Tweet by Mathew Schmaltz: “I grew up rich. My parents cheated on their taxes. I smoked weed in front of cops; Ain’t nobody getting ‘rule of law’-ed in 1% land. So when the CPC advocate for ‘Rule of Law’ for First Nations protestors; sorry, if I call bullshit. Hashtag Selective Enforcement.”
We do face a national crisis in Canada: It’s not caused by a few non-violent Indigenous blockades by David Climenhaga, Feb 18, 2020, Alberta Politics
We do face a serious national crisis in Canada. It is not caused by a few rail and road blockades by First Nations activists and their allies, however. Nor is it caused by environmentalists to some of whom the grave issues facing Indigenous Canadians may be secondary but who view any enemy of their enemy as their friend.
It is the result of the apparent fact many adherents of Canada’s conservative movement seem to have lost their faith in democracy and due process, essential ingredients to the rule of law they keep talking about.
Andrew Scheer, possibly the weakest Conservative leader since Confederation (Photo: Andre Forget, Andrew Scheer/Flickr).
Anybody reading their mad utterances about the “crisis” caused by a small number of blockades in support of opponents of a pipeline across traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia by, as they keep saying, a small number of activists, has to know this is true.
Seriously, prominent people here in Alberta, and this would include holders of responsible elected office and members of the Order of Canada, are publicly advocating full-blown military suppression of opposition to major hydrocarbon projects, and in a few cases getting very close to calling for open treason and the violent removal of our elected national government.
This may represent an extreme fringe — although a well funded and well connected one. But I doubt there is a single Conservative politician in the province of Alberta who is not advocating military or paramilitary police action to bring an immediate end to the blockades on the dubious and speculative grounds they are “costing Canada billions” in lost business revenue.
I challenge any Conservative politician who thinks I am wrong about this and agrees that a violent end to the blockades will cost Canada far more in treasure, blood and reputation, not to mention public safety, to speak up now as a patriotic imperative.
This really is a situation serious enough to warrant the prime minister cancelling a Caribbean holiday. And, given the number of people who seem to be drinking this poisonous brew, he may need to give up several.
Rail traffic appears to have been stopped in eight locations across the country. At least two of these disruptions have ended, and only three or four could be called honest-to-god blockades, the rest not much more than disturbances that slowed rail traffic for a short time.
So how much are these disturbances actually costing Canada? I have no idea, but I can guarantee it is nothing like the economic apocalypse claimed by high-profile Conservative politicians and their media echo chamber to support their demand for an immediate violent end to this situation.
Moreover, if there is an actual economic crisis brewing, there is some reason to suspect it may be the result of manipulation of the blockades by rail companies that have stopped operating in areas where there are no blockades and no extraordinary safety concerns. We saw this same specious threat used by big business during last fall’s rail strike by Canadian National rail crews, which also had Conservatives screaming for an instant and authoritarian suspension of the collective bargaining process. Who says it isn’t happening again?
If you think I’m nuts to suggest this crisis isn’t as severe as we’re daily being told, I challenge you to consider how many times Alberta Premier Jason Kenney alone lied in the past couple of years. And his is actually one of the more reasoned voices in this right-wing cacophony!
Instead of propaganda like this disgusting recent CTV report, which actually predicts a national shortage of bread, Canadians need a reasoned assessment of how much the blockades are really costing, and how long-term the impact will likely be. I would suggest this should be a matter of urgent national priority for the federal government or even some honourable media organization, if such a thing still exists.
A violent response to these peaceful blockades will lead to violence in response, and far more economic damage, than the prime minister’s strategy of letting the situation peter out. And remember, there are nearly 50,000 kilometres of rail line in Canada, so it’s not as if there is a shortage of targets.
Indigenous Canadians have been lied to, betrayed and abused so many times their forbearance and patience with those of us of immigrant stock is truly remarkable. A military “solution” to suit the desires of an extremist minority concentrated in Western Canada is exactly what our country does not need.
