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Ontario women’s advocate upset with Liberal government

After Liberal MP Brenda Shanahan laid out Liberal funding commitments, then took political shots at the NDP and Conservatives.

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The leader of an abused women’s centre in Ontario says she was “crushed” and “very, very deeply upset” at the “horrendous” commentary by Liberal MPs at the ethics committee.

Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) helps women and teenaged girls who have been abused by their intimate partner, or sex purchasers.

Last February she told the parliamentary committee on access to information, privacy, and ethics that 143 women helped by LAWC last year said “that technology was used in their assault and another 64 reported that pornography was prevalent in their relationship and oftentimes they were forced to play out the scenes in pornography. And she will have been in touch with Pornhub many times to have it removed and has not been successful.”

Walker told the Western Standard her reaction after watching the committee continue its hearings on Monday.

“It actually devastated me to see the Liberals especially politicizing this issue and speaking about the great work the Liberals have done, instead of searching for solutions to the horrendous atrocities that women and girls are facing. I was actually really crushed to see that,” Walker said.

“It was probably the most the most horrendous thing I’ve seen the Liberals do. And you know how sometimes you see somebody do something silly, or stupid or outrageous, and you feel embarrassed for them? That’s how I felt. I just felt they had missed this incredible opportunity to work collectively and cooperatively in the best interests of women and girls. And instead, it was embarrassing to watch them go on and on and on about the Liberal Party and the Liberal government.”

NDP MP Charlie Angus had a similar take on the proceedings, as the Western Standard reported previously. After Liberal MP Brenda Shanahan laid out Liberal funding commitments, then took political shots at the NDP and Conservatives, Angus interrupted.

“We’re talking about child rape here. If she wants to do Liberal handstands, she can do it someplace else. We’ve got a few minutes to get answers whether or not the laws of this nation are being applied. If she’s got ridiculous points to make, she can do it elsewhere,” Angus said.

As for Shanahan’s claims, Walker said the federal government reduced funding for her organization.

“And frankly, the Liberal government has failed women and girls by cutting trafficking funding. They say they’ve given it out. Our agency lost $800,000 plus over five years in trafficking funding, which was replaced by $200,000 over two years.”

Walker said her clients’ porn woes vary. Sometimes “revenge porn” happens after a breakup, where then-consensual videos are posted without consent, sometimes including the victim’s name and address. Walker also had six parents contact her as a man posing as a boy got young teenaged girls to do sex acts on web cam, then posted the videos online. She also says that since the pandemic began, human traffickers who sent women to sell sex now put them on web cams.

In 2019, the Liberal government passed Bill C-75 to allow penalties for human trafficking to be considered as minor summary convictions. Those charged could be released on bail the next day, and even after conviction might only face a $5,000 fine. C-22, now working its way through Parliament, would make mere house arrest a sentencing option for those guilty of human trafficking.

“The Liberal government is minimizing the impact trafficking has on the lives of women and girls. And it’s failing to understand what trafficking is, so even if we get those girls out, away from their trafficker, that trafficker just goes and gets another girl to replace her,” Walker said.

During Monday’s committee hearing, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said his government will introduce legislation so that a regulator can ensure online platforms remove harmful content. Walker, who said she has no political affiliation, said she does support Bill C-277, which was tabled on March 24 by Quebec Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus.

“He’s advocating that there’ll be no longer concurrent sentencing and that the preliminary hearings be reduced so that the woman would only have to go to a preliminary hearing once, and that police services across the country are supported with the financial and other resources that they need,” Walker said.

“If we value the lives of women and girls, we need to take immediate action. If we choose to prioritize the so called rights of a perpetrator, then we are showing women and girls that their lives don’t matter. And so my view is that the rights of those harmed should always come before the rights of the perpetrator. And that doesn’t seem to be happening in our government right now.”

Harding is a Western Standard correspondent based in Saskatchewan

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Chu wants meeting with Gondek ‘to tell the truth’

Mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek told a city hall press conference she will not swear Chu in, when council meets for the first time on Monday.

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Embattled Calgary Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu wants to sit down with incoming mayor Jyoti Gondek to plead his case about a sexual incident 24 years ago.

