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Alberta

All charges dropped against Canadian pizzeria owner who defied COVID vaccine passport mandates

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Jesse Johnson – Without Papers Pizza, Calgary

From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

Jesse Johnson, who owned Without Papers Pizza, claimed a ‘bittersweet’ victory in a prolonged legal battle against the City of Calgary

All charges have been dropped against the owner of a popular Canadian pizzeria who kept his restaurant open in direct defiance of COVID-19 health rules and refused to ask customers for vaccine passports so that he could serve “everyone.”

Outside a Calgary courthouse yesterday, Jesse Johnson, who owned Without Papers Pizza, claimed victory in a prolonged legal battle against the City of Calgary after a court dismissed all his COVID-related violation charges.

“Yes, it is a bittersweet irony what happened here today. My restaurant was shut unadjudicated, I was deemed guilty without going to a court of law,” he said when speaking with independent media reporter Mocha Bezirgan outside Calgary’s main courthouse Wednesday.

The Democracy Fund (TDF), which funded lawyers Martin Rejman and Chad Williamson in defense of Johnson, noted in a press release that the once-popular pizzeria was charged in October 2021 with “breaching multiple bylaws after its business license was suspended for not complying with public health orders and after undercover inspectors were permitted to purchase pizza and remain in the restaurant without providing proof of vaccination.”

“Among other things, the allegations against the pizzeria were that it permitted persons to enter and remain on the premises without proof of vaccination and that it did not display prescribed signage, all of which was contrary to bylaws passed by the City of Calgary,” the TDF noted.

Johnson did not hold back his disdain for Calgary officials who targeted his restaurant with COVID fines.

“They tried to break me mentally and they tried to break me spiritually. And they almost came close. If it wasn’t for the good people that joined me here today, the many who I fought with on the streets of Calgary,” he said.

Without Papers Pizza was forced into insolvency due to government COVID dictates.

Johnson said, however, that people need to learn how to “forgive” their oppressors as “Christ” commanded.

The TDF said that Johnson’s lawyers had argued in their constitutional application that the city bylaws in question “were implementing public health orders that were found to be invalid by judges of the Court of King’s Bench.”

“More specifically, the impugned health orders were held to be ultra vires the Public Health Act as they were made by the provincial cabinet as opposed to the Chief Medical Officer of Health, which is what the law required,” the TDF stated.

Johnson’s charges being dropped came in the wake of a recent court ruling that declared certain public health orders effectively null.

At the end of July, Justice Barbara Romaine from Alberta’s Court of Kings Bench ruled that politicians violated the province’s health act by making decisions regarding COVID mandates without authorization.

The decision put into doubt all cases involving those facing non-criminal COVID-related charges in the province.

As a result of July’s court ruling, Alberta Crown Prosecutions Service (ACPS) said Albertans currently facing COVID-related charges will likely not face conviction but will instead have their charges stayed.

Danielle Smith took over from Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP) on October 11, 2022, after winning the leadership of the party. Kenney was ousted due to low approval ratings and for reneging on promises not to lock Alberta down, as well as enacting a vaccine passport.

Under Kenney, thousands of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare and government workers lost their jobs for choosing to not get the jabs, leading Smith to say – only minutes after being sworn in – that over the past year the “unvaccinated” were the “most discriminated against” group of people in her lifetime.

Smith made headlines last October after promising she would look at pardoning Christian pastors who were jailed for violating so-called COVID policies while Kenney was premier.

Unlike her predecessor, Kenney – who imposed vaccine passports, mandates, and lockdowns during COVID – Smith did vow she was not going to “create a segregated society on the basis of a medical choice.”

Thus far, in addition to Johnson, café owner Chris Scott, and Alberta pastors James Coates, Tim Stephens, and Artur Pawlowski, who were all jailed for keeping their churches open under the leadership of Kenney, have had the COVID charges against them dropped due to the court ruling.

Countless others have had smaller charges against them for going against COVID mandates dropped as well. However, there are still some facing charges relating to border blockade protests.

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Alberta

New surveillance teams led by the Alberta Sheriffs working with local police in rural communities

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More boots on the ground to fight rural crime

Rural crime continues to be a top concern among residents and businesses in rural Alberta, which is why Alberta’s government remains committed to addressing it through enhanced surveillance and other crime reduction initiatives. Alberta’s government invested $4.3 million for the Alberta Sheriffs to put more boots on the ground. This investment supported the establishment of two plainclothes teams – one in northern Alberta and one in southern Alberta – to support police in carrying out surveillance on criminal targets in rural areas.

Both teams are now fully staffed and operational, ready to fight crime in rural areas across Alberta. These rural surveillance teams will work to prevent crime, monitor agricultural theft and work in collaboration with local law enforcement to share intelligence and resources to keep Albertans and their property safe and secure.

“Criminals and organized crime are not welcome in Alberta. Full stop. The addition of two new surveillance teams will further support our law enforcement partners in stamping out criminal activity in Alberta’s rural areas. This is about supporting local investigations to address local crime in our smaller communities. Together, both teams will form another key component of Alberta’s efforts to combat crime and ensure Albertans feel safe at home and in their communities, regardless of where they live.”

Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services

The Alberta Sheriffs have an existing surveillance unit that is part of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) and focused mainly on serious and organized crime investigations. The new surveillance teams will fill a gap by helping rural RCMP detachments with local investigations.

