Message to Alberta’s chattering classes: Quit misinterpreting ‘the rule of law,’ already!

Posted on March 28, 2018, 2:04 am
11 mins

PHOTOS: Protesters opposed to the Kinder Morgan Inc. Pipeline expansion megaproject in Burnaby, B.C., in May 2016 (Photo: Marlin Olynyk, Survival Media Agency, Creative Commons). They pose no threat to the rule of law. Below: Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May, United Conservative Party Agriculture Critic Rick Strankman, environmentalist Mike Hudema, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and UCP Leader Jason Kenney.

We’re hearing the phrase “the rule of law” an awful lot in Alberta these days, from politicians of the left and right.

In a recent advertisement published in British Columbia newspapers, the Alberta government accused its B.C. counterpart of “trying to break the rules of Confederation” by considering limits on the amount of diluted bitumen that can flow through pipelines in B.C. “The disregard for the rule of law puts our national economy in danger,” the ad said.

Complaining about the mayor of Burnaby’s reluctance to pay for extra policing at the terminus of the Trans Mountain Pipeline in his community, Alberta’s NDP premier, Rachel Notley, referred to this activity as “the policing of the rule of law.”

“The B.C. government took aim at the jobs of hundreds of thousands of hardworking women and men in every industry that depends on governments acting within the rule of law,” she said on another recent occasion.

Jason Kenney, leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party Opposition, has said much the same. “The rule of law must be enforced,” he Tweeted. “It’s time to stand up for the rule of law in Canada,” he said in a Facebook video. “We have environmental radicals who are increasingly undermining the rule of law as the basic organizing principle of Canadian society…”

Indeed, this phrase has been repeated enough in this context now that even some of mainstream media’s more reasonable commentators are slipping uncritically into the rule-of-law meme. Premier Notley, wrote Edmonton Journal political columnist Graham Thomson yesterday, “is counting on the rule of law while her opponents are determined to break, stretch or ignore the law,” wrote Edmonton Journal political columnist Graham Thomson yesterday.

I could go on at considerably more length, but I think readers get the idea. In all cases above, the emphasis was added by your blogger to the phrase “the rule of law.” Most of the time in this debate, it is used to mean obedience to the law,” which is normally a citizen’s duty, but not the same thing at all as “the rule of law.”

Somebody has obviously done some message testing and determined that this is a good talking point to which Alberta and maybe even B.C. audiences will respond favourably.

But if you begin to think about it, it is fatuous. Not only because it presumably intentionally misinterprets the phrase “the rule of law,” but because it ignores the meaning of Canada’s Constitution.

The rule of law is traditionally defined as “the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.” Importantly, the phrase is usually explained as meaning that the law must be applied equally to everyone, not that everyone should obey it.

The right of provincial governments to enforce regulations to protect the environment within their borders is clearly permitted within the division of powers in the Canadian Constitution and by subsequent jurisprudence. Whether or not the regulations B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman proposes are constitutional is another matter, which cannot be settled yet because no one (perhaps including Mr. Heyman) knows what those regulations might be.

Calling such statements unconstitutional is a stretch; so is saying they threaten the rule of law. Only if the courts ruled against them and B.C. enforced them anyway would this claim have any validity.

Free speech and free assembly remain protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a core part of our Constitution and the country’s fundamental law.

So calling for Kinder Morgan Inc.’s pipeline expansion megaproject to be halted – whether or not that is sound policy – is clearly permitted by the Constitution, as is organizing large protests against the project. It is risible to define either activity as a threat to the rule of law.

Standing peacefully within five metres of the fence around the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby is technically not permitted – which is why the Mounties will arrest you if you do – because the company has gotten a court injunction to prevent protesters getting that close to its operation.

Perhaps that injunction can be successfully challenged as violating the fundamental freedoms protected by the Charter. This seems unlikely, as it appears to be a reasonable limitation, but even if such a challenge cannot succeed there is the response of civil disobedience.

