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Alberta

Honouring Canada’s Military History – Veteran’s Week

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“November 5-11 is Veteran’s Week, honoring those who have served Canada, past and present, in times of war, military conflict, and peace.” 

Veteran’s Week is dedicated to promoting the education and understanding of Canadian military history, and preserving and honoring the memory of those men and women who dedicated themselves to protecting and fostering freedom and peace. This year, Veteran’s Week recognizes the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, where more than one million Canadians served in the military and countless more on the home front, supplementing industry and agricultural efforts for the war. 

Veterans Affairs Canada encourages all Canadians to learn more about the sacrifices and achievements made by those who served our country, and to help preserve their legacy by passing the torch of Remembrance to future generations of Canadians.” 

Veteran’s Week is a reminder to those of us who have experienced the violence and devastation of war only through textbooks or television to never take for granted the rights, freedoms and institutions we access on a daily basis in Canada. The men and women who selflessly stepped up to serve their country were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and loved ones whose lives would be forever changed by their service. Those who survived face lifelong battles of physical and mental trauma, and those who were lost, many of them young soldiers, would never return to enjoy the peace and liberty they had sacrificed everything to defend. 

Every year, Veterans Affairs Canada encourages public engagement and participation in Veteran’s Week by sharing the stories of those who served, hosting public events and remembrance ceremonies, and commissioning commemorative Veteran’s Week posters.

“Veterans want Canadians to understand the price of freedom.” (1)

One of this year’s Veteran’s Week posters features the story of retired Sergeant Norman Harold Kirby, who enlisted to serve in the Second World War in 1943 at just 17 years old. During his time as a soldier, he stormed Juno Beach on June 6, 1944 as a part of the D-Day assault, served in the Battle of Normandy, and fought in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. He was discharged in September of 1945 having led a distinguished military career, and was eventually awarded the Field-Marshal Montgomery Award for Gallantry and the Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur and a knighthood from the French Republic.
After his discharge in 1945 he returned to his home in North Vancouver, still very much a young man. “I was only 19 years old when I got home,” he says, “not even old enough to vote or have a beer with my father” (2).

The second 2020 Veteran’s Week poster features the retired, married veterans Corporal Anne McNamara and Flying Officer Howard McNamara.
Howard enlisted in December 1941 and graduated senior flying training in Windsor Mills, Quebec, with his younger brother. He flew in the North African Campaign in 1942, after which he transferred from Egypt to serve in the Italian Campaign. He retired in March of 1945 at the plea of his remaining family, after learning of the death of his younger brother, who had been shot down while flying over Europe.
Anne joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 as a member of the Entertainment Unit, a traveling show of 30 or so people who performed on the Allied bases almost every night to keep spirits and morale among soldiers high. Anne traveled across North America and to Great Britain with the Entertainment Unit, where she witnessed the severe damage done by German bombing raids and experienced the fear of the air raid sirens herself. She retired in March of 1946 following the end of the war, after which she met her future husband Howard. The two were married in May of 1948, and currently reside in St. Laurent, Quebec (3).

“Remembering and reflecting on the significance of the contribution they made, and continue to make, strengthens the commitment to preserve the values that they fought and died for – truth, justice, peace, freedom and knowledge.” (4)

These stories offer just a glance into the lived experiences of thousands of Canadian veterans who aided military and industry efforts during some of the darkest times in our national and global history. This Veteran’s Week, explore opportunities to engage with Canadian military history at the local and national levels, and pay respect to our Canadian veterans and active service members as we approach Remembrance Day on November 11. 

For more information on Veteran’s Week, visit https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/get-involved/veterans-week.

Alberta

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney battles COVID-19 hospital crisis, internal party revolt

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EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, facing a mushrooming COVID-19 hospital crisis that now threatens to topple him as leader, accepted the resignation of his health minister Tuesday.

Kenney said it was Tyler Shandro’s idea to leave the health portfolio.

“Minister Shandro offered his resignation. He and I both came to the conclusion that it would be best to get a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh start at the health ministry,” Kenney said.

He noted it has been a difficult stint for Shandro, including him and his family being harassed by anti-vaccination protesters over the summer.

“It has been a gruelling two-plus years for Tyler,” he said.

Kenney replaced Shandro with Labour Minister Jason Copping in a cabinet shuffle and gave Shandro Copping’s job.

The official swap in roles was made in a brief ceremony closed to the public but broadcast on the government’s website.

Meanwhile, Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver asked the federal government for air transportation help if necessary to move patients to care facilities outside Alberta and for more intensive care nurses and respiratory therapists.

Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair responded on social media: “Federal officials have been engaging their counterparts in Alberta for the past week to offer help. I have made it clear that when a request is received, it will be approved. We will work together to provide for the people across Alberta.”

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the timing shows the government made a political decision on when it would ask for help from Ottawa.

“(They) delayed asking for critically important help that was required within our health-care system until after the federal election,” Notley said Tuesday. 

“They put the politics of the Conservative Party at large ahead of the needs of Albertans and those front-line health-care workers who are working desperately in our hospitals to keep people alive.”

Last week, Alberta asked other provinces for help when it declared a state of public health emergency. At that time, Kenney reintroduced gathering restrictions and announced a form of vaccine passport.

Kenney said preparations with Ottawa are precautionary in case the COVID-19 health situation worsens.

Alberta has close to 21,000 active COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, there were a record 996 COVID-19 patients in hospital and 222 of them were in intensive care, well over the normal ICU capacity.

The province also reporter 29 additional deaths, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 2,574. 

Many surgeries have been cancelled and Kenney estimated last week that hospitals could be overwhelmed by the end of the month without direct action. Doctors are being briefed on criteria to use, if necessary, for which patients get scarce life-saving resources and which do not.

The premier is facing not only public, but internal backlash from the United Conservative rank and file as well as from caucus members over his handling of the pandemic.

Joel Mullan, the party’s vice-president of policy, said Kenney needs to step down or face a fast-tracked review of his leadership.

“(A resignation) is necessary because both party members and the public have lost faith in Jason Kenney’s leadership,” said Mullan.

He said Kenney has failed by constantly making extreme, inflexible policy decisions on COVID-19, only to retreat when the shifting, mutable crisis has forced his hand.

In the latest retreat, Kenney introduced proof of vaccination requirements after proclaiming for weeks he would never do so.

“We paint ourselves into a corner where there’s no other option but to turn yourself into a liar to get out of it,” said Mullan. “This is a highly fluid situation with a virus we don’t have a firm understanding of yet.

“There’s no management of public expectations. Instead, it’s just telling people, ‘Nope, this is how it’s going to be’ until it isn’t. It’s no wonder that people don’t trust him anymore.”

Kenney is not facing a party leadership review until late next year unless at least 22 United Conservative constituencies vote to hold one earlier.

Mullan said more than 30 constituency associations have said they intend to call for a review but most have yet to formally ratify their decisions.

“I don’t know exactly when it will be done, but it seems to be moving quite quickly.”

Mullan said if a leadership review were to be called, it would take place within two to three months. Kenny would need a simple majority of votes by the membership to keep his job.

“If he gets less than 50 (per cent), he’s fired.”

Asked about Mullan’s comments and discontent in his caucus, Kenney said he is focused not on internal politics but on the health crisis.

“I believe I have the confidence of the members of my party, of our caucus, of our party board. There will be a leadership review in due course,” he said late Tuesday.

Last week, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, admitted the fuse on the explosive fourth wave was lit in July when Kenney lifted almost all health restrictions, faster than any other province. He said it was safe to do so because 70 per cent of eligible Albertans had received at least one dose of vaccine.

Kenney declared COVID-19 was effectively defeated and that a future rise in cases could be accommodated in the health system. He said he didn’t envision needing a fallback.

After that, vaccination numbers effectively stalled and fell behind other provinces. That prompted Kenney to recently offer $100 to anyone getting a first or second shot.

Notley said Kenney’s government failed to act during July and August as case numbers spiralled and the premier went on vacation.

“There are 60 members of the UCP caucus who sat on their hands from between 30 and 40 days in the latter part of this summer and did nothing, even when they had the information that the so-called Open For Summer Plan was going to fail and Alberta’s health-care system was going to be fundamentally and terminally threatened,” she said.

“And that is the group of people who are now pulling out the knives.”

Last week, he said he didn’t act earlier because he didn’t believe Albertans would have followed renewed health restrictions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Mom, toddler found dead were killed in suspect's Hinton, Alta., apartment: RCMP

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HINTON, Alta. — RCMP say a woman and her 16-month-old toddler found dead in Hinton, Alta., were killed in the apartment of the suspect charged in their deaths.

Police say the bodies of the 24-year-old woman and her child were discovered last Friday but they are unable to say where they were found because the case is before the courts.

RCMP in a release say they died on Thursday — the day before they were reported missing.

Police say autopsies completed on the weekend determined the deaths are homicides.

Robert Keith Major, 53, of Hinton, has been charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of indignity to human remains. 

RCMP say the mother and child lived in the same apartment complex as Major, whose next court appearance is Oct. 20 in Hinton provincial court.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2021 

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. Previous version had homicides on Wednesday, found Thursday.

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