“Through their specialized knowledge, training and experience, Alberta’s new surveillance teams are providing another important mechanism in the fight against crime in Alberta’s rural communities. Working in close collaboration with the RCMP and other policing agencies, their efforts will play a key role in gathering evidence and information that will help disrupt crime throughout the province.”

Mike Letourneau, superintendent, Alberta Sheriffs

“This announcement by the Alberta government and Minister Ellis is a positive step forward for the residents of Alberta, especially in rural areas. Targeting known criminals is a very effective way to reduce the level of crime taking place and will greatly assist the RCMP who have a vast area to police.”

Lance Colby, mayor, Town of Carstairs

“We are happy to hear about increased resources being allocated to assist our communities. Addressing rural crime is one of the top priorities of the Alberta RCMP, and our partners at the Alberta Sheriffs already play a vital role in keeping Albertans safe. The creation of these new surveillance teams will help augment our ongoing crime reduction strategies in Alberta communities, and we look forward to working with them going forward.”

Trevor Daroux, assistant commissioner, criminal operations officer, Alberta RCMP

The new surveillance teams are part of a suite of measures to expand the role of the Alberta Sheriffs and make Alberta communities safer. Other actions include the expansion of the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit – which uses legal sanctions and court orders to target problem properties where illegal activities are taking place – and the expansion of the RAPID Response initiative with funding for the Sheriff Highway Patrol to train and equip members to assist the RCMP with emergencies and high-priority calls.

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Alberta

Start-up of Trans Mountain expansion ‘going very well’ as global buyers ink deals for Canadian crude

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A worker at Trans Mountain’s Burnaby Terminal. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Deborah Jaremko

Chinese refiner pays about US$10 more for oil off TMX compared to sales value in Alberta

Canada’s oil sands producers are “back in the limelight” for investors following completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, according to a report by Enervus Intelligence Research.

For the first time in the better part of a decade, there is now breathing room on the system to ship all of the oil producers are able to sell off the coast of B.C.

Up until this May, Trans Mountain was regularly overbooked. Not anymore.

The crude carrier Dubai Angel picked up the first shipment from the long-awaited expansion on May 22, setting sail for China and a customer of oil sands producer Suncor Energy.

Analysts estimate Trans Mountain loaded 20 vessels in June, compared to a pre-expansion average of five per month.

“You’re seeing multiple buyers. It’s going very well,” said Phil Skolnick, managing director of research with New York-based Eight Capital.

“You’re seeing the exact buyers that we always thought were going to show up, the U.S. west coast refineries and as well as the Asian refineries, and there was a shipment that went to India as well.”

The “Golden Weld” in April 2024 marked the mechanical completion and end of construction for the Trans Mountain expansion project. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

Canadian crude in demand on the global market

Asian markets – particularly China, where refineries can process “substantial quantities” of extra heavy crude and bitumen – are now “opened in earnest” to Canadian oil, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its June Oil 2024 report.

“There’s demand for this crude and people are going to make deals,” said Kevin Birn, chief analyst of Canadian oil markets with S&P Global.

The IEA said Canadian crude will increasingly compete with heavy oil from other countries, particularly those in Latin America and the Middle East.

June’s loading of 20 vessels is slightly lower than the 22 vessels Trans Mountain had targeted, but Skolnick said a few bumps in the project’s ramp-up are to be expected.

“About three months ago, the shippers were telling investors on their calls, don’t expect it to be a smooth ramp up, it’s going to be a bit bumpy, but I think they’re expecting by Q4 you should start seeing everyone at peak rates,” Skolnick said.

Delivering higher prices

Trans Mountain’s expanded Westridge Terminal at Burnaby, B.C. now has capacity to load 34 so-called “Aframax” vessels each month.

One of the first deals, with Chinese refiner Rongsheng Petrochemical, indicates the Trans Mountain expansion is delivering on one of its expected benefits – higher prices for Canadian oil.

Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Office has said that an increase of US$5 per barrel for Canadian heavy oil over one year would add $6 billion to Canada’s economy.

The June deal between Rongsheng and an unnamed oil sands shipper saw a shipment of Access Western Blend (AWB) purchased for approximately US$6 per barrel below the Brent global oil benchmark. That implies an AWB selling price of approximately US$75 per barrel, or about US$10 more than the price received for AWB in Alberta.

Expanded export capacity at the Trans Mountain Westridge Terminal. Photo courtesy Trans Mountain Corporation

More pipeline capacity needed

Oil sands production – currently about 3.4 million barrels per day – is projected to rise to 3.8 million barrels per day by the end of the decade before declining slightly to about 3.6 million barrels per day in 2035, according to the latest outlook by S&P Global.

“Despite the recent completion of the Trans Mountain Expansion project, additional capacity will still be needed, likely via expansion or optimization of the existing pipeline system,” wrote Birn and S&P senior research analyst Celina Hwang in May.

“By 2026, we forecast the need for further export capacity to ensure that the system remains balanced on pipeline economics.”

Uncertainty over the federal government’s proposed oil and gas emissions cap “adds hesitation” to companies considering large-scale production growth, wrote Birn and Hwang.

Global oil demand rising

World oil demand, which according to the IEA reached a record 103 million barrels per day in 2023, is projected to continue rising despite increased investment in renewable and alternative energy.

June outlook by the International Energy Forum (IEF) pegs 2030 oil demand at nearly 110 million barrels per day.

“More investment in new oil and gas supply is needed to meet growing demand and maintain energy market stability, which is the foundation of global economic and social well-being,” said IEF secretary Joseph McMonigle.

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