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Alberta

Province adds travel prizes to boost vaccine numbers

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8 minute read

Supreme Court won't hear Westjet appeal

News release from The Province of Alberta

Travel prizes added to Open for Summer Lottery

Albertans who get fully vaccinated with two doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine now have a chance to win vacation packages and other travel prizes from WestJet and Air Canada.

Along with three draws for $1 million each, Alberta’s Open for Summer Lottery will now offer an additional 40 travel-related prizes provided by WestJet and Air Canada. This includes week-long stays at all-inclusive luxury resorts and flights across Canada and abroad.

The WestJet and Air Canada packages will be included in the August lottery draw for people who receive both vaccine doses. To enter, you simply need to register online and have received a first and second dose of COVID-19 vaccine before registration closes at 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 24. Winners will be announced on Aug. 31.

The draws are open to all Albertans age 18 and older who register for the Open for Summer Lottery, providing yet another incentive to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and another way to reward those who have already rolled up their sleeves.

“Alberta’s government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated so we can put this pandemic behind us. I would like to thank WestJet and Air Canada for providing yet another reason for eligible Albertans to get protected. In turn, we want Albertans to get their vaccines as soon as possible so we can fully open for summer and open for good.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“The Open for Summer Lottery is a once-in-a-lifetime response to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. While protection from COVID-19 is the greatest reward, we have dreamt long enough of getting back to activities we love. This is the perfect opportunity to make some of those travel dreams a reality while encouraging more Albertans to get vaccinated.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“Vaccinations are our way out of this pandemic. With partners like WestJet and Air Canada, we’re ready to kick-start tourism in Alberta and start welcoming travellers from around the globe. As we begin to open our doors and welcome visitors back to explore the beauty and wonder of Alberta, our tourism industry will be a key part of our economic rebound.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation

“The safe restart of travel is essential to Canada’s economic recovery and the faster Canadians are vaccinated, the sooner we can restore jobs across our hard-hit travel and tourism sector. We’re proud that more than 350 WestJetters continue to support vaccination efforts across the country, including 132 furloughed WestJetters who have joined Alberta Health Services to take calls, manage vaccine appointments and answer questions about vaccination. As Alberta’s successful vaccination rollout continues, we look forward to stimulating recovery by once again reconnecting Canadians to their friends, family and loved ones from coast to coast.”

Andrew Gibbons, vice-president, WestJet

“We are pleased to support Alberta’s vaccination efforts to help conquer COVID-19. We look forward to welcoming Albertans on board Air Canada’s flights when returning to the activities that everybody misses, including travelling to reunite with friends and families, taking a long-awaited beach vacation, exploring more of what the world offers, and also bringing global visitors to Alberta for business and leisure.”

David Rheault, managing director, Government and Community Relations, Air Canada

WestJet prizes

  • One WestJet Vacation Package for two to Dreams Vista Cancun Golf & Spa Resort, including round-trip economy flights and a seven-night all-inclusive stay.
  • One voucher for two people to fly round trip, business class, anywhere in WestJet’s network.
  • 10 vouchers for two people to fly round trip, economy class, anywhere in Canada.
  • Three giveaways of 1,500 WestJet dollars.
  • Five giveaways of WestJet Rewards Gold Status.

Air Canada prizes

  • One Air Canada Vacation Package for two to Planet Hollywood Cancun, including round-trip economy flights and a seven-night all-inclusive stay.
  • One voucher for two people to fly round trip, business class, anywhere in Air Canada’s network.
  • 10 vouchers for two people to fly round trip, economy class, anywhere in Canada.
  • Three giveaways of 100,000 Aeroplan bonus points.
  • Five giveaways of Aeroplan 50K Status.

Get your shot and register today

Along with these prizes, Alberta’s government will hold three draws for $1 million each to incentivize Albertans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • Any Alberta resident age 18-plus who has received a first dose of vaccine can now register to enter for the $1-million grand prize and additional travel prizes.
  • Two additional lotteries will follow in August and September to encourage Albertans to complete the vaccine series and receive their second dose. To win one of these additional $1-million prizes, Albertans must be 18 years or older and have received both doses.

To register for the lottery, including the travel prizes, visit alberta.ca/lottery. Only one entry is required to be eligible for all Open for Summer Lottery prizes.

To book your COVID-19 vaccine, visit alberta.ca/vaccine to find available appointments with AHS or participating pharmacies. Select locations across the province are offering first dose walk-in clinics.

Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s Open for Summer Plan safely eases restrictions in three stages as vaccination targets are reached and hospitalizations decline.
  • Stage 3 will occur two weeks after 70 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of vaccine.
  • To be eligible for the lottery, you must:
    • Opt in by registering at alberta.ca/lottery.
    • Reside in Alberta at the time of entry and draw.
    • Be 18 years of age and older.
    • Be able to provide proof of receiving your first dose of an approved vaccine for the first draw, and both first and second doses for the second and third draws.
    • Please visit the website for a complete list of rules.
  • Any Albertan 18 or older who received approved vaccines out of province is also eligible, provided they have submitted proof of vaccination to AHS and meet all other eligibility criteria.