There is a long history of brave people willing to break laws they feel are unjust or immoral or dangerous and face the punishment. But breaking the law by engaging in civil disobedience does no harm to the principle of the rule of law.

Civil disobedience is what Rosa Parks was doing when she defied the driver of a bus and sat down illegally in the vehicle’s “whites only” section in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Her action was heroic and historic.

This is what Rick Strankman was doing when he illegally drove a load of wheat from Canada to the United States to protest the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly. Mr. Strankman was jailed in 2002 for that violation of the law and a decade later he was pardoned by prime minister Stephen Harper, who praised him for his “courage and conviction.”

Today Mr. Strankman – who in Mr. Harper’s words “protested injustice by submitting (himself) peacefully to the consequences of challenging injustice” – is an honoured member of Mr. Kenney’s United Conservative Party Caucus, its Agriculture Critic.

Civil disobedience is what environmentalist Mike Hudema and Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips counseled when they worked together on a book about environmental activism published in 2004.

And it is what Green Party of Canada Leader and Member of Parliament Elizabeth May was doing last Friday when she and NDP MP Kennedy Stewart were arrested at the Kinder Morgan terminus fence.

Truly democratic societies respect civil disobedience, even if they sometimes do not tolerate it. Nothing the protesters in Burnaby are doing can be described as a threat to the rule of law, as long as the law is applied equally and impartially to them.

If the penalty faced by Ms. May is the same when she strays into the forbidden zone as that faced by Protester June, young person in a hoodie who does the same thing, the rule of law is safe.

Likewise, if the penalty faced by Farmer A for driving a load of grain illegally into Montana is the same as that faced by Farmer B, despite the fact the first farmer is a pal and ideological fellow traveller of the prime minister, no harm is done to the rule of law.

Indeed, if anything offended the rule of law, it was the prime minister’s pardon of Farmer A, otherwise known as Mr. Strankman, since pardons are definitely not handed out equally to everyone who commits the same offence.

So what do Alberta’s politicians really mean when they endlessly repeat the phrase “the rule of law” in this debate?

In fact, they are advancing the dubious theory that elections are the complete and perfect form of democracy in our society, its be-all and end-all, and that any effort to challenge a decision made by a duly elected government or its appointed agents and agencies is not only undemocratic, but a threat to the rule of law.

If the recent brouhaha about data mining, the manipulation of private information on Facebook, Russian Internet bots, Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the success of Cambridge Analytica teaches us anything, it is that this interpretation of democracy is dangerously limited.

History and the reliance on voter suppression techniques by some political parties, including one in which Mr. Kenney served as a cabinet minister, show why free expression through protest is an essential democratic right.

For the rule of law to be preserved, laws must apply to all people equally, be they monarchs, MPs, police officers, judges, billionaires, government officials, taxi drivers, baristas … or environmental protesters.

Civics class dismissed.

30 Comments to: Message to Alberta’s chattering classes: Quit misinterpreting ‘the rule of law,’ already!

  1. Brian Fish

    March 28th, 2018

    David: That is one of the best articles I’ve see from you. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  2. Kevin Logan

    March 28th, 2018

    Rule of law? Did KM adhere to a BC Environmental Assessment? No! So much for the rule of law.

    Reply
  3. David

    March 28th, 2018

    Well the whole pipeline debate has gotten quite muddied by provincial and local governments taking forays into talking about or doing things that may be beyond their powers, and to be fair it is not just all on one side. I think this is where some of the rule of law talk may have originally started from.

    I think it is fairly clear in principle, protestors have the right to protest, but not to obstruct. What that means in practice, of course gets a bit murkier. I think for the most part the protestors understand and are abiding by that, but of course some high profile politicians come in and I think intend to step over the bounds of what is allowed to make their point, which is where we get to civil disobedience. Now whether that is more like Rosa Parks standing up against an unjust law or just mischievous behavior is a debatable point, but yes it is a time honoured way of trying to highlight what some perceive to be an unjust or unfair situation.

