Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo: Alexey Nokolsky, Sputnik).

Well, this has been an interesting Alberta Family Day – and it’s not even over yet. 

In international politics, Russia recognized the independence of two breakaway Russian-speaking provinces of eastern Ukraine and immediately sent in its armed forces to protect them. 

Senator John McCain (Photo: United States Senate).

Naturally, in the West this will be described as an invasion, although if the United States had done the same thing, as it has, it would have been described as the responsibility to protect, and if Canada had been involved it would have been called peacekeeping. 

Whatever. At first blush it would appear Vladimir Putin, president of what the late U.S. Senator John McCain dismissed as nothing more than a gas station masquerading as a country, has outmanoeuvred the West again.

This was evident in the initially confused response from the Biden White House: There will be sanctions, but only on the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics … for now. 

That, presumably, is because there’s more to Donetsk and Luhansk than merely the territory held by the armed forces of the two rebel territories and nobody knows yet whether Mr. Putin has in mind the entirety of those two provinces or just the current area not held by the Ukrainian armed forces. 

Unless they are truly suicidal, it seems likely the Ukrainian Army’s shelling of the rebel region will now stop. 

The Minsk Protocol – which Ukraine has basically ignored since it was signed in 2014 and to which Russia is not a party – is suddenly on everyone’s mind again, including the Ukrainian leadership’s. Maybe the limited sovereignty, not unlike that of a Canadian province, that it would have eventually granted Donetsk and Luhansk wasn’t such a bad idea after all, everyone seems to think.

Look for enthusiasm about a major conflict with Russia to cool considerably in Western Europe now that Mr. Putin has demonstrated this resolve. It will continue at a fever pitch in Canada and the United Sates, most likely. The Germans may even become less interested in additional sanctions as they contemplate how to heat their homes and run their factories next winter. 

Parliament to vote on Emergencies Act

Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the House of Commons will vote this evening on the invocation of the Emergencies Act, as required by the provisions of the Act itself. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Flickr).

With the federal NDP on side, it seems likely that the vote will pass, causing considerable sound and fury signifying very little on the Opposition Conservative benches, which are packed with many Parliamentarians who actively aided and abetted the three-week illegal occupation of Ottawa by the far-right insurrectionists that has now finally been cleared out by police.

The NDP may well have faced some internal disagreement over whether to vote to ratify the emergency, but I’m sure the minds of the party’s MPs were concentrated by the realization that to defeat the motion would in effect be a vote of confidence and the subsequent election that would have been required would almost certainly have been won overwhelmingly by Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals. 

No matter what they say, the Conservatives will almost certainly be relieved for the same reason.

If the vote fails, the trucks that have blockaded Ottawa will likely be back again, possibly before morning. Unless they are truly politically suicidal, even federal Conservatives in Alberta won’t want that.  

So it would seem that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, written off for years as a mere drama teacher who was just not ready, has outmanoeuvered his Canadian opponents once again as well. 

This will doubtless cause some indigestion here in Alberta, however, as the possibilities of what the inquiry required by the Emergencies Act might uncover begin to dawn on the brainiacs of the United Conservative Party Government.

Meanwhile in Alberta, we have … shoes! 

Finally, here in Alberta the government of Premier Kenney is getting ready for a Throne Speech laying out its agenda tomorrow, and a Budget, to be tabled in the Legislature on Thursday.

Shoes (Screenshot of UCP video; Jason Kenney/Flickr).

In preparation, Finance Minister Travis Toews today released a lame video about shoes – I kid you not – a bit of inside baseball about a Canadian Parliamentary tradition unlikely to be comprehensible, let alone engaging, to many Albertans, especially those in the UCP’s base.

The tone of both the Throne Speech and the Budget, an astute observer of Alberta politics of my acquaintance predicts, will be that we’re finally coming out of the pandemic and we should all be optimistic, but there will still be tough decisions ahead. 

Family Day

As for how and why Progressive Conservative premier Don Getty brought Family Day to Alberta, I’ve said it all before. If you want to read it a fourth time, a look back at one of those stories is found here. 

