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Morton says Kenney, O’Toole must fight for pipelines

Ted Morton likened Justin Trudeau’s energy policies to an unwelcome sequel of the National Energy Program (NEP) made by his father in the early 1980’s.

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Former Alberta cabinet minister Ted Morton says Premier Jason Kenney and Tory leader Erin O’ Toole must launch a coordinated effort against the carbon tax and overbearing federalism.

In an interview with the Western Standard, Morton likened Justin Trudeau’s energy policies to an unwelcome sequel of the National Energy Program (NEP) made by his father in the early 1980’s.

“Look, this isn’t just this isn’t like NEP-1 that just hurt Saskatchewan and Alberta. This is hurting everybody. The whole Canadian economy is suffering because of Trudeau and the Liberals’ anti-pipeline, both explicit and implicit, blockade,” Morton said.

Kenney and O’Toole must trumpet that message across Canada, Morton insisted, given the 6-3 ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) that upheld the constitutionality of the Greenhouse Pollution Pricing Act (GPPA).

In his majority decision, Chief Justice Richard Wagner called climate change “an existential threat.”

But Morton said for Alberta and the West, the real existential threat is the carbon tax itself.

Prior to the SCC decision, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled 4-1 against the federal carbon tax for its encroachment on provincial jurisdiction, a judgment Morton still agrees with.

“The Court of Appeal had the right metaphor. It’s a Trojan horse,” Morton said.

“It opens the door for all sorts of made-in-Ottawa, one-size-fits-all policies in areas of otherwise provincial jurisdiction.”

The SCC has a long history of ruling against the jurisdiction of western provinces over their resources.

In Morton’s view, Pierre Trudeau appointed Bora Laskin as chief justice in 1973 for being “a well-known advocate of broader federal powers.”

Laskin later struck down statutes in Saskatchewan and Alberta dealing with potash and oil development.

These verdicts inspired Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed and Saskatchewan NDP Premier Allan Blakeney to seek and gain certain conditions in the constitution to prevent similar verdicts in the future.

These include the “notwithstanding clause” of Section 33 and Section 92 A that clarified provincial authority over natural resources and development. In addition, Section 38(3) even gave provinces the ability to preserve provincial jurisdiction, should the other 7 out of 10 support a constitutional amendment that revoked Section 92 A.

Despite the prairie premiers’ foresight, these constitutional failsafes have all but failed.

Morton said the notwithstanding clause cannot be invoked against the recent SCC decision because it was not a charter ruling. And, although the ruling undermines Section 92 (A), it does not formally do so. This means Section 38(3) is also impossible to legally apply.

Regardless, Morton believes the SCC’s apparent disregard for the spirit of the constitution, not yet 40 years old, provide strong moral arguments for the Kenney government.

“I think they should go to the other premiers, including the premier of Quebec, and say, ‘Regardless of what you think of a carbon tax, this decision is unacceptable for anybody who cares about federalism and the balance of powers.’”

Morton is waiting for O’Toole to position himself as a defender of the West and of provincial jurisdiction

“Has he said anything about either the Supreme Court decision, carbon tax, or just generally about a commitment to new export pipelines?”

Morton said he has already been asked if it was time to support the Maverick Party. He said defeating Trudeau is a priority, so he will give O’ Toole and his party one last chance.

“He should try to win his majority in Ontario, not by being anti-pipeline, but saying, ‘Pipelines are good for everybody. They’re a key part of the national economy.’ If he doesn’t do that, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s back to the 1980s and time for a new party.”

Lee Harding is a Western Standard contributor based in Saskatchewan

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Vaccine passports now mandatory in Alberta

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.

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The Alberta government’s new vaccine mandates for businesses, entities and events are in effect.

Each organization must follow one of two options: implement the Restriction Exemption Program (REP) requiring proof of vaccination or negative test result, plus mandatory masking, to continue operating as usual, or comply with all public health restrictions as outlined in Order 42-2021.

In place of a vaccine passport, a negative test result from a privately-paid rapid test within 72 hours of service will be adequate or a person will need to show a valid medical exemption.

The REP allows operators to avoid the majority of public health restrictions with the implementation of a proof of vaccination program, although vaccine requirements for staff are at the employer’s discretion. Face mask mandates are still required in all indoor spaces.

The program doesn’t apply to those under 12 years of age and businesses that need to be accessed by the public for daily living purposes, including all retail locations. As well, employees, contractors, repair or delivery workers, volunteers or inspectors will be permitted access to spaces without requiring a vaccine passport.

To enter spaces participating in the REP, adults need to provide valid photo identification that matches their paper or digital vaccine record showing name, vaccine type and date of administration. From now until October 25, proof of partial vaccination (one dose) will suffice, however after that date, proof of full vaccination (two doses) will be required. Those under 12 will only need to show vaccination paperwork.

Indoor entertainment, event and recreation facilities that don’t implement the REP will be limited to one-third capacity of their fire code occupancy and attendees must be in household cohorts or with up to two close contacts if they live alone.

Outdoor events and facilities have no capacity restrictions, but attendees must maintain a two-metre distancing between households.  

Restaurants that don’t follow the REP cannot offer indoor dining, and outdoor dining will be limited to six people per table from one household, and liquor sales will have to end by 10 p.m. with consumption cut off by 11 p.m.

Retail, shopping malls and food courts aren’t eligible for the REP, therefore will be reduced to one-third capacity of fire code occupancy and are required to stop all in-person dining, switching to take out only.

