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WS EXCLUSIVE: Senior Tory source says Allard expected to resign Monday

A senior Tory source said Allard is expected to officially announce her resignation from Premier Jason Kenney’s cabinet Monday morning.

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Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard is expected to relinquish her cabinet job, the Western Standard has learned.

A senior Tory source said Allard is expected to officially announce her resignation from Premier Jason Kenney’s cabinet Monday morning. It will be the first attempt to quell a firestorm of anger against the UCP that is sweeping the province.

The source spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Allard has incurred the wrath of many in the province when it came to light she travelled to Hawaii because of a “17-year tradition” to have a family holiday in Hawaii.

This despite the province being in a full lockdown and recommendations against non-essential travel.

The lockdown meant the cancellation of most Christmas plans for Albertans as home and outdoor gatherings were banned. People were also forbidden from seeing relatives in long term care centres.

A total of nine UCP MLAs and staffers have travelled abroad over the holiday season. Allard will be the first to resign her post.

In a Friday press conference that must have set a record for the use of the phrase “I apologize”, Allard vowed to continue to work to get the trust back of angry Albertans.

“I am truly and deeply sorry. I know I’m held to higher expectations and I hope to earn trust back going forward,” she told reporters at an audio-only press conference.

“I need to be fully responsible and all I can do in hindsight is apologize. I’m an eternal optimist and I think brighter days are ahead.”

She called her decision to flaunt pandemic recommendations as “naive.”

Allard said she fully understands why Albertans are furious with her but said the trip has “no malicious intent.”

Allard also admitted she was in Hawaii when a staff member put a social media post out showing her in front of the legislature Christmas tree, but denied it was an attempt to cover-up where she was.

Allard flew back into the country on Wednesday to a firestorm of protest over her actions when the rest of the province was in a full pandemic lockdown. She flew to Hawaii on Dec. 19.

Kenney said he learned Tuesday Allard was in Hawaii and immediately ordered her back into the country.

“This is not good enough, we should be here at home,” Kenney said at a Friday press conference.

“There is now a clear order not to leave the country… unless it’s on government business.”

But Kenney said he would not fire Allard because she had followed international travel rules. This is despite the fact federal and provincial health officials have advised against non-essential travel.

Kenney said he had not made it clear to UCP members that travelling to tropical hotspots might not be the smartest thing to do during a pandemic.

On Friday, Kenney made that travel order clear for his caucus and political staff.

Allard will become the second Canadian provincial cabinet minister to lose her role.

In Ontario, a furious Premier Doug Ford announced he had accepted Phillip’s resignation on Thursday morning, shortly after the MPP returned from a luxury holiday in St. Barts.

Phillips and his wife had left Canada on December 13, following the end of the legislative session, and travelled to the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s.

Although Phillips didn’t violate any federal or provincial travel restrictions, he nonetheless apologized for making the trip.

“It was a significant error in judgment – a dumb, dumb mistake, I apologize for it, I regret it.”

Two Liberal MPs have voluntarily stepped down Sunday from their roles after telling the party about their international travel.

Ontario Liberal MP Kamal Khera has stepped down from her role as a parliamentary secretary because she traveled to Seattle for a service for her deceased father.

Montreal-area Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi has also stepped down voluntarily from his committee roles after telling the party he travelled to Delaware between December 18-31 to be with his wife’s ailing grandfather.

In Alberta, Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshan made a joke out the political scandal by sending out a photo of himself on an ice-covered lake but geotagged it as being sent from St. Bart’s.

A full list of wayward UCP MLAs can be found here. The list will be updated if, and when, more names are revealed.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Walk for Freedom plans Saturday Calgary march as counter-protesters also gear up

“We do not censor people unless they’re hateful, violent or aggressive – those types of people will never get on the stage,” said Carrigan.

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A Walk for Freedom in Calgary is set for Saturday as organizers of a counter-protest are urging their supporters to come to the rally wearing a disguise.

And local organizers of the walk say they are tired as being described as white supremacists.

“We respect what Premier Jason Kenney did because he didn’t go overboard, but we still say it’s too far and way too much,” said Brad Carrigan, an organizer with Walk For Freedom, referring to the premier’s statement after a rally in Edmonton last weekend.

Politicians and media are afraid that we’re supporting an anti-lockdown narrative they don’t like. They called us racist to discredit the rally and diminish our work to promote different stances on Alberta’s COVID-19 response,” he said.

“We’ve done about 20 of these rallies with large crowds, and each protest has been peaceful. We’ve always put on every poster that we are peaceful, nonviolent, and respect the police.”

“That’s our mantra – that’s the real story.”

Before Saturday’s protest in Edmonton, organizers thanked local police for being present to keep the peace between anti-lockdown protestors and anti-racism counter-protesters.

Except for one incident during the rally, Edmonton police said the protest and counter-protest were peaceful displays of free speech.

Carrigan made it clear as long as people didn’t push hateful nonsense on the stage and want to talk about the draconian measures, vaccines, etc., they were welcome to speak.

