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FILDEBRANDT: The new Wildrose looks a lot like the old early Wildrose

Fildebrandt writes that the parallels between Hinman’s leadership of the original Wildrose Party and the new one are uncanny.

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Last week the nascent Wildrose Independence Party named Wildrose veteran Paul Hinman as its interim leader. The move gives the new party an instantly credible leader, and someone who has the pertinent experience in building a party from the ground up. In fact, the parallels with the past are uncanny.

Hinman was first elected as the lone Alberta Alliance MLA in 2004, but lost that seat in the big Tory sweep of 2008 under Ed Stelmach. Like yours truly, I lost my own seat as the lone Freedom Conservative party MLA in the Tory sweep of 2019.

Hinman stayed as Alberta Alliance leader though, and led it through a merger with the new, unregistered Wildrose Association that same year, creating the Wildrose Alliance. Not the type to hog the stage if he felt that someone could do better than he could, Hinman stepped aside as leader for the energetic and young Danielle Smith; but not before re-entering the legislature as the first Wildrose MLA in a 2009. Soon after, the party attracted three PC MLAs to join the upstart caucus, and went on to nearly win the 2012 election against Allison Redford.

Like the original Wildrose, the new Wildrose was created out of a merger of one official party (the Freedom Conservatives) and an unregistered party (Wexit Alberta). Like the original Wildrose, Hinman’s job is to build the party into fighting shape while the members elect someone for the permanent position. Many of the same crew involved in the early Wildrose are also involved in restarting its progeny.

The parallels – thus far – stop there. There has yet to be a by-election to test the new party, and it has not yet managed to attract any disenchanted Tory MLAs to join its ranks. It may get the chance in the 2021 Senate election. Any of these events repeating themselves would continue to build their profile and gain mainstream recognition.

While Hinman isn’t known as the loud, charismatic type, he has done it before. He has fused together two small parties, built its membership and fundraising, and placed it in a position to grow into real contention for power. He was a sort of conservative Moses, leading the party through the wilderness, but not entering the Promised Land himself.

WIP hasn’t released any official numbers yet, but a source in the party tells the Western Standard that their official paid membership is between five-to-six thousand, with another five thousand unpaid members from the Wexit side still pending verification. It’s a far cry from the big UCP and NDP memberships, but it likely puts them at third place in the province.

One of Hinman’s biggest challenges will be to coral the disparate independence movement behind Wildrose 2.0. While the FCP and Wexit Alberta were the two biggest players in sovereignties circles, the Independence Party of Alberta (IPA), the Alberta Advantage Party (AAP), and the unregistered People’s Party of Alberta (PPA) remain outside of the recent merger. Most small parties on the Alberta right prefer to remain in the own small, insular sandboxes, so it’s difficult to say if talks would go anywhere. Hinman would be wise to reach out and bring them into the fold; but if rebuffed, he will have to simply outdo them.

Bringing them under the WIP banner one way or another, will require a difficult mix of principle and compromise. Unlike the old Wildrose, the new Wildrose isn’t a traditional conservative prairie populist party. It needs to combine these elements with an appeal for sovereignty that will peal voters away from the traditional big parties. Sovereignty means different things to different people. To moderates, autonomy and self-government within confederation. To more hardliners, total independence. In the UK, the Scottish National Party carefully walks this line, as did the Parti Quebecois until recently.

Getting the disparate flavours of Alberta sovereigntists to walk together in common cause will be like herding cats. In his favour is his own credibility, which – like the re-entry of Jay Hill as the federal Wexit leader – could be a game changer.

The party has a strong potential base to tap into in doing so, if it has the political finesse to do so.

A poll conducted in late May for the Western Standard saw between 45 and 48 per cent of Albertans backing independence. The same poll put the then-unofficial WIP at 10 per cent in third place.

While it’s a strong base to build from, it’s no guarantee of success, and Hinman’s leadership of the WIP will matter as much as Kenney’s leadership of the UCP. Kenney is walking a fine line in trying to keep the federalists and sovereigntists in his party happy. With 52 per cent of his own voter base expressing support for independence (and 48 per cent opposed), this will be a difficult task. The Fair Deal Panel was an exercise in trying to do something about this sentiment, without alienating his federalist support.

If he succeeds, he will govern for as long as he pleases. But if he fails, he now has a credible challenger on his flank licking its lips at the opportunity.

Derek Fildebrandt is Publisher of the Western Standard and President of Wildrose Media Corp. dfildebrandt@westernstandardonline.com

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Kenney’s panel of education advisers contains no women

One panel member published an article that questioned the past “victimhood” of Aboriginal residential school survivors.

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The UCP government’s panel appointed to help draft a new school curriculum is made entirely of men – including one who published an article that questioned the past “victimhood” of Aboriginal residential school survivors.

The eight new male advisers are in addition to 358 teachers and other experts already serving on eight curriculum working groups assembled by the former NDP government to revamp K-12 lessons. It is hoped to be tested in classrooms starting in fall 2021.

