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EXCLUSIVE: Former Alberta Tory finance minister Snelgrove joins the WIP

“We are thousand of miles away from the people making the decisions and they just don’t get it. Something has to change,” said Snelgrove

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A former top Alberta cabinet minister has publicly thrown his support to the fledgling Wildrose Independence Party.

Lloyd Snelgrove, who served as Treasurer in the Ed Stelmach government, told the Western Standard in an exclusive interview Tuesday, the time has come for Alberta to look at independence.

“I don’t think I’m any different than other Albertans, that having watched federal and provincial governments over the last 25 years, coming to the conclusion the system doesn’t work,” said Snelgrove.

“We are thousand of miles away from the people making the decisions and they just don’t get it. Something has to change.”

Snelgrove said the independence movement was also growing in Saskatchewan and he hopes the province’s look at independence together.

Snelgrove was elected as a Tory in the riding of Vermillion-Lloydminster in the 2001, 2004 and 2008 provincial elections.

He left the Tory party in 2012 after becoming disillusioned with the government of Premier Alison Redford.

Snelgrove said his move to the WIP has had “Zero to do with Premier Jason Kenney.

“It’s clear the system doesn’t work anymore. Just look at Quebec, stamping their feet more and more to get what they want,” he said.

“It’s so easy to be against (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau, but even with Tory governments in Ottawa nothing as changed.”

Snelgrove said the early proponents of a Triple-E Senate were on the right track.

“But there’s no way Quebec and Ontario would ever put up with that,” he said.

Snelgrove, 64, said his role in the new party would be strictly as an adviser – he ruled out running in the next election.

“It’s like JFK said about going the the moon, ‘We’re not doing this because it’s easy, we’re doing it because it’s hard.’

“If we can get 100,000 members by the next election, the provincial and federal government will have to look as us seriously.”

In July, WIP named Paul Hinman as its interim leader. The new leader was appointed by the party’s Interim Joint Board of Governors made up of representatives of the now defunct Freedom Conservative Party and Wexit Alberta.

Members of the two parties voted on June 29th to unify their two groups into the WIP.

The party is expected to elect its first leader in late 2020 or early 2021. In the interim, Hinman committed to building the party into fighting form and guiding it through its founding convention, likely to be scheduled for the fall.

poll conducted a month before the WIP merger for the Western Standard saw the then-pending party in third place at 10 per cent of voter support, behind the UCP at 40 and the NDP and 34.

The same poll found between 45 and 48 per cent of Albertans backing independence, providing the new sovereigntist party with a potentially fertile base of voters to tap into. Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams told the Western Standard that support for independence could see the new Wildrose reclaim much of the first Wildrose’s support.

“Some of us warned of the dangers of stoking such inclinations [independence]in the lead up to the 2019 election. Such anger can turn against leaders/governments who fail to meet the expectations raised. And indeed, the new Wildrose Independence Party appears to be capitalizing on the growing legitimacy of anti-federalist [and pro] independence rhetoric.”

“I would not be surprised to see the highest support [for the WIP] in former Wildrose and Social Credit strongholds [i.e. central and southern Alberta]. As the poll also seems to suggest, there may be enduring challenges for opponents of the UCP and Kenney, splitting their vote for alternatives.”

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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Maskless teen student with asthma ostracized at Calgary Catholic school

“Kids in my class called me an ‘outsider’ which made me feel worse than I already felt,” said 14-year-old Darius.

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A Calgary Catholic school has segregated and since banned a student from attending school for not wearing a mask, says the student’s parents.

And before that, teachers had even taped off an area around the boy’s desk “like a crime scene.”

Darius Lynn, a Grade 9 student at St. Helena Junior High School in Calgary, suffers from asthma and was permitted to go maskless at his desk during the 2020-2021 school year.

When Darius returned to St. Helena for the 2021-2022 school year, without his parents’ knowledge, he was advised he would be required to wear a mask full time.

He complied for the first few months but eventually reported to his parents in late November he was struggling to breathe while wearing the mask.

“I had no idea he was told to wear a mask again this year,” Darius’ mother Stephanie told the Western Standard.

“My husband and I just assumed he wasn’t needing to wear a mask again this year.”

Stephanie said she and her husband Paul reached out to the new principal and Darius’ teachers to request they allow their son the same exemption as the previous year.

They were told he would need a doctor’s note, which Stephanie said they have been unable to acquire.

“Mask exemptions are impossible to get,” said Stephanie.

“Right now, doctors are just too scared to write them.”

Stephanie said the school’s solution was to, “move my son’s desk into the hallway.”

Darius also spoke with the Western Standard and said the teenagers in his class referred to him as an “outsider” after he was moved into the hallway.

“When they did group projects, they would just send me to the library and I had to work on my own,” said Darius.  

“Kids in my class called me an ‘outsider’ which made me feel worse than I already felt.”

Stephanie said she and her husband tried to appeal to the principal, but “she wouldn’t budge,” so they reached out to the superintendent.

“We begged for her to let Darius back into the classroom but he ended up sitting out there for two weeks where he was discriminated against and basically ridiculed so we contacted the superintendent,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said she emailed Chief Superintendent Bryan Szumlas with the Catholic School Board who helped the Lynns get their son moved back into his classroom.

“So, he was moved back into the classroom, which was good, but what we didn’t know was that his teachers taped off the floor around his desk like a crime scene,” said Stephanie.

“After they put tape on the floor around my desk, some of the kids in my class would step past the tape and pretend they couldn’t breathe,” said Darius, explaining the teasing he endured.

Darius said his teachers had witnessed some of the teasing, but said, “most of the time the teachers didn’t do anything about it.

