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SLOBODIAN: Stefanson sworn in as Glover battles on

Her opponent, former police officer and federal heritage minister, Shelly Glover, 54, is challenging the party’s selection of Stefanson, zeroing in on how the total number of votes fluctuated on election day. 

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A calm, smiling Heather Stefanson, 51, was sworn in as Manitoba’s 24th and first female premier Tuesday at the provincial Legislative Building.

Meanwhile, over at Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench, papers were filed challenging Stefanson’s right to be the one uttering the required vows of allegiance to the Queen.

Stefanson’s vision for Manitoba includes a desire to strengthen relationships with the province’s indigenous population, improve the problem-plagued health care system she oversaw as health minister since January 2021, reduce unnecessary barriers impeding small and medium-sized business, and get the economy back on track.

She emphasized the need to listen to all Manitobans and the importance of unity within the divided Progressive Conservative party that, according to a disputed count, barely declared her winner of a two-way leadership race on the weekend.

“My message is that we need to find common ground and move forward to unite our party,” she said.

Unfortunately, some party members, many of whom lodged a blizzard of complaints over how the mail-in voting was handled, don’t believe she’s listening to them at all.

Her opponent, former police officer and federal heritage minister, Shelly Glover, 54, is challenging the party’s selection of Stefanson , zeroing in on how the total number of votes fluctuated on election day. 

Glover, whose request for a delay in the swearing in ceremony was ignored, is now asking the courts to declare the results invalid and to order a new election.

Stefanson downplayed Glover’s court challenge overshadowing her day in the sun.

“I think it’s really disappointing that they’re taking these actions. I haven’t been watching what she’s been doing today. I’ve been caught up in my own ceremony…,” she told reporters.

Why yes, she was a little surprised.

“I went over and gave her a hug and I thought everything was fine,” said reminiscing election night.

Apparently, all is not fine.

Stefanson was declared the winner with a slim margin of 363 mail-in votes. She received 51% or 8,405 votes compared with Glover’s 8,042 at 49%. Another 82 ballots were spoiled and 17 deemed disputed.

In an application filed Tuesday, Glover’s legal counsel David Hill claims the process was riddled with “substantial irregularities in the election, calculated to affect the result.”

Glover, in an affidavit, said the vote count was one of the irregularities at issue. She claims the party provided her with a spreadsheet at 12:27 p.m. Saturday indicating 16,045 votes were counted.

“Instantaneously, given the number of votes I had received, I believed that I had won the election,” Glover said in her affidavit.

When PC party president Tom Wiebe announced the results declaring Stefanson the winner, the numbers didn’t match.

“However, Mr. Wiebe went on to say that Ms. Stefanson won 8,405 ballots, leading me to conclude that a total 16,546 ballots had been counted, rather than the 16,045 that had been referred to in the spreadsheet referred to in my campaign leadership.”

In another affidavit former policeman and Glover scrutineer Kevin Cook said scrutineers for both parties determined in the counting room that Glover clearly won being ahead by 500 votes.

“I noticed that members of Ms. Stefanson’s team were visibly upset,” Cook said in the affidavit.

He said he saw men, supervised by Wiebe, remove boxes of counted ballots from the counting room without explanation.

“None of the scrutineers from Glover’s campaign were permitted to leave the ballroom to observe the chain of custody of the unsealed ballot boxes,” he said. 

He claims they were told they’d get the final count later.

Glover’s call before the election to delay the results because members weren’t receiving ballots went unheeded, 

Both the Stefanson and Glover camps agreed that at least 1,200 party members didn’t receive requested ballots.

However, leadership selection committee chair George Orle assured all at the convention that problems were cleared up.

“Anything about envelopes going missing or not being distributed are false,” said Orle.

He blamed COVID and a surge in membership from 4,500 to more than 25,000 in three weeks for the glitches.

It would be interesting to know how many of those new or renewed memberships were a result of the intensely disliked former premier Brain Pallister’s exit, compared with Glover’s entrance to the race offering hope of a revitalized party that would heed the wishes of the people.

Stefanson, who was in tight with the old Pallister guard, faces the formidable challenge of proving she brings a fresh approach to governing the province and the party.

Online ads already launched by the Opposition New Democrats call her a “bad repeat” of Pallister.

Time, and the results of the court challenge, will tell.

