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Alberta teachers demand meeting with LaGrange over back-to-school plans

“Teachers are worried. And they do not have confidence in the minister or her plans to reopen schools,” said the ATA’s Jason Schilling.

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The Alberta Teachers’ Association is demanding an emergency meeting with Education Minister Adriana LaGrange over the province’s back-to-school plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Teachers are worried. And they do not have confidence in the minister or her plans to reopen schools. They made it clear they expect the minister to be talking with the ATA and listening genuinely to the concerns of teachers,” said Jason Schilling, ATA president, on Saturday.

Delegates at the 2020 Annual Representative Assembly (ARA) this weekend moved a motion of non-confidence in LaGrange, but ultimately referred it to the Association’s executive council.

“Teachers are focused on solutions. The number one priority of teachers right now is to ensure that the re-entry to schools is done as safely as possible,” said Schilling.

“Teachers recognize that this is only possible when the ATA and government are working together on a plan that serves the health and safety interests of students, teachers, all school staff and their collective families.”

The 450 teachers, representing all teachers in Alberta’s 61 public, separate and Francophone school divisions, passed resolutions calling for reduced class sizes, increased support staff, better mental health supports, and the placement of public health nurses in schools.

They also called for the establishment of an ongoing multi-sector consultation committee to guide the re-entry to schools and beyond.

“The current plans for re-entry are simply unacceptable. I do not know what will happen if the Minister insists that teachers and students return to unsafe schools and I do not know how teachers and parents will respond,” said Schilling.

“We have provided a reasonable and practical plan for moving onward that starts with meaningful consultation and a meeting in person with the Minister.”

On Aug. 4, LaGrange announced students and teachers between Grades 4-12 will have to wear masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Each student will be provided two reusable masks to use.

More than 1.6 million masks will be distributed to 740,000 students and 90,000 staff. Additional single-use masks will be available at schools, if required.

Mask use for kindergarten to Grade 3 students will continue to be optional. The government said mask use for younger children is a challenge due to difficulties with proper fit and compliance. In addition, evidence shows that children under 10 may be less likely than older children or adults to transmit COVID-19.

About 466,000 litres of hand sanitizer will be distributed between all school authorities. The specific volume provided to an individual school authority will be based on student population.

And each school will receive two contactless thermometers to assist with managing student and staff health. Thermometer use will be at the discretion of the school authority.

After the announcement, the NDP’s Kathleen Ganley tweeted: “Masks are good, but an adequate response requires some kind of class size limit – desks are too close together and masks are not required at all times. Classrooms with over 30 kids are a huge problem.”

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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Lock-down ignoring party host arrested again in Vancouver

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them,” said Sergeant Steve Addison, VPD.

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A man arrested by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) earlier this year for running a “makeshift nightclub” from his downtown penthouse has been convicted of new charges.

Mohammad Movassaghi was initially sentenced to 18 months probation in April, along with 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty in BC provincial court on counts of violating a public health order and selling liquor.

The 43-year-old man hosted hundreds of party-goers to his 1,100 square-foot penthouse near Richards Street and Georgia Street, equipped with cash machines, menus, and doormen.

VPD officers arrived at one of the parties on January 31 after a “witness” reported the event. One of the alleged doormen was issued several fines, however Movassaghi refused to open the door and was defiant with police. Officers returned early Sunday morning with a search warrant and subsequently issued over $17,000 in fines for violations contrary to the Emergency Program Act.

Large quantities of cash were seized as well.

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them,” said VPD Sgt. Steve Addison, following the January 31 arrest.

“If you are caught hosting or attending a party during the pandemic, and continue to break the rules, you could face stiff fines or wind up in jail.”

Of Addisons’ top concerns was the fact that “none of them were wearing masks.”

A GoFundMe was set up shortly after Movassaghi’s arrest, which stated he’d lost $15,000 in cash and liquor.

The campaign was shut down before it reached $300.

Judge Ellen Gordon compared Movassaghi’s actions with those of a drug dealer, specifically fentanyl — a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine. Her logic being COVID-19 can kill people, and so can fentanyl. Therefore there is “no difference.”

“What you did, sir, is comparable to individuals who sell fentanyl to the individuals on the street who die every day. There’s no difference. You voluntarily assumed a risk that could kill people in the midst of a pandemic,” said Gordon.

