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Joe Biden is correct to keep soldiers out of Ukraine. Now he must explain why — and what comes next

Any discussion of Russia-Ukraine should begin with an acknowledgment that millions will be devastated by Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion. Lives will be lost and a great price will be paid in terms of Ukraine’s political viability and long-term prospects.

It is heartbreaking to watch a country that has made such profound and hard-won progress fall prey to the whims of an autocrat. Yet, it is our duty to watch. To bear witness. To remember.

Indeed, it is the tragedy of our modern world that technology has given us unprecedented windows into human suffering around the globe, while our political reality has made it harder to do much about it.

Western governments are trying. The sanctions announced this week will devastate Russia’s economy. What’s to come will be even worse. And yet, it’s hard to escape the feeling that our response does not amount to much.

Western citizens are now used to watching helplessly as despots trample the international order. While the reality on the ground could not be more different, the surreal emotions of this week echoed those of August, as we watched the Taliban enter Kabul.

For good reason, political leaders have decided that the alternative is far worse. Direct military engagement with a nuclear power is off the table — particularly one as volatile and brazen as Russia. And even if the U.S. were prepared to respond with force, European allies would not condone it. Inaction is nonetheless a bitter pill to swallow.

The Western role, then, is by and large a moral one. NATO allies will condemn Putin at every turn and assert their support for Ukraine. The UN Security Council will consider motions to chasten Putin, but they are unlikely to pass. Adding salt to the wound, Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya is presently serving as president of the council — an egregious conflict of interest in any other setting.

The failings of multilateral organizations to prevent this egregious violation of international law will not easily be forgotten, and we can expect to emerge from this a more divided world.

Centre stage in all this is U.S. President Joe Biden, a man determined to avoid the mistakes of his predecessors. His measured approach is informed by both history and memory.

Various lawmakers have invoked the legacy of appeasement and British PM Neville Chamberlain’s failure to stop Hitler in his tracks. The metaphor is powerful but self-serving. Perhaps instead of Czechoslovakia in 1938, Biden is thinking more of Afghanistan and Iraq — to say nothing of Bosnia, Vietnam or other examples of American intervention gone awry.

Yet, Biden has not explicitly made the case against intervention, choosing instead to laud NATO and emphasize his sanctions. To the bafflement of many, the U.S. will watch as Kyiv is trampled under the feet of a dictator.

In his first State of the Union address this Tuesday, the president must remind Americans why engagement is not an option — and crucially, lay out his vision for a reimagined world order. In short, he must offer a “Biden doctrine,” rooted in the lessons of certain conflicts and tied to a faction of the intelligence community that is highly skeptical of American intervention.

As we’ve seen, this administration is keen to share the rationale and context behind their decision-making, even publishing classified intelligence with unprecedented zeal.

Now it’s time for the president to do the same before a joint session of Congress, with the entire world watching. It will be the most crucial — and perhaps final — chance for Biden to spell out why the U.S. has done relatively little in the face of so much suffering.

Biden must also set the stage for where the Western alliance is headed, beyond feel-good talk of co-operation. As Biden knows well, his decisions will have consequences for decades to come.

And for once, the American president is all too familiar with those immortal words: “What’s past is prologue.”

Now he must translate that message into method.

Alberta Budget 2022

If Budget 2022 was a well-lit path, it would lead straight to the ballot box in 2023. President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Travis Toews, tabled his fourth budget aptly titled “Moving Forward” that defined the priorities for the UCP government as they focus on the endemic, job creation and investment attraction anchored by the Alberta Recovery Plan including the new Alberta at Work initiative which provides $600 million over the next three years to help get more Albertans working.

With the focus on working Albertans, Minister Toews pulled a page from former premier Ralph Klein by personifying a new version of an Albertan – Larry, a 30 year veteran pipefitter and family man who is out of work, barely surviving on financial supports and suffering from declining mental health and nervous about retraining and finding new work at his age. Minister Toews shared with the assembly, “Budget 2022 is for Larry and every Albertan that needs a hand up; it is for the entrepreneurs that have a vision not only for their business but for their community; it is for future generations who may never know the choices we made today so they have greater opportunities tomorrow.”