    In the end society will be the judge of that, but in the meantime laws will be enforced as they are. It remains to be seen if those that get arrested will achieve anything other than a fine and a charge for their troubles and efforts. Lastly, while there are no large visible protests in Alberta about the pipeline at this point, it would be a mistake to underestimate the angst the issue has also caused in Alberta. I think that is in part because many in Alberta are hopeful the pipeline will go ahead, as approved. However if that changes, don’t be surprised if the mood in Alberta starts to get more unsettled like it is in parts of BC. The rest of Canada does really not want to see what will happen if the Alberta government decides civil disobedience is its best option.

    Reply
    • M. Nokleby

      March 28th, 2018

      Yes. And whether the \business as usual” crowd like that or not, these actions are going to increase.
      In Alberta, it may be expedient to pretend that climate change is still something theoretical, facing possibly our great grandchildren………..the science disagrees with their optimism.

      Rule of Law? A parvenue concept, next to the Laws of Nature. The living web is complex, interconnected and inter dependent. So although what we humans do may be subject to rules made up by the most influential among us, the laws of nature often depend more on the krill in the oceans, the blue green algae that first discovered the miricle of photsynthesis, and keystone species such as whales and salmon.

      Remove some of these invisible but essential lifeforms……..and all our rules will stand for nothing, besides the chaos that breaking natural laws can bring.

      Rule of Law? A defence of ‘legal necessity’? Which of the two has the future in mind?

      Reply
  4. Geoffrey Pounder

    March 28th, 2018

    Notley has also found new definitions for “social licence”, “revenue neutral” (carbon tax), “climate leadership”, “climate plan”, “climate change denier”, “working people”, etc.
    The Premier routinely uses enhanced interrogation techniques on the English language.
    “Notley’s Revised English Dictionary” now available at your favorite bookstore.

    Reply
  5. Sam Gunsch

    March 28th, 2018

    Given that AB’s ostensible democratic governance system has actually been captured from within by ‘Oil’s Deep State’ as per Kevin Taft’s research, civil disobedience in AB might ramp up to push AB to transition away from unchecked investment in fossil fuels.

    A few Albertans are already engaging in civil disobedience against KM. And they aren’t alone in their opposition. One recent poll found 18% of AB’s are siding with the BC gov’t’s pipeline opposition… an online poll, which of course have lower reliability, but it was Angus Reid’s own poll, not commissioned by AB or BC or the industry.
    http://angusreid.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/2018.02.22-pipelines2.pdf

    Recent AB action against KM in Calgary…

    Excerpt: ‘”As Albertans, we’re also here to say when we voted for Rachel Notley, we voted for change,” said the unidentified woman.

    “They were looking for a transition and something that isn’t tying us into this boom-bust economy, and what we’ve seen is the same old business as usual with Rachel Notley.”‘

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/kinder-morgan-protest-trans-mountain-calgary-1.4590084
    ================

    Oil’s Deep State:
    http://edmontonjournal.com/news/insight/graham-thomson-oil-deep-state-controls-alberta-former-liberal-leader-kevin-tafts-new-book-says

    ‘Taft is not the first author to criticize Alberta for being a willing hostage to the oil industry, but he doesn’t call the province a petrostate. He calls it an “oil deep state”: “Petrostates are conceived in petroleum, while oil deep states are captured by petroleum.”

    In other words, we had democracy in Alberta until we discovered oil.

    Taft’s argument is exhaustively researched and presented with a confidence that will irritate his critics.’

    Reply
    • M. Nokleby

      March 29th, 2018

      I couldn’t agree more. Albertan’s likely should try to remember that oil and gas is only approx 20% of our economy. That means that at least 50% of us see none of the advantages Albertans supposedly enjoy. In fact
      for many, it has just been a more expensive place to live…and with low minimum wages, that conservatives like to attribute to ‘market forces’, there may be a lot more resentment of Big Oil than is officially acknowledged.