Gondek said Thursday she will refuse to swear in Chu during the first council meeting on Monday.

“I want her to hear the whole truth. I will provide that to her,” Chu told reporters at a press conference.

Chu also offered to sit down with other incoming council members — most of whom are calling for him resign — to explain his side of the story.

“I always work with anybody but they have only heard media reports … some of which has been untruthful,” said Chu.

“I will sit down in private with them and answer any question they have.”

He added he thought it would be a judge who does the swearing-in.

“I was duly elected by the people of Ward 4. I told the truth,” he said, adding was surprised at the amount of support he has received from Ward 4 voters in e-mails and letters.

Chu said this would be his last election as he was a proponent of term limits for councillors at three terms.

“The Sean Chu situation continues to get more disturbing,” Gondek said prior to the press conference.

“This is a travesty for the young woman that was courageous enough to come forward … she needs to have this taken seriously, and he needs to resign in order for that to happen.

“[Chu] can absolutely show up. He won’t be sworn in by me.”

In his only interview so far, Chu had told the Western Standard on Tuesday he had no intention of resigning, but did apologize to a woman he had a sexual encounter with 24 years ago.

Since then, pressure has mounted with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Gondek, most of the incoming council, and even local Conservative MPs all saying Chu should resign.

At the press conference, Chu apologized to the woman who was involved in the original incident and his family.

“My daughter is crying a lot. My children are going through a lot,” Chu said, asking for his family’s privacy.

“I’ve had CTV camping out at my house.”

Chu confirmed other details he told the Western Standard during the exclusive interview on Tuesday.

City of Calgary officials confirmed Chu won the election race in Ward 4 by a mere 52 votes after allegations surfaced last week of his involvement in August of 1997 with a girl who was just 16 at the time.

“This was nothing but a political assassination,” said Chu.

Chu, who has represented Ward 4 since 2013, also fired back at some media reports which he claims were completely wrong.

Chu, then a serving Calgary Police Services officer, said he met the unidentified girl at a pub near Macleod Tr. and 94 Ave.

At some point in their interaction, Chu caressed the girl’s leg, an incident that later earned him a letter of reprimand on his file.

Chu said the girl seemed interested in him so when he was off duty he changed into civilian clothes and went back to the pub to meet the girl.

The evening continued with Chu and the girl eventually heading to his home.

Chu “categorically” denied media reports that a gun was produced during the evening at his home. He said he checked his service weapon in at the police’s traffic office when he signed off duty.

He said at the home, the two had consensual foreplay before she asked to go home.

Chu also addressed a 2008 fight with his wife that ended with police responding and seizing a firearm.

The incident happened in February 2008, when Chu was running in a provincial election for the Progressive Conservatives in Calgary-Buffalo.

He said his wife ran to a neighbour’s after a verbal argument. Chu said his now ex-wife never intended to call police, but the neighbour did.

After consultation with the Edmonton Crown, no charges were laid.

“This was at the lowest point of my life,” Chu said, adding he sought mental health help after it.

“I have never threatened or harmed my wife or children.”

Chu served as a Calgary police officer from 1992 until he was elected in 2013.

During the investigation, Chu underwent a lengthy lie detector test asking him questions about consent and if a weapon was used. Chu said he passed all the tests.

Premier Jason Kenney described the allegations as “appalling,” but said he didn’t think there was any way for the province to remove a councillor who hasn’t been convicted under the Criminal Code.

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

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WATCH: Vancouver restaurant served closure order for non-compliance with ‘Public Health Act’

“The operator is intentionally allowing the congregation of unvaccinated individuals at the establishment,” wrote the closure order.

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Another BC restaurant has been ordered to close its doors in the name of public health.

“I’m a mother of four,” restaurant owner Rebecca Matthews pleaded with health officials and police.

Corduroy Restaurant — nestled in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood — has been offering service to customers without checking their vaccination status against COVID-19.

Under the BC Vaccine Card, people are required to show proof-of-vaccination against COVID-19 in order to access a variety of settings, such as dining.

In response to Corduroy having potentially committed the crime of serving unvaccinated customers, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH) sent environmental health officer Ryan Hammel — accompanied by Vancouver police — bearing a closure order for non-compliance on Wednesday.

