The last few weeks have exposed schizophrenic aspects of Canadian culture and its influence on governments’ behaviour. The most palpable example lies in how we trampled – in fear – over memory and institutions, obsessively protective and morally dismissive of dignity and human life simultaneously.
The COVID-19 lockdown has been a strange time for people struggling to reduce the risk that folks with health vulnerabilities would catch the virus and perish.
Police services enforced with gusto the makeshift regime, though they had refused to enforce long-standing laws on road-blockading gangs just weeks earlier. They chased away parents with children from parks and pathways and turned people away from public roads. Those who questioned or objected were fined hundreds of dollars. Some were rough handled and carted away, even when following every rule. The term Covidiots was brought in vogue to describe anyone questioning the official line.
The social cost of the COVID-19 regime has not been computed yet, and it may be a long time before we can know with some approximation – if at all – the effect on marriages and friendships, the mental state of lone individuals, those with susceptible conditions such as depression, on sexual abuse and family violence, alcohol and substance abuse, and deaths from untreated non-COVID-19 issues and suicides.
Then, there is the economic cost of forcing hundreds of thousands of Canadians into unemployment. The corrupting effect of subsidy, with many now pushing for the lockdown to continue. As Félix Leclerc wrote in the 1950s, “The best way to kill a man is to pay him to do nothing.” Policy has driven entrepreneurs to bankruptcy. It has made us poorer, yielding untallied amounts of debt from a government advancing its political agenda but shielded from parliamentary oversight.
All the while, hospitals went largely empty across the country, and the most vulnerable were condemned to suffer in elderly human warehouses, producing so far over 80 per cent of all deaths in Canada.
Nearly 12 weeks later, tentative reopening and a few false starts added aggravations. The debate about the “science” of mask protection goes on, doing more laps around the track than mid-distance Olympic runners. Re-opening too quickly, we were told, risks losing all the sacrifices previously made.
And then, nearly by incantation, resulting from police brutality in a foreign country, the moral pretenses of the COVID-19 regime crashed with the death of one man. Upon one tragic death, life-saving medical measures no longer mattered so that emotive, virtue-signaling mobs could be supplied, when just a week earlier, much smaller gatherings were roundly condemned as “dangerous” and irresponsible”.
Politicians quickly knelt in front of the parade, ignoring laws they had just installed. No one around to obey the rules. No one around to enforce what days earlier was imposed with bullyish resolve. The personal, social and economic sacrifices of so many, including the elderly we didn’t properly protect, may have been erased by a media-whipped, triggered crowd (to say nothing of looters). The outrage about this remains absent.
It is a welcomed byproduct that the protesters expose the whimsical nature, even if well-intended, of the COVID-19 regime and its overblown moral panic. As an equally welcomed byproduct, the prime minister who hides in his cottage and fears Parliament’s oversight now fearlessly struts among the protesters on the steps of the building he claims is too dangerous to enter.
In the face of these gatherings, what do we say to the families denied the dignity of properly burying their dead?
We knowingly ordered soldiers to enter virally infested centres in Quebec and Ontario, putting their lives at risk, while we then signal that their comrades are not worthy of public honors? And if you are Nova Scotian? Here is the ungrateful measure of irony. Two fallen Nova Scotia daughters in uniform went without honors, one of whom gave her life to protect Nova Scotians, trying to stop a madman on a killing spree. I doubt she would have ever chosen not to protect African Nova Scotians. What do you say to their families (and to the families of the massacre victims who could not be properly grieved and buried) when Halifax boasts its anti-police demonstration to have been one of the largest in the province’s history?
Whether the length and intensity of the lockdown is justified, the reaction to one life unjustly lost far away has trumped the COVID-19 moral panic to save thousands, exposing a callous indifference to life outside the unprincipled “guiding” of the media’s lens, all without even recalling Heidi Stevenson’s sacrifice.
In both cases, popular emotions swept governments, eclipsing the rule of law and the institutions designed to protect us against emotive mob action.
Marco Navarro-Génie is a Columnist for the Western Standard, President of the Haultain Research Institute, and a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
McCOLL: Ending Alberta’s paid plasma ban is the right thing to do
Tany Yao’s private members bill would lift the NDP’s ban on people being paid for giving their own blood.
On October 26, UCP MLA Tany Yao’s private member’s bill – Bill 204: The Voluntary Blood Donations Repeal Act – was debated in the legislature. It is now only one step away from repealing the previous NDP government’s 2017 law that banned private paid plasma clinics.
In an interview with the Western Standard, Tany Yao outlined how this issue has been important to him since he was the opposition health critic in 2017. Back then, Yao said that the law “does more harm than good.”
History has proven him right, as the NDP law made it illegal for pharmaceutical companies to make plasma medicines in Alberta by paying donors like they do in the United States and Saskatchewan. Proposals to build paid plasma clinics and laboratories to manufacture plasma medicines in Alberta were cancelled.
