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.

Albertans choose principles over partisanship

(This column originally appeared in the Epoch Times on April 12, 2021)

How is it that Alberta elected an NDP government in 2015 and now appears to be poised to do so again? As the province ostensibly considered to be Canada’s conservative heartland, it seems inconceivable that Alberta would put Rachel Notley back in the premier’s chair. But if current polls are to be believed, that is exactly what would happen if an election were held tomorrow.

So what the heck is going on in Alberta?

Most Albertans are indeed conservative-leaning. In elections, we overwhelmingly choose conservative options on the ballot. The thing is, we are loyal to conservative principles, not parties. Party brand and history means nothing to us. If we think a party has drifted from the basic principles of conservatism, we will vote for a different party. If a different conservative party isn’t available, we will create one. We have done that federally and provincially repeatedly since the province was formed.

A little background is required to explain this unique trait of Albertans.

Alberta is a frontier. It is a place where people move to in order to make a better future for themselves. In the early part of the last century, agriculture drew ambitious settlers from within Canada and around the world. Later, it was the development of oil and gas that brought waves of new citizens.

It takes a certain kind of person who is willing to take a chance, leave their friends, family, and all that is familiar to them in order to make a new life in the Wild West. The people who migrate like that are chance-takers and individualists. They are not conformists, and they have little use for authoritarianism. These are conservative-minded people who believe in direct, hands-on solutions to problems. If a political party is no longer considered to be serving them, they will either fix it or replace it. Supporting an unprincipled party based on loyalty to a brand is simply not a consideration.

Historically, when Albertans got upset enough to form a new party, that party would take off with such vigour that it would obliterate the party in power. We saw that happen with the United Farmers of Alberta (1921–1935), which wiped out the Liberal government and was subsequently knocked off by the new Alberta Social Credit Party a few election cycles later. In 2015, the Wildrose Party gained enough support to reduce the Progressive Conservatives’ 70 seats at dissolution to nine but didn’t gather enough steam to win government. The unexpected and devastating outcome was the NDP winning a majority government, with 54 seats, with only 40 percent of the vote.

Jason Kenney offered a plan to merge the two conservative parties in order to ensure that the Notley government remained a single-term anomaly. While the process was heated and messy, Kenney managed to cobble together a new, merged entity under the United Conservative Party banner. It was an impressive feat, as was winning a majority government in 2019. Since then, things have gone nowhere but downhill for Premier Kenney. He may know how to win government, but he doesn’t seem to know how to manage it.

While Kenney promised a lean government true to conservative principles, he increased spending and struck commissions to examine rather than deliver on election promises. Direct democracy promises got moved to the back burner while the missteps of the energy “war room” quickly drew criticism.

Along with disappointing his conservative base, Kenney infuriated the left with such actions as picking fights with Alberta’s doctors over salaries, proposing coal mining in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, and changing the nature of provincial parks. These may have been policies worthy of examining, but the UCP government’s ham-handed approach to them left openings for the NDP to claim that Kenney wanted to tear down mountains, drive doctors from the province, and to sell off our provincial parks.

Kenney’s flip-flop approach on COVID-19 restrictions has now led to a full-blown caucus revolt. Sixteen MLAs, representing a quarter of his caucus, signed a letter that harshly criticized his latest lockdowns. Kenney’s response, according to a Western Standard report, was to threaten them with calling a general election. I can’t think of a more ineffective way to try and quell the upstart MLAs than that, and it demonstrates that Kenney truly has lost touch with Albertan thinking.

I suspect Kenney’s threat was hollow, but it has to be understood that if he did call an election, Albertans would reject him at the polls. We would rather take our chances with the possibility of another NDP government than be bullied into partisan compliance with the threat of it.

The NDP is polling in majority territory right now in Alberta. We have two more years before we are due for another election and a lot can change in that time. Either Premier Kenney is going to learn how to understand and lead Albertans or another conservative party will be developing on his right flank. That new party may form government, or it may indeed lead to another NDP government.

One thing can be counted on though: Albertans will always vote based on principle rather than party—even if they end up hurting themselves.

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

Non-profit drive-in in High River shut down by AHS hours before nurses in Grande Prairie enjoy a drive-in function.

The examples of the arbitrary and inconsistent nature of government restrictions being made ostensibly to protect us from the pandemic is long and ugly. Some examples are just too much to bear however and this one is outstanding.

While you are allowed to buy food at a drive-thru restaurant, park in parking lots with thousands of other cars at Walmart, sit with thousands of other cars while in traffic, or even get a drive-thru COVID-19 test, the luminaries at Alberta Health Services decided to crack down and shut down a non-profit drive-in movie in High River just days before they were to open.

What possible threat could that drive-in have presented? Is there a lick of evidence anywhere that drive-in movies are responsible for any infections?

Evidence be damned. The pointy headed bureaucrats swooped in and shut down the event despite having recently approved it. Much like patios at bars.

It seems that they are more determined to shut out any form of happiness or human enjoyment that actually fighting the pandemic.

To add insult to injury in a mind blowing act of hypocrisy and double standards, there is a drive-in movie event happening unhindered in Grande Prairie on the very night that AHS shut down the High River one.

So what was the difference?

The Grande Prairie event was being held for AHS employees with full concession and public washrooms.

Those employees happen to be nurses.

Now don’t get me wrong.

I do not want the drive-in for the nurses to be stopped. It is just as safe as the High River event would have been, Perhaps less because they have concessions but that’s not the point.

How are we to take government shutdowns seriously when even nurses don’t follow the same rules?

