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Sun-seeking, absentee MLA back in the UCP caucus

Rehn was one of numerous UCP snowbird MLAs who jetted out of the province over the holidays tweeting a picture of himself from a cave in Mexico, one of the moves that kicked off the entire scandal.

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Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn is being welcomed back into the UCP fold.

He was punted from caucus in January after fleeing the chilly climes of Alberta for some sun and sand in Mexico at a time when the rest of the province was shut down from COVID-19, with a travel advisory over everyone’s head.

Before the UCP Snowbird Scandal, Rehn was already in trouble with some of his constituents – with the mayor and entire council of Slave Lake calling on their MLA to resign in an open letter.

Rehn was one of numerous UCP snowbird MLAs who jetted out of the province over the holidays tweeting a picture of himself from a cave in Mexico, one of the moves that kicked off the entire scandal.

Kenney’s letter at the time stated he fired Rehn and that he will not be allowed to seek a UCP nomination in the future, however, the UCP constitution states that removal from caucus is a power for the caucus as a whole, not the leader, and that disqualification for a nomination must be made by the party, not the leader alone.

Kenney’s statement did not cite the Snowbird Scandal as a contributing reason for his removal, only that he was absent from his constituency.

He said Rehn “has made no meaningful effort to be more present in his constituency or to properly represent his hard-working constituents.”

Kenney said Rehn had “ignored” calls to be more present in Slave Lake.

But UCP Caucus Chair Nathan Neudorf said Rehn has worked “tirelessly to rebuild trust with local families, businesses, elected officials and indigenous leaders.”

Neudorf said caucus was presented with letters of support – including from several municipalities and the Lesser Slave Lake Constituency Association – requesting Rehn be allowed to rejoin caucus.

“Pat has been doing an incredible amount of work to rebuild trust and get things done in his constituency. He has learned to apply the skills that made him so successful in business to his job as MLA, and he has reminded all of us why he was elected in the first place,” Neudorf said.

Rehn said: “The past six months have been eye-opening to me, as I worked to regain the trust and confidence of my constituents. It was clear that I was not living up to expectations in representing Lesser Slave Lake, and for that I am sorry.

“I am humbled that people are willing to give me a second chance, and I will not let them down.”

In a withering letter to Rehn in January, the Slave Lake council alleged a litany of problems they have had with him.

The town, with a population of 6,500, 255 km northeast of Edmonton, made public a laundry list of complaints against Rehn, including missed meetings and failure to represent the area for economic development.

They claim Rehn, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, doesn’t even live in Alberta (or Canada), saying he resides in Texas.

“When COVID-19 began and the Canadian government said Canadians need to get home, you were in the United States. Since that time, you have made multiple trips abroad. In fact, right now, as our businesses suffer and many of our people aren’t working, you still aren’t here.,” said the letter signed by Mayor Tyler Warman and six other councilors

In fact, the council claims the UCP government was aware of Rehn’s performance and had asked other MLAs to pick up his work.

In the letter, the council alleged the following problems with Rehn:

•    Shortly after you were elected MLA, you decided to no longer reside in the constituency.

•    Lack of time spent in the constituency engaging with residents and elected leaders. In fact, you have yet to even meet with some of the region’s elected leaders.

•    Since your election, you have spent more physical time managing your business in Texas than being physically present in our Region.

•    Multiple missed meetings and lack of preparation for meetings that do happen.

•    Missing a meeting with local leaders and the justice minister (regarding a spike in local crime) so you could attend an oilfield expo in Fort McMurray for your business.

•    Missed a meeting with the housing minister for a $4 million housing project that has been years in the works, but again, you could not be bothered to show up on our behalf to help move the project forward. This meeting was scheduled by your government.

The council’s note concludes “we have an MLA that does not represent the people of this region. This lack of representation can be directly attributed to the fact that you don’t reside here, spend little time here, and have failed to “know” the people you represent. 

“As such, we have lost faith that you have the ability and the desire to undertake the work which is required of an MLA. On behalf of the Town of Slave Lake and those we represent, we are asking for your resignation as MLA for the Lesser Slave Lake constituency.”

Rehn put up a Facebook statement defending himself.

