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O’Toole platform light on Western promises, heavy on Quebec

In his 50-page platform released Wednesday, Tory leadership candidate Erin O’Toole goes on for page after page what he is promising for Quebec should he be elected prime minister.

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It appears what’s good for the goose, may not be so good for the gander.

In his 50-page platform released Wednesday, Tory leadership candidate Erin O’Toole dedicates six pages of promises for Quebec should he be elected CPC leader and prime minister.

But Alberta – in fact the whole of Western Canada – gets less than a single page, with only five points.

Titled “Action Plan for Alberta and the West”, O’Toole said: “No part of our country has suffered more under the Trudeau Liberals than Alberta.”

“There is real anger in the West and elsewhere among those whom Trudeau regards as political obstacles. He has driven this country to the brink of a national unity crisis. It is reckless and it is wrong,” the platform reads.

To fix the woes of the West, O’Toole vows to fix the Equalization and Fiscal Stabilization programs, repeal Bill C-69, pass a national pipelines act, scrap the Liberal’s tanker ban and create a LNG export strategy. No details were given for what a reformed Equalization formula might look like.

No commitments were made for reallocating seats in the Senate, which currently awards Alberta six, Quebec 24, and New Brunswick 12.

O’Toole’s promises for Quebec go on for six pages with five sub-sections.

“Under my leadership, the federal government will respect the division of powers between our two orders of government; above all, it will never interfere in the internal affairs of Quebec,” O’Toole writes.

Under a section titled ” Strengthen the recognition of the Quebec nation” O’Toole vows to:

  • ensure that Quebec never be under-represented in the House of Commons, whatever its demographic weight within the Canadian federation;
  • work with the government of Quebec in order to significantly increase its autonomy in respect to decisions related to immigration, including refugees and family reunification;
  • remain open to the development of new administrative agreements with the government of Quebec with a view to promoting decentralized federalism;
  • limit federal spending powers in Quebec’s fields of jurisdiction;
  • make annual federal transfers for social programmes unencumbered by restrictive conditions;
  • develop a plan for a return to balanced budgets without cutting transfers to the provinces;
  • respect the Constitution Act of 1867 by the application of a non-intervention approach in respect to internal affairs within Quebec’s fields of jurisdiction.

Under a section called “Public security”, O’Toole says he will:

  • strengthen our existing customs infrastructure;
  • modify the agreement on safe third countries by abolishing the administrative breach which has resulted in illegal border crossings;
  • permanently close illegal border crossing points such as Roxham Road.
  • strengthen the legal penalties provided for in the criminal code for persons hindering the proper functioning of energy transportation infrastructures;
  • ensure that the movement of those resources necessary for the proper functioning of our essential industries and businesses will never be interrupted;
  • consolidate our strategic reserve of personal protective equipment;
  • select Canadian Forces Base Bagotville as the main site to host the Government of Canada’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SATP).
  • reassess all federal regulations concerning the labelling of food products so as to ensure that both their contents and country of origin are clearly identified;
  • work with community stakeholders in order to develop policies facilitating the transfer of family farms from parents to their children;
  • amend existing laws in order to allow livestock owners to use local slaughterhouses, reducing both stress to the animals and the production of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from transportation to distant facilities;
  • protect our supply management systems;
  • allow more flexibility in the allocation and management of farmer assistance programmes;
  • put an end to the failure of the Liberal government in commercial treaty negotiations and their negative impact on the industry dairy. Provide for full compensation as promised by the present government all the while ensuring flexibility in the allocation of funds;
  • promote free trade in agricultural and food products among and between provinces, including alcohol.
  • protect the free movement of goods, services and citizens across our entire transportation infrastructure, enforcing our laws and maintaining order in the event of illegal blockades;
  • upgrade federal port facilities;
  • strengthen maritime safety by renewing our fleet of icebreakers in partnership the Davie shipyard, to be designated as a full partner within the National Shipbuilding Strategy;
  • tackle the logistic and security problems plaguing rail networks in several regions of Quebec.

