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UPDATED: Kenney easing COVID lockdown rules

Kenney will announce restaurants can reopen with in-person dining and gyms can reopen with limited capacity

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The end is in sight.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has announced an easing of lockdown regulations that the province has been in for six weeks.

Kenney said restaurants can reopen next February 8, with in-person dining and gyms can reopen with limited capacity the same day.

Restaurants and pubs will be limited to tables of a maximum of six. Everyone at the table must be from the same household. Liquor service must end at 10 p.m. and dining must close by 11 p.m. Live music and VLTs remain banned.

Strong social distancing requirements must be in place, he said.

The week delay is in place to make sure restaurants can get food in and prepared physically again to deal with customers.

Alberta’s seven-day average for new daily COVID-19 cases currently sits at 480, down from 1,794 at the beginning of December.

“Everyone has made incredibly tough decisions and made real sacrifices and for that I thank you,” said Kenney.

“We’re not yet at a point we can fully ease restrictions. In trying to strike the balance it’s important to show Albertans there is a path forward.”

“If there is a surge again…we will have to impose sanctions again,” he said.

Kenney said any further easing of sanctions will be based mainly on the number of hospitalizations. The Step 1 listed below will go into effect February 8.

A move into the next step will only be considered after three weeks have passed.

Step 1:  Hospitalization benchmark – 600

  • Potential easing of some restrictions related to:
    • Indoor and outdoor children’s sport and performance (school-related only)
    • Indoor personal fitness, one-on-one and by appointment only
    • Restaurants, cafes, and pubs

Step 2:  Hospitalization benchmark – 450

  • Potential easing of some restrictions related to:
    • Retail
    • Community halls, hotels, banquet halls and conference centres
    • Further easing of some restrictions eased in Step 1

Step 3: Hospitalization benchmark – 300

  • Potential easing of some restrictions related to:
    • Places of worship
    • Adult team sports
    • Museums, art galleries, zoos and interpretive centres
    • Indoor seated events, including movie theatres and auditoriums
    • Casinos, racing centres and bingo halls
    • Libraries
    • Further easing of some restrictions eased in Steps 1 and 2

Step 4: Hospitalization benchmark – 150

  • Potential easing of some restrictions related to:
    • Indoor entertainment centres and play centres
    • Tradeshows, conferences and exhibiting events
    • Performance activities (e.g., singing, dancing, wind instruments)
    • Outdoor sporting events (e.g., rodeo)
    • Wedding ceremonies and receptions
    • Funeral receptions
    • Workplaces – lifting work-from-home measures
    • Amusement parks
    • Indoor concerts and sporting events
    • Festivals, including arts and cultural festivals (indoor and outdoor)
    • Day camps and overnight camps
    • Further easing of some restrictions eased in Steps 1-3

During the press conference, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in the last 24 hours Alberta recorded 543 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 more deaths. The positivity level is at 4.5 per cent.

She said another 12 cases of virus variants have been found, bringing that number to 37 in total.

In mid-December, Kenney put the province in a massive lockdown. Business and restaurants were ordered closed with all outdoor and indoor gatherings banned.

The move effectively cancelled Christmas for many Albertans.

Kenney said the measures were put in place to stop the hospital system from being overwhelmed.

Personal services, like hair salons were allowed to open January 18, by appointment only.

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

Rebel UCP MLA Barnes blasts Kenney on COVID and a PST

Barnes said his Cypress-Medicine Hat constituents are “suffering extreme fatigue” and are frustrated Premier Jason Kenney didn’t open more of the province

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Renegade UCP MLA Drew Barnes is blasting his own government with two barrels – over COVID-19 lockdown regulations and a possible provincial sales tax.

Barnes said his Cypress-Medicine Hat constituents are “suffering extreme fatigue” and are frustrated Premier Jason Kenney didn’t open more of the province on Tuesday when he announced a slight relaxation of some restrictions.

Despite reaching benchmark to move onto Phase 2 of reopening, Kenney only allowed gyms to start offering some services and for libraries to open at 15 per cent capacity.

“Some of my colleagues (in caucus) are finally starting to push back – it’s going to be an interesting few weeks in politics,” Barnes said in an interview with the Western Standard.

Barnes tweet

“The government has lost the trust of some people here. The benchmarks were set and met. Albertans have done the hard work. But now the mental and economic crisis is just as bad as the COVID crisis.

Barnes noted his area only has about 10-12 COVID-19 cases at the moment.

“I’ve had a few people tell me they are just going to open now regardless. I’m urging everone to respect the rules,” Barnes said.

“I’m calling on Premier Kenney and the Chief Medical Officer of Health to recognize the mental and economic crisis is just as bad as the COVID-19 one.”

At a press conference this week, Kenney again refused to rule out introducing a PST – and Barnes again blasted the idea.

“It is time for the government to make some strong decisions when it comes to getting its spending in line,” Barnes told the Western Standard.

Barnes tweet

He noted experts have said if Alberta brought its spending in line with other provinces, it could reduce the deficit to nothing.

“It’s time for taxpayers to start demanding more for their money,” he said.

Barnes has been critical of his UCP on numerous policies – from centralizing EMS dispatch to the slowness of bringing in a provincial police force.

