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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

HARDING: Regina gets a hard lesson in Cancel Culture

Cancel culture has made a dog’s breakfast out of the Moore affair. They discredited the City of Regina’s event, made a mockery of themselves, and served to give an even larger platform to the target of their hate, hosted by Rebel News, which they likely hate even more.

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Leftist censorship campaigns have been racking up the wins, but mark one down for the good guys. Their latest censorship attack wildly backfired in the birthplace of Canadian socialism: Regina, Saskatchewan. 

Patrick Moore was invited, then disinvited to a City of Regina conference. The end result is that he will overshadow that event by speaking just before it happens, and to far more people than he would have otherwise. And the local far-left newspaper hates it.

The City of Regina wants its facilities and operations to be 100 per cent renewable by 2050. To educate and inspire the public towards that goal, the city scheduled a Reimagine Regina Conference for May 20-21 of this year. Patrick Moore was invited to speak.

The last time I had heard Moore’s name mentioned in Regina was over ten years ago when a visiting David Suzuki called him, “the Judas of the environmental movement.” Moore joined Greenpeace in 1971, a year after it was founded, and became its the president in 1977. But he left Greenpeace because he felt it “took a sharp turn to the political left” and “evolved into an organization of extremism and politically motivated agendas.”

Following the announcement that Moore himself was coming to Regina, those left-leaning, politically-motivated environmentalists lit their hair on fire. They took to social media and sent angry messages to city hall, protesting Moore’s prominent place in the schedule.

The complainers weren’t enough to change minds at city hall, at least not at first. At a January 31st press conference, Regina Councillor Mike O’Donnell told the media, “One of the things we’re aware of is he would probably create some interest. And he has. You’re here today.”

Of course, cancel culture doesn’t give up easily. It came to light that Moore’s talk would be titled “Fake, Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom.” Of course, that perspective undermines the very premise upon which the city’s direction was based. If man-made, carbon-driven global warming was not an imminent, apocalyptic threat, then Regina did not need to be “reimagined.” The same old fossil fuels could power it for the foreseeable future.

Moore had his supporters too, and the furor overshadowed the conference. As a result, Mayor Michael Fougere urged organizers to reconsider Moore’s engagement. On February 7, Councillor O’Donnell, who co-chairs the committee responsible for the event, held another press conference to say Moore was out.

“The conference topic we suggested to [Moore] was a sustainable energy future. He had done some work previously and presented previously on the transition away from traditional fossil fuels to an alternate. That’s what we wanted to pick up on. He has now announced in the last while that he wants to speak about a different topic. We’re not interested in that.”

For his part, Moore tweeted a response that was later slamming the City of Regina and the activists behind his cancelation.

Moore’s snub was not a failure, but a back door to greater success. Like a rubber ball thrown hard to the ground only to bounce up with equal force, the series of events only brought more attention to his message and ruined the city’s event. 

Besides all of this, the city still has to pay Moore $10,000 for speaking fees and $1,400 for expenses he won’t occur. (The city is combing through clauses in the contract trying to get those fees reduced.)

Meanwhile, the catastrophists remained sour at their civic overlords, and started to bash the conference itself. Prairie Dog, Regina’s far-left paper, dedicated an entire cover story to what it called “PatrickMooreGate.” Its subtitle asked, “Why on earth did Regina’s sustainability conference hire a climate-science denier?”

The paper said the controversy “was a lightning rod that jolted people who’d supported the Renewable City motion into wondering why the city is even hosting a regional conference in the first place.” They wanted action, not a conference.

The paper then asked why oil executives were invited to the conference, and if the pricey $300 attendance fee was “a deliberate tactic to keep out the rabble-rousing public” and maintain the status quo. Sustainability groupies decided to ignore the conference and host their own events instead.

To top this all off, Moore is coming to Regina anywayRebel Media booked him at the Conexus Arts Centre for the evening of May 19 – right before the two-day city conference begins. Whereas Moore would have been just one of three keynote speakers amongst a total 45 presenters, he will instead speak to thousands by himself. Tickets will range from a very accessible $25 to as much as $500 to include VIP events before and after the main address.

Cancel culture has made a dog’s breakfast out of the Moore affair. They discredited the City of Regina’s event, made a mockery of themselves, and served to give an even larger platform to the target of their hate, hosted by Rebel Media, which they likely hate even more. 

