The nascent Wildrose Independence Party made a giant leap forward towards electoral viability with their selection of Paul Hinman as interim leader. Paul’s experience and temperament make him the perfect fit to establish and build this new party. The mainstream media will likely ignore this new and significant development, but that is nothing new when it comes to Hinman. While Paul was rarely one to draw much fanfare and broad attention in the public eye, he was one to get results.
I first met Paul at a small function in 2005 when he was sitting as the lone MLA for the Alberta Alliance Party. I had attended as a skeptical libertarian who felt that the party was too socially conservative for my involvement. I had no intention of joining the party at that time, but after a long chat with Paul I found myself with a new membership, which led to my being involved heavily with the party for nearly a decade to follow.
Hinman had found that elusive balance between social conservatism and libertarianism. While Paul is an observant Mormon, his political philosophy is guided heavily by Frédéric Bastiat who held individual rights to be paramount within society. While it seems so simple, it remains so complex to so many that a person can maintain socially conservative views without feeling that the state needs to impose those views upon others. Paul won me over and it is just that sort of ability to convert which could very well transform the Wildrose Independence Party into a big tent organization which could change the Alberta political landscape.
Paul Hinman has a well established history of political upsets. Nobody expected the Alberta Alliance Party to win a seat in the 2004 general election. Ralph Klein still reigned supreme in Alberta and no fourth party had managed to break through and win a seat in 28 years. It was a narrow win, but Paul managed to unseat a Progressive Conservative Party incumbent in Cardston-Taber-Warner, much to the surprise of the Alberta political establishment. Paul then won the Alberta Alliance Party leadership in what was a small but hostile leadership race. While relegated to a corner of the legislature and without formal party status, Hinman managed to punch above his weight and hold the PC government to account from a conservative perspective, while the Alberta Alliance Party continued to grow.
Internal rifts are always rife within conservative movements. A group broke away from the Alberta Alliance Party in hopes of returning to more socially conservative roots and began petitioning to form the Wildrose Party. It split a movement which was still too small to handle such a division. Hinman negotiated a merger of the disparate groups which involved his sacrificing of his hard won role as party leader in order to bring things back under the united entity of the Wildrose Alliance Party. The degree of humility and pragmatism demonstrated in that move was striking.
The Wildrose Alliance Party was dismissed as a rural rump by the mainstream media and political establishment. Hinman had lost his seat by an agonizing 39 votes in the 2008 Tory sweep and pundits used that loss to dismiss Hinman’s prior win as a one-off political anomaly. Hinman proved them all dead wrong when he defeated Diane Colley-Urquhart in an urban Calgary seat in a 2009 by-election. Once again Paul was the lone sitting MLA in the legislature, but he was soon joined by some PC MLAs who had crossed the floor, which gave the Wildose Party formal party status under Danielle Smith and made them a truly serious political player.
Paul Hinman is a workhorse. His upset wins were the result of his tireless campaign door knocking while still juggling the leadership and management of a growing party. There is no doubt that Paul will apply that work ethic and experience to his tenure as leader of the Wildrose Independence Party. There is a lot of work to be done and there can be no herd of cats more difficult to manage than a group of independence-minded folks.
I expect that Hinman will be dismissed yet again by the political and media establishments. While Paul is capable of compromise, change, learning and growth the Alberta establishment appears to be incapable of it. The Wildrose Independence Party has scored quite a coup with the acquisition of Hinman, though few may quite realize it yet. The biggest mistake that has been made by every opponent of Paul Hinman over the years has been to underestimate him.
Cory Morgan and a columnist for the Western Standard and a business owner in Priddis, Alberta.
NAYLOR: My CTrain ride from Hell
The series of disturbing incidents began after I left the downtown Western Standard office and jumped onto a southbound LRT train about 2:10 p.m.
Alberta health officials often say people should be taking extra precautions because they don’t know how a large percentage of COVID-19 cases are being transmitted in the community.
Well, after my CTrain ride from hell on Wednesday, I know one place they can start.
The series of disturbing incidents began after I left the downtown Western Standard office and jumped onto a southbound LRT train about 2:10 p.m. MST.
Unfortunately, there was a gentleman – and I use that term loosely – who had been on the platform yelling obscenities at the top of his voice.
I’m not sure what his anger was directed at, but he was obviously under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Quite possibly both.
I watched with unease as the man also boarded my train. He sat down momentarily, then got up and continued with his loud verbal diatribe.
All without wearing a mask.
Current Calgary bylaws say you must have a mask on while taking transit.
Fortunately, the screamer got off a couple of stops later and was last seen stumbling and trying how to figure out how to open the door to get into the downtown Bay.
But the ride from hell was just beginning.
Taking his place in the seat across from me was a young woman in her early 20s, wearing jeans with no knees in them and running shoes with no laces. If I had to guess, I would say she was from the city’s vulnerable population.
And she was visibly quite ill.
For the first few stops she was content with brushing her hair and shaking it all over the place.
