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Buffalo Party goes into its first Saskatchewan election

The new party will get its first baptism of fire on October 26th.

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Saskatchewan will head to the polls before on October 26, giving the province’s new Buffalo Party its first chance to test itself with the electorate, while Premier Scott Moe seeks to extend the Saskatchewan Party’s 13-year reign.

This will be Moe’s first time leading his party into an election, having gained the leadership in 2018 following Brad Wall’s retirement.

The sovereigntist Wexit Saskatchewan registered as an official political party in March but later rebranded itself as the Buffalo Party

Interim leader Wade Sira says that he wants a strong West. 

“I’m more on the independence side. I’ve always been very [pro] independence for Western Canada whether it was in Canada or out of Canada, but we do need a stronger voice and stronger say in what’s going on in this country. We’re kind of left as a colony of Eastern Canada. I’ve never liked that ever since I was in high school,” Sira told the Western Standard.

Although the second term of a Trudeau government is a fertile time for sovereigntists like the Buffalo Party to gain ground, a pandemic is not. Covid-19 restrictions have lowered legal attendance to 30 venues in some places. The economic setback from the lockdown makes it a difficult time to fundraise.

“It’d be nice to . . . have more funds because we’re taking on the juggernaut of the Sask Party. The NDP don’t have a lot, and any other party out there is in the same position we are–that some of our fundraising is going to be back to our own account for making sure we can at least get some advertising,” Sira says.

Sira says the party is picking up support, especially from disaffected Saskatchewan Party supporters.

“We always known there was no one who was going to be able to replace Brad Wall. That was just a given; but the fact [is] that he [Moe] hasn’t done much in the last two years except close down our power plants and helped to close down our oil fields. He keeps sending off letters down to Ottawa saying that he wants pipelines built or he’s not happy with the gun laws, but there’s not a lot of action coming out of him,” Sira says.

The NDP chose Saskatoon doctor Ryan Meili as their new leader in 2018. Sira says the NDP’s embrace of “identity politics” has not sat well with some old NDP voters.

“More people in Saskatchewan are traditional people, whether they are the NDP or whether they are right of the spectrum or left of the spectrum. And a lot more people believe that all people matter. Yeah, some people have been treated worse than others throughout history but we need to move past this,” Sira says.

Sira believes the Buffalo Party could snag six of Saskatchewan’s 61 seats. He expects just 12 to 16 candidates will fly his party’s banner in October, though at present only five have been confirmed.  Sira will run in Martensville-Warman just north of Saskatoon and former PPC candidate Phil Zajac will run in Estevan, where many are upset at the federal move to shut down coal-fired power plants.

“Carbon capture is there and it’s proven and it’s working. Estevan, they feel they’ve been let down by the province and let down by the feds, because they’ve got both industries down there, oil and gas and coal,” says Sira.

“I drive truck right now so I drive all over Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan…There’s a lot of people unhappy. You know as well as I do, can you turn that frustration into actual votes?”

University of Saskatchewan political science professor Joseph Garcea believes a Sask Party majority is a “foregone conclusion.” Garcea says the NDP lack an overarching vision to counter Sask Party attack ads aimed at Meili and the legacy of the Romanow-Calvert era. Garcea says a few seats in Regina or Saskatoon could be at play, but little else will change.

An EKOS poll released August 31 showed the Sask Party enjoyed 60 per cent popular support, compared to 28 percent for the NDP, and 12 percent for other parties. The SP/NDP spread was 12 and 13 points in Regina and Saskatoon respectively, and just 9 points among university grads in the province. The poll did not ask respondents about potentially voting for the Buffalo Party.

On the Buffalo Party, Garcea says, “They will get some votes, but I think it’ll be more along the lines of what the Green Party gets, where the Green Party gets a particular type of individual that believes primarily in one thing…They’re against the federal state but they’re also against the provincial state. And they’re going to get these really, if I may say so, angry and sense of marginalized, anti-statist [voters]. They will gravitate to that party, but I do not think that there are many constituencies where it is likely to garner enough support to come in second.”

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Affairs Columnist for the Western Standard

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Vulnerable Albertans 18+ can receive fourth COVID booster

Eligible individuals can begin booking fourth dose appointments beginning January 20 with AHS or at participating pharmacies by using the Alberta vaccine booking system or by calling 811.

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Those 18 and older who have specific immunocompromising conditions can now book their fourth booster five months after receiving their third dose, said Alberta Health.

The decision announced on Tuesday in the provincial COVID-19 address is in line with recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization (AACI).

“We remain committed to protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant, and vaccinations continue to be our best tool in preventing severe outcomes,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a statement.

“We continue to rely on the latest research to guide our decision-making, and with evidence showing immunocompromised individuals benefit from a fourth dose, we are pleased to provide them.”

Eligible individuals can begin booking fourth dose appointments beginning January 20 with AHS or at participating pharmacies by using the Alberta vaccine booking system or by calling 811.

“I know that the approximately 80,000 Albertans who live with immunocompromising conditions will be relieved to receive these additional doses,” said Minister of Health Jason Copping.

