A battle is brewing between Calgary and its neighbors

This article originally appeared in the Western Standard.

One of the biggest challenges for an authoritarian regime is that free-thinking people keep trying to escape them. This is a challenge for socialism as people and capital flee excessive taxation and controls imposed upon them. Around the Soviet bloc, the iron curtain kept its people slaves, while Cuba used its natural sea barrier in hopes of keeping its citizens from fleeing.

Calgary City Hall can’t build walls, so it has resorted to using the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) to attempt to strangle outward migration of people and capital from the city.

With dreams of urban density and a decade in power, Mayor Naheed Nenshi has ushered in an urban ghost town in Calgary’s core while industrial development has migrated to neighbouring counties. The primary driver is their desire to escape the high taxes and regulations of the city. Bedroom communities have been flourishing as citizens flock to neighborhoods with space and yards while industrial interests from Amazon to Lowes have set up shop outside of Calgary’s boundaries. Companies and people are voting with their feet and wallets, undercutting Nenshi’s efforts.

It appears increasingly unlikely that Nenshi will seek re-election. He is desperately hoping to entrench the innocuous-sounding “Guidebook for Great Communities” within city policy as one of his final acts. The document calls for the imposition of centralized planning and large increases in urban density. Calgary’s City Council is currently in the midst of some very heated debates as they hope to rush this document into policy before citizens can realize what it is all about.

The “Guidebook for Great Communities” is sure to be a failure if people are able to flee it. Density-obsessed city planners and council members know full well that citizens will not take part in this sort of planning unless they are forced to. That is why there is such a mad rush to push this document through city council. That is where the CMRB comes in.

The CMRB was a creation of Rachel Notley’s NDP government in 2018 at the behest of Mayor Nenshi. It ostensibly was to be a cooperative organization formed in order to foster cooperation between the City of Calgary and neighbouring municipalities as they grow. Rural municipalities quickly discovered that this organization was formed in such a way that it was essentially an arm of Calgary City Hall. Decisions of the board are binding and are subject to a voting method that favours urban municipalities. The makeup of the board is seven urban members to three rural, and motions need three-fourths of the population represented in order to pass. The city of Calgary population dwarfs the population of every neighboring county combined, thus they are granted total domination of this board. Counties may have a voice on the board, but their vote means nothing.

The CMRB under the advisement of Calgary city counsellor and aspiring urban planner Gian-Carlo Carra spent $1.2 million on developing a growth plan and contracted the American firm HDR Calthorpe. The growth plan – which is to be approved on June 1 – will strip the independence of municipalities in their development decisions and will impose density regulations much like the City of Calgary’s. Any large, proposed developments will be subject to the approval of the CMRB which is of course controlled by the City of Calgary. This will bring about a development and investment chill in the counties bordering Calgary. And that is of course the intent of the board.

Rather than address why citizens and businesses seek to escape the taxation and regulations of the City of Calgary, the mayor and city planners have chosen to work to try and block the escape. If there is no longer any advantage to relocating outside of the city of Calgary, it is the hope of density ideologues that people and companies will simply resign themselves to the inevitable and stay within the city. This is the same mentality that the mayor and council used to try and stop people from using personal vehicles. They felt that if they kept parking rates high enough and made driving miserable enough through road closures and bike tracks, that people would simply give up their cars and get on the bus. Empty buses and a ghostly downtown show how well that worked out.

This development plan won’t drive more business into Calgary. What this plan will do is drive investment out of Alberta altogether. These kind of actions make investors and migrants seek more favourable environments, and if it means leaving the province, they will do so. We can’t afford plans like this as we enter a period of recovery from government-imposed pandemic restrictions.

There is still time to stop this plan in its tracks. Mayoral aspirant Jyoti Gondek has been pushing for the imposition of this plan and Transportation Minister Ric McIver didn’t mince words in a statement he made to Global News in response to her when he said: “My advice is that Coun. Gondek get support within her own council and among other councils within the region before bringing this to the province”.