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Alberta

Writer opposing Free Alberta Strategy in national article confuses chartered banks with financial institutions

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From the Free Alberta Strategy Team

In a new article published in the federal-government-funded “The Conversation” publication, Robert L. Ascah, a researcher at the also-federal-government-funded Parkland Institute, attempts to lay the hatchet to the Free Alberta Strategy.

In his piece, entitled “What the Free Alberta Strategy gets wrong about Canada’s banking system,” Mr. Ascah argues that the Alberta Independent Banking Act that is proposed in the Free Alberta Strategy report is unconstitutional because banking is an entirely federal area of jurisdiction.

Here is the key quote from Mr. Ascah:

“The Free Alberta Strategy, however, purports to allow Alberta to incorporate and regulate banks, which is clearly unconstitutional. There’s no mention that this proposal is beyond the powers of the provincial legislature.”

But, as so often seems to happen, this latest Free Alberta Strategy critic clearly doesn’t appear to have read – or taken the time to understand – what the Free Alberta Strategy is actually proposing.

While it’s true that “chartered banks” are federally regulated, that doesn’t mean that any type or form of “banking”, as the term is colloquially used, must be federally regulated.

Credit unions, for example, offer “banking” services, while not being “chartered banks” that are federally regulated.

This definition, while technical, is the crux of the issue.

And while we admit that this is very technical, when you’re talking about writing laws, technicalities matter a lot.

To be clear, here is the exact proposal from the Free Alberta Strategy report itself:

1. Expanding the number of provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions;

2. Promoting private ownership of these new financial institutions; and

3. Mandating that all provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions (including ATB) remain compliant with the Alberta Sovereignty Act as it relates to the non-enforcement of federal laws and court decisions deemed to infringe unduly on Alberta’s provincial jurisdiction.

You will note, very clearly, that this proposal in our Free Alberta Strategy report talks about “provincially regulated financial institutions” not “chartered banks”.

This is because the authors of the strategy understand (unlike Mr. Ascah, apparently) that while “chartered banks” must be regulated by the federal government, “financial institutions” can be regulated by the provincial government.

This is exactly why our Free Alberta Strategy report suggests modelling any new “banks” in Alberta on ATB Financial (previously known as Alberta Treasury Branches), which is a long-standing Alberta financial institution.

(Note: Although ATB is a crown corporation, our proposal envisages privately owned and operated financial institutions, not more government-owned and operated financial institutions. Just in case anyone was worried we were suddenly advocating for bigger government!)

Just as Alberta’s credit unions are not “chartered banks” and so are not federally regulated, ATB Financial is not a “chartered bank”, and so it is not regulated by the federal government.

ATB Financial is a “financial institution” that is provincially regulated by the Alberta government under the ATB Financial Act.

This is precisely what the Free Alberta Strategy report proposes – an increase in the number of provincially regulated financial institutions in Alberta.

We can clearly see then that, despite the claim by Mr. Ascah that provincial regulation of banking is unconstitutional, the mere existence of ATB is proof that our proposal is, in fact, constitutional.

The remainder of Mr. Ascah’s article goes on to argue that if Alberta unconstitutionally incorporated its own new “chartered banks”, the federal government would cut those banks off from being able to transfer funds to other banks in Canada, making them impractical for the public to use.

Maybe it’s true that the federal government would cut off any unauthorized provincial “chartered banks” from payment mechanisms.

But, given no one is proposing Alberta incorporate its own new “chartered banks”, this entire second half of the article is an irrelevant straw man argument.

Again, the Free Alberta Strategy proposes to incorporate new provincially regulated financial institutions, like ATB.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, ATB has not been cut off from being able to transfer funds to other banks by the federal government, because – shock – the existence of ATB is perfectly constitutional.

The real question then, is whether or not the first half of Mr. Ascah’s article, where he claims we are proposing to do something unconstitutional, is simply a misunderstanding, or a deliberately misleading diatribe.

Either way, such a fundamental error really makes you wonder why the Parkland Institute would allow the article to be published at all!

Are Parkland Institute staff no longer expected to read the thing they are publicly criticizing anymore?

Are The Conversation editors no longer expected to check whether their authors have their facts straight?

Perhaps the oddest part of this whole situation is that the Parkland Institute, where Mr. Ascah works, has previously written about the benefits of having an Alberta-based, Alberta-regulated financial institution!

They did so in a report that goes into detail explaining the difference between federally regulated chartered banks and provincially regulated financial institutions!

