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EXCLUSIVE: Kenney threatened UCP Caucus with snap election over lockdown revolt

Three separate UCP MLAs told the Western Standard on condition of anonymity that Kenney made the threat at a Thursday morning caucus meeting.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told his caucus he might call an early election if it didn’t fall in line over the brewing revolt from his MLAs over returning the province to a third lockdown, sources told the Western Standard.

Three separate UCP MLAs told the Western Standard on condition of anonymity that Kenney made the threat at a Thursday morning caucus meeting.

One UCP MLA who said he was paraphrasing, told the Western Standard that Kenney said, “In our parliamentary system, the government must have the confidence of the House and therefore the confidence of the governing caucus. If I do not have the confidence of caucus, then I would be obliged to ask the Lt.-Gov. for an election.'”

By law, the next provincial election is scheduled for spring 2023. The only premier to break a fixed election date so far has been former premier Jim Prentice in 2015.

Another UCP MLA told the Western Standard that Kenney told them “If this caucus doesn’t have confidence in me, than perhaps I’ll go see the L.G [Lt.-Governor].”

A third UCP told the Western Standard that the statement of the second UCP MLA was correct.

One of the MLAs told the Western Standard that they are extremely upset with Kenney for “breaking the trust of Albertans by ripping up the phased reopening plan” from January.

Earlier Thursday, Kenney made an impassioned plea for a third lockdown.

“But the government must make decisions… it is the moral responsibility of government,” said Kenney.

Kenney knew the announcement would cause a rift in his party, but he didn’t think it would be so swift or large. A day later, now sixteen of his MLAs signed a joint public letter saying he had chosen the wrong path.

Public anger at the new lockdown is also growing across the province with numerous businesses vowing to ignore the order in which they are forced to close at noon on Friday. And people also became furious when they saw AHS officials, with the help of the Alberta RCMP, raided and barricaded the GraceLife Church of Pastor James Coates.

Coates was thrown in jail for more than a month for refusing to accept bail conditions requiring him to stop preaching at church services that did not comply with the provincial government’s restrictions.

The initial group of 16 MLAs were:

  •  Micheala Glasgo, Brooks-Medicine Hat
  •  Miranda Rosin, Banff-Kananaskis
  •  Todd Loewen, Central Peace-Notley
  •  Angela Pitt, Airdrie East
  •  Drew Barnes, Cypress-Medicine Hat
  •  Jason Stephen, Red Deer South
  •  Tracy Allard, Grande Prairie
  •  Roger Reid Livingston-McLeod
  •  Nate Horner, Drumheller-Stettler
  •  Nathan Cooper, Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills
  •  Glenn van Dijken, Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock
  •  Ron Orr, Lacombe Ponoka
  •  Dave Hanson, Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul
  •  RJ Sigurdson, Highwood
  •  Mark Smith, Drayton Valley-Devon
  • Garth Rowswell, Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright.

Kenney knew the knives would be out.

“I fully expect to hear some of those opinions publicly in the coming days, and I welcome that,” he said.

“I’ve always welcomed a wide-ranging debate on how best to rise to the challenge of this pandemic. I just ask that the debate be informed by facts. Alberta is a diverse province, and that includes diversity of opinion.”

Kenney added “it’s not surprising that Albertans elected officials also have diverse views on how best to handle the pandemic.”

“And I also know that in our society there has been a real polarization of views on how best to deal with the challenge of this pandemic,” he said.

“On the one hand, we have some people who want what are called hard lockdowns, and have one of those in a long-term basis. Others who believe that the threat is massively exaggerated, and we should have few or no restrictions.”

“But Alberta’s approach has been to find a sensible, safe middle ground, a common ground that you can unite most Albertans. Our goal from Day 1 has been to control viral spread, to prevent an overwhelm of our healthcare system to avoid large-scale preventable deaths, while minimizing the damaging effect of public health restrictions on the broader social and economic health of our society.”

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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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Left Coast

    April 9, 2021 at 9:31 am

    Kenny is a weak sister . . . he has certainly proved in the last year he is no Leader!

    Time for him to exit stage left and a capable person take the reins . . .

  2. Carl Brentnell

    April 8, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    Kenney, you are either payed or played! If you are being played, you are some special kind of stupid and should resign. If you are payed, you should be hung for treason.

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Alberta gov’t granted injunction to ban weekend protest at Whistle Stop Cafe

Chris Scott and others, outraged by the province’s lockdown regulations, planned to protest the closure with a campout over the weekend adjacent to the restaurant.

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It hasn’t even happened yet, but an Alberta court has already ruled a weekend protest at the Whistle Stop Cafe is illegal.

The Court of Queen’s Bench has granted a pre-emptive injunction against, Chris Scott, the owner of Whistle Stop, because the restaurant plans to host a rally over the upcoming weekend called the “Save Alberta Campout Protest.” The injunction was granted at the request of Alberta Health Services (AHS), an agency under Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

Last week, the RCMP raided the establishment and carted away all its booze. On Wednesday, the RCMP and AHS officials showed up en masse and padlocked the building.

Undeterred, Scott continued cooking pancakes, making burgers and serving coffee to his customers in the parking lot outside his shuttered restaurant. The UCP government recently banned outdoor patio service for restaurants.

He and others, outraged by the province’s lockdown regulations, planned to protest the closure with a campout over the weekend adjacent to the restaurant.

But the AHS, which sought the injunction, said the judge ruled it illegal because it would not comply with public health restrictions on mandatory masking, attendance limits, and social distancing.

“The order restrains the owner and others from organizing, promoting and attending the event and includes police enforcement and imposes significant consequences on the organizers of this event,” AHS said in a statement to media.

