Calgary’s city council mask zealots

Despite COVID-19 infections being in a total freefall in Alberta and despite the rest of the province dropping all restrictions on July 1, Naheed Nenshi and his usual gang of fartcatchers decided to keep Calgary’s mask bylaw intact as it is set to expire at the end of 2021.

This spiteful and pointless move was done simply to give the middle finger to Premier Jason Kenney. Kenney has invested a lot of political capital into what he is calling “the best summer ever”. Nenshi and company want to make sure that Calgarians remain miserable and hope that this will ensure that Kenney gets no bounce in support from people happily shedding their masks and getting back to normal living for the summer.

Unfortunately, it will be Calgary businesses who bear the brunt of the cost for Nenshi’s posturing as people choose either to shop outside of the city boundaries or to stay home rather than shop and go out while wearing stifling masks in the heat.

City council will be revisiting the mask bylaw on July 5. They may choose to finally get rid of the law and catch up with the rest of the province at that time or they may not. Clearly need and science aren’t behind their choices so it is hard to say right now.

Most of those who voted to keep us all masked will be running for one elected office or another this year. I want to document them below so that voters can be reminded just who decided to arbitrarily restrict their rights and return to normal in order to try and score petty political points.

Below are the seven council members who voted to keep you sweating and gagged this summer.

While Naheed Nenshi won’t be running for Mayor again, it is clear that he is far from being done in politics. He may be appointed to the senate or as Governor General. He may also run to become a Liberal MP if indeed he has his eye on the Prime Ministerial throne down the road.

Jyoti Gondek is Naheed Nenshi’s preferred successor. Nenshi’s former top man Stephen Carter is even managing her campaign. You may be familiar with her campaign signs polluting streets throughout the city as she takes advantage of a sign bylaw loophole in order to campaign for mayor while purportedly simply promoting a townhall meeting.

Diane Colley-Urquhart was past her electoral best-before date a decade ago. Unfortunately, voter apathy has allowed her to continue to keep her seat. Let’s hope her zeal in masking citizens finally encourages enough voters to send her out to pasture this fall.

Giancarlo Carra found life as a city councilor to be more lucrative than being an urban designer. While within the city, he could nudge developments into compliance with his density dreams. Carra consistently follows Nenshi’s lead and will happily swing left and become Gondek’s second on council if she becomes mayor. Let’s get Carra back into the private market so he can try pursuing his design dreams again. It will be for his own good (and ours).

You may not have heard of councilor George Chahal. That is because as a first term councilor, George has taken the tact of doing little and not making waves in order to keep his job secure. It worked well for Hodges and Jones for decades. George wants to keep you masked for the foreseeable future however thus he really should be eased out of his seat and replaced with a councilor who will be less lacklustre and who will put the needs of constituents ahead of those of the mayor’s agenda.

Druh Farrell has long been the queen of the looney left on city council. It was no shocker that she voted to keep citizens suppressed. Farrell finally won’t be running for re-election but she may surface elsewhere. I am sure the Notley NDP would welcome her with open arms. Let’s ensure that voters don’t.

Evan Woolley is the Hipster in Chief for council. Consistently left and happy with high spending. He was gleeful in voting to keep the mask bylaw. Woolley isn’t running for re-election but he has been known for electoral waffling for years. His eyes have always been on the mayor’s chair but he just couldn’t make that leap. Best that we help his indecision by making sure that he remains in the political dustbin of Alberta.

This fall’s municipal and federal elections will be important ones.

Here are seven people who no longer should be in elected office. Let’s remind voters of that this fall.

We can’t be apathetic when it comes to free speech

The column below first appeared in the Epoch Times on May 9th.

Never in human history have we had such access to information, nor such an ability to create information and share it with others. We can access the contents of entire libraries on our phones and view everything from works of art to theatrical productions from any location with a cellular signal.

