Keeping things in in the Right perspective: Wildrose says NDP’s carbon levy is much like killing 10 million people

Posted on June 04, 2016, 1:53 am
7 mins

PHOTOS: Wildrose Agriculture Critic Rick Strankman thinks the NDP Government’s carbon levy is just murder. (Photo grabbed from his Facebook page.) Below: NDP Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous, Wildrose MLA Drew Barnes, another member of the Nutty Nine, and former Wildrose leader and would-be Conservative candidate Paul Hinman.

A sensible person could easily reach the conclusion a carbon levy is a good thing that will benefit society or a bad thing that won’t. There’s room for a lively discussion about these differing propositions.

But how does a sensible person come to the conclusion a modest new tax is the equivalent to killing six to 10 million people?

BilousHint: a sensible person doesn’t. But even a nut still in possession of an ounce or two of sense would say nothing about such thoughts aloud, no matter what he privately believed.

So we really have to wonder the nine Wildrose MLAs whose shared blog post that compared the NDP’s carbon levy, as it is officially known, to the death by starvation of six to 10 million people in Ukraine in the 1930s under the rule of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

On the most obvious level, the thought expressed in a blog post used by Wildrose MLAs Rick Strankman, Grant Hunter, Dave Schneider, Wes Taylor, Ron Orr, Mark Smith, Dave Hanson, Don MacIntyre and Drew Barnes was bizarre, and in excruciatingly bad taste. It also may be what many members of the Wildrose Party nowadays actually think is keeping things in the proper perspective!

Unsurprisingly, given the zeitgeist of the digital moment, this immediately stirred up a blazing social media controversy in Alberta when it was discovered yesterday.

NDP Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous, who is of Ukrainian descent, demanded an apology. The tone of his social media commentary suggests he was he was genuinely steamed. In a Tweet to Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, who must feel like hiding under the bed to get away from his caucus, Mr. Bilous called on the Wildrose leader to denounce the blog.

Eventually, the CBC reported, the offending comments disappeared, although not before the traditional screen shots had been taken, and the nutty nine issued a reasonably grovelling apology.

So, unless Mr. Jean unconstitutionally suspends the lot of them and inflames the Wildrose base for the second time in a week, that’s probably the end of it … for now.

BarnesAs observers of Alberta politics with long memories have already pointed out, though, this isn’t the first time Wildrose MLAs have come up with this kind of foolishness. Indeed, as former Progressive Conservative Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk noted last evening – also in a Tweet, of course – this particular comparison is kind of a habit with the Wildrose Party.

Back in late 2011, Wildrose MLA and former Leader Paul Hinman was comparing the Progressive Conservatives’ Land Use and Assembly Act to, wait for it … the very same Stalinist land collectivization policy. The debate was entertainingly chronicled by Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simon.

So, it’s fair to ask, what’s with this, anyway? Oddly enough, also today, New York Times economics columnist Paul Krugman published a column that goes a ways to answering this question. He was commenting on the bizarre extremes that anger takes among a certain class of Republican males who live amidst the diverse population of our great neighbour to the south.

Republican (and presumably Wildrose) fury at things like climate change science and fair taxes can be partly explained by the economic interests of the angry men themselves, Dr. Krugman observes, “but I’ve always had the sense that there was a third factor, which is basically psychological.”

“There are some men – it’s almost always men – who become enraged at any suggestion that they must give up something they want for the common good,” Dr. Krugman explains.

HinmanAnd that gives rise to such things as Donald Trump – nowadays described as the presumptive Republican candidate for president, although we hate to presume that about our neighbours – becoming enraged with anti-pollution legislation because restrictions on chemicals that harm the earth’s ozone layer made his hairspray let his famous follicles flop prematurely!

“No doubt Donald Trump hates environmental protection in part for the usual reasons,” wrote Dr. Krugman. “But there’s an extra layer of venom to his pro-pollution stances that is both personal and mind-bogglingly petty.”

