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Alberta’s energy war room logo fiasco close to winning a Teddy

The may not have won, but for Alberta’s Energy War Room the honour didn’t come from just from being nominated.

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They may not have won, but for Alberta’s Energy War Room the honour didn’t come from just from being nominated.

The Canadian Taxpayers Association handed out their highly-anticipated Teddy Awards Thursday highlighting government misspending across the country – and the Government of Alberta’s $30-million a year war room received a nomination.

“The $30 million effort hasn’t had gotten off to a stellar start, and earned this nomination for the comedy of errors and waste that surrounded its logo. In December, the war room had to change its logo after it was revealed (it) was already being used for an American tech company. The logo it switched to also came under fire, though it hasn’t been changed yet. We may never get to know the cost of the whole fiasco, because the “war room” isn’t subject to freedom of information requests,” said the CTF.

Courtesy Canadian Energy Centre

Franco Terrazzano, Alberta director of the CTF said: “If the war room is going to continue to use taxpayers’ money it needs to be fully transparent with taxpayers. 

“I can understand that Albertans are ready to stick up for our resource industries. I think the government wants the war room to be like a defencemen. Well right now I don’t know if this defencemen knows how to skate backwards. The Mighty Ducks conquered all odds in the Disney movie. But I am skeptical given what I’ve seen so far.”

In the provincial category, the war room lost out to the Yukon Department of Tourism and Culture.

“Someone in the Yukon had a brilliant idea: Buy gold and throw in a creek at a taxpayer-funded publicity stunt. The Yukon government jumped on board and spent $139,000 to promote and stage the Gold Rush II initiative where organizers threw gold into a creek as part of a tourism influencer campaign.”

Unfortunately, a fundraiser campaign to cover the cost only raised $4,500 and only one reporter showed up.

Other winners:

FEDERAL: Global Affairs Canada; “Taxpayers were left with a bad taste in their mouths when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spent more than $17,000 to fly a Canadian chef to India to prepare Indian food. Global Affairs Canada has been spending millions of dollars using a little-scrutinized fund called the Mission Cultural Fund to fly chefs around the world to cook at different embassies, among other expenses.

“Since the program was created in 2016, the government has spent $11.2 million out of a budgeted $4.6 million, putting the actual program cost at a whopping 144 per cent over budget.”

MUNICIPAL: City of Toronto Parks and Recreation; “Toronto’s Parks and Recreation Department has spent countless hours investigating a serious problem in its local community centres: seniors playing euchre. The investigation was led by a team of Scarborough Community Recreation supervisors, along with the city’s legal department and Gaming Services division.

“The crime? Seniors were paying $1.25 to play three hours of euchre at various community centres in Scarborough. The CTF obtained 186 pages of documents detailing the bureaucracy’s extensive work cracking down on the old-timers’ sinister gambling operation.

“After the story became widely known, the city finally dropped the investigation, with
Toronto Mayor John Tory joking about calling off the “fun police.”

The City of Victoria received a nomination in the category for spending $5,150 on an imported French stainless steel ping pong table in a local park. The city also plans to hand out free table tennis paddles and balls to nearby schools, businesses, homes and hotels.

Also nominated was the City of Vancouver for spending $200,000 on painting five large red rectangles at five bus stops throughout the region. The five red zones, which cost $40,000 each to paid, are part of a new city pilot project testing whether the red paint helps deter drivers from parking their cars in the zones.

And, drumroll please, the CTF 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award went to former Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum.

“Applebaum previously plead guilty to eight counts of corruption in 2017, and spent six months in prison. Despite his convictions, Applebaum will get to keep his $260,000 taxpayer-funded severance package stemming from his time as a crooked mayor and councillor in Montreal, and will remain eligible for $36,000 a year from a taxpayer-funded pension when he turns 60, meaning that if he lives to age 90, he will collect more than a million dollars in pension payments.”

A full list of all the nominees can be seen here.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandradonline.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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Home prices soaring from coast to coast

Figures showed “the average family must spend two-thirds of their gross income on monthly payments for the average home in Toronto or Vancouver,” he said

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Shhhh! Don’t tell the Liberals, they may want to tax it.

Six cities across the country saw house price gains averaging at or near six figures last year, Canadian Real Estate Association data showed on Monday.

Blacklock’s Reporter said members of the Commons finance committee reviewed the figures with Canada’s chief statistician.

“Housing inflation is homegrown,” said Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre (Carleton, Ont.).

Figures showed “the average family must spend two-thirds of their gross income on monthly payments for the average home in Toronto or Vancouver,” he said.

Association data indicated a total 666,995 homes nationwide were sold last year.

“This was a new record by a large margin, surpassing the previous annual record set in 2020 by a little more than 20% and standing 30% above the average of the last 10 years,” said a realtors’ report.

The year-over-year Canadian average home price increased 18% to $713,542 last month.

“There are currently fewer properties listed for sale in Canada than at any point on record,” Shaun Cathcart, senior economist for the Real Estate Association, said in a statement.

“Unfortunately the housing affordability problem facing the country is likely to get worse before it gets better,” said Cathcart.

Figures showed average price gains averaged at or near $100,000 or more in Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Halifax. Prices were:

  • up 31% or $286,600 to $1,208,000 in Greater Toronto;
  • up 26% or $51,700 to $252,200 in Fredericton;
  • up 24% or $172,400 to $902,700 in Victoria;
  • up 22 % or $89,162 to $490,127 in Halifax;
  • up 21% or $90,900 to $517,800 in Montréal;
  • up 17% or $181,600 to $1,230,200 in Greater Vancouver;
  • up 16% or $91,800 to $661,500 in Ottawa;
  • up 15% or $44,230 to $347,920 in Charlottetown
  • up 12% or $33,600 to $319,600 in Winnipeg;
  • up 12% or $31,700 to $301,800 in Québec City;
  • up 10 percent or $39,800 to $451,200 in Calgary;
  • up 9% or $24,900 to $292,000 in St. John’s;
  • up 6% or $19,800 to $329,000 in Saskatoon;
  • up 6% or $14,500 to $260,500 in Regina;
  • up 4% percent or $13,200 to $336,600 in Edmonton.