      Taft’s book is a must read for anyone interested in proving Danielle Smith wrong. I heard her laughing about how soon it would be in the discount bins, just after hearing Taft and in the midst of the book.

      Truth is, it’s an engrossing, and essential read.

      Reply
  6. Sam Gunsch

    March 28th, 2018

    also: This is one of Climenhaga’s best posts. A top tenner.

    =============

    And FWIW on the topic of climate and civil disobedience, yesterday, a precedent may have been set, at least in USA jurisprudence.

    https://thinkprogress.org/roxbury-pipeline-protest-necessity-defense-36de64c83ffd/

    EXCERPT: ‘According to the Climate Disobedience Center, which supported the protesters in their demonstration, this is the first example of a judge finding defendants not responsible on the basis of a necessity defense — something that has been used by the climate movement increasingly in recent years as a basis for direct action against fossil fuel infrastructure.’

    Reply
  7. Farmer Dave

    March 28th, 2018

    And now the famous Rick Strankman, as per your article David, who defied the Wheat Board and won for the farmers getting rid of it, helping just a few of the larger southern Corporate Canadian farmers shipping grain across the boarder. Strankman is probably now crying about the shortage of rail grain cars and that farmers can’t get their grain to market. The former Wheat Board, although not always the best for all grain farmers, but was good for smaller northern farmers to get their grain to market. It’s the same with egg and dairy producers where only the large corporate farms are now surviving.

    Reply
    • M.Nokleby

      March 29th, 2018

      And how many of those are already foreign nationals….doing agri-business?

      Which those with farm backgrounds at least, should know………is not farming in any sense that includes the term ‘husbandry’.

      Harper destroyed the Wheat Board, for the benefit of the “Canada is open for business” crowd. It’s another form of rip and ship that we are going to come to regret….food security not being a frill.

      Reply
  8. March 29th, 2018

    You’re almost correct, Mr. Climenhaga. But you don’t really answer the point regarding the government refusal to apply the law. If the government “picks and chooses”, from a political perspective, when they will or will not apply the law equally – that offends the Rule of Law. The suggestion that Burnaby will not allow police to enforce the law is a frightening slippery slop. It sounds good when it applies to something you feel passionate about – but what of, say, Nazi Germany, where people (including police) looked the other way as Jews were abused and murdered?

    I also think you go a little bit too far when you state, “But breaking the law by engaging in civil disobedience does no harm to the principle of the rule of law.” A perfect example was our former Attorney General and Judge, Ron Stevens, at a PC AGM where, in response to a suggestion that Alberta not respect gay marriage, his response was succinct, and appropriate: advising that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on that point, the Rule of Law is fundamental to democracy.. so that law must be respected. If we allowed or encouraged the broader society to exercise civil disobedience regarding the civil rights of disadvantaged groups, you clearly are infringing upon the concept of the Rule of Law.

    Civil disobedience has it’s place, no question – but the consequences of that act must be prosecution and penalization by the state – who can’t pick “favorites” based upon political expediency.

    Beyond that – there is a growing sense of ignorance, IMHO, of the populace who have become so polarized that they begin to consider that the law should not apply to them due to their “rightness”. Mob rule, on either side of politics, is a dangerous thing to encourage.

    And government encouraging civil disobedience, in my opinion, is grossly inappropriate.

