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CN suing Wet’suwet’en supporters for blockading $270M of freight

CN says the two days of blockades near New Hazelton affected nearly 5,000 freight cars carrying $270-million worth of goods.

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Saying that traffic was backed up as far as Winnipeg, CN Rail is suing Wet’suwet’en supporters who blocked rail lines into the Port of Prince Rupert in February.

CN says the two days of blockades near New Hazelton affected nearly 5,000 freight cars carrying $270-million worth of goods.

The blockades were set up in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their fight against construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The rail company is suing an undisclosed number of protesters for the Feb. 8 and 9 blockades.

The railway wants an undisclosed amount in damages, a permanent injunction against blockaders’ “unlawful and unauthorized.

“CN is and will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted,” according to the civil claim obtained by the CBC.

“This is a serious issue to be tried regarding the unlawful and unauthorized trespassing to its lands, [and] the interference with its business,” the claim stated. 

The issue set off a crisis across the country as supporters of the hereditary chiefs blocks rail lines and held protests in numerous cities.

The protests grew after the RCMP raided and tore down an Indigenous camp near Smithers.

The pipeline has the support of all First Nations along the route, but hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation, through which 28% of the 670-km route passes, oppose it.

A group of unelected hereditary chiefs had set up a camp near Smithers and have kicked out Coastal GasLink workers.

The RCMP said they found traps like felled trees and three stacks of tires along with flammables along the access road.

On Jan. 7, 2019, RCMP arrested 14 protesters along the B.C. logging road. 

International attention was drawn to the issue when a British newspaper reported RCMP were ready to shoot protesters when they broke up the camp. The RCMP denied the story.

On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted CGL an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from blocking the pipeline route near Smithers, B.C.

But the situation has been further complicated after a Jan. 3 edict by the Unist’ot’en, a smaller group within the First Nation, that they intend to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access to the land.

The RCMP checkpoint had been set up at the 27-km mark of the forest service road “to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway.”

The $6.6 billion pipeline, to be operated by TC Energy Corp, would transport gas from near Dawson Creek in northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the coast and supply Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas export terminal, called LNG Canada, which is under construction.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westewrnstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Editor 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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Anand’s chief of staff vouched for Liberal lobbyist

The exchange was never reported to the Commissioner of Lobbying though federal law restricts undisclosed favour-seeking under threat of six months’ jail.

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The chief of staff for Public Works Minister Anita Anand’s gave her personal vouching for a Liberal lobbyist seeking a federal contract for his son, internal emails show.

Blacklock’s Reporter said the exchange was never reported to the Commissioner of Lobbying though federal law restricts undisclosed favour-seeking under threat of six months’ jail.

Elly Alboim, a lobbyist with Earnscliffe Strategy Group of Ottawa, emailed Anand’s office March 24, 2020 seeking a contract for his son.

“There is a group of companies (including one run by my son) looking to provide engineering and manufacturing services to whomever in government or in the public sector might need them,” wrote Alboim.

“Some of what they want to offer sounds important. I’ve attached a note. Any idea where they might send this?”

“I vouch for Elly,” Leslie Church, the minister’s chief of staff, replied 25 minutes later. Church forwarded the request to a director of operations for the Department of Public Works.

Alboim is a registered lobbyist and former advisor to then-Prime Minister Paul Martin and Kathleen Wynne, ex-Liberal premier of Ontario.

“He has been active during federal and provincial election campaigns,” according to an Earnscliffe biography.

Church on Wednesday declined comment.

The public works minister’s office would not say why Alboim’s son was not referred to a standard queue of some 26,000 companies seeking federal contracts for pandemic goods and services.

Alboim said he did not believe he had to report his communication under the Lobbying Act.

“Anyone is free to contact a Minister’s office to ask for help,” said Alboim.

“They can do so on behalf of another person without registering to lobby providing they are not being paid. This has been the law for years.

“As I understand it, the Lobbying Act is not designed to prevent people from speaking to government. It is designed to regulate communications in very specific instances. This wasn’t one of those instances.”

The Lobbying Act requires that all lobbyists report within ten days any attempt to “communicate with a public office holder in respect of…the awarding of any contract by or on behalf of Her Majesty, or to arrange a meeting between a public office holder and any other person.”

Lobbyists must disclose contacts with public office holders under threat of a $50,000 fine or six months’ jail. Alboim did not report the “my son” exchange.

Alboim said his son did not win a federal contract.

Alboim, a former bureau chief for CBC-TV on Parliament Hill, in a 2019 commentary criticized media coverage of ethical breaches on Parliament Hill as hypocritical.

“In its coverage of public affairs, media does not admit to grays in a world it tends to see in the blacks and whites of moral absolutism,” he wrote in an essay published by the website Capital Current.

“That increasingly journalists arrogate to themselves the right to unilaterally pronounce on and judge the conduct and views of public actors is ironic and puzzling. They insist on and impose full public accountability on those they cover without having significant professional or third-party accountability mechanisms themselves.”

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

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City of Vernon loses another bid to can firefighter caught in sex act in chief’s office

BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McDonald said Tuesday it was reasonable for the the BC Labour Relations Board to overrule the firing of the pair in March 2018.

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The city of Vernon has failed in another attempt to have a firefighter canned for engaging in a sex act in the chief’s office.

BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McDonald said Tuesday it was reasonable for the the BC Labour Relations Board to overrule the firing of the pair in March 2018.

The city fired Capt. Brent Bond and dispatcher Cara-Leigh Manahan after “a brief episode of consensual activity” in the fire chief’s office, according to the arbitration board’s ruling.  

