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Alberta lashes back against reported federal bailout over Teck mine

Reports the federal government is preparing an aid package for Alberta for when they turn down the proposed Teck mine has provincial officials seething.

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Reports the federal government is preparing an aid package for Alberta for when they turn down the proposed Teck mine has provincial officials seething.

“This isn’t a natural disaster. Alberta isn’t in need of an aid package. We need the feds to get out of the way & stop impeding job creation & investor confidence in our province. Period.” said Environment Minister Jason Nixon in a tweet.

At an earlier press conference Nixon said: “We’re not looking for an aid package from Ottawa, we’re not looking for handouts from Justin Trudeau.”

Nixon said the Alberta government has not been in touch with anyone from Ottawa over the proposed mine in northern Alberta.

“We are worried about some of the things we’ve been seeing in the media,” Nixon said.

“We do not view a decision on Frontier as something to be traded away or politicized. For us this issue goes beyond politics – Albertans want approval plain and simple.  

“Prime Minister Trudeau has emphasized his desire to work with Alberta and to preserve national unity. It’s time he backed up his words with action.

“Albertans are watching closely.

“The project has undergone a rigorous 10-year review, including a recommendation for approval from the independent federal regulator. Teck has played by the rules endorsed by Ottawa – including by the current federal government. To arbitrarily reject the project at the eleventh hour for political reasons would send a chilling signal to international investors.”

In Washington, Premier Jason Kenney said a thumbs down for Teck would be a devasting blow.

“I think that would be a devastating message to send in terms of investor confidence at a time when we are struggling to attract foreign direct investment to the Canadian economy,” Kenney told a business audience.

“Why would anyone invest in Canada? It’s a very dangerous path to go down.”

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer also blasted a possible aid package.

“An aid package is insulting and outrageous! Albertans don’t want a handout. They want work. You need to get out of the way. Let Albertans roll up their sleeves and do what they do best,” Scheer tweeted.

The mega project in northern Alberta has already been approved by the non-political regulators, but Liberal the natural resources minister said last week that the federal government may delay approval of the project unless Alberta drops its opposition to Ottawa’s carbon tax. Adding fuel to the fire were several Eastern Liberal MPs lobbying to kill the project outright.

Reports of an aid package for the beleaguered province appear to confirm that the federal government is seriously considering nixing the mega project, which Teck says will create 7,000 jobs and significantly add to the provinces GDP.

In place of allowing the private investment project to go ahead, federal sources say that direct government spending on infrastructure projects and well cleanup is in the mix.

Earlier in the day, Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs tweeted, “A political rejection of this project by the Liberal cabinet will be perceived by most Albertans as a final rejection of Alberta by Canada.”

Teck itself issued a statement this week saying it also hoped it would become a net-zero emitter by 2050.

The project, a “truck and shovel” oil sands mine, “will consist of surface mining operations, a processing plant, tailings management facilities, water management facilities, and associated infrastructure and support facilities,” according to a statement on the company’s website. It’s expected to produce 260,000 barrels of oil a day.

“Teck has also reached agreements with all 14 Indigenous communities in the broader Frontier project area.”

The federal government has said they would give an answer on the mine before the end of February.

Federal Environment Minister Johnathan Wilkinson hinted last week approval would be based on how Alberta approaches climate change.

“With respect to (Frontier), we need to look at all the environmental impacts, we obviously need to look at the economic opportunities, and we need to ensure we’re taking both into account,” Wilkinson said.

“Certainly, one of those issues is how does this project fit with Canada’s commitments to achieving the reductions we are committing to (for) 2030, and the net zero commitment to 2050? I would just say again that it’s important that all provinces are working to help Canada to achieve its targets.”

Wilkinson said all provinces, including Alberta, are expected to do their part to help Canada meet those commitments.

The UCP government unveiled their industrial emitter plan, TIER (Technology, Innovation and Emissions Reduction system), in Bill 19, passed during the fall legislature session.

TIER replaced the NDP’s Climate Leadership Plan by maintaining the price on pollution for large emitters but repealing the price on other businesses and residents. The federal price on carbon for Albertans, excepting large emitters, came into effect January 1, 2020.

Under TIER, facilities can either reduce their emissions or; use credits from other facilities, use emissions offsets from non-regulated organizations, or pay into the TIER fund at $30 per tonne.

The Alberta government launched its challenge of federal carbon pricing in 2019 and presented arguments Dec. 16-18 in Alberta’s Court of Appeal.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: 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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Vulnerable Albertans 18+ can receive fourth COVID booster

Eligible individuals can begin booking fourth dose appointments beginning January 20 with AHS or at participating pharmacies by using the Alberta vaccine booking system or by calling 811.

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Those 18 and older who have specific immunocompromising conditions can now book their fourth booster five months after receiving their third dose, said Alberta Health.

The decision announced on Tuesday in the provincial COVID-19 address is in line with recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization (AACI).

“We remain committed to protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant, and vaccinations continue to be our best tool in preventing severe outcomes,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a statement.

“We continue to rely on the latest research to guide our decision-making, and with evidence showing immunocompromised individuals benefit from a fourth dose, we are pleased to provide them.”

Eligible individuals can begin booking fourth dose appointments beginning January 20 with AHS or at participating pharmacies by using the Alberta vaccine booking system or by calling 811.

“I know that the approximately 80,000 Albertans who live with immunocompromising conditions will be relieved to receive these additional doses,” said Minister of Health Jason Copping.