It’s said here that the same kind of personal pettiness must drive Wildrosers like Mr. Strankman, the MLA for Drumheller-Stettler and his party’s agriculture critic, and Mr. Hinman, who nowadays is hoping to take his peculiar brand of Wildrose wisdom to Ottawa, to compare benign policies they don’t like to those that caused the deaths of several million people.

Mr. Strankman, by the way, in 2002 violated the Customs Act in a stunt to protest the Canadian Wheat Board and spent a few days in jail as a result. He was later pardoned by Stephen Harper, who as prime minister also dismantled the CWB. Nowadays Mr. Strankman describes the Wheat Board as an example of “anti-capitalist and anti-property rights thinking.” This is also a bit of a stretch, though admittedly not quite as much of one as calling the carbon levy murder!

To be fair, the nine MLAs behind this latest social media tempest probably comprise the fruitcake fringe of the Wildrose caucus. But that’s not really very reassuring when you realize that group makes up 41 per cent of that august body, without even counting Derek Fildebrandt!

Just not ready, you say? No kidding! Really, the Wildrose Party needs to change more than its name. It needs to change its mind! And we all know how likely that is.

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18 Comments to: Keeping things in in the Right perspective: Wildrose says NDP’s carbon levy is much like killing 10 million people

  1. Jason

    June 4th, 2016

    These people truly are the lowest forms of humanity that this Province has to offer.

  2. Athabascan

    June 4th, 2016

    Only six to ten million? Spoken like a true socialist. Be a man and a true Wildrose and say thirty-five million.

    I want to see who will add a few million to that original nonsensical statement. I can see it now – a clash between the moderate/re Wildrosers who claim six to 10 million, and the ultra or pure Wildrose who would say that figure is way too low.

    Idiots all!

  3. Greg Marshall

    June 4th, 2016

    These are the sort of people that turn on ALL the lights on Earth Day, and empty the ashtrays beside “No Littering” signs.

    • Expat Albertan

      June 5th, 2016

      People like this are only cutting off their nose to spite their face. God forbid that opponents to all things environmental should realize that the first country to transfer the bulk of their power grid to renewables will likely be the next world power (no pun intended there). It happened with the U.S. in the 20th century (oil from coal) and before them, Britain in the 19th century (coal from wood), and before them the Netherlands in the 17th century (water and wind from horse and human power) all the way to antiquity.

      • Bernie Brulet

        June 6th, 2016

        Argentina now produces all of its electricity needs
        on about one hundred days a year from renewables.

  4. Ken Larsen

    June 4th, 2016

    Perhaps they like to reference Stalin so much because their great leader, Prime Minister Harper, countenanced the burning of scientific books and monographs in Federal Research Libraries and Agricultural field stations.

    This is an absolutely unforgivable black mark against anyone who had a hand in this, so referencing Stalin is a handy diversion.

  5. Val Jobson

    June 4th, 2016

    Didn’t Strankman include the Hutterite community as supporting the kerfuffle against Bill 6? Does he think the communal Hutterites are less industrious than other farmers?

    Some of the MLAs who signed are from southern Alberta and may not have heard much about the Holodomor because many Ukrainians settled further north. I’m from Calgary area and haven’t heard personal stories like those Paula Simons wrote about.

    We can’t know what was in the first draft but I wonder if they considered and rejected referring to First Nations on reserves as a third example of communal living = starvation? Why not three examples of bad history instead of two?

