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Former Gov.-Gen. Payette gets the not-so-coveted Teddy Award

The Teddy is named for Ted Weatherill, a former federal appointee who was fired in 1999 for submitting numerous dubious expense claims, including a $700 lunch for two.




The Canadian Taxpayers Federation handed out its 23rd annual Teddy Waste Awards ceremony in a special Monday virtual presentation, to commemorate the best of the worst in government waste uncovered in the past year. 

The Teddy, a pig-shaped award given by the CTF to the government’s worst waste offenders, is named for Ted Weatherill, a former federal appointee who was fired in 1999 for submitting numerous dubious expense claims, including a $700 lunch for two.

“Former governor general Julie Payette blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on her inauguration and bizarre housing renovations before resigning under a cloud of controversy,” said CTF Federal Director Aaron Wudrick.

“And the Quebec government’s remarkable ability to crash ferries into docks has soaked taxpayers for millions.

“Meanwhile, taxpayers in Toronto spent $160,000 to install bike lanes, and then another $80,000 to rip the same lanes out again just five months later. And no one will be surprised that the Phoenix Pay System, after years of being an enormous financial sinkhole, has earned the distinction of a lifetime achievement award.” 

  • Federal Teddy Winner: Former governor general Julie Payette

“Former governor general Julie Payette’s turbulent tenure at Rideau Hall was apparently less than friendly to her staff and it wasn’t taxpayer-friendly either. Payette spent more than $650,000 on her swearing-in ceremony and another half a million on renovations at the governor general’s residence, even though she never actually moved in. The investigation into her dubious management style cost taxpayers another $393,000. Even though Payette has blasted off, as a former GG, she’s still allowed to bill taxpayers up to $200,000 a year for office expenses thanks to the government’s ludicrous lifetime expenses policy.”

  • Provincial Teddy Winner: The Government of Québec (Société des traversiers du Québec)

“The Quebec government’s ferry agency bought a ship called the F.A. Gauthier, to shuttle people across the St. Lawrence at a cost of $175 million, but the ship turned out to be a very expensive lemon and had to undergo repairs. To keep the ferry service operating in the meantime, the STQ bought a used ship from Newfoundland for $2 million and proceeded to crash it twice within the first month of service before it was written off as unseaworthy. Last but certainly not least, the agency bought a third ship and spent $45 million putting it into service and it too has twice hit a dock.”

  • Municipal Teddy Winner: The City of Toronto’s cancelled bike lanes 

“The City of Toronto spent $160,000 to build four kilometres of bike lanes on Brimley Road in July of last year as part of the city’s pandemic response. Then, the city decided to tear them out just five months later, costing taxpayers another $80,000. That means taxpayers wasted a quarter-million dollars – equal to the property tax bill of 80 Toronto households – with nothing to show for it.”

  • Lifetime Achievement Teddy: the Phoenix Pay System 

“The Phoenix Pay System is a beleaguered federal project that spans 12 years, two governments and more than $2 billion of wasted taxpayers’ money. Public Services and Procurement Canada’s Phoenix pay system project started as a plan by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to save taxpayers money and ended up doing quite the opposite. Phoenix’s cost overruns and delays saw thousands of federal bureaucrats not getting paid properly for years, or, in some cases, paid far too much. The Trudeau Liberals also deserve part of the blame after they ignored repeated warnings that the system was not ready and decided to launch it anyway. Phoenix has finally been fixed, but one last news story has risen from the ashes to stiff taxpayers: earlier this year it was revealed that bonus payments totalling $1.7 million were paid to senior bureaucrats responsible for the program’s implementation.”

Other nominees included:

Federal – Health Minister Patty Hajdu for taking multiple weekend trips home to her Thunder Bay riding on government aircraft at a cost to taxpayers of over $73,000, despite repeatedly imploring Canadians to avoid non-essential travel and the fact public gatherings in Thunder Bay were prohibited at the time.

Federal – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his failed $2.3-million campaign to win a seat on the UN Security Council, including $24,000 for candles, keychains and lollipops. 

Provincial – British Columbia’s TransLink for announcing that agency executives would all be taking a 10 per cent pay cut last spring. Freedom of information requests obtained by the CTF revealed that TransLink executives used federal and provincial emergency COVID money to quietly reverse the very pay cuts.

Provincial – The Government of Quebec for spending $30 million to buy shares in Flying Whales, a French start-up firm that manufactures zeppelins.

