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Liberals sue Parliament to keep Chinese bio lab papers secret

One NDP MP likened the scandal to Watergate.

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For the first time in Canadian history, a government is suing Parliament to try and conceal the secret records dealing with the top security given to Chinese scientists at a federal bio lab in Winnipeg, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

One NDP MP likened the scandal to Watergate.

“I think there are a few members of this committee who are old enough to remember Watergate,” New Democrat MP Don Davies (Vancouver Kingsway) told the Commons health committee.

“I certainly do. It’s a little harder to recognize when it’s close to home.

“If the House is demanding production and the executive says ‘no,’ who wins that battle in the end?” asked Davies.

“Ultimately the House,” replied Philippe Dufresne, the Commons law clerk who acts as Parliament’s counsel.

Dufresne confirmed cabinet filed a Federal Court challenge naming the Speaker as defendant. The application asks that a federal judge seal records concerning the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg. The Commons on June 2 voted 179-149 to order release of records to its counsel.

“I can confirm I’ve been instructed by the Speaker of the House of Commons to challenge the jurisdiction of the Court in this matter,” said Dufresne.

“Has this ever happened before?” asked Conservative MP Michelle Rempel-Garner (Calgary Nose Hill).

“To my knowledge it has not,” replied Dufresne.

“My understanding is Parliament is immune from Federal Court intervention, is that correct?” asked Rempel-Garner.

“If a matter falls under parliamentary privilege then the House will have exclusive authority,” replied Dufresne.

“That is the position I will be taking.”

“Regardless of political stripe, Parliament is supreme and we have a right to this information,” said Rempel-Garner.

“When the House or the committee orders this information, it is not up to the government to try and sue the Speaker of the House of Commons.”

Attorney General David Lametti said Wednesday night he sought to conceal the records under the Evidence Act in the name of national security.

“It’s not going to be a decision that is partisan in any way,” said Lametti, who added: “I will approach this as attorney general in a non-partisan manner. I will never play politics with national security.”

The secret records concern the hiring of scientists, including one affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army, and husband and wife Keding Chang and Xiangguo Qiu who were fired January 20 after RCMP raided the Winnipeg lab. Internal emails disclosed to date show Chinese staff in Winnipeg were contacted for collaborative research by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where many think the COVID-19 virus originated.

“These scientists co-authored at least six studies from 2016 to 2020,” Conservative MP Michael Chong (Wellington-Halton Hills, Ont.) earlier told the Special Commons Committee on Canada-China Relations.

“We know some of the research was paid for by China’s government and that some of these scientists were part of China’s military.”

Liberal MP Jennifer O’Connell (Pickering-Uxbridge, Ont.), parliamentary secretary for health, dismissed the search for records as a witch hunt.

“Grasping at straws might be another characterization, but it’s okay,” said O’Connell.

“We’ll continue with the witch hunt of the Conservative-NDP coalition that I never thought I’d live to see the day, but here we are.

“Pretty desperate. Referring to something as Watergate, a cover-up, withholding documents, pretty interesting.”

“I understand the games,” said O’Connell, adding “Conservatives drone on with their misinformation and conspiracy theories, this whole kind of throwing spaghetti to see what sticks.”

Conservative MP Philip Lawrence (Northumberland-Peterborough South, Ont.) called the concealment of records shameful.

“We as parliamentarians have the unfettered absolute power to have any document we want, when we want them,” said Lawrence.

“The government has disregarded that. This is not just a slap in the face to Parliament. It is a slap to face to every one of the 37 million Canadians who send us here to Ottawa. We are their representatives. Shame on you.”

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 Division 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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While calls for Chu to resign grow, the Recall Act still awaits cabinet approval

Bill 52: The Recall Act, now awaiting proclamation, “creates a process that could lead to the recall of elected officials, including members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), municipal officials and school trustees,” states the Alberta Government website.

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Calls from politicians for Calgary Ward 4 incumbent Sean Chu to resign are growing in light of news around dismissed allegations of sexual misconduct against more than two decades ago.

Premier Jason Kenney said the allegations were “appalling” while mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek has called for Chu to step down.

Michelle Rempel Garner, Calgary-Nose Hill MP overlapping Ward 4 said she’s “formally withdrawing her endorsement of Councillor Sean Chu,” adding he’s no longer a member of her Constituency Association.

A new bill allowing Albertans to recall elected officials throughout their term was introduced in the spring of this year and and was passed by the legislature in June.

But Bill 52, the Recall Act, is still awaiting proclamation, leaving it in a state of legislative limbo.

The Western Standard reached out to Government House Leader, Jason Nixon for comment as to when Bill 52 will be proclaimed into law, but no response has been received as of publishing.

According to the Government of Alberta’s website, the bill “creates a process that could lead to the recall of elected officials, including members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), municipal officials and school trustees.”

The process to recall a municipal official involves applying for a petition to recall the politician with the city’s chief administrative officer (CAO). If approved, the applicant is charged with gathering signatures from 40% of eligible voters in the official’s ward within 60 days. If successful, the CAO would make a declaration at the next council meeting and the official would be removed at that time.

