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Alberta

#AlohaGate – Kenney Announces UCP Resignations in Response to Outraged Albertans

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On January 4, 2020, Alberta Premiere Jason Kenney announced the resignation of a number of United Conservative Party members following the Christmas holiday abroad scandal being referred to online as “AlohaGate”. This scandal, which has occupied much of the recent news coverage and trending Twitter hashtags in Alberta, has led to massive public backlash and political destabilization for the ruling provincial party. 

Political careers are often characterized by upheaval and public backlash, as politicians are required to cater to the diverse and disparate needs of the many while under constant scrutiny from the public eye. The year 2020 arguably posed an even greater challenge for political leaders, as they struggled to manage the devastating implications of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Government officials have faced constant backlash for implementing restrictions, or lack thereof, in their attempts to strike a balance between maintaining public safety and supporting the survival of the local economy.  

On December 13, many Albertans were disappointed by the Kenney administration’s updated COVID-19 restrictions, which extended lockdown measures through Christmas and into the New Year. While not necessarily a surprise, these restrictions, which banned inter-household social gatherings and further discouraged non-essential travel, meant cancelled plans and a solitary Christmas for many. Difficult sacrifices were made by thousands of Albertans who were unable to spend quality time with their families, many of whom shared stories of elderly or ill family members who celebrated the holiday and rang in the New Year alone. 

Under these circumstances, countless Albertans were outraged to learn a number of staff and members of the United Conservative Party (UCP) neglected to cancel their non-essential travel plans, choosing to spend Christmas abroad with their families in international locations like Mexico, Hawaii, Las Vegas and more.
According to an article released by the Calgary Herald on January 3, “To date, nine senior government officials in Alberta have been confirmed to have travelled abroad in December.”

The absolute outrage expressed by many upon learning of government officials who failed to abide by the same rules and make the same sacrifices as countless Albertans did this Christmas has made for a rocky start to the New Year for the UCP. The apologies made by members of the government who travelled abroad over the holidays have been met with scathing responses from Albertans, who have expressed feelings of anger and betrayal at the lack of accountability shown by the province’s political leaders.

In perhaps one of the most devastating responses to the controversial AlohaGate, an Alberta family expressed their anger and hurt towards the UCP government after having cancelled their own 2020 trip to Hawaii as a result of the pandemic. This was not a typical family vacation, however, and the cancellation of these plans went far beyond disappointment. The Make-A-Wish Foundation funded the Lousier family trip to Hawaii for their 9-year-old son Braeden, who suffers from Hadju-Cheney syndrome. Braeden, who has struggled with his health for his entire life, is not expected to live to see his teenage years as a result of his condition. “While the family was crushed over the cancellation of their dream vacation,” Global News reported, “Lousier said the recent controversy revealing Alberta government officials travelled over the holidays has turned devastation into anger.”
This is a sentiment echoed by many who have suffered loss of livelihood, decline of mental and physical health, and forced separation from family members as a result of government lockdown mandates. Simply put by the Edmonton Journal, “The moral authority that the Kenney government must wield in convincing Albertans to obey public health recommendations is now severely diminished by the apparent double standard.” 

Jason Kenney’s initial response to the scandal, in which he condemned the actions of those who travelled abroad during the holidays but neglected to impose any disciplinary action against them, was met with major public backlash. Following his address, a torrent of responses from the public labeling Kenney a coward, among other things, and asking him to step down as Premiere flooded the Internet. Many used the hashtag #resignkenney in addition to others such as #alohagate and #alohallard.  

On January 4, Premiere Jason Kenney released a statement declaring he was “listening to Albertans who are sending a clear message that they want real consequences for these actions”. Therefore, as of January 4, 2020, he has accepted a number of resignations from the individuals who “demonstrated extremely poor judgment” by choosing to travel abroad this Christmas. 

Tracy Allard, Tanya Fir, Jeremy Nixon, Pat Rehn, Jason Stephan, Tany Yao, Jamie Huckabay are among the officials who have since resigned or been demoted from their positions in Alberta’s UCP government. 

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

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CALGARY — The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending licences for thousands of wells and pipelines after an oil and gas producer failed to bring its operations into regulatory compliance.

The regulator says it has ordered private SanLing Energy Ltd. to suspend its 2,266 wells, 227 facilities and 2,170 pipelines and ensure they are left in a state that’s safe for the public and the environment.

It adds the company currently owes $67 million in security to the AER for its assets’ end-of-life obligations.

The company has been producing about 4,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day, primarily dry natural gas, said AER spokeswoman Cara Tobin.

It is being asked by the AER to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination, ensure its emergency response number is working and provide a detailed plan to maintain its assets while they are suspended.

The AER says it issued an order to SanLing in September because of a poor compliance record and its outstanding security issues.

It says it met with the company several times over the past five months to request a plan to come back into compliance but the company’s responses proved to be inadequate.

“If SanLing, or any company, wants to do business in Alberta, they must follow our rules,” said Blair Reilly, AEB director of enforcement and emergency management, in a news release.

“We cannot allow a company that has ignored the rules continue to operate — that’s not in Alberta’s interest.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Ottawa unveils proposed federal carbon offset emission credit regulations

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CALGARY — The federal government is unveiling proposed regulations for its greenhouse gas offset program that will govern how developers can register and sell credits earned through projects that reduce emissions.

Environment and Climate Change Canada says one credit will be issued for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced or removed from the environment, adding that eligible projects must be in Canada and offer “real, additional, quantified, unique and permanent GHG reductions.”

The projects will have to be registered and approved, monitored and face third-party verification before credits can be sold to industrial buyers for use to offset their greenhouse gas emissions and thus reduce their carbon tax costs.

In a briefing, department officials said the federal program will not compete with credit generators under similar programs offered in provinces such as Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec, adding approved carbon offsets can only be used once.

The regulations are to undergo a 60-day comment period ending May 5 and final regulations are to be established by next fall.

Meanwhile, the department will be developing protocols to govern how various types of offsets will be regulated. On Friday, it unveiled proposed protocols for advanced refrigeration system upgrading, landfill methane reductions, and forest and agricultural land management.

In December, Ottawa announced a $15-billion plan to meet its climate change commitments that includes steady annual increases to its carbon tax from $50 per tonne in 2022 to $170 per tonne by 2030.

Canada wants to get to a 32 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030, slightly more than its 30 per cent Paris agreement commitment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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