Even stranger still – which Parkland Institute researcher do you think it was who wrote this report?

Yes, you guessed it, it was Robert L. Ascah!

It gets worse…

Once upon a time, Mr. Ascah worked at Alberta Treasury, the government department that is responsible for regulating ATB.

Then, after he worked at Alberta Treasury, Mr. Ascah went to work at ATB itself, where he was responsible for government relations, strategic planning, and economic research.

That’s right folks…

Our Free Alberta Strategy critic, who attacked us by claiming that provincially regulated financial institutions are unconstitutional, actually worked as a senior executive at both the organization he claims is unconstitutional, and the organization that is supposed to regulate the thing that he claims is unconstitutional.

We must either believe, then:

  • That Mr. Ascah, who has written about the benefits of provincially-regulated financial institutions, has worked for a provincially-regulated financial institution, and has worked for the organization that regulates provincially-regulated financial institutions, is somehow entirely unaware that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal.

Or, we must believe:

  • That Mr. Ascah perfectly understands that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal and that that is how ATB is established, but that it’s somehow, all of a sudden, now beneficial for him to pretend that he doesn’t, and that anyone suggesting other financial institutions be regulated in that way is suggesting something “unconstitutional”.

How could it possibly be beneficial for Mr. Ascah to pretend that this idea is unconstitutional all of a sudden, I hear you ask?

Well, the answer to that question is actually the least confusing part of his article.

Contained right at the bottom of the article, under “Disclosure statement” (and conveniently excluded from most re-publications of the piece by the media) are 9 little words:

“Robert (Bob) L. Ascah is affiliated with Alberta NDP.”

Of course, affiliated with is a little bit of an understatement in this case.

Mr. Ascah has donated thousands of dollars to the Alberta NDP for many years, while several of his Parkland Institute colleagues are actually running as Alberta NDP candidates in the 2023 Alberta election!

Now, as a non-partisan organization, we generally try to avoid pointing out the political affiliations of individual people.

As an organization, we base our support for ideas on whether the ideas are good or not, rather than on who is proposing them.

But, in this case, we’re not criticizing the person proposing the ideas, but the lack of independence and the conflict of interest inherent in a situation where federal-government-funded researchers are published by federal-government-funded websites and re-printed by federal-government-funded newspapers.

Unfortunately, in a world where government-funded academics get government funding to write government propaganda published in government-funded media, there’s really no incentive to cover the truth anymore.

As to why the federal government would want to fund researchers to write propaganda for them, and fund media outlets to publish it for them, we’ll leave that one to you to answer!

In the end, this is exactly why we need more independent research and independent distribution of ideas in our society.

The Free Alberta Strategy jealously guards our independence.

That’s why we never accept any money or resources from any government, regardless of political stripe.

But that’s also why we need your help.

We need your help so that we can continue to do research and analysis on ways in which Alberta can fight back, such as the Sovereignty Act.

We need your help to further our work to protect Alberta’s interests from a hostile and divisive federal government in Ottawa.

We need your help to grow our supporter, activist, and volunteer network across our great province.

We need your help to share our work with like-minded friends and family in order to get the word out to as many members of the public as possible.

If you’re ready to help, click here:

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Alberta

Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney accepts role in Calgary advising law firm

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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton

Jason Kenney, more than three months after stepping down as Alberta’s premier, has landed a new role as a Calgary-based adviser in law firm Bennett Jones.

Kenney, who is also a former federal cabinet minister, will work in the public policy group.

Kenney says on Twitter he looks forward to the new job and that his work won’t include lobbying the provincial government or its agencies.

He says Alberta’s ethics commissioner has signed off on his new role and Kenney says he won’t be accepting any other jobs without first checking with the commissioner.

Kenney announced last May he was stepping down as premier following a lukewarm 51 per cent vote of support in a United Conservative Party leadership review.

Kenney was instrumental in creating the UCP in a merger with his Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party, but he fell out of favour with many in the combined party over COVID-19 restrictions and what was seen as a top-down management style.

It was a not an amicable departure.

Kenney publicly clashed with his eventual successor, Premier Danielle Smith, over her plan to introduce sovereignty legislation to challenge what she considers federal intrusions into provincial areas of constitutional authority.

Kenney challenged the legality and economic effect of such a bill, and resigned as a legislature member on the day Smith’s sovereignty act was introduced last November.

Bennett Jones, with offices across Canada and in New York, said Kenney will provide advice on attracting investment in Canada’s energy sector and with Indigenous communities.

“I’m thrilled to be joining this iconic firm, which has both deep Alberta roots and a major national presence,” said Kenney in a statement Wednesday.

“Bennett Jones’ Public Policy group has the greatest policy depth of any Canadian law firm, and I look forward to working with several former colleagues from both senior elected and public service roles.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023

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