This is galling.

We need to start opening up yesterday.

Clearly the danger is not as some like to claim it is.

Let’s get ready to rodeo!

I can’t think of a more Albertan way to push back against pandemic restrictions than to hold a rodeo and Ty Northcott is doing just that on May 1 and 2 in Bowden.

Albertans are more than tired of the interminable excuses and the ever-moving goalposts as pandemic restrictions drag on and on with a negligible impact on public safety. Countless businesses and individuals have gone broke and many more teeter on the edge of insolvency.

Ty Northcott’s rodeo stock business is one of those still hanging in there but it is terribly threatened. Having lost an entire year already due to government restrictions, it is looking likely that the government has no interest in letting the rodeo industry open up this year either. Northcott and others in the industry simply can’t afford that and they are pushing back in the way they know best; they are holding a rodeo.

Ty Northcott with Third Rock
Third Rock at work

This rodeo will also be a rally. There will be presenters and speakers throughout the weekend.

As can be seen below, Ty’s bulls are ready and eager to get to work.

Not everybody is into attending rallies downtown or taking part in other traditional protests. Who doesn’t like a rodeo though? It’s part of Alberta’s fabric, it’s safe, it’s outdoors and it’s simply fun.

This is our way of being able to go out and say to the authoritarians with the government “What are you going to do about it?”.

The Northcott family has been in the business for generations and if we let their business go, it is never coming back.

Harvey Northcott
Art Johnson

The location is ideal. Bowden is right between Red Deer and Calgary and is well within day-trip range. Camping will be available for folks who want to make a weekend of it.

We need to feel human again. We need to gather with others and we need to support our local industries.

You can buy tickets at the gate or through Eventbrite.

Keep up with information on their Facebook page

Get out, have fun, stand up for yourself and support an Albertan industry this weekend. I know that I will..

Universal basic income. A failed idea that just won’t go away.

This article by Cory Morgan originally appeared in the Epoch Times

The concept of the “Great Reset” isn’t new but had always been dismissed as a conspiracy theory or an academic notion that would never actually be implemented.

The theory moved beyond the realm of conspiracy theory when it became the primary theme of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in January 2021.

In Canada, the notion moved beyond academic postulating and into potential legislative reality when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to the UN on pursuing the reset last September. A universal basic income (UBI) policy would be an integral facet of that scheme, and the Liberal government is laying the groundwork for it.

To encapsulate the Great Reset, it is a global plan to take advantage of the current crisis caused by the pandemic to completely rebuild our economic and governance models. To make changes piecemeal takes years of work and voters have to be consulted. If the economy has ground to a halt due to a world crisis such as a pandemic, governments can use the emergency in order to implement massive changes while the population is fearful and ready to embrace new visions.

This is distressing on two fronts.

For one, leaders and governments that want to pursue the Great Reset have an incentive to crash economies further. If a leader truly believes that the Great Reset will bring about change for the greater good, they will want the economy to reach rock bottom as soon as possible in order to begin rebuilding this new utopia.

Secondly, the vision for a post-reset world is a socialist one. Increased government presence in the economy along with a massive increase in the welfare state are fundamental facets in the Great Reset. Developed nations have been drifting into this state of being for decades, but the ideologues want to accelerate that process and the Great Reset gives them the means.

A UBI policy would hasten Canada’s trip to the economic bottom and would bring about massive growth in state dependency. It is a two-for-one policy as far as Great Reset proponents are concerned. That is precisely why Liberal MP Julie Dzerowicz has tabled Bill C-273, or the National Strategy for a Guaranteed Basic Income Act.

Private members’ bills rarely pass and can usually be dismissed. But when an MP from the governing party puts forth a private member’s bill, we must sit up and take notice. Governments use these kinds of bills to float notions and to promote future initiatives without looking like the party in power is actually behind the bill. The Trudeau government keeps a tight leash on its MPs, so you can rest assured that Dzerowicz’s bill would never have seen the light of day if the powers that be didn’t want it to.

UBI schemes have been toyed with by economists and politicians for years, but have failed without exception when put to the test. While a UBI plan is supposed to replace existing state plans such as welfare and employment insurance, governments don’t have the courage to eliminate those plans so the UBI just becomes another payout on top of many. UBI policies also work on the naive premise that people won’t become dependent on the payments and will seek employment as soon as possible. A two-year experiment in Finland that ended in December 2018 proved that wrong, as UBI recipients simply took the money and stayed at home.

With the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) program in response to the pandemic, Canada is already undergoing what is essentially a nationwide experiment in UBI. The full cost of CRB can’t even be measured yet since there hasn’t been a federal budget in nearly two years. We should wait and see the fiscal costs of this before even considering embracing a UBI policy.

Ready access to CRB funds is undeniably a contributing factor to Canada’s addiction crisis. People with addiction challenges need treatment, not cash. Easy access to unconditional funds can exacerbate problems for people who are fighting addiction and can’t make responsible spending choices. Overdose deaths across Canada skyrocketed in 2020. A UBI program would have the same effect.

To embrace a universal basic income at a time like this would be economic suicide. Ironically, that is exactly why the Trudeau government wants to implement it. We can’t enter the Great Reset without hitting rock bottom first, and a UBI program will hurtle us toward that hard landing.

It’s going to be a long, difficult climb for us all to get out of the pandemic recession. People will be tempted to fall for the siren-song of big government solutions, and UBI will be one of them. We need to stand up and push back against such initiatives while we still can. Bill C-273 needs to be stopped.

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)