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Frontier Centre for Public Policy

The Great Canadian Hoax exposed

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Colin Alexander

Grave Error: How The Media Misled Us (and the Truth about Residential Schools) edited by C.P. Champion and Tom Flanagan, Truth North and Dorchester Review, 343pp, $21.99) is a companion volume to Frontier’s From Truth Comes Reconciliation, which was published in 2021 (second edition is forthcoming). The two reviews published here are by Colin Alexander and Peter Best. The book demonstrates that there is no forensic evidence of Indian Residential School children that have been murdered and buried in residential school yards. There are a number of reasons for not believing the claim that children were murdered in these schools. Canadians are anxious to know the truth about the schools, and this book along with Frontier’s book go a long way to dispel the myths that have developed about the murder of residential school children. The book has been a top seller on Amazon since it was published in early January 2024.

This scholarly book of essays demolishes the narrative that any children went missing from Indian residential schools (IRS), let alone thousands, or that there are mass graves. Grave Error, in fact, debunks what essayist Jonathan Kay calls “a media-fuelled social panic over unmarked graves.” Mainstream media around the world—not just in Canada—ran with this press release issued on May 27, 2021:

This past weekend, with the help of a ground penetrating radar [GPR] specialist, the stark truth of the preliminary findings became known – the confirmation of the remains of 215 children who were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School [KRS]. …

To our knowledge, these missing children are undocumented deaths,” stated Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir. “Some were as young as three years old. …

Mainstream news media and politicians took the press release to heart, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lowering flags on federal buildings to half-mast for six long months. So debauched have the Enlightenment’s principles of inquiry become, along with those of responsible journalism, that it took outsiders to question the truth of this release.

Yes, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) found disturbed ground in the orchard near the school. That is because the land had buried drainage tiles from a septic system that had been installed in 1924. In any case, except for orphans and those whose upbringing was beyond their parents’ capacity, the IRS required a minimum age of six for admission.

No children were murdered and buried surreptitiously at night. Schools were paid on a headcount of children, so there was not a single name unaccounted for. There is a death certificate for every death, with burials either in the nearby cemetery or returned to their reserves. TB and other communicable diseases rampant everywhere caused most IRS deaths a century ago. Since the introduction of antibiotics, the death toll has been much lower. Many graves in recognized cemeteries are unmarked because the customarily used wooden crosses deteriorated over time. Despite that, in December 2021, Canadian Press called unmarked graves the story of the year!

Len Marchand’s autobiography, Breaking the Trail, provides an antidote for the horror stories at KRS. A former attendee during the time of the alleged murders and burials, he became Canada’s first Indigenous cabinet minister. The worst he says of his time there was that meals included mushy potatoes.

Essayist Ian Gentles says the juggernaut of misinformation began with the CBC program The Journal on October 30, 1990. Interviewed by Barbara Frum, Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, said he had been physically and sexually abused at his school. This led to a tsunami of former IRS attendees asserting similar allegations. Unfortunately, Ms. Frum did not ask who perpetrated the abuse, whether staff or fellow students. Or why he did not make a complaint to the police. I emailed Mr. Fontaine asking those questions but without receiving an answer.

Some essayists accept the proposition that there were real atrocities. I am not sure they were widespread. There were only a few successful prosecutions reported by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. There are probably some abuses at boarding schools. Was it really an atrocity to cut an IRS attendee’s hair on arrival or to exchange a uniform for an orange shirt? Essayist and former staff member at Stringer Hall in Inuvik, Rodney Clifton, has described children on their return after the summer break with their families. They were often in poor physical condition, and some were still wearing the clothing, unwashed in the meantime, that they left the school with.

Essayist Tom Flanagan scores a bull’s-eye when quoting John Ioannidis, medical researcher at Stanford University: “The greater the financial and other interests and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true.” With money almost unlimited for Indigenous issues, a multi-billion-dollar industry has grown out of pleading for money and telling Indigenous youth to feel sorry for themselves. By extension, the industry has prospered from laying guilt on schoolchildren and taxpayers. As shown in Lonely Death of an Ojibwa Boy by Robert MacBain, that includes what I construe to be a fraud, the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack charity.

I also disagree with essayists saying the Indigenous were dealt a bad hand, let alone that they need new treaties. What about the previously downtrodden Asian Canadians who have surpassed their white counterparts in incomes? Yes, Canada welcomed Indians into the armed forces for the Boer Wars and the two World Wars, only to treat them like dirt when the wars ended. But today there has been a role-reversal. Now Indigenous leaders can say whatever they want, and no one calls them out on saying outrageous things.

To me, the failure of Canada’s Indigenous policy derives from the excesses of the welfare state which, since the demise of the fur trade, destroyed self-reliance and work ethic—Indigenous cultures were destroyed, if you will. Now Canadians kowtow to demands for renewed tribalism and self-determination resembling South Africa’s apartheid. That would give leaders prestige and money for doing little. For followers, it connotes marginalization and second-class citizenship. No one is considering the needs of next generations living in violence-wracked settlements having no economic reason to exist, and in urban slums. It eludes notice that those who are educated and skilled and engaged in or preparing for rewarding employment seldom become addicts or commit suicide, and they seldom go to jail.

