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UCP vote to kill debate on independence

The UCP was successful in getting the motion moved to the bottom of the order paper, meaning a vote won’t be held on it.

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Alberta’s UCP used their majority to successfully block an attempt by the NDP to force debate in the Legislature on motion calling on MLAs to denounce the independence movement in Alberta.

In an unprecedented step, the government effectively shut down “private members business” by moving the motion to the bottom of the order paper, meaning no debate or vote will likely ever been had on it. Political watchers say the move is highly unusual.

Monday afternoons are the only time set aside for private members business in Alberta, and are generally respected as bring outside of the government’s control by convention.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley tweeted: “Jason Kenney and the UCP refuse to take a stand for a united Canada in the legislature. What an embarrassment for this Government as it continues to fan the flames of separatism.”

The motion said it is in Alberta’s best interest to stay within Canada.

During question period, Premier Jason Kenney said that the motion was insulting to Albertans who are backing independence, and that the motion was the wrong way of creating unity.

The motion’s author Rod Loyola, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Ellerslie, questioned Kenney over the motion during question period trying to get him to commit his caucus to denounce Alberta soveriegnty.

Loyola said independence talk was hurting Alberta’s economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

But Kenny lashed back saying it does no good to call independence-seekers “deplorables” and called the motion the “cynicism of Alberta NDP politics.

“It’s all about political, divisive theatre,” Kenney said.

And Kenney said he will be introducing a motion saying Alberta would “celebrate the strength of unity as we fight for a better deal.”

The Tory’s allowed only a single speaker in the legislature to their alternative motion, before adjourning debate without a vote.

The NDP motion read: “Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly affirm that it is unquestionably in Alberta’s interest to remain part of the Canadian federation and unequivocally denounce calls for Alberta to become a state that is independent of a strong and united Canada.”

While Kenney has repeatedly said he’s a Canadian patriot, others, including some within his own UCP caucus, say independence needs to be on the table if there is any chance of getting a fair deal from Ottawa.

UCP MLA for Cardston-Siksika Joesph Schow said that he was against the motion, as “it upends the true nature of the relationship MLAs have with their constituents.”

He said the wording of the program was “unfair” to his voters.

“Calls for greater independence are real in this province,” he said, calling the motion “disrespectful” to those who seek changes in Confederation.

Schow called for the motion to be moved to the bottom of the order paper which was approved.

Drew Barnes, UCP MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat who wrote a dissenting Fair Deal panel report saying independence needs to be on the table, said the NDP motion came as no surprise.

“The NDP has been unwilling to stand up for Alberta families – this is no surprise at all,” Barnes said in an interview with theWestern Standard.

“It’s clear the actions of the feds and Ottawa have limited opportunity and hope in Alberta. We need opportunities to work hard.

“Ottawa and the Laurentian elite have to realize there has to be consequences. I look forward to having a discussion about this with Albertans in the coming days.”

In June, Alberta’s Fair Deal panel is recommended numerous changes the province can make quickly in order to get a better deal in Confederation – but there was no talk of long-term Constitutional change nor any mention of independence.

The report said Alberta should take immediate steps to create a provincial pension plan, set up its own police force and appoint a chief firearms officer.

In terms of the controversial issue of Fiscal Stabilization, the Fair Deal panel said Alberta should “press strenuously for the removal of the current constraints on the Fiscal Stabilization Program, which prevent Albertans from receiving a $2.4 billion equalization rebate.”

Other suggestions on what Alberta should do immediately is to secure a seat at the table when the federal government negotiates and implements international agreements and treaties affecting Alberta’s interests, opt out of new federal cost-shared programs, subject to Alberta receiving full compensation and continue to diversify Alberta’s economy in the energy sector and beyond.

Barnes wrote his own report to Kenney urging a much stronger stance against Ottawa for the province to get a fairer deal in Confederation, adding that the issue of Alberta independence needs to be on the table.

…This story will be updated as the debate goes on

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: 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

News

UCP MLAs: ‘Let unvaxxed post-secondary students get back to class’

“With no evidence to show that it has made their campuses any safer, colleges and universities are denying unvaccinated Albertans the opportunity to receive a higher education,” said the letter.

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A letter questioning Alberta post-secondary institutions on policy banning unvaccinated students’ from campuses while unvaxxed healthcare workers are now permitted to rapid test has been sent to campuses across Alberta by two UCP MLAs.

MLA for Cardston-Siksika and Deputy Government House Leader Joseph Schow and Peace River MLA Dan Williams signed the letter dated Thursday addressed to eight post-secondary presidents including the universities of Lethbridge, Alberta, Calgary, Mount Royal, MacEwan, SAIT and NAIT and Bow Valley College.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, along with the Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides and the Minister of Health Jason Copping were each cc’d in the letter.

The letter outlines the change to COVID-19 measures adopted by many Alberta post-secondary institutions in September requiring all students and staff to be fully vaccinated to attend in-person and online learning.

Letter from UCP MLAs to Alberta post-secondary institutions – pg 1

“Although these post-secondary institutions have based their protocols on direction from the Government of Alberta, they have chosen to exclude the option of providing a negative PCR or rapid test,” said the letter.

“There is little to no evidence showing that universities and colleges benefit from limiting in-person learning to those who are vaccinated.”

The letter claims institutions have failed to demonstrate how students on campuses banning the unvaccinated are any safer from COVID-19 than students on campuses allowing for rapid testing instead of proof of vaccination.

“With no evidence to show that it has made their campuses any safer, colleges and universities are denying unvaccinated Albertans the opportunity to receive a higher education,” said the letter.

“Many students opportunities vanish for making a personal health choice.”