Join the Conversation


  1. One has to laugh at now everyone is screaming that this is the end of the Minsk Agreements. These would be the Minsk Agreements which these same countries all worked against after they were signed? Ukraine signed them because they were getting their ass kicked by a bunch of Donbass coal miners, then they immediately reneged on everything. This agreement was authorized and endorsed by the UN. Non-agreement capable just like the US.

    And PMJT is not particularly good at his job but he just has to be better than the opposition which has been way easy so far. You bet the NDP will support the Emgs Act in spite of its sketchiness because otherwise they’d be annihilated in an election, as DJC says. I still think some decent police effort to enforce the laws we already had, backed up by some court injunctions, would have done it.

  2. It’s interesting that PMJT’s implementation of the Emergencies Act has deliberately put it and himself on a short leash. The blockades and their repeats must end in thirty days or … what? It seems that this is the sort of thing that will be allowed to brew, as it may show no signs of ending. Since it appears that the Convoy protesters don’t appear to understand what their goals are, now that their leadership is locked up and presenting some of the weirdest bail hearing appearances in memory, the hope is that all these tantrums will just fizzle-out before long. Or, until the next COVID wave emerges, whichever comes first.

    I found it interesting that after the vote, “Murphy” Bergen got up in the House and wanted to present a point of order that the measures required the approval of the House. I’m not sure if Bergen was paying attention, but there was just a vote on the measures and they were approved. To that the Liberals called Bergen’s move not a point-of-order and just another bout of grandstanding. I suppose Bergen could have just kept the demands for House approval to go on all night and forever, but no one was having it.

    In any case, the whole thing has been put to bed and now the ball is in the police’s court: they keep everything secure or everything falls apart.

    As for Putin and the Ukraine, this is beginning to look like 2014 all over again. To regions of Eastern Ukraine have declared their independence and Russia recognizes their right to self-determination. Putin will order troops into the regions to protect their populations from Ukrainian aggression. This is the Crimean annexation all over again. I pretty much expect the US and NATO to do nothing, like they did the last time this sort of thing happened. Or, the Biden Administration could take Condoleezza Rice’s advice from 2014 and deploy the 101st Airbore Division and their assets into the Ukraine and scare the shite out of Putin. As Rice put it, Putin is a coward and he’ll fold the moment someone pushes back — hard.

    As a side note, there is this on-going guessing game on Twitter over the role everyone’s favourite Twitter troll, W. Brett Wilson, has in this whole Convoy nonsense. Wilson has been prolifically posting a flurry of insults against Trudeau, as well as provided vocal support for Kenney’s heroic initiative to stop #theWarMeasuresAct. Considering that the Emergencies Act is a heavily neutered version of the infamous War Measures Act, I’m not sure what all the panicky hand wringing is about, unless it’s the CONs trembling that Trudeau may have scored a huge win with this one. But the really amazing thing to emerge from these hilarious exchanges is the tweet from Frank Magazine, which declared that Wilson was the one who provided the private jet for Tamara Litch’s husband to fly to Ottawa for her hearing, as well as providing a substantial sum of cash for his use. Of course, in response, Wilson defended his actions and the Convoy’s mission (Whatever it is at this minute) emphasis being his support on social media and other means. One wonders if Wilson has morphed from cranky middle-aged Twitter troll into a lite-version of Gen. Charles P. Cabell and the Convoy was supposed to be Trudeau’s Bay of Pigs invasion and overthrow? Is Alberta the HQ for the movement to overthrow the Liberal government?

    Given the magnitude and the hilarity of all the events that happened today, I’ve since graduated from popcorn to Cheezzies. Such high comedy requires a higher form of Type I diabetes inducing snack.

    1. Just: President Putin is many things, most of them not very nice, but I suspect that Dr. Rice’s assessment of his character was dangerously wrong. Based on his personal record in Germany during the fall of the Soviet Union, when he was pretty cool in a stressful and dangerous situation, I doubt he is a coward. It’s more likely he is the opposite, a taker of big risks, always willing to raise the stakes in a crisis. DJC

      1. As for Putin’s record working the KGB/Stasi in E. German, there are two versions: the popular one and what really happened. The popular one, where Putin stood before and angry crowd of Germans, waving his pistol, and demanding they leave is the one that is frequently recounted by KGB operatives and Putin himself. The real story may have been more like Putin saying give me the night to clean up and get out and you can have the Stasi files. The next morning, Putin was gone and the files were in the people’s hands.