Yao stated that the goal of his bill is to “attract those companies to develop these life saving medications right here in Alberta.” When it came to objections from the NDP, Yao lamented: “I do find it unfortunate that only labour groups are fighting this. Their arguments are from the 1980s and from the tainted blood scandal.” When asked to explain the opposition from public sector unions and Canadian Blood Services (CBS) – even though CBS imports paid plasma products from the United States and has testified that paid plasma products are perfectly safe Yao said, “Labour is trying to protect their monopoly given to them by the NDP. [CBS] admits they cost more versus private companies.”
Over seventy per cent of global plasma comes from paid donors in the United States. It’s a $26 billion (USD) industrythat should grow to $40 billion by 2040. Plasma medicines make up a greater share of US exports than steel or aluminium. This is a high-tech growth industry that saves lives, creates high paying jobs, and could attract billions of dollars in pharmaceutical company investment to Alberta.
During Monday’s debate, UCP MLAs Jackie Lovely, Mark Smith, Devinder Toor, Michaela Glasgo, Ronald Orr, and Richard Gotfried all spoke in support of bill 204. As Yao predicted, NDP MLAs Richard Feehan, Marie Renaud, Lorne Dach, and Shannon Phillips spoke against the bill voicing debunked public safety concerns. NDP MLA Marie Renaud argued that it would be morally wrong to allow low income Albertans to be paid for their blood. She didn’t say how rich you had to be for it to be moral to earn an extra $2000 per year for weekly donations of life saving plasma.
One NDP critique of the bill was that all paid plasma donations made in Alberta would be exported to other countries. If the NDP MLAs had paid attention to Dr. Peter Jaworski’s July testimony to the Standing Committee on Private Bills, they would know that Canadian plasma is exported because CBS refuses to buy it – even when offered lower prices!
“Canadian Plasma Resources was only Health Canada-certified when they first opened… It is only when Canadian Blood Services rejected their offer of all of their plasma in 2016 at $166 per litre, which was 20 per cent less than the price in the United States, that Canadian Plasma Resources sought to get European Medicines Agency approval, which means that they are allowed to sell their plasma within the European market… Canadian Plasma Resources has made two subsequent offers to Canadian Blood Services. In 2018 they offered all of their plasma at $195 a litre for a term of seven years and then most recently in 2019, $220 per litre for a term of 20 years.”
CBS unpaid plasma donation centres cost the taxpayer about $412 dollars per litre. The answer to this problem is clear: first pass Bill 204, then open paid plasma centres in Alberta, and finally shame CBS and Ottawa into ending the irrational policy of importing American paid plasma instead of buying Canadian paid plasma.
Alex McColl is the National Defence Columnist with the Western Standard and a Canadian military analyst
Sask PCs Say “no” to merger with Buffalo Party
With 17 candidates, the BP won 2.9 per cent of the vote. The PCs with 31 candidates won 2 per cent. In ridings in which they ran, the BP averaged 10 per cent, and the PCs 4 per cent.
A recent column in the Western Standard proposed the idea of uniting Saskatchewan’s Buffalo and PC parties. Progressive Conservative candidates and leadership responded quickly with a hard ‘no.’
“Won’t happen Lee,” PC leader Ken Grey posted on Facebook below the article. “We will welcome ex-Buffalo members but merger is a no go. We are a federalist party and from what I see Buffalo wants to broker left and right wing ideologies. We are different parties with different mandates.”
Grey cited the Buffalo Party’s approach of reaching out to both left and right policy goals. “That’s distasteful to me,” said Grey, whose party slogan is “True Conservative.”
The Buffalo Party – despite being just a few months old and running in a handful of ridings – finished as Saskatchewan’s third-place party on October 26th. With 17 candidates, the BP won 2.9 per cent of the vote. The PCs with 31 candidates won 2 per cent. In ridings in which they ran, the BP averaged 10 per cent, and the PCs 4 per cent.
Frank Serfas, a founding signatory of the Western Independence Party and its interim leader in 2015, placed third as the PC candidate in Moosemin. He commented on my Facebook post, “Any talk of PCs and Buffalo merging are completely [p]remature and [h]alf [b]aked.”
In an interview, Serfas said that he joined the PCs in 2018 to support Ken Grey’s leadership bid, but also bought a membership in Wexit Saskatchewan (the Buffalo Party’s original name). He said the Buffalo Party lacks the needed foundation to last.
“No constitution, no membership-adopted platform. There is no elected executive, no elected leader,” Serfas said. “I’ve been watching this a long time, since the early 80s. The only time western separatist parties or independence parties had any traction is when their leaders were legitimately elected by the grassroots.”
