Barry Cooper

Provinces and the Constitution
Canada’s western lands, wrote one prominent academic, became provinces “in the Roman sense” – acquired possessions that, once vanquished, were there to be exploited. Laurentian Canada regarded the hinterlands as existing primarily to serve the interests of the heartland. And the current holders of office in Ottawa often behave as if the Constitution’s federal-provincial distribution of powers is at best advisory, if it needs to be acknowledged at all. Reviewing this history, Barry Cooper places Alberta’s widely criticized Sovereignty Act in the context of the Prairie provinces’ long struggle for due constitutional recognition and the political equality of their citizens. Canada is a federation, notes Cooper. Provinces do have rights. Constitutions do mean something. And when they are no longer working, they can be changed.
Pandemic Aftermath
Despite the wreckage wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic – social disintegration, ruined lives, physical and economic tolls – the governments and public officials who “managed” the emergency have been decidedly uninterested in assessing their performance. Except in Alberta, where a government-appointed panel just released its Final Report. Though predictably attacked by politicians, media and “experts” who can abide no dissent, the report makes many sensible recommendations, Barry Cooper finds. The report calls for emergency management experts – not doctors or health care bureaucrats – to be in charge when such disasters strike, with politicians who are accountable to the people making the key decisions. Most important, the report demands much stronger protection for the individual freedoms that panic-stricken governments and overbearing professional organizations so readily quashed.
State of Academia
As a lifelong academic, political scientist Barry Cooper believed the university had the means – and the duty – to lead government and society in the quality of reasoning it brought to bear on difficult issues. Like Covid-19. Instead, Cooper’s document-based review of the University of Calgary administration’s decisions and statements during the pandemic suggests that, far from carefully weighing evidence and reaching balanced (or even courageous) decisions, the leadership was governed by emotion, driven by impulse and willingly subject to the shifting whims of medical bureaucrats. Logic, evidence, rational risk assessment and even basic humanity were cast aside. Whatever one might think of the resulting policies, the paper trail Cooper examines is shocking for its banal thinking, atrocious writing, pompous condescension and immature emotionalism.
Federalism and Favouritism
Demographics is destiny, we’re often told. But while Canada’s fastest-growing provinces – primarily in the West – have every right to expect that their increasing share of the country’s population will be matched in their political representation at the federal level, the morass of Canadian federalism stands in the way. Barry Cooper takes a close look at a recent Bloc Québécois motion demanding Quebec be given more MPs even as its share of Canada’s population continues to sag. This affront to the basic democratic principle that every person’s vote should carry equal weight was supported by all parties, including many Conservative MPs. And it might soon become law. Cooper untangles the perverted logic, backstory and future implications.
ELITES, ACTIVISTS AND US
Democratic politics must continue even in times of war. Despite suspension of the federal Conservative leadership race amidst the coronavirus, members and supporters still need to think about how to shape their party and pick the right leader to best meet the many challenges of our era. C2C Journal has looked at revived Red Toryism, at uncompromisingly principled conservatism and at the decidedly compromised but successful Harper way. We have sought insight from abroad. And now we turn to populism. Barry Cooper applies his usual fearless thinking and cheerful bluntness to evaluate whether the Canadian political landscape has become hospitable terrain to a Canadian Trump.
Wexit
Another federal election, another devastating outcome for the West. This time around, however, Western Canadians aren’t feeling much like putting up with being shut out. ‘Wexit’ is one response to the perpetual hammer-lock central Canada has on Ottawa. Here’s another – the re-tooling of the federal Conservatives into an exclusively western-based party that fights for regional interests as aggressively and single-mindedly as the Bloc Québécois does for Quebec. University of Calgary political scientist Barry Cooper takes a close look at how a Bloc West party could come about, and the obstacles it would face.
Book Review
The Harper Conservatives’ only major scandal was driven by a sole Senator and those who tried to pay back the piffling $90,000 in question. Yet that misstep plagued them for years and contributed to their 2015 defeat. It seems they’re just not like the Liberals. Those guys know how to do scandal. They think big – the Sponsorship Scandal alone totalled $100 million – their habits are well-honed and their expertise is inter-generational. You could say it’s in their political DNA. Chronicling it all could fill a multi-volume history. Fearless muckraker Ezra Levant has made a start with a new book focused on the most recent phase, the Justin Trudeau years. Barry Cooper reviews Levant’s The Libranos.
Lessons from Machiavelli
The Liberal government’s relentless assault on the West’s resource economy must have countless older Albertans (and Saskatchewanians) seething at Eastern Canada’s refusal to mature beyond its politics of envy and younger generations mystified that the careers they studied and worked hard to launch are pronounced destined for phase-out by our current prime minister. In this essay, C2C Journal pairs two veterans of the federal-provincial energy wars: oilpatch insider Dave Yager, author of a new book on Alberta’s resource sector and its immense contribution to Canada, and political scientist Barry Cooper, who reviews Yager’s From Miracle to Menace: Alberta, A Carbon Story.
American Politics
The Mueller report icing the Russian collusion charges did not end Trump Derangement Syndrome. You can still trigger an argument just by wearing a red baseball cap with a certain caption on it. But a new book about the Trump era so far, by American conservative scholar Victor Davis Hanson, is mercifully TDS-free. Hanson’s bias in The Case for Trump is that whatever the failings of the disruptor, the Deep State needed disrupting. As the SNC scandal lifts the veil on Canada’s own Deep State, Barry Cooper wonders if it will be the harbinger of our own disruptor.
Western Alienation
Blocking pipelines to “phase out” energy production from Alberta’s oilsands has nothing to do with saving the planet. It’s about Eastern Canada screwing the West to take the Rest. Always has been, always will be, unless…

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