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BREAKING: Drew Barnes & Todd Loewen expelled from UCP Caucus

The move comes as Kenney fights to save his leadership in the face of a growing rebellion from his membership and caucus.

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Albeta’s political order continued to face turbulence today as Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party Caucus voted this afternoon to expel rebel MLAs Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen.

The results were announced to the caucus and passed to the Western Standard after a two hour vote.

The move comes as the caucus and party has been wracked by internal infighting over issues of Kenney’s “Fair Deal Panel,” and most significantly the government’s reaction to COVID-19.

News broke early in the morning MLA for Central Peace-Notley Todd Loewen had published an open letter calling on Kenney to resign as premier.

“I no longer believe caucus can function properly; meetings have been cancelled without members’ consent, significant decisions of government have been made without notice to members, and our input as elected members is rarely considered,” wrote Loewen. “Additionally, I feel it is best to resign this position [caucus chairman] to be able to speak freely.

“The government’s response to a hostile federal government has been perceived as weak and ineffective. Albertans have lost trust in the leadership of our government and are no longer willing to extend to us any benefit of the doubt on most issues.

“I thank you for your service, but I am asking that you resign so that we can begin to put the province back together again.”

Soon after, MLA for Bonnyvile (Cold Lake – St. Paul) David Hanson publicly backed Loewen’s call for Kenney’s resignation.

“Todd, I applaud your courage and stand behind your decision. I hear the same thing from our supporters in my area. I along with many of our colleagues share in your frustration,” Hanson wrote. “We, along with many Albertans worked too hard to unite Conservatives to hand this province back to the NDP. Thanks for taking a stand.”

Drew Barnes has been an increasingly vocal critic of Kenney’s policies, beginning with his dissenting report on the Fair Deal Panel, which he said did not go far enough. Disagreement between Barnes and Kenney continued to escalate as lockdowns were reimposed, removed, and reimposed again.

A scheduled caucus meeting for the morning was canceled, but MLAs were then called to a hastily called “mandatory” emergency caucus meeting for 12:30 pm MST.

The meeting opened with a heated debate about repeated leaks of caucus discussions to the Western Standard, which was promptly leaked to the Western Standard.

Sources inside the virtual caucus meeting then told the Western Standard UCP Caucus Whip Mike Ellis gave an “executioner’s speech” about the need to expel the rebel MLAs, after which Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie moved a motion to remove Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen from caucus.

While large numbers of non-cabinet MLAs spoke up in defence of the two rebels, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Transportation Minister Ric McIver joined calls for them to be removed.

Discussion eventually turned back toward leaks to the Western Standard, which was immediately leaked to the Western Standard.

Todd Loewen reportedly pleaded for Kenney and the government to change direction, end the lockdown, and “do the right thing.”

Premier Jason Kenney addressed the caucus, telling them they should be “grateful for the input that it gets,” there aren’t any major problem’s with the government’s approach, and “I don’t understand why everyone is so upset.”

According to one UCP cabinet minister in the meeting, “They had first decided all the vote results would go to Brittney who runs caucus services until MLAs freaked out.” It was then decided that Loewen’s replacement as caucus chairman, Nick Millike, would conduct the vote.

The voting to expel the two MLAs was not taken by secret ballot, but by text message to the chairman.

While voting from the 61 MLAs started at 5:20 pm MST, the results were not released to the caucus until after 7:30 pm.

In the end, both MLAs were removed from the caucus.

Story will be updated as it develops.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Left Coast

    May 14, 2021 at 9:24 am

    Kenny in his brilliance is using the O’Foole approach . . .

    Kenny needs to go . . . another Ontar-i-owe Progressive I suspect !

  2. Mars Hill

    May 13, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    Kenney has proven himself to be a light weight, Barnes and Loewen had enough, the party will fail miserably…..

  3. Josh

    May 13, 2021 at 10:26 pm

    Kenney may end up in the same boat as Trudeau. When things got tough his supporters and friends abandoned him.

  4. Jason Lenny

    May 13, 2021 at 10:20 pm

    This infighting is wonderful!

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News

Edmonton anchor fuming after pride flag ripped down

Karstens-Smith said she has called police and urged people to share her post so the culprit can be found.

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An Edmonton news anchor is furious after a Pride flag was ripped down from its pole outside her home.

“I am LIVID right now,” tweeted Breanna Karstens-Smith, a Global anchor.

Karstens-Smith

“This just happened at my house. Someone came and tore down our Pride flag. No one touched it for a year when it was a Canada flag but now that it’s for pride this happens.

“THIS IS WHY WE NEED PRIDE MONTH.”

Karstens-Smith said she has called police and urged people to share her post so the culprit can be found.

Pride flag torn down

“And they are greatly mistaken if they think we’re not putting another one up. Ordering a new flag pole now. Flag is thankfully fine but we got it from @thequiltbagyeg and would love to see more in our city,” she tweeted.

