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NDP slams UCP for no-bid spending from Kenney’s office

The UCP response has been: Well you guys did it as well.

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Alberta’s NDP is accusing Premier Jason Kenney office for funnelling hundreds of thousands of dollars to his pals in no-bid contracts.

The UCP response has been: Well you guys did it as well.

An NDP release said Yorkville Strategies, the UCP’s polling company, “was handed $481,560 worth of taxpayers’ money through no-bid contracts, according to recently released government sole-source contract disclosures.

The release said Yorkville’s president, Dimitri Pantazopoulos, was Kenney’s “senior strategic advisor” during the 2019 provincial election campaign

The release claimed since the election, Vek Labs – a video production company – has gotten $73,500 worth of public money through no-bid contracts to make “flattering videos of the premier.”

The release also claimed Enterprise Canada, a company run by Erika Barootes, who was president of the United Conservative Party through the 2019 election campaign, was handed $12,800 in no-bid contracts to provide “media training for the Premier’s Communications Staff and Minister’s Office Press Secretaries.”

Neither Yorkville Strategies, Vek Labs, or Enterprise Canada had won any government contracts before the 2019 election, the NDP said.

“All Alberta companies should have a right to bid for government contracts,” said Heather Sweet, NDP Opposition Critic for Democracy and Ethics in a release.

“Alberta taxpayers have a right to expect these companies to compete on price and value, and for public servants to select them based on the strength of their bid, not their coziness with the premier.

“Jason Kenney is the most corrupt premier in Alberta history, and now he’s letting his partisan cronies skip the bidding and help themselves to taxpayers’ money. 

“Jason Kenney shamefully diverted pandemic relief funding from taxpayers to subsidize his political party.

“Now we see he’s also funneling Alberta taxpayers’ money to his partisan cronies’ companies. While Albertans are losing their jobs and businesses in massive numbers, Jason Kenney’s partisan cronies are laughing all the way to the bank with Alberta taxpayers’ money.”

Kenney’s issue manger, Matt Wolf, quickly took to Twitter to defend his boss, saying the NDP did the same thing when they were in power.

Wolf tweet

“Let’s not forget John Heaney, one of @RachelNotley‘s former chiefs of staff. He was paid $287,000/year in that role. Then a few months after he left that role, he was swiftly handed a $130,000 contract from @joececiyyc‘s ministry. #ableg“, Wolf also tweeted.

Kenney’s office also responded with a lengthy release.

“The Government of Alberta has been polling more frequently recently in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as it’s important to better understand Albertans’ views,” said the statement.

“This government’s contracting has followed all applicable policies – the same policies that existed under the previous NDP Government.

“Yorkville Strategies is on Communications and Public Engagement’s pre-qualified vendor list. This list exists so that polling can take place for rapidly emerging issues in a timely fashion (ex. COVID-19).

“Our government spent less last year than the former NDP government in 2018-19. Yorkville is but one firm able to provide government polling. 

“The NDP’s criticism is rich:

“They provided $438,000 to NDP-linked campaign firm Stratcom. Stratcom was founded in Vancouver by a former Greenpeace director, and has had clients including the NDP (federal and provincial), the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace, Ecojustice, and the Alberta Federation of Labour. 

“Rachel Notley’s former chief of staff, John Heaney. He was paid a salary of $287,000/year. Just months after he left, he was awarded a $130,000 contract by the Ministry of Finance.

“A former chief of staff to Saskatchewan NDP Premier Roy Romanow was awarded contracts worth $40,000 to “provide advice on…efficient working relationships” and to “make recommendations on processes and paper flow.”

“Most recently, it was even discovered that Rachel Notley is using tax dollars for Facebook ads to promote her new dog.”

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

News

Hockey arena backs down on banning unvaccinated kids

Within hours of the Western Standard posting the exclusive story, Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy.

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Public pressure has brought minor hockey out of the penalty box in Cochrane.

Following an exclusive story by the Western Standard on Saturday along with mounting pressure from the community, a Cochrane sports facility has revamped its vaccine passport policy.  

The Cochrane Minor Hockey Association (CMHA) and Hockey Alberta were not mandating a vaccine passport system but Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) announced they would be requiring proof of vaccine status for anyone 12 and up.

Within hours of the exclusive story being posted, CMHS President Cory Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy with this statement:

“Youth between the ages of 12 (vaccine eligible) to 18 years of age are exempt from the REP vaccination requirement to enter the facility for the purpose of participating in a youth organized sport organization. Examples include (but not limited to) Cochrane Minor Hockey, Ringette, Cochrane Minor Soccer, Lacrosse, Cochrane Figure Skating Club, Comets, Junior Lifeguard Club, etc.”

Although youth may access the facility without being vaccinated, all adult spectators, coaches, volunteers and organizers of any youth activity “must show proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or medical exemption to gain entry to SLSFSC premises.”

“Although this helps our kids get on the ice in Cochrane, it’s still an issue at lots of other facilities, especially in larger facilities in Calgary and Airdrie,” Oaten said.