“AHS has taken this step due to the ongoing risk to Albertans created by those breaching COVID-19 public health restrictions.”

The Western Standard has reached out to Scott but hasn’t heard back on what effect the injunction will have. Scott said earlier in the day he will now seek elected office by running for the Wildrose Independence Party in the upcoming 2023 election.

Scott is the only gas station or restaurant in Mirror, a town of about 500, 50 km northeast of Red Deer, and now he’s seeing people from all over the province stopping in.

“The law is garbage – it”s doing more harm than good,” said Scott in an earlier interview with the Western Standard.

“If they want to throw me in jail for trying to earn a living, go ahead,” said Scott.

Scott has owned the cafe since July 2019, but it has been a fixture in town since 1967.

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

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EXCLUSIVE: UCP Secretary quits over ‘lies’

Smith has worked with conservative parties since 1976.

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The former secretary of Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) says she decided to resign from the board because she “was tired of all the lies.”

In an exclusive interview with the Western Standard, Cathy Smith said she handed in her notice on April 6, after a string of statements and actions about the COVID-19 pandemic by Premier Jason Kenney.

Smith said the beginning of the end started when Kenney held a press conference over COVID-19 and warned of a pandemic so extreme there would be “body bags coming out of McMahon Stadium.”

“I said to myself ‘Are you kidding me’. There will never be body bags coming out of McMahon Stadium,” said Smith.

“I know nurses. Nurses at the time told me there was nothing going on in their hospitals.”

Smith said Kenney then started to condemn the “right-wing, the conspiracy theorists.”

“I said wait a minute, I’m right-wing. And then the way we treated Dr. (Dennis) Modry. I thought this wasn’t the right way to represent our 40,000 members,” she said.

Kenney and Modry have been in a battle of letters. Modry published an open letter to the premier on the Western Standard saying lockdowns don’t work. The letter went viral and has been viewed hundreds of thousands of time. It took Kenney three months to reply with his own letter.

As party secretary, Smith dealt with more than 100 e-mails, either from party members or people who voted for the UCP, about how the lockdowns were affecting their lives.

“We had an e-mail from a family whose grandfather died because his heart operation had been postponed. I e-mailed everyone back. I explained I was not writing as a representative of the party. I told them I didn’t agree with what the party was doing,” Smith said.

Smith said she was aware of a group of men in Medicine Hat who went to high school together – 20 of whom have committed suicide since the pandemic started.

“I told everyone to get involved at the (constituency association) level if they really want to make change,” Smith said.

She said the last straw for her was when Kenney appeared on talk show host Danielle Smith’s last show on QR77 and said he wasn’t aware the party board had approved a leadership vote in 2022, just six months before the next election.

“I was just tired of all the lies, Kenney pretended he didn’t know about the leadership vote. I thought ‘This is not the way — where’s the trust’,” Smith said.

“I was tired of all the lockdowns (without proof they work). But I said to myself, I will never quit, never, never, never.”

Finally, after talking to several other board members, Smith handed in her notice.

Smith has worked with conservative parties since 1976. As to where she will vote in the next election: “I’m still waiting.”

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

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WATCH: Alberta’s costume lady forced to sell treasure trove of outfits because of lockdowns

“Fifteen months later, there is no coming back.”

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It took Vickie Friesen more than 30 years of sewing to create 5,000 different costumes – everything from pirates to princesses.

Now, after a year of COVID-19 lockdowns, she is being forced to sell the lot.

Friesen and her husband, Darrell can no longer afford to keep their Three Hills Tickle Trunk outlet open and the business running after income vanished after lockdowns banned everything from school plays to Halloween.

Some of Vickie’s creations

“We just can’t afford to stay in business. There’s no theatre, there’s no parades, there’s no parties,” Vicki told the Western Standard on Thursday.

“In 2019, we were busy every week of the year with rentals. 2019 was booming. It was fabulous.

“Once word of our business got around, we started having the same customers repeated over and over. I started to ask customers to ask me what costumes we didn’t have, it was just easier.

“Now, nothing.”

Vicki recalled she sent out costumes for shows last March, but after the lockdowns, the costumes were returned and customers wanted their money back.

“Everything came back. I sat by the phone, but it didn’t ring anymore,” said Vicki.

Roman centurion outfit

“Fifteen months later, there is no coming back.”

The couple has made the heartbreaking decision they will have to sell all the costumes. A sale will be held at the store the next two Saturdays. A deal to sell their building should be signed next week.

All kid’s costumes will be sold for $10. Adult merchandise is 50% off, between $25 and $50 at their Three Hills store at 519 Main Street.

Need a storm trooper outfit? It will be there along with full ball gowns, Second World War uniforms and German lederhosen. Antique furniture is also on sale.

“They are all going for a song,” Vicki said, regret in her voice.

But some of the stuff they aren’t parting with includes all their Christmas outfits. The couple created a costumed “Christmas Convoy” through the town last year, and plan on repeating it, all over the province if asked.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus… really the Frieses

The couple did receive some federal COVID-19 aide which went to fixing a leak in the building, but not enough to even cover basic utilities.

Vickie proudly boast she has shipped her costumes all over the province: “From High Level to High Prairie.”

Tickle Trunk promo

She started sewing as a kid in Manitoba, creating costumes for theatre troupes and school plays. She also handmade graduation dresses for area high schoolers.

She stored her works of art in a 12×12 granary but it soon became full.

The Friesens and their two young children decided to move to Alberta and they set up shop in Three Hills, eventually buying a building in which to operate their business and store their dresses.

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

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