    However, that being said, you are correct that assertion of authority in a battle between provincial and federal governments is not that unusual and is not a breach of the Rule of Law, but rather, a legitimate exercise of constitutional interpretation via the courts.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      March 29th, 2018

      Mr. Harvie: I think I did address your first point in the piece, at least insofar as continuing to enforce a law that has been ruled unconstitutional goes. The Burnaby mayor is not saying he won’t enforce the law, he’s saying, don’t dump a law enforcement problem on us and expect us to pay for it. The effect may be the same, but the argument is a different one and, in reality is exactly what police departments and municipal governments all across the land do all the time when they decide, for example, not to respond to break-in calls, car vandalism, and so on. Nazi Germany was not a constitutional state, it was a dictatorship run according to the Führerprinzip (leader principle), so, if you ask me, any reference to that government in this context is not serious. I agree, though, that it was grossly inappropriate for Stephen Harper to encourage civil disobedience. That’s what you’re saying, correct? DJC

      Reply
      • M. Nokleby

        March 29th, 2018

        I didn’t find much respect for ‘the rule of law’ in the way he went about dissolving the Canadian Wheat Board either….the federal government actually made off with some of the farmer’s assets when Steve decided electing him had been the vote the Wheat Board constitution demanded farmers undertake before dissolving the board.

        I think its a bit rich for pro pipeline people to suddenly be sticklers for a concept a few of their past actions would suggest they don’t have a very clear grasp of. But civil disobedience….for those willing to face the consequences……has an honourable history.

        So long as it is peaceful, it serves democracy….particularly once we realize how seldom citizens are willing to defy the law out of principle. When they do so, it is a message democratic societies should heed, and a safeguard against tyrannical laws all democrats should honour.

        Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      March 29th, 2018

      The climate protection movement in the USA has written a lot more about the justification civil disobedience. One line of argument: that gov’ts have a fiduciary duty as the citizen’s trustees to protect, for us and future generations, our common property assets, e.g. a stable climate. And because gov’ts are still failing to act quickly enough despite decades of promises, i.e. they continue to enable fossil fuel expansion, therefore citizens have a duty to act and try to enforce the gov’t’s responsibilities to implement their climate commitments, Kyoto Protocol, and now Paris agreement.
      =================

      Why getting arrested to resist the Keystone XL is legally justified

      Jeremy Brecher April 24, 2014

      https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/getting-arrested-resist-keystone-xl-legally-justified/

      EXCERPT: ‘I believe that my actions and the actions of tens of thousands of others in protesting the Keystone XL pipeline are necessary to prevent a far greater harm. These actions represent not only the assertion of a public right, but also the fulfillment of a citizen’s duty under U.S. law and the U.S. Constitution.

      Governments have long served as trustees for rights held in common by the people — specifically, rights to the public natural resources on which we all depend. In American law, this role is defined by the “public trust doctrine,” under which the state serves as trustee on behalf of the present and future generations of its citizens. As trustee, the state has a strict “fiduciary duty” to the owners — the citizen beneficiaries. This legal duty requires government officials to act solely in the citizens’ interest, with “the highest duty of care.” Our officials have no legal right to harm the public trust in order to benefit a corporation — no matter how politically powerful it may be. The basis for this trust lies in common property rights recognized as far back as Roman times. Issued in 535 A.D., the Institutes of Justinian states: “By the law of nature these things are common to mankind — the air, running water, the sea, and consequently the shores of the sea.”

      But instead of protecting its citizens’ common property rights as it is duty-bound to do, the state is permitting their destruction. ‘

      Reply
  9. K. Larsen

    March 29th, 2018

    Isn’t comparing the prairie activists who got themselves arrested to Rosa Parks just a bit much? A lone working-class black girl facing down murdering racist thugs in Alabama is not even in the same universe as a group of privileged white males staging a political stunt by breaking the Federal Customs Act in Alberta. Premier Klein even appeared before a rally on the Lethbridge Court House steps in October of 2002 to support them.

    In fact the Wheat Board had absolutely zero to do with their legal problems. You can read why here: http://www.cwbafacts.ca/2012/08/myth-the-cwb-put-farmers-in-jail-for-selling-wheat/

    Yet at the time the anti-CWB types loudly proclaimed the Wheat Board had put them in jail. This is an example of fake news which some of the media swallowed, but farmers rejected. In Wheat Board elections grain farmers supporting the Wheat Board’s orderly marketing responsibilities actually gained a greater plurality – which is why PM Harper never gave farmers a vote about destroying the Wheat Board.