So what is going on? I suspect Canadian movement conservatives collectively started to lose their minds circa 2015, when they lost two major elections, one nationally and the other here in Alberta, that despite voter fatigue with their rule they thought they had a reasonable chance of winning.
This set in motion the double reverse hostile takeover of Alberta’s Conservative parties by their extremist wing, in particular the more moderate Progressive Conservative Party that had ruled Alberta for more than four decades. A purge of “Red Tories” from positions of influence that had already happened federally under Stephen Harper’s rule followed in Alberta.
There are now very few moderate voices left in the United Conservative Party or the Conservative Party of Canada, and the latter’s current leadership candidates obviously feel they have no choice but to truckle to the party’s extremists.
Moreover, they seem to have become persuaded the easiest route to power is constant lazy and destructive vilification of the prime minister and our compatriots in Quebec and British Columbia. After all, this almost worked last fall for Andrew Scheer, possibly the weakest Conservative leader since Confederation, an assessment that includes Joe Clark and even Kim Campbell, who was dealt a terrible hand by her predecessor Brian Mulroney.
After the Canadian Conservative electoral losses of 2015 came the Trump revolution in the U.S. Republican Party from which they concluded, to rephrase the late Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, that extremism in defence of power is no vice, let alone an impediment to electoral success.
Then, to complete the perfect storm, came Doug Ford’s 2018 success in Ontario and Mr. Kenney’s in 2019 in Alberta, followed by the federal election campaign that, despite a weak and vulnerable leader, Conservative party activists had convinced themselves they were going to win thanks to their 24/7 attacks on Justin Trudeau.
The two provincial elections gave the impression a manipulative campaign characterized by outright lies and extremist rhetoric would work. The result of the second was bitter disillusionment when the same tactics failed nationally, although, as the Duke of Wellington said of the Battle of Waterloo, it was the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.
The narrow loss in the federal election was the moment, I think, Canada’s Conservatives completely lost their stuff.
We now have a national Opposition party that has lost faith in the democratic process, demands violent and authoritarian responses to any and all economic frustrations no matter how insignificant, gins up regional separatist movements in hopes of short-term political gain, and has almost entirely put its electoral and public engagement strategies in the hands of extremists and dishonest social media manipulators.
That truly is a national crisis with the potential to cause great harm, economic and moral, to our country.
It should be noted the Wet’suwe’ten did offer the company an alternative route on their land which was already disturbed. The detour added a very small extra distance and brought the line closer to the town of Smithers. Naturally the company would prefer to spend less money than more, but the incremental cost on the project would be small. The Trudeau Cabinet should instruct the company to take the Wet’suwe’ten up on their offer and get on with the work if they want to. I say that because the LNG market may no longer be there since Russia has completed its natural gas line into China and points beyond. Australia’s LNG exports are just limping along now. As to the silly and worse Conservatives. No matter how many pipelines are built, the time of big oil and gas booms is over. But even if there is never another tar sands plant or pipeline built, Alberta will still have a huge amount of oil and gas production that will make this province a very comfortable place for a very long time. Unless you screw it up with austerity or worse.
These so called blockades are no more than mere tempests in a few teapots. However, it’s the railway operators that are turning this into a full blown crisis by choosing to not move their trains. Why? Legal liabilities, of course. And they will not move until the feds do something. PMJT knows that to force a confrontation will cause an Oka-like situation. Turning the police or the military loose on the protestors will have repercussions unimaginable; better to negotiate and wait. The trains will move again, once the railway operators decide that they are being far too cautious.
As for the CPC, being the mad dogs they are, they are calling for violence and blood. They are even threatening to choke off long awaited recognition of Indigenous people’s treaty rights and claims in the name of law and order. I was amused when fake opposition leader, declaring that if he was PM, there would be swift action against those who would dare challenge his vision. Fortunately, Canadians denied the CPC the right to govern, and Scheer has been kicked to the curb by his own party.
He calls on protestors to “check their privilege” — that’s pretty rich coming from someone who has enjoyed nothing but privilege his whole life.
