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Kenney denies his office is toxic

“I’m looking forward to cross-examining Premier Jason Kenney,” she said. 

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In a statement of defence, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has denied his office has a toxic work environment.

Ariella Kimmel, a former ministerial chief of staff, in a lawsuit detailed her time in a “poisoned work environment” and spoke of sexual harassment and the excess drinking she witnessed while working in the legislature under Kenney’s government.

Kimmel has worked with the UCP government since May 2019, most recently as the chief of staff to the minister of jobs, economy and innovation from August 2020 until she was fired in February.

The statement of claim says Kimmel witnessed Agriculture and Forestry Minister Devin Dreeshen drinking with other ministers and staff and appeared “heavily intoxicated.”

Dreeshen later resigned from his post.

Kimmel had an on-and-off relationship with Dreeshen prior to being appointed chief of staff in 2020, the CBC report said.

None of her allegations have been proven in court.

“The [office] investigated and took action with respect to any harassment complaint which was brought forward during the term of the plaintiff’s employment,” the statement of defence reads.

CBC reported the statement says policies and procedures on harassment were in place, and in September 2020, all of the premier’s office and ministerial staff were told they needed to complete online respect in the workplace training. 

“[We] could not discuss with the plaintiff the details of any concerns raised by others as those details were the personal information of those involved,” says the statement.

The statement agrees Kimmel is entitled to $29,541 for pay in lieu of notice.

The statement is asking that the lawsuit be dismissed with costs.

Kimmel’s lawyer, Kathryn Marshall, told CBC she will be filing a final reply to the defence, after which witnesses will be subpoenaed. 

“I’m looking forward to cross-examining Premier Jason Kenney,” she said. 

Kimmel alleges after expressing her concern about how much Dreeshen had been drinking, she was confronted by the minister who “aggressively yelled at her to the point where she was in tears and a concerned bystander intervened.”

The statement also points to another incident two days later where another group was drinking in the minister of health’s office. Kimmel alleges the minister’s principal advisor, Ivan Bernardo, made sexually inappropriate comments to one of her female staff members.

Kimmel claims her report of the exchange to Chris Thresher, chief of staff in health, and the premier’s director of issues management, Matt Wolf, went unanswered for close to a month.

On November 17, Kimmel was asked to meet with Kenney’s principal secretary, Larry Kaumeyer, where she shared her interaction with Dreeshen and the sexual harassment by Bernardo.

Kimmel said she was told by Kaumeyer that Bernardo was “not going to be fired,” but would be leaving his position at the end of the year anyway. Kimmel said her other concerns were not addressed. Kaumeyer is no longer working in the premier’s office.

Kimmel was terminated on February 5 even though she has been told by Kaumeyer she would not be fired for bringing her concerns forward. She is seeking more than $399,000 for damages and the salary owed to her until her contract would have expired in May 2023.

Damages Kimmel is claiming in the lawsuit include: “poisoned work environment, fabricating and spreading rumours against her, failing to implement a robust sexual harassment policy, terminating her employment in reprisal, causing mental distress and reputational harm, and affecting her future employment opportunities.”

Kenney’s office started an independent review of its HR policies for political staff in the wake of the lawsuit. 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Barbara

    December 3, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    The Pandemic is OVER in India.

    This doctor explains now. Some one should share this on Kenny’s twitter page and FB page.

    https://www.rebelnews.com/doctor_discusses_ivermectin_success_in_india_questions

  2. d.r.cmolloy@gmail.com

    December 2, 2021 at 9:08 pm

    If Alberta residents are familiar with latest fiscal in AHS organization with a get out of town severance of in the neibour hood of 700000$ after 18 months let Kenny know that we need public review of all contracts at AHS . Does he have the honesty to do that ? If enough tax payers get some honest answers and the people that signed the contracts are made responsible that would be a start. Were was Western Standard when this happened?

  3. Peter No

    December 2, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    His whole party is toxic, just look what they have done to our province! All the promises are broken, nothing good is done, and covido fascism is one of the worst in the world. UCP turned out to be not better than NDP.
    If UCP MLA’s don’t throw JK under the bus in a couple of months they will all go down political drain in 2023.

  4. Bryan

    December 2, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    No, ‘Justin’ Kenney, I don’t believe it is your OFFICE that is toxic! No, it’s not the office that is toxic. Perhaps the current ‘occupant’ of that office?

    LET’S GO, BRANDON KENNEY!

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Ottawa press gallery discusses letting Chinese propaganda agency in

Xinhua has been accused of misusing press privileges at the direction of Chinese diplomats.

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Officials with the Parliamentary Press Gallery held a behind closed doors meeting on Tuesday to talk about letting reporters from Xinhau, the Chinese Community Party’s propaganda agency, into the club, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The gallery is not bound by any outside political considerations,” said gallery president Catherine Levesque of the National Post. 

“We are doing our due diligence to ensure Xinhua meets certain criteria and we will be making a decision shortly.”

Xinhua has been accused of misusing press privileges at the direction of Chinese diplomats.

“Membership in the Parliamentary Press Gallery allows access to the secure physical buildings of the parliamentary precinct and the opportunity to directly question individuals who drive and shape public policy,” gallery directors wrote in a 2020 code Journalistic Principles And Practices.