In the “Innovation” section of his Quebec platform, O’Toole says he will:

  • support innovative private sector projects in the various regions of Quebec;
  • work in partnership with the Government of Quebec in promoting the Saint-Laurent Project, a maritime strategy for Quebec’s economic development comprising the creation of ten innovation zones;
  • provide strategic and targeted assistance to start-ups in the new economy;
  • adopt budgetary incentives in order to enhance vocational training in our cutting-edge technological sectors;
  • encourage entrepreneurial initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • adopt financial incentives for the development of innovative local production, such as greenhouses and aquaculture;
  • adopt a government purchasing policy on low carbon footprint materials;
  • reform and up-date the law on animal species in order to make it more responsive to the needs of stakeholders by taking account of the presence of subspecies, as in the case of woodland caribou.

In the “Infrastructure section for Quebec, O’Toole vows to:

  • provide financial assistance to the Government of Quebec for the construction of the third link in the Quebec City area as well as supporting regional infrastructure projects prioritized by the province and various municipalities;
  • honour current funding agreements allocated to various public transit projects in the province;
  • connect all of rural Quebec to high-speed internet;
  • transfer, where necessary, further port infrastructures to the provincial government, accompanied by adequate financing.

Finally, in the “taxation” section, O’Toole said he will:

  • cancel Liberal tax hikes;
  • encourage entrepreneurship and “re-entrepreneurship” by introducing a version of the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) for authorized withdrawals from Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP), in this instance for investment in the creation of first-time SMEs or the purchase of existing SMEs;
  • bring back tax fairness by eliminating the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on subscriptions to Canadian digital platforms, thereby promoting online cultural content by Canadian cultural concerns such as Illico and Tou.tv. The objective is to create a level playing field with foreign digital platforms such as Netflix;
  • encourage the occupation and management of private forest land, big and small, by granting their owners the same tax benefits enjoyed by major forest producers.

Some of the things promised Quebec have also been sought after in Alberta.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said he is supporting O’Toole in the race.

In an exclusive poll last month conducted by Northwest Research for the Western Standard, 45 per cent of decided Albertans surveyed said that they would defiantly vote yes or were leaning yes if there was a referendum on Alberta’s independence, while 55 per cent said that they would definitely vote no or were leaning no.

The four candidates currently qualified for the final ballot are O’Toole, Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.

The Tory leadership race will have mail-in voting this summer and conclude August 21.

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

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Independent Alberta MLAs call for emergency debate on forced vaccinations

And the pair said they will not be revealing their own vaccination status, calling it a personal issue

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Alberta’s two Independent MLAs are asking for an emergency debate in the Legislature over the issue of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies, especially for health workers and the RCMP.

Drew Barnes, MLA for Cypress-Medicine, joined his colleague Todd Lowen, MLA for Central-Peace-Notley in making the call to Premier Jason Kenney.

And the pair said they will not be revealing their own vaccination status, calling it a personal issue.

Barnes said he was particularly worried about the impact on the RCMP, especially in rural detachments where he claimed few officers had been vaccinated.

More than 33,000 RCMP officers and support staff have signed an open letter to RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki opposing mandatory vaccinations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said all federal workers, including the RCMP, must be vaccinated of face job consequences. But government memos say two-thirds of the civil service could be exempt.

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Vax deadline for BC health-care workers looms overhead

In BC, roughly 5,500 unvaccinated health-care workers will be stripped of their jobs on October 26 if they do not get their first shot.

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Health-care workers have been praised for their efforts surrounding COVID-19 for nearly 20 months, however, the ephemeral display of gratitude comes to an end tomorrow.

On October 26, roughly 5,500 unvaccinated health-care workers in British Columbia will be stripped of their jobs, as set forth in a public health order.

The order demands workers provide proof of having received one dose of vaccination against COVID-19 by the aforementioned date.

If they get their first shot before November 15, workers will be permitted employment seven days afterwards, provided they follow extra safety precautions until they get a second dose — which must be administered within 35 days of the first.

“We’re hopeful, of course, that people will move to get vaccinated and comply with the upcoming order,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

The roughly 5,500 employees do not include the unvaccinated long-term and assisted living facility workers who were forced out of their jobs by the province on October 12.

