Alberta Politics
Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

There’s nothing like the United Nations putting its oar in to make the locals go loco in Alberta!

Posted on January 08, 2020, 1:29 am
7 mins

If we ever do form the Western Wepublic of Wexit out here in Wild Rose Country, I guess we won’t be able to join the United Nations.

Too triggering.

There’s just something about the UN putting its oar into our affairs that sends Alberta politicians over the edge.

Guilty conscience?

Consider Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage’s overheated overreaction yesterday to one of those rare occasions when the world body casts a baleful eye on local practices in Alberta that don’t come up to the aspirational standards agreed upon by the member nations of the UN, including Canada:

None of your beeswax, Ms. Savage roared. Well, actually, those are my words, and she only roared them metaphorically.

Here are her actual words, though, right out of the government press release: “With all the injustice in the world, it’s beyond rich that the unelected, unaccountable United Nations would seemingly single out Canada — one of the greatest champions of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.”

A decision of the most recent session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, you see, called on Canada to halt all work on three resource-extraction megaprojects — including the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project that has become the sine qua non of Alberta’s alienation anxiety despite Ottawa’s determined efforts to get it done — until the First Nations along its route give their approval. The other projects are the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline and the Site C hydroelectric dam, both in British Columbia.

The report also said the UN committee was:

  • Disturbed by forced removal, disproportionate use of force, harassment and intimidation by law enforcement officials against indigenous peoples who peacefully oppose large-scale development projects on their traditional territories,” and …
  • Alarmed by escalating threat of violence against indigenous peoples, such as the reported violent arrest and detainment of a Secwepemc defender against the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project, on 19th October 2019.”

Accordingly, it asked the Government of Canada, among several other things, “to guarantee that no force will be used against Secwepemc and Wet’suwet’en peoples and that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and associated security and policing services will be withdrawn from their traditional lands,” and also “to prohibit the use of lethal weapons, notably by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, against indigenous peoples.”

Crews work on the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project back in the day (Photo: Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd.)

So this comes down to one of those rule of law things — Canada is a party to international and internal treaties to consult meaningfully with Indigenous peoples about resource projects that impact their way of life. Ms. Savage’s United Conservative Party has a lot of time for the rule of law — but only when the law lets the UCP enforce its own rules.

“Canada’s duly elected representatives — not unaccountable international committees — are responsible for governing decisions in this country,” Ms. Savage’s news release said, trowelling on the sarcasm and sense of grievance. This is pretty much exactly, it must be noted, what other authoritarian governments like those in Hungary and Russia have said in similar recent circumstances.

“We wish that the UN would pay as much attention to the majority of First Nation groups that support important projects such as Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink,” Ms. Savage also complained. “First Nations leaders increasingly recognize that responsible natural resource development can serve as a path from poverty to prosperity for their people. Yet this UN body seemingly ignores these voices.”

Again, it’s a rule of law thing. We’ve signed on — constitutionally and by treaty — to a regime of consultation. And not all the First Nations along the route are in agreement — no matter how much work the governments of Canada, Alberta and British Columbia have done to divide and persuade them. Consultation takes time.

Naturally, the UCP is in a hurry. The business case for the TMX may be shaky, but the political case for getting it done before the next Alberta provincial election is solid.

One suspects the governments of British Columbia and Canada — who don’t share Premier Jason Kenney’s taste for symbolic coercion — would be just as happy if Ms. Savage wasn’t putting out unhelpful press releases designed to play to the UCP base.

She is right, though, that not all members of the United Nations have human rights records as good as Canada’s. But our human rights record is pretty good for all its imperfections because Canada is still subject the rule of law — and not just the UCP version. The committee’s aspirations, it could be argued, are based on Canadian aspirations.

The UN can’t enforce the standards it aspires to get us all to live up to. Not without the extraordinary intervention of the Security Council, anyway.

But UN rulings and decisions like this are not just embarrassing, they’re a useful public reminder to Albertans and other Canadians that our human rights standards are starting to slip and we need to pay attention.