“They bantered about Mexican beaches, bikinis and bums, her bum and his tan line, which he offered to show her,” the initial ruling states.

“Intimate, playful physical contact began immediately. They were joyful and clearly having fun, but watchful, separately glancing out the office door. Within a minute, the tan line was revealed and exploration was commenced but abruptly stopped.”

The board ruled although Bond and Manahan’s sexual misconduct was worthy of harsh sanctions, they shouldn’t have been fired.

“A picture might be worth a thousand words, but silent video footage is only part of the story. For some unexplained reason, the employer did not take time to become fully informed and assess the situation before deciding the appropriate response,” the ruling states.

Manahan had no job to return to as dispatch services had been contracted out.

“The city was dissatisfied with the decision of the majority of the arbitration panel and, as a result, undertook certain review and reconsideration steps available to it under the Labour Relations Code. None of those steps have been successful,” McDonald wrote in her ruling. 

“The city now petitions the Court for relief. After considering the grounds raised by the city for judicial review, together with the law and the lines of analysis found in the Reconsideration Decision, I decline to grant the city the relief it seeks because I do not find that the Reconsideration Decision was patently unreasonable on any ground alleged.”

The pair initially denied the sex act until it was shown on video to them.

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

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ROSIN: It’s time to reopen Alberta

UCP MLA Miranda Rosin writes in a guest column that while she has been critical of continued lockdowns, Alberta’s phased re-opening plan is the right path.

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Miranda Rosin

Guest Column from Miranda Rosin, MLA for Banff-Kananaskis

The Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary defines health care as “efforts made to maintain or restore physical, mental or emotional well-being”. In short, physicality makes up only one-third of what is considered overall health by the medical dictionary itself. Similarly, the World Health Organization’s Constitution defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

As governments all over the world – ours included – continue their pursuit of flattening the COVID-19 curve, we must stop treating COVID-19 in isolation and rather must begin treating it as a part of our greater healthcare system. Those struggling with depression, isolation, anxiety or suicidal thoughts in themselves or their children deserve to be nurtured equally to those suffering from physical symptoms of the virus. The wellbeing of people fighting internal battles is just as important as the wellbeing of those fighting physical ones, and that is why I believe reopening our province is so incredibly important right now. No handout or government support can supplement a life, dream or livelihood lost. We, as human beings, need something to live for again; a reason to get out of bed in the morning and face the day ahead with optimism. So, Alberta is carefully reopening.

Even amidst the strongest public health restrictions our government ensured 85 per cent of Alberta’s economy could remain open in some capacity, but recently we unveiled a clear, transparent plan that will restore full and long awaited normalcy to our society. As someone who has been critical of non-targeted, non- regional, lockdown-style restrictions in all jurisdictions that have implemented them, I am incredibly excited to see such a plan introduced. It will not only begin the process of carefully reopening our province but it will put us on the path to fully restoring our old normal, where we walked without fear of our futures and congregated by the thousands to celebrate our favourite sports teams and musical artists. Our province has always been a world leader in more ways than one, and now is our chance to also lead in taking back charge of our own destiny – even if the rest of the world isn’t prepared to follow.

The four-step plan we unveiled is based on strong data and the capacity of our healthcare system to support not only COVID-19 patients, but also patients dealing with heart failure, kidney disease, orthopedic injury and other health ailments. Less than 10 per cent of Alberta’s positive COVID-19 cases required hospitalization, so rather than restrict the entire province based on case numbers alone – 94 per cent of which did not present serious symptoms or require any health treatment – our path forward is based strictly on hospital capacity and our ability to provide healthcare to those that need it the most.

Every step forward is based on a decline of hospitalizations by 150 less than the previous step, with a three-week buffer in between. Step 1 began on February 8 and was primarily characterized by the careful reopening of restaurants, pubs and coffee shops for in-person dining, purposefully in time for Valentine’s Day. Step 2, which we already have data to justify entering but are waiting in the three-week buffer period, will be primarily characterized by the reopening of fitness facilities and increased retail shopping capacity. Step 3, achieved when our hospitalizations dip below 300, will see the reopening of attractions such as museums, movie theatres and art galleries, the resumption of adult sports, and most importantly an easement of social gathering restrictions. Finally, in Step 4 we will be able to once again attend major performance events such as music festivals, concerts, sporting events, wedding receptions and conferences.

Albertans have fought through a lot, not just over the past year but over the past six. Our business community, in particular, has been struggling for years, which our government has worked hard to help

by lowering taxes, introducing grants and incentive programs, and reducing red tape. But COVID-19 has challenged us all with a new level of economic adversity. After all we’ve gone through as a province, Albertans deserve to know that their government has a plan and is committed to taking on the risks with courage to get Albertans’ lives back on track.

If you know me, you’ll know that I strive to keep partisanship away from my life. I have a deeply held conviction that our world needs more governance and less politics, more unity and less division. Hearing our opposition refer to the decision to reopen Alberta as “political”, based not on professional health advice despite being made in cooperation with health experts, shows their clear lack of understanding for both the data on COVID-19 and the hardship so many Albertans have endured over the past year.

We are Albertans. We are a self-determinant people and facing adversity with confidence has always been in our DNA. Prolonged, mass shutdowns are not the solution. Embracing the true Albertan inside each of us and taking a confident, diligent and optimistic step forward into our future as a province is.

You have spoken, and you have been clear that it is time we relinquish our fears to a common belief that the best is yet to come. Together, we can not only take charge of our own destinies again, but we can pave a way for the rest of the world to see that life safely can, and must go on from here.

Guest Column from Miranda Rosin, MLA for Banff-Kananaskis

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