Writer opposing Free Alberta Strategy in national article confuses chartered banks with financial institutions
From the Free Alberta Strategy Team
In a new article published in the federal-government-funded “The Conversation” publication, Robert L. Ascah, a researcher at the also-federal-government-funded Parkland Institute, attempts to lay the hatchet to the Free Alberta Strategy.
In his piece, entitled “What the Free Alberta Strategy gets wrong about Canada’s banking system,” Mr. Ascah argues that the Alberta Independent Banking Act that is proposed in the Free Alberta Strategy report is unconstitutional because banking is an entirely federal area of jurisdiction.
Here is the key quote from Mr. Ascah:
“The Free Alberta Strategy, however, purports to allow Alberta to incorporate and regulate banks, which is clearly unconstitutional. There’s no mention that this proposal is beyond the powers of the provincial legislature.”
But, as so often seems to happen, this latest Free Alberta Strategy critic clearly doesn’t appear to have read – or taken the time to understand – what the Free Alberta Strategy is actually proposing.
While it’s true that “chartered banks” are federally regulated, that doesn’t mean that any type or form of “banking”, as the term is colloquially used, must be federally regulated.
Credit unions, for example, offer “banking” services, while not being “chartered banks” that are federally regulated.
This definition, while technical, is the crux of the issue.
And while we admit that this is very technical, when you’re talking about writing laws, technicalities matter a lot.
To be clear, here is the exact proposal from the Free Alberta Strategy report itself:
1. Expanding the number of provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions;
2. Promoting private ownership of these new financial institutions; and
3. Mandating that all provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions (including ATB) remain compliant with the Alberta Sovereignty Act as it relates to the non-enforcement of federal laws and court decisions deemed to infringe unduly on Alberta’s provincial jurisdiction.
You will note, very clearly, that this proposal in our Free Alberta Strategy report talks about “provincially regulated financial institutions” not “chartered banks”.
This is because the authors of the strategy understand (unlike Mr. Ascah, apparently) that while “chartered banks” must be regulated by the federal government, “financial institutions” can be regulated by the provincial government.
This is exactly why our Free Alberta Strategy report suggests modelling any new “banks” in Alberta on ATB Financial (previously known as Alberta Treasury Branches), which is a long-standing Alberta financial institution.
(Note: Although ATB is a crown corporation, our proposal envisages privately owned and operated financial institutions, not more government-owned and operated financial institutions. Just in case anyone was worried we were suddenly advocating for bigger government!)
Just as Alberta’s credit unions are not “chartered banks” and so are not federally regulated, ATB Financial is not a “chartered bank”, and so it is not regulated by the federal government.
ATB Financial is a “financial institution” that is provincially regulated by the Alberta government under the ATB Financial Act.
This is precisely what the Free Alberta Strategy report proposes – an increase in the number of provincially regulated financial institutions in Alberta.
We can clearly see then that, despite the claim by Mr. Ascah that provincial regulation of banking is unconstitutional, the mere existence of ATB is proof that our proposal is, in fact, constitutional.
The remainder of Mr. Ascah’s article goes on to argue that if Alberta unconstitutionally incorporated its own new “chartered banks”, the federal government would cut those banks off from being able to transfer funds to other banks in Canada, making them impractical for the public to use.
Maybe it’s true that the federal government would cut off any unauthorized provincial “chartered banks” from payment mechanisms.
But, given no one is proposing Alberta incorporate its own new “chartered banks”, this entire second half of the article is an irrelevant straw man argument.
Again, the Free Alberta Strategy proposes to incorporate new provincially regulated financial institutions, like ATB.
And, in case you haven’t noticed, ATB has not been cut off from being able to transfer funds to other banks by the federal government, because – shock – the existence of ATB is perfectly constitutional.
The real question then, is whether or not the first half of Mr. Ascah’s article, where he claims we are proposing to do something unconstitutional, is simply a misunderstanding, or a deliberately misleading diatribe.
Either way, such a fundamental error really makes you wonder why the Parkland Institute would allow the article to be published at all!
Are Parkland Institute staff no longer expected to read the thing they are publicly criticizing anymore?
Are The Conversation editors no longer expected to check whether their authors have their facts straight?
Perhaps the oddest part of this whole situation is that the Parkland Institute, where Mr. Ascah works, has previously written about the benefits of having an Alberta-based, Alberta-regulated financial institution!
They did so in a report that goes into detail explaining the difference between federally regulated chartered banks and provincially regulated financial institutions!
Even stranger still – which Parkland Institute researcher do you think it was who wrote this report?
Yes, you guessed it, it was Robert L. Ascah!
It gets worse…
Once upon a time, Mr. Ascah worked at Alberta Treasury, the government department that is responsible for regulating ATB.
Then, after he worked at Alberta Treasury, Mr. Ascah went to work at ATB itself, where he was responsible for government relations, strategic planning, and economic research.
That’s right folks…
Our Free Alberta Strategy critic, who attacked us by claiming that provincially regulated financial institutions are unconstitutional, actually worked as a senior executive at both the organization he claims is unconstitutional, and the organization that is supposed to regulate the thing that he claims is unconstitutional.
We must either believe, then:
- That Mr. Ascah, who has written about the benefits of provincially-regulated financial institutions, has worked for a provincially-regulated financial institution, and has worked for the organization that regulates provincially-regulated financial institutions, is somehow entirely unaware that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal.