        Rice’s assessment may have some grounding in her experience as a Cold War Soviet analyst of the KGB. Putin was well known as a competent operative, but he real fame came from positioning himself in support of Boris Yeltsin’s fleecing of whatever was left of the old Soviet state’s wealth. Putin enabled Yeltsin until the old drunk had enough and wanted out. Putin became Yeltsin’s successor and continued the pillaging.

        Putin parcelled up the state enterprises and created his cadre of loyal oligarch billionaires to serve his ambitions. Putin finds those of low integrity and bribes them into their dependency. Yes, Donald Trump and dozens more to service his bidding.

        Rice’s point was clear: challenge Putin by actually placing him in a situation where he can’t buy or bribe his way out, leaving his only option to fight and get bloodied. Once Putin is seen to be mere mortal, his fall will begin.

      2. Why is it so many Canadians have such a positive view of American diplomats ? Putin speaks 7 languages, he was the head of Russian security services, he’s classically educated, and Russian, with a long view of European history. Americans are adolescent at best by comparison. Rice wasn’t even a trusted insider in the BUSH admin. As for the 101 , they don’t have the capability to deploy them with any sort of speed or numbers that would make a difference in this conflict.

        Read the articles Scott Ritter has been writing about NATO their war preparedness and the technological gap they face against Russias new war technologies. Anyone who thinks the Americans have any cards to play here other than retreat hasn’t been listening… to the Americans.

    2. Seriously Just Me – dump the 101st Airborne into Ukraine? You think so? This isn’t 2014, they would get annihilated, or more accurately vaporized. Stupid ideas like that are what get fine people killed. Just what the world needs is some cowboy doing something like that to start WWIII. Over what, Ukraine? As the expression goes few people can find Ukraine on a map let alone know anything about history.

      I suppose you and Ms. Rice can have your opinion about Mr. Putin’s courage but no one can call the Russians cowards. They fought the most powerful military machine in the world all the way to Berlin and lost more than 20,000,000 of their people doing it. The Russians know the terrible costs of war and avoid it as much as possible but challenge Vladimir Putin so he’ll back down? You think this is a poker game or something?

      Just watch. Now that this has happened countries will be backing off looking for a quiet exit from this mess.

  3. Will we still have “Russian invasion any moment” headlines every day?

    “likely the Ukrainian Army’s shelling of the rebel region will now stop.”
    I think the OSCE observers are still there, although US, UK and Canada have pulled out their staff.

  4. Playing politics by trashing individual rights and legitimizing it with majoritarian force undermines our democracy.

    1. Undermining our democracy? What a laugh! What do you think the raving white supremacists like Lich, Barber and King were attempting with the occupation of Ottawa, and the promise to stay until their demands were met? They demanded via their MOU that the government depose itself, and that the GG should appoint the enelected Senate to rule us! Oh and by the way, get rid of Covid restrictions and mandates. That was said to keep the truckers happy, after all, those people seemed unaware their Convoy had been entirely co-opted for nefarious purposes.

      Mr Larson, sir, THAT is an attempt to undermine democracy.

      If I could understand the Con mind, where black is white and up is down, I’d be a happy man. As it is, I regard the Cons as complete dolts who cannot understand basic logic, then stand up on their hind legs and blare their ignorance for all to hear. But some of the audience is obviously even less bright. May I count you among them?

  5. ” we should all be optimistic, but there will still be tough decisions ahead. ”
    Gonna be hard to be optimistic considering the UPC fumbling of softball decisions.

    Gotta love Putin
    NATO coming to my border?
    May as well move my border to NATO.
    Other than that
    As I know 80% of information is missing,
    And 20% left is dis information.
    (manufacturing consent i think it is called)
    There seems to be no reason to jeopardise any relationship,
    by actually being fool enough to voice an opinion.