“As a result, accreditation is a privilege, not a right.”

Xinhua had been a member until 2020 when its press pass lapsed.

The Department of National Defence in 2012 blacklisted the agency from attending its press briefings, and a Xinhua correspondent in 2012 disclosed he was asked to maintain surveillance on Chinese dissidents in Canada.

The gallery would not discuss the Xinhua application but the gallery code states members must “respect the rights of people involved in the news.”

The Commons by a unanimous 266-0 vote last February 22 condemned China for human rights atrocities including the genocide of its Uyghur Muslim community. MPs also voted to petition the International Olympic Committee to relocate the 2022 Winter Games from Beijing.

“We need to move forward, not just as a country but as a world, on recognizing the human rights violations that are going on in China,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier told reporters.

“This is an issue that matters deeply to me, to all Canadians, and we will continue to work with our partners and allies on taking it seriously.”

Xinhua was originally granted Press Gallery membership in 1964 at the request of then-Foreign Minister Paul Martin Sr.

“It is a step in the direction of mutual understanding between Canada and mainland China,” Martin said at the time. Membership was approved in a press credentials swap that saw the Communist Party permit the Globe & Mail to open a Beijing bureau.

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PHA head says cellphone snooping fears unwarranted

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar said managers at no time collected information that personally identified any of 33 million cellphone users.

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The president of the Public Health Agency (PHA) says Canadians need not fret over the fact his organization snooped on 33 million cellphone users, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar said managers at no time collected information that personally identified any of 33 million cellphone users.

“No personal information was asked or was received,” Kochhar told the Commons health committee.

“No individually identifiable data is contained in any part of the work.”

The Commons ethics committee last Friday voted 10-0 to examine the data collection program using cellphone tower tracking. The PHA said it sought the information to monitor compliance with lockdown orders.

“The actual reason why we collected this data is reliable, timely and relevant public health data comes out of it for other policy and decision making,” said Kochhar.

“This is population-level mobility data analysis. This is what we have collected.

“That would help us to understand the possible link between the movement of populations within Canada and the impact on COVID-19. We did that in terms of a very clear way of getting that open and transparent means of collection. We never, ever actually know when we use that information that it is individually identifiable. It is aggregated data.”

MPs on the ethics committee earlier noted cellphone users were never told the PHA was collecting the cellphone tracking data. Conservative MP John Brassard (Barrie-Innisfil, Ont.), noted the scope of the monitoring was only detailed when the Agency issued a December 17 notice to contractors to expand the program.

“It becomes increasingly concerning that government is seemingly using this pandemic as a means and a cause for massive overreach into the privacy rights of Canadians,” said Brassard.

“As parliamentarians, it’s incumbent upon us to make sure we protect those rights, that there is proper scrutiny and oversight.”

“The Public Health Agency was collecting data without the knowledge of Canadians, effectively doing it in secret. We need to know what security measures were in place to protect the privacy rights of Canadians.

“It is vital we do not allow the COVID response to create a permanent backslide of the rights and freedoms of Canadians including their fundamental right to privacy.”

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Health Minister Duclos has no info on $150-million COVID contract to SNC-Lavalin

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

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SNC-Lavalin was given a $150-million sole-source contract to provide “urgently” needed field hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic — but Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos doesn’t seem to know much about it, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The field hospitals were never used.

“This is obviously in support of the needs at the request of provinces and territories,” said Duclos.

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

“What is the status of the mobile field hospitals SNC-Lavalin was contracted to produce?” asked Conservative MP Shelby Kramp-Neuman (Hastings-Lennox, Ont.).

“It was an example of the significant level of preparation that we did throughout the crisis,” replied Duclos.

“Why have the field hospitals from SNC-Lavalin not been deployed?” asked Kramp-Neuman.

Duclos replied he had no information on “the exact nature of the state of that equipment.”

“Did the Prime Minister’s Office approve of this?” asked MP Kramp-Neuman.

“That’s a public works question,” replied Duclos.

“We’re not getting a lot of clarity here,” said MP Kramp-Neuman, adding: “The buck stops with you. Sadly, I recognize you don’t have all the answers to everything, but it doesn’t seem like we’re getting a lot of answers to anything.”

An unidentified Department of Public Works manager finalized the SNC-Lavalin contract on April 9, 2020 without notice to other bidders.

“A public call for tenders was not issued due to the urgency of the need as a result of the pandemic,” said an internal e-mail.

However, as late as Sep. 9, 2020, the Québec contractor had still not fixed a delivery date, according to staff emails.

Paul Thompson, deputy minister of public works, Tuesday said he knew little of the contract details.

“I personally don’t have all the details at my fingertips,” said Thompson.

SNC-Lavalin was paid to supply field hospitals equipped with 200 hospital beds, ventilators, masks, medical gowns and ten days’ worth of medication, back-up generators, water and oxygen tanks, X-ray machines, shower bays and latrines.

“The self-sufficiency of the unit makes it extremely flexible for deployment where the need is greatest in Canada,” said a memo.

Internal records dated Oct. 13, 2020 disclosed no one wanted the field hospitals.

The department said spending included $2 million for design work and millions more on warehousing medical supplies for presumed future use.

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