The UCP Caucus picked up energy as the minister’s budget address continued, offering loud cheers and applause when Minister Toews announced the province is back to black with a modest surplus of $500 million, a vast improvement over the sea of red ink facing the province at the height of the pandemic and the glut of world energy prices.

The positive tone of the budget was not without criticism and partisan jabs of the performance and spending habits of the previous NDP government, providing Albertans with a glimpse of the narrative that is to be expected over the next year as we near closer and closer to election season. The minister reminded Albertans of the UCP government’s fiscal pillars and shared that after much heavy lifting, “we have arrived”, sharing that the annual 4% spending increase trend from the previous government has been brought down to less than half a per cent per year and that Alberta is now delivering government services within a comparable range to other provinces.

Can the UCP government “Move Forward” from the pandemic woes of the last two years? We will have to see how many Larrys join Martha and Henry at the ballot box in 2023.

You can download our budget analysis here.

For more analysis, or support engaging government on any of the budget announcements, contact your Navigator team or reach out at



Wedges provide no route out of this political sand trap. Above all, Canadians seek an end to divisions

“Wedged” has emerged as the buzzword to sum up our current political climate. The term has been deployed by politicians of all stripes to describe the current state of the nation, as disunity and division reach a new, brutally low nadir.

The convoys have exploited the most consequential pressure points in Canadian politics, blurring the lines of right and left, moderate and extreme. What’s more, the movement has become increasingly hard to define or resolve.

It has become the political equivalent of a Rorschach test — an event which everyone interprets slightly differently, projecting their own meaning, shaped by their biases and beliefs.

For some, the demonstrators are libertarians, finally standing up to increasing state encroachment and to so-called “elites.” For others, their causes could not be any less noble: the protesters are anarchists, fascists and perhaps even terrorists.

These varying interpretations and subsequent divisions can hardly come as a surprise. The demonstrations have come to epitomize the political divisions that have not only festered, but been encouraged by the pandemic.

Predictably, politicians have fallen further into this trap. The sad reality is that a national crisis of this magnitude requires the absence of such divisive rhetoric — especially since it is largely to thank for getting us here.

The majority of blame, of course, lies with those who blindly supported the demonstrations, arguing that the ends justify the means, no matter how abhorrent, finding every pretence they can to excuse the actions of these protesters.

But it would be remiss to not partly blame the rhetoric put forward by the prime minister and others that pre-emptively categorized the entire movement as racist and misogynistic, goading its most extreme factions.

Now, as disunity dictates the day and we bear witness to the first-ever enactment of the Emergency Act, surely right-minded people will conclude that the time has come to end the use of these divisive political tactics.

For Conservatives, the credibility of their motion to have the government engage in a plan to roll back restrictions — a position now supported by most Canadians — was hamstrung by the attempts of some of their MPs to capitalize on the convoys.

Similarly, the government has put itself in an impossible situation. By Justin Trudeau’s own admission, the inaugural invocation of the draconian Emergency Act is evidence that our democracy is unhealthy and threatened. The government has added fuel to an already toxic debate.

These current fractures largely ignore the fact that many of the restrictions implemented throughout the pandemic did not have to be forced on Canadians. We jumped into lines for vaccines, and we consented to stay home to protect our health-care system, more so than almost anywhere else in the world.

However, current events demonstrate that consent does not come without limits. The reality on the ground, and along with it Canadian’s expectations, have changed. After two years, what hasn’t changed is politicians’ unfettered willingness to exploit events for their own gain.

Above all, Canadians seek an end to endemic political divisions. They seek both a government and Opposition that can walk and chew gum at the same time. But sadly Canadians have lost confidence in the ability of politicians to collaborate and address common challenges, and with good reason.

The solution out of this mess lies in tabling an agenda that plays beyond political bases. The 2022 federal budget provides a crucial opportunity for politicians to demonstrate their utility beyond finger-pointing. Pressing issues persist regarding affordability, health-care capacity and national security, to name a few. Such areas provide fertile ground for constructive bipartisan collaboration.

The Global Centre for Pluralism sits on Sussex Drive in our nation’s capital, about halfway between the convoy occupation and our prime minister’s residence. Its mission? To champion a philosophy affirming the peaceful and productive coexistence of different beliefs.

Maybe it is time for our politicians to take a break from their day and walk over. It’s not far.