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MORGAN’S RANT: Canada is a Lawless Country, and our Leaders are at Fault

As we continue to be held hostage by a small number of extremists who are acting illegally with impunity, one can only conclude one thing. Canada is broken.

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I’m a pretty cynical guy in matters of the state. My low expectations of the government are rarely misplaced, and it’s not often that I find myself surprised. But this week managed to achieve that rare feat as we observe the collapse of the authority of the state in the face of disparate, small groups of radical activists wantonly breaking the law across the country. This callow dereliction of duty on the part of the state – from ground level police officers all the way to the Prime Minister’s Office – in a crisis which should have been easily resolved within a day or two is galling.

The Coastal Gaslink Pipeline project did everything right. They consulted with and got agreements from all 20 of the First Nations along the route of the pipeline. They jumped through every regulatory hoop, did every study, and got every license in a process that took years. The pipeline is supported by 85 per cent of the effected First Nations population, and even 8 out of 13 of the often intransigent hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en band. Hundreds of local indigenous peoples are looking forward to gainful employment on the project. This pipeline should have been a slam dunk yet here we are with the state crippled in abject fear due to a handful of extreme protesters scattered throughout the nation.

It needs to be noted that B.C. Premier John Horgan is reaping what he’s sown right now. In opposition and in government, Horgan declared that the hereditary chiefs had an effective veto over the TransMountain pipeline expansion. Those same chiefs – now endowed by Horgan’s legitimization – are invoking the same veto over a project that he supports. More so than any other leader over the last week, Horgan’s freedom of action has been utterly paralyzed.

Thousands of jobs are threatened while countless millions of dollars are lost while criminal activists block rail lines throughout the country. I say “criminal” because it has been a week at the time of this writing since injunctions were issued to remove the blockades from railways. Free expression does not extend to illegally blocking the movement of people and goods through rail infrastructure. We shouldn’t even need to seek injunctions in order to clarify that. Still, the authorities remain paralyzed and the illegal blockades remain.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took some time out from his galavanting around the globe in the pursuit of a vanity seat on the U.N. Security Council to address the issue. He offered a personal letter to protesters along with a promise to have government cabinet ministers personally meet with them. Unsurprisingly, the illegal blockades remain unmoved.

The fear of these blockaders is inexplicable. Most of the blockades have little more than a dozen people at them sitting around on lawn chairs while burning pallets. When questioned, it becomes clear that these blockaders don’t often know what the issue is. They often don’t know that it is not oil that will be transported through the pipeline in question (it’s natural gas), and could more-often-than-not, could not even point out the impacted region on a map. They are simply chronic malcontents who are taking advantage of an issue in order to vent. They are little better than hockey rioters. As easy as it would appear to enforce the law and clear these people out, the illegal blockades remain.

There is a subculture of people who are discontent in life and who will gleefully set up protest camps at the drop of a hat. We saw this with the “Occupy” and “Idle No More” protests several years ago. These people don’t have anything better to do. They gain a personal sense of purpose from these protests, and sitting around a blockade is much easier to do than seeking gainful employment. These miscreants can’t be reasoned with. They will not leave until they are removed by force, and authorities know this from experience. It will only get worse for waiting. By the time politicians and police get serious about moving them out, they will consider themselves legitimate squatters.

These protesters can best be compared to children having a temper tantrum. When parents indulge a child having a fit through lavishing attention and heaping bribes upon them, what happens? The protesters are only becoming emboldened as a cowardly state pleads with them to step aside. These children need a time out, rather than a reward and that can only be done if and when the law is enforced.

The precedent being set as the state cowers is nothing less than disastrous. The uprising over this simple pipeline is merely a taste of what we are going to see if and when shovels ever actually hit the ground in British Columbia on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project. Professional activists are gleefully giggling over this national paralysis in the face of protesters as they know that they will be able to take the nation hostage with impunity.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is different from the Coastal Gaslink project in many ways. The Trans Mountain line will carry liquids rather than gas, and it will be passing near some populated areas which are loaded with activists who are eager to try and stop it. Protests are going to be fierce and large and it is clear that only a strong show of force on the part of the government will keep this project going. It is hard to believe that the state has the will to follow through on that today.

