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Alberta justice minister sorry for saying feds, others rooting for COVID disaster

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s justice minister says he was wrong to accuse Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Alberta’s Opposition N-D-P, and the media of rooting for COVID-19 to buckle his province’s health system.

“I would like to offer an apology for my recent comments on my personal Facebook account,” Kaycee Madu wrote on Twitter Tuesday night.

“Alberta is facing an unprecedented public health crisis. My comments were wrong, as all Canadians want this global pandemic to end as soon as possible.

“I fully support the premier’s recent call to avoid the divisive political rhetoric during what we all hope is the final period of this pandemic and will continue the important work of government in protecting Albertans from this virus.”

The apology came a day after Madu’s spokesman, Blaise Boehmer, told reporters in a statement that Madu was standing by his accusations, adding, “The minister won’t apologize for stating the obvious.”

Earlier Tuesday, prior to Madu’s apology, Trudeau rejected the accusations.

“It’s a shame to see people pointing fingers and laying blame and suggesting that anyone in Canada wants anything else than to get through this pandemic as safely as possible everywhere,” Trudeau said in Ottawa.

Premier Jason Kenney, also asked about Madu’s comments prior to the apology, said he hadn’t seen them but said, “COVID has caused us a lot of us at various times to say things we regret, and I just encourage everybody — whatever side of the political spectrum they’re on — to give each other a break right now.”

Trudeau noted he reached out to Kenney and Alberta’s big city mayors last week to offer further support if called upon. Kenney declined the offer.

“Every step of the way the federal government has been there to support Canadians, with $8 out of every $10 in pandemic support coming from the federal government,” said Trudeau.

The issues of blame and responsibility have recently been at the centre of debate in Alberta. Kenney’s government has been criticized for waiting weeks to respond with tighter health restrictions to the current third wave that now threatens to overrun the health system if left unchecked.

Alberta has recently had COVID-19 case rates that are the highest in North America.

Kenney acted with renewed rules a week ago, closing schools and introducing sharper limits on businesses and worship services.

He also stressed now is not the time to lay blame. Prior to that, Kenney and his ministers had repeatedly accused Trudeau’s government of hamstringing the relief effort with a slow vaccine rollout. As late as April 29, Kenney blamed Alberta’s entire third wave on Ottawa.

Last Friday, Madu, in a Facebook post, wrote that the province couldn’t risk giving the COVID-19 virus a chance to “overwhelm our health-care system.

“That’s what the NDP, the media and the federal Liberals were looking for and want,” he wrote.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said her caucus has done its job as the Official Opposition.

She said they’ve pushed Kenney’s government to enact rules to reduce the spread of the virus, while giving businesses financial aid to survive and workers support to allow them to isolate but still provide for their families.

Notley added, “You don’t tend to see that sort of incendiary, thoughtless messaging or tone from someone who takes on the role of justice minister.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, reported 24,998 active COVID-19 cases Tuesday. There are 705 people in hospital with the illness, 163 of them in intensive care — the highest since the pandemic began.

Hinshaw confirmed the province won’t give out more first doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for the time being.

“Based on global supply challenges, we do not know when Canada, and in turn Alberta, will receive additional doses,” said Hinshaw.

There are 8,400 doses left, which will be used for second shots.

Hinshaw also said they will wait at least 12 weeks between AstraZeneca doses, given current research is showing that the interval delivers the best protection.

Alberta has administered more than 255,000 first doses of AstraZeneca.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Red Deer South MLA lambastes Premier Kenney for weighing in on the race to replace him

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Article submitted by Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan

Kenney, the time for you to be quiet is now

When you are a departing leader of a political party, one of your responsibilities is to build unity. One way of doing so is to stay out of the leadership race to replace you. Jason Kenney promised he was not going to be a “color commentator” in the race, and then proceeded to become one. Kenney misrepresented a platform commitment of Danielle Smith —a leading candidate—sowing division and creating disunity.

While misrepresenting the ideas of others and then attacking the straw men manufactured out of the misrepresentation may be standard practice in a junior high school debate, it’s dishonest and disrespectful.

Kenney called the Alberta Sovereignty Act “nuts” and “nuttier than a squirrel turd”. Is that going to produce unity? In his leadership review, when he called those who disagreed with him “bugs”, “kooks” and “lunatics”, how did that work out
for him?

Kenney says the Sovereignty Act would make Alberta the “laughingstock” of Canada. Perhaps we already are.

When Albertans held a provincial referendum and rejected equalization, who did Trudeau appoint as environment minister? He chose Steven Guilbeault, the Greenpeace activist, arrested for climbing on Ralph Klein’s roof when he was away, frightening Klein’s wife who was home alone. I bet Trudeau thought that was funny.

What does Trudeau do with Kenney’s sternly worded letters? Perhaps they are trophies he hangs on the walls.

The premier of Quebec said one of his favorite things about Canada is equalization, so what progress has Kenney made on equalization? None.

The Sovereignty Act seeks to do what Quebec does. Is Quebec a laughingstock?

Kenney says the Sovereignty Act would be a “body blow” to Alberta jobs and the economy and “draw massive investment away”. Isn’t that going to be the result of Trudeau’s new “discussion paper?”

This paper was released in August with a submission deadline in September. It proposes either a new cap-and-trade or carbon tax only on oil and gas development, disproportionately punishing Alberta while sparing Quebec and other provinces that Trudeau bribes for power.