Foothills County Reeve Suzanne Oel has issued a call to action for county citizens and neighboring counties to oppose the imposition of this plan. This is a rare move and it demonstrates just how desperate the position of municipal counties is right now. Rural elected representatives are powerless to oppose or even modify this plan due to the urban slant built into the CMRB structure by the Notley government and can now only appeal to the provincial government in hopes that they intervene.

Like many other Calgarians, I moved to the outskirts of the city in order to escape urban density and the regulations imposed by Calgary’s city council. If this planning document from the CMRB is imposed, I will once again be governed by the City of Calgary. At least when I lived in the city, I could vote for the mayor and my local council member. Under this plan, I will be under their thumb and won’t even have the remedy of a vote.

If the Kenney UCP wants to shore up their rural support, they will do themselves a great deal of good by dissolving the CMRB entirely. If we are left at the whim of Calgary’s mayor and council due to UCP inaction on this file, many voters will view this as an unforgivable error. Let’s hope that the provincial government acts on this matter while they still can.

O’Toole Can’t Win by Trying to Out-Liberal the Liberals

This column originally appeared in the Epoch Times on February 14, 2021

As if suffering under the worst pandemic crisis seen in generations wasn’t enough, it’s becoming a foregone conclusion that Canadians will also have to endure a federal election in 2021.

As recently proven in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, elections during the pandemic serve the party in power well. The Trudeau Liberals see a path to the majority government that they so desperately crave, and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s insipid strategy will ensure that the Liberals get their wish.

There has to be a clear distinction between the Liberals and Conservatives in order to coax voters into embracing a change in government. People need to see a path to positive change if they are going to take the leap and vote for it. If all the Conservatives have to offer voters is a set of the same policies but under a new face, they will vote for the familiar face.

Since becoming the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) last year, O’Toole has steadily been backing away from the core conservative principles that he campaigned on during the leadership race as he hopes to gain the support of left-leaning voters in central Canada.

Last fall, O’Toole tore a page out of the NDP’s handbook and went on a tirade about wealth inequality in Canada. He then bemoaned the decline of private-sector union membership. This odd diatribe likely didn’t gain a single potential vote from NDP supporters, but it sent chills down the spines of struggling business owners in Canada. Economic recovery from pandemic restrictions for businesses right now looks tough enough as it is—the last thing they need is a deep injection of organized labour. If the CPC doesn’t have the backs of Canadian businesses, who does?

O’Toole then took aim at the social conservative base of the CPC when he targeted MP and former leadership contender Derek Sloan. The purging of Sloan from the party caucus was ugly and ham-handed, as a small donation from an obscure extremist was used as grounds for ejection. This move will not prevent the inevitable campaign accusations of bigotry and so on that will be levelled at the CPC by the Liberals and NDP during the election. The cancelling of Sloan will, however, cause thousands of dedicated social conservative supporters to close their chequebooks and stay home during the next election.

Canada’s conservative heartland in the Prairies is feeling pretty abused. Despite years of self-flagellation as resource producers in the name of saving the world from climate change, the Keystone XL pipeline project was cancelled without hesitation by U.S. President Joe Biden, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s reaction was to shrug his shoulders. O’Toole has pledged to somehow meet Trudeau’s already-unreasonable climate targets even faster than the Liberals say they will. What on earth does that mean for Canada’s energy sector?

If the CPC is going to be indistinguishable from the Liberals in policy, it has to at least stand out from them in attitude. Vigour and strong stances can capture voter interest and support. Finance critic Pierre Poilievre delivered that crucial energy and intensity, being a quick and relentless foil to the Liberals in Parliament. How did O’Toole react to this firebrand on the front bench of the opposition? He demoted him. Perhaps O’Toole was tired of being outshone by Poilievre, but the brand of bland that we will see without him will not attract Canadians seeking some strength and moxie from the CPC.

O’Toole’s strategy has failed to win new support from Canadians, but it is managing to decimate his support base in the party. Recent polling shows support levels for O’Toole’s leadership among existing CPC supporters at an appallingly low 63 percent. For a party leader who has only held the role for six months, this is an abysmally low approval rating. There’s no way the CPC will be able to carry out an effective election campaign if they can’t count on their core supporters for contributions and volunteer efforts. O’Toole is going to have to find a way to inspire his base and fast.