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Affairs Columnist for the Western Standard. He is also a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and is the former Saskatchewan Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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Opinion

FILDEBRANDT: Ottawa is at war with Alberta, and There’s no “Fair Deal” to be had

Ottawa isn’t just unfriendly towards Alberta. It is a colonial government at war with it. And the sooner we realized it, the fast we can begin to fight back with equal force.

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On February 6th, I wrote on these pages that “If Trudeau kills Teck, It’s War“. Now, on February 23th, it’s war.

This marks the day when many at the Western Standard and elsewhere predicted, the Liberals would kill the $20 billion Teck oilsands mine investment, eliminating 7,000 jobs in the process. As predicted, the Liberals would not risk the political backlash of stabbing the Teck project in the heart. Instead, they would put it in a torture chamber of a thousand regulations and political hurdles that would be impossible to meet, forcing Teck to kill itself.

While the Liberals were not found standing over the body, they have been stalking it for months, warning that it would not be approved, and floating the prospect of an “economic aid” package to pacify angry Albertans once it was dead.

Teck Resources President and CEO Don Lindsay, explained in the politest language he could find why the project was being shelved.

“Global capital markets are changing rapidly and investors and customers are increasingly looking for jurisdictions to have a framework in place that reconciles resource development and climate change, in order to produce the cleanest possible products. This does not yet exist here today and, unfortunately, the growing debate around this issue has placed Frontier and our company squarely at the nexus of much broader issues that need to be resolved. In that context, it is now evident that there is no constructive path forward for the project.”

In short, warnings that the federal government’s butchering of Canada’s once sane energy approvals process is politicized, and there is no path forward without being required to meet unreasonable demands.

Lindsay continued, “Frontier, however, has surfaced a broader debate over climate change and Canada’s role in addressing it. It is our hope that withdrawing from the process will allow Canadians to shift to a larger and more positive discussion about the path forward. Ultimately, that should take place without a looming regulatory deadline.”

That is, it is no longer about the merits of a given energy project, but about the global crusade against fossil fuels, and Teck Frontier is public enemy number one. The “looming regulatory deadline” which the Liberals dragged to the last minute, made the decision politically explosive.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney issued a statement after word seeped out. He laid blame at the federal government’s feet, and was none-to-happy about it, but he shied away from more heated language. He refrained from calling out Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by name – something he did daily before winning the 2019 election – and went to pains to emphasize how cooperative he has been with Ottawa on the Teck front.

“The Government of Alberta agreed to every request and condition raised by the federal government for approving the Frontier project, including protecting bison and caribou habitat, regulation of oilsands emissions, and securing full Indigenous support.”

It’s surprising that Kenney would admit openly that his government largely capitulated to many of Ottawa’s demands in an area of Alberta’s clear domain of interest, but he must believe that it is better to have appeared the victim that tried, than the victim that resisted compromise.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley took a different approach, blaming the entire thing – lock, stock and barrel – squarely on Kenney.

“The heated rhetoric and constant conflict generated by Jason Kenney and the UCP is the primary reason for withdrawal of Teck’s application.”

It is a bizarre line of attack most likely written by an over-caffeinated NDP staffer drinking the bathwater of the “Kenney is a crypto-fascist” cult.

If Keneny has any fault in the matter, it is for not taking a much harder line in forcing Ottawa’s hand. Since the October federal election, Kenney has radically changed his tone with the Trudeau government, and has gone out of his way to deescalate the rising tide of sovereigntist support in Alberta. While he has commendably commissioned the Fair Deal Panel to explore ways in which Alberta might better assert its autonomy within confederation, he has shied away from drawing a line in the sand.

Michelle Rempel Garner and three other federal Conservative MPs took up that challenge last week, when they issued the Buffalo Declaration. Not content to merely withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan and RCMP, the Buffalo MPs demanded constitutional reform to make Alberta – and the West – equal partners in Confederation. The strong implication of their declaration, was “or else”.

While not quite coming out for independence themselves, they made clear where things are headed if things don’t change: “they [Albertans] will be equal or they will seek independence.”

This is the clear and unmistakable line in the sand that many Albertans believe it is past time to draw. Justin Trudeau being nicer, or Peter MacKay reversing some of the most explicitly anti-Western policies is no longer enough. The constitution must be reformed to stop federal governments in Ottawa from attacking Alberta, or Alberta must take matters into its own hands.