Fast forward to August and Movassaghi had violated the court orders again when he began hosting more parties in his penthouse, prompting a second VPD investigation leading to his arrest on Wednesday night.

He has since plead guilty of two counts of failure to comply with an order of the health officer and one count of selling liquor, says VPD.

Movassaghi has now been sentenced to 29 days in custody, 12 months of probation, and a $10,000 fine — leaving many wondering if he will switch up the location for his next party, possibly somewhere more discreet.

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

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Porch pirate Chahal could face $5K in fines or six months in jail

“I’ve fully cooperated and provided all the information that was requested of myself and my team,” said Chahal in the interview.

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Porch pirate George Chahal, under investigation for mail theft by Elections Canada, could face a fine of $5,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

The Liberal Calgary-Skyview candidate was victorious in September’s federal election, however, he came under fire when a doorbell cam caught Chahal removing an opponent’s election literature from a mailbox ahead of the September 20 election.

Chahal, in a jersey with his name clearly visible on the back, was easily identified in the video.

A complaint was filed on September 23 and an investigation was launched.

Months later, Chahal’s name and his involvement in the incident was brought up in question period in the House of Commons this week by Barrie-Innisfail Conservative MP John Brassard.

“The member is facing a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail during an investigation that is continuing from the Commissioner of Canada Elections,” said Brassard.

“Even with the low bar on ethics and conduct set by the Liberals and indeed the prime minister over the last six years, does the prime minister think this type of action from a member of his caucus is acceptable?”

Trudeau, in defence of Chahal, said, “The member has apologized and is fully cooperating with Elections Canada as it goes through its processes.”

Chahal, during a Friday morning interview on CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener, mentioned both he and his team are being investigated in the incident.

“I’ve fully cooperated and provided all the information that was requested of myself and my team,” said Chahal in the interview.

The investigation was initially opened by the Calgary Police Service’s anti-corruption, unit but was quickly transferred to Elections Canada.

Chahal’s admission during the Friday morning radio interview could mean the replacing of election material in voters’ mailboxes may have been more widespread and could have involved his large team of volunteers.  

The matter is still under investigation with Elections Canada.

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

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Suzuki apologizes for radical ‘blown up’ pipelines comment

“The remarks I made were poorly chosen and I should not have said them. Any suggestion that violence is inevitable is wrong and will not lead us to a desperately-needed solution to the climate crisis.”

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Environmental activist David Suzuki issued a public apology for comments he made last Saturday referencing “blown up” pipelines if the government doesn’t take drastic action on climate change.

The radical activist made the comments at an Extinction Rebellion protest in downtown Victoria last weekend when asked by CHEK News what he thought would happen if government leaders didn’t address the climate crisis.

“We’re in deep, deep doo doo. And the leading experts have been telling us for over 40 years. This is what we’ve come to. The next stage after this, there are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on.”

A released statement, also available on his website, said, “Dr. Suzuki’s comments were born out of many years of watching government inaction while the climate crisis continues to get worse.”

The statement included this apology from Suzuki:

“The remarks I made were poorly chosen and I should not have said them. Any suggestion that violence is inevitable is wrong and will not lead us to a desperately-needed solution to the climate crisis. My words were spoken out of extreme frustration and I apologize.

“We must find a way to stop the environmental damage we are doing to the planet and we must do so in a non-violent manner.”

The statement goes on to cite the work of the David Suzuki Foundation.

“Since 1990, the Foundation has produced credible and reliable evidence-based environmental information, and worked with all levels of government (including indigenous leadership), business and communities to resolve critical environmental issues.”

Suzuki was heavily criticized Monday for his comments by Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon.

“David Suzuki is so out of touch with the real world that he advocates for eco-terrorism…towards Canadian people and industries — this is completely unacceptable and extremely reckless,” said Nixon during Ministerial Statements in the Legislature.

“The NDP have a long history of collaborating with David Suzuki and their silence on his outrageous comments make them complicit with calls for ecoterrorism towards Albertans.

“We must protect our critical infrastructure and not allow these ridiculous ideological menaces to destroy what Albertans have worked so hard to create.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Suzuki’s comment was “an implicit or winking incitement to violence,” and likened it to something you’d hear in “gangster movies.”

Contrary to accusations of inciting violence by critics, Suzuki’s statement read, “Always grounded in sound evidence, the Foundation empowers people to take peaceful and impactful action in their communities on the environmental challenges we collectively face.” 

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

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

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