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NAVARRO-GÉNIE: The COVID regime has collapsed under its own hypocrisy

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.

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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.

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.

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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