The billions paid out for the IRS and mass graves hoaxes are not delivering acceptable housing or any other help that works. I know an unemployed and all but unemployable Inuk who got a cheque for $95,000 in April 2023. By July he had blown it all and was again scrounging for cigarettes. Many billions add to GDP and salve a nation’s conscience. But enriching prostitutes and drug dealers does not address real needs.

That said, there are templates, notably in Asia, for raising Third World peoples into the First World in a single generation. I recommend Grave Error as a starting point for radically different thinking about what needs to be done to help Indigenous Canadians succeed in our country.

Colin Alexander was publisher of the Yellowknife News of the North for many years, and the advisor on education for Ontario’s Royal Commission on the Northern Environment. His latest book is Justice on Trial: Jordan Peterson’s case and others show we need to fix a broken legal system.

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Energy

Trump and Energy

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Terry Etam

Did you know that the United States Secret Service has a Chief of Communications? Does that not seem a little odd? To excel at his job, would he be perfectly silent?

Well, he’s not…Over the weekend the Chief of Communications of the United States Secret Service took to Twitter to start acting not very secret at all. How is this for a tweet: “…three charter flights filed with @SecretService agents, technicians, officers & mission support personnel safely arrived in Milwaukee.” He included a picture of one of the planes and all the debarked people standing on the tarmac.

I guess my definition of “Secret Service” is not that of the government’s, but then again, I’m not caught up in the same civil war-esque brouhaha over just what sort of curtain of madness would have descended over the world if Trump hadn’t turned his head that instant. Indeed, the past few days have been astonishing, watching players from across the spectrum and around the world reorient to accommodate what has happened.

Things are so complex, tense, and volatile that even the secret service feels the need to point out what it is doing, in great detail (though I’m sure the Director is muzzled re: the juicy stuff). In this environment predictions seem unwise, but hey that issue has never stopped me before, so here goes with a few observations of relevance to the energy industry.

As a building block of discussion, it is now highly probable that Trump will win the upcoming election. That ridiculously iconic photo of his bloody self with fist raised in front of the US flag is creating new Trump supporters out of not-insignificant online commentators that have spent years bashing him. Even Trump’s vice-presidential nominee, J.D. Vance, once expressed dislike for the big goofball (yes, he is: Exhibit A would be his tweet of a photo-shopped Trump tower in a Greenland village with the plea: “I promise not to do this to Greenland!” Of course he was many other things as well, but who could forget that…).

On the energy front, we know where Trump stands – drill baby drill. He wants to unleash American energy to drive down prices for consumers and increase competitiveness for US business. One aspect that goes unnoticed in this general discussion though is that there are material differences in what this means to the oil business/market versus the natural gas business/market.

He will focus on oil first. It will be symbolically important at a minimum for Trump to lower gasoline prices; they are a flashpoint because of the incessant visibility, the constant updating to a fraction of a cent in huge neon font as one drives down the road. Lowering gasoline prices will not be as easy as many think; for example, opening federal lands to drilling activity will not have any influence on gasoline prices for a long time, if at all.  Trump could lower some forms of taxes in a bid to lower prices, but the effect of that would not be huge.

His main goal would be to expand oil production in a bid to lower prices, but this is where things get complicated in the modern age. The US is now a net exporter of oil, some 1.6 million b/d in 2023, a reversal of the situation of prior years. Now, the US still imports significant quantities of oil because its refineries require certain grades in greater quantities than it produces, and exports the grades it cannot utilize (mostly light oil).

This dynamic will make it tough for the US to drive down global prices on its own (oil is very much priced on the global stage), no matter what Trump does in the short term. A drilling frenzy, even if he could orchestrate one, would simply result in more oil exports until the quantity was large enough that it made a new global impact. But at that point, OPEC would be involved and pulling whatever strings it wanted to get the price where it wanted.

So, under Trump we should expect a flurry of feel-good vibes for the oil sector, with more friendly legislation, rules, and land leasing opportunities, but the impact on oil production will take time to achieve any price reductions. All other potential levers to reduce gasoline prices will be on the table, including existing federal regulations that are negatively impacting any downstream activity.

Natural gas is going to be more interesting. It is the unsung hero of industry; a vital cog that is critical to many industries and real estate ventures, but one that gets scant attention until something weird happens, like a shortage.

Natural gas shortages have historically been short term phenomena related to extreme weather events, and the price mechanism fixed the problem in a big hurry. Gas drillers are very good at what they do.

What has made natural gas so beneficial tot he US economy over the last decade is the fact that producers have reliably glutted the market, giving the US (and Canada) the lowest sustained natural gas prices on the planet. The economic benefit of that is hard to overestimate, since cheap natural gas enables so many beneficial industrial processes and keeps power and heating bills reasonable for consumers.

