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National

Pierre Poilievre elected leader of the Conservative party with massive victory

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By Stephanie Taylor in Ottawa

Pierre Poilievre, one of the first members of Parliament elected under the Conservative party’s banner, is now its leader after a resounding first-ballot victory announced Saturday night in Ottawa.

Many in the room full of Conservative faithful at a downtown Ottawa convention centre erupted into cheers and applause at the news that the party veteran and former cabinet minister had so quickly and firmly secured the top job with 68 per cent of support.

As he took the stage, some chanted ‘freedom,’ which was the central rallying cry of his campaign.

Even before the results were officially announced, a crowd of supporters mobbed Poilievre, requesting photos while he and his wife, Anaida, waited with family to hear the announcement.

“Tonight begins the journey,” Poilievre told the crowd, “to replace an old government that costs you more and delivers you less with a new government that puts you first — your paycheque, your retirement, your home your country.”

Saturday also marks the start of Poilievre’s new beginning as party leader. He is now leader of the country’s Official Opposition, also now known as His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

Despite his big win, Poilievre and his team have to get to work to prepare the party for when the House of Commons resumes sitting on Sept. 20. That is one day later than originally scheduled, to accommodate the state funeral for the Queen being held Sept. 19. There will also be a special sitting on Thursday to commemorate the late monarch.

Poilievre is also expected to meet his caucus on Monday.

At 43, Poilievre has spent most of his adult life on Parliament Hill working as an MP, first getting elected for his Ottawa-area riding at only 25.

From his earliest days after arriving in 2004 through to the end of the Conservatives’ reign in government at 2015, Poilievre earned himself the reputation of being attack dog in the House of Commons, serving first as parliamentary secretary to former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper, and later in his cabinet.

He’s kept that combative style up through Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s time in power, often criticizing his government’s spending and current inflation rate as “Justinflation.”

Poilievre kept that line of out of his victory speech Saturday, which he opened by expressing sorrow for the death of Queen Elizabeth II — something nearly all speakers did — and then revisited many of his campaign themes around cost-of-living concerns.

“Today people feel like they’ve lost control of their pocketbooks and their lives,” he said. “The cost of government is driving up the cost of living.”

Some people are hanging on by a thread, Poilievre said, vowing to restore hope.

A pledge to end remaining COVID-19 vaccine mandates to allow people “to work and travel freely” received one of the largest cheers from the crowd on Saturday night.

Poilievre, who throughout the race was accused of launching personal attacks against other candidates, thanked each of his four competitors by name during his speech.

He thanked former Quebec premier Jean Charest for his service the country. Charest, who likely had the best chance of preventing Poilievre from winning the leadership, earned just 16 per cent of support on the first ballot, placing him in distant second place.

Rookie Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis, who stunned many with her strong showing in the 2020 leadership race, earned just nine per cent this time around, despite having the backing of the party’s well-mobilized social conservative wing.

Former Ontario legislator Roman Baber scored roughly five per cent and rural Ontario MP Scott Aitchison finished with about one per cent.

“To supporters of all of these fine candidates, I open my arms to you. Now today we are one party serving one country,” Poilievre said.

He also thanked his family. Poilievre thanks his mother Marlene, who was in the audience, along with his father Don and his partner Ross. Poilievre was adopted at birth and on Saturday said his biological mom was also in the room.

“We’re a complicated and mixed-up bunch, like most families, like our country,” said Poilievre.

A riding-by-riding breakdown of the results show Poilievre captured widespread support across the country, being the first choice for Conservative party voters in nearly each of its 338 ridings.

Former Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer, who campaigned for Poilievre said that margin of victory surpassed expectations.

“When we were having big, big turnouts at the rallies, Pierre’s first question was, ‘OK, but how many memberships did we actually sell?'” he said in an interview at the event on Saturday.

“Everything was about not taking it for granted.”

Earlier in the evening, former leader Erin O’Toole appeared by video to deliver thanks and emphasized to the crowd the importance of unity in the party. He said he was honoured to lead, but for “too short” of a time.

Candice Bergen, the longtime Manitoba MP who led the party in the interim after caucus voted to oust O’Toole in February, also addressed the audience. In her final speech as interim leader, Bergen said she wants to be remembered as helping promote unity.

She also imparted some advice to the new leader: “Respect, listen to and trust our caucus.”

Poilievre turned heads in the campaign when he began appearing in front of crowds that at times swelled into the thousands, which he kept up throughout the race.

That prompted his campaign to say his populist message had unleashed a movement, which it galvanized to sell more than 300,000 memberships.