  6. political ranger

    June 4th, 2016

    That’s the problem with pointing fingers; there is more than a little bit of craziness all across the board in this jurisdiction.
    Take for example, the recent threats by government to ‘really investigate’ and perhaps even ‘charge’ with some kind of crime any operator who dares to raise any kind of price or rent in Fort Mcmoney. This has been loudly and belligerently proclaimed by the whole of the slobbering MSM.
    No one questions, or dares to, the why or the how; it’s just assumed that, of course it’s criminal and of course there must be some sort of law against it. Nor is there a second thought or even a moment’s pause that government is going to step in and meddle with the market for the benefit of some citizens.
    It’s just the Albertan way.
    On the other hand we have Suncor and their ‘mysterious’, and annual production shut-down which is apparently, or not, one of the reasons some Petrocan stations across the West are out of gas. Not a peep out of the local slobbering MSM, mind you, until after the story ran in BC. Once the story is out somewhere it is impossible to spike it anywhere.
    The other reason promoted by both the petro-corp and their slobbering scribblers in MSM is that the fires in the North, which came nowhere near Suncor ops; those ops which produce bitumen for export and is not refined here, is, of course, somehow responsible for the shortfall in production, if not in actual feedstock, well then, because of a labour shortage.
    Meanwhile, the pretty and smiling face of Suncor tells us they are being “corporately and socially responsible” by informing us that gas prices will likely be $1.20 by next week. That the petroleum business is going to take advantage of the situation to raise prices is, of course, just business.
    It’s just the way it is, donchano!

    Like I said, more than a little nuttiness all around. We have a captured government here, regardless of the color of their banner or the name of the party. Using facts, evidence or science is as foreign a concept to government, to media, to corporate management and to vast swaths of the public today as it ever was over the past 30 years.
    Typically, to gain perspective, one must first pull one’s head out of that warm, dark place and scan the world around them.

  7. ronmac

    June 4th, 2016

    It seems the Ukrainian famine has beome the go to page in the catelogue of infamy these days.

    Maybe it’s time to come up with a few alternatives. How about the Irish potato famine? Or the Black Death? That’ll get em every time. The NDP’s efforts to levy a carbon tax is something akin to the Black Death which ravished the economic landscape of Europe in the 14th century, stripping it some 200 million consumers by some estimates.

    Paul Krugman? A henchman for the thouroughly corrupt Hilary Clinton. Cite at your own peril.

    • David Climenhaga

      June 4th, 2016

      The Ukrainian famine of the 1930s has joined what you call “the catalogue of infamy” in Alberta in part because of the large population descended from Ukrainian immigrants here, so there is a reasonably fresh collective memory of those events in this part of Canada, and in part because it conveniently suited the ideological frame of the Harper Conservatives and their Wildrose counterparts in Alberta (who are often the same people) that all socialism, even democratic socialism, leads inevitably to genocide and similar catastrophes.

      We are much less inclined to treat the Armenian genocide by the Turks, 1915 to 1917, the same way. Like the Nazi’s Holocaust of World War II, the murder of about 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks used active as opposed to passive means to kill large numbers of people. However, because our NATO allies the Turks continue to aggressively deny that the Armenian Genocide ever took place, this will never engage the Canadian ideological Right in the same way. Anyway, the Turkish government of the time, while revolutionary, doesn’t have the reputation of being particularly socialistic, so the utility of this genocide is limited to the propagandists of the Wildrose Party and the Conservative Party of Canada.

      You are quite right that the Irish Potato Famine, 1845-1852, was also caused in significant part by circumstances that today would be described as political and ideological, and that the results were clearly genocidal. Potato blight may have been the reason the crops died out, but land ownership, absentee landlords, religious bigotry and English imperialism were the ideological and economic cause of the famine that killed a million people and forced another million to emigrate. Again, though, the Canadian right will never acknowledge this genocide right in the British Isles because the perpetrators were capitalists and imperialists, and English-speakers like us to boot.

      We should also add to this discussion the deaths of 30-60 million people in famines all over the colonial world during the later part of the 19th century as a result of the laissez-faire economic ideology of various European colonial powers. This vast holocaust is chronicled by Mike Davis in his seminal work, Late Victorian Holocausts. Again, this genocide is barely on our radar for both cultural and ideological reasons. In the frankly imperialist education system to which my generation of Western Canadians was subjected, this interpretation was ignored or, if necessary, openly denied in a manner not dissimilar to the propaganda of the Turkish Government today. So we have been programmed to think of the murderous results of 19th Century imperial capitalism as the nobly meant if unintended consequences of the “the White Man’s Burden,” rather than as the “strange fruit” of laissez-faire capitalism not dissimilar to the economic system advocated by the WRP and the CPC today.

      I confess I have never thought of the Black Death as an ideological, as opposed to biological, phenomenon.

