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Kenney boots MLA Rehn from UCP caucus

Rehn was one of the UCP snowbird MLAs who ignored health recommendations and jetted out of the province over the holidays.

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Premier Jason Kenney has punted Lesser Slave Lake Pat Rehn MLA from the UCP Caucus – after an entire town council called for his removal.

“The most important job of an MLA is to represent his or her constituents. I have made the decision to remove Pat Rehn from the UCP Caucus, effective immediately. MLA Rehn will sit as an independent MLA. He will not be permitted to run for a future UCP nomination,” said Kenney in a Thursday morning tweet.

Rehn was one of seven UCP snowbird MLAs who jetted out of the province over the holidays while their own government had Albertans under a strict lockdown.

Rehn tweeted a picture of himself from a cave in Mexico, one of the moves that kicked off the entire scandal.

Kenney’s letter states that he fired Rehn and that he will not be allowed to seek a UCP nomination in the future, however the UCP constitution states that removal from caucus is a power for the caucus as a whole, not the leader; and that disqualification for a nomination must be made by the party, not the leader alone.

Kenney’s statement did not cite the Snowbird Scandal as a contributing reason for his removal, only that he was absent from his constituency.

He said Rehn “has made no meaningful effort to be more present in his constituency or to properly represent his hard-working constituents.”

Kenney said Rehn had “ignored” calls to be more present in Slave Lake.

“Regrettably, MLA Rehn’s performance falls well below the high standards we expect in our caucus and party,” Kenney said.

Last week, the mayor and entire council of Slave Lake called on their MLA to resign in an open letter.

In a withering letter to Rehn, the council alleges a litany of problems they have had with him.

The town, with a population of 6,500, 255 km northeast of Edmonton, made public a laundry list of complaints against Rehn, including missed meetings and failure to represent the area for economic development.

They claim Rehn, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, doesn’t even live in Alberta (or Canada), saying he resides in Texas.

“When Covid-19 began and the Canadian government said Canadians need to get home, you were in the United States. Since that time, you have made multiple trips abroad. In fact, right now, as our businesses suffer and many of our people aren’t working, you still aren’t here.,” said the letter signed by Mayor Tyler Warman and six other councilors

In fact, the council claims the UCP government was aware of Rehn’s performance and have asked other MLAs to pick up his work.

“We have been told that your government has internally expressed its displeasure at your performance and have arranged for neighbouring MLA’s to check in to help make sure our Region is represented,” the letter reads.

“We seem to be making little to no progress in our Region in advocating for items that are a provincial responsibility. One of the factors that we believe is contributing heavily to this is the lack of engagement from you as our MLA.”

“Since the April 2019 election, it has become clear that the hard work that you put into campaigning for the position of MLA has not continued since being elected.”

In the letter, the council alleged the following problems with Rehn:

•    Shortly after you were elected MLA, you decided to no longer reside in the constituency.

•    Lack of time spent in the constituency engaging with residents and elected leaders. In fact, you have yet to even meet with some of the Region’s elected leaders.

•    Since your election, you have spent more physical time managing your business in Texas than being physically present in our Region.

•    Multiple missed meetings and lack of preparation for meetings that do happen.

•    Missing a meeting with local leaders and the Justice Minister (regarding a spike in local crime) so that you could attend an oilfield expo in Fort McMurray for your business.

•    Missed a meeting with the Housing Minister for a $4 million housing project that has been years in the works, but again, you could not be bothered to show up on our behalf to help move the project forward. This meeting was scheduled by your government.

The council’s note concludes “we have an MLA that does not represent the people of this Region. This lack of representation can be directly attributed to the fact that you don’t reside here, spend little time here, and have failed to “know” the people you represent. 

“As such, we have lost faith that you have the ability and the desire to undertake the work which is required of an MLA. On behalf of the Town of Slave Lake and those we represent, we are asking for your resignation as MLA for the Lesser Slave Lake constituency.”

Rehn put up a Facebook statement defending himself.

“It’s disappointing to see some municipal officials seizing on this to try and sow political division at this difficult time,” Rehn wrote

“To be clear, I have residences in Slave Lake and Edmonton. I do not own any property in Texas whatsoever. Yes, I do continue to own businesses – businesses that are fully disclosed and compliant with Alberta’s Ethics Commissioner. And yes, I have needed to travel to Texas within the past year to address essential business matters.

“I, of course, complied with all health requirements when doing so. It is the honour of a lifetime to represent a region I have lived and worked in since I bought my first quarter-section of trees and also my first sawmill in Wabasca using every penny I had in the bank. I will continue representing Lesser Slave Lake – the region I love and call home.”

The full letter from Slave Lake council can be found here.

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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