That’s why criticism from the UN makes Alberta politicians so angry, one suspects. They’d very much prefer we weren’t paying attention at all.

29 Comments to: There’s nothing like the United Nations putting its oar in to make the locals go loco in Alberta!

  1. J.E. Molnar

    January 8th, 2020

    Sonya Savage is, has been, and will continue to be a political embarrassment for the Kenney government.

    Very rarely do you see such a thin-skinned politician who constantly needs to check her obtuseness and her ego at the door before they speak. It’s obviously going to be a long three years until 2023 folks.

    Reply
    • jeff king

      January 8th, 2020

      The ignorance of albertans on these issues is understated… where does this woman get off thinking Alberta is above scrutiny… The planet is on fire and this mental midget wants to keep adding fuel to it.

      Reply
  2. Bob Raynard

    January 8th, 2020

    “Canada — one of the greatest champions of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”

    As David points out, it is a bit rich for Ms. Savage to trumpet Canada’s human rights record, when her government seems to regard human rights as a nuisance they would like to be rid of if they could. It would be interesting to look through all the laws and policies the UCP have implemented for possible violations of human rights. Two that come to mind immediately are:
    1. Denying farm workers the right to unionize and
    2. Moving teachers’ pensions into AIMCo without teachers’ consent feels like confiscation of property. Remember a lot of the money in that fund was paid by the teachers themselves.

    Reply
    • Kang

      January 8th, 2020

      Good points Bob, but I would say Alberta’s human rights standards started to slip in 1947 when big oil came to town and purchased the government. Rural landowners immediately had their property rights removed and have faced oil company harassment and intimidation ever since. This record and the UN’s cautions about stealing First Nations’ land at police gun point strike at the heart of the claim Alberta produces oil in an ethical fashion.

      With the help of their legislative and regulatory stooges the fossil fuel producers have also left a gigantic unfunded liability for environmental cleanup in the lap of Canadian tax payers along with the destruction of groundwater by fracking. Both give the lie to the claim Alberta produces oil to the highest environmental standards.

      The UCP have carried that threat and intimidation to the city people and everyday discourse by funding a war room and a sinister star chamber inquiry into critics of the oil and gas sector. They came for farmers, ranchers, and first nations a long time ago, now it is the city peoples’ turn and stealing teachers’ pensions is just the beginning.

      Reply
  3. Geoffrey Pounder

    January 8th, 2020

    “One suspects the governments of British Columbia and Canada — who don’t share Premier Jason Kenney’s taste for symbolic coercion — would be just as happy if Ms. Savage wasn’t putting out unhelpful press releases designed to play to the UCP base.”

    On whose orders did the RCMP attack the Wet’suwet’en blockade against TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink project in northern BC last year?
    The RCMP were prepared to use lethal force in the operation. Nothing symbolic about it.

    Reply
  4. Geoffrey Pounder

    January 8th, 2020

    “But UN rulings and decisions like this are not just embarrassing, they’re a useful public reminder to Albertans and other Canadians that our human rights standards are starting to slip and we need to pay attention.”

    The history of resource extraction in Canada is one of expropriation of FN lands, destruction of traditional livelihoods and culture, obliteration of wildlife, and multiple violations of human rights, including contamination of water and food sources. No answers for FN communities in the oilsands region to their concerns about high rates of rare cancers, and no solutions.

    Here’s the deal between industry and First Nations:
    We’re going to proceed with the project with or without you. So you may as well take the jobs and co-operate in the destruction of your homeland and way of life. Co-operate and get something — or don’t co-operate and get nothing. Makes no difference to us.

    Call it “ethical oil”.

    Reply
  5. Jim

    January 8th, 2020

    Wait a second wasn’t our dear leader Kenney in favour of the TPP and pretty much any other “free” trade agreement which included unelected unaccountable arbitrators? So the unelected unaccountable UN is bad the unelected unaccountable panels from these trade agreements good? Got it, everything is clear now no hypocrisy here move along.