Or, we must believe:
- That Mr. Ascah perfectly understands that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal and that that is how ATB is established, but that it’s somehow, all of a sudden, now beneficial for him to pretend that he doesn’t, and that anyone suggesting other financial institutions be regulated in that way is suggesting something “unconstitutional”.
How could it possibly be beneficial for Mr. Ascah to pretend that this idea is unconstitutional all of a sudden, I hear you ask?
Well, the answer to that question is actually the least confusing part of his article.
Contained right at the bottom of the article, under “Disclosure statement” (and conveniently excluded from most re-publications of the piece by the media) are 9 little words:
“Robert (Bob) L. Ascah is affiliated with Alberta NDP.”
Of course, affiliated with is a little bit of an understatement in this case.
Mr. Ascah has donated thousands of dollars to the Alberta NDP for many years, while several of his Parkland Institute colleagues are actually running as Alberta NDP candidates in the 2023 Alberta election!
Now, as a non-partisan organization, we generally try to avoid pointing out the political affiliations of individual people.
As an organization, we base our support for ideas on whether the ideas are good or not, rather than on who is proposing them.
But, in this case, we’re not criticizing the person proposing the ideas, but the lack of independence and the conflict of interest inherent in a situation where federal-government-funded researchers are published by federal-government-funded websites and re-printed by federal-government-funded newspapers.
Unfortunately, in a world where government-funded academics get government funding to write government propaganda published in government-funded media, there’s really no incentive to cover the truth anymore.
As to why the federal government would want to fund researchers to write propaganda for them, and fund media outlets to publish it for them, we’ll leave that one to you to answer!
In the end, this is exactly why we need more independent research and independent distribution of ideas in our society.
The Free Alberta Strategy jealously guards our independence.
That’s why we never accept any money or resources from any government, regardless of political stripe.
But that’s also why we need your help.
We need your help so that we can continue to do research and analysis on ways in which Alberta can fight back, such as the Sovereignty Act.
We need your help to further our work to protect Alberta’s interests from a hostile and divisive federal government in Ottawa.
We need your help to grow our supporter, activist, and volunteer network across our great province.
We need your help to share our work with like-minded friends and family in order to get the word out to as many members of the public as possible.
If you’re ready to help, click here:
Police investigating how shooter got firearm after autopsy and balistic analysis
News release from the Edmonton Police Service
Autopsy on shooter, ballistic analysis complete in line of duty deaths
An autopsy on the shooter and ballistic analysis of the firearm have been completed in the Mar. 16, 2023 EPS line of duty deaths.
The Edmonton Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on Mar. 22, 2023, and confirmed that the 16-year-old male shooter’s cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head consistent with being self-inflicted.
“We recognize that there is intense public interest in this investigation,” says EPS Deputy Chief Devin Laforce. “At this time, our priorities need to be the integrity of ongoing investigations, including the origin of the firearm, as well as the safety and privacy of all the families affected by this tragedy. For these reasons, we are not releasing or confirming the name of the deceased.”
A bullet casing recovered from the scene of a Mar. 12, 2023 shooting at a nearby restaurant in the area of 133 Street and 114 Avenue has been forensically matched to the firearm that was recovered at the 132 Street and 114 Avenue apartment, where Constable Brett Ryan and Constable Travis Jordan were fatally shot on Mar. 16, 2023.
Investigators believe the suspect in the Mar. 12 shooting to be the same 16-year-old male responsible for the deaths of the two EPS members, although this has yet to be confirmed. Detectives are also working to trace the origins of the firearm and how it came to be in the youth’s possession.
At this time, investigators continue to believe that the youth’s parents, police dispatch and Constables Ryan and Jordan had no information to suggest there was a firearm in the home when the family dispute call for service was made on Mar. 16.
“Both events have been served by robust investigations that have followed all lines of inquiry,” says Deputy Chief Devin Laforce. “All tips and other investigative avenues were pursued exhaustively by the investigating teams.”
The male shot on Mar. 12 in the restaurant remains in hospital in critical but stable condition, and the youth’s mother who was shot on Mar. 16 remains in hospital in serious but stable condition.
Search of four Edmonton homes results in Cocaine and Meth bust
News release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)
Cocaine seized after four Edmonton homes searched
More than two kilograms of cocaine, cash, and four vehicles have been seized following an ALERT Edmonton investigation into cocaine trafficking.
The investigation began in October 2022. Police were able to identify four homes and four vehicles linked to the drug trafficking operation.
“Through the course of this five-month investigation, officers were able to identify several suspects, and seized several pieces of equipment which were being used to produce large, commercial-sized quantities of product. This tells us that this was a much bigger, sophisticated operation,” said Sgt. Jeff Woodliffe, ALERT Edmonton.
On February 23, 2023, police searched four homes and seized the following items as evidence:
- 2.6 kgs of cocaine;
- 28 grams of methamphetamine;
- 10 kgs of a cocaine buffing agent; and
- $11,000 in cash.
The investigation remains ongoing as investigators prepare reports and disclosure for Crown Counsel.
The Edmonton Police Service assisted throughout the investigation.
Members of the public who suspect drug or gang activity in their community can call local police, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers is always anonymous.
ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.
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