Then the coughing began. And she couldn’t stop. It sounded like a very bad chest or lung infection. Her repeated coughs sounded almost guttural.
And she wasn’t wearing a mask.
The eyes of the man sitting next to her literally widened in terror. He tried to slide down the seat as far away as he could. But there really was no escape.
I saw all my already-reduced Christmas plans going “poof.”
Apparently tired out from her coughing fits, the woman then laid out on her portion of the seat, using her knapsack as a pillow. But she couldn’t sleep because of the continuing coughs wracking her.
The easiest option would have been to get up and move. But the car was crowded and I’m not sure there were seats available.
The other question I asked myself was why myself, or the gentleman next to her, didn’t confront either of these people, asking them to put on their masks?
The only answer I could come up with was that I didn’t want to aggravate someone who was already under the significant influence of booze and/or drugs. We’ve all seen the violent actions which this can provoke.
The ride from Hell was completed by another man in the carriage who was obviously developmentally delayed.
He just walked from end to end of the car. He would get to the end, stare out a window momentarily, turn around and walk back again. He ended up passing in front of me every 15 seconds, all the time muttering under his breath.
And not wearing a mask.
I finally escaped at the Canyon Meadows station, gulping in the crisp, fresh air. I thought to myself that if I didn’t catch coronavirus on that trip, I wouldn’t catch it anywhere.
I don’t claim to know what the solution to this problem is. We can’t have Transit staff on every train to make sure the rules are followed in an enviornment that is clearly ripe for infections.
But in my many rides downtown since the start of fall, I haven’t seen a single visit by a peace officer. They must be preparing to raid small family Christmas gatherings.
If health officials want an answer to where the community transmission is coming from, they might want to start with Calgary’s CTrain.
MORGAN: Kenney may have been politically incorrect, but he was right about infections in some communities
“Premier Kenney may have been somewhat insensitive in how he said it, but he didn’t say anything untrue when he spoke to the issue of the outbreak in the South Asian community.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney stepped in it. He dared to address the exploding infection rates of COVID-19 within Calgary’s South Asian community and of course, is now being called a racist, with demands for an apology. Caught between libertarian-minded Albertans resisting lockdowns and statists demanding ever-more paternalistic restrictions, the blows are coming at the premier from all sides.
Kenney’s opponents smell blood, and they would love nothing more than to try to tie Kenney’s policies to racism, as they try with anything mildly conservative. Unfortunately, this political reaction and opportunism may increase the infection risks in vulnerable communities as public figures fear to address them frankly.
We need to be blunt about the numbers. Infection rates in Calgary’s South Asian community are rising at triple the rate of other communities. Shouting down and deriding leaders for daring to address this issue as being racist is absurd, and damaging. How can we find out why the infection rates are rising so quickly in these communities, and how can we bring those rates in line if we can’t openly talk about it?
I spoke with Calgary cardiologist Dr. Anmol Kapoor about this sticky issue.
Dr. Kapoor created an initiative called “Dilwalk” which was modelled to bring awareness to some of the health consequences that can come with South Asian dining. While Indian food is indeed fantastic, like so many things it can be harmful for people if not consumed in moderation. With food being so tightly tied to our cultural fabrics, it takes an approach with sensitivity and understanding in order to communicate to the South Asian community on these concerns. Dr. Kapoor has worked hard to bridge that gap.
“Premier Kenney could have used different words.” said Dr. Kapoor, referring to the now-infamous radio interview. The South Asian community is proud, but can be sensitive. Things need to be presented in a “culturally appropriate” manner.
I asked Dr. Kapoor why case counts were so disproportionately high in Calgary’s Northeast district where a large portion of the city’s South Asian community live. He explained that there are a number of cultural factors at play.
Many people in the South Asian community live in multi-generational households for both cultural and economic reasons. Because of this, it can be difficult for any member of a family unit to isolate within their own household, even if they feel they may have been infected. It is difficult to find personal space and this makes family transmission difficult to avoid.
There is a language barrier for many new Canadians from the South Asian community. While Dr. Hinshaw has been communicating regularly and in detail on how we can work to get the pandemic under control, there is a lag in communications getting down to people who may need to get the messaging in a different language. More efforts should to be made to get resources to the community in different languages and in a timely manner. If it takes weeks for messaging to get out, the impact of the messaging is often lost.
Many people in the South Asian community work in jobs which can’t be done from home and often involve a lot of public interaction. This puts them at a higher risk of catching and transmitting the virus. Many people in these workplace situations either don’t have supports should they need to take time away from work, or don’t know what supports are available. People need to be reassured that they aren’t risking bankruptcy by self-isolating. It’s not so simple as closing the doors of your business or walking away from work for a couple weeks. Social supports are required and if they already exist, they need to be effectively communicated to people.
The common theme I heard was that communications need to be better and that they need to come from trusted sources. Community leaders should be tapped to help reach out to the impacted zones and get health messaging out there. Compliance with health measures and suggestions will be much higher when the suggestions come from familiar and trusted voices.
Dr. Kapoor expressly offered to take part in just such a role. If any UPC MLAs or AHS members are reading this, just reach out.