Pragmatism is understandable, but a complete abandonment of conservative principles is unforgivable.

How O’Toole will manage to capture the support of swing voters in Canada remains to be seen. One thing that can be said with certainty though is that he won’t manage to win by trying to out-liberal the Liberals. That strategy is simply paving the way for Trudeau to a majority government.

Cory Morgan is a columnist and business owner based in Calgary, Alberta.

Alberta series on ammolite. The province’s (unfortunately) best-kept secret.

I didn’t misspell it. The colorful and unique gemstone to Alberta is called ‘ammolite” which is derived from the fossils which are ‘ammonite”. Ammonites are found all over the world but we can only find the brilliant, gem variety of them in Alberta.

The fossils can be up to several feet across at times and can garner prices well into six-figures. Fossils in that size with gemstone are rare of course.

Pieces from ammonite fossils are used for smaller gems and art pieces which again can draw some pretty high prices due to the rarity of the stone.

Jason Berkholtz has been mining ammolite within Alberta for some years now along with cutting stones and art pieces from the material.

Jason’s website is here where his products can be found and his mining has been documented.

While ammolite has been on the market for decades and it’s demand as a gem has been steadily growing, it still is a relative newcomer on the world gem market. Education is still an integral component in marketing the stone. Knowing where the gem comes from and what goes into producing it helps people understand why it is a highly valued stone.

Berkholtz decided to film last year’s mining and created a series of episodes in a reality show format covering the mining aspects along with some interviews with geologists and paleontologists in order to help share the background of the fossils and the gems that they produce.

It is a great and creative way to market the business and draw attention to this fantastic and nascent Alberta resource.

The first few episodes are embedded below.

Jason has been releasing them weekly so be sure to subscribe to catch them when they come out.

The next digging season approaches soon.

Disclaimer: I have been involved in the ammonite business for most of my life and my family is still immersed in it. I am not involved with Jason’s venture though. I just want to see producers expand and get the word out and I love what Jason has been doing with it.

Conference on the future of Canada’s resource sector. March 13

As the world rebuilds from the pandemic, we are seeing demand and prices for oil and gas products rising.

Canada is well placed to lead the world in pandemic recovery as we sit upon some of the most abundant energy reserves on Earth.

Unfortunately, if we keep on our current course we will be left behind. Energy products from unethical nations will still dominate the world market including in Eastern Canada because we are foolishly shutting in Canada’s resource sector.

Raising capital has become nearly impossible as investors shy away from a nation with a government hostile towards it’s own energy industries and existing producers sell at a discount due to bottlenecks in pipelines.

We still have time to turn this around but the window is closing quickly.

The March 13th conference will have presenters speaking to all of these issues including

Former radio host Danielle Smith, Member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre, MLA Drew Barnes, Michael Binnion from the Modern Miracle Network and more.

We know the problem, it is time to discuss the solution.

Sign up at the link below for this very important event.

It will be a very productive afternoon.

Saving Canada’s Resource Sector

(full disclosure, I am the new Executive Director of Suits and Boots)


Well-meaning fool or con artist? Warren Parke’s bizarre “March Across Canada”

It’s hard to figure out just what Warren Parke’s angle is if indeed that is even his name. He sometimes goes by Warren Michael and sometimes by Warren Michael Parke. He also goes by “The Old Man” on his Facebook page where he has garnered thousands of followers for his “March Across Canada” which was ostensibly a solo man’s effort to raise funds and awareness for veterans. Oh and autism. Along with clean drinking water on native reserves. Oh yeah, he is raising funds for cancer as well.

The goals of the “March Across Canada” are myriad and all seem to be designed to tug at a person’s heartstrings. We all appreciate our veterans and know that they have been poorly treated by the government. We want all of our citizens to have clean drinking water. We certainly are concerned about autism and everybody knows somebody who has been impacted by cancer. One way or another, somebody is going to relate to what Parke purports to be raising funds for which does indeed give him a broad base of people to solicit funds from.

