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De Havilland Canada to build airline manufacturing plant east of Calgary

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By Colette Derworiz in Calgary

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Ltd. announced plans Wednesday to build a new aircraft manufacturing plant east of Calgary that could eventually employ up to 1,500 people.

The company said the facility, dubbed De Havilland Field, is to be located in Wheatland County between the communities of Chestermere and Strathmore. De Havilland said it has acquired about 600 hectares of land in the area.

It said construction could begin as early as next year, with its first buildings operational by 2025 — though the project’s full buildout could take years.

“This is a huge day for our company and for our customers past, present and future who rely on us to keep our airplanes flying,” CEO Brian Chafe said at a news conference in Calgary.

“De Havilland Field will be a full aerospace campus, from aircraft manufacturing, assembly, delivery, research and development, educational facilities and distribution.”

The plant is to be the site of final assembly for the DHC-515 Firefighter aircraft, DHC Twin Otter and the Dash 8-400 aircraft.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called it a “banner day for Alberta’s economy, for diversification in this province, for manufacturing and most importantly for the aviation sector.”

He said aviation will be a major part of Alberta’s future.

“Today, that dream comes through in technicolor with De Havilland Field, a cutting edge, world-leading aerospace campus that over the years to come could employ up to 1,500 Albertans in high-paying jobs.”

Tanya Fir, the province’s minister of jobs, economy and innovation, added that it was a “huge win” for the province.

“We wanted to find ways to leverage Alberta’s strengths, like our available land close to logistical hubs and our young, skilled and motivated workforce, to find a path back to our position as Canada’s economic engine,” she said in a statement.

“De Havilland’s investment in Alberta, to help carry forward its aircraft into its second century of operations, proves that our plan is working.”

Amber Link, reeve of Wheatland County, said she couldn’t be more excited to have De Havilland make its permanent home in the rural area.

“Today is pivotal,” she said. “The decision to build De Havilland Field in Wheatland is revolutionary in the diversification of our economy. The employment opportunities being created are significant and will capitalize on the long-standing strong work ethic that built Wheatland County.

“That same work ethic that built Wheatland County and Alberta will now build legendary planes.”

Company co-owner Sherry Brydson said the full project will take a long time to complete and will depend on the growth trajectory of the business.

“De Havilland Field, like Rome — I have to warn you — won’t be built in a day,” she said. “We anticipate the full buildout will take somewhere between 10 and 15 years. We’re planning to take it slowly and seriously … and we’re going to make sure it works.”

Company co-owner Rob McDonald said De Havilland doesn’t need government handouts and aims to be self-sufficient.

“We need people to buy our planes. We don’t really need or want support from the government.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2022.

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Alberta

Smith won’t seek early vote if she wins UCP leadership, becomes next Alberta premier

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United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith says if she wins this week’s vote and becomes the next Alberta premier, she would not call an early election to seek a broad mandate on her policy ideas.

Smith, the perceived front-runner in the race, says the public tends to punish leaders who call an early election.

She says she would wait until the next scheduled election in May 2023, but believes she has a mandate now to proceed with her plans.

Smith has said she would immediately pass an Alberta sovereignty act, which would allow the province to ignore federal laws and court rulings deemed not in its interest.

Legal experts, some of Smith’s leadership rivals and Premier Jason Kenney have labelled the act not only illegal but a recipe for constitutional and economic chaos.

Smith has also talked about revamping the health system by using health spending accounts and firing the board of Alberta Health Services, which oversees the front-line delivery of care.

Today is the last day for advance voting, as seven candidates dig in for the final campaign push before UCP members select a new leader to replace Kenney on Thursday.

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Alberta

Alberta commits $20.8 million over the next four years to fight human trafficking

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By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

The Alberta government is providing $20.8 million over the next four years to implement recommendations from a star-led task force on human trafficking.

Country singer Paul Brandt, chair of the Alberta Human Trafficking Task Force, personally thanked Premier Jason Kenney during the funding announcement Sunday at Edmonton International Airport for his willingness to prioritize the issue, and for putting faith in Brandt to lead the group.

“Premier Kenney’s longtime personal dedication and commitment to the issue of human trafficking is authentic and is admirable,” Brandt said.

“He’s the only political leader I’ve met in my 17 years of advocating for trafficking victims and survivors who took the time and initiative to personally write a plan to address this horrific crime.”

The money will establish an office to combat trafficking as well as a centre of excellence for research and data collection — recommendations the government accepted when the task force presented its report in March.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said the goal is to launch the office by next summer.

Other task force recommendations that will be supported include a new grant for community projects and Indigenous-led and culturally appropriate services. Civilian positions that will focus on supporting victims and survivors throughout human trafficking investigations will also be funded.

“Human trafficking is far more prevalent — way more common — than the stats would suggest because it’s a hidden crime,” Kenney said at the announcement.

“It festers in the dark. There are victims who face fear, shame and self-doubt and some who will never report what they’ve gone through.”

The task force was appointed in May 2020 and engaged with nearly 100 experts and survivors of trafficking to provide guidance on how to best implement the government’s action plan to fight human trafficking.

The government has said human trafficking includes sexual exploitation, forced labour trafficking and trafficking in human organs or tissues.

Kenney, who will be replaced as premier when his United Conservative Party selects a new leader on Thursday, noted he started fighting human trafficking over 20 years ago when he was an MP and joined a group of international parliamentarians on a coalition to fight the practice.

Later as Canada’s immigration minister, he said he took steps to make it easier for human trafficking victims who had migrated to Canada to obtain safety and protection.

In winter 2019, he said he committed the UCP to a nine-point action plan to combat human trafficking, which led to the Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act, which took effect in May 2020.

Brandt said it was exciting to be part of the funding commitment at the airport, where he said he stood in 2019 for a partnership with the facility and other groups in the Edmonton region to fight trafficking, which he called “modern day slavery.”

“It has been our dream that special focus and permanent funding would one day become a reality. Today is that day,” Brandt said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2022.

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