In 1999, the Alberta Independence Party (AIP) was founded by myself and a handful of others. We had a shell of a website, a few bucks, and a lot of ambition. With months of work and promotional effort, we amassed a couple of hundred members but were generally unheard of. There was just no way for a modest movement like ours to get into the public eye.
That changed when our website caught the eye of a journalist with the National Post who wrote a column about us. Suddenly things snowballed and I spent weeks doing interviews with media outlets across the country. Our membership quickly swelled into the thousands and the donations began rolling in as Albertans discovered us.
The vast majority of the press about us was negative. I recall one column with the Globe and Mail that began with “Cory the Kid and his pipsqueak party” before it started to get negative. I did a CBC appearance in the Calgary studio where they sat me on a tiny, uncomfortable stool and had a panel in Toronto spend half an hour explaining why I was an idiot and an extremist. I felt outright pummelled when I finished that one.
I took that abuse and absorbed that negative press back then because it worked for us and there was no other way to reach the public. We would see a surge in memberships and donors after every appearance in the mainstream media because viewers saw through the bias.
It quickly became apparent that there had been a massive appetite for an independence-minded party in Alberta at that time, but until the mainstream media took notice of it, we just couldn’t tap into that base. There was no way to bypass the establishment media and they were the gatekeepers of information to the public at large.
That has all changed.
Just look at the explosive growth of the Truckers for Freedom convoy. Despite being initially ignored by the media and later eviscerated by it, the movement has raised over $7 million from almost 100,000 people in a short two weeks. Having a grassroots movement grow like that in such short order would have been impossible twenty years ago.
Alternative media is giving the public a means to bypass the establishment media and citizens are flocking to it.
Just look at podcaster Joe Rogan. His viewership now dwarfs that of CNN despite years of efforts by the woke establishment to cancel him. Spotify paid $100 million for exclusive rights to Joe Rogan’s show. The debacle was laughable and a little bit sad when Neil Young gave an ultimatum to Spotify and demanded the host either dump Joe Rogan or Young. Spotify pulled all of Young’s music without hesitation. Young made his career by writing songs in opposition to the establishment and now he ironically is fading away as a defender of the establishment today.
Maxime Bernier’s PPC failed to win a seat in the last election but they still gained considerable support across the country for such a new party. Again, this sort of movement would have been impossible to create so quickly twenty years ago.
When we were organizing the AIP, only 25% of our members even had email accounts. We had to reach out by mail and phone while donations came slowly by cheque. I can only imagine the growth we could have had if we had the communication and fundraising means provided by social media today. The AIP flared out and faded away within a year due in no small part to my own inexperience in leading and organizing a party. Perhaps we could have created something more enduring if we had access to the types of networking and communication tools available today.
As the growing Trucker’s for Freedom convoy continues its inexorable march towards Ottawa, the panic from the Canadian establishment has been palpable. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dismissed the convoy as being a collection of extremists and has since gone into hiding due to apparently coming in contact with a person who tested for COVID-19. Mainstream media is alternating between trying to frame the convoy as being extreme, dangerous, and even racist for some reason.
All the establishment efforts to slow this juggernaut are failing. If anything, efforts to hinder the convoy are only galvanizing the supporters further.
Time will tell how productive the convoy’s efforts will be once it hits Parliament Hill. I am watching with eager anticipation and a little trepidation. I don’t want to see anything violent or negative breaking out and I know that is always a risk even if the vast majority of participants are rational.
The convoy has already changed Canada forever. It has proven that no efforts from the political or media establishment can stop a movement anymore if that movement has popular support. Communication, organization, and fundraising are all impossible to stop as a myriad of options now exist in the digital world. Canada’s powerbrokers are shaken right now. They don’t know what to do and it looks good on them.
Modern technology has truly taken the power from the establishment and put it squarely into the hands of citizens. Now we just have to learn how to use that power positively.
Cory Morgan is Assistant Opinion & Broadcast Editor for the Western Standard