Indoor private social gatherings will be permitted for those that are vaccinated to a maximum of two households up to 10 (vaccine eligible) vaccinated people. There are no restrictions for children under 12. For those who are unvaccinated, indoor social gatherings are not permitted.

Private outdoor social gatherings are limited to a maximum of 200 people who are socially distanced.  

Churches will be limited to one-third of fire code capacity and masks and social distancing are still mandatory in places of worship.

Employees are mandated to work from home unless their physical presence is required for their duties.

Proof of vaccination will not be required to enter a polling place for Monday’s federal election although physical distancing, masking and other transmission reducing measures will be in place.

For more information on the Restriction Exemption Program, click here.   

Risdon is a reporter at the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Hockey arena backs down on banning unvaccinated kids

Within hours of the Western Standard posting the exclusive story, Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy.

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Public pressure has brought minor hockey out of the penalty box in Cochrane.

Following an exclusive story by the Western Standard on Saturday, along with mounting pressure from the community, a Cochrane sports facility has revamped its vaccine passport policy.  

The Cochrane Minor Hockey Association (CMHA) and Hockey Alberta were not mandating a vaccine passport system, but Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) announced it would be requiring proof of vaccine status for anyone 12 and up.

Within hours of the story being posted, CMHS President Cory Oaten was contacted by the SLSFSC and advised of an update to their policy with this statement: “Youth between the ages of 12 (vaccine eligible) to 18 years of age are exempt from the REP vaccination requirement to enter the facility for the purpose of participating in a youth organized sport organization. Examples include (but not limited to) Cochrane Minor Hockey, Ringette, Cochrane Minor Soccer, Lacrosse, Cochrane Figure Skating Club, Comets, Junior Lifeguard Club, etc.”

Although youth may access the facility without being vaccinated, all adult spectators, coaches, volunteers and organizers of any youth activity “must show proof of vaccination, proof of a negative test, or medical exemption to gain entry to SLSFSC premises.”

“Although this helps our kids get on the ice in Cochrane, it’s still an issue at lots of other facilities, especially in larger facilities in Calgary and Airdrie,” Oaten said.

Oaten, who works in the insurance industry, points out the “huge liability issue” this poses to his and other sports organizations.

“Originally, Spray Lakes pushed us to collect this medical documentation from our members,” he said.

The CMHA board consists of 18 volunteer members.

“They can’t put those expectations on a board of volunteers. It’s a big legal issue for us,” Oaten said, adding he and his board refuse to take responsibility for requiring proof of vaccine or the collection of their members’ private medical information.

Oaten was informed the SLSFSC will now have its own security checkpoints set up in the facility and will take responsibility for checking the vaccine status of anyone 18-plus entering the building.

Oaten anticipates families will still pull their kids from hockey and other sports programs as those who remain unvaccinated will not be permitted in the facility to accompany their child.

Hockey Alberta stated on their Facebook page they are working with the Alberta government on how last Wednesday’s announcement will affect hockey for Alberta players. Oaten has asked his members to hold off on making a decision to pull their child from the program until Hockey Alberta comes forward with their updated season plan.

The Western Standard reached out to the SLSFSC for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Risdon is a reporter for the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Nearly $400 million in commemorative holiday events planned for fed employees only

The Department of Canadian Heritage promises “large-scale commemoration events” for a September 30 holiday for federally regulated employees only.

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It’ll cost hundreds of millions of dollars with federally regulated employees getting ready to party like it’s 2021, all on the public teat.

The Department of Canadian Heritage promises “large-scale commemoration events” for a September 30 holiday for federally regulated employees only.

Blacklock’s Reporter says the holiday will cost $388.9 million, by official estimate.

“The department will collaborate with national organizations for large-scale commemorative events on September 30,” staff wrote in a briefing note. It is the first federal observance of its kind.

The Senate on June 3 passed Bill C-5 An Act To Amend The Bills Of Exchange Act that designates September 30 as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The paid holiday applies only to federal employees including the RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces, and federally-regulated private sector workers at job sites like airports, banks, grain mills, marine shippers, radio stations and railways.

“This new annual statutory holiday on September 30 will ensure public commemoration of the tragic history and legacy of Residential Schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process,” said the briefing note National Day For Truth And Reconciliation. Costs of planned events were estimated at $2.7 million.

Parliament passed the holiday bill without a dissenting vote though senators in final debate questioned its usefulness. “What could long-term, dedicated and stable funding mean for food security, for closing the infrastructure gap which is huge, for finally ending boiled water advisories, for dealing with acute housing shortfalls in Indigenous communities?” asked Senator Dennis Patterson (Nunavut).

“It is hard for me to hear about the hundreds of millions of dollars that will go to provide federal employees a paid day off when I think about how an ongoing commitment of what we have heard today would be $388.9 million per annum for this holiday,” said Patterson.

“It would be an insult to my family members, to my friends and to the memories of those survivors I have lost along the way if this day were to become yet another paid day at the cottage for federal workers,” said Patterson. “It needs to truly be a day of remembrance and learning.”

The Treasury Board said direct costs were $165.9 million in the federal public service. “Most of that is in lost productivity,” Stephen Diotte, executive director of human resources, told the Senate June 3.

“The balance of it is payments required for employees in 24/7 work environments like corrections or Canada Border Services or ships’ crews and officers in the Department of National Defence and Department of Fisheries,” said Diotte.

The $165.9 million figure did not include holiday pay or overtime for Crown corporation employees. “I don’t have those figures,” said Diotte.

The labour department said airlines, marine shippers and other federally-regulated private sector companies would pay another $223 million annually.

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