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Alberta MPs fight back as Liberals tell Trudeau to nix mine

Alberta MPs launched a counter attack on Thursday after a report surfaced Liberal MPs have been pleading with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to give the thumbs down to a new oil sands project.

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Alberta MPs launched a counter attack on Thursday after a report surfaced Liberal MPs have been pleading with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to give the thumbs down to a new oil sands project.

The Teck Frontier mine in northern Alberta would create thousands of jobs and add hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into the province’s economy.

But Liberal MPs who campaigned on a platform of climate change have been telling Trudeau to nix it. Reportedly, many of them did so at a Wednesday caucus meeting.

It has already been reported that before approving the mine the feds want Alberta to commit to becoming a net-zero emitter of carbon gas by 2050. That’s the same year Canada has pledge to do the same.

“If we are truly committed to net-zero by 2050 and to the science, and to the world, and to our future and tackling climate change, there is no explanation sitting here today as to how this project fits within that commitment. So should it proceed as it stands? I think it’s a pretty easy no,” ” Beaches–East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith told HuffPost Canada.

Alberta MP Michelle Rempel Garner lashed back on Twitter.

“Let me quote ⁦@ShannonStubbsMP⁩ – ‘a political rejection of this project by the Liberal cabinet will be perceived by most Albertans as a final rejection of Alberta by Canada,'” she tweeted.

“Would Trudeau deny Ontario or Quebec a multi billion dollar project that will create thousands of jobs?”

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

Michelle Rempel Garner

Premier Jason Kenney has repeatedly voiced frustration the feds haven’t yet approved the $20.6-billion mine.

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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MLA Barnes slams proposal for Alberta chopper changes

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report has 11 recommendations including having just one provincial air rescue operation, Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS).

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Independent Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes is sounding warning bells to the UCP after it received recommendations to centralize air rescue operations under STARS.

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report has 11 recommendations, including having just one provincial air rescue operation, Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS).

The proposal said STARS would work with other helicopter emergency medical providers to ensure consistent, safe coverage across Alberta. Provincial funding for STARS would rise to 50% of their operating budget from the current 23%.

“This delayed report’s recommendations are not only bad news for prompt, full coverage air ambulance services for hundreds of thousands of southern Albertans, it is also bad policy for all Albertans,” Barnes, the MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, told the Western Standard.

“Southern Alberta’s emergency air helicopter ambulance (HALO based in Medicine Hat) can not only provide faster service with fewer stops, but it also operates much more efficiently and allows for operating reliability for the entire province with a second flight Operations Certificate.  

“It is essential all Albertans be treated equitably with government-funded life-saving air ambulance health services, and the UCP government’s refusal to fund southern Albertan’s air ambulance (HALO) the same as STARS must change immediately.”

Currently, Alberta Health Services provides about $8.4 million per year to helicopter emergency medical services funding. Approximately 1,450 helicopter flights take place each year; 7,300 are flown using fixed-wing aircraft.

The government said it will examine the report over the coming months.

The recommendations also include:

  • Legislation: A new air ambulance regulation would establish consistent deployment, operational, clinical and aviation standards.
  • Dispatch integration: The dispatch of STARS would be integrated with other emergency medical services to allow for the best use of all services to achieve the most efficient response.

The report can be read here.

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

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Pastor Coates gets GraceLife Church back on Canada Day

The church has been barricaded since early April after a dawn raid by Alberta Health Services and the RCMP.

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It will be a extra-special Canada Day for Pastor James Coates who will get his GraceLife Church back when the Alberta government cuts off the padlocks on his church.

The government confirmed in an e-mail to CityNews Edmonton its restrictions will be dropped July 1, the same day Alberta is dropping all its COVID-19 restrictions.

The church has been barricaded more than two months since an early April dawn raid by Alberta Health Services and the RCMP.

Coates was jailed for more than a month in mid-February because he was defying provincial COVID-19 lockdown orders by holding services at a capacity not authorized by the government.

At two bail hearings, Coates said he refused to abide by conditions that he stop preaching.

After being released from jail, the church continued to see large services, leading to AHS — with the help of the RCMP — raiding the facility and building three fences around it.

While large protests erupted at the walled-off church Coates continued with his services at a secret location, and then posted them on YouTube.

They have since been holding services at undisclosed locations.

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro personally approved the AHS-RCMP raid and barricading of the Grace Life Church, according to a UCP MLA that spoke to the Western Standard on condition of anonymity. Shandro has denied the story.

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

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China, Russia, Iran call for UN investigation into Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples

Chinese officials cited the discovery last month of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops.

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A coalition of countries – including China, Russia, Iran and North Korea – is demanding the UN probe Canada’s handling of it’s indigenous peoples.

“We are deeply concerned about the serious human rights violations against the indigenous people in Canada. Historically, Canada robbed the indigenous people of the land, killed them and eradicated their culture,” said Jiang Duan, a senior official at China’s mission to the UN in Geneva.

“We call for a thorough and impartial investigation into all cases where crimes were committed against indigenous people, especially the children.”

CBC report Jiang cited the discovery last month of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops.

Jiang said the probe demand was on behalf of China, Russia, Belarus, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is much better than China at dealing with historical injustices.

“The journey of reconciliation is a long one, but it is a journey we are on. China is not recognizing even that there is a problem. That is a pretty fundamental difference,” Trudeau told reporters.

“In Canada, we had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Where is China’s truth and reconciliation commission? Where is their truth? Where is the openness that Canada has always shown and the responsibility that Canada has taken for the terrible mistakes of the past, and indeed, many of which continue into the present?”

Trudeau pointed out China’s “systemic abuse and human rights violations against the Uyghurs.”

He added Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Leslie E. Norton delivered a statement on behalf of 44 countries calling for China to allow international observers “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” to Xinjiang, where the Uyghur minority are based.

“We are gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” said Norton.

“Credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uyghurs and members of other minorities and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uyghur culture.”

His statement was on behalf of countries including Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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

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