    Incidentally farmers who wished to export their own grain were free to do so using the CWB’s Producer Direct Sales program, which organic farmers and others had used successfully for years.

    There ends the history lesson.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      March 30th, 2018

      Ken: You’ve been reading this blog long enough, I am sure, to understand the rhetorical purpose in including Mr. Strankman in this passage. So, yes, the comparison is a bit much. AlbertaPolitics.ca depends on its readers to understand this stuff and, if necessary, explain it to newcomers. DJC

      Reply
    • Farmer Brian

      March 31st, 2018

      Ken as a Caucasian farmer I am a little confused by your “privileged white males” comment. My Great Grandfather came with his family from England in 1906 and started farming just up the road from where I live today. Am I privileged to be able to farm? Absolutely but I don’t believe that privilege is due to the colour of my skin, it is due to the work and dedication of multiple generations. As for Rosa Parks what she did took amazing strength!!

      As for the Producer Direct Sales Program, first you had to contact the CWB, establish what they felt was the cash price for your grain that day and then you had to buy it from the CWB. This expense was payed back over time first with your initial payment and then your interm and final payments which could take up to a year. So getting an export permit in my opinion took a little work. Today, if I want to export grain, I call a broker, if the price is what I want I sign a contract and once the grain is shipped I recieve my money in a week or two, a much better system imo. Enjoy your day

      Reply
      • K. Larsen

        April 3rd, 2018

        Hi Farmer Brian: Actually your great grandfather benefitted from Canada’s “whites only” immigration policy for land settlement on the prairies. Almost all of the success of that settlement was made possible by collective works like retail cooperatives, Dairy Pools, Wheat Pools, irrigation districts, etc mostly organized by prairie grain farmers well before the formation of Alberta and the arrival of your family.

        The anti-Wheat Board border runners also enjoyed a great deal of privilege. They ignored 14 US international trade tribunals which all found the Wheat Board was a fair trader that actually got more money for prairie farmers than US farmers got for the same product. Effectively the border runners were valuing their individual freedom more highly than making more money from collective grain sales. This is almost a perfect demonstration of egocentric privilege.

        In any event the numbers are pretty simple and have been well documented. With the CWB, prairie grain farmers consistently got around 88% of the world price. Now we are in the 40 to 60% range. That is a high price the rest of us have to pay so a few malcontents could have the illusion of personal freedom.

        Here is a link to a 7 minute video where an agricultural economist explains market power and why prairie grain farmers’ share of the world price will likely fall even lower.
        http://www.cwbafacts.ca/2016/02/for-your-viewing-pleasure/

        At the time of this 2016 interview there were just four international grain companies than handled over 70% of the world’s grain. Now there are just three controlling that amount. Your broker works for one of them whether he understands it or not.

        Reply
        • Farmer Brian

          April 4th, 2018

          Ken you reply that we are receiving 40-60% of world price for our wheat. Now I sold my #1 hard red spring with 11.6% protein for $6.15 this year. There was lots of low protein wheat in central Alberta. Now if that is 60% of world price that translates into a world price do $10.25 a bushel or $376.58 a tonne CAD or $293.73 USD. Now if it is 40% of world price that translates into a world price of $15.38 a bushel or $564.88 a tonne CAD or $440.6 USD. So to see where the world price of wheat is I did some googling. It appears that in Europe milling wheat is trading for 156 Euros per tonne which translates into $191.77 USD or $246.08 Canadian. This appears close as Egypt recently bought a tender of 12.5% milling wheat for $200 USD per tonne or $256.41 CAD per tonne. At $6.15 a bushel for my low protein wheat this translates into $225.95 CAD per tonne, this is 88% of the price Egypt recently payed.

