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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

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Political Columnist for the Western Standard. He is also a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and is the former Saskatchewan Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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SLOBODIAN: Decade long investigation into Manitoba residential school involves nearly 100 officers and 700 interviews

The First Nation recently undertook a search of the site using ground-penetrating radar technology but has not released the results.

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A “large and complex” decade-long investigation by RCMP has been underway into allegations of sexual abuse at a former residential school in Manitoba’s Sagkeeng First Nation.


The Fort Alexander Residential School opened in 1905 on Sagkeeng First Nation, located 120-km north of Winnipeg. In 1970 it was converted to a day school that operated for several years.


Manitoba RCMP issued a press release Tuesday confirming the major crimes unit began looking into allegations of abuse in February 2010, then launched a formal criminal investigation the following year.


RCMP began by gathering information, including reviewing archival records in both Ottawa and Manitoba. They went through thousands of documents such as student and employee lists and quarterly returns.


This involved more than 80 officers who interacted with more than 700 people across North America in an effort to find possible victims and witnesses.


“After compiling and collating all this data, investigators developed an investigative plan that began with the canvassing of people whose names had been identified in the documents as well as a door-to-door canvas in the Powerview/Fort Alexander area, where the school had been located,” said the statement.


The criminal investigation launched in 2011 involved 75 formal witnesses and victim statements.
Recently, Sagkeeng Chief Derrick Henderson said elders and survivors have long spoken about abuse at the school and children that went missing.


The First Nation recently undertook a search of the site using ground-penetrating radar technology but has not released the results.


“Violation of the privacy rights of those involved in this investigation will not only cause further trauma to everyone involved, but also potentially compromise this highly sensitive investigation,” said Henderson. “We ask that the trauma our community has experienced and continues to live every day is respected and that those affected are afforded their privacy at this time.”

RCMP are working closely with First Nations leaders and no other criminal investigations into former residential schools are underway in Manitoba, said RCMP.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard  lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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BC increases vaccine efforts amid slowing rates, including ‘vax vans’

“Over the next two weeks, BC will push hard to vaccinate as many eligible people as possible.”

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BC health officials want more people rolling up their sleeves for the COVID-19 shot, and say they will be increasing efforts in the coming weeks to do just that.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Dr. Penny Ballem addressed BC’s vaccine roll-out plan during a Tuesday morning news conference.

Among their announced efforts are “walk-in Wednesday” which will take place August 4 when 20,000 jabs will be made available with no need to book in advance.

Walk-in Wednesday is part of the “Vax for BC” campaign.

“I’d like to begin by thanking each and every one of the millions of British Columbian’s, like me, who have stepped up to be vaccinated,” said Henry.

“Because of this small act, we have been able to re-open our province.

“While we have made tremendous progress with our immunization plan, there is of course more work to do. We know that some people still struggle to find a convenient time in their day to get immunized, and others may still have questions, and be hesitant about the vaccine.

“So starting today, we are making it even easier for people to get vaccines. To help protect themselves, and their loved ones against COVID-19.”

Henry said the province will be introducing “custom vax vans” so people will be able to get vaccinated on their lunch break or “while cooling off at a lake.”

The province is also reducing the wait time between first and second doses from eight weeks to seven weeks.

There are currently 906,772 eligible people who have not received a dose, roughly 19.6% of the population older than 12, according to data from July 23.

Interior health has an un-vaccinated population of 26.2% while Northern health has 32.5% without a first shot.

On Monday, the Surrey Board of Trade wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Health Minister of Canada Patty Hajdu, BC Premier John Horgan, and Minister of Health Adrian Dix urging them to “implement a proof-of-immunization model.”

“We support a centralized, Canada-wide approach to COVID-19 proof-of immunization that could be easily used to confirm vaccination status for international and domestic use,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

“Without inter-provincial harmonization, Canada risks a piecemeal approach, making life more difficult and unpredictable for individuals and employers during an already uncertain time.”

Last week, YVR airport implemented separate lines for vaccinated and un-vaccinated individuals prior to reaching customs.

The separation of lines – which was put in place as a federal policy – has since been removed following extensive public push-back.

As for enforcing proof-of-immunization policies at concerts, night clubs, and sporting events – an increasing number of British Columbian’s are cozying up to this idea.

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

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Feds silent on $120M loan to company not ‘worthy of taxpayers’ largesse”

Both CMHC and the Department of Social Development declined to respond to questions.

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Federal agencies yesterday remained mum about a $120 million housing loan to one of Canada’s wealthiest developers, after Cabinet earlier defended the loan as critical, said Blacklock’s Reporter.

“This project will help over 300 local families find rental housing units,” Ahmed Hussen, minister responsible for housing, told reporters. “That’s why the government is taking action to increase the supply of rental housing through projects like the one we’re announcing.”

Cabinet on July 19 announced the $120 million loan to build 302 apartments in Brampton, Ont. The developer is Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. The company’s CEO was paid $3 million in salary and benefits last year, according to corporate filings.

“This project will help over 300 local families find rental housing units,” Hussen’s department said in a statement. “A solid and reliable supply of rental housing is critical to ensuring more Canadians have access to housing that is affordable.”

Choice Properties is owned by George Weston Ltd. The developer’s 2020 net income totaled $451 million. The loan was approved through a federal program, the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, that extends 10-year, easy-term credit “for certainty during the most risky periods of development,” according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Both CMHC and the Department of Social Development declined to respond to questions. The news website Press Progress cited data from Canada Mortgage and Housing that of 302 apartments in the Brampton project, as few as 61 would rent at below-market rates. The building is scheduled for completion by 2023.

“We know that finding an affordable place to live is a challenge for many Canadians in communities across the country,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the time. “Today’s announcement is great news for families in Brampton. The Government of Canada will continue to invest to increase affordable housing options.”

George Weston Ltd. reported net earnings of $1.6 billion last year. It also operates the Loblaw Companies Ltd. supermarket chain that in 2019 received a $12 million federal grant to install new freezers. “Canadians might wonder why the Liberals handed over $12 million to Loblaw’s, one of Canada’s richest companies,” Conservative MP Mark Strahl (Chilliwack-Hope, B.C.) earlier told the Commons.

The freezer grant was paid under a Low Carbon Economy Fund. A now-disbanded ecoEnergy program similarly paid grants to large corporations in the name of energy efficiency.

Sobeys Inc. received $1.48 million in ecoEnergy grants in the period from 2006 to 2013. Loblaw Companies received $801,000. A total $207,968 was paid to McDonald’s Restaurants and $153,960 to Sears Canada.

“These companies are flush,” Liberal MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.) said in an interview at the time. “Companies, given their financial statements, don’t seem to be worthy recipients of taxpayers’ largesse.”

Mike D’Amour is the British Columbia Bureau Chief for the Western Standard.
mdamour@westernstandardonline.com

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

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