We also have the ability to reach outward like never before. Anyone can create a video that may potentially reach thousands or even millions of people. A poem, an article, or even a digital book can be posted online where it may be read instantaneously by people anywhere in the world. The capability to widely publish and broadcast content used to be limited to large media corporations. Common folks are now empowered with the ability to communicate with and influence others around the planet, and this empowerment is making the old guard uncomfortable.

With every great human advancement there can be a downside, and the age of information is no exception. Along with unprecedented access to information, we also have more access to misinformation than ever before. Fake news is a very real problem, as rumours and falsehoods can traverse the planet unchecked. Easily shared content has made it nearly impossible to protect intellectual property and artistic creations. And cultures feel threatened as foreign entertainment content overwhelms local productions, and democratic exercises like elections have been found to be influenced by foreign powers.

The double-edged sword of unfettered communication has inspired the Canadian government to expand the ability of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) through Bill C-10. This proposed legislation would allow the CRTC to directly regulate content on digital platforms, like Netflix, with their streaming services, much as it already does with traditional broadcasters like television and radio.

Canadian Heritage official Thomas Owen Ripley told MPs at a Canadian Heritage Committee hearing in March that Bill C-10 would give the CRTC the ability to require social media platforms to make financial contributions to support Canadian content, as well as impose programming standards and reporting requirements. Then in April, the committee updated the bill to remove a clause that exempted user-generated online content, such as YouTube videos posted by individuals. This removed the previous clarity that such content on social media platforms isn’t considered “programming” and therefore is not subject to federal regulation.

Following an outcry from critics concerned that this amounted to an attack on free speech and expression, in early May Liberal MP Julie Dabrusin proposed an amendment to C-10 that would impose limits on the CRTC’s ability to regulate user-generated content. However, it would still regard that type of content as programming and allow the regulator to force social media platforms to promote Canadian content to users.

That amendment may fail, but it has exposed the zeal with which some regulators want to come after small, independent content creators. While unregulated internet content may be presenting some troublesome issues, the legislative cure will be much worse than the disease if Bill C-10 passes.

With empowerment comes responsibility, and a troubling number of people appear willing to abdicate both to the state. A generation of peace has made us complacent. While voices on every side of the political spectrum are speaking out about the risks posed by Bill C-10, this issue hasn’t been gaining much traction in the public spectrum. Our fantastic, unhindered access to unregulated online content is being threatened, and citizens are responding with little more than an apathetic shrug. Many feel that giving up aspects of free speech and expression will be less troublesome than having to sift through content and determine merit by oneself. This is a very dangerous place for society to be in.

While today’s government may give assurances that it won’t infringe on people’s freedom of speech, can we be confident that this promise will be kept, or that future governments will keep the same promise? How would we be able to protect ourselves from a government with nefarious intentions, when the government controls our ability to communicate and express ourselves? History should have taught us by now that the assumption of state goodwill is often misplaced. We should never for a second consider relinquishing fundamental rights such as speech and expression—yet we are on the brink of doing just that.

Opposition to Bill C-10 should transcend party lines. The duty toward citizens should come first for legislators as they consider ratifying this bill. While Canadians at large appear to be oblivious to the consequences of Bill C-10, our elected officials should be well aware that the bill places unacceptable limitations upon free speech and expression. It is their duty to oppose this bill on behalf of the citizens who won’t stand up and do it for themselves.

We have become fatigued by state incursions upon our individual rights. We have passively, trustingly, and hopefully only temporarily allowed a number of Charter rights to be suspended in the name of pandemic control. We can’t let ourselves get into the habit of giving up our rights easily. Eventually, we will realize that we want those rights back. If we have given up our fundamental rights to free speech and expression, it will be nearly impossible to organize in order to regain the rest of our rights.

Free speech has been taken for granted. Many Canadians may not understand just how important those rights are, but we can rest assured that aspiring authoritarians do. Let’s hope our legislators do the right thing and stop Bill C-10 in its tracks.