Kenney would serve Alberta well to take up this call. UCP MLA and Fair Deal Panel Member Drew Barnes already has, coming out in support of the Buffalo Declaration.

Ottawa’s strangulation of the Teck Frontier oilsands mine isn’t just another injury that Alberta can abide. It is a clear and unmistakable sign that Ottawa means to “phase out” Alberta’s oil and gas industry, as Trudeau himself has put it. This isn’t a policy that would be tolerated towards any other region of Canada, but was welcomed with joy by throngs of eco-radicals in the East, and by a large segment of the minority federalist-left in Alberta.

Left powerless for all their tough talk, is Alberta’s federalist-right.

Alberta can no longer afford to brace itself and keep skating after hits from Ottawa. These attacks are deliberate, and in the long term, fatal to our exsistence.

Ottawa isn’t just unfriendly towards Alberta. It is a colonial government at war with it. And the sooner we realized it, the faster we can begin to fight back with equal force.

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

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Opinion

ROYER: Eastern Canada was born of Imperial Loyalty. The West of Frontier Freedom.

It is difficult for those in the heartland to comprehend that there is an alternative; one that might actually be fairer and that it is firmly planted “out West”, in the hinterland.

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The Teck oilsands mine decision and the related “rescue package” for Alberta are emblematic of the gulf in thinking between East and West. Alberta doesn’t want handouts and dependency; it wants investment, jobs and opportunity. The federal government – rooted in colonial thinking – believes that it can buy peace and compliance by offering trinkets.

History tells the story of this gulf in thinking.

Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec) were colonies loyal to the top-down imperial system. In 1780, the United Empire Loyalists fled the American Revolution with its crazy ideas of freedom, democracy and individual rights and came to Upper Canada, reinforcing subservient loyalty. Similarly, the mostly French inhabitants of Lower Canada would rather stay subjects of the British Empire than govern themselves as a U.S. state.

American expansionism threatened to encircle the Canadas. In the great land grab of the mid 1800’s, it became clear that if you settle it, you own it. Mexico lost one-third of its territory (Texas to California) because it allowed Americans to settle in its lands. Americans were also drifting north. 

The Canadas decided to populate the prairies to stop the Americans.

However, there were not enough loyal British subjects to fill these vast lands. It was opened up to continental Europeans. They had no connection to the crown or the imperial power structure. Indeed, the opposite was true. They were fleeing the tyranny of Europe. They sought freedom, democracy and self-initiative as described coincidently in American recruiting.

The West became a colony of a colony. But its foundation was a desire for freedom, democracy and self-initiative. This is contrary to colonial loyalty in Upper and Lower Canada.

The Canadas were slow in relinquishing the colonial mindset. An Act of the British Parliament in 1931 finally cut the apron strings (Westminster Act). Australia held its independence referendum in 1902.   

When Canada did exert independence, its constitution of 1982 (with no pesky referendum) did more to cement the power of English Ontario and French Quebec than to create equality for all citizens. 

Over the years the Prime Minister’s Office assumed virtually all of the powers of the crown. Canada centralized and consolidated power (an imperial theme) even while Britain devolved it.

Canada’s Equalization Program is an economic cornerstone of colonial thinking. Central Canada takes 70 per cent of the wealth transfer. Canada is the only modern state to take from the hinterland to support the industrial heartland. In most modern countries, the opposite is true.

In the U.S. all states were admitted to the union with full and equal rights. Not so in colonial Canada. The prairies fought to gain control of their resources through the Progressive Party in 1925. The equality fight continues today.

The Sir John A. MacDonald’s National Policy was an instrument of economic colonialism, as was Pierre Trudeau’s National Energy Program. Today’s Teck oilsands mine decision is as well.

The historic legacy is that the West wants to be part of a representative democracy that supports freedom, democracy, self-initiative and the equality of all citizens. New arrivals take on that same thinking. Some of the most adamant supporters of the Western spirit have arrived from Eastern Canada. 

Understanding is possible. But a quirk of colonial thinking is that it ranks people by colonial value. It is difficult for those in the heartland to comprehend that there is an alternative; one that might actually be fairer and that it is firmly planted “out West”, in the hinterland.

In an age where differences are supposed to be celebrated, why is it so difficult to overcome colonial stratification and even consider that we in the west think fundamentally differently? 

Randy Royer is a Columnist for the Western Standard and the author of “Alberta Doesn’t Fit”

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