The pandemic is a nightmare for all of us in every possible way. It is a battle with multiple fronts which needs actions on the part of government which are clear and unhesitating. Clear communications are key and we can’t hesitate in targeting areas where outbreaks are occurring for fear of political backlash.
Premier Kenney may have been somewhat insensitive in how he said it, but he didn’t say anything untrue when he spoke to the issue of the outbreak in the South Asian community. If we want to knock this thing down, we need to be able to identify and target the hot spots. Along with the many other things the government needs to do, they need cultural ambassadors to help speak to impacted communities on their behalf. We can’t let political correctness put people at risk.
Cory Morgan is the Podcast Editor and a columnist for the Western Standard
GRAFTON: Another flighty Liberal bailout, as Trudeau prepares to spend non-existent COVID-19 bucks on failing airlines
Ken Grafton writes that Trudeau is planning a massive bailout of Air Canada, owned mostly by wealthy foreign trusts.
In the words of Virgin Air founder Richard Branson, “If you want to be a millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline.”
Now it seems, after months of being non-committal on the issue of airline bailouts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is about to charge up the Canadian Taxpayer Mastercard again – not a paltry Branson $1 billion though, but a whopping Liberal $7 billion, if carriers and unions have anything to say about it.
Branson was warning that airlines are expensive and often lose money – and Branson should know. Virgin Atlantic applied for bankruptcy protection in New York on August 4th. They are attempting to negotiate a $1.6 billion rescue plan. Virgin Australia also filed for bankruptcy earlier in the year.
These are not the best of times. COVID-19 grounded most commercial flights globally in March, resulting in plummeting airline stock prices. Airlines have been losing millions of dollars every week, and billionaire “canary-in-the-mine” investor guru Warren Buffett has sold out his entire $4 billion airline portfolio. Buffett said, “Investors have poured their money into airlines … for 100 years with terrible results. … It’s been a death trap for investors.”
Airline failures however, predate COVID-19. Airline bankruptcies since 1980 include TWA, US Airways, United, Air Canada (in 2003), Delta, American and many others.
The airline business model is problematic in a number of respects. First and foremost, it lacks scalability. This means that cost growth increases linearly with revenue growth, thereby making it very expensive for an airline to grow. A new A380 will set you back approximately $437 million USD. It costs about $83,000 for a fill-up at the pump, and a new set of 22 tires is a jaw-dropping $121,000.
As Buffett explained to Berkshire shareholders in 2007, “The worst sort of business is one that grows rapidly, requires significant capital to engender the growth, and then earns little or no money. Think airlines. Here a durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright Brothers. Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down.”
But, as history records, Orville made a safe landing that day in 1903.
Another problem with airlines is a sensitive dependence upon price competition. The reality is that if one airline decides to cut fares, for whatever reason(s), competitors have little choice but to follow. This can have disastrous impact financially.
Air Canada is Canada’s largest carrier. Privatized in 1989, its’ history includes layoffs, restructuring, mergers, previous bankruptcy and government bailouts. In May, Air Canada threatened to lay off 50-60 per cent of it’s 38,000 employees, saying that it is losing $20 million per day as a result of COVID-19. It is projecting a 75 per cent reduction in flight capacity during Q4 compared to 2019, and reported Q3 revenue of C$757 million, down 86 per cent from a year earlier, with an operating loss of $785 million CAD.
It has since been taking advantage of the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program.
Now, as a result of COVID-19, Air Canada wants another bailout from the taxpayer.
Transportation Minister Marc Garneau said, “To protect Canadians, the Government of Canada is developing a package of assistance to Canadian airlines, airports and the aerospace sector. As part of this package, we are ready to establish a process with major airlines regarding financial assistance which could include loans and potentially other support to secure important results for Canadians.”
But who exactly are taxpayers going to be bailing out?
The top 10 Air Canada shareholders are all investment management funds. Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc., Fidelity (Canada) Asset Management ULC, Fidelity Management & Research Co. LLC, EdgePoint Investment Group Inc., US Global Investors Inc., RBC Global Asset Management Inc., Causeway Capital Management LLC, Mackenzie Financial Corp., APG Asset Management NV, and CI Investments, Inc..
The irony of Canadian taxpayers ponying up $7 billion to bailout wealthy global investment funds would be amusing if it weren’t true.
Perhaps Trudeau will broker a loan from Air Canada’s shareholders. They can afford it.
The likelihood of you getting an operating line of credit from your local bank because you had lost 90 per cent of your income and were billions in the red? Zero to none.
According to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc the government is “very much discussing” the possibility of nationalizing the airlines, as Germany has done.
If the argument for deregulation and privatization is increased efficiency and cost benefit, then it follows that private sector enterprise must be prepared to bear the cost of failure. Trudeau is burdening Canadians with crippling debt as a result of COVID-19. The wealthy investment funds that own Air Canada should be prepared to do the same.
Ken Grafton is freelance columnist for the Western Standard from Aylmer, Quebec
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