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McAllister: UCP wants rural investment, but continues to shackle rural municipalities

But those who know how economies actually grow have been waiting on Premier Kenney to finally take action and let Alberta’s rural economic engine grow as only it knows how.

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When the issue of the Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board made it to the floor of the Alberta Legislature, onlookers were hoping for the kind of red-tape reduction they had been promised.

For so long rural Alberta has been waiting for political bottlenecks to open up. It seemed that the Premier was on side too having just called on rural municipalities to improve municipal approvals and cut red tape to attract business investment. Surely this would mean an imminent end to this behemoth board, a poster-child of former NDP Premier Rachel Notley’s central planning, government-first, programme.

The Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board thinks the economy is best planned by government theorists. But those who know how economies actually grow have been waiting on Premier Kenney to finally take action and let Alberta’s rural economic engine grow as only it knows how. There was great hope that Kaycee Madu would have the required courage and wisdom to realize that Albertans know what they are doing. Madu had only to cut the CMRB from the public purse and we all would have been rewarded with fresh investment and innovation. Sadly, he did not.

Enter the new Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard. A fresh hope for real employers was finally on the horizon. But sadly it seems Municipal Affairs Ministers in Alberta cannot see over the heads of the big-government gate-keepers that have throttled the economy in Alberta for too long.

But this was going to be different. The CMRB was finally on the floor of the Alberta Legislature and hopes were high for the long lost Alberta Advantage to blow back through like a fresh breeze over a big-government-choked economy. The government knows investment is being siphoned off rural Alberta. In question period, MLA Angela Pitt acknowledged, and rightly, that a three billion dollar investment has fled the region because of the toxic governance in the region, saying, “the backers of a $3 billion local infrastructure project off highway 8, have raised concerns over the city of Calgary blocking Rocky View county from approving the project” But instead of defending business and agreeing that the problem needs decisive action, Minister Allard offered some pensive observations that did nothing to clear the air, suggesting that, “healthy tension can be channelled to push each other to greater solutions.” What does this even mean? A loss of a three billion dollar project is not healthy tension, it is a failure and that failure was painfully on display.

This was not an exchange to clear the air, it was a status-quo white flag. It was an easy question and a trite answer that made only one thing clear: the government knows the CMRB is a problem, they know rural Alberta is under this unnecessary government thumb, but they are settled to leave things unchanged. Premier Kenney calls for rural investment, but leaves the political shackles firmly on Alberta land-owners in favour of the big-government central planning theorists at Calgary city hall.

The divide is massive and needs more than just “setting aside differences,” as Minister Allard would have us respond. On one side you’ve got Calgary’s bureaucratic brain trust along with Mayor Nenshi and Councilor Gian Carlo Carra. They think regional planning means Calgary City Hall decides what goes where and actively works to prevent rural development near their city, all while preparing to annex it and develop it for themselves. This limits competition and it is chasing investment away. On the other side rural municipalities who have been buried by new tax adjustments and political red tape are looking to make their counties work. Wanting to give big oil and gas companies a break, the province has downloaded costs to municipalities. Now they’re allowing Calgary City Hall to sterilize their lands and limit their opportunities to attract investment. It is a mess and it all points back to the CMRB and a government who cannot remove it.

The Minister used the expression, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is insulting. It insinuates that the years of careful planning done by rural communities are not valid, that only Calgary city planners know best. In their view, only this big behemoth board can manage growth. It is a manufactured solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Government is famous for stepping out of their lane to meddle. We expected If from the NDP, but from Premier Kenney and the UCP? Somebody is giving them bad advice. I suspect it’s the pressure from the urbans, using all the right language to justify the great need for such a planning board. The reality is you could knock on 1,000 doors in any of these urban municipalities and you’ll be hard pressed to find anybody who even knows what the CMRB is. But knock on the doors in rural Alberta, and they’ll know. Because it’s about property rights, personal freedoms, and fiscal responsibility; issues that have always been at the core of Alberta’s prosperity.

If Premier Kenney thinks rural Alberta should be open to investment, he’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in rural Alberta who disagrees. But we wonder if people in his own government could say the same. They appear to be choosing politics over principle. That never ends well in Alberta.

Bruce McAllister is a columnist for the Western Standard, Executive Director Rocky View 2020 & is the former Wildrose and PC MLA for Chestermere-Rockyview

Bruce McAllister is a columnist for the Western Standard, Executive Director Rocky View 2020 & is the former Wildrose and PC MLA for Chestermere-Rockyview

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Federal bureaucrats very pleased with themselves at start of pandemic

In self-congratulatory internal emails, the department said it was “very proud” of doing a great job on pandemic management, “a great story for us.”

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“We’re good! We’re very very good!”

At least that’s what the staff at the federal Public Works department felt about themselves as COVID-19 deaths in Canada were approaching 9,000, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

In self-congratulatory internal emails, the department said it was “very proud” of doing a great job on pandemic management, “a great story for us.”

“I know how difficult it has been,” wrote James Fitz-Morris, director of communications.