    Reply
  6. Geoffrey Pounder

    January 8th, 2020

    Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage: “First Nations leaders increasingly recognize that responsible natural resource development can serve as a path from poverty to prosperity for their people. Yet this UN body seemingly ignores these voices.”

    Divide and conquer. Standard operating procedure for industry and govt.
    The short-term financial interests of pro-pipeline factions do not trump the inalienable rights of First Nations communities on the frontlines of hazardous projects and future generations to a healthy, safe environment; clean drinking water; and sustainable livelihood.
    *
    In 2016 Canada agreed to adopt the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP): “We are now a full supporter of the declaration, without qualification. We intend nothing less than to adopt and implement the declaration in accordance with the Canadian Constitution.”
    UNDRIP stipulates free, prior, and informed consent.
    In a constitutional democracy, majority will does not override protected minority rights.
    At one time, PM Trudeau understood this: “Governments grant permits, communities grant permission.”

    Signing a Mutual Benefit Agreement (MBA) does not imply support.

    “…some First Nations said that they signed the benefit agreements or letters of support out of concern that, if they failed to do so, they risked getting nothing at all. Kyra Northwest, of the Samson Cree Nation, said ‘You can oppose, but with the past government it (a proposed project) would get approved either way, so Samson Cree agreed just to be sure we would get something.’
    “And Summer Ebringer, of the Enoch Cree First Nation agreed, ‘The fear is that if you don’t sign and it goes ahead anyway, you get nothing.'”
    “This is the language of the powerless, of people with no leverage or bargaining power.”
    http://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/02/19/analysis/canadas-climate-future-trudeaus-toughest-challenge
    *
    April Thomas, Canim Lake Band: “…the pipeline project is ‘just another divide and conquer tactic that’s been used on our people over and over again. The Govt of Canada made our people so desperate. We have a housing crisis, a poverty crisis and they’ve made our people so desperate that they feel like they’re obligated to sign these agreements because they think that’s all they’re going to get.'”
    • aptnnews.ca/2018/04/26/travelling-the-pipeline-why-the-secwepemc-nation-is-crucial-for-the-trans-mountain-pipeline/
    *
    “Two First Nations chiefs who signed letters of support for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion say they don’t truly support the project.
    “Chief Robert Joseph of Ditidaht First Nation told the Tracking Trans Mountain team that he felt fighting the pipeline was futile.
    “‘At the end of the day, we are not really in favour of any pipeline, but we believe it’s going to go through anyway,’ Joseph said. ‘They will not listen to anybody and that’s the history of consultation with First Nations people … They consult and go ahead and do what they were going to do anyways.’
    “… Joseph said he worried that if his nation opposed the project, they would be on their own if oil spills.
    “He said the consultation process wasn’t meaningful.
    “‘Even if it’s the best consultation on the face of the earth, if they do what they were going to do anyhow, what’s the point?'”
    • aptnnews.ca/2018/06/11/b-c-chiefs-say-they-dont-support-trans-mountain-pipeline-despite-signing-agreements/
    *
    “Yale First Nation Chief Ken Hansen told APTN News that he wouldn’t have signed the agreement if his band had any other financial options.
    “‘When I signed this deal, I felt a lot of shame.'”
    • aptnnews.ca/2018/06/11/b-c-chiefs-say-they-dont-support-trans-mountain-pipeline-despite-signing-agreements/

    Reply
    • Geoffrey Pounder

      January 8th, 2020

      After a B.C. FN community voted down a pipeline benefit agreement by a large margin, the Band council signed the deal anyway. Democracy in action:
      “In 2015, the Nak’azdli (a First Nation two hours NW of Prince George) held a referendum on whether to enter into a benefit agreement with the province of B.C. for the Coastal GasLink pipeline, as well as the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline. Nearly 300 band members took part, with more than 70 per cent voting no.”
      “Benefits agreement asks First Nation to discourage members from hindering B.C. pipeline project” (CBC, Aug 09, 2019)
      https://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/coastal-gaslink-nak-azdli-whut-en-agreement-1.5238220
      *
      “Like many others in Fort Chipewyan, a tiny Alberta hamlet on the banks of Lake Athabasca, Rigney is conflicted because oil money forever changes the live-off-the-land lifestyle — and SHE BLAMES GOVERNMENTS AND THE OIL INDUSTRY FOR BEATING DOWN INDIGENOUS OPPOSITION TO OILSANDS PROJECTS TO THE POINT THAT BUYING IN SEEMS THE ONLY OPTION.
      ‘I could not believe that my community wants to be part of this pipeline. THEY HAVE FORCED US INTO A CORNER WHERE WE HAVE NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN,’ Rigney said sadly.
      ‘Just think 100 years from now what this planet will look like. They are destroying the land.'”

