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Kenney backs Allard over Hawaii jaunt

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he will not fire his municipal affairs minister after she ignored health recommendations to holiday in sunny Hawaii.

Tracy Allard flew back into the country on Wednesday to a firestorm of protest over her actions when the rest of the province was in a full pandemic lockdown. She flew to Hawaii on Dec. 19.

Kenney said Allard made a “significant error in judgement” but noted she followed all the rules when it comes to international travel.

He said other MLAs and political staff had also travelled and followed all the rules.

The premier said he blames himself for not being clear with MLAs and senior staff that they should not travel abroad while the rest of Albertans remain in lockdown.

He said he has now made an clear order demanding those people stay in the province.

Kenney said he learned Tuesday Allard was in Hawaii and immediately ordered her back into the country.

“This is not good enough, we should be here at home,” Kenney said at a Friday press conference.

“There is now a clear order not to leave the country… unless it’s on government business.”

Kenney said Allard now realizes she was wrong and has admitted she made a mistake.

He said the chief government whip advised MLAs not to travel at the last caucus meeting and several cancelled previously scheduled holidays.

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt tweeted Kenney’s statement wouldn’t go down well.

“Kenney is essentially saying that ethics don’t matter, it is only if people broke the law,” Bratt tweeted.

Allard’s trip set of a firestorm of tweets.

NDP leader Rachel Notley tweeted: “For the record, and because so many of you have rightfully asked, all 24 NDP MLAs are here in Alberta and have been for the duration of the holidays. We take the public health orders seriously.”

Rakhi Pancholi, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud tweeted: “Leading by example is key to public trust. Minister Allard fundamentally broke that trust when she asked Albertans to do something she herself was unwilling to do. She is responsible for Alberta’s emergency management. She must resign.”

Tweet mocking kenney and allard

A similar faux paux cost Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips his job Thursday after he was caught dipping his toes in warm Caribbean seas while his province is in lockdown.

Quebec Liberal member Pierre Arcand is now being asked to return home amid mounting criticism over his decision to vacation in the Caribbean.

The federal, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario governments have all issued health restrictions which have included recommendations against non-essential travel.

CBC reported that they have confirmed with sources that the Grande Prairie MLA Allard – who was appointed to the senior cabinet position in August – was in Hawaii this month on a family vacation.

Allard’s press secretary, Justin Marshall, did not respond to repeated requests for clarification on whether she had been out of the country this month, CBC reported.

Marshall would only say the minister is now home in Grande Prairie, “mostly relaxing but with some work, too.”

Sources told the CBC that prior to the Christmas break, Premier Jason Kenney advised his caucus to remain in Alberta for the holidays. 

In Ontario, a furious Premier Doug Ford announced he had accepted Phillip’s resignation on Thursday morning, shortly after the MPP returned from a luxury holiday in St. Barts.

“Today, following my conversation with Rod Phillips, I have accepted his resignation as Ontario’s Minister of Finance,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a statement Thursday.

“At a time when the people of Ontario have sacrificed so much, today’s resignation is a demonstration that our government takes seriously our obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” he said.

Phillips and his wife had left Canada on December 13, following the end of the legislative session, and travelled to the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s.

Although Phillips didn’t violate any federal or provincial travel restrictions, he nonetheless apologized for making the trip.

“It was a significant error in judgment – a dumb, dumb mistake, I apologize for it, I regret it.”

In Alberta, Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshan made a joke out the political scandal by sending out a photo of himself on an ice-covered lake but geotagged it from being sent it St. Bart’s.

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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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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