In addition to the fact there are no women on the panel – despite the fact the majority of teachers are women – there is controversy to the appointment of Chris Champion as a social studies adviser. He used to be an adviser to Premier Jason Kenney during his time in Ottawa as a MP.

Champion founded and still publishes a history publication called The Dorchester Review.

A piece without a byline in the review’s first edition and republished this year, critiques history curriculum introduced by “left” governments.

The piece blasts an Australian history curriculum for being “light on facts and heavy with guilt about aboriginals and immigrants.”

“Here in Canada the preoccupation with victimhood has mostly centred on Japanese Canadians and residential school ‘survivors.’ “

The government claims Champion did not write the article.

It’s the second time a Kenney appointee has come under fire for writing about residential schools, the first being speech writer Paul Bunner.

“Women make up the majority of the teaching profession, but Jason Kenney and (Education Minister) Adriana LaGrange chose to not put a single woman on their panel and they managed to find room for a racist who used to work for the Premier,” said the NDP’s Janis Irwin Thursday.

“Instead of firing his racist, homophobic speechwriter Paul Bunner, Jason Kenney has doubled down on these racist beliefs by including them in the curriculum and he’s undone all of the work done under previous governments.

“By appointing a panel full of like-minded insiders, the UCP are dismissing the diverse input from Albertans that was vital in developing a modern curriculum in which kids see themselves represented – the UCP can’t even send our kids back to school safely this fall. They shouldn’t be trusted to rewrite the curriculum.”

In a 2003 article Canada’s Cracked Mosaic, Bunner recalled his time at Boston University when another Canadian student warned him “to be careful about blacks…one of the other hockey players, a native Bostonian, invited me into his room to show me the biggest handgun I had ever seen. ‘It’s for the n——,’ he said.'”

Bunner has also blamed minorities for a large percent of crime.

“Ethnic minorities are disproportionately involved in violent crime on both sides of the border, but at least Americans admit it,” Bunner wrote.

“In this country the Toronto Star attacks the police as racist when they point out the over-representation of blacks in the city’s violent crime statistics. When Indian thugs trap white kids and cut them to pieces, the Edmonton police quickly rule out a racial motive and nobody balks.

“Everyone knows that race is the defining element of violent crime in Canada today.

“The weekly casualty figures from the gang wars in Toronto’s Jamaican ghetto read like dispatches from a war zone. The shooting of five East Indians during the first weekend of December in Vancouver was but the latest skirmish in a decade-long war that has killed 50 people. On the prairies, if it’s not Asian gangbangers whacking each other and occasionally innocent bystanders, it’s aboriginal murder and mayhem.

“The Christmas season in Edmonton opened with five white teenagers being lured into a house, where at least a half-dozen reputed members of the Alberta Warriors Native gang allegedly tortured and terrorized them for two hours.”

The NDP said Bunner is the author of numerous racist, sexist, Islamophobic, and homophobic articles dating from the late 1990s up to 2016.

Bunner’s 2013 article The ‘Genocide’ That Failed claimed that residential school survivors were fabricating their experiences to create a “bogus genocide story” for financial gain. 

Several indigenous leaders have called for Kenney to fire Bunner, including the Confederacy of Treaty Six Chiefs, and Marlene Poitras, Alberta regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations.

Matt Wolf, Kenney’s issue manager tweeted at the time: “NDP claims that Paul Bunner used a racial slur. The column talks about his revulsion to the racism he saw in the US, and befriending 2 black students “I came away with the conviction that no matter how poisoned a society is by racism, it can be overcome.”

He also tweeted earlier NDP icon Tommy Douglas opposed homosexuality.

The advisers are:

  • George Georgiou, University of Alberta professor of educational psychology — literacy
  • David Chorney, associate professor of education, University of Alberta — wellness
  • Vladimir Troitsky, University of Alberta math professor — math
  • Chris Champion, visiting research fellow at Queen’s University and author — social studies
  • William French, lawyer, translator and board member of The Shakespeare Company in Calgary — arts and literature
  • Cameron Macdonell, associate professor of computer science, MacEwan University — science
  • Marvin Washington, professor, Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta — diversity and pluralism
  • Onookome Okome, English professor, University of Alberta — diversity and pluralism

The members include 19 government employees, 41 seconded teachers, 10 Northwest Territories representatives, three Nunavut representatives, 11 Indigenous teachers, 16 francophone teachers, 25 academics, 145 public school teachers, 61 Catholic school teachers, seven charter school teachers and two private school teachers.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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CN suing Wet’suwet’en supporters for blockading $270M of freight

CN says the two days of blockades near New Hazelton affected nearly 5,000 freight cars carrying $270-million worth of goods.

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Saying that traffic was backed up as far as Winnipeg, CN Rail is suing Wet’suwet’en supporters who blocked rail lines into the Port of Prince Rupert in February.

CN says the two days of blockades near New Hazelton affected nearly 5,000 freight cars carrying $270-million worth of goods.

The blockades were set up in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their fight against construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The rail company is suing an undisclosed number of protesters for the Feb. 8 and 9 blockades.

