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Carbon tax absent from Alberta UCP critique of federal budget

“We appreciate these unprecedented times and the partnership between federal and provincial governments over the past difficult year,” said Toews.

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Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews says it’s too early for Alberta to comment on Chrystia Freeland’s budget brought down for the federal Liberal government Monday afternoon. But while he does have some concerns, one of them doesn’t appear to be the Liberal carbon tax, which is scheduled to increase to $170/mt by 2030.

The UCP and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney have been fierce opponents of federal carbon taxes – but it appears to have fallen off their radar since federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole tore up his promise to oppose carbon taxes and introduced his own last week.

In the long statement issued by Toews for the Alberta government, no mention was made of federal carbon taxes.

The Western Standard has made repeated inquiries to the offices of Premier Jason Kenney and Environment Minister Jason Nixon. Both have refused to comment on the O’Toole carbon tax for the last five days.

Kenney endorsed O’Toole for the federal Tory leadership last year, citing his opposition to the federal carbon tax.

O’Toole’s carbon tax of $50/mt will be paired with a kind of rewards-card points program that will allow carbon taxpayers to spend some of their carbon tax dollars on government-approved green purchased.

The plan was also released with at least $11 billion in new green spending promises.

“Like other provinces, Alberta has only just received the federal budget. We will review and closely analyze how this budget impacts Alberta over the coming days,” said Toews, in an evening statement Monday.

“We appreciate these unprecedented times and the partnership between federal and provincial governments over the past difficult year.

“Alberta has been a leader in developing carbon capture utilization and storage technology and we are encouraged to see more investments included in the budget. However, we have significant concerns about the details, specifically the exclusion of enhanced oil recovery projects with a net-zero carbon profile.”

Toews said the government was pleased to see Freeland reference to the University of Alberta’s artificial intelligence program and funding for broadband connectivity.

“However, several fundamental matters of fiscal and economic fairness remain unaddressed.

“The budget is light on increasing investment and productivity, increasing market access opportunities for Alberta, and growing the economy,” he said.

“In particular, we are gravely disappointed that the federal government once again missed an opportunity to fix the fiscal unfairness of the federation by acting on the unanimous request of provinces to retroactively lift the cap on the fiscal stabilization program.

“This means that Albertans who have paid more than their fair share – kicking in $600 billion more than they’ve received in return – continue to be penalized during an economic crisis and a global pandemic.

“In a budget that includes tens of billions of dollars in new spending for federal priorities, it’s regrettable there is no permanent increase in the Canada Health Transfer. Provinces have made a compelling case about the growing fiscal imbalance between the federal and provincial governments in funding health care and Alberta is disappointed this has fallen on deaf ears.”

Toews said the UCP is concerned to see an increase in payroll taxes.

“Since 2014, Albertans have made a net contribution of more than $115 billion to the federal government. This increase in payroll taxes represents even more future net transfers of Albertan’s tax dollars to other parts of the country,” he said.

“On child care, Alberta agrees that it is essential for our economic recovery and is vital in helping parents, especially women, enter or re-enter the workforce. However, the budget appears to lack the flexibility that parents need and provincial governments require. Any child care agreement between Alberta and Ottawa must respect the diverse needs of children and the fundamental principle of parental choice in child care options.”

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 Editor 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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Third pastor arrested in Alberta for breaking COVID lockdowns

Pastor Tim Stephens, of the Fairview Baptist Church, was arrested by city police on Sunday afternoon.

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A Calgary baptist preacher has become the third religious leader arrested in Alberta for breaking COVID-19 regulations over church attendance.

Pastor Tim Stephens, of the Fairview Baptist Church, was arrested by city police on Sunday afternoon. He had been the subject of repeated warnings from Alberta Health Services for having too many people at his services.

Earlier this month, on the church’s website, Stephens vowed to contiue services.

“Our actions are borne out of theological commitments to the Lordship of Christ and his instruction to the church as revealed in Scripture,” wrote Stephens.

“This, above all, is the reason why we have been gathering and will continue to gather … the consequences may be severe. But we stand before Christ rather than bend before consequences.”

Pastor James Coates, of the GraceLife Church, outside Edmonton, spent a month in jail after he was arrested by the RCMP for breaking lockdown regulations repeatedly. His case is still before the courts.

