendums must not be overly onerous, nor overly temperate.

Switzerland is a prime example of a country that takes full advantage of referendums, including citizens’ initiative. In their democratic system, referendums can occur up to four times annually. All citizens registered to vote can cast their ballot on issues affecting decisions within both their federal government and their cantons (autonomous provinces). Before each vote, all registered voters receive a package of booklets in the mail which provide details on the coming referendums. Since these referendums began in 1848, just under half of the referendum proposals have passed. Even if they don’t always pass, the process is crucial to starting conversations and keeping citizens involved in debate. Referendums also force political parties to reach beyond partisan lines to reach consensus.

Alberta’s legislature recently passed a bill that guides referendums on non-constitutional matters. While this is a positive step forward, there are issues in this bill that need improvement. 

For example, Albertans initiating a referendum might go through the process of collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures, only to have the cabinet alter the wording the question. While fair wording of the question is critical to the integrity of direct democracy, that issue is not best dealt with by politicians who may have a stake in the result. Instead, clear guidelines should be established in law on question wording, and left to non-partisan officials at Elections Alberta. 

And while the new referendum legislation is a big step forward over the status quo (that is, nothing), it deliberately bans citizens-initiated referendums on constitutional questions. This means that if Albertans wished to force a vote on adding property rights to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, that they would not be allowed. Similarly, Albertans are barred from forcing a vote on reforming the Senate, equalization, or internal free trade. Ominously, Albertans have no right to force a vote over the heads of the legislature on independence or other forms of sovereignty. 

I believe that Albertans can be trusted with the right of citizens’ initiative on all questions, both constitutional and non-constitutional. 

We trust the people to elect a government to run our systems, so why can’t we trust them to bring their own questions forward? 

Drew Barnes is the UCP MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat

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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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