A nation is nothing if it refuses to protect the interests of its citizens through the enforcement of laws. A nation has to ensure that the ability to move people and goods is protected. A nation has to enforce its own laws in order to allow elected officials to govern. The criminals blocking MLAs and MPS from entering government buildings should be arrest on the spot.

As we continue to be held hostage by a small number of extremists who are acting illegally with impunity, one can only conclude one thing. Canada is broken.

Cory Morgan is a columnist for the Western Standard

Opinion

MORGAN: Supply management is bad policy in good times. It’s terrible policy in bad times.

We can immediately reduce the food bills for all Canadians simply by ending our supply management system.

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My wife grew up on a small farm near Rockyford, Alberta. Her father had a small dairy operation with a dozen cows. Cream would be separated from the produced milk and sold. Remaining milk would be used to feed the household and supplement livestock feed. There would still be a large amount of milk remaining every day as the family could only consume so much. That milk would be poured into a nearby ditch. 

Why would a farm family with limited income pour away a product which other families have to pay dearly to purchase? 

They had to. It is was, and still is the law. The family farm only had a government-issued quota to sell cream. It would have been illegal for my wife’s father to sell a single drop of milk. 

Welcome to Canada’s supply management system. 

As the world enters an unprecedented economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments are going to have to find ways to reduce the cost of living for struggling families. Canada’s Soviet-style supply management system on dairy and poultry products adds nearly $600 per year to the average family’s grocery bill in order to benefit a small number of producers, primarily in Quebec. It is time to examine why we are punishing consumers with this terrible system. 

The government controls the number of producers and the amount of product they may produce through a rigid quota system. If a farmer is found to have 301 chickens on their farm without having a state-issued quota for them, the farmer can be charged. The same applies to turkeys, geese, eggs and dairy products. 

It is not an exaggeration to compare this system to that of the former Soviet Union. This is exactly how the USSR managed their agriculture, with predictable results. 

Currently, Canada’s dairy farmers are pouring milk down the drain as the Coronavirus shutdown has decimated demand for dairy products, and it is illegal for them to drop their prices in order to adapt to the change in demand. Families are literally rationed in how much expensive milk they may purchase right now, while producers are not allowed to sell them more.

Just ask any senior citizen of Ukrainian descent how well a centralized food supply management system served them in the 1930s. Governments manage pretty much everything poorly. Food is one of the areas where we least need their intervention. 

A diverse local food production system with a myriad of producers throughout the nation is the best way that consumers can avoid price and supply shocks due to global market incidents. It is impossible for producers to diversify their production under the current supply-managed system. 

When dairy supply management began in 1971, there were approximately 145,000 dairy farms in Canada. Today there are less than 10,000 and it is dropping as large operations continue to buy up limited quotas and push their competitors out of business. The average dairy farmer has a net worth of over $5 million. It’s pretty easy to prosper when the government literally makes it illegal for people to compete with you. 

In shedding our archaic supply management system, we would give agricultural producers a means to diversify their outputs while solidifying a more localized food supply. It would provide opportunities for increased local employment on these farms and competition will spurn innovation which would lead to entirely new value-added products for agricultural producers to sell. 

Dairy and poultry cartels jealously protect their monopoly through aggressive and effective lobbying of federal politicians. It was embarrassing to watch Andrew Scheer groveling to the dairy cartels as he was obligated to due to their propping up his leadership bid for the Conservative Party of Canada. The cartels have their hooks deeply embedded into the flesh of politicians in every (major) federal party and it is going to take a strong public call for an end to supply management in order to break these politicians loose. 