      Eriel Deranger, a member of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and executive director of Indigenous Climate Action:
      “‘Even when communities are consulted and raise concerns and rights violations, PROJECTS ARE STILL APPROVED DESPITE ADMISSIONS OF IRREVERSIBLE AND ADVERSE IMPACTS ON THE PEOPLE AND THE LAND,’ said Eriel Deranger, a member the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and executive director of Indigenous Climate Action.
      ‘This can destroy the spirit of the people.'”

      Reply
  7. Abs

    January 8th, 2020

    Say, isn’t that there a rather clever logo that the War Room hasn’t yet stolen for Wild Wose Country?

    Reply
  8. Albertan

    January 8th, 2020

    And, the Trudeau Liberals wish to have a seat in the exclusive United Nations Security Council whilst voicing their big talk on indigenous rights, repatriation, etc.? Perhaps if the Kenney UCP, et al, thinks they can run roughshod over indigenous peoples with regard to the oil and gas sector, they need trimming down. Perhaps, the feds need to get a bit/or a lot more strict with the Kenney UCP, and, in more ways than one, i.e.demanding $billions from the feds whilst not doing due diligence with raising enough revenue other than oil and gas. This means a review and rejigging of Alberta’s too low tax rates, particularly corporate, and considering a PST/HST. The boom days, after all, are over.
    We don’t see other right wing led provinces getting rid of their PSTs.

    Reply
  9. Brad Tomlinson

    January 8th, 2020

    I would be delighted if you would do a piece on AIMco and it’s recent purchase of a very significant stake in the Coastal Gas Link natural gas pipeline. As you know there is very significant opposition by the Wet’suwe’en people which may yet get violent and perhaps soon as a result of a court injunction this week. The decision to invest in this pipeline is very questionable. Why would AIMco risk money on an investment with this kind of optics and were there was some possibility that it might not go ahead? I can suggest two possible reasons. One AIMco‘s decision making is poor and not well thought through. Or the more likely reason is either direct political interference or a desire by AIMco to please their political masters, the UCP. I. I believe the reason Mr. Kenney is going after all kinds of pension funds to put them under the authority of AIMco is to create his own personal investment fund, using other people’s money, that he can use to further his political agendas, without having to spend or risk a dime of government money. So if the gas sector or some other sector is not doing well he can get the Minister of Finance to order AIMco to invest millions in questionable investments to prop up a dying industry or business and if the money is lost it’s not concern to him. Bill 22 took seats ( votes ) on the LAPP Board away from the union and gave those votes to non-union government employees. It also took a way the right for the unions to be the sole decision makers around who they appoint to the Boards. It also interferes with governance by taking away the right of the Board to choose a different fund manager if AIMco is doing a poor job. Pension members should be very, very concerned about these changes because this government has shown itself to be wreckless, anti-union and very ideologically driven. They will have no ethical qualms with using pension funds in the way I just described and leaving pensioners holding the bad. Especially since the AIMco legislation has terms which indemnify the Board and Government from legal action for any decisions they make.

    Reply
  10. Ron Fichtner

    January 8th, 2020

    There is no doubt that the UN comments are way out of line, uninformed, one sided and completely without merit. They should begin to focus on the real culprits of discrimination (there are many) and recognize Canada as a poster child of inclusiveness, compassion and champion of the rule of law. It is a very small group that is completely offside with compliance with the rule of law that he UN seems to want to defend. The laws of Canada are clear, fair and need to be enforced across the full spectrum of the citizens of Canada…

    Reply
  11. Abs

    January 8th, 2020

    Wait a sec…those wascally War Room wabbits seem to be writing copy for the Wexity wabbits.