“They (teachers) also made me wait a few minutes before I could move to my next class because there were basically a bunch of students in the halls.”

“It was just awful what they were doing to him. They were treating him like a walking disease and visibly segregating him,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said Darius had to stay within his taped boundaries for about a week until Christmas break.

“After the break, the principal notified us that Darius wouldn’t be welcome back if he wasn’t willing to wear a mask,” said Stephanie.

“In fact, one of the communications with the school referred to his asthma as his ‘apparent asthma’ like we were making it up or something.

“They said he could move to the online schooling system or do their D2L system from home,” said Stephanie referring to a web-based learning system offered throughout the school division.

“He doesn’t do well online so we are just trying to do the best we can. He’s in Grade 9, he should be able to be with his peers to finish off his last year in middle school.”

Darius said he has mixed feelings about not returning to school.

“I’m just really upset that I don’t get to see my friends anymore, but I also feel like I have less distractions at home,” said Darius.

Stephanie said it’s been a hard year for Darius as he also had to walk away from community hockey due to the vaccination mandates and additional costs associated with frequent rapid testing.

“He is totally destroyed,” said Stephanie.

The Lynns have two other sons — both attending Notre Dame High School — one in Grade 11 who is special needs and one in Grade 12.

“The real kicker for us is that we have a special needs son who has never worn a mask, doesn’t social distance and we have never been required to show a doctor’s note for him,” said Stephanie.

“They have totally humiliated my son and I’m angry. We just want our son to be treated with dignity and compassion. He has lost hockey because of the mandates and now he isn’t allowed to go to school.”

The family has since been referred to Area Director Deana Helton with regard to their son’s situation.

The Western Standard has contacted the school principal along with Helton but hasn’t heard back yet.

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

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Copping strikes EMS advisory committee amid system strains, red alerts

The Alberta Provincial EMS Advisory Committee will provide recommendations on a provincial EMS service plan by May.

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Health Minister Jason Copping has appointed MLAs R.J. Sigurdson (Highwood) and Tracy Allard (Grande Prairie) to co-chair a new EMS committee to address “unprecedented” demands on the healthcare system.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is also rolling out a 10-point plan to maximize EMS system capacity.

The government listed many aggravating factors driving the system strains including “EMS staffing fatigue and illness, hospital offload delays, more requests for patient transfers, delays in receiving new ambulances and specialized vehicle parts caused by global supply issues.”

The province has seen a plethora of “red alerts” reported by EMS members and tweeted by the Union of Health Care Professionals @HSAAlbertaEMS. A red alert is when there are no available ambulances for emergency calls.

The government also reported a 30% increase in 911 calls in recent months. There was no mention of personnel shortages caused by the government’s COVID-19 mandate.

“Alberta’s government has been supportive of EMS throughout the pandemic. As we approach the peak of Omicron cases, we know the EMS system is seeing significant strain, which impacts service. We recognize this is a challenge and are taking immediate steps to improve emergency care access while we explore longer-term solutions,” said Copping.

AHS will immediately hire more paramedics, transfer low-priority calls to other agencies, and stop automatic ambulance dispatch to motor vehicle accidents with no injuries. AHS is also “launching pilot projects to manage non-emergency inter-facility transfers, and initiating an ‘hours of work’ project to help ease staff fatigue.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of AHS is confident these actions “will allow us to better support our EMS staff and front-line paramedics, and in turn this will ensure our patients receive the best care possible.”

Additionally, AHS will issue a request for proposals in February to conduct a third-party review of Alberta’s provincewide EMS dispatch system.

“The objective review by external health system experts will provide further opportunities to address ongoing pressures, improve effectiveness and efficiency through best practices, and provide the best outcomes for Albertans who call 911 during a medical event,” the government said.

The Alberta Provincial EMS Advisory Committee will provide recommendations on a provincial EMS service plan by May. Committee representatives include “contracted ambulance operators, unions representing paramedics, municipal representatives and Indigenous community representatives.”

Sigurdson said the committee will consider taxpayers’ needs.

“Albertans expect that when they call 911 in their time of greatest need, EMS will always answer. The committee’s goal will be focused around ensuring and improving service to Albertans while supporting the most critical piece of that equation: our EMS staff across all of Alberta.”

Amber Gosselin is a Western Standard reporter.
agosselin@westernstandardonline.com

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WATCH: O’Toole will not be welcoming the truckers in Ottawa

“It’s not for the leader of the Opposition to attend a protest on the Hill or a convoy, it’s up to politicians to advocate for solutions, in a way that’s responsible and respectable to the health crisis we are in.”

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Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was asked six times during a Monday press conference about his stance on the truckers Freedom Convoy 2022, before giving a vague answer.

“We have been talking with the Canadian Trucking Alliance for several months,” said O’Toole told reports.

“We’ve seen a crisis in the supply chain coming for several months and we’ve proposed policies to try to help alleviate that. The most important of which is vaccines. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

O’Toole press conference

Other specific. questions on the truckers’ comments were left with vague answers.

But the end of the conference O’Toole said it’s not his place to get involved.

“It’s not for the leader of the Opposition to attend a protest on the Hill or a convoy — it’s up to politicians to advocate for solutions, in a way that’s responsible and respectable to the health crisis we are in,” O’Toole said.

“We’ve been trying to tackle the supply chain crisis, encourage vaccination, not ignore problems and divide the country like Mr. (Justin) Trudeau does.”

O’Toole said policies cannot be put in place which could contribute to supply chain issues, as Canadians are already worried about their grocery bills.

O’Toole said he was focused on the economic strain Canadians are having, with record inflation, cost of living, 30% higher gas prices and the housing market’s rising costs,.

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@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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No Media Bailouts

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