Similar policies have been rolled out across the country, but not without resistance.

In August, Alberta Health Service (AHS) announced that all employees, volunteers, and contracted health-care providers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Last week, the deadline was pushed until November 30.

Similarly, Quebec extended its proof-of-vaccination timeline for health-care workers by one month, with the new deadline falling on November 15.

BC’s deadline — which looms a mere hours away — seems to be fixed in its place.

“The government forcing health-care workers to become vaccinated is really problematic because — for one reason — these are the people most likely to have natural immunity,” Dr. Steven Pelech, chair of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Committee at the Canadian Covid Care Alliance told the Western Standard.

“This is the way the health-care system treats them… a year ago they were heroes for helping save lives, now they are discarded for being unvaccinated.”

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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Chu sworn in as Calgary Ward 4 councillor

Chu was sworn in by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Rooke. Earlier Calgary mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek had said she would refuse to swear Gondek in over his actions in 1997 with a 16-year-old girl.

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Embattled Calgary Coun. Sean Chu has been officially sworn in again to the represent the area despite allegations of a 24-year-old sex scandal that erupted just before election day.

Chu was sworn in by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Rooke. Calgary mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek earlier said she would refuse to swear Gondek in over his actions in 1997 with a 16-year-old girl.

Gondek did not even mention Chu’s name during the ceremony.

In a media scrum following in the swearing-in ceremony, Gondek said council will be focusing on looking at the biggest priorities for each councillor in each ward and which councillor will be serving on the various committees, boards and commissions.

When asked why she chose not to swear councillor Chu in, Gondek said, “I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to swear him in.”

“I’m focused on working with new members of council and one that have returned and letting them enjoy this day of being sworn in. All of us are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished and we are looking forward to celebrating this day as ours. So I’m choosing to focus on that today,” said Gondek when asked if she plans to take Chu up on his invitation to speak with him in person about the resurfaced allegations.

“The future will dictate that. Today I’m incredibly focuses on my family and my collegues who’ve achived a great success,” Gondek said about meeting with Chu at a later date.

Gondek became the first female mayor of Calgary in history. Eleven new councillors and two former ones were also sworn in Monday.

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek was presented with the Chain of Office by her husband Todd. Justice John Rooke is on the left.

The Chu allegation involved an incident where he met the girl at the King’s Head Pub. After hitting it off, the pair agreed to meet later when Chu was off-duty and in civilian clothes.

The pair went to Chu’s house where he admits they engaged in consensual sexual foreplay. The girl then asked Chu to drive her home, which he did.

The girl later filed a complaint alleging Chu sexually assaulted her.

According to documents obtained by the Western Standard, Chu’s accuser said he had sexually assaulted her while holding a gun to her head.

However, Insp. Debbie Middleton-Hope, the presiding officer at the disciplinary hearing in 2003, said testimony from the then 16-year-old minor was not credible and not to be believed.

“I find Const. Chu to be forthright in his description of the details and I find his evidence to be believed,” said Middleton-Hope, a well-respected, now-retired, Calgary policewoman, in transcripts provided to the Western Standard.

“Under cross-examination (the woman) had difficulty in recalling pertinent details,” said Middleton-Hope.

“I find her evidence not to be believed and I was not able to consider her evidence when deciding a sentence.”

Middleton-Hope also confirmed there was no evidence that would have indicated Chu was aware the woman was underage stating, “several witnesses said [the girl] appeared to be 19 to 21 years old.”

Although allegations of sexual misconduct were thoroughly investigated and dismissed over the investigation, Chu had a letter of reprimand added to his file for discreditable conduct for caressing the accuser’s leg while on duty and was ordered to undergo six months of ethics training.

Gondek and Premier Jason Kenney, along with most of the incoming council have called for Chu to resign.

Chu offered to meet with Gondek in person to discuss the situation and has vowed not to resign.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any harm,” Chu told the Western Standard in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

“I have always told the truth. My reputation is important to me and now my family is hurting,” said Chu.

Chu is now looking at his legal options and a possible defamation suit over some of what he called “false reporting.”

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

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