    “Putting a solar plant in Alberta where we have 9 month winters is like putting a salad bar in a KFC. Useless.

    “Alberta doesn’t have a lot of sun during the winter but guess what we have a lot of all year round? CLEAN. NATURAL. GAS.”

    https://mobile.twitter.com/wexitpride/status/1212766748518207489

    Only Tom Olsen could try, again, to convince us that he did not say “disproving true facts”. And these Wexity wabbits want us to believe that the sun don’t shine most of the year in sunny Alberta. Totes up Tom Olsen’s alley: gaslighting Alberta. Up is down. Night is day.

    Could it be that $30-million a year is being pumped into Wexit? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Reply
  12. Just Me

    January 8th, 2020

    Whenever I see Sonya Savage, I am reminded of Caesar Romero’s timeless portrayal of the Joker from the classic Batman TV series. Crazy hair, weird cheek to cheek grin, manic laugher, she’s another in the UCP’s parade of crazies.

    Now that the UN is officially out to get Alberta, I suspect that #wexit personalities will be hired to join the “war room”. Unless Alex Jones is available, we can look forward to more stumbling lunacy from this gang of idiots.

    Reply
  13. Scotty on Denman

    January 8th, 2020

    Indeed Canada’s human rights and environmental reputation is slipping. The SWAT attack on the Wet’suwet’en’s Unis’ot’en Camp was an outrage against Canadian law since the Wet’suwet’en have no treaty with the Crown and therefore have a legitimate (as determined by the SCoC in a number of recent decisions) sovereign claim to its traditional territory—and that means, under Canadian law, the two co-sovereigns (the Crown and the Wet’suwet’en) must consult with each other meaningfully about and before the disposition of resources in the territory—that is, decide how both will benefit fairly if a resource project is to proceed, and perhaps agree to arbitration if at impasse. This is Canadian law.

    The UN might be referring to Canadian law, but it’s more probable that it’s referring to it own Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The difference is that the concept of prior “consent” of indigenous nations is part of UNDRIP whereas “meaningful consultation” is part of Canadian law. The Crown does not need any First Nation’s consent to build, say, a pipeline through its territory—not if it’s treaty territory where FNs’ sovereign claims have been extinguished by treaty, and not in so-called ‘unceded’ territories where there are no treaties. But, in the latter category, the Crown MUST by law consult meaningfully with its co-sovereigns, interim to treaties being settled. And that means that even if the project is deemed in the national interest, any resulting disposition of jointly-owned resources, any royalties derived, must be shared in a way determined by consultation and agreement between the two co-sovereigns, interim to a treaty being settled between them (the article above appears to confuse “consent” with “meaningful consultation” by associating the latter with the UN instead of Canadian law).

    Thus, the Site-C Dam is different from the gas pipeline proposal through Wet’suwet’en territory: the former is covered by treaty and no meaningful consultation is, strictly speaking, legally required in Canadian law, whereas the Wet’suwet’en case is in ‘unceded’ territory where it is required, interim to treaty.

    The UN has an argument in both cases, but only as statement of the ideal. But it remains that the Crown did not consult meaningfully with the Wet’suwet’en before proceeding with the pipeline through their territory; when Wet’suwet’en people protested, the Crown sent in the SWAT team instead of stopping, doing the legally right thing and, maybe, proceeding if both parties come to some kind of agreement or have one adjudicated for them.

    The gas pipeline company styles itself as some kind of arbiter for the Crown but this can’t be: it is a private interest and therefore is in conflict. Nevertheless, it argues it has permission to proceed from the tribal councils along the route, including of the Wet’suwet’en. However, tribal councils are creations of the Crown and, as such, are also in a conflict of interest when negotiating between the two co-sovereigns. The real Wet’suwet’en representatives are the elders of the nation. Ask most Wet’suwet’en people and they would agree. Further, all the FNs along the route might buy into the pipeline, but they can’t speak for the Wet’suwet’en. It is of course the nature of pipelines that no gaps can exist.