  6. We’ve been fed so much BS from the US (who control all dialogue of the Allies and NATO) about Russia over the years and the Ukraine in particular, that even reasonable people have lost the real plot. We hardly ever hear what the Russians say, because our governments and dutiful media just don’t bother to report it. Instead we get bought-and-paid-for “opinions” from similarly unread “experts” you’ve never heard of before, plus the never-ending promise of “sanctions” against “Putin”. Never any true backgrounders because, hell, we might sympathize with the other side’s poiint-of-view to some extent. So we are kept like mushrooms and fed only our side’s bombast. Then there’s the other tendency of the US — to try and typify countries they don’t like by embodying them under the leader’s name and hardly ever mentioning anyone else. It suits their star system of individuality.

    If you read some of the more enlightened Western commentary by Scott Ritter and Gilbert Doctorow, you get much more of an idea about the likely situation, more of the reality, shall we say. There is also Patrick Armstrong’s writings, a Canadian ex-diplomat who was stationed in our Moscow Embassy for years. None of these commentaries would be recognizable as speaking of the Ukraine situation or “Putin” as it’s been spoon-fed to us by our leaders who specialize in fantasy and chest-beating over our own simply stellar record on human rights and proud democracies. Orwell 85 years ago characterized the word democracy as the code word for Monopoly Capitalism — I’ve recently been reading his essays. One of the basics of propaganda is to get the first word in and claim the other side is up to something they themselves are doing. Fools the plebs who believe in the PR campaign demonization of “Putin”. Not that I think he’s a first class guy, because country leaders rarely are.

    He’s Brussels-based.

    I say all this because the US will get its clock cleaned if they persuade themselves they have a military equal to Russia’s and decide to blunder in as heroes saving “democracy” in Ukraine. When I say not equal, I’m talking locally on the Eurasian land mass. The US couldn’t even subdue Iraq, Afghanistan or Syria for goodness sake! And that was with complete air superiority and trillions of expended dollars.

    Then there’s the rank amateur parade of inexperienced state department diplomats like Blinken, who don’t know their history and think that issuing edicts and promising extreme sanctions will make those Russkies quake in their “commie” boots. The British Foreign Secretary, like Boris, an enthusiastic little ankle-biter, doen’t even know her geography (location of Black and Baltic seas) but like US diplomats thinks her role is to lecture Russia on its perceived shortcomings, and to not listen to any rejoinders.

    My personal take is that “Putin” has had more than enough of the BS and has decided to act. Just reading Wikipedia will reveal that those two eastern provinces that Russia has recognized as independent are overwhelmingly ethno-Russian. Perhaps 80% of the bigger cities’ population, while Ukrainians occupy the rural areas. Does anyone mention the 150,000 Ukrainian troops stationed on Russia’s borders? Of course not, it would spoil the story! Those two sides in the Donbass have been shelling each other for years. If the Americans decide to interfere, the 101st Airborne will not exist after a couple of days. Logistics will be their downfall. The American military know this, which is why they instead engage in a war of words. If US and British supply and warships enter the Black Sea and engage, hypersonic missiles will deal with them in twenty minutes.

    Now, the tendency is to shoot the messenger and label them as traitors, in this case me. I can’t help it if you’re unread or underinformed. My purpose is to inform people about things they simply don’t know, and to not be surprised when things don’t work out as the West fondly imagines and has told its populations would be the case.

    Past US sanctions have driven Russia to be entirely self-sufficient. They are the World’s biggest grain exporter, for example. They supply, and most people don’t know this, 8 to 11% of the US diesel fuel requirement! Super clean stuff made from natural gas, as it happens. Google is your friend. They’ve developed hypersonic missiles and an air/missile defence system so good (S300, S400 and S500) even Turkey and India have purchased it, raising US ire. Well, why bother buying the useless US Patriot system? The Russian nuclear subs are truly stealthy, but we aren’t told that either or about their amazing undersea missiles. Hell, one supposes if we knew all this generally in society, we all might be a bit concerned and not respond to our side’s rhetoric.

    Watching Global News on Ukraine this morning, I find it’s spectacularly propagandic, so much so, it’s hard to take seriously in any way. Absolute frothing nonsense in my view, like a Lord Haw Haw broadcast in WW2. Do we not deserve more balanced reporting as to our chances if we tackle the Russian bear? Or will be left plumb amazed if we get our asses handed to us?