The usual alt-right suspects are calling for justice at the point of a gun and the blow of a baton, even though the protests are diminishing and the blockades are ending.
It will break their hearts that civil war was averted, because no one else wants one. I have no doubt that once all this ends, securing the peace will be declared PMJT’s finest hour, even though I he had to do was wait and keep calm.
A shortage of bread? Talk about hysterical nonsense. There will not be a bread shortage for a very long time even if every train in the country stops. Every flour mill has grain storage for several weeks, if not months of grain milling and local grain elevators are filled with several years worth of Canadian consumption. Most are a short truck trip from mills in Ontario and the east. Bread and other perishable items have always moved by truck. There is also a gigantic flour mill in Calgary and if my memory serves, one in Edmonton as well.Oh, and not to worry about beer. That “little” malting plant at Alix has the capacity to supply malt for roughly 25 million bottles of beer and the one at Biggar might even be called “gigantic.” As our friend Farmer B pointed out, trucking grain to them from local farms is done all the time. Now as of Friday last week the Port Terminals at Vancouver were at 67% capacity and there were 39 grain ships lined up. 9 of those were loading, another 8 were next in line. 21 were sitting at anchor at Vancouver Island much to the annoyance of the cottagers. So it is SNAFU in Vancouver because of the incompetence of the grain companies. A few late or delayed trains are not going to make much difference there for the coming couple of weeks. Oh, and as of tonight, CN has laid off a total of 10 workers down in the Maritimes. Hardly the train apocalypse although they did cut passenger rail service across the country to annoy the easterners who actually have passenger rail service. Country elevators are at 81% capacity, but farmer deliveries are down indicating the incompetence extends from the port Terminals to the Country elevator managers. Could it be most of them are owned by the same companies and all of them share a similar corporate culture of making their profits at the expense of farmers? Oh say it ain’t so! Nothing like pretending your elevator is nearly full to scare farmers into selling cheap and making the gullible ones feel special when they are allowed to deliver. Well, that’s all for now: “Situation Normal etc.”
I do think Canada’s Federal Conservatives have lost it. They are so desperate to take power from the Liberals and their failure to do so in the last election has distorted whatever little sense of judgement they had before, even more. So perhaps they are doubling down on things that did not work in 2015 or 2019, like all the over the top character attacks on Trudeau. Some free advise to the Conservative that they really should take. At this point Canadians do not need to be convinced Trudeau has flaws. They do need to be convinced Conservatives would be any better and so far, they are not buying it. Maybe Conservatives look at the US and see the excessive partisanship, lying and lack of any morals as the road to success. Most Canadians are actually repulsed by all this and for a lot of reasons this approach will not work so well here. So the Conservatives have manufactured yet another crisis of the week, along with some friends in the mainstream media – same old tactics and approach. Perhaps the next Conservative leader will have a bit more imagination and integrity than Scheer. I know its a lot to ask for, but really the bar is not that high.
We are teetering dangerously on the precipice of totalitarianism here in Alberta. While friends of oil (well) orphans (FOO) tweet daily about sending in the army to crack skulls, I’ve been checking off the list, conveniently provided by Wikipedia for such occasions.
Let’s see: fraudulent elections, personality cultism, propaganda campaigns, restriction of individual opposition to the state and its claims, absolute control over the economy, etc.
Now I have to be careful, because I might mistakenly take this list to the grocery store. Fat lot of good that would be when I forget to buy bread, which I will blame on the FOO fighters. So I urge the FOO fighters to Keep on the Sunny Side (a song by The Whites, which cannot be a coincidence). There couldn’t be a better time for this to happen, in a way. The Chinese economy is on hold, and the question is what container ships bringing goods from China that we cannot possibly live without? There won’t be a backlog of merchandise at the ports before long. And we have trucks! Under-employed yelllow vesters could possibly save the day with their big rigs that are quite capable of making the trip across this great land. How perfect is that?
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