          Now we can look at other pricing mechanisms. I grow more CPS wheat than hard red. The pricing for CPS in Canada is based off the Kansas City wheat futures price in the U.S. The Kansas City price has fluctuated between $4.20 and $5.00 USD this winter. This translates to a range of $5.38 to $6.41 CAD. I have about 80% of my CPS priced at $6.00 CAD so I am quite happy with my returns.

          I certainly do share your concerns about the world domination of the grain trade by just a few companies. I do feel fortunate though in that a new grain terminal is being built in Huxley and one in Bowden and when they are finished I will have 5 different companies all within 50 mins of my farm.

          Reply
          • K. Larsen

            April 5th, 2018

            Brian: The price you got for your low protein wheat is local and not really connected to the world market (gotta love those feedlots and ILOs). The other prices you quoted are irrelevant to the world price for quality-assured high protein Cdn wheat (13.5 or greater protein) FOB the west coast.

            According to Ag Canada, last week’s cumulative average price for 13.5% protein wheat FOB Vancouver is $8.91/bu in Canadian dollars. Since grain is really priced in US dollars it means applying the exchange rate and that puts that reported Vancouver FOB price up into that US $12.50/bushel range. For what it is worth, this is also where the Chicago Board of Trade futures price was yesterday.

            So that 40 to 60% calculation used by just about every independent agricultural economist in Western Canada is still accurate. https://youtu.be/XE7nFXz5g44?t=3m36s

            You may think you have five different companies within an hour of your farm. But the fact is just three companies control over 70% of the world’s grain. The new terminals you mention at Huxley (GrainConnect/GrainCorp) and Bowden (Paterson) are both small players on the world stage. They will be dependent on the goodwill of one of the big three grain companies who own the major port terminals and really also control the world market. Like the big three, they are integrated gathering and processing companies so they have a strong financial incentive to minimise their input costs, including what they pay for grain. You will also be paying the capital costs of those new facilities by taking less for your grain, as we all will.

            Dwayne Anders, one of the owners of Archer Daniels Midland one of the big three grain companies, once was quoted to the effect that “expecting free enterprise in the grain trade is like leaving the porch light on for Jimmy Hoffa.”

            I wish the outlook for export grain farming on the prairies was better but without a Wheat Board to level the playing field our economic freedom is an illusion.

          • Farmer Brian

            April 6th, 2018

            Hate to point out the obvious Ken but $8.91 CAD is $6.94 USD not $12.50 USD. 13.5 protein wheat has been sold for $7.25-$7.50 this winter in Alberta. Using your price of $8.91 CAD, $7.50 CAD comes in at 84%. The reason I used my lower protein wheat is because that is what I had to sell. Enjoy your day.

  10. Scotty on Denman

    March 30th, 2018

    What a refreshing article in a sea of post-truth, fake-news and thoughtless sloganeering, a le Colonel Chauvin, that passes as news these days.

    It’s most important statement is understated but potent: “but if you begin to think about it [the misuse of the term “rule of law”], it is fatuous.”

    The whole point of the bluntest heuristic otherwise known as effective propaganda (or, according to CBC’s Terry O’Riley, host of Under The Influence radio show, effective advertising and salesmanship) is to prevent that critical point of critical thought: the beginning that leads to grasping the whole in dialectic and other ways. This spate of “rule-of-law” rhetoric effectively relieves citizens from having to learn or think too much—indeed, absolves them from even beginning to think, as it it doubtlessly designed to do—thence permitting the most demagogic interpretation of law (that is, allowing law to be interpreted as whatever works best for you, regardless how it affects others), and cultivating the basest of ‘us-vs-them’ narrative so studiously engrained for over 100,000 years of sapiens storytelling.

    Partisanship of course contaminates objective thought and, in the matter of TMX, those partisan lines are so heavily incised that one is hardy equipped to view anything outside the grandest of rhetorical canyons whilst rafting the surface of its lowest current. Once inside the incision, changing course is of course out of the question, but the basics of primal narrative are plain in any case. We may recognize the familiar misoxenia, genetic purity and Frontierism in various proportions of ingredient in the misused sense of “rule of law.” They’re all doing it.

