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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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Spaceman Spiff

    January 15, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    Vote your interest.

    It’s a mantra we should be teaching our kids and a reminder for all of us grownups when we walk behind the cardboard cubicle to cast our votes in provincial elections. Vote for the person you think is going to help you advance the interests of your constituency, your community and your family.

    It’s a lesson that I’m hoping the good people in Slave Lake have learned the past few weeks as they’ve had to deal with their absentee MLA Pat Rehn.

    When Jason Kenney parachuted Rehn into the constituency, the goal was to take on incumbent MLA Danielle Larivee, one of those “accidental” NDPers elected in 2015 after the Wildrose and PCs split the vote.

    Rehn would restore the natural order of things in the constituency. Problem was, things were already in order. As we all know, the NDP didn’t have much “bench strength” in their early years (or even their later years), but by all accounts, Larivee was an excellent MLA and a very good Cabinet Minister, pretty much right from get-go. She held several tough portfolios and is credited for helping repair the “damage” wrought by rushing Bill 6 onto Alberta’s agricultural sector (if you can call updating 19th century occupational health and safety rules to the current century as “damage”). She was local, she worked hard and she listened.

    Instead of voting for four more years of that, Slave Lake voters opted for a guy who appears to decided to run for office because it would give him an extra 120-grand to buy a holiday trailer. He’s a dude who had little to no interest in representing their interests or, for that matter, even standing in their postal code. And then the pandemic came and we all know his feelings on that.

    So … yeah. Vote your interests. That’s one lesson here. The other? Don’t mess with a winning hand. Otherwise, you end up with a Joker, like Mr. Rehn.

  2. Dogandcat

    January 14, 2021 at 7:00 pm

    Wow! And only in a small community can politicians be held accountable. Good for them!!!!!!!!

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News

War room launches American offensive

The approximately $240,000 initiative is “a reminder to Americans that their friends and allies in Canada hold solutions to cleaner energy and lower gas prices – and the key to a strong post-pandemic economic recovery.”

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Alberta’s energy war room kicked of a quarter-million-dollar campaign to sell Americans on Canada’s oil.

As first reported in the Western Standard, the campaign kicked off with billboards in Times Square in New York City and Washinton, DC.

The campaign by the Canadian Energy Centre asks Americans to choose Canadian oil imports first for solutions to cleaner energy production and a break from rising prices at the pumps.

The US uses approximately nine million barrels of oil per day beyond what is produced domestically. 

The approximately $240,000 initiative is “a reminder to Americans that their friends and allies in Canada hold solutions to cleaner energy and lower gas prices — and the key to a strong post-pandemic economic recovery.”

The outdoor and online campaign will direct people to information about Canada’s responsible energy development at www.friendlyenergy.com

The campaign will also feature a grassroots component that calls on Canadians and Americans to respectfully advocate to the president and U.S. lawmakers about the benefits of Canadian energy.

“We want to give our American friends the information they need to urge their leaders to look to safe, responsible and increasingly less intensive crude from Canada that U.S. refiners need and that will help keep gas prices down,” said Canadian Energy Centre CEO Tom Olsen.

“We are speaking out for the many Canadians and Americans dismayed that the U.S. government asked OPEC+ countries for more oil to curb rising gas prices, rather than working with Canada.”

Olsen pointed out the U.S. government closed the door on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have been the first pipeline operated at net-zero emissions and eventually powered by renewable energy resources.

“While Keystone XL’s fate has been decided for now, there remains urgency in letting Americans know any further threatened sanctions in the U.S. on pipelines by state governments and activist-led court challenges will be detrimental to American families, struggling to get back on their feet from the economic impacts of COVID-19,” he said.

Of the top 10 countries from which the U.S. imported oil in June 2021, three were designated Not Free (Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq) and three were designated as Partly Free (Mexico, Nigeria and Colombia).