      But the key point here is that only certain human tragedies make the grade for propaganda use Western Canadian right-wingers, and those are the ones that can be interpreted as proof “socialism” is evil.


    June 4th, 2016

    What I find most odious about the Nutty Nine and their neolib/neocon buddies is that, like me, most of them are Baby Boomers.

    This generation grew up in a progressive time, when public education flourished, post-secondary institutions were well funded by government, a time of scientific and technological advancement, a time with a growing economy with employment opportunity and job security.

    The Nutty Nine and the neolib/cons’ refusal to show grace and humility by acknowledging their good fortune plus their unwillingness to pay anything forward by accepting even the merest increase in their taxes is galling. They have reaped the benefits and now give the middle finger to the generations who follow. Parasites, the lot of them.

    • Sam Gunsch

      June 5th, 2016

      Your full comment. Well said!
      Spot on.
      I hope you are commenting widely on other social media platforms.

    • Athabascan

      June 5th, 2016

      In truth,the entire system of neoliberalism/neoconservatism is a well designed diversion to hide what is essentially selfishness, greed, and disdain for fellow human beings.

      In short is it an elaborate pretext to explain away what are anti-social tendencies.

      There is no logic to back it up, because selfishness, and greed are inherently illogical.

  9. Expat Albertan

    June 5th, 2016

    You know, this nutty group is not showing what is supposed to be the best of Alberta and Albertans: namely, an entrepreneurial spirit and a can-do attitude. I mean, a true entrepreneur would be too busy creating opportunities in the context of a carbon tax (the better that they should prosper before the slow-to-adapt competition) to be complaining about the tax and making hyperbolic statements. I’d sure like to see and explanation for this defeatism from the WildRose. To paraphrase John Goodman’s character in “The Big Lebowski”: “Not fair? You’re the capitalists, ya f—- crybabys!”

    • MAGGIE

      June 5th, 2016

      Exactly. Yesterday, Terry O’Reilly’s “Under the Influence” on CBC radio kind of covered this. He spoke about the book “A Beautiful Constraint” by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden. The authors speak about restrictions fostering creativity, that these constraints force us to give up conventional thinking and come up with innovative solutions. The old necessity is the mother of invention idea. Unfortunately, the Nutty Nine wouldn’t recognize innovation if it stared them right in the face.

      • Richard Michelson

        August 7th, 2016

        Nailed it

  10. Richard Michelson

    June 5th, 2016

    Why be polite anymore when these guys shell out nothing more than contempt for anything that appears to stand in the way of spoiled brats who have the attitude of Enron’s Jeffery Skilling while vocalizing some level of economical high ground with a drive to socially dominate. These imbeciles, In actuality, are too arrogant and uneducated to understand the industrial foundation that built this country but was decimated by these half-whit hillbillies. Brain Mulroney dealt the first fatal blow with NAFTA followed by the economic hemorrhage under Steven Harper. Over 400,000 unemployed and 11,000 factories relocated offshore. This misnomer, “Free Trade” and NAFTA were nothing more than the cancellation anti-dumping laws that allow the industrialists to bypass outlawed slave labour here by relocating to countries where it is practiced and “dump” the finished goods back here below the local cost of production killing any hope of competition unless everybody follows suit. .The result: the social infrastructure is starved of tax income, health care suffers and we cannot maintain what we once built. What’s left? Why, what was planned all along, as with Jeffery Skilling, get access the resources and energy and get it to the boys that want control of it and it’s pricing. The exact opposite of Pierre Trudeau’s economic plan was to expand the industrial base and grow all of Canada. What they didn’t count on was science’s exposure to the harm of the world’s ecological system. What to do? Berate, belittle, destroy departments, kill legislation, fire people, flaunt the judicial system, contempt of parliament and pass legislation such as Bill C-51 that would allow the imprisonment of anyone opposing their actions as “economic terrorists” . And then, you get the hayseeds who, because of their lack of education, are as easily programmable as Hitler’s German population to racial superiority was in order to take over the world.


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