“It’s disappointing to see some municipal officials seizing on this to try and sow political division at this difficult time,” Rehn wrote

“To be clear, I have residences in Slave Lake and Edmonton. I do not own any property in Texas whatsoever. Yes, I do continue to own businesses; businesses that are fully disclosed and compliant with Alberta’s Ethics Commissioner. And yes, I have needed to travel to Texas within the past year to address essential business matters.

“I, of course, complied with all health requirements when doing so. It is the honour of a lifetime to represent a region I have lived and worked in since I bought my first quarter-section of trees and also my first sawmill in Wabasca using every penny I had in the bank. I will continue representing Lesser Slave Lake, the region I love and call home.”

The full letter from Slave Lake council can be found here.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby769

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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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Claudette Leece

    July 16, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    Sounds like someone you want to represent you, another loser UCP,like Garth Roswell, he’s so silent, ten people in town couldn’t name him. Must of been slim pickingwhen election was held. But good old Kenney has suchaforgivi g heart,unless your a pastor, then it’s hell for you.

  2. Steven

    July 15, 2021 at 5:47 pm

    15 July 2021 at 5 pm CTV Calgary had a segment on this. It’s a numbers game ??

    Turns out former Prime Minister Harper has been advising the UCP. Turns out that with four kicked out former UCP members sitting as independents. It would only take one more to get the boot or quit to shift the balance of power. Looks like Premier Kenney is indeed in the back pocket of the CPC & controlled by the CPC headshop. Prove me wrong. Autonomy for Alberta? Not under Kenney.

    I am quite sure now that leaving the UCP to join the WIPA was a very good move.

  3. Left Coast

    July 15, 2021 at 8:38 am

    Rehn thinks he is a “Chief” . . . condo in Texas while collecting a salary in Canada.

  4. Westcanguy

    July 14, 2021 at 3:52 pm

    Another fine example of why Kenney is such a weak leader. I expect they will lose that seat.

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News

Judge says military accounting a major mess

Defence lawyers in the case argued army accounting was so incompetent all evidence of theft was circumstantial.

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A judge in Nova Scotia says he has no doubt Canadian Armed Forces money was swiped, but military bookkeeping is so terrible he can’t say how much.

Blacklock’s Reporter said the money was discovered to be stolen from Sydney, N.S. Garrison after an internal audit faulted the Department of National Defence for mismanagement of money-losing golf and curling clubs.

In convicting a former manager of theft, Nova Scotia Provincial Court Judge Peter Ross said he was “convinced beyond a reasonable doubt” that tens of thousands of dollars were stolen from the Sydney Garrison, but had to estimate the loss at $28,000 due to “lax accounting practices” and “sloppy recordkeeping.”

Defence lawyers in the case argued army accounting was so incompetent all evidence of theft was circumstantial.

“There are too many holes in the bucket,” the Court was told.

David Mullins, a former Department of Public Works manager, was found guilty of theft. Mullins worked as manager of the Sydney Garrison Messes for two years handling food and liquor sales, hall rentals, petty cash, bank deposits and inventory.

Court was told bookkeepers in Halifax became alarmed when the Garrison started “going into the red” and reporting bank deposits for $4,700 “deemed suspicious because it was such a round number.”

Forensic accountants found the Garrison “did not have working cash registers” and discovered $2,800 in banknotes in a filing cabinet.

“If bottles are missing, cost is what matters,” testified Roberta Sullivan, a forensic accountant with the Department of Public Works.

“If cash is missing, retail value is what matters.”

The Garrison Messes were managed by the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services branch, the same division responsible for operations of 39 military-owned sports clubs nationwide.

An earlier Non-Public Property Audit Of Special Interest Activities found the clubs lost $2.7 million annually.

The review found military clubs sold memberships to the general public in direct competition with the private sector.

“Policy dictates the combined non-military membership at a special interest activity shall not exceed 50% of the total membership,” said the report.

“Several special interest activities have requested exceptions to this, citing financial sustainability.”

“Policies require special interest activities to operate as businesses with the goal of being financially sustainable.”

“Sustainability” was widely interpreted, the report added, with unnamed club managers found to “interpret a net loss as acceptable” as long as it was subsidized by the Department of National Defence.

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

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News

Civil service mag promotes immunization passports

Any mandatory scheme would see Canadians required to carry proof of vaccination to eat at a restaurant, visit a shopping mall or go to a baseball game, said the magazine.