The Conservative party said nearly 418,000 ballots would be counted in the race, out of some 678,700 eligible voters.

Before Poilievre was elected as an MP, he grew up running in Conservative circles, coming to Ottawa in 2002 as a political staffer for former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day and grew up campaigning for the likes of leaders such as Jason Kenney.

Poilievre was raised in Calgary and was adopted by his parents. He has said the reason he became interested in politics is because of an injury that left him unable to keep playing competitive sports as a teen.

In the years since the Conservatives lost power, Poilievre served as the party’s finance critic, honing his economic messages against government spending and deficits, which he delivered more loudly once the COVID-19 pandemic hit and inflation surged.

Leadership ambitions had been on Poilievre’s mind for at least a couple of years.

He considered running the last time the party was picking a leader in 2020, but ultimately decided against it just days before his campaign was supposed to launch.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2022.

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Alberta

Premier Danielle Smith sent this letter to PM Justin Trudeau today

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An alternative to Just Transition: Premier Smith

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith invites Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to work with her to develop “Sustainable Jobs” legislation as an alternative to the proposed “Just Transition” legislation.

Dear Prime Minister:

I am writing to once again raise Alberta’s serious concerns with the proposed federal ‘Just Transition’ legislation. The world needs more Canadian energy, not less. It would be premature and ill-advised to signal the end of a vibrant, thriving industry that has the ability to reduce Canada’s and the world’s emissions through technological innovation and increased exports of LNG and other clean burning fuels the world so desperately needs. It is also critical to the security of our nation and allies to lessen dependence on fuel sources from unstable, undemocratic and dangerous countries with atrocious environmental records.

Simply put, the world needs more Canadian energy and technology, not less, and as the owner of the world’s third largest oil and gas reserves and the most advanced environmental technology on the planet – we need to signal our intention to provide substantially more of both.

According to your government’s own predictions, the federal Just Transition initiative alone will risk a full 25 percent of Alberta’s economy and 187,000 jobs in Alberta, while also causing major disruptions and displacement to 13.5 percent of Canada’s workforce. At a time when Canadians are struggling to afford basic services and goods, Canada’s oil and gas sector offers some of the highest wages in Canada, which translates to strong business and community support across the country. Signalling a move away from these types of high paying jobs, threatens the national economy, and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of workers across the country at a time when good jobs are needed the most. It also creates a chilling effect on investors considering large scale investments in the Alberta and Canadian energy sector.

Prime Minister, we are at a crossroads in Alberta’s relationship with the Federal Government. We can continue with the endless court challenges, legislation to protect jurisdictional rights and inflammatory media coverage over our disagreements, or, as is my strong preference, Alberta and Ottawa can work in partnership on a plan that will signal to all Canadians and investors from around the world that our governments have cooperatively designed a series of incentives and initiatives intended to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Substantially decreasing Canada’s and Alberta’s net emissions;
  1. Accelerating private and public investment in projects and infrastructure that utilize and develop Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), Bitumen Beyond Combustion, Geothermal technology, petrochemicals, hydrogen, lithium, helium, zero-emissions vehicles and nuclear technologies;
  1. Attracting and growing a larger skilled workforce to fill positions in both the conventional energy sector as well as emerging industries using the technologies cited above; and
  1. Significantly, and through the lens of global emissions reduction, increasing the export of LNG and other responsibly developed conventional oil and natural gas resources to Europe, Asia and the United States.

Prime Minister, all of the above objectives need to be clearly articulated and integrated into any Federal legislation or policies your government seeks to implement in the coming months, or that legislation will face irrepressible opposition from Alberta. I genuinely do not want to see that happen.

Further, this proposed legislation must be developed through cooperative discussions with affected provinces – namely Alberta. I would therefore invite you to meet with me in February on this matter, after which I would propose we have our appropriate ministers and officials meet repeatedly in the coming months with the goal of coming to a joint agreement on the key items to be included in your contemplated legislation so that it can be introduced and passed by the end of Spring.