Beginning around Christmas of 2020, Warren Parke left Kelowna with a large cross of his own construction with the apparent goal of walking across Canada and raising funds and awareness for all of the aforementioned causes.

Parke did indeed traverse the country with many stops before arriving in Ottawa around February 14th. He did many appearances with local media in towns at war memorials where local veterans and others thanked him for his effort and put cash into the slot he had carved into his cross for that purpose.

People also generously donated to Parke’s Gofundme page which had raised nearly $10,000 as of this writing.

Since then, in looking at Parke’s Facebook page he has been simply bouncing around Ontario in a random way.

It has been weeks since Parke met his goal of reaching Ottawa and some veterans who had encountered and been pulled into helping Parke along the way are calling foul and demanding to know where the money went.

As details come out, this whole endeavor is beginning to look pretty sketchy to say the least.

Geoff Logue of Virden Manitoba was an Artilleryman of 1 RCHA attached to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team. Logue like many veterans who served in combat zones suffers from PTSD. He has been active as an advocate for other suffering veterans and was documented on W5 with his service dog as can be seen below.

Geoff is understandably sensitive to veteran’s issues and when he heard about Parke’s journey, he and fellow veteran Gil Gilbert offered to lend a hand. For around 10 days Gilbert and Logue traveled with Parke and what they saw didn’t look good. Eager to help with what they felt was a worthwhile cause, it took some time before they left Parke.

Logue is now coming out about what he witnessed.

In an interview below, “Rants Derek” of the Plaid Army speaks to Shaun Arntsen who is also an Afghanistan veteran who encountered Parke when he passed through Calgary. Geoff Logue joins the interview at about the 34-minute mark and tells of what he experienced on the road with Parke.

These are veterans so be warned, the language is colorful but the information shared is something else.


The revelations are concerning and enraging.

In going town to town, Warren Parke would apparently raise $400 to $500 per day in cash contributions into his cross. He would then apparently open the cross at night, take off his “cast” and head out to the bars for the night. Parke allegedly rarely did any actual walking aside from town limit to town limit when he could do his Facebook video update and raise more funds from local people wanting to support his causes. It was said that Parke would rarely leave the motel room before 10 am. If that was the true average, Parke could have raised as much as $20,000 during his travels above and beyond the GoFundMe page. It can’t be traced. Parke also got things such as a $500 pair of boots bought for him by Logue and untold other direct contributions.

The personal communications revealed between Parke and Arntsen demonstrate a rather ugly character.

In digging further into this episode on my own, there sure is a great deal that doesn’t add up with Warren Parke’s activities.

In some media interviews, he was open about using a vehicle for some of his travel. He said that he walked for 70% of his journey though.

Parke’s route was not a straight one. It was a circuitous path up to Edmonton, Saskatoon and down to Estevan as he moved to meet with potential donors. Even if he went straight to Ottawa from Kelowna, it would be almost 4,000 kilometers. In walking 8 hours per day, every day it would take about 82 days to make the trip. Oh did I mention that Parke claims that the cross weighs 80-100 pounds and that he apparently has a broken ankle?

To put it bluntly, the timelines and distance make it clear that his claims of how much time he spent walking were bullshit and not by just a little bit. When he will lie about one thing, how many more will he lie about?

Never one to miss an opportunity, Parke auctioned his makeshift “cast” online. Who the hell would want such a thing I will never know.

I am no doctor by any means but I am pretty sure that most casts don’t use that much duct-tape.

Parke hasn’t stopped at grisly, fake casts, however. He plans to auction off the poppies from his cross.

Aside from the difficulties that Parke is facing in justifying where all the money went right now, he is inviting legal action from the Royal Canadian Legion for copyright infringement.

The poppy was entrenched as a trademark for the Legion through an act of Parliament in 1948. They are very specific on who may or may not use the symbol as can be seen in the statement below from the Legion President.

The Poppy Fund is the main vehicle of annual fundraising for the Royal Canadian Legion every year. They sell a number of branded items with the poppy. That is why trademarking is so essential to them. I suspect that Mr. Parke has not gotten the release from the legion in order to use the poppy image.