Last week, Pastor Art Pawlowski was arrested in Calgary for continuing to flout the regulations at his street chruch.

Calgary police at the AHS issued a joint statement saying Stephens was “arrested this afternoon for organizing a church service that was held today at Fairview Baptist Church, located at 230 78 Ave. S.E., that did not comply with public health orders, including masking, physical distancing and attendance limits. Police did not enter the church during today’s service.

“CPS has received repeated calls from concerned citizens regarding church services held at Fairview Baptist Church over the past several weeks. Last weekend, Pastor Stephens was proactively served a copy of the Court of Queen’s Bench Order obtained by AHS,” the statement said.

“The pastor acknowledged the injunction, but chose to move forward with today’s service, ignoring requirements for social distancing, mask-wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees.

“For several weeks, AHS has attempted to work collaboratively with leadership at Fairview Baptist Church to address the ongoing public health concerns at the site. It is only when significant risk is identified or continued non-compliance is noted that AHS resorts to enforcement action.

“Once again, CPS acknowledges it is important to understand that law enforcement recognizes people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to protest. However, as we are still in a global pandemic, we all must comply with public health orders in order to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”

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

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LETTER: Hypocrisy in high school rodeo approval

I see the hypocrisy Premier Kenney, can you?

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RE: Hinshaw grants approval for high school rodeos

Dr. Hinshaw approved school rodeos after Premier Kenney thought the rodeo near Bowden was a bad idea. It’s the mixed messaging these two are giving that is making me mad. A lockdown with very minimum exemptions is what I thought Hinshaw wanted, but apparently not. A school rodeo can bloody well wait until after the lockdown is completed!! Let up on the Whistle Stop Cafe then, Dr. Hinshaw. What a bully.

It’s a real kick by Hinshaw, at the Whistle Stop Cafe owner. With his cafe now in chains, while Dr. Hinshaw gives out approvals during this so-called circuit breaker lockdown.

I see the hypocrisy Premier Kenney, can you?

Steven Ruthven
Calgary, AB

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Opposition calls for crackdown on animal activists

A proposed private members bill, C-205, would amend the Health of Animals Act to punish trespassers on farms with a maximum $250,000 fine and/or a maximum two-year prison sentence.

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By EMMA GREGORY

A coalition of federal Conservatives, NDP and Bloc MPs want to increase punishment for animal rights activists trespassing on farms, because they might make the animals sick.

A proposed private members bill, C-205, would amend the Health of Animals Act to punish trespassers on farms with a maximum $250,000 fine and/or a maximum two-year prison sentence.

Chief Veterinary Officer for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said there are no proven instances of an animal rights activists spreading a disease to animals while protesting at a farm.

“To our knowledge, there are not many documented cases from trespassing or from people having demonstrations. The one that I heard is the one in Quebec, but I’m not actually sure if there is evidence of transmission from the activists to the pigs. So in the scientific literature, we have not seen much evidence of transmission of disease from these activities,” said Dr. Jaspinder Komal, to the agriculture committee earlier this month.

The one instance Komal mentioned was an allegation made by Porgreg, a pig breeding facility in Saint Hyacinthe, Que.

The activists involved in that protest, members of the group Direct Action Everywhere, are charged under the Criminal Code with breaking and entering and mischief. Whether or not they gave pigs rotavirus is a matter before the court.

Rotaviruses are common amongst pig herds and typically are transmitted from pig to pig, via the fecal-oral route.

If a human were to spread a novel rotavirus to a pig it would be in a similar fashion.

When asked if she or any of her associates pooped in the barn, activist Jenny McQueen said, “No.”

Komal said the CFIA does not police activists.

“The CFIA enforces the Health of Animals Act and regulations which address disease and biological, chemical, physical agents that may affect animals or be transmitted to persons and in the same way to protect animals from these risks…CFIA inspectors are public officers they are not peace officers… In contrast, peace officers are generally police officers, their powers include the ability to detain or arrest individuals. Peace officers may also be armed where public officers such as inspectors are not,” he said.

There are several new provincial laws that seek to lay blame for disease outbreaks in farmed animals on activists.

The Canadian Biosecurity Guideline lists an intentional act of contaminating animals with a disease is considered a possible threat of bioterrorism.

Gregory is a Vancouver-based freelance reporter

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