Further, I request that you take to heart, and acknowledge publicly, the following items, in an extension of good faith to Albertans:

  1. Immediately drop the verbiage of “Just Transition”. Accordingly, rename the “Just Transition Act” to the “Sustainable Jobs Act”;
  1. Vow that all provisions of any forthcoming legislation will be designed to incentivize investment and job growth in both the conventional energy sector as well as in emerging industries utilizing Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS), Bitumen Beyond Combustion, petrochemicals, hydrogen, lithium, helium, geothermal, zero-emissions vehicle and nuclear technologies;
  1. Demonstrate that no provision of the Act will be designed to phase out or reduce Alberta’s conventional oil and natural gas sector and workforce (as we are already experiencing a workforce shortage in this sector);
  1. Commit your Government to actively partnering with Alberta to expand LNG exports to Asia and Europe as part of our nation’s overall emissions reduction strategy; and
  1. Promise that you and your Government will work with Alberta in partnership to set reasonable and meaningful emissions reductions targets and will not unilaterally impose such targets on Alberta’s energy, agriculture and other industrial sectors on a go forward basis.

Investments by Alberta’s oil and natural gas industry are driving the creation of the very clean technologies needed to bring emissions down both in Canada and around the world. Oil and natural gas companies representing the majority of production in Canada are investing $24 billion on projects to help reduce annual GHG emissions from operations by 22 million tonnes by 2030, and have committed to emission neutrality by 2050. Putting an end to or hampering this important work, and continued tepid support for increased LNG export, is the best way for your government to fail in its goal of reducing our nation’s and the world’s emissions. It would be the ultimate example of scoring on our own net.

The Alberta energy sector has grown and thrived through innovation, providing good paying jobs for thousands and contributing billions of dollars in tax revenue for all levels of government.  They will continue to evolve and adapt to new technologies in search of new low to zero-emitting fuel sources like hydrogen and provide new, high-paying skilled jobs for decades to come. It is essential that the federal government stands shoulder to shoulder with Alberta to reduce emissions and continue to develop our oil and natural gas and future energy sources responsibly, while also positioning Canada as the optimal solution to global energy needs and security.

Prime Minister, we can and must work together. Operating in political silos, as adversaries on this issue, is getting us nowhere, and I believe all Canadians are tired of seeing it. Canada should be the world’s greatest energy superpower. It can be, if we come together collaboratively in pursuit of that objective. There is no limit to our nation’s potential.

Let’s turn the page starting with a meeting between us next month followed by a dedicated effort to craft “Sustainable Jobs” legislation that a vast majority of Albertans and Canadians will welcome and support. The consequences of missing this opportunity will be dire for the Canadian and Alberta economies, workforce and environment.

I look forward to your prompt reply.

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Business

Home Depot gave personal data to Meta without valid customer consent: watchdog

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Ottawa – Retailer Home Depot shared details from electronic receipts with Meta, which owns the social media platform Facebook, without the knowledge or consent of customers, the federal privacy watchdog has found.

In a report released Thursday, privacy commissioner Philippe Dufresne said the data included encoded email addresses and in-store purchase information.

The commissioner’s investigation discovered that the information sent to Meta was used to see whether a customer had a Facebook account.

If they did have an account, Meta compared what the customer bought at Home Depot to advertisements sent over the platform to measure and report on the effectiveness of the ads.

Meta was also able to use the customer information for its own business purposes, including user profiling and targeted advertising unrelated to Home Depot, the commissioner found.

It is unlikely that Home Depot customers would have expected their personal information to be shared with a social media platform simply because they opted for an electronic receipt, Dufresne said in a statement.

He reminded companies that they must obtain valid consent at the point of sale to engage in this type of activity.

“As businesses increasingly look to deliver services electronically, they must carefully consider any consequential uses of personal information, which may require additional consent.”

Details of a person’s in-store purchases might not have been sensitive in the context of the home-improvement retailer, but they could be in other cases, revealing information about an individual’s health or sexuality, he added.

At a news conference, Dufresne suggested the Home Depot matter was not an isolated case.

“Our investigation focused on one organization, one situation, but our sense is that these tools are widely used. And this is why the message today is that all organizations should review their practices.”

Home Depot told the privacy commissioner it relied on implied consent and that its privacy statement, available through its website and in print upon request at retail outlets, adequately explained the company’s use of information. The retailer also cited Facebook’s privacy statement.

The commissioner rejected Home Depot’s argument, saying the privacy statements were not readily available to customers at the checkout counter and shoppers would have no reason to seek them out.

“The explanations provided in its policies were ultimately insufficient to support meaningful consent,” Dufresne’s statement said.

He recommended that Home Depot stop disclosing the personal information of customers who request an electronic receipt to Meta until it is able to put in place measures to ensure valid consent.

Home Depot fully co-operated with the investigation, agreed to implement the recommendations and stopped sharing customer information with Meta in October, the commissioner said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.

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Meta funds a limited number of fellowships that support emerging journalists at The Canadian Press.

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