“The operator is intentionally allowing the congregation of unvaccinated individuals at the establishment,” wrote the order, whilst listing off several more “health hazards,” such as “failing to comply with the Face Coverings Order.”

The closure order — signed by VCH medical officer, Dr. Michael Schwandt — says the establishment must remain closed until authorized by a medical officer.

Matthews told the Western Standard health officials showed up at her restaurant on Tuesday morning to “investigate some complaints.”

On Wednesday, Hammel served the closure order.

WATCH: https://www.instagram.com/p/CVQ1f8nhN2m/

“They wouldn’t even discuss anything with me,” said Matthews.

“We reduced our hours, we started doing counter service … these are all things that are — according to the provincial health orders — considered safe.”

Matthews said she’s looking into the closure order to determine how best to proceed.

“I have a family, but at the same time we still want to create a space for people that don’t have anywhere else to go … so we’re just trying to navigate the next steps in the best way for everybody, including my family. Our plan is not to just go away,” she said.

Wednesday is not the first time Corduroy has taken a hit for defying provincial health orders, as its license was suspended six months ago for offering in-person dining, when no such thing was permitted.

During a September 20 staff forum, the Chief Medical Health Officer of VCH, Dr. Patricia Daly, said vaccine passports in settings such as Corduroy’s are not intended to prevent transmission.

“The vaccine passport requires certain people to be vaccinated to do certain discretionary activities such as go to restaurants, movies, gyms … not because these places are high risk,” said Daly.

“We’re not actually seeing COVID transmission in these settings, it’s really to create an incentive to improve our vaccination coverage.”

A Go Fund Me has been set up for Matthew’s by a verified third party to cover legal fees so Corduroy can “continue to stand up for the rights of their patrons, their medical privacy and choice.”

Reid Small is a BC correspondent for the Western Standard
rsmall@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/reidsmall

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Gondek appoints controversial Carter as chief of staff

He received $130,000 in severance for his six months as chief of staff for Alison Redford.

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Incoming Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek has appointed Stephen Carter, formerly Premier Alison Redford’s chief of staff and Naheed Nenshi campaign manager, as her own chief of staff.

Carter masterminded Gondek’s campaign and saw her come from well back in early election polls to an eventual easy victory over rival Jeromy Farkas.

Carter in February also threatened to sue the Western Standard when it published a story about a former Calgary city councillor filing an official complaint with Alberta’s Chief Electoral Officer alleging Gondek used third-party funds to pay for a city-wide brochure mail-drop.

Almost immediately after publishing, Carter threatened Western Standard News Editor Dave Naylor with a lawsuit. He tweeted:

“That was quick: Ok. You will be getting a letter from our lawyer shortly. Straight to Jono? Does he defend you as well?”

We told Carter that any further correspondence should be directed to our lawyers. 

He then took to Twitter to brag about his impending lawsuit to shut the Western Standard up. 

Carter never followed through on his threats.

Carter was once famously referred to as “Chief of Stiff” by the Calgary Sun after he become embroiled in a scandal where he didn’t pay his bills.

The Sun reported a company owned by Carter, Carter McRae Events, “owes more than $600,000, most of it to the University of Calgary, and hasn’t coughed up a cent in court-ordered judgments.”

He resigned from Redford’s staff and received $130,000 in severance for his six months work.

Stephen Carter (photo credit: Calgary Sun)

“If that’s the full amount, that’s still pretty eye-popping,” said Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith at the time.

“A six-figure severance for six months worth of work? An employee who voluntarily leaves should not get severance at all. This certainly doesn’t happen in the private sector.”

Carter, who had been Redford’s strategist in the 2011 Tory leadership race, became her chief of staff when she took office in October of that year.

He was also the mastermind behind Nenshi’s unexpected election victory 11 years ago.

Gondek also announced Amie Blanchette as deputy chief of staff, Catherine Seymour as operations manager and Allison Bates as communications advisor.

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Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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No Media Bailouts

The fourth estate is critical to a functioning democracy in holding the government to account. An objective media can't maintain editorial integrity when it accepts money from a government we expect it to be critical of.

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

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