    The US has been baiting Russia to come out and fight over Ukraine, and now they’ve been rewarded by a distinct move to send Russian troops as “peacekeepers” (as if) to protect ethno-Russians in the general Donbass area. Putin has ditched the Minsk II Accords and broken the pact, so he is on the wrong side of international law, and admits it. The Russians are still smarting over the US breaking of their early ’90s pledge to not extend NATO and missiles eastward. So if the US can get away with breaking its word, I guess the Russians figure, well we’ll try it out as well. Freeland must be fretting away like mad, seeing she’s more interested in her ancestor’s country than in Canada at the moment. Her mom lives on the Maidan in Kiev, after all, not in Alberta where Chrystia was born. And of course, Freeland has been persona non grata for a decade in Russia, so I guess that’s a big accomplishment for a former diplomat if Foreign Affairs Minister can be given that sobriquet. Anyway, if the US wants to respond militarily to this Russian “aggression” short of nuclear war, now’s their chance to show us the prowess of their boys.

    The fact that Russia supplies the EU with natural gas and the US with diesel puts the lie to statements like removing Russia from the US Swift international payment system. No money, no product, simple as that. Won’t break Russia’s finances, and being old-fashioned, they’ve demanded some payments the past few years in gold bullion. They are sitting on about US $700 billion of it, and nobody’s starving or homeless. The US famously doesn’t care about the EU, witness Victoria Nuland’s famous saying of seven years ago: “F*ck the EU”. So if and when things go really pear-shaped, the EU is going to get the short end of the stick and freeze in winter with no gas for heating and industry. That’s when they’ll really find out if the US is but a fair weather friend. And the Germans seem intent to commit suicide by cancelling Nordstream 2 with no other real source of natural gas beyond the existing supply which the Russians can turn off with the push of a button, plunging Ukraine into chaos as well, since the existing major gas pipeline runs through it. US LNG shipments aren’t enough to run Germany. I’d say the Russians hold all the aces, were I a betting man.

    I find the entire situation enthralling, even as it’s highly dangerous. But then, the world shrugs its shoulders at global warming. So pick yer pison, by. Want to croak by nuke or die gradually by bad weather and heat? There’s your choice as I see it. Russia and China refuse outright to submit to the US, and so it’s been a Mexican standoff, which Russia has just tipped over. Good luck to one and all.

    Oh, and here in Canada we now face unrepentant goofs and goons of the extreme white right who want to take down our country, and whose actions, if we don’t watch it, will only escalate in intensity. These are dedicated nutbars, and we don’t seem to really believe they exist, not really, not deep down. Fildebrandt is frothing away, I note, claiming the media didn’t cover the Calgary convoy the other day. Of course, he’d know — he sent none of his Western Standard reporters to cover it so is completely informed. Not that that troubles him. At least his reporters didn’t get spat on like other media reporters by the simple expedient of not being there. Now there is an unCanadian if ever there was one, whose prime doltishness cannot be described by any well-known words in the English language.

    1. Here are some observations about NATO expansionism by George F. Keenan – George F. Kennan, for heaven’s sake, the great American nemesis of the Soviet regime – quoted by Thomas Friedman, of all people, in yesterday’s New York Times. DJC

      “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the founding fathers of this country turn over in their graves.

      “We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a lighthearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs. What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was. I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe.

      “Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime. And Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from Russia. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.”

        1. Of course. Embarrassing. The product of typing too quickly and having once worked with a reporter named Keenan. It’s fixed. DJC

  7. One thing I’ll endeavour to remind everyone is that as the elected leader of the Russian Federation Putin is beholden to his parliament. The recognition of the breakaway republics in Donbas was required of him by the passing of the opposition Communist Party bill calling for him to do so. 1.5 million ethnic Russians face genocide in the Donbas, I haven’t seen any western pundits even speak of it.

  8. The issues in Eastern Europe should be settled through diplomacy. The US has no stomach for any further military misadventures. We can wait Putin out. Russia is a declining power.

    1. When I look at the world, I see the West in decline. We have this nasty habit of choosing to believe absurd falsehoods, then acting on our beliefs, then being surprised and indignant when reality ensues.

  9. When the US recognized Israel’s annexations, there was a very different response. The “rules based international order” has different rules for some.

    I think this this is not intended to be a satire piece:
    “Although the ‘rules-based international order’ is central to Australian strategy, what exactly this concept means remains a work very much in progress.”

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