“We do not censor people unless they’re hateful, violent or aggressive – those types of people will never get on the stage,” he confirmed.

With ANTIFA attempting to instigate an altercation with anti-lockdown protestors in Edmonton, Carrigan said Calgary police would keep counter-protesters to the other side of the street to maintain the piece.

“Wherever ANTIFA goes, they burn down private and public property and assault police officers and protestors who don’t subscribe to their ideology,” said Carrigan.

“Their organization burns down businesses and rioted in Portland and Seattle, yet they call us hate-mongers.”

ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter affiliates are expected to be present at the Calgary rally on Saturday at the Olympic Plaza in protest of “white supremacy” and a litany of phobias.

According to a counter-protest poster, they intend to “come in peace, leave in peace” and have asked its members to turn their social media accounts private.

A social media post making the rounds urges counter-protesters not to come alone, carry water and make sure their phones are charged.

“Plan an escape route with your crew,” the advisory reads.

“Wear a mask to protect your identity.”

The protest is expected to begin at 12:30 p.m., with previous rallies garnering crowds in excess of 400 to 2,500 people.

Dhaliwal is a reporter based in Edmonton for the Western Standard

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Alberta doctors reach deal with province

Details of the pact – a year in the making – were not released

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The UCP and Alberta doctors have finally reached a deal that will fund provincial physicians.

Details of the pact – a year in the making – were not released.

The Alberta Medical Association will now take the tentative deal to its 11,000 members for ratification.

Shandro said doctors have made “truly extraordinary efforts” to help get Albertans through the COVID-19 pandemic, noting they had made “great personal sacrifices.”

He said the negotiations aimed at getting three solutions for Albertans; patient care, equity for doctors and fiscal stability.

He said the deal is “accountable to taxpayers.

“Our fiscal goals can be reached,” said Shandro, adding the deal would provide “stability.

“Negotiations on a provincial agreement for physicians have continued despite the pandemic, with both the government and AMA recommitting to work together. Both parties came to the table understanding the importance of collaboration, while respecting our differences, so we could achieve an agreement during these challenging times,” said Shandro.

AMA President Dr. Paul Boucher said the new deal “puts us in position to get through COVID-19.”

Dr. Paul Boucher

He said the negotiations for the deal had “reestablished” relationships with the province.

The AMA will now hold a virtual conference with 148 representatives of the medical profession across the province.

That is expected to take three weeks.

“For many years, AMA agreements have been powerful tools toward improving quality care that brings high value to the system and to patients,” said Boucher.

“They are not just about funding for physicians. They have addressed needs such as new models for delivering care, building the Medical Home in Alberta, strategies to improve quality of care for patients and more. This tentative agreement package has potential to continue that legacy.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Ontario COVID lockdown not curbing caseloads, but punishing businesses, say MPPs

Almost 80 per cent of all COVID-related deaths are in group-living settings.

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Ontario COVID-19 cases have remained steady even though the province has been in lockdown since Christmas.

Opponents of the shutdownsay it has done nothing but hampered freedom and cost taxpayer dollars.

“Most of the province has been in lockdown since Thanksgiving, but cases, cases, cases – the only thing that seems to matter, continue to climb,” said Independent Ontario MPP Roman Baber in a passionate member statement.

Baber noted Ontario’s COVID-19 case count has risen, despite province-wide lockdowns under the mandate of Bill 195, which gave the province emergency powers for the next year to tackle COVID-19.

Alongside Baber, New Blue Party MPP Belinda Karahalios – also booted from the Ontario PCs for objecting to Bill 195 – called out its “draconian lockdown measures” because it disproportionately impacted small and medium-sized businesses who “suffer considerably.”

Karahalios has openly criticized the lack of scientific data on COVID-19 transmission by businesses, including, but not limited to, fitness centres, restaurants, and retail stores.

On Christmas Day, the day before the stay-at-home order, there were 167,000 total COVID-19 cases, increasing to 295,000 cases two months later.

Baber said: “In the two months since the stay-at-home order, we have almost as many COVID-19 cases as we did in the entire nine months prior. With all these cases, you would think that the dire predictions of the COVID-19 models would wreak havoc on all of us – no, it has not.”

With ICU occupancy flatlining, Baber criticized the hyperbolic modelling of projects that exceed the reality on the ground by “three to five times.”

Despite the lockdown, seniors – the most vulnerable demographic – continue to perish in care homes.

Baber said the government’s inability to institute infection protocol and control and fix staffing shortages or vet agency staff.

“Almost 80 per cent of all [COVID-related] deaths are in group-living settings. That’s a tragedy we must admit, and a medical reality the government is trying to spin,” Baber said.

“It’s not about how many cases of COVID-19 but who gets COVID-19. Locking all of us down doesn’t do anything. The government keeps blaming community spread on what is happening in group homes to distract from its own failure.

“All it takes is one worker – one agency worker – to go from one home to another to bring COVID-19. The problem is not healthy people – it is the government that cannot fix long-term care, that blames us and locks us down instead.”

Dhaliwal is a Western Standard reporter based in Edmonton

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