    Finally, the BC government has just tabled legislation to make UNDRIP some kind of law in BC. This is a dodge since UBDRIP is not Canadian law, has no precedent or judicial opinion whatsoever, and is definitely superseded by our Constitution.

    It’s time for the BC government to get serious and consult meaningfully with the real representatives of the FNs through whose territories it wants to develop resources. It may not substitute Crown proxies or private companies for itself, and must not impose one of its own creations (band councils operating under the strictures of the Indian Act) in the stead of the other co-sovereign (the Wet’suwet’en people), nor may it resort to UN declarations which have no legal bearing in Canada.

    The UN’s ethical point, however, is not diminished by any of this, and is considered proper and laudable by a growing number of Canadians and others around the world.

    Reply
    • Political Ranger

      January 9th, 2020

      I would take issue with your assertion Scotty, that “The Crown does not need any First Nation’s consent” to build a pipeline or mine or any other project that sequesters FN use of land rights.
      The Tsilhqot’in decision, 2014 SCC44 explicitly states that the FN in question has a right of consent. Except in the case of greater good interest and in that case it is up to Government to demonstrate the case.
      However, as with any right, it is up to the holder of the right to assert it.

      Reply
      • Scotty on Denman

        January 9th, 2020

        I beg to differ. “Consent” is an UNDRIP concept. The entitlements the Tsihlqot’in National Government won were done under Canadian law and, as the decision clearly states (Chief Justice Beverly Mclachlin wrote it intentionally in plain English so that sharpies couldn’t play with it, and by herself on behalf of the unanimous SCoC bench). In large measure, but not complete measure from the Tsilhqot’in point of view (this nation does not seek treaty, but rather asserts its own sovereignty—it was never a part of the BC Treaty Process which Christy shit-canned in a peeve about the “Tsilhqot’in” decision), the decision achieved much of what the FN pursued over nearly a decade of court hearings—and the FN got 50% of their original land-area claim protected under the new Aboriginal Title (compare this decision—which is not a treaty—with the Nisga’a Treaty which secured only 5% of that nation’s original land-area claim); the protocols outlined for developing resources in this territory are essentially meaningful consultation and, if those are conducted properly (including the protection of Aboriginal Title in the subject territory), then the “national interest” might prevail, even without the Tsilhqot’in’s consent.

        Again: meaningful consultation is the thing that was confirmed and virtually entrenched by the 2014 decision. These consultations have to be real and meaningful, including the five “W”s, how much money is owed to whom, and how any agreed disposition of resource protects Aboriginal Title.

        “Aboriginal Title” is what’s untested, not “meaningful consultation” (which was confirmed and considerably sharpened)—and sure not “consent” which is an UNDRIP concept we have, as yet, no idea how it will fit into Canadian and Common Law, as fit it ultimately must.

        I do agree there’s a semantic fuzziness between ‘consent’ and ‘meaningful consultation’ which is partly to do with some FNs (including the Wet’suwet’en) claiming ‘consent’ is required as if UNDRIP is an established law (BC’s provincial legislation adopting it has not been tested and, in any case, must defer to established law and precedent), and partly by those who oppose Aboriginal rights who gin their ilk with totally false threats of “Indian veto” or alleged refusal to give “consent” which, I repeat, is not the concept upon which Canadian law turns with respect Aboriginal rights.

        Reply
        • Kang

          January 11th, 2020

          Your quibbling over a legalistic interpretation misses the fact the current set up gives the power of the state to expropriate property to the oil and gas companies. This has nothing to do with the public interest like the state taking property for a road or park. It is all about our state and legal system being captured by big industry. The fact this power is now being used against First Nations just adds a layer of racism to this fundamental wrong.