According to the bill, an elected official cannot be recalled any earlier than 18-months from the date they were elected, meaning that even if the bill was proclaimed by the Alberta government, Chu would still be ineligible for a recall petition until 2024.

The Western Standard spoke with Chu in an exclusive interview before Monday’s municipal election to discuss the incident referenced in a series of documents leaked from the Calgary Police Service just days before the election.

Chu called the leak of the documents “politically motivated”, stating the timing of the release was “decades after those matters were resolved” and denied any wrongdoing.

In 1997, Chu was investigated for complaints alleging sexual assault and threats. The investigation found no grounds for charges, but Chu did received a letter of reprimand for caressing the leg of a minor while in uniform that he said he believed at the time to have been over 18.

The Western Standard had a follow-up interview with Chu the day after winning Monday’s election in Ward 4 by a mere 52 votes when he reaffirmed his innocence, said he would not resign, and responded to allegations first published by CTV Calgary.

Chu served as a Calgary police officer from 1992 until he was elected in 2013 and is now looking at his legal options for a possible defamation suit.

Because Chu was not charged in the incident, it appears any bid to try and remove Chu at this point would fail.

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

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Whistlestop’s Scott launches new anti-COVID lockdown advocacy group

“We never thought we would be in the world that we are in today, yet here we are,” Scott said.

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Whistlestop Cafe owner Chris Scott — who rose to fame fighting Alberta COVID-19 lockdowns — is starting an advocacy group to continue the battle.

The new group, FullSteamAhead, is becoming a non-profit membership association which links individuals and businesses and lawyers affected by government’s plans for forced vaccination for employment in some areas.

Scott said his group has a mission:

• To actively seek out credible information.

• To advocate for those who are mandated out of work.

• To effectively influence change in order to protect Constitutional Rights & Freedoms.

“We never thought we would be in the world that we are in today, yet here we are,” Scott said in a Facebook posting.

“And we want you to know that you are not alone. There are thousands of individuals and businesses across Alberta and Canada that are asking themselves how to navigate this new world.

“We want individuals and businesses to team up with a group of lawyers that are ready to take on the government and companies that are stripping away our rights and freedoms. And we want to help those individuals and businesses that are being discriminated against in order to keep their job or their business running.”

Scott was arrested May 8 after a protest which saw 1,500 people show up in support of his business in Mirror, 50 km east of Red Deer, which has faced repeated crackdowns by the provincial government.

That week saw the RCMP seize all of the establishment’s beer and then days later padlock the restaurant after a dawn raid.

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

Scott made a solemn promise to Alberta Health Services and the RCMP he would no longer open his establishment.

So when he was inside May 29, cleaning damage up after someone broke the glass in his front door, he was shocked to see AHS and RCMP speed into his parking lot, and re-padlock the restaurant.

Last week saw him receive a $20,000 fine and an 18-month probation period.

The Whistle Stop Cafe has become a flashpoint in resistance to provincial lockdown orders and restrictions imposed by the Kenney government, as Scott defied the orders and “illegally” reopened in mid-January of 2021.

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

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AHS says at least 1,200 employees don’t want the jab

A total of 7% of AHS employees have yet to submit their proof and AHS is “actively working” to confirm their vaccine status.

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Despite Alberta Health Services reporting overwhelming support for their proof of vaccine policy, at least 1,200 AHS staff have requested an exemption.

In a live address to Albertans on Tuesday, AHS President and CEO, Dr. Verna Yiu said, “there is very broad support of the vaccine policy,” referring to AHS requiring all medical staff to have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by October 31.   

Yiu said 92% of physicians and nurses have submitted their proof of vaccination along with 97% of all ICU staff.

But 7% of AHS employees have yet to submit their proof and AHS is “actively working” to confirm their vaccine status.

Approximately 1,200 medical staff have asked for vaccine exemptions provided for in the policy with 838 already submitting the necessary paperwork to be considered.

Yiu said those seeking a vaccine exemption, whether medical or religious, account for less than 1% of AHS staff and confirmed only 61 employees have resigned to date.

Any staff who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to do so and “address any concerns they may have with their leader or healthcare provider,” said Yiu.

“We stand by the policy and it will be fully implemented.”

Those without accommodations or proof of full immunization will be placed on unpaid leave at the end of the month.  

AHS says with such low numbers, they don’t anticipate “having any significant impact on our ability to provide care to Albertans.”

Yiu also took the opportunity to thank Albertans for helping to bring case numbers down and “reduce the strain on the healthcare system.”

She also confirmed that with “pressures easing” AHS has been able to allow for more surgeries to return to the hospitals.

“It’s a fine balance and we must ensure that we have adequate ICU capacity should COVID numbers increase again,” said Yiu

There are currently 376 general adult ICU beds available with 75% occupancy. The “surge beds” will be reduced incrementally as volume allows.

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

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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

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