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

Linda Slobodian is the Manitoba Senior Columnist for the Western Standard. She has been an investigative columnist with the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun, Edmonton Sun, and Alberta Report. lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Andrew Red Deer

    November 3, 2021 at 7:45 am

    The Fix was in!!! And so all elections in Canada go the same way? Are you going to allow that? I mean the Royal “YOU” the people of Manitoba, its up to “you” and you alone to decide whether to live in Soviet Russia, or Todays China? And further along, the next election in Alberta, or anywhere else that feels aggrieved by Federal overreach?

  2. Mars Hill

    November 2, 2021 at 11:23 pm

    Elections have been ‘rigged/stolen’ regularly around the world since 2000

  3. berta baby

    November 2, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    She’s got a bitch face I expect nothing less than full blown shark week permanently coming out of that office

  4. The Real Kevin

    November 2, 2021 at 7:10 pm

    Why do so many people focus on the patently irrelevant?

    “first female premier”
    “first left handed mailman”
    “first transgender garbage collector”
    “first homosexual serial killer”
    “first bald sheep shearer”

    What matters, is indicators of how they are going to do the job. Seeing as how this one was a minister under Pallister the Disaster? It is not going to get any better.

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Maskless teen student with asthma ostracized at Calgary Catholic school

“Kids in my class called me an ‘outsider’ which made me feel worse than I already felt,” said 14-year-old Darius.

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A Calgary Catholic school has segregated and since banned a student from attending school for not wearing a mask, says the student’s parents.

And before that, teachers had even taped off an area around the boy’s desk “like a crime scene.”

Darius Lynn, a Grade 9 student at St. Helena Junior High School in Calgary, suffers from asthma and was permitted to go maskless at his desk during the 2020-2021 school year.

When Darius returned to St. Helena for the 2021-2022 school year, without his parents’ knowledge, he was advised he would be required to wear a mask full time.

He complied for the first few months but eventually reported to his parents in late November he was struggling to breathe while wearing the mask.

“I had no idea he was told to wear a mask again this year,” Darius’ mother Stephanie told the Western Standard.

“My husband and I just assumed he wasn’t needing to wear a mask again this year.”

Stephanie said she and her husband Paul reached out to the new principal and Darius’ teachers to request they allow their son the same exemption as the previous year.

They were told he would need a doctor’s note, which Stephanie said they have been unable to acquire.

“Mask exemptions are impossible to get,” said Stephanie.

“Right now, doctors are just too scared to write them.”

Stephanie said the school’s solution was to, “move my son’s desk into the hallway.”

Darius also spoke with the Western Standard and said the teenagers in his class referred to him as an “outsider” after he was moved into the hallway.

“When they did group projects, they would just send me to the library and I had to work on my own,” said Darius.  

“Kids in my class called me an ‘outsider’ which made me feel worse than I already felt.”

Stephanie said she and her husband tried to appeal to the principal, but “she wouldn’t budge,” so they reached out to the superintendent.

“We begged for her to let Darius back into the classroom but he ended up sitting out there for two weeks where he was discriminated against and basically ridiculed so we contacted the superintendent,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said she emailed Chief Superintendent Bryan Szumlas with the Catholic School Board who helped the Lynns get their son moved back into his classroom.

“So, he was moved back into the classroom, which was good, but what we didn’t know was that his teachers taped off the floor around his desk like a crime scene,” said Stephanie.

“After they put tape on the floor around my desk, some of the kids in my class would step past the tape and pretend they couldn’t breathe,” said Darius, explaining the teasing he endured.

Darius said his teachers had witnessed some of the teasing, but said, “most of the time the teachers didn’t do anything about it.

“They (teachers) also made me wait a few minutes before I could move to my next class because there were basically a bunch of students in the halls.”

“It was just awful what they were doing to him. They were treating him like a walking disease and visibly segregating him,” said Stephanie.

Stephanie said Darius had to stay within his taped boundaries for about a week until Christmas break.

“After the break, the principal notified us that Darius wouldn’t be welcome back if he wasn’t willing to wear a mask,” said Stephanie.

“In fact, one of the communications with the school referred to his asthma as his ‘apparent asthma’ like we were making it up or something.

“They said he could move to the online schooling system or do their D2L system from home,” said Stephanie referring to a web-based learning system offered throughout the school division.

“He doesn’t do well online so we are just trying to do the best we can. He’s in Grade 9, he should be able to be with his peers to finish off his last year in middle school.”

Darius said he has mixed feelings about not returning to school.

“I’m just really upset that I don’t get to see my friends anymore, but I also feel like I have less distractions at home,” said Darius.

Stephanie said it’s been a hard year for Darius as he also had to walk away from community hockey due to the vaccination mandates and additional costs associated with frequent rapid testing.

“He is totally destroyed,” said Stephanie.