Oaten, who works in the insurance industry, points out the “huge liability issue” this poses to his and other sports organizations.

“Originally, Spray Lakes pushed us to collect this medical documentation from our members,” he said.

The CMHA board consists of 18 volunteer members.

“They can’t put those expectations on a board of volunteers. It’s a big legal issue for us,” Oaten said, adding he and his board refuse to take responsibility for requiring proof of vaccine or the collection of their members’ private medical information.

Oaten was informed the SLSFSC will now have their own security checkpoints set up in the facility and will take responsibility for checking the vaccine status of anyone 18+ entering the building.

Oaten anticipates families will still pull their kids from hockey and other sports programs as those who remain unvaccinated will not be permitted in the facility to accompany their child.

Hockey Alberta stated on their Facebook page they are working with the Alberta government on how last Wednesday’s announcement will affect hockey for Alberta players. Oaten has asked his members to hold off on making a decision to pull their child from the program until Hockey Alberta comes forward with their updated season plan.

The Western Standard reached out to the SLSFSC for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

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

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Nearly $400 million in commemorative holiday events planned for fed employees only

The Department of Canadian Heritage promises “large-scale commemoration events” for a September 30 holiday for federally regulated employees only.

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It’ll cost hundreds of millions of dollars with federally regulated employees getting ready to party like it’s 2021, all on the public teat.

The Department of Canadian Heritage promises “large-scale commemoration events” for a September 30 holiday for federally regulated employees only.

Blacklock’s Reporter says the holiday will cost $388.9 million, by official estimate.

“The department will collaborate with national organizations for large-scale commemorative events on September 30,” staff wrote in a briefing note. It is the first federal observance of its kind.

The Senate on June 3 passed Bill C-5 An Act To Amend The Bills Of Exchange Act that designates September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The paid holiday applies only to federal employees including the RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces, and federally-regulated private sector workers at job sites like airports, banks, grain mills, marine shippers, radio stations and railways.

“This new annual statutory holiday on September 30 will ensure public commemoration of the tragic history and legacy of Residential Schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process,” said the briefing note National Day For Truth And Reconciliation. Costs of planned events were estimated at $2.7 million.

Parliament passed the holiday bill without a dissenting vote though senators in final debate questioned its usefulness. “What could long-term, dedicated and stable funding mean for food security, for closing the infrastructure gap which is huge, for finally ending boiled water advisories, for dealing with acute housing shortfalls in Indigenous communities?” asked Senator Dennis Patterson (Nunavut).

“It is hard for me to hear about the hundreds of millions of dollars that will go to provide federal employees a paid day off when I think about how an ongoing commitment of what we have heard today would be $388.9 million per annum for this holiday,” said Patterson.

“It would be an insult to my family members, to my friends and to the memories of those survivors I have lost along the way if this day were to become yet another paid day at the cottage for federal workers,” said Patterson. “It needs to truly be a day of remembrance and learning.”

The Treasury Board said direct costs were $165.9 million in the federal public service. “Most of that is in lost productivity,” Stephen Diotte, executive director of human resources, told the Senate June 3.

“The balance of it is payments required for employees in 24/7 work environments like corrections or Canada Border Services or ships’ crews and officers in the Department of National Defence and Department of Fisheries,” said Diotte.

The $165.9 million figure did not include holiday pay or overtime for Crown corporation employees. “I don’t have those figures,” said Diotte.

The labour department said airlines, marine shippers and other federally-regulated private sector companies would pay another $223 million annually.

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News

City of Edmonton mandates COVID jabs

The e-mail did not contain what disciplinary actions the city would take against staff who don’t get jabbed.

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City of Edmonton employees have less than a month to get jabbed against COVID-19, officials said in a new mandatory vaccine policy announced Monday.

City Manager Andre Corbould said in an e-mail to all staff they will have to be vaccinated by November 15.

“Last week, I shared the results from the Employee COVID-19 Vaccination Disclosure Policy (A1700) with you. The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) used this information to determine if additional steps were necessary to protect you, keep our facilities safe and operational, and stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Corbould.

“According to the disclosure results, 72% of employees are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In the context of the fourth wave in Alberta and rising cases in our own employees, that level is not high enough to give us confidence that we are minimizing the hazard of COVID-19 in the workplace to the greatest extent possible.

“As a result, the City of Edmonton is introducing a COVID-19 vaccination policy for all City of Edmonton employees effective today, September 20, 2021. All employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (two weeks after receiving the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine) by Nov. 15, 2021.”

Courbould said he realizes the decision is bound to set off a storm of controversy.

“While I recognize this decision may be difficult for some, I expect everyone to behave respectfully to one another as this decision is implemented. ELT made this decision, not your supervisor. We will not tolerate disrespectful or abusive behaviour or communications,” he wrote.

“This is a significant step for our organization, and an essential safety measure for keeping our workplaces safe.”

The e-mail did not contain what disciplinary actions the city would take against staff who don’t get jabbed.

Earlier this month, the City of Calgary also instituted a mandatory vaccination requirement.

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

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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

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

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