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STRANKMAN: While the rest duck for cover, Barnes shows guts

“In one sentence, Drew Barnes said more than the entire legislature – including his own party’s caucus.”

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Six years ago this coming December, the majority of the Wildrose Caucus was coaxed to abandon the opposition and join Jim Prentice’s government. Promises of cabinet posts and the perks of power abounded.  

As the backroom deal was in the works, we communicated with each other over a text messaging string. Late at night, a message come across the our phones from Drew Barnes.

“I was elected Wildrose, am staying Wildrose.” 

I added “I’m with Barnes.” 

For the trivia buffs, my phone showed no further texts on that group chat until the historic mass floor crossing. 

I’ve always known Drew Barnes to be a truthful conscientious and compassionate representative for the constituents of Cypress-Medicine Hat, and it’s obvious that has not changed. It was no surprise that he stuck his neck out by releasing his own report dissenting from the majority of the Fair Deal Panel. This was not welcomed warmly by the NDP, or the Premier’s Office.

My good friend and former colleague was part of the Alberta government’s travelling ‘Fair Deal’ roadshow whose mandate was to hear what Albertans had to say about equalization and our place in confederation. 

After weeks of compiling the opinions and thoughts of a great many Albertans – and an unnecessary delay – the Fair Deal Panel’s official report was released to the public. As is the case with all government sanctioned reports, the Fair Deal report was sanitized and structured to communicate a desired predetermined message, tailored to the government. This has been the norm in government sanctioned reports for decades, and this was no different.

After the report was released, it has become obvious that there was more to the story than what was contained in the report itself. What wasn’t contained in the report was the feelings being expressed by a large segment of the population that feel our best interests are not and will not ever be represented under the current federal arrangement. 

Alberta – and the broader West – has suffered from Eastern-based special interests that have for years stopped essential pipeline construction. Those same special interests are not opposed to accepting the revenues that come from that same energy source they profess to hate. The harsh reality is that Albertans are not being treated as equals within the federation, and that Albertans are waking up to that fact in droves.

Barnes’ public statement covered the single most important element in the whole equation; what do the people think? He addressed the communication he has received from his constituents in regards to Alberta’s place in confederation if significant constitutional reform fails.

“The majority of my constituents in Cypress-Medicine Hat and from across Alberta have made clear that we must seek another relationship, as a sovereign people.”

Regardless of how you feel about federalism, his statement shows that he has a clear understanding of where the buck should always stop; with his constituents.

More often than not, the politicians follow the direction given them by the permanent bureaucratic class, and not the people that they represent. 

It’s not a common sight to see a politician step out from behind the party banner at the risk of expulsion, but there are times when moral obligation must trump the safety of a political party in power. 

In one sentence, Drew Barnes said more than the entire legislature – including his own party’s caucus. This government – like the one before it – has become tone-deaf to the fact that their ultimate direction must come from those that they represent.

Rick Strankman is a columnist for the Western Standard and the former Wildrose MLA for Drumheller-Stettler

Opinion

LETTER: Will Nenshi mandate masks?

A reader says that Nenshi should stop threatening Calgarians that do not wear masks.

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The word on the street is that the mayor of Calgary is going to institute a face-mask law for Calgarians in the next two weeks, based on the fact that not enough of them are complying to face mask recommendations. 

On July 8th, Nenshi told CTV News,  “Our level of mask wearing in Calgary, in stores and in public transit in particular, is way too low, and I’ve been pushing saying, ‘we gotta do it’ and people aren’t doing it.” Nenshi’s reason for implementing a face mask mandate is not because the death toll in Calgary is thru the roof; he has not even quoted scientific, medical data indicating if masks can contain the spread of a virus. Instead, he states that there are too few people wearing them, therefore we must force them to. Where’s the rationale in that? And why wait for two weeks before instating this mandate?  

If Nenshi and his gang believe that masks save lives, why wait? Why let more Calagarians die in the interim?  To me, his warning that he will issue face masks if Calgarians don’t cooperate sounds more like a threat from an autocratic, “too-big-for-his-britches” politician than a plea from a good-hearted, reasonable, genuinely concerned leader.  

Katrina Kitchen
Cochrane, Alberta

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Opinion

NAVARRO-GÉNIE: The University of Calgary’s “systemic racism” admission is virtue-signalling at its worst

Navarro-Génie writes about the University of Calgary’s self-flagellating virtue signalling.

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The University of Calgary (UC) has admitted to being a systemically racist institution against blacks, indigenous people and other people of colour. The revelation by its Senior Leaders University Team has hardly received any attention. The shocking admission was made on June 24, which coincidentally is the unofficial discovery of this country, when John Cabot landed in Newfoundland in 1497. 

Only three weeks earlier on June 1, the University tweeted a statement denouncing racism and offering support “in these difficult times.” It was retweeted 168 times and received 559 likes (July 14).

Spearheaded in the Department of Psychology, a group from the academic grievance industry reacted to the tweet a week later, charging the university with racism in an “Open Letter”. It is an adapted form letter circulated on other Canadian campuses.

The open letter initially acknowledges efforts at the UC to create an environment of inclusion, and welcomes the new “equity, diversity and inclusion” Komissar this coming August. But it’s not enough. The open letter claims that the UC is systemically racist and has “longstanding, underlying and systemic racism” problems. 

Claiming something does not make it so, however. A skeptical approach to these claims is necessary because the letter indiscriminately casts dispersions of racism on an entire community of scholars and workers. Equally important, a minimum standard of evidence is required in any academic setting. 

The letter says the UC is “the home of racist…sentiment.” If per chance it is, presenting evidence renders the greater service to alumni and donors, to this city and province. 