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

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News

REVISED: Wheatland County calls on Kenney to ease COVID restrictions

The motion’s sponsor, Coun. Jason Wilson, told the Western Standard his constituents aren’t happy with Kenney and his COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

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An Alberta county has adopted a motion demanding the provincial government take steps towards easing their COVID-19 restrictions.

The motion in Wheatland County passed by a vote of 5-2 Tuesday night and will now be forwarded to Premier Jason Kenney and his cabinet.

Coun. Jason Wilson, told the Western Standard his constituents aren’t happy with Kenney and his COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“It continues to go from bad to worse,” said Wilson, admitting he has coffee with some of his constituents, also a breach of pandemic laws.

He said the fiasco that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s vaccine rollout has become shows Alberta is better to go it alone.

Jason Wilson

“This proves how little Alberta needs Canada. If we were independent, we could have everyone vaccinated by now,” said Wilson adding his area’s disappointment that Kenney’s loosening of regulations on Monday only allowed libraries to reopen.

“By sending the motion to Premier Kenney we hope to see a different approach from them and a faster pace of things.”

It’s not the first time Wilson has disagreed with Kenney.

A 2019 motion by Wilson, called for an end to equalization payments, the creation of a provincial police force, be in charge of collecting Alberta income tax revenue and control of immigration.

The Kenney government has made slight steps to getting a better deal for the province in Confederation. He has formed the Alberta Parole Board and set up panels to study other issue like taxation and setting up a provincial police force.

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

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Energy

U.S. environmental groups poured $2.4 billion in 2019 to further climate change ideology

Ludwig warned had the finances from these groups also been included, the final numbers might be double or even three times current figures.

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New research from the Capital Research Center, an American-based think tank, reveals environmental groups poured a record $2.4 billion in 2019 to further left-wing climate change ideology.

“This stunning figure contrasts with the environmentalist movement’s self-image as David vs. Goliath: impoverished, idealistic eco-activists outgunned by powerful interests in the “fossil fuel” industry,” said its Senior Investigative Researcher, Hayden Ludwig.

He said Liberals have long claimed the Right outguns environmentalists despite holding the country’s best-funded special interests.

However, a 2018 misleading study measuring the income of broadly right-leaning groups focused on a host of issues, including welfare, telecom regulation, agricultural policy, etc., to produce the claim conservatives spend $1 billion per year to stop action on climate change, amounting to a 10 to 1 disparity with environmental groups.

CRC examined the finances of 166 left-leaning policy, activist, litigation, and research organizations along with any associated political action committees (PACs) that primarily focus on climate change or environmental regulation. 

The think-tank captured their revenues, expenditures, and the amounts of grants they paid out in 2019 using publicly available Form 990 findings.

Their inquiry found these organizations raked in $2.67 billion from donors, nearly all of whom remain undisclosed. These organizations, including special interests, spent a whopping $2.43 billion paying staffers, attorneys, activists, professional fundraisers, and researchers and lobbying for environmental regulations. 

“In the case of 501(c)(4) groups and PACs, they also helped elect Democrats and oppose Republicans in the 2019-2020 election cycle,” said Ludwig, as mostly left-leaning nonprofits received $435 million in grants.

“These figures don’t include lobbying by private firms for renewables subsidies, left-wing groups with a broader focus than climate change or the environment or eco-Right groups, self-identified “conservative” organizations that support carbon taxes and other global warming policies.” 

He warned had the finances from these groups also been included, the final numbers might be double or even three times current figures.

“The tax status of these organizations sheds light on the distribution of funds within the environmental movement,” said Ludwig. 

With 111 of 166 groups IRS-designated 501(c)(3) public charities, donations provided to them are tax-deductible. The 501(c)(3) nonprofits account for the overwhelming majority of finances CRC traced.

CRC traced 83.95 per cent or $2.24 billion of the $2.7 billion in total revenues uncovered, 83.1% of $2.02 billion of the $2.4 billion in total expenditures found, and 78.5% or $342 million of the $435 million in grants paid.

Of the 166 groups, 46 are 501(c)(4) advocacy nonprofits, which are permitted to spend significantly more on lobbying than their 501(c)(3) counterparts. 

The top 20 biggest spenders also number among the loudest voices pushing environmental regulations:

  1. World Wildlife Fund: $236 million
  2. Environmental Defense Fund: $188.6 million
  3. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): $173 million
  4. Sierra Club: $150 million
  5. World Resources Institute: $120.8 million
  6. National Audubon Society: $118 million
  7. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): $109.9 million
  8. Sierra Club Foundation: $93.9 million
  9. National Wildlife Federation: $89.7 million
  10. EarthJustice: $78 million
  11. League of Conservation Voters: $66.5 million
  12. NextGen Climate Action Committee: $56.8 million
  13. NextGen Climate Action: $54 million
  14. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA): $53.5 million
  15. Rocky Mountain Institute: $45 million
  16. Resources Legacy Fund: $42.3 million
  17. Union of Concerned Scientists: $40.7 million
  18. Greenpeace: $37.7 million
  19. Oceana: $36 million
  20. League of Conservation Voters Education Fund: $34.8 million

“These are the titans of “Green” Activism Inc. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars to pass the socialist Green New Deal and promote radical global warming legislation that promises to jack up household electricity prices and enable the Left’s war on science,” said Ludwig.

Dhaliwal is the Western Standard’s reporter based in Edmonton.

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