“Our flag is back up and our house feels right again. Thank you for the kind messages of support. The best part is hearing from people now putting up their own flags. I’d love to see photos of them. Happy Pride.”

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

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Regina chamber CEO calls COVID-19 protesters ‘narrow, dimwitted, racist’

“I personally do not support the anti-mask movement at all. I find their views narrow, dimwitted, racist and teetering on the edge of outright lunacy,” said John Hopkins.

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Regina Chamber of Commerce CEO John Hopkins denounced COVID-19 protesters and their message in an email sent to the organization’s members.

“The anti-mask group in Regina are a very small but loud group. They have been protesting for months. They believe that they have a right to not wear a mask,” Hopkins wrote.

“Some are of the view that there are tracking devices in the masks and still others believe that this is a global conspiracy.

“…the anti-maskers have crossed the line. They have been harassing business owners, people on the street and now their latest target, kids at schools. In my opinion targeting kids is too far, way too far.

“I personally do not support the anti-mask movement at all. I find their views narrow, dimwitted, racist and teetering on the edge of outright lunacy. They certainly have the right to say what they want but the same rights and privileges extend to the rest of us….

“Racism is a vicious challenge that we need to address as a country, province and community. The time has come to act and stand up.”

The Western Standard asked Hopkins what harassment had occurred in Regina.

“There’s a candy shop on 13th Avenue,” Hopkins said.

“The business owner asked them to put on a mask and they refused and business owner refused to serve them.”

The incident from May 26 was watched almost 30,000 times on a YouTube video. The would-be customers were standing outside on the deck of the business across from the serving window.

“There has been some altercations between anti maskers and other people, actually on the street, I believe on Albert Street,” Hopkins said.

“And throughout the course of the last 14 months on, generally speaking, it’s just been people on the side of the street.”

Hopkins’ accusation of racism concerned comments made about Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab.

“There were some very troubling remarks about Dr. Shahab that the premier addressed. We were quite concerned about that… as well as other sort of comments on telling people to go home and that type of thing on some of the signs.”

At a December 14 press conference, Premier Moe said the “end was in sight” for COVID-19 restrictions, but he was “embarassed” at “racist”,”foolish”, and “idiotic” comments made by a protester at the legislature. In a video posted days before, a man tried to say Shahab’s name a few times unsuccessfully before commenting, “can’t get these foreigners’ names right.”

Regarding students, Hopkins said, “I’ve heard that they were at a school and that they were talking to kids at a school this past week….and parking in the school parking lot….I just think going to the school is a bit much.”

Hopkins said masks help.

“It blows my mind that somehow when the Chief Medical Officer – not only one, but many across the country, and in fact, globally – are saying, wear a mask, I think it’s pretty straightforward wearing a mask is one of the things that can help people stay safe…Even though we’re making headway against the virus, it’s still out there that masks aren’t doing anything. And I find it just bizarre.”

The email was posted on the Freedom Alliance Facebook page by Kevin Volk.

“Check out this crap that was sent to me,” Volk wrote, urging people to phone the chamber to express their displeasure.

Volk told the Western Standard he had a cleaning business and had been a chamber member “for well over ten years.”

“This is just another slap in the face for business owners. The chamber has been pushing for businesses to remain closed even tho they are supposed to help businesses. They have done absolutely nothing for small businesses owners,” he said.

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

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Canadians hit with millions of dollars of COVID fines

Cabinet tabled in the Commons detailed enforcement actions under the Quarantine Act.

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The feds have issued tickets for close to $3 million for COVID-19 scofflaws who have refused to quarantine at hotels after arriving back in the country, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Other tickets handed out include fines for fraudulent COVID-19 test results.

Cabinet tabled in the Commons detailed enforcement actions under the Quarantine Act.

“I think it is important that we adhere to the public health advice that we are all getting, that we do our part as Canadians to try and protect our health care system,” Health Minister Patricia Hajdu earlier told reporters.

Records show a total 988 air passengers were each ticketed $3,000 for “refusing to go to government-approved accommodation” on arrival in Canada. The majority of tickets, 621, were issued at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport followed by Vancouver (194 tickets) and Montréal (173).

Cabinet on January 7 passed an order requiring all air travelers to prove they were COVID-19-free with tests taken a maximum 72 hours prior to arrival. An identical order for cross-border drivers was invoked February 22.

The Canada Border Services Agency found 62 travelers with fake tests, said the report, and four were each ticketed $3,000.

Another 9,003 travelers were cited for not having proof of a valid test, including 4,583 drivers and 4,420 air passengers.

“This would include individuals who did not test at all, who were in possession of tests outside the required 72-hour time frame, tests that did not originate from the required country of origin, tests that are suspected fraudulent and other reasons,” wrote staff.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair defended the enforcement.

“Cancel your vacation plans,” Blair told reporters February 12.

“Stay home. Respect the rules. We believe that through these effective measures, appropriate screening and the testing measures in particular that we have put in place coupled with robust and enforced quarantine orders, it is the best way to prevent variants from spreading across our borders into Canada.”

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

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