The railway wants an undisclosed amount in damages, a permanent injunction against blockaders’ “unlawful and unauthorized.

“CN is and will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted,” according to the civil claim obtained by the CBC.

“This is a serious issue to be tried regarding the unlawful and unauthorized trespassing to its lands, [and] the interference with its business,” the claim stated. 

The issue set off a crisis across the country as supporters of the hereditary chiefs blocks rail lines and held protests in numerous cities.

The protests grew after the RCMP raided and tore down an Indigenous camp near Smithers.

The pipeline has the support of all First Nations along the route, but hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation, through which 28% of the 670-km route passes, oppose it.

A group of unelected hereditary chiefs had set up a camp near Smithers and have kicked out Coastal GasLink workers.

The RCMP said they found traps like felled trees and three stacks of tires along with flammables along the access road.

On Jan. 7, 2019, RCMP arrested 14 protesters along the B.C. logging road. 

International attention was drawn to the issue when a British newspaper reported RCMP were ready to shoot protesters when they broke up the camp. The RCMP denied the story.

On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted CGL an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from blocking the pipeline route near Smithers, B.C.

But the situation has been further complicated after a Jan. 3 edict by the Unist’ot’en, a smaller group within the First Nation, that they intend to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access to the land.

The RCMP checkpoint had been set up at the 27-km mark of the forest service road “to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway.”

The $6.6 billion pipeline, to be operated by TC Energy Corp, would transport gas from near Dawson Creek in northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the coast and supply Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas export terminal, called LNG Canada, which is under construction.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westewrnstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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March 27: Alberta agrees to protect renters

There are now 4,777 positive cases of COVID-19 in Canada including 1,479 from B.C. to Manitoba.

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Measures have finally been introduced to protect Alberta renters. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said rental rates would be frozen and late fees will not be enforced.

“No one will be evicted as of April 1, 2020 – that includes folks who have not been able to pay their rent for the last couple of months,” Kenney said.

“Effective today, there will be no rent increases,” even for those who have already been given notice of increases, Kenney said. Late fees will also not be enforced from April 1 until June 30, 2020.

Kenney clarified that these protections do not apply to rental situations in which willful damage of property or other violations of existing rental agreements.

Alberta

The province announced 56 new cases today bringing their total to 542.

These numbers include two additional cases at the Mackenzie Town continuing care centre, bringing their total to 15.

Alberta has recommended that public gatherings be reduced to less than 15 and has asked that all non-essential businesses are now close including public parks, campgrounds, restaurants, clinics, masseuse, furniture stores, and others.

The City of Calgary has ordered the shutdown of personal care businesses, closure of parks playgrounds, and skate parks, and leisure sports including football, baseball, cricket, and basketball.

“The number of community transmission cases are rising,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health said Friday afternoon.

AHS will now be limiting diagnostic imaging and blood testing to those who are emergent only.

“The more that we comply with recommendations by public health experts, the faster we can get through this,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said.

Alberta Tourism Levy will be deferred for six months to assist hotels and access to Alberta Parks will be restricted.

Kenney said the Legislature will be recalled on Tuesday March 31 to deal with provincial issues.

Additional information for Alberta residents can be found here.

British Columbia

The province identified another 67 cases on Friday bringing its total to 792.

Modelling suggests that physical distancing restrictions are starting to slow new cases in the province.

British Columbia confirmed new cases at three additional senior’s homes in the province, up from nine facilities on March 26.

A resident at Berwick by the Sea in Campbell River, a staff member at The Harrison at Elm Village in Surrey, and a health worker at Chartwell Independent Living at Langley Gardens have tested postive for the virus.

Additional information for B.C. residents can be found here.

Manitoba

Three probable cases of COVID-19 were identified in Manitoba and a woman in her sixties has succumbed to the virus. This is the first COVID-19-related death in the province.

Additional information for Manitoba residents can be found here.

Saskatchewan

Nine new cases of the virus have been identified in the province bringing its total to 104.

More than half of the province’s COVID-19 cases are people under the age of 4 and six people have now been hospitalized including two people in intensive care.

Saskatchewan’s cases have risen to over 100 cases in less than a week.

Additional information for Saskatchewan residents can be found here.

Quebec reported 10 deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours and saw their confirmed cases rise by over 400 for a third day in a row.

Provincial tallies:

  • Quebec: 2,021 confirmed and presumptive cases, including 1 recovered and 18 deaths
  • Ontario: 993 cases, including 5 recovered and 18 deaths
  • British Columbia: 792 confirmed cases including 186 recovered and 14 deaths
  • Alberta: 542 confirmed cases including 34 recovered and 2 deaths
  • Saskatchewan: 104 confirmed and presumptive cases and 3 recovered
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 102 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Nova Scotia: 90 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • New Brunswick: 45 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Manitoba: 42 confirmed and presumptive cases and 1 death
  • Prince Edward Island: 9 confirmed cases, and 1 recovered
  • Yukon: 3 confirmed cases
  • Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed case

There are now 4,777 positive cases of COVID-19 in Canada including 1,479 – B.C. from B.C. to Manitoba.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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