Kenney should consider stopping his straw man attacks and start focusing on Ottawa where he came from. No straw man is required as Ottawa is already responsible for driving away hundreds of billions in investment out of Alberta and thousands of Alberta jobs with it along with more “body blows” to come if we get this imminent new cap and trade or new carbon tax imposed on our natural resources.

Is Kenney working on his latest sternly worded letter?

But wait, under section 92A of Canada’s constitution, isn’t Alberta supposed to have jurisdiction over the development of our natural resources? Isn’t Trudeau again seeking to do indirectly what he cannot do directly? Isn’t this a sneaky,
backdoor, constitutional trojan horse? Isn’t this what the Sovereignty Act is intended to address, to assert constitutional boundaries that Ottawa continually seeks to circumvent, trespass, attack and undermine? When Ottawa abuses its
power, isn’t the Sovereignty Act to be a check and balance?

Yes, a good idea, improperly applied can be detrimental, and if that is the version that Kenney wants to manufacture, attack, and fearmonger, that is his choice.

Properly applied the Sovereignty Act will benefit Alberta, counteracting the commercial uncertainty and chaos from Ottawa by asserting the constitutional boundaries that Ottawa habitually disrespects, seeking to undermine and intrude into
Alberta’s constitutional jurisdiction to develop its oil and gas resources.

Kenney says the Sovereignty Act does not respect the rule of law.

Properly applied the Sovereignty Act supports the rule of law as it asserts Alberta’s constitutional jurisdictions and resists abuses of power emanating out of Ottawa.

Kenney says he “isn’t really following the leadership race”. He is.

Kenney started saying he does not know which candidates are supporting the Sovereignty Act. He knows.

He also knew the deadline for members to participate in the leadership race had ended the day before he chose to improperly misrepresent a platform policy of a leading candidate who is not part of his inner circle.

Great leaders speak the truth in love inspiring the best in those they serve. They do not fearmonger, they do not call names, they do not misrepresent others’ ideas and then attack the straw men they manufactured with their misrepresentations.

It is disappointing to see Kenney failing in his responsibility to build unity. I have faith his successor will do better.

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Alberta

Edmonton gondola needed better Indigenous consultation, councillor says

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By Angela Amato in Edmonton

The sole city councillor to vote in support of a gondola across Edmonton’s river valley says the outcome may have been different if there were better Indigenous consultation.

A recommendation that a city agreement with Prairie Sky Gondola be terminated passed 12 to one on Monday.

Karen Principe, councillor for Ward Tastawiyiniwak, was the lone vote against nixing the project.

But she says more meaningful consultations with Indigenous people were needed before signing the land-lease agreement with Prairie Sky.

The gondola project has been criticized for several reasons, including financial risks to the city and controversy around building on the Rossdale Burial Site.

The Rossdale Burial Site is an Indigenous burial ground that has been recognized as a cemetery by the City of Edmonton since 2005.

The decision comes after a meeting last week where citizens, councillors and the Prairie Sky Gondola team discussed the project.

“It was a very tough decision,” said Principe. “I just thought that it was such a great, creative idea and something unique for Edmontonians.”

Chief Darlene Misik of Papaschase First Nation sent out a statement Thursday, saying her community supported the Prairie Sky Gondola Land Agreement.

“Without this opportunity to access and develop our significant presence beyond the appearance of what is quite frankly an unkept cemetery, the city will wait yet another 15 years or until something else triggers a discussion before considering that perhaps something should be done at the Rossdale Flats,” Misik wrote.

Nisha Patel,The sole city councillor to vote in support of a gondola across Edmonton’s river valley says the outcome may have been different if there were better Indigenous consultation.

A recommendation that a city agreement with Prairie Sky Gondola be terminated passed 12 to one on Monday.

Karen Principe, councillor for Ward Tastawiyiniwak, was the lone vote against nixing the project.

But she says more meaningful consultations with Indigenous people were needed before signing the land-lease agreement with Prairie Sky.

The gondola project has been criticized for several reasons, including financial risks to the city and controversy around building on the Rossdale Burial Site.

The Rossdale Burial Site is an Indigenous burial ground that has been recognized as a cemetery by the City of Edmonton since 2005.

The decision comes after a meeting last week where citizens, councillors and the Prairie Sky Gondola team discussed the project.

“It was a very tough decision,” said Principe. “I just thought that it was such a great, creative idea and something unique for Edmontonians.”

Chief Darlene Misik of Papaschase First Nation sent out a statement Thursday, saying her community supported the Prairie Sky Gondola Land Agreement.

“Without this opportunity to access and develop our significant presence beyond the appearance of what is quite frankly an unkept cemetery, the city will wait yet another 15 years or until something else triggers a discussion before considering that perhaps something should be done at the Rossdale Flats,” Misik wrote.

Nisha Patel, former Edmonton poet laureate and disability justice activist, wrote an essay against the gondola.

“I feel immensely grateful to the amount of people who fought and reasoned for this outcome,” Patel said.

Patel’s essay focused on the Indigenous burial site, the city’s transit needs and the financial implications of the project.

“As someone who has lived in areas with low to no transit options and now lives in a high transit corridor, I’m very sympathetic to the many folks who rely on transit alone.”

While the city has halted the project, Prairie Sky Gondola could still revise its plan and propose the project again.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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