The Lynns have two other sons — both attending Notre Dame High School — one in Grade 11 who is special needs and one in Grade 12.

“The real kicker for us is that we have a special needs son who has never worn a mask, doesn’t social distance and we have never been required to show a doctor’s note for him,” said Stephanie.

“They have totally humiliated my son and I’m angry. We just want our son to be treated with dignity and compassion. He has lost hockey because of the mandates and now he isn’t allowed to go to school.”

The family has since been referred to Area Director Deana Helton with regard to their son’s situation.

The Western Standard has contacted the school principal along with Helton but hasn’t heard back yet.

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

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Copping strikes EMS advisory committee amid system strains, red alerts

The Alberta Provincial EMS Advisory Committee will provide recommendations on a provincial EMS service plan by May.

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Health Minister Jason Copping has appointed MLAs R.J. Sigurdson (Highwood) and Tracy Allard (Grande Prairie) to co-chair a new EMS committee to address “unprecedented” demands on the healthcare system.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is also rolling out a 10-point plan to maximize EMS system capacity.

The government listed many aggravating factors driving the system strains including “EMS staffing fatigue and illness, hospital offload delays, more requests for patient transfers, delays in receiving new ambulances and specialized vehicle parts caused by global supply issues.”

The province has seen a plethora of “red alerts” reported by EMS members and tweeted by the Union of Health Care Professionals @HSAAlbertaEMS. A red alert is when there are no available ambulances for emergency calls.

The government also reported a 30% increase in 911 calls in recent months. There was no mention of personnel shortages caused by the government’s COVID-19 mandate.

“Alberta’s government has been supportive of EMS throughout the pandemic. As we approach the peak of Omicron cases, we know the EMS system is seeing significant strain, which impacts service. We recognize this is a challenge and are taking immediate steps to improve emergency care access while we explore longer-term solutions,” said Copping.

AHS will immediately hire more paramedics, transfer low-priority calls to other agencies, and stop automatic ambulance dispatch to motor vehicle accidents with no injuries. AHS is also “launching pilot projects to manage non-emergency inter-facility transfers, and initiating an ‘hours of work’ project to help ease staff fatigue.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of AHS is confident these actions “will allow us to better support our EMS staff and front-line paramedics, and in turn this will ensure our patients receive the best care possible.”

Additionally, AHS will issue a request for proposals in February to conduct a third-party review of Alberta’s provincewide EMS dispatch system.

“The objective review by external health system experts will provide further opportunities to address ongoing pressures, improve effectiveness and efficiency through best practices, and provide the best outcomes for Albertans who call 911 during a medical event,” the government said.

The Alberta Provincial EMS Advisory Committee will provide recommendations on a provincial EMS service plan by May. Committee representatives include “contracted ambulance operators, unions representing paramedics, municipal representatives and Indigenous community representatives.”

Sigurdson said the committee will consider taxpayers’ needs.

“Albertans expect that when they call 911 in their time of greatest need, EMS will always answer. The committee’s goal will be focused around ensuring and improving service to Albertans while supporting the most critical piece of that equation: our EMS staff across all of Alberta.”

Amber Gosselin is a Western Standard reporter.
agosselin@westernstandardonline.com

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WATCH: O’Toole will not be welcoming the truckers in Ottawa

“It’s not for the leader of the Opposition to attend a protest on the Hill or a convoy, it’s up to politicians to advocate for solutions, in a way that’s responsible and respectable to the health crisis we are in.”

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Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was asked six times during a Monday press conference about his stance on the truckers Freedom Convoy 2022, before giving a vague answer.

“We have been talking with the Canadian Trucking Alliance for several months,” said O’Toole told reports.

“We’ve seen a crisis in the supply chain coming for several months and we’ve proposed policies to try to help alleviate that. The most important of which is vaccines. We encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

O’Toole press conference

Other specific. questions on the truckers’ comments were left with vague answers.

But the end of the conference O’Toole said it’s not his place to get involved.

“It’s not for the leader of the Opposition to attend a protest on the Hill or a convoy — it’s up to politicians to advocate for solutions, in a way that’s responsible and respectable to the health crisis we are in,” O’Toole said.

“We’ve been trying to tackle the supply chain crisis, encourage vaccination, not ignore problems and divide the country like Mr. (Justin) Trudeau does.”

O’Toole said policies cannot be put in place which could contribute to supply chain issues, as Canadians are already worried about their grocery bills.

O’Toole said he was focused on the economic strain Canadians are having, with record inflation, cost of living, 30% higher gas prices and the housing market’s rising costs,.

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

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