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Frontier Centre for Public Policy

Inner city shoplifting and Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Brian Giesbrecht

This problem is only made worse by gullible writers and politicians who make excuses for the thieves. Their excuse is that these people are disadvantaged, so they are less than fully responsible for their criminal conduct. Some sympathetic souls go even further, and suggest that these indigenous shoplifters are simply taking back what is rightfully theirs as “reparations” because the shop owners are on “stolen land”.

Winnipeg, Manitoba is being hit with an epidemic of shoplifting that appears to be out of control. Thieves openly steal expensive items, such as frozen meat, from inner city food stores. Shelves are stripped bare in what are more accurately described as robberies than shoplifting. Victims describe brazen thefts by entitled thieves who become indignant when caught in the act. One store employee, who tried to stop a theft, was told “You are on Treaty 1 territory”. The stores that are hardest hit are often owned by immigrant families who have worked very hard to build their modest businesses. Some have had to close, as a result of the unchecked criminality, and others will follow.

Police protection is weak. Even in rare cases where culprits are caught and prosecuted, sentences are minimal.

The problem of brazen theft from Winnipeg liquor stores reached such a serious level in the recent past that customers at urban liquor stores in Manitoba are now allowed to enter the store only after lining up single file, and producing identification. Liquor prices have risen as a result, because special government employees must be hired to sit at the door to inspect ID’s. Customers must line up outside, even on the coldest winter days, because freeloaders choose to steal liquor. And everyone – including the police – are too shy to confront the robbers.

Other western cities, such as Regina, Saskatoon and Thunder Bay are having similar problems. Even small cities, such as Wetaskiwin, Alberta, are hard hit.

The common element is that all of these cities and towns have significant indigenous populations who migrated to the cities from largely dysfunctional reserves, where attitudes of dependency, entitlement and victimhood prevail. Most arrive poorly educated, with few job skills, but with an expectation that they will be provided for. They proceed to live rough lives on the mean streets of these cities. Many drift to shoplifting and other crime. The inner city thieves are disproportionately from this demographic.

This problem is only made worse by gullible writers and politicians who make excuses for the thieves. Their excuse is that these people are disadvantaged, so they are less than fully responsible for their criminal conduct. Some sympathetic souls go even further, and suggest that these indigenous shoplifters are simply taking back what is rightfully theirs as “reparations” because the shop owners are on “stolen land”. They argue that these indigenous people are victims of a system that gives them no chance to succeed, or that they are suffering from the “intergenerational trauma” presumably caused by the fact that 1 in 6 indigenous children attended residential schools in the past.

The shoplifters readily adopt these excuses, and claim to be victims of “systemic racism”.

But, wait a minute! Isn’t the Premier of Manitoba, Wab Kinew, indigenous? Isn’t he a successful, law-abiding person? And wouldn’t most indigenous Canadians laugh at the idea that they had to steal to survive? How is it that Wab Kinew, and the many other successful indigenous Canadians manage their lives just fine while the shoplifters cannot?

The answer is that Wab succeeded the way all successful people do. He went to school, worked hard, and went where the jobs are. He was fortunate to have competent, caring parents who understood the importance of education and hard work. His parents also understood that assimilation (or, if you prefer, integration) was essential for their son to succeed. Wab’s father had a rough time in residential school, but used what he learned to raise a son who has become a provincial premier.

 The fact that Kinew is fully assimilated does not prevent him from celebrating his indigenous heritage. Recently, a video of him energetically performing a prairie chicken dance went viral. It showed indigenous youth that they too can be both successful Canadians – and proudly indigenous – at the same time.

It is clear from watching him dancing so vigorously that he would have been a formidable warrior in pre-contact indigenous hunting culture. Colonialism ended that possibility. But it is equally clear that he, and the other indigenous people who were willing to learn the new ways, received a lot in return from the settlers. He is now an articulate, literate, thoroughly modern man, thanks to “settler colonialism”. Colonialism has also given him an expected lifespan more than double that of yesterday’s hunter-gatherers. Colonialism gave at least as much as it took from him.

Kinew’s memoir, “The Reason You Walk” describes someone determined to live his life not as a victim, but as a confident indigenous Canadian.

He built his own life – making mistakes along the way – but learning from those mistakes, and is now the leader of a province – and lauded as a possible future prime minister. He offers no apologies to critics who suggest that an indigenous person who is successful is somehow “selling out” indigenous people. His famous reply to that old saw is “Aboriginal success is the best form of reconciliation”.

Don’t expect to find Wab Kinew stealing frozen hamburger from a Food Fare store anytime soon.

But here’s the lesson indigenous youth can learn from the example Wab Kinew, and other successful indigenous people have set: “If they can do it, so can you”. They should also tell the apologists who want to give them tired excuses – excusing theft as “reparations” for perceived past wrongs, or “intergenerational trauma” – that they, like Wab, refuse to live their lives as “victims”.

In short, the solution to the shoplifting problem is not to condone theft. It is not to treat criminals differently because they are indigenous. It is not to offer them excuses. The solution is to create more Wab Kinews.

And that’s up to Indigenous parents. No government can do that for them. For many families, like Wab’s, that will include the difficult decision to move from dead-end reserves.  But if they have the same commitment to their children’s education and upbringing that Wab’s parents had there is no reason that they can’t raise successful children in this country.

Long before he became Manitoba’s premier, Wab Kinew, regularly entertained listeners on CBC Radio. He was a refreshing, common sense voice, and always refused to play the victim. He never failed to remind young indigenous people that Canada worked just fine for him.

And, with a bit of grit and hard work, it can work for them too.

 

Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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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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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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