In having his cross covered in poppy images like that, while Parke has never claimed to be a veteran or claimed to be sanctioned by the Legion, he certainly was not afraid of making that impression.

It could very well be that Warren Parke is indeed a well-meaning but disorganized and muddle-headed individual who was trying to do a good thing. I do like to give the benefit of the doubt.

Parke has put out a recent video on his Facebook page where he claims that none of the money in the GoFundMe account has been drawn out yet and that there is a savings account where he put all the cash raised which he will dispense to a number of charities soon.

All I can say then is what are you waiting for Mr. Parke?

Charities make it very easy to send them funds. They rely on it. A person capable of managing a cross-country trek with video online updates daily can manage to e-transfer funds online. If not, I am certain that he can find somebody among his followers who could walk him through the process.

Warren Parke can shut down the growing number of questions over his initiative quickly and decisively. He could then post a video linking to the receipts for his contributions to these charities. It’s not hard and he can then retain the status that he has pursued as being a person who wanted nothing more than to help out some causes.

If Parke can’t or won’t do this, it may be time for some follow-up from authorities.

There are reasons that charities require registration. I am not a fan of bureaucracy but do understand the need to have some checks and balances which help maintain the integrity of a system of charities that use the funds and time of people in support of causes. When things look questionable with a charity, it harms the ability of every charity to raise funds or recruit volunteers. Things are starting to look very questionable with Mr. Parke’s activities and I hope that he can clarify things before he does further damage to public trust when it comes to fundraising efforts.

There is by the way a Canadian Walk for Veterans which happens every year and I suspect that they would not want to be confused with Mr. Parke.

I really do hope that this is just a matter of confusion. I do look forward to seeing proof that the funds which people donated in good faith actually get to some charities and very soon.

Otherwise, some legal recourse may have to be sought. While the funds may indeed be lost, at least some preventative measures could be taken to dissuade future episodes such as this.

The integrity of charities and fundraising are too important to not follow up on this.

Does Alberta’s Liberal party want to illegalize tiki-torches?

The incidents where street preacher Artur Pawlowski decided to have his little gang of supporters carry tiki-torches in anti-lockdown marches were exercises in sheer stupidity.

Nobody short of a total fool would think that doing such a think wouldn’t invoke images of the tiki-torch carrying neo-nazis in Charlottesville a few years ago.

I called out the twits on YouTube a couple of weeks ago.

Most people realized the idiocy of carrying torches in marches these days and what the messaging would be turned into. Some doggedly tried to defend it by saying that it was simply a torch and nothing more.

Context matters kids.

Police were called to investigate this march of morons and they did so. Snowflakes felt that a crime had been committed.

The police rightly determined that while the presence of the torches triggered some sensitive folks, no crime had been committed.

It isn’t a crime to be an idiot. If it was, Canada’s Prime Minister would have been locked up after his trip to India.

Not to be outdone in the act of idiocy though, the Alberta Liberal Party has jumped forward to demonstrate their disappointment that the police didn’t find a crime where no crime existed.

They tweeted the nugget below.

Let’s repeat something here. No racism was demonstrated at the rallies. There was no mention of race in the speeches nor calls for harming minorities. The only thing striking was the utterly poor decision to carry tiki-torches. Of course the police couldn’t charge anybody with anything.

What is disturbing here though is that the Liberal Party of Alberta feels that some sort of new law needs to be created in order to charge these people.

What do the Liberals want to see here? Do they literally want to illegalize tiki-torches? Will we have our backyard patios raided in case we may use illegal forms of lighting and decoration?

Thankfully, the Alberta Liberal Party is about as popular as a garden slug in Alberta.

Former leader David Khan led them to a stunning 0.98% support level in the last provincial election and there are no signs that the party will be coming back any time soon.

It is still worth highlighting just how insane and dangerous the thought process of modern day liberals is though. They literally want to see people charged for walking with garden items and rest assured their totalitarian notions would not stop there if given the chance.

Just look at what their federal cousins are planning with control of information.

It needs to be called out and decried whenever it is seen.