Alas, beside conjecture, the freest form of association and a cartoonish intellectual attitude, the letter presented no case of systemic racism on the university’s campuses. None. There was racism in “Alberta in the early 20th century,” it reads. There surely was, but does it link to the UC today? “Researchers have shown…racism within schools is among the main reasons for the academic failure of Black students,” they say, without establishing relevance to the UC from school research.  

In a blanket smear, the letter claims that “Students, teachers and administrative staff” can be racist. But saying that there may be racist people on campus doesn’t demonstrate that it is institutional? 

In all, not one example of a person subjected to such reprobate institutional behaviour at UC is offered. The letter even fails to summon the intellectual entrepreneurship to demonstrate how minorities might be underrepresented on campus. 

Similarly, the letter does not define “systemic racism.” This absence of a clear standard illustrates the failure of social justice warrior and the grievance-studies sub-cultures in universities more vividly than rhetoric could. Strong argument based on carefully marshalled evidence has always been a hallmark of scholarly excellence.

In the absence of any evidence, the signatories leapt to the undemonstrated conclusion that “there is need to address longstanding, underlying and systemic racism in our own university.” 

Judging by what follows the racism charges, the letter’s signatories want the UC to become a factory of social justice activists “equipped to advocate.” The adapted document offers a litany of requests to correct undemonstrated problems, including a condemnation of police brutality, “more faculty and staff of colour,” and less rigor in admissions. 

The requests betray an ideological desire to transform the university into a political tool. They want to radicalise the teaching and research, in the name of “protect[ing] the public from structural and research racism, bias and discrimination.” They want “permanently [to] abolish the unsafe practices currently being used to educate community leaders and researchers” without even showing anecdotal evidence of abuse. 

Short of saying the current academic offerings promote racism, they want “programming and curricula…to provide in-depth instruction [not education] on structural racism, oppression and marginalisation, and decolonisation…to provide people with the tools to combat racism.” 

The most radical indoctrinating request wants race at the center of all things and “adopt identity-conscious policies and practices.” Put differently, the UC should become the training ground for a new race-conscious activist who, in radical opposition to the accomplishments of the last 60 years, will judge people by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.

In response, the Senior Leadership University Team admits that the institution has a “crisis of systemic racism.” The response never says whether the university may be a racist emporium for its hiring practices, for failing non-white students or because qualified minority students are being denied entry into programs or the right to graduate? Albertans need substantive answers.

Meaningless politically-correct self-flagellation is one thing. But when the top thee UC administrators openly admit systemic racist practices, they also stain Calgary and this province. 

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.

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Opinion

JAY HILL: Lend Wexit your vote

Guest columnist Jay Hill writers about the need for independence, and taking a chance on Wexit.

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Ask any Westerner and they can likely recite from memory a long list of grievances of how Central Canada has misunderstood and mistreated the West. And continues to do so. Some are historical dating back decades, some much more recent.

Many folks – like myself – have reached the breaking point.  The realization that no matter who we elect to govern us, nothing much will change in this regard.

‘The system’ is rigged against us and we must break the cycle that sees all federal governments -regardless of party – focus on appeasing voters in Central Canada to the detriment of the West.

So, we all know why we’re frustrated and even angry, but what is it that convinces some of us there can be a brighter future that Central Canada continues to deny us?

I believe it is because it is not only logical, but it’s the belief we can do, and be, so much better.  And it is deep within each of us. New immigrants have come here to the West for decades, from lands around the globe, regardless of their race, creed or gender identity.  They’ve been made welcome and with those who preceded them, have worked hard to build a future for themselves and their families. Not because there was a guarantee life would be better here, but because they dreamed of a better life and never gave up on working hard to ensure it.

I believe that dream is still very much alive and well in the hearts of each of us here in the West. It is part of what makes us distinct, even unique, from the majority in Central and Eastern Canada. We are different. It is time to reject the status quo, unconditional federalism that has shackled our economy and forced unfair laws upon us. 

Even with all the logical, common sense arguments for breaking free of this abusive relationship with the East, are you still reluctant to “hitch your wagon (reputation) to our team?” “What if it’s taken over by a bunch of ya-hoos and self destructs like so many independence movements before,” you may well ask. Believe me, the eight of us on the current Wexit Board share your concern, but that will not deter us from working as hard as we can to ensure that fate does not befall Wexit.

If seeking independence from the ROC (Rest of Canada) is still a bridge too far for you, then I respectfully ask that you consider lending us your vote… just once. Take a chance for just one election.  Let’s see what can happen if we send some MPs to Ottawa that will only vote for legislation if it’s good for the West.

Not MPs who must constantly weigh their support, or opposition, based upon whether it may enhance or harm their party’s chances in Toronto, Montreal or Ottawa.

We cannot, must not, keep repeating what we’ve done in the past expecting a different result… that’s the definition of insanity. Just imagine if the early Reform MPs of 1993 – myself included – had been demanding “The West Wants Out” rather than “In”, how much further we would have progressed towards independence over the past twenty-seven years.  

I believe in the succeed against all odds, hard working, entrepreneurial pioneer culture that built the West. Pioneers carved out their futures, and ours, with their bare hands. Like others, I worked alongside my father and brothers clearing and breaking raw land to become a field of golden wheat. That’s right, my generation… not people 400 years ago. Westerners know first hand how to overcome adversity, we’re just tired of trying to overcome it from our own federal governments and so many folks east of Manitoba.

If this describes some of your own thoughts and feelings please consider joining us in working for the brighter future we all know is possible.  

Jay Hill is the Interim Leader of the Wexit Canada Party

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