Federal Liberals have even begun musing about extending supply management to other agricultural sectors, citing the present crisis as their excuse. The Tories would have few legs to stand on in opposing its expansion into other sectors, since they so vigorously support its mandatory application in dairy and poultry. 

New Zealand and Australia used to have supply management systems like ours. They shed those systems and producers prospered despite the fear-mongering of their local cartels. Our agricultural producers will flourish with the constraints of supply management lifted as well. 

We are entering difficult times as a nation. We need to examine every possible way to help citizens recover from the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Food is a need and it must be kept as affordable as possible for citizens. We can immediately reduce the food bills for all Canadians simply by ending our supply management system. The only question we should be asking ourselves is why we haven’t done this already.

Cory Morgan is a columnist for the Western Standard

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Opinion

QUESNEL: Northern B.C. Should Leverage the Buffalo Declaration

Alternatively, rocking the political boat with talk of redrawing provincial boundaries could be enough to finally awaken the British Columbia government to the seriousness of northern alienation in their province.

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Talks about Western independence and the release of the well-timed Buffalo Declaration should be leveraged by marginalized northern regions in the West to place their issues front and centre in the national conversation.

Within the wider discourse of Western alienation exists the reality of northern alienation that has existed for quite a while without finding an appropriate vehicle. For example, northern British Columbia has long felt marginalized within British Columbia politics and ignored by provincial politicians. After all, only about seven percent of B.C.’s population resides in the northern half. 

The province tends to prioritize the southern half of the province when it makes large infrastructure investments. Despite automation and changing technologies, the northern B.C. economy is still largely dominated by resource industries. Forestry, mining, and the energy sector still serve as a backbone for the rural northern economy, despite economic diversification efforts on the part of northern rural municipalities.

In terms of economic structure and attitude, northern B.C. residents are more like northern Albertans. People in Kitimat feel alienated from the latte-drinking urbanites in B.C.’s capital city of Victoria. Granted, however, that the  B.C. Premier has stood up for major projects that would benefit the north, such as the Coastal GasLink project. However, this doesn’t change a basic alienation that the north feels from the core of political power in the province. 

A similar situation has occurred in northwestern Ontario where large communities such as Kenora have felt ongoing neglect from a distant and unresponsive government in Queen’s Park and have seriously discussed joining Manitoba. Many felt that on issues such as the forest economy and on healthcare, Ontario seriously neglected them. At one point, a disgruntled community in southwestern Manitoba wanted to join Saskatchewan. 

This might be the perfect time for northern British Columbians to raise the stakes in the discussion by raising the “S” word. The real possibility of separation might be what the out-of-touch B.C. provincial government needs to prioritize northern concerns. 

In November of last year, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy released a major policy paper that discussed redrawing the provincial boundaries of Alberta and Saskatchewan to provide tidewater access to both provinces. 

Residents of Northern B.C. – both from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities – should consider and perhaps leverage such proposals, such as joining Alberta. First Nations in northern British Columba might have more success in forwarding their issues of self-government and nation-to-nation dialogue, especially with the focus on reconciliation.  

If residents of northern B.C. entertained the possibility of joining Alberta, Alberta would need to extend an offer to northern British Columbia residents explaining the benefits of joining Alberta. Northern B.C. would need to inform the Alberta government of the problems they are facing which propelled them to leave British Columbia. Alberta could then address those problems and offer residents of Northern B.C. a better deal. 

During the Quebec secession crisis, there were some Quebec Indigenous leaders who did not reject the sovereigntist cause completely, instead, asking the leaders of the Quebec sovereignty movement what they would offer them. Being pragmatic, they realized that if they could not stop or fight the secession vote, they would settle for a better deal from a sovereign Quebec government than the one they had with a united Canada. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in northern B.C. should adopt a similar attitude and posture. 

A very attractive element of northern B.C. joining Alberta would be the promise of permanent coastal access for Alberta’s energy sector, which would greatly benefit many communities and First Nations of northern B.C. 