“At the same time, the best way for all of us to protect ourselves and one another is to continue getting whatever dose we are eligible for. I encourage all Albertans to continue to sign up for their booster doses as soon as they can.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the fourth COVID-19 dose will help “individuals with certain immunocompromising conditions” and will provide “additional protection” against the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Qualifying conditions include:

  • Transplant recipients, including solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants.
  • Individuals with malignant hematologic disorders and non-hematologic malignant solid tumors prior to receiving or receiving active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy or having received previous COVID-19 vaccines while on active treatment), excluding individuals receiving solely hormonal therapy, radiation therapy or a surgical intervention.
  • Individuals being treated with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody such as Rituximab.
  • Individuals with chronic kidney disease on dialysis.
  • Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy.
  • Individuals with moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
  • Individuals with Stage 3 or advanced HIV infection and those with acquired COVID-19 immunization.
  • Individuals undergoing immunosuppressive therapies (e.g., anti-B cell therapies, high-dose systemic corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumornecrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents).
  • Individuals on certain medications for autoimmune diseases, including rituximab, ocrelizumab and ofatumumab.

“Youth ages 12 to 17 with the preceding conditions continue to be eligible for third doses. Fourth doses have not yet been approved for this age group,” said the release adding, “third doses have not been approved for youth under the age of 18.”

Hinshaw said the province has recorded 3279 new cases within the last 24 hours while 8995 tests were recorded for a positivity rate of 39%. Hinshaw has earlier stated actual cases are likely 10 times higher due to lack of testing.

Hinshaw also confirmed 1,089 are currently in hospital — 51% of those hospitalized are due to COVID-19 while 49% are cases with COVID-19. Currently, there are 104 people in ICU — 74% due to COVID-19 while 26% are cases with COVID-19. Nine deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.

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

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AHS uses undercover agents to bust restaurant for accepting dog photos instead of QR codes

The test shoppers entered the restaurant at different times on January 11 and were permitted access after showing a photo of a dog and their personal identification.

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Alberta Health Services (AHS) has shut down a Red Deer restaurant for allowing patrons to show dog photos in place of proof of vaccination.

The Granary was ordered closed to indoor dining on Friday after complaints to an AHS executive officer resulted in two test shoppers busting staff for accepting photographs of a dog instead of scanning vaccine passport QR codes.

The test shoppers entered the restaurant at different times on January 11 and were permitted access after showing a photo of a dog and their personal identification. It was reported a staffer pretended to scan QR codes with a tablet.

The owners have been told the indoor dining area is to remain closed until they produce a written plan on how they plan to implement the restriction exemption program moving forward.

The owners will also have to provide confirmation they have trained staff about the program and will be required to attend an administrative hearing with Environmental Public Health.

The restaurant took to its Facebook page on Friday to explain the circumstances to its patrons and offered up free coffee for all to-go orders throughout the weekend.

“To our valued guests, we had an unfortunate circumstance at our front door which involved one of our underage hostesses, and the requirements for the REP program.  We are taking the weekend to retrain and regroup,” it said.

“We look forward to serving you again as soon as we are ready to reopen.  In closing, we would like to remind everyone of the tremendous pressure being placed on front staff, and please remember to be kind.”

The restaurant has since opened again and is currently offering free rapid testing on site.

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

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MLA Barnes demands greater punishment for corrupt politicians

“This suspension is a staggering under reaction designed to shield one of the Premier’s cronies,” said Barnes.

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Independent Alberta MLA Drew Barnes is outraged that Justice Minister Kaycee Madu was only being suspended after he called Edmonton’s police chief about a ticket he received.

That action led to Madu being suspended Monday night by Alberta Primer Jason Kenney.

“This suspension is a staggering under reaction designed to shield one of the Premier’s cronies,” said Barnes, the MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat.

“It is inexcusable that any minister’s first instinct upon receiving such a ticket is to swing influence in an attempt to get his ticket fixed. It’s just another indicator that the culture of Redford-era cronyism remains alive and well within Premier’ Kenney’s inner circle.”

After being fined $300 for speeding in an Edmonton playground zone, Madu phoned Dale McFee, the city’s chief of police, to discuss the ticket with him. 

“It is particularly galling that this minister is currently overseeing changes that will deny procedural fairness for thousands of Albertans when they face similar traffic fines,” said Barnes.

This follows the removal of traffic courts in Alberta, the previously most accessible part of the justice system now no longer available to citizens.

“Under this minister, you are considered guilty until proven innocent, unless, of course, you happen to have the local police chief on speed-dial,” said Barnes.

“It seems the minister, like the Premier, considers himself above the law. Albertans deserve better. The real question is, why hasn’t he been fired yet?”

“Over the past year, Premier Kenney has repeatedly punished both ministers and MLAs for daring to question his leadership, but when a real case of misuse of power comes along concerning one of his handpicked cronies, the fix is in. That’s not justice; that’s cronyism.”

McFee said he received the call about the ticket from Madu, saying Madu brought up the issue of racial profiling by police to stop drivers.

“This is the Minister who continues to encourage legal action against pastors and small business owners for allegedly violating the very same health restrictions that the Premier and his cronies violated on the Sky Palace patio,” said Barnes.

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

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