What’s that annoying buzz?
It’s too early in the reluctant Alberta springtime for it to be a fly trapped between the blind and the window.
And we’re too far away from Havana for it to be a mysterious Russian microwave weapon frying the brains of American consular officials.
Don’t worry, it’s just Alberta Premier Jason Kenney proving to the United Conservative Party base that he’s still relevant while there are a few days of voting left in his leadership review.
Yesterday afternoon, the Premier’s Office published a news release on the official Alberta government website informing us that we’ll be paying for another pointless legal challenge, this time of the federal government’s use of the Emergencies Act to peacefully bring to an end last winter’s occupation of Ottawa, border blockade and would-be coup.
Alberta got the nod from the Federal Court of Canada to intervene “on the non-constitutional issues” in several lawsuits brought by the Ottawa occupiers, border blockaders, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, their ideological fellow travellers, and their mostly right-wing litigationists in hopes of getting Ottawa’s use of the Emergencies Act declared unconstitutional.
Not much chance of that, of course, but it certainly presents a fund-raising opportunity for a number of the usual suspects mentioned above.
For its part, the Alberta government will be arguing that invocation of the Emergencies Act was unnecessary “since the province already had the legislative tools necessary to stop illegal blockades.”
Well, OK. I don’t know what the coruscating legalists hired by the province will say when Ottawa’s lawyers remind the court of how Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver begged two federal ministers on Feb. 5 for federal assistance cleaning up the blockade at the Coutts border crossing in Southern Alberta.
You see, Mr. McIver explained at the time, the border blockade was harming the economy, impeding the movement of critical goods and services, and blocking the free movement of people.
The protesters – including several UCP MLAs, Mr. McIver omitted to mention in his letter to Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair – were not letting the police enforce the law.
So, he pleaded, “I am requesting federal assistance that includes the provision of equipment and personnel to remove approximately 70 tractor-trailers and approximately 75 personal and recreational vehicles from the area.”
“Thanks, Ottawa,” might have been a more appropriate response from Mr. Kenney, but even back in February he was threatening to challenge the constitutionality of the Emergencies Act, leading people at the time to observe that you can never please an Alberta Conservative if your last name happens to be Trudeau.
Ottawa’s response will probably not be all that different from that of Alberta NDP Justice Critic Irfan Sabir, a lawyer, who said yesterday afternoon that “Jason Kenney’s argument that his government had the tools it needed to disperse the illegal blockade at Coutts underscores the fact that he refused to use these tools.”
“For 18 days, he refused to seek a court injunction to disperse it, and refused to use the province’s power to rescind the commercial drivers’ licenses and insurance held by the people illegally blocking a major trade corridor.”
Not only did Jason Kenney do nothing to disperse the blockade, Mr. Sabir said, “his UCP MLAs actively cheered on and participated in the illegal Coutts blockade, which caused $800 million in damage to Alberta’s economy.”
“The blockade was later raided by the RCMP, who found weapons, ammunition and body armour,” he added. “Several people are facing criminal charges, including conspiracy to murder police officers. Yet these UCP MLAs have faced no consequences or reprimand for their actions.”
As for Premier Kenney, he trowelled it on in yesterday’s news release: “We will protect our province from the dangerous precedent set by the federal government in pointlessly invoking the Emergencies Act,” he huffed. “Their decision to invoke the act violated the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Albertans, and all Canadians.
“It is our duty to do everything we can to protect Albertans’ freedoms and liberties from this kind of breach. No government should have the power to seize a person’s property or withhold access to their assets without due process of the law.” (Unless, of course, it’s the Alberta government arbitrarily seizing your car, even if you weren’t driving it. But, whatever. )
Tyler Shandro, the latest man through the revolving door of the office of Alberta’s justice minister, was quoted by the government’s busy press release writer saying pretty much exactly the same thing as his boss.
UCP meme-makers were busy trying to portray Mr. Kenney as a defender of civil liberties too – a strategy unlikely to impress the premier’s foes on either the right or the left, which nowadays adds up to just about everyone in the province.
Of course, with the federal leadership candidates all trying to outdo one another proving their fealty to the Ottawa occupiers, this approach is entirely on brand for Canada’s thoroughly Republicanized right wing.
It’s important to note that just because the Federal Court granted the Alberta Government the opportunity to intervene, that doesn’t mean the court is endorsing the merits of the government’s legal grandstanding.
Oh dear! … iconic Alberta Boot Company to sell Chelsea boots, encourage lifestyles
Uh-oh! It’s troubling indeed to learn that Calgary’s iconic Alberta Boot Company, relocating back to Cowtown’s downtown after years in a bleak industrial area off Macleod Trail, plans, as the Calgary Herald put it, “to expand the brand beyond its signature cowboy boots.”
It’s even worse than that, dear readers. “Chelsea boots and everyday footwear will be rolled into the company’s retail as it evolves into more of a lifestyle brand,” the Herald said in a puffy account of the company’s plans.
Chelsea boots? A lifestyle brand? Oh dear!
It’s hard to believe this isn’t the beginning of the end of Western civilization as we have known it. At least in Calgary.