Alternatively, rocking the political boat with talk of redrawing provincial boundaries could be enough to finally awaken the British Columbia government to the seriousness of northern alienation in their province. This could finally force the province to adopt a serious plan for the north, that includes investment in necessary infrastructure.  

Mayors in northern B.C. communities should be able to get the premier on the phone and receive attention on pressing matters. Industries such as forestry, mining, and energy should receive as much attention as issues that concern Metro Vancouver and among suburbanites in the Lower Mainland. 

Raising the spectre of redrawn borders might just be enough to force the province to deal with its Northern Alienation problems.

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LETTER-ANGLIN: Buying KXL pipeline shares opens it up more legal troubles

Now that the UCP has blindly jumped into this project as the primary investor and guarantor of the XL pipeline, they may have doomed the project.

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RE: Alberta government will spend $1.5 billion in KXL pipeline to kickstart construction

The absurdity of Alberta investing $1.1 billion in the [Keystone] XL pipeline and guaranteeing another $7 billion + in loans is nuts! TC Energy claims they will buy back Alberta’s equity interest after the pipeline is in service. However, no one has provided any specific details how that buy-back would occur. The announcement should set off alarm bells across Alberta. In the UCP announcement, Kenney claims construction will begin as early as April 1, 2020. This is absolutely not true! The latest court challenge that TC Energy inflicted upon itself has yet to make its way to the Court of Appeals. There are many more court challenges to come, and most all of these challenges are self-inflicted by TransCanada’s previous efforts to circumvent environmental laws. To be clear, there was nothing wrong with TC Energy’s strategy to prolong the project in the courts. They had every right to take that risk. Now come Kenney and the UCP!

By signing this agreement, Kenney and the UCP downloaded the project’s liability onto the Alberta taxpayers. If the project succeeds, TC Energy shareholders profit. If the project fails, Alberta’s taxpayers take the loss. Stated another way, Alberta practices capitalism in times of growth, and socialism in times of economic contraction, but only for the select few. Without getting into the weeds of the legalities, courts routinely disregard the separate legal personality of a corporate entity when a corporation is completely dominated and controlled by another (used as a shield) for an improper purpose. Whether it can proved or not, a logical argument can now be made accusing the Alberta government of hiding behind a corporate shield (improper purpose) to advance a pipeline project for its benefit in the United States. The insanity of thinking a foreign government – Alberta’s UCP – could through their proxy, TC Energy, expropriate or take by eminent domain private property in the United States for a pipeline to benefit Alberta is a constitutional sitcom that is too far-fetched to contemplate. Didn’t anyone in the UCP government even think to consult with a U.S. corporate and/or a U.S. constitutional lawyer before signing this agreement? 

It is very likely, the first court cases to be filed will seek to pierce the corporate shield, and this may take years by way of state action in each of the states affected by this pipeline. Forget any environmental court challenges, which there are many. It will be seven years before the first “property rights” challenge reaches the U.S. Supreme Court. By signing this agreement, Kenney and the UCP opened a constitutional can of worms for opponents to challenge this pipeline. Politically, I can say with significant confidence there will be no Republican or Democratic politician in Nebraska, Montana, or the Dakotas that will support the expropriation of its citizen’s private property for the benefit of Alberta. Now that the UCP has blindly jumped into this project as the primary investor and guarantor of the XL pipeline, they may have doomed the project. If this agreement is reported correctly, TC Energy will receive a $1.1 billion cash injection, and should they default on their debts, Albertans are stuck with the bill. Is this what TC Energy intended all along?

The irony has not escaped me. For the last four years, Trump’s leadership – or lack thereof – has divided Republicans and Democrats like never before. With the stroke of a pen, Kenney and the UCP’s agreement with TC Energy may just well unite them. You just can’t write this stuff!

Joe Anglin is the former Wildrose MLA for Rimby-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

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