Serfas said the party initially indicated they would do these things, then gave reasons why it did not. “Covid. Not enough people. Oh, and my favorite one was not enough time,” he said.
“They’re two different parties in two different places, organization wise, leadership wise, stuff like that. Things still need to be settled in both camps before you can even start dialogue.”
Ironically, a PC press release on August 13 already called it a “merger” when former Wexit candidates such as Harry Frank decided to run as PC candidates. “This merger comes after complaints of top down decisions, candidate removals without reason, and dictatorial style leadership within the Buffalo Party.”
The press release quoted Frank saying, “By uniting the right we have a greater chance of being in a position to challenge this liberal leaning SaskParty and pushing for the changes the residents of this province have been needing.”
The two parties share common policy ground in supporting MLA recall, a provincial police force, and a referendum on equalization to trigger a constitutional convention, all welcomed by Serfas.
“They’re willing to explore other avenues of autonomy. That’s a good start. But the thing you have to remember is that the PCs are a party with one foot in the past and one foot trying to reach into the future,” Serfas said.
Serfas said the PC Party trust fund was one example of control by legacy PCs.
“The party leader does not control that. The party executive does not control it. There is a trust executive that is basically made up of PC luminaries of the past, and they control it.”
PC candidate Tony Ollenberger was a founding member of the Alberta First Party and ran as a candidate in 2001. His former party eventually was refounded in 2018 as the Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta. The FCP would later merge with Wexit Alberta to form the Wildrose Independence Party.
Ollenberger does not want the Saskatchewan PCs to follow suit.
“Buffalo is a flash in the pan. This is exactly what happened with the Alberta Independence Party in 2001,” Ollenberger said. “When they come onto the scene, and not even as a registered party, immediately the media just jumped all over them because they were just the next great thing. And you know after the election in 2001 they went nowhere.”
Ollenberg said his decades of observing independence movements in both provinces suggests some Buffalo Party members will eventually challenge interim leader Wade Sira’s position of “secession if necessary, but not necessarily secession.”
“He’s going to find someone come along and saying, ‘Well we need to separate now,’ and they’ll factionalize, and then they’ll refractionalize… until there’s six parties that need to get registered,” Ollenberger said.
“I’ve seen this movie before and I’ve seen exactly how it ends,” said Ollenberger. “We’d be shooing ourselves in the foot if we wanted to hitch our wagon to the Buffalo Party because I see the same fate unfolding again.”
Ollenberger, who placed third in Saskatoon Fairview, said the party’s message of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility had a positive response at the doors.
“We certainly need to do more to get our main track on the political radar, get our messaging out there, and make sure that people understand that there is a difference – that when people hear the word ‘Conservative’ they think of us again and not the Sask Party.”
Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Correspondent for the Western Standard
LETTER: Canada’s electoral system is broken
“There is more than one good reason for getting rid of this destructive and un-democratic FPTP electoral system beginning with the ballot that makes voting extremely challenging and unfair, because voters are forced to chose between party or candidate.”
Another election, producing another fake-majority government most of the people do not want, and conducted a year before it was mandated, by law.
Our system of government is called parliamentary democracy, because the party or coalition with the greatest number of elected Members, will form a majority government while it only represents a minority of the people.
That is very different from the true democratic governments they have in Scandinavian and European countries, where the political power is vested and exercised by the people directly or indirectly through the elected Members of government.
There is more than one good reason for getting rid of this destructive and un-democratic FPTP electoral system beginning with the ballot that makes voting extremely challenging and unfair, because voters are forced to chose between party or candidate.
Canada has a very dysfunctional multi-party system, that continues to erode any semblance of democracy.
UCP moves to cut vehicle insurance costs
McCOLL: Ending Alberta’s paid plasma ban is the right thing to do
Morneau cleared by ethics commissioner in WE expenses scandal
EXCLUSIVE: CN Rail to send emergency propane shipments to Quebec
EXCLUSIVE: Teamsters union could block emergency propane shipment to Quebec
ANDRUS: Trudeau has bet double-or-nothing on Freeland to pacify with West
Sign up for the Western Standard Newsletter
News3 days ago
Yaniv now suing Ontario beauty pageant for not letting her in
News1 day ago
NDP motion calls for denunciation of independence movement in Alberta
News2 days ago
EXCLUSIVE: Tory insider says Kenney, UCP trying to recruit Calgary mayoral candidates
News3 days ago
Alberta better as land-locked nation rather than land-locked province, says UCP MLA
Opinion2 days ago
FILDEBRANDT: Did Bernier cost the Tories York-Centre by-election?
Opinion1 day ago
SPENCER FERNANDO: By-election results are bad news for Trudeau
Opinion1 day ago
LETTER: No Kenney, independence is not “unpatriotic”
Opinion2 days ago
Sask NDP Leader might lose his seat. Will it be a hat trick for the party?