Fitz-Morris told staff “we should be very proud of what we put out.

“It’s a really great page that tells a great story for us,” he said July 31 as COVID deaths that day numbered 8,961.

The economy at the time had shrunk 11 percent, and unemployed totaled 2,182,600 Canadians.

A handout for reporters said: “The Government of Canada is dedicating approximately $6 billion to buying personal protective equipment, medical equipment and supplies to keep Canadians safe.”

Staff in a May 29 email exchange cautioned scriptwriters not to refer to “our government” in statements to the public. “You can say ‘our government’ but we can’t!” wrote Elizabeth Lindsay, director general of communications.

“We’re everybody’s government!” replied Fitz-Morris. “You sure are!!!!” replied Lindsay.

Cabinet in the first weeks of the pandemic heaped praise on federal managers for their pandemic response. At one press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland described public health officers as national celebrities.

“I have observed as a former journalist that chief public health officers across the whole country have become this generation’s rock stars,” Freeland said April 14.

“Thanks to public servants who have been working around the clock,” Prosperity Minister Mona Fortier told the Commons finance committee May 28.

“Our amazing world class civil servants, they are doing an amazing job,” Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen told the Commons June 17.

“Many public servants are working hard to develop and deliver support to Canadians,” Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos testified at a May 8 hearing of the Commons government operations committee.

“Federal employees are continuing to be productive in their efforts to provide Canadians with the government services they depend on every day, and to provide critical services and the many new measures quickly developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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O’Toole hires former Huawei executive

O’Toole has already said if elected prime minister there is no way he would allow the Chinese-backed Huawei onto’s Canada’s 5G networks.

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Tory party leader Erin O’Toole has hired a former top executive of the controversial Chinese firm Huawei.

O’Toole brought on board Jake Enwright, who was Huawei Canada Vice President & Director of Corporate Affairs. He will handle research and issues management for the Conservatives.

O’Toole has already said if elected prime minister there is no way he would allow the Chinese-backed Huawei onto’s Canada’s 5G networks.

Enwright worked for former Tory leader Andrew Scheer, leaving his office in 2018.

Many countries around the world have banned Huawei claiming it would allow the Chinese to use the 5G system to spy on their countries.

Canada and its Five Eyes allies — the U.K., New Zealand and Australia — are under pressure from fellow member, the U.S., to ban Huawei on security grounds.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still hasn’t made a decision on whether to allow it in Canada.

“Unlike Justin Trudeau, I don’t take entities of the Chinese regime at their word. If I’m PM Huawei will be banned from 5G,” tweeted Tory leader O’Toole on September 17.

It cames on the day, the Globe and Mail reported Huawei had communicated to Ottawa that it promised not to spy on Canada.

“Huawei Canada has put together a legal agreement between the company and the federal government that outlines a ‘no back-door, no-spying’ pledge,” the Globe reported from their sources.

Ottawa has spent almost two years studying whether to allow Huawei into 5G networks.

Bell Canada and Telus Corp have announced they will not partner with Huawei in their 5G network and instead go with Ericsson and Nokia.

Both companies use Huawei in their 4G networks.

Canada arrested Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on on December 1, 2018, following an extradition request from U.S. officials who alleged she violated sanctions on doing business with Iran.

Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were detained in China days later and were later charged with espionage.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Hamilton police drop COVID mask caper

Police said they have no leads and no suspects, in the theft of the masks that had just been flown in from China by the Department of Public Works.

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Hamilton police have dropped the case into the theft of millions of COVID-19 masks from the hamilton airport, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Police said they have no leads and no suspects, in the theft of the masks that had just been flown in from China by the Department of Public Works.

“A report on their investigation was completed in October which found there were no additional investigative leads to pursue,” said Stéfanie Hamel, spokesperson for the department.

“The products were not recovered.”

Two million surgical masks, part of a shipment of 34 tonnes of pandemic supplies, were pilfered from a CargoJet warehouse at Hamilton last July. The department concealed the robbery at the time.

Hamel said the masks were “stolen between Saturday, July 4 and Monday, July 6” when the heist was reported to police. Authorities did not estimate the value of the loss but charter aircraft costs alone ranged from $500,000 to $800,000.

Hamilton’s airport authority Thursday said it only learned of the robbery when alerted by Blacklock’s.

“We comply with aviation regulations to ensure the airfield is safe and secure,” managers at John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport said in a statement.

“Services related to the storage or movement of goods by ground transportation from the airport are controlled by the respective cargo carriers.”

The robbery was disclosed in an internal Department of Public Works email.

Staff said they only learned of the heist when a shipment by Purolator truck from Hamilton to a federal warehouse in Vaudreuil, Que. failed to appear.

“A shipment of approximately two million surgical masks was picked up at the CargoJet warehouse,” wrote staff. “Canada has been advised by Purolator that the masks were not picked up by one of their subcontractors as scheduled.”

The robbery occurred after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Hamilton airport publicly announced the shipment.

CargoJet has declined comment on the robbery. Purolator also refused to respond to questions.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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