But if all that LNG export capacity is built, and if all the proposed AI data centres are built as planned, there will be significant strain on North American producers to meet that surge in demand. New LNG capacity and expected data center demand could, by 2030, add 20-30 bcf/d of new demand, in a 100 bcf/d market. Adding those volumes will be an enormous challenge and will require higher prices to incentivize producers to make it happen.

But higher prices will be exactly what Trump does not want. So, one can safely assume he will be pushing hard on US producers to expand output and will make it much easier to build infrastructure. That will help, but it is going to be a tough balancing act to ensure production increases sufficiently while at the same time keeping the cost of the vital fuel low. Natural gas markets would most certainly benefit from the relative stability of oil prices, however that is much harder to do in a “just in time” market which natural gas essentially is.

And then on top of it all, despite the importance of energy prices and availability, all will be background noise compared to the circus that will accompany his second run at presidency. The world is becoming more bifurcated and the US’ position in it is changing. There are enough active wars to make any human sick, and the US has to balance where to be involved and where not, which is as far from simple as can be. Additionally, the world is tectonically drifting into the wealthy west, the golden billion, and the ‘rest of the world’, the 7 billion that aspire to live like the west does.

On top of that, the people that hate Trump really, really hate Trump. One reason the west is in such turmoil is because of the polarizing nature of not just Trump, but of the reaction to Trump.

We will see though – at time of writing, Trump, in a post-shooting interview, said that he had ripped up his planned speech for the Republican National Convention. It was going to be a “humdinger” (his word, or course) attacking Biden’s record. However, his latest version will focus on unifying the nation. Let’s hope it works, rooting for you my American friends. No one will be better off if the US does not regain its footing.

Terry Etam is a columnist with the BOE Report, a leading energy industry newsletter based in Calgary.  He is the author of The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity.  You can watch his Policy on the Frontier session from May 5, 2022 here.

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Frontier Centre for Public Policy

‘Hottest Year in History’ Alarms are False

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Ian Madsen

It’s that time of year for breathless reports about planetary heating. Multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, recently made worldwide headlines, proclaiming 2023 as the hottest year in history.

The increase in average temperature, versus the longer-term average from 1850 to 1900, was a rise of 1.48 degrees Celsius. However, with the considerable difficulty of having truly comparable sets of measurements (from different sites in different years), one should treat such claims carefully.  Interested parties use them to promote ‘solutions’ that could do more harm than good. It is notable that this new ‘high’ temperature was only 0.17 degree Celsius higher than in 2016.

NASA notes five factors explaining higher temperatures.  Only one is the ‘usual suspect,’ greenhouse gases (mainly carbon dioxide, ‘CO2’). The other four are:  the El Niño Southern Oscillation, ‘ENSO’, cycle; aerosol levels (such as smoke, dust and air pollution); volcanic eruptions; and general ocean temperature level and trends. NASA says the first and last of these affect current overall temperature.

The world has been in what meteorologists call an El Niño phase, which brings much higher temperatures to most of the world when it prevails.  The oceans have also been gradually warming for decades, with occasional pauses, as  in the period 1998-2013.

There are other major reasons to make an observer skeptical of extreme claims. The first is that this is a ‘history’ that is relatively short; i.e., the past 150 years (or even, in practice, much less).  A second reason is that wide-scale, reliable global satellite temperature measurement has only been possible since the 1970’s. Before that, temperature monitoring was not systematic.

Until the 1880’s, temperature recordings were mostly in either North America or Europe, and hence show major data biases.  Another crucial bias was that many weather stations are in or close to cities, which grew and warmed as they burned more coal (and, later on, more oil and natural gas), causing the heat island effect.  The cities, growing gently warmer, also grew toward the weather stations, usually located on the outskirts of cities, especially the stations at airports.

For example, there are two weather stations in Winnipeg – one at the wind-swept airport and the other in the heart of downtown at the Forks.  An analysis back in 2007 showed the temperature difference between the two locations to be 1.57 degrees warmer at the Forks.  So closing or ignoring the airport temperature measurement location would “on paper” show warming in Winnipeg. It will be the same with most major Canadian airports.

Another valid way to challenge an assertion that 2023 was history’s hottest year, is to examine other time periods to see if one was hotter. The most well known such period came in the 1930’s, which was hotter and drier than the decades before or after. High temperatures set many new records that remain unbroken. The 1970’s were cool, despite rising COemissions.

The Medieval Warm Period, approximately AD 750-1350, was much warmer than today. Farming was commonplace in Greenland, and vineyards grew in Britain.  Industrialization began in the 1750’s, so, increased levels of greenhouse gas emissions could not and did not cause ancient warming.  Nor did lower CO2 emissions cause the subsequent cooling of the Earth’s atmosphere, which culminated in what is now called the Little Ice Age, AD 1350-1850, from which we are still emerging.

According to interested parties the past year may have set records, but  there is no evidence that it was the ‘hottest’.

Its summer time. Enjoy the hot weather.  Ignore the climate doomsters.

Ian Madsen is the Senior Policy Analyst at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

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