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UCP constituency association demands Loewen be reinstated to caucus

The association for Central Peace-Notley made the demand late Wednesday night, the same day as the one for Cypress-Medicine Hat told Kenney they want their MLA let back in.

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Another UCP constituency association is demanding Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reinstate its ousted MLA back into caucus.

The association for Central Peace-Notley made the demand on May 14. Wednesday, the association for Cypress-Medicine Hat told Kenney they want its MLA let back in.

Todd Loewen and Drew Barnes were punted from caucus May 13, after the former had published an open letter calling on Kenney to resign as premier.

The Central Peace-Notley UCP board is also calling for an immediate leadership review for Kenney.

Barnes had 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.

“WHEREAS section 3.1 of the Constituency Association Rules states that an objective of the association is to “support the principles, policies and objectives of the Party,” said members of the Central Peace-Notley board in their letter to Kenney.

“WHEREAS section 3.2 further states that an objective of the association is to “facilitate engagement of the residents of the Constituency in the political affairs of Alberta and the involvement of Constituency Members in the affairs of the Party and Constituency Association”; and

“WHEREAS section 3.3 further states that the association must promote the election of the MLA “as a representative of the people”; and

“WHEREAS the Central Peace-Notley Constituency Association believes Todd Loewen is representing the principles, policies, and objectives of the Party, as well as the will of members and constituents; and

“WHEREAS the decision to remove Todd Loewen from the United Conservative Party (UCP) caucus was not made with the advice, consultation, or consent of the Constituency Association or the voters who elected him as a UCP MLA;

“Therefore, BE IT RESOLVED that the Central Peace-Notley Constituency Association continue to recognize Todd Loewen as the United Conservative Party MLA, including allowing him to continue to serve as an ex officio member of the board; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Central Peace-Notley Constituency Association request the UCP caucus re-admit MLA Todd Loewen.”

It was a similar letter to the one penned by Barnes’ constituency association.

“We, the Board of Directors for the UCP Cypress-Medicine Hat Constituency Association (CMHCA) are disillusioned in the office of the premier and the UCP Caucus by your expulsion of MLA Drew Barnes from that caucus. Our trust and faith in the UCP government to govern reasonably and responsibly is shaken to its core,” said the board in a letter to Kenney, obtained by the Western Standard.

“MLA Barnes was elected with a two-thirds majority of the local votes, and was acting within the full knowledge and support of the CMHCA. It is our conviction that the expulsion of MLA Barnes was not only contrary to the Grass-Roots vision and foundation of the UCP, but an affront to the democratic values of Alberta.

“MLA Barnes was democratically elected to be the UCP representative for Cypress-Medicine Hat by its constituents, and democratically supported in his actions by the Directors of the CMHCA. When Opposition Leader Rachel Notley recently attempted a public opinion poll to pressure for MLA Barnes’ expulsion, it too was voted down with a two-thirds majority. It is undisputedly evident that MLA Barnes is acting as a true representative for responsible government for the will of the people of Cypress-Medicine Hat. 

“We therefore request the immediate reinstating of MLA Drew Barnes, with all his rights and privileges.

“We make this request not for our own interest, but for the interests of Albertans, and so that trust in both the UCP brand and its governance may be restored.”

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

Kenney addressed the caucus May 13, telling them they should be “grateful for the input that it gets,” there aren’t any major problems with the government’s approach, and “I don’t understand why everyone is so upset.”

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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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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