Letter from UCP MLAs to Alberta post-secondary institutions – pg 2

The letter references Albert Health Services’ recent update to its mandatory vaccination policy in December allowing unvaccinated healthcare workers the option to rapid test and return to work.

“With that in mind, we have a simple question,” said the letter.

“What makes so many university campuses in Alberta more risk-averse than a hospital or other healthcare facility?

“If Alberta healthcare workers, who are likely exposed to COVID-19 daily are permitted to rapid test, why are post-secondary students being denied the same opportunity? These students are being held to a higher standard, a standard that will unfairly deprive many young Albertans of their future.”

The letter describes Alberta’s position to “lead the country in economic growth” moving forward and suggests a “highly skilled and educated workforce” will be needed.

Both Schow and Williams request all Alberta post-secondary institutions remove their “backward-thinking COVID-19 vaccine mandates” and “allow all students the option to rapid test so they can return to school, complete their education and help build a strong Alberta.”

The Western Standard did not hear back from either MLA for comment before publishing.

Although the Alberta government has not made vaccinations mandatory for any post-secondary institutions, many have adopted the policy on their own resulting in thousands of unvaccinated students not being permitted to access in-person or remote learning.

The University of Alberta, University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge earlier this month extended online learning until after the February reading break.

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

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News

Trucker freedom convoy GoFundMe raises over $1M

“It’s our duty as Canadians to put an end to this mandates. It is imperative that this happens because if we don’t our country will no longer be the country we have come to love.”

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Canadians are responding enmasse to help the country’s truckers.

A GoFundMe to help the truckers surpassed the $1 million mark on Friday afternoon, after only being established six days ago.

Money donated is to be dispersed among truckers to aid with journey costs.

Truckers and supporters alike have gathered in a cross-country convoy drive in protest of mandatory vaccinations for their industry.

Donations go towards the cost of fuel, then food and lodgings along the journey.

Our current government is implementing rules and mandates that are destroying the foundation of our businesses, industries and livelihoods,” the donation page says.

“It’s our duty as Canadians to put an end to this mandates. It is imperative that this happens because if we don’t our country will no longer be the country we have come to love. We are doing this for our future Generations and to regain our lives back.”

Truckers Freedom Convoy 2022 has 3 main routes departing from Vancouver, BC, Sarnia, ON, and Enfield, NS, all meeting in Ottawa on January 29, 2022.

Smaller chains will drive to meet with the main convoy from more rural locations across Canada.

You can find all the routes of the convoy here.

“We are a peaceful country that has helped protect nations across the globe from Tyrannical governments who oppressed their people, well now its happening to us. We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our Federal Government and demanding that they cease all mandates against its people. Small businesses are being destroyed, homes are being destroyed, and people are being mistreated and denied fundamental necessities to survive,” the group says.

The GoFundMe page has a goal of $1,100,000.

“But it’s a small price to pay for our freedoms. We thank you all for your Donations and know that you are helping reshape this once beautiful country back to the way it was,” says the page.

Truckers were previously deemed “essential,” however the federal government green-lit the loss of 12,000-16,000 (10-15%) of cross-border commercial drivers by making vaccinations mandatory, as anticipated by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA).

“This number may not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but in cross-border areas such as Vancouver or Windsor, there’s a lot of drivers who will cross the border five or six times a day. That’s a lot of loads in a year that no longer have a way of coming up,” Colin Valentim told the Western Standard.

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

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Energy

IEA recognizes Canadian oil industry as the environmental world leader

In 2018, oil and gas companies also invested $3.6 billion in environmental protection initiatives, recognized by the IEA as by far the largest environmental protection spend of any industry in the country.  

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Canada is doing great but should take measures to continue its reputation as a preferred oil and gas supplier on the global market, says the International Energy Agency.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol is a big advocate for net zero targets, but still recognizes the reliance on oil and gas that will persist into the future.

He said he prefers oil supply to come from “good partners” like Canada, he told a press conference.

“Canada has been a cornerstone of global energy markets, a reliable partner for years,” said Birol.

“We will still need oil and gas for years to come… I prefer oil is produced by countries … like Canada (that) want to reduce the emissions of oil and gas.” 

The same IEA report included recommendations for Canada to incentivise moves away from oil production, yet the director still recognizes Canada’s contribution to the global market.

World oil consumption returned to pre-pandemic levels and natural gas demand surpassed levels pre-COVID-19 last year, according to IEA data.

Yet Canada only supplies 6% of the current world market.

Consumption of both oil and gas is expected to continue rising even as more renewable energy sources come online. 

A Russian-caused natural gas crisis in Europe has many looking to Canada as a great alternative.

“The world needs reliable partners,” said Birol, of the European situation.  

Canada is the fourth-largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world and home to the third-largest oil reserves.

“This creates employment for Canadians and secure and reliable oil and gas for both domestic and global markets,” the IEA said.  

The IEA recommends that remaining competitive in global oil and gas markets requires further emission reductions, to ensure the sector remains a major driver of the Canadian economy beyond 2050.

Emission reduction has already been steadily implemented in Canada, analysts praised the oil and gas industry’s “strong track record” of reducing emissions intensity.

The oilsands by have decreased emissions by 32% since 1990 and further reductions of up to 27% are expected by 2030. 

Canadian oil and gas companies spend an average of $1 billion per year on clean energy technology, in addition to billions in environmental protection.  

In 2018, oil and gas companies also invested $3.6 billion in environmental protection initiatives, recognized by the IEA as the largest environmental protection spend of any industry in the country.  

“Canadian oil and natural gas producers are leveraging their improving environmental, social and governance performance and Canada’s stringent environmental regulations to build a global competitive advantage.”

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

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