          Reply
  14. Dave

    January 8th, 2020

    Yes, the UN report is a tad embarrassing, but I think the UCP is on more solid political ground on this issue than it is on most. First, of all most Albertans don’t really care what some UN committee thinks and it doesn’t have any power over us anyways. Most of the world ignores such UN pronouncements, including Canada at various times. It is always easiest to lecture or pontificate from afar, particularly by you know, people whose jobs do not depend on whether a pipeline gets built or not. Second, there is a huge amount of frustration generally in Alberta about all the delays and problems around the Trans Mountain pipelines. Third, it seems to me that most first nations communities are on board with this project, which I don’t gather the UN committee realizes or acknowledges. While there needs to be an effort to try accommodate all first nations concerns, I don’t think that some hold outs have a veto.

    I think a more reasonable response by the Alberta government would have been better, but perhaps Ms. Savage was just channeling some of that frustration around the lengthy delays and numerous challenges to the Trans Mountain pipeline. I doubt her response will lose the UCP any votes it previously had and the only people really upset about this were probably not ever supporting the UCP anyways.

    Interesting to me that the energy war room did not jump into this debate as this seems like the sort of public policy and reputational situation where good communication would be paramount, but perhaps it is already so discredited that the UCP has decided to start to bypass it.

    Reply
  15. Brad Tomlinson

    January 8th, 2020

    What happened to the comments I posted this morning?

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 9th, 2020

      Brad: As you can see, your comments have now been posted. This query, however, provides an opportunity for me to make again a couple of points about the comment section of this blog. AlbertaPolitics.ca is a hobby, not much of a business, and certainly not a full-time job. Obviously, I spend a lot of time on it, but I do have a full-time day job, an absorbing athletic pursuit, and other things in my life. Yet, given the nature of our litigious era, all comments must be moderated, by me. So, sometimes, readers need to be patient and wait until I have the opportunity to read and post comments. That’s what happened with yours.

      Regarding moderation, my goals are self-preservation and fairness. This too takes time. I am committed to free speech and believe if I dish it out, I should be able to take it. So I frequently print highly critical comments that I think are unfair (to me), but I respect the right of readers to get it off their chests. However, I will not print comments that I believe are irrelevant, commercial pitches for online businesses whether legitimate or fraudulent, defamatory or a risk of defamation suits, racist, misogynist, threatening, or in bad taste. If I believe comments are worthwhile, but include lapses in these areas, I will exercise my right to edit them. Because the WordPress comment-management system is easy to game, I don’t always know who commenters are, even though they have provided a facsimile of an email address.

      In the past 24 hours I have deleted a comment by someone whose intentions I believe were honorable but that carried, in my opinion, a high risk of a defamation action being brought against me, and edited two comments, one to eliminate a statement about a politician that I believe was unfair and untrue as well as potentially defamatory, and another that contained passages I believe were not intended to be racist but could be interpreted that way. I have no doubt the authors in all cases disagree with my calls, but in this I am the boss of all of you. DJC

      Reply
      • Just Me

        January 9th, 2020

        Considering I compared Savage to Cesar Romero, I am surprised that one got through, as I fully expected it to be exorcised from my contribution. I mean Romero was a man of considerable talents, a bon vivant, an extraordinary personality, and quite gay. (Yes. Very.) Savage is no where near Romero’s extraordinary personae.

        Reply
        • David Climenhaga

          January 9th, 2020

          No reasonable person would object to being compared to Cesar Romero. Surely no court would uphold such a complaint. DJC

          Reply
      • tom in ontario

        January 9th, 2020

        Until DJC responded to Brad Tomlinson I had no idea that running a blog and posting comments to that blog are so fraught with danger. Time constraints force him to make fast judgments on whether to post someone’s possibly defamatory statements and risk a lawsuit. As if that weren’t enough, blogs like his can trigger threats of personal harm. It happens.