    Thanx for the valuable civics lesson. It’s pretty good—if you begin to think of it.

    Reply
  11. jerrymacgp

    March 30th, 2018

    Yeah, it’s not about the “rule of law”, which is a phrase that is intended to convey the antithesis of the “rule of [a] man”.

    But it is about whether the kind of rabid, vociferous opposition to the TMX project (or any other oil & gas infrastructure project) will lead to the desired outcome, that being slowing, halting and maybe even reversing climate change. Here are a couple of interesting reads on the CBC website that offer a valid perspective.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/bc-clean-tech-warns-pipeline-fight-derail-progress-climate-change-1.4600199

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/defeat-single-pipeline-victory-without-sacrifice-win-with-no-impact-opinion-1.4599749

    Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      March 31st, 2018

      Regardless of whether more pipelines were built, the leadership of Canada’s/AB’s conservative parties always intended to reverse the climate plans, end the carbon taxes because it’s a sure re-election issue to motivate the base.

      And that speaks to the the foundational disingenous nature or simple fallacy of the arguments that urge against KM pipeline opposition.

      Dropping opposition to KM won’t garner Kenney/UCP support for carbon taxes and substantive climate action. Too many years campaigning against climate plans or environmental policy that industry opposes.

      Pipeline’s or not, the leadership of conservative parties have been anti-tax, anti-gov’t, market fundamentalists for so many decades now, it’s just reflex for them.

      And carbon taxes will not be enough on their own in any event… going to take much gov’t regulation and investment to avoid climate-catastrophe.

      Winning slowly by acquiescing to ‘just one more’ fossil fuel investment is losing, on climate. It’s either a WW11 mobilization to transition off fossil fuels or hundred’s of millions will starve, or die from climate extremes and/or be forced to migrate over the next century or two. The north African exodus of a few million recently to Europe is just a tiny example of what’s to come.

      https://medium.com/@AlexSteffen/predatory-delay-and-the-rights-of-future-generations-69b06094a16

      https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/bill-mckibben-winning-slowly-is-the-same-as-losing-w512967

      Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      March 31st, 2018

      Re a bit of urgency needed…UN Secretary General 2 days ago…Excerpt: ‘climate change “the most systemic threat to humankind”’

      Excerpt: ‘António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said, “I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off.”‘

      Excerpt: ‘The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, on Thursday called climate change “the most systemic threat to humankind” and urged world leaders to curb their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions’

      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/29/climate/united-nations-climate-change.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

      excerpt: ‘His warnings came a week after the World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, reported that a barrage of extreme weather events had made 2017 the costliest year on record for such disasters, with an estimated $320 billion in losses. ‘

      Reply
    • Sam Gunsch

      March 31st, 2018

      …questions for pipeline proponents (rabid ones or otherwise)… from Thursday’s Edm Jnl letters to editor:

      Tough questions for pipeline proponents

      Questions not being asked much in the coverage of the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute: How can we justify a new pipeline when the climate science is clear that fossil-fuel extraction worldwide must be immediately reduced?

      Are we serious about transitioning our economy from oil dependency? How has Alberta survived without this pipeline until now? How do some countries thrive without such reliance on the fossil-fuel industry?

      Is it constructive to insult and belittle people willing to battle for the environment? Is the blue-collar worker versus the American big-environment patsy narrative accurate?

      Are wealthy oil companies influencing this discussion? Does a mild one-time carbon tax give social licence to the federal government to bypass adequate consultations with First Nations and rush environmental planning?

      If this pipeline is such a great idea, then surely its proponents should be willing to drop the aggressive posturing and address these questions.

      Bob A. Edmonton

      http://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/letters/thursdays-letters-no-place-for-feral-cats-in-the-city

      Reply

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