Specifics for the billboard advertising include:

  • Two digital billboards in Times Square for a four-week period and online display campaign promoting Canada as the responsible and reliable energy provider for the U.S.
  • A static digital billboard, located in Astor on New York’s Grand Central Parkway, for a two-week period targeting traffic heading to LaGuardia Airport, the Mets Citi Field Stadium and a “chokepoint” for traffic to Queens.
  • Three full-motion digital billboards for a two-week period on the exterior of the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., home of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NCAA’s Georgetown Hoyas.
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News

Farkas pledges to freeze taxes for four years

Farkas said every year Calgarians are told they have to accept increased taxes or face cuts to services.

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Calgary mayoral candidate Jeromy Farkas released the first plank of his platform Monday, pledging to freeze taxes for four years.

“Over the past 10 years, Calgarians have struggled with lack of opportunity. We’ve witnessed the economy crumble, the tax burden increase, and the city hall establishment become increasingly out of touch. It’s time for that to change,” said Farkas in a release.

“If elected as mayor, I will champion a four-year property tax freeze for homes and businesses. Now more than ever, Calgarians need a strong and growing economy. This four-year tax freeze will throw a lifeline to struggling families, seniors, and small business owners, and give them the certainty that they need to get back on their feet.”

Farkas said economist Jack Mintz reviewed the promise and found it to be an achievable goal, with the millions the city has stashed aside in various reserve funds.

“Implementing a four-year residential and non-residential tax freeze is undoubtedly achievable,” said Mintz,

“The best part is this plan can be implemented without reductions to city services given the excess reserves available and reasonable growth forecasts.”

Farkas said every year Calgarians are told they have to accept increased taxes or face cuts to services.

“It’s time to put this false choice to rest with common-sense financial management,” said the Farkas campaign, adding the tax bill for the typical home has doubled over the last decade while basic city services have remained stagnant or even declined.

“This election is about change versus more of the same. As councillor, I’ve consistently opposed needless budget increases. I have a record of following through on my promises. Change starts now, with a four-year tax freeze,” Farkas said.

Calgarians go to the polls October 18.

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News

Poll shows Canadians trust the Internet and know what’s fake news

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s department has proposed “concrete action” to police news and information on the internet.

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Despite Liberal attempts to censor the Internet, the vast majority of Canadians think online information is reliable and people can tell when its not, says the feds own internal polling.

Blacklock’s Reporter said Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s department has proposed “concrete action” to police news and information on the Internet.

“A majority, 80%, believe the online content they consume is factual and truthful,” said a pollsters’ report.

“Two-thirds of Canadians, 66%, feel confident in their ability to tell if online content is fair and balanced.”

The Heritage department paid Ipsos Public Affairs $164,621 to conduct online focus groups and questionnaires with 5,207 people.

“Almost all Canadians are frequently consuming some form of information online,” wrote researchers.

“Canadians largely believe having access to different sources of information with different points of view is important for people to participate in a democracy.

“Most participants were confident in their abilities to consider various sources and ensure they are being presented with ‘the full picture.’”

Guilbeault last July 2 issued a report to instruct the media on how to report the news.

“We can no longer ignore the challenges and opportunities that come with an increasingly digital world,” said Guilbeault.

“We have to act now to ensure a healthy ecosystem online for all citizens.”

Reporters, editors and commentators must “foster greater exposure to diverse cultural content, information and news” and “contribute to a healthier public discourse, greater social inclusion within society, bolster resilience to disinformation and misinformation and increase our citizens’ ability to participate in democratic processes,” said the report.

The guide defined misinformation as “false or misleading content shared without harmful intent though the effects can still be harmful, e.g. when people share false information with friends and family in good faith.”

The document doesn’t say who within the Heritage department would monitor news deemed to be harmful.

“Ethical journalistic standards should be upheld and encouraged,” said the guide, adding: “Information about media ownership and funding sources should be made accessible to the public and transparent to safeguard a diverse and pluralistic media ecosystem.”

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