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FILDEBRANDT: If Trudeau kills the Teck oilsands, it’s war

Ottawa’s “aid” is little better than the British offering colonial Americans sugar to go in their tea. The correct response if Ottawa does so, is to throw the tea in the harbour.

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The time has come for Alberta’s government to draw a line in the sand. They need to tell Ottawa in no uncertain terms: “This, and no farther.”

The federal Liberal government appears to be close to doing the unimaginable: killing the $20 billion Teck oilsands investment. With the stroke of a pen, they are on the edge of killing one of the biggest investments in Canadian history, 7,000 good-paying jobs, and a key component of Alberta’s sluggish economy recovery. Killing Teck will be a hammer in the coffin.

It will not have been market conditions. It will not even have been a hostile rogue province playing robber-baron with its borders. It will have been the federal government, elected to represent the interests of all Canadians.

Until this week, it was unimaginable that the Liberals would have the gumption to kill the Teck oilsands investment. However much the Liberals may ideologically oppose the continued existence or expansion of the oil and gas industry, they are politically astute enough to know that doing so would create a political Prairie fire that would burn out of their control. With his reconciliatory language after the federal election, even Trudeau appeared to recognize that the West didn’t just give up on him, but was dangerously close to giving up on federalism itself.

I was wrong. Last week, Liberal Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said on national television that the federal government may delay approval of the Teck investment unless Alberta dropped its opposition in the courts to his government’s carbon tax. For background, Alberta’s UCP left in place the NDP’s carbon tax on industry, as well as most of its anti-carbon regulations. Alberta stands a good chance of losing in court to Ottawa in any case.

It may have been dismissed as posturing until Eastern Liberal MPs came out pressuring the prime minister to kibosh the Teck mine outright. For them, it was not a matter of the West’s economy, but of saving the planet from Global Warming.

And then the bombshell: Ottawa is preparing an aid package to Alberta to cushion the blow of killing the project. This is the clearest sign yet that my most paranoid suspicions of Ottawa might become reality.

Ottawa unilaterally killing the biggest bright spot on Alberta’s dark horizon, must surely be a line too far even for the West’s federalists.

Try as the NDP might to paint Jason Kenney as a closet separatist, he is an avowed federalist. His Fair Deal Panel is either meant to take the steam out of the nascent independence movement’s engine, or a good-willed move to firewall Ottawa off from raiding Alberta’s wealth while remaining a part of Canada. Either way, Kenney has been the best friend federalists can have in Wildrose Country right now.

This is a corner that Kenney does not want to be backed into. He was elected on getting a fair deal for Alberta and fighting the kleptocrats in Ottawa. If after his election and striking his Fair Deal Panel, Ottawa still feels it has the muscle to wreak havoc on Alberta, it will be clear as day that there is no “fair deal” to be had.

It’s still to be seen if Trudeau is willing to pull this forbidding trigger, but if he does, Kenney needs to show more backbone than simply being cross with Ottawa.

He needs to be unequivocally clear that under no circumstance will Alberta accept a penny of Ottawa’s guilt money, disguised as an “economic aid package”. He should tell the prime minister Alberta does not want a penny more than any other province is entitled to. Only, that Alberta should keep more of its own money at home, and be allowed to develop its economy in peace.

This would trigger a game of chicken with Ottawa. Would Trudeau really be willing to plunge a dagger in the heart of Alberta’s economy, if Alberta was not willing to put a band-aid on the wound as it said “thank you”?

Ottawa’s “aid package” is little better than the British offering colonial Americans sugar to go in their tea.

The correct response if Ottawa does so, is to throw the tea in the harbour.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard, and President & CEO of Wildrose Media Corp.

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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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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