Municipal – Calgary city councillor Joe Magliocca for billing taxpayers hundreds of dollars for steaks, wine and martinis while on an official visit to Quebec City. An investigation revealed that people listed on Magliocca’s receipts said they never sat down with him. A forensic audit into the debacle cost taxpayers $64,000.

Municipal – Vancouver City Council for spending $316,000 on designer office furniture at the same time Mayor Kennedy Stewart publicly complained that the city was facing a COVID-related cash crunch.

Municipal – The Montreal borough of Rosemont-La-Petite Patrie for spending $63,000 on snow-making equipment even though Montreal gets more than two metres of snow per year.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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


Maskless teen student with asthma ostracized at Calgary Catholic school

“Kids in my class called me an ‘outsider’ which made me feel worse than I already felt,” said 14-year-old Darius.




A Calgary Catholic school has segregated and since banned a student from attending school for not wearing a mask, says the student’s parents.

And before that, teachers had even taped off an area around the boy’s desk “like a crime scene.”

Darius Lynn, a Grade 9 student at St. Helena Junior High School in Calgary, suffers from asthma and was permitted to go maskless at his desk during the 2020-2021 school year.

When Darius returned to St. Helena for the 2021-2022 school year, without his parents’ knowledge, he was advised he would be required to wear a mask full time.

He complied for the first few months but eventually reported to his parents in late November he was struggling to breathe while wearing the mask.

“I had no idea he was told to wear a mask again this year,” Darius’ mother Stephanie told the Western Standard.

“My husband and I just assumed he wasn’t needing to wear a mask again this year.”

Stephanie said she and her husband Paul reached out to the new principal and Darius’ teachers to request they allow their son the same exemption as the previous year.

They were told he would need a doctor’s note, which Stephanie said they have been unable to acquire.

“Mask exemptions are impossible to get,” said Stephanie.

“Right now, doctors are just too scared to write them.”

Stephanie said the school’s solution was to, “move my son’s desk into the hallway.”

Darius also spoke with the Western Standard and said the teenagers in his class referred to him as an “outsider” after he was moved into the hallway.

“When they did group projects, they would just send me to the library and I had to work on my own,” said Darius.  

“Kids in my class called me an ‘outsider’ which made me feel worse than I already felt.”

Stephanie said she and her husband tried to appeal to the principal, but “she wouldn’t budge,” so they reached out to the superintendent.

“We begged for her to let Darius back into the classroom but he ended up sitting out there for two weeks where he was discriminated against and basically ridiculed so we contacted the superintendent,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said she emailed Chief Superintendent Bryan Szumlas with the Catholic School Board who helped the Lynns get their son moved back into his classroom.

“So, he was moved back into the classroom, which was good, but what we didn’t know was that his teachers taped off the floor around his desk like a crime scene,” said Stephanie.

“After they put tape on the floor around my desk, some of the kids in my class would step past the tape and pretend they couldn’t breathe,” said Darius, explaining the teasing he endured.

Darius said his teachers had witnessed some of the teasing, but said, “most of the time the teachers didn’t do anything about it.

“They (teachers) also made me wait a few minutes before I could move to my next class because there were basically a bunch of students in the halls.”

“It was just awful what they were doing to him. They were treating him like a walking disease and visibly segregating him,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said Darius had to stay within his taped boundaries for about a week until Christmas break.

“After the break, the principal notified us that Darius wouldn’t be welcome back if he wasn’t willing to wear a mask,” said Stephanie.

“In fact, one of the communications with the school referred to his asthma as his ‘apparent asthma’ like we were making it up or something.

“They said he could move to the online schooling system or do their D2L system from home,” said Stephanie referring to a web-based learning system offered throughout the school division.

“He doesn’t do well online so we are just trying to do the best we can. He’s in Grade 9, he should be able to be with his peers to finish off his last year in middle school.”

Darius said he has mixed feelings about not returning to school.

“I’m just really upset that I don’t get to see my friends anymore, but I also feel like I have less distractions at home,” said Darius.

Stephanie said it’s been a hard year for Darius as he also had to walk away from community hockey due to the vaccination mandates and additional costs associated with frequent rapid testing.

“He is totally destroyed,” said Stephanie.

The Lynns have two other sons — both attending Notre Dame High School — one in Grade 11 who is special needs and one in Grade 12.