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A magazine for Canadian public service managers says the country must introduce vaccine passports, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The immunity of the population is detrimental for the safe reopening of the economy and various jurisdictions across the world are exploring the idea of immunity certificates as an enabler,” said a commentary in Canadian Government Executive, a periodical published for federal public service managers.

“After a rigorous analysis of the issue of immunity certificates, this article concludes the necessity of immunity certificates in Canada as a key enabler for the safe reopening of the society and economy in a post-Covid world.”

Any mandatory scheme would see Canadians required to carry proof of vaccination to eat at a restaurant, visit a shopping mall or go to a baseball game, said the magazine.

“They can also be used to promote economic activities such as workplace safety, tourism etcetera,” said the periodical.

The magazine acknowledged Canadians were divided on the issue and numerous foreign jurisdictions have banned vaccine passports.

“It is important to note in the United States several states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona etcetera have either banned or prevented the mandatory use,” said the commentary.

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien in a May 19 statement said vaccine passports breached the Privacy Act since they compelled users and non-users alike to disclose personal health information to access public facilities.

“There must be clear legal authority for introducing use of vaccine passports,” said Therrien, adding Parliament would require “a newly enacted public health order or law” before any mandatory scheme could be introduced.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a January 14 podcast called it a divisive issue.

“I think the indications that the vast majority of Canadians are looking to get vaccinated will get us to a good place without having to take more extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on community and country,” said Trudeau.

“I think it’s an interesting idea but I think it is also fraught with challenges. We are certainly encouraging and motivating people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. We always know there are people who won’t get vaccinated, and not necessarily through a personal or political choice.

“There are medical reasons. There are a broad range of reasons why someone might not get vaccinated. I’m worried about creating undesirable effects in our community.”

Federal research shows about 12% of Canadians would refuse a COVID-19 vaccine under any circumstances. A total of 26% said they did not trust the Public Health Agency, according to the Statistics Canada report.

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

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Canada Post to make bank on lending operations

The union said loans would be issued in a test project at post offices in Halifax and Bridgewater, N.S. and surrounding rural areas, as well as Calgary and Red Deer by year’s end.

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“A roll of stamps and $30,000 please.”

That will soon be possible as, for the first time in 53 years, Albertans will be able to go to the post office for a loan.

Blacklock’s Reporter said Canada Post on Thursday confirmed outlets in Alberta and Nova Scotia will broker cash loans for the Toronto Dominion Bank.

“The market test goal is to offer the new financial service in over 249 Canada Post locations before the end of 2021,” the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said in a statement.

Post offices would offer Toronto Dominion loans of $1,000 to $30,000 at “competitive rates.”

Post offices currently sell money orders, gift cards and process electronic cash transfers but disbanded deposit-taking postal banks in 1968.

The union said loans would be issued in a test project at post offices in Halifax and Bridgewater, N.S. and surrounding rural areas, as well as Calgary and Red Deer by year’s end.

“CUPW continues to support the creation of an independent postal bank despite our current partnership with Toronto Dominion Bank,” said the union.

“Partnering with a financial institution does not put an end to the goal of an independent postal bank.”

Parliament in an 1867 Postal Act allowed post offices to hold cash deposits and offer cheque-cashing services. Postal banks at their peak in 1908 held the equivalent of a billion dollars on deposit.

A 2016 Department of Public Works survey found 39% of small business owners nationwide, and 44% on the Prairies, said they would use Canada Post banking services if offered.

The department paid $142,137 for the study by Ekos Research Associates Inc.

“I think Canada Post is very open to increased financial services, not necessarily ‘postal banking’,” Brenda McAuley, national president of the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, said in an earlier interview.

“I think the word ‘banking’ scares a lot of people. The banks don’t think it is necessary.

“There are islands in British Columbia where people have to take a ferry to get to a bank. We will look at pilot projects. I’ve got quite a few places on my radar.”

Canada Post in its 2020 Annual Report said it was “reinventing our retail model” at 6,084 post offices nationwide, including “assessing new financial services and options” mainly in rural Canada.

“Our vast retail network of post offices and dealer outlets across the country provides convenient locations and services with many of them offering evening and weekend hours to meet the changing needs of Canadians,” wrote management.

Jessica McDonald, then-chair of the Canada Post board, in 2018 testimony at the Commons government operations committee said the Crown corporation was “very open-minded” on resuming postal bank services.

“Postal banking has been under a tremendous amount of discussion and continues to be,” said McDonald.

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

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