“Could you just speak to what the primary causes are right now, this year, to the increase in the price of housing?” Liberal MP Yvan Baker (Etobicoke Centre, Ont.) asked.

“First and foremost is demand,” replied Anil Arora, chief statistician with Statistics Canada.

“We are seeing because of COVID a desire of people to have more open space,” said Arora, adding: “The second is what we see are the interest rates. The mortgage rates are at historic lows.”

Earlier this month, a report done for the CMHC is now recommending the federal government tax home equity.

The report says bringing in a home equity tax would raise $5.83 billion for federal coffers.

It’s something the governing Liberals, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, vowed they would never do.

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BoC spokesman: ‘I deny I said what I said’

Management disclosed the blacklist last Friday moments before the start of a routine videoconference for news media.

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They may have said it on a Zoom call, but Bank of Canada managers are now denying they have a media enemies list, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Bank Governor Tiff Macklem’s director of communications Paul Badertscher in an e-mail denied blacklisting Blacklock’s despite telling a deputy governor in an audio tape: “I do not want to be in a situation where we are allowing Blacklock’s to be asking us. So, yes, that’s where we’re at.”

“The Bank of Canada welcomes all accredited media outlets to its briefing sessions and ensures equal opportunity to ask questions as time permits,” Badertscher wrote in his Monday e-mail.

A deputy bank governor who attended the Zoom call did not comment.

“We have nothing further to add,” said Jeremy Harrison, managing director of communications for Canada’s central bank.

Management disclosed the blacklist last Friday moments before the start of a routine videoconference for news media. Blacklock’s dialed into the Zoom call and began recording the session for note-taking purposes.

Badertscher was overheard explaining to a deputy bank governor that media were given different treatment depending on who they were.

“I know who’s who,” said Badertscher.

“There’s a couple here who I absolutely — I’ll check the list to make sure he’s not listening — absolutely not keen to give questions to. I do not want to be in a situation where we are allowing Blacklock’s to be asking us. So, yes, that’s where we’re at”:

  • Unidentified man: “Paul, I think we have a journalist on the line with us right now.”
  • Badertscher: “We do. I have got to get you to drop. I’ll call you at 10:30, okay?”
  • Unidentified man: “Sure, thanks.”
  • Badertscher: “Thanks man. And I’d ask people, don’t let any, don’t admit people please. Let me do all the admitting, okay? Because I know who’s who.”

Badertscher would not name other outlets blacklisted from questioning Bank of Canada officials.

The blacklist follows repeated statements from cabinet commemorating World Press Freedom Day.

“We recognize how important it is to support our strong, independent media and to encourage journalists to continue to hold those in power, here and all around the world, to account,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Commons in 2018.

“Independent, fact-based reporting is vital,” Trudeau said in 2019.

“Media play an essential role in defending and advancing the truth,” Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said in her 2018 World Press Freedom Day observance.

“We remind ourselves that without a free and independent press we all lose.”

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Madu out as justice minister

“I have spoken with Minister Madu about the March 10 incident reported in the media today. I conveyed to him my profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton Police Chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation.”

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney removed Justice Minister Kaycee Madu from his job after the minister called Edmonton’s police chief about a distracted parking ticket he received.

Madu was fined $300 on March 10, 2021 after an Edmonton police officer caught him talking on his cellphone while driving through a playground zone.

Madu soon phoned Dale McFee, the city’s chief of police, and discussed the ticket with him. 

“Minister Madu did contact me via the telephone concerned about a ticket. But just to be very, very clear, he never asked to get out of the ticket,” McFee told CBC News in December, adding he didn’t know exactly what was on the ticket.

“Everybody has to wear their decisions.”

McFee did say during their discussion, Madu brought up the issue of racial profiling by police to stop drivers. Madu is black.

“The officer indicated that he had observed me driving while distracted, alleging that I was on my phone. I disagreed, stating that I was not on my phone, as it was in an inside pocket” said Madu.

“Later, I spoke to Chief Dale McFee. Due to the timing of the incident, I wanted to ensure that I was not being unlawfully surveilled following the controversy surrounding the Lethbridge Police Service. I also raised concerns around profiling of racial minorities that was in the media at the time.

“Chief McFee assured me that that was most definitely not the case, and I accepted him at his word.”

But that wasn’t good enough for Kenney who, after CBC broke the story, removed Madu from his post because it is “essential the independent administration of justice is maintained.

“I have spoken with Minister Madu about the March 10 incident reported in the media today. I conveyed to him my profound disappointment in his decision to contact the Edmonton Police chief after receiving a ticket for a traffic violation,” Kenney tweeted.

“Minister Madu told me that he did not ask to have the ticket rescinded, nor was it his intention to interfere in the case, and that he promptly paid the ticket. I understand that Chief McFee has confirmed that at no time did the Minister seek to have the ticket rescinded.

“Nevertheless, it’s essential the independent administration of justice is maintained. That’s why I will appoint a respected independent investigator to review the relevant facts and to determine whether there was interference in the administration of justice in this case.”

Energy Minister Sonya Savage will take on the duties of Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

The scandal will be a blow for Kenney as Madu was one of his biggest supporters in an often fractured caucus.

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