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Hill pilots course for Western Maverick Party in 2021

As the calendar flips into a new year, Hill’s goal is to strengthen local organization in 49 separate riding associations in preparation to fight take on the Trudeau Liberals in the next election.

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For Jay Hill, 2020 was a whirlwind year. The interim leader of the Maverick Party hopes that when 2021 is winding down he can be just spending time with his grandchildren.

If that’s the case, the upstart Western independence party will already have seats in the House of Commons or be well-positioned to take on Justin Trudeau’s Liberals in any election.

The party was formed in June out of a fractured Wexit Canada movement. The party raised eyebrows when it rebranded itself as the Maverick Party. Many supporters and detractors alike snickered and at the name while others thought it was a stroke of brilliance.

As the calendar flips into a new year, Hill’s goal is to strengthen local organization in 49 separate riding associations in preparation to fight the Trudeau Liberals in the next election. Hill expects the Prime Minister to drop the writ in the spring.

“Being there at the start of the Reform Party, I have some idea about the amount of work that was involved. But this has certainly been quite the challenge,” Hill told the Western Standard in a year-end interview.

Hill said party growth has been slower than expected – hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions against holding public meetings.

“It is substantially easier to grow a party if you’re allowed to have meetings, lunches, rallies and leader’s dinners. But I’m very pleased with the traction we’ve been able to gain,” he said.

The party is now working feverishly to form Electoral District Associations – formerly known as riding associations. “Don’t ask me why they changed it,” he said, adding the party would like to launch some EDAs in the next two weeks.

After that, the goal is a virtual party convention “to put some flesh on the bones” of party policies. And then he intends to prepare for when the PM “crosses the street and visits the governor-general.

The party has identified 49 ridings to run candidates – where the Tory vote was so large, future right-leaning “vote-splitting” wouldn’t allow a third party like the Liberals to sneak up the middle for victory.

Background research is now being done on potential candidates and interviews being held in some cases.

Hill said the party has decided not to appoint any candidates until the vote is dropped.

“We want to be a grassroots-driven party. Some EDAs may be able to have their own candidates come forward. We don’t want to stop that by announcing candidates earlier,” said Hill.

“It’s a double-edge sword – if we were to announce a candidate now, someone else in the riding wouldn’t have had time to make themselves known.”

The former government house leader and cabinet minister under Prime Minister Stephen Harper said if Trudeau delays the election call they may be able to expand on the 49 ridings and right now “the NDP seems happy to keep things going.”

The pandemic is also wreaking having on any plans for the Maverick Party to try and hold a leadership convention, but Hill has made it clear he will not be running for the job and is “ready to step down whenever needed.”

“But right now we don’t have a strong enough vehicle. You can’t put the cart before the horse. So I will be involved for the foreseeable future,” he said.

“I’m optimistic we can create a greater fairness for Albertans in the future.”

Hill will enter 2021 as the pilot of the Maverick Party – with a retirement surrounded by grandchildren at the end of the flight.

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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Walk for Freedom plans Saturday Calgary march as counter-protesters also gear up

“We do not censor people unless they’re hateful, violent or aggressive – those types of people will never get on the stage,” said Carrigan.

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A Walk for Freedom in Calgary is set for Saturday as organizers of a counter-protest are urging their supporters to come to the rally wearing a disguise.

And local organizers of the walk say they are tired as being described as white supremacists.

“We respect what Premier Jason Kenney did because he didn’t go overboard, but we still say it’s too far and way too much,” said Brad Carrigan, an organizer with Walk For Freedom, referring to the premier’s statement after a rally in Edmonton last weekend.

Politicians and media are afraid that we’re supporting an anti-lockdown narrative they don’t like. They called us racist to discredit the rally and diminish our work to promote different stances on Alberta’s COVID-19 response,” he said.

“We’ve done about 20 of these rallies with large crowds, and each protest has been peaceful. We’ve always put on every poster that we are peaceful, nonviolent, and respect the police.”

“That’s our mantra – that’s the real story.”

Before Saturday’s protest in Edmonton, organizers thanked local police for being present to keep the peace between anti-lockdown protestors and anti-racism counter-protesters.

Except for one incident during the rally, Edmonton police said the protest and counter-protest were peaceful displays of free speech.

Carrigan made it clear as long as people didn’t push hateful nonsense on the stage and want to talk about the draconian measures, vaccines, etc., they were welcome to speak.

“We do not censor people unless they’re hateful, violent or aggressive – those types of people will never get on the stage,” he confirmed.

With ANTIFA attempting to instigate an altercation with anti-lockdown protestors in Edmonton, Carrigan said Calgary police would keep counter-protesters to the other side of the street to maintain the piece.