“The real kicker for us is that we have a special needs son who has never worn a mask, doesn’t social distance and we have never been required to show a doctor’s note for him,” said Stephanie.

“They have totally humiliated my son and I’m angry. We just want our son to be treated with dignity and compassion. He has lost hockey because of the mandates and now he isn’t allowed to go to school.”

The family has since been referred to Area Director Deana Helton with regard to their son’s situation.

The Western Standard has contacted the school principal along with Helton but hasn’t heard back yet.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard

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Copping strikes EMS advisory committee amid system strains, red alerts

The Alberta Provincial EMS Advisory Committee will provide recommendations on a provincial EMS service plan by May.




Health Minister Jason Copping has appointed MLAs R.J. Sigurdson (Highwood) and Tracy Allard (Grande Prairie) to co-chair a new EMS committee to address “unprecedented” demands on the healthcare system.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is also rolling out a 10-point plan to maximize EMS system capacity.

The government listed many aggravating factors driving the system strains including “EMS staffing fatigue and illness, hospital offload delays, more requests for patient transfers, delays in receiving new ambulances and specialized vehicle parts caused by global supply issues.”

The province has seen a plethora of “red alerts” reported by EMS members and tweeted by the Union of Health Care Professionals @HSAAlbertaEMS. A red alert is when there are no available ambulances for emergency calls.

The government also reported a 30% increase in 911 calls in recent months. There was no mention of personnel shortages caused by the government’s COVID-19 mandate.

“Alberta’s government has been supportive of EMS throughout the pandemic. As we approach the peak of Omicron cases, we know the EMS system is seeing significant strain, which impacts service. We recognize this is a challenge and are taking immediate steps to improve emergency care access while we explore longer-term solutions,” said Copping.

AHS will immediately hire more paramedics, transfer low-priority calls to other agencies, and stop automatic ambulance dispatch to motor vehicle accidents with no injuries. AHS is also “launching pilot projects to manage non-emergency inter-facility transfers, and initiating an ‘hours of work’ project to help ease staff fatigue.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of AHS is confident these actions “will allow us to better support our EMS staff and front-line paramedics, and in turn this will ensure our patients receive the best care possible.”

Additionally, AHS will issue a request for proposals in February to conduct a third-party review of Alberta’s provincewide EMS dispatch system.

“The objective review by external health system experts will provide further opportunities to address ongoing pressures, improve effectiveness and efficiency through best practices, and provide the best outcomes for Albertans who call 911 during a medical event,” the government said.

The Alberta Provincial EMS Advisory Committee will provide recommendations on a provincial EMS service plan by May. Committee representatives include “contracted ambulance operators, unions representing paramedics, municipal representatives and Indigenous community representatives.”

Sigurdson said the committee will consider taxpayers’ needs.

“Albertans expect that when they call 911 in their time of greatest need, EMS will always answer. The committee’s goal will be focused around ensuring and improving service to Albertans while supporting the most critical piece of that equation: our EMS staff across all of Alberta.”

Amber Gosselin is a Western Standard reporter.

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WATCH: O’Toole will not be welcoming the truckers in Ottawa

“It’s not for the leader of the Opposition to attend a protest on the Hill or a convoy, it’s up to politicians to advocate for solutions, in a way that’s responsible and respectable to the health crisis we are in.”




Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was asked six times during a Monday press conference about his stance on the truckers Freedom Convoy 2022, before giving a vague answer.

“We have been talking with the Canadian Trucking Alliance for several months,” said O’Toole told reports.

“We’ve seen a crisis in the supply chain coming for several months and we’ve proposed policies to try to help alleviate that. The most important of which is vaccines. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

O’Toole press conference

Other specific. questions on the truckers’ comments were left with vague answers.

But the end of the conference O’Toole said it’s not his place to get involved.

“It’s not for the leader of the Opposition to attend a protest on the Hill or a convoy — it’s up to politicians to advocate for solutions, in a way that’s responsible and respectable to the health crisis we are in,” O’Toole said.

“We’ve been trying to tackle the supply chain crisis, encourage vaccination, not ignore problems and divide the country like Mr. (Justin) Trudeau does.”

O’Toole said policies cannot be put in place which could contribute to supply chain issues, as Canadians are already worried about their grocery bills.

O’Toole said he was focused on the economic strain Canadians are having, with record inflation, cost of living, 30% higher gas prices and the housing market’s rising costs,.

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard

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