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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.




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

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


Alberta gov’t granted injunction to ban weekend protest at Whistle Stop Cafe

Chris Scott and others, outraged by the province’s lockdown regulations, planned to protest the closure with a campout over the weekend adjacent to the restaurant.




It hasn’t even happened yet, but an Alberta court has already ruled a weekend protest at the Whistle Stop Cafe is illegal.

The Court of Queen’s Bench has granted a pre-emptive injunction against, Chris Scott, the owner of Whistle Stop, because the restaurant plans to host a rally over the upcoming weekend called the “Save Alberta Campout Protest.” The injunction was granted at the request of Alberta Health Services (AHS), an agency under Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Last week, the RCMP raided the establishment and carted away all its booze. On Wednesday, the RCMP and AHS officials showed up en masse and padlocked the building.

Undeterred, Scott continued cooking pancakes, making burgers and serving coffee to his customers in the parking lot outside his shuttered restaurant. The UCP government recently banned outdoor patio service for restaurants.

He and others, outraged by the province’s lockdown regulations, planned to protest the closure with a campout over the weekend adjacent to the restaurant.

But the AHS, which sought the injunction, said the judge ruled it illegal because it would not comply with public health restrictions on mandatory masking, attendance limits, and social distancing.

“The order restrains the owner and others from organizing, promoting and attending the event and includes police enforcement and imposes significant consequences on the organizers of this event,” AHS said in a statement to media.

“AHS has taken this step due to the ongoing risk to Albertans created by those breaching COVID-19 public health restrictions.”

The Western Standard has reached out to Scott but hasn’t heard back on what effect the injunction will have. Scott said earlier in the day he will now seek elected office by running for the Wildrose Independence Party in the upcoming 2023 election.

Scott is the only gas station or restaurant in Mirror, a town of about 500, 50 km northeast of Red Deer, and now he’s seeing people from all over the province stopping in.

“The law is garbage – it”s doing more harm than good,” said Scott in an earlier interview with the Western Standard.

“If they want to throw me in jail for trying to earn a living, go ahead,” said Scott.

Scott has owned the cafe since July 2019, but it has been a fixture in town since 1967.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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EXCLUSIVE: UCP Secretary quits over ‘lies’

Smith has worked with conservative parties since 1976.




The former secretary of Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) says she decided to resign from the board because she “was tired of all the lies.”

In an exclusive interview with the Western Standard, Cathy Smith said she handed in her notice on April 6, after a string of statements and actions about the COVID-19 pandemic by Premier Jason Kenney.

Smith said the beginning of the end started when Kenney held a press conference over COVID-19 and warned of a pandemic so extreme there would be “body bags coming out of McMahon Stadium.”

“I said to myself ‘Are you kidding me’. There will never be body bags coming out of McMahon Stadium,” said Smith.

“I know nurses. Nurses at the time told me there was nothing going on in their hospitals.”

Smith said Kenney then started to condemn the “right-wing, the conspiracy theorists.”

“I said wait a minute, I’m right-wing. And then the way we treated Dr. (Dennis) Modry. I thought this wasn’t the right way to represent our 40,000 members,” she said.

Kenney and Modry have been in a battle of letters. Modry published an open letter to the premier on the Western Standard saying lockdowns don’t work. The letter went viral and has been viewed hundreds of thousands of time. It took Kenney three months to reply with his own letter.

As party secretary, Smith dealt with more than 100 e-mails, either from party members or people who voted for the UCP, about how the lockdowns were affecting their lives.

“We had an e-mail from a family whose grandfather died because his heart operation had been postponed. I e-mailed everyone back. I explained I was not writing as a representative of the party. I told them I didn’t agree with what the party was doing,” Smith said.

Smith said she was aware of a group of men in Medicine Hat who went to high school together – 20 of whom have committed suicide since the pandemic started.

“I told everyone to get involved at the (constituency association) level if they really want to make change,” Smith said.

She said the last straw for her was when Kenney appeared on talk show host Danielle Smith’s last show on QR77 and said he wasn’t aware the party board had approved a leadership vote in 2022, just six months before the next election.

“I was just tired of all the lies, Kenney pretended he didn’t know about the leadership vote. I thought ‘This is not the way — where’s the trust’,” Smith said.

“I was tired of all the lockdowns (without proof they work). But I said to myself, I will never quit, never, never, never.”

Finally, after talking to several other board members, Smith handed in her notice.

Smith has worked with conservative parties since 1976. As to where she will vote in the next election: “I’m still waiting.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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WATCH: Alberta’s costume lady forced to sell treasure trove of outfits because of lockdowns

“Fifteen months later, there is no coming back.”




It took Vickie Friesen more than 30 years of sewing to create 5,000 different costumes – everything from pirates to princesses.

Now, after a year of COVID-19 lockdowns, she is being forced to sell the lot.

Friesen and her husband, Darrell can no longer afford to keep their Three Hills Tickle Trunk outlet open and the business running after income vanished after lockdowns banned everything from school plays to Halloween.

Some of Vickie’s creations

“We just can’t afford to stay in business. There’s no theatre, there’s no parades, there’s no parties,” Vicki told the Western Standard on Thursday.

“In 2019, we were busy every week of the year with rentals. 2019 was booming. It was fabulous.

“Once word of our business got around, we started having the same customers repeated over and over. I started to ask customers to ask me what costumes we didn’t have, it was just easier.

“Now, nothing.”

Vicki recalled she sent out costumes for shows last March, but after the lockdowns, the costumes were returned and customers wanted their money back.

“Everything came back. I sat by the phone, but it didn’t ring anymore,” said Vicki.

Roman centurion outfit

“Fifteen months later, there is no coming back.”

The couple has made the heartbreaking decision they will have to sell all the costumes. A sale will be held at the store the next two Saturdays. A deal to sell their building should be signed next week.

All kid’s costumes will be sold for $10. Adult merchandise is 50% off, between $25 and $50 at their Three Hills store at 519 Main Street.

Need a storm trooper outfit? It will be there along with full ball gowns, Second World War uniforms and German lederhosen. Antique furniture is also on sale.

“They are all going for a song,” Vicki said, regret in her voice.

But some of the stuff they aren’t parting with includes all their Christmas outfits. The couple created a costumed “Christmas Convoy” through the town last year, and plan on repeating it, all over the province if asked.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus… really the Frieses

The couple did receive some federal COVID-19 aide which went to fixing a leak in the building, but not enough to even cover basic utilities.

Vickie proudly boast she has shipped her costumes all over the province: “From High Level to High Prairie.”

Tickle Trunk promo

She started sewing as a kid in Manitoba, creating costumes for theatre troupes and school plays. She also handmade graduation dresses for area high schoolers.

She stored her works of art in a 12×12 granary but it soon became full.

The Friesens and their two young children decided to move to Alberta and they set up shop in Three Hills, eventually buying a building in which to operate their business and store their dresses.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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