        Reply
        • David Climenhaga

          January 9th, 2020

          This is why mainstream media have pulled back from their unfettered commenting policies of yore. It’s easier just to let people post whatever they like, but it has the potential for liability. Given the options available from most blogging content-management systems, a responsible blogger doesn’t have much choice but to moderate comments or ban them completely, which would be a pity on a blog like this. As Farmer Brian might say, everybody have a nice day, I’m here to help … whether you like it or not! DJC

          Reply
  16. Camjournal

    January 11th, 2020

    “This is pretty much exactly, it must be noted, what other authoritarian governments like those in Hungary and Russia have said in similar recent circumstances.” Tell me again who is overreacting? DJC I think you’re being a little selective here. Actually this is pretty much exactly what China, India, Pakistan, USA, UK, Germany, the Marshall Islands, Quebec and virtually every other country in the world would say. It is (or was) a common diplomatic principle that only in extreme circumstances do governments criticize another country’s internal affairs.
    How about this recommendation – the OHCHR “Urges the State party to freeze present and future approval of large-scale development projects affecting indigenous peoples that do not enjoy free, prior and informed consent from all indigenous peoples affected;” ok, this means the Canadian economy has to stop until consent is received “from all indigenous peoples affected;” This and most of the other statements in this report are undefined, vague, and poorly thought out. No country can pay more than cursory attention to them. I ask you, do you think there was much research done by this committee? Do you think the committee came out here to investigate? No, at most they took statements from unspecified people and maybe a little internet reading. Did they mention the Eagle Spirit Pipeline? Didn’t show up in their Google search I guess?
    Why is the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination looking at this anyways? Are they (and maybe you) saying that these pipeline disputes are racial discrimination? You want to talk about the Rule of Law, well the rule of law says this is not discrimination this is a territorial dispute. Sure, the Canadian Indigenous people have historically been discriminated against by our generally white society and they don’t have the state apparatus backing them now either, but what we have here is no different than what the state has done trampling on many groups in the past. The state doesn’t discriminate so much as it subdues anyone who stands up to it, including Caucasian Trade Union workers.
    The UN report specifically refers to “the reported violent arrest and detainment of a Secwepemc defender” – I suggest you hang around White Ave or any other bar district at closing time and you will see much more police violence irrespective of race than Kanahus Manuel and Isha Jules received in Oct 2019. Note they say “reported violent arrest” they clearly have based their rulings and decisions on hearsay.
    The OHCHR “Recommends that the State party establish, in consultation with indigenous peoples, a legal and institutional framework to ensure adequate consultation with the view to obtain free, prior and informed consent regarding all legislation affecting indigenous peoples;” Another dream – how about the rest of Canadians? It would sure be nice if any of us received “adequate consultation” but that doesn’t happen in our democracy.
    I don’t agree this is embarrassing – no one pays attention to UN committees – but DJC you are correct that our rights standards are not as good as we think they are, and never have been. We may be making progress though as we are all free to sleep under bridges now.

    Reply
    • Camjournal

      January 11th, 2020

      So this reference within the UN OHCHR report to a “reported violent arrest” tweaked my interest as I had not heard about it, or at least didn’t remember it. Apparently at the time everyone took videos of the incident, although the RCMP and the pipeline company are not making their videos public yet. Apparently the arrestee posted their video at some time but I could not find it although I did find a description of it on the APTN news site, which I am going to take as not biased in favour of the oppressor class. Note – I believe these ATPN comments relate to video posted of an encounter which happened a few weeks before the Oct arrest.

      I don’t like to just post links so I’ll present what I think are relevant points here but you can reference the link if you wish;

      Mayuk Manuel, (Kanahus’ twin sister) calls this pipeline worker a honky and says he’s a rapist, “And we know where your kids go to school,” she adds while pointing a finger at him. APTN also quoted from the video that Mayuk referred to another pipeline employee on site “You’re using that piss-poor Indian woman that needs money.” Note in her view this individual is not an Indigenous person but a “piss poor Indian woman.”

      https://aptnnews.ca/2019/10/25/war-of-words-erupts-over-anti-pipeline-arrests/

      I want to state that the Canadian Indigenous People have been treated badly and we need to deal with that, but bullshit is bullshit no matter who slings it.

      Reply

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