“Wherever ANTIFA goes, they burn down private and public property and assault police officers and protestors who don’t subscribe to their ideology,” said Carrigan.

“Their organization burns down businesses and rioted in Portland and Seattle, yet they call us hate-mongers.”

ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter affiliates are expected to be present at the Calgary rally on Saturday at the Olympic Plaza in protest of “white supremacy” and a litany of phobias.

According to a counter-protest poster, they intend to “come in peace, leave in peace” and have asked its members to turn their social media accounts private.

A social media post making the rounds urges counter-protesters not to come alone, carry water and make sure their phones are charged.

“Plan an escape route with your crew,” the advisory reads.

“Wear a mask to protect your identity.”

The protest is expected to begin at 12:30 p.m., with previous rallies garnering crowds in excess of 400 to 2,500 people.

Dhaliwal is a reporter based in Edmonton for the Western Standard

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Alberta doctors reach deal with province

Details of the pact – a year in the making – were not released

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The UCP and Alberta doctors have finally reached a deal that will fund provincial physicians.

Details of the pact – a year in the making – were not released.

The Alberta Medical Association will now take the tentative deal to its 11,000 members for ratification.

Shandro said doctors have made “truly extraordinary efforts” to help get Albertans through the COVID-19 pandemic, noting they had made “great personal sacrifices.”

He said the negotiations aimed at getting three solutions for Albertans; patient care, equity for doctors and fiscal stability.

He said the deal is “accountable to taxpayers.

“Our fiscal goals can be reached,” said Shandro, adding the deal would provide “stability.

“Negotiations on a provincial agreement for physicians have continued despite the pandemic, with both the government and AMA recommitting to work together. Both parties came to the table understanding the importance of collaboration, while respecting our differences, so we could achieve an agreement during these challenging times,” said Shandro.

AMA President Dr. Paul Boucher said the new deal “puts us in position to get through COVID-19.”

Dr. Paul Boucher

He said the negotiations for the deal had “reestablished” relationships with the province.

The AMA will now hold a virtual conference with 148 representatives of the medical profession across the province.

That is expected to take three weeks.

“For many years, AMA agreements have been powerful tools toward improving quality care that brings high value to the system and to patients,” said Boucher.

“They are not just about funding for physicians. They have addressed needs such as new models for delivering care, building the Medical Home in Alberta, strategies to improve quality of care for patients and more. This tentative agreement package has potential to continue that legacy.”

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

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Ontario COVID lockdown not curbing caseloads, but punishing businesses, say MPPs

Almost 80 per cent of all COVID-related deaths are in group-living settings.

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Ontario COVID-19 cases have remained steady even though the province has been in lockdown since Christmas.

Opponents of the shutdownsay it has done nothing but hampered freedom and cost taxpayer dollars.

“Most of the province has been in lockdown since Thanksgiving, but cases, cases, cases – the only thing that seems to matter, continue to climb,” said Independent Ontario MPP Roman Baber in a passionate member statement.

Baber noted Ontario’s COVID-19 case count has risen, despite province-wide lockdowns under the mandate of Bill 195, which gave the province emergency powers for the next year to tackle COVID-19.

Alongside Baber, New Blue Party MPP Belinda Karahalios – also booted from the Ontario PCs for objecting to Bill 195 – called out its “draconian lockdown measures” because it disproportionately impacted small and medium-sized businesses who “suffer considerably.”

Karahalios has openly criticized the lack of scientific data on COVID-19 transmission by businesses, including, but not limited to, fitness centres, restaurants, and retail stores.

On Christmas Day, the day before the stay-at-home order, there were 167,000 total COVID-19 cases, increasing to 295,000 cases two months later.

Baber said: “In the two months since the stay-at-home order, we have almost as many COVID-19 cases as we did in the entire nine months prior. With all these cases, you would think that the dire predictions of the COVID-19 models would wreak havoc on all of us – no, it has not.”

With ICU occupancy flatlining, Baber criticized the hyperbolic modelling of projects that exceed the reality on the ground by “three to five times.”

Despite the lockdown, seniors – the most vulnerable demographic – continue to perish in care homes.

Baber said the government’s inability to institute infection protocol and control and fix staffing shortages or vet agency staff.

“Almost 80 per cent of all [COVID-related] deaths are in group-living settings. That’s a tragedy we must admit, and a medical reality the government is trying to spin,” Baber said.

“It’s not about how many cases of COVID-19 but who gets COVID-19. Locking all of us down doesn’t do anything. The government keeps blaming community spread on what is happening in group homes to distract from its own failure.

“All it takes is one worker – one agency worker – to go from one home to another to bring COVID-19. The problem is not healthy people – it is the government that cannot fix long-term care, that blames us and locks us down instead.”

Dhaliwal is a Western Standard reporter based in Edmonton

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