“At the same time, the best way for all of us to protect ourselves and one another is to continue getting whatever dose we are eligible for. I encourage all Albertans to continue to sign up for their booster doses as soon as they can.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the fourth COVID-19 dose will help “individuals with certain immunocompromising conditions” and will provide “additional protection” against the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Qualifying conditions include:

  • Transplant recipients, including solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants.
  • Individuals with malignant hematologic disorders and non-hematologic malignant solid tumors prior to receiving or receiving active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy or having received previous COVID-19 vaccines while on active treatment), excluding individuals receiving solely hormonal therapy, radiation therapy or a surgical intervention.
  • Individuals being treated with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody such as Rituximab.
  • Individuals with chronic kidney disease on dialysis.
  • Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy.
  • Individuals with moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
  • Individuals with Stage 3 or advanced HIV infection and those with acquired COVID-19 immunization.
  • Individuals undergoing immunosuppressive therapies (e.g., anti-B cell therapies, high-dose systemic corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumornecrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents).
  • Individuals on certain medications for autoimmune diseases, including rituximab, ocrelizumab and ofatumumab.

“Youth ages 12 to 17 with the preceding conditions continue to be eligible for third doses. Fourth doses have not yet been approved for this age group,” said the release adding, “third doses have not been approved for youth under the age of 18.”

Hinshaw said the province has recorded 3279 new cases within the last 24 hours while 8995 tests were recorded for a positivity rate of 39%. Hinshaw has earlier stated actual cases are likely 10 times higher due to lack of testing.

Hinshaw also confirmed 1,089 are currently in hospital — 51% of those hospitalized are due to COVID-19 while 49% are cases with COVID-19. Currently, there are 104 people in ICU — 74% due to COVID-19 while 26% are cases with COVID-19. Nine deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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AHS uses undercover agents to bust restaurant for accepting dog photos instead of QR codes

The test shoppers entered the restaurant at different times on January 11 and were permitted access after showing a photo of a dog and their personal identification.

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Alberta Health Services (AHS) has shut down a Red Deer restaurant for allowing patrons to show dog photos in place of proof of vaccination.

The Granary was ordered closed to indoor dining on Friday after complaints to an AHS executive officer resulted in two test shoppers busting staff for accepting photographs of a dog instead of scanning vaccine passport QR codes.

The test shoppers entered the restaurant at different times on January 11 and were permitted access after showing a photo of a dog and their personal identification. It was reported a staffer pretended to scan QR codes with a tablet.

The owners have been told the indoor dining area is to remain closed until they produce a written plan on how they plan to implement the restriction exemption program moving forward.

The owners will also have to provide confirmation they have trained staff about the program and will be required to attend an administrative hearing with Environmental Public Health.

The restaurant took to its Facebook page on Friday to explain the circumstances to its patrons and offered up free coffee for all to-go orders throughout the weekend.

“To our valued guests, we had an unfortunate circumstance at our front door which involved one of our underage hostesses, and the requirements for the REP program.  We are taking the weekend to retrain and regroup,” it said.

“We look forward to serving you again as soon as we are ready to reopen.  In closing, we would like to remind everyone of the tremendous pressure being placed on front staff, and please remember to be kind.”

The restaurant has since opened again and is currently offering free rapid testing on site.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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MLA Barnes demands greater punishment for corrupt politicians

“This suspension is a staggering under reaction designed to shield one of the Premier’s cronies,” said Barnes.

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Independent Alberta MLA Drew Barnes is outraged that Justice Minister Kaycee Madu was only being suspended after he called Edmonton’s police chief about a ticket he received.

That action led to Madu being suspended Monday night by Alberta Primer Jason Kenney.

“This suspension is a staggering under reaction designed to shield one of the Premier’s cronies,” said Barnes, the MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat.

“It is inexcusable that any minister’s first instinct upon receiving such a ticket is to swing influence in an attempt to get his ticket fixed. It’s just another indicator that the culture of Redford-era cronyism remains alive and well within Premier’ Kenney’s inner circle.”

After being fined $300 for speeding in an Edmonton playground zone, Madu phoned Dale McFee, the city’s chief of police, to discuss the ticket with him. 

“It is particularly galling that this minister is currently overseeing changes that will deny procedural fairness for thousands of Albertans when they face similar traffic fines,” said Barnes.

This follows the removal of traffic courts in Alberta, the previously most accessible part of the justice system now no longer available to citizens.

“Under this minister, you are considered guilty until proven innocent, unless, of course, you happen to have the local police chief on speed-dial,” said Barnes.

“It seems the minister, like the Premier, considers himself above the law. Albertans deserve better. The real question is, why hasn’t he been fired yet?”

“Over the past year, Premier Kenney has repeatedly punished both ministers and MLAs for daring to question his leadership, but when a real case of misuse of power comes along concerning one of his handpicked cronies, the fix is in. That’s not justice; that’s cronyism.”

McFee said he received the call about the ticket from Madu, saying Madu brought up the issue of racial profiling by police to stop drivers.

“This is the Minister who continues to encourage legal action against pastors and small business owners for allegedly violating the very same health restrictions that the Premier and his cronies violated on the Sky Palace patio,” said Barnes.

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

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Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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No Media Bailouts

The fourth estate is critical to a functioning democracy in holding the government to account. An objective media can't maintain editorial integrity when it accepts money from a government we expect it to be critical of.

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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