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Alberta Votes 2019: The week so far- jobs, oil and gas and cracking down on crime

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Alberta’s political parties are in full-on campaign mode as Election Day approaches on April 16th. Each day the parties release information about their policies and platforms, candidate information and reactions to the day’s news. It can be difficult to try and keep up with it all, so from now until the election we’ll regularly compile information released by the parties and present the main points here.

For more information, click on party names to visit campaign websites.

(Parties listed in alphabetical order)

Alberta Party 

Alberta Party announces plans to invest in new technology material sciences and bitumen pucks and create jobs from Alberta’s oil and gas resources.

“As Wayne Gretzky once said, you have to skate to where the puck is going. Passively sitting around and hoping the market works is yesterday’s approach. We need to aggressively get in the game and make big moves to generate more refining and petrochemical processing here in Alberta.”

Stephen Mandel – Leader of the Alberta Party

An Alberta Party government will energize the development of refining and petrochemical processing, creating more value within the province and thousands of good jobs for Albertans.

Supporting the Development of CanaPux

● Commonly referred to as bitumen pucks, CanaPux are developed by CN and Wapahki Energy, owned by Heart Lake First Nation (approximately 300 km northeast of Edmonton).

● The technology converts bitumen into a solid puck product that is capable of being exported by rail or other methods (rather than pipeline).
● This is a potential revolution for Alberta’s oil sands industry — one that enables Albertans to realize the full value of their resources by avoiding pipeline politics.
● An Alberta Party government will expedite approvals for the pilot facility and contribute financial support for one-third of the pilot ($16.7 million).

Increasing the Alberta Innovates budget with a focus on material sciences.
● Alberta Innovates contributes to the creation of new industries in Alberta and strengthens existing ones. It diversifies the economy and creates jobs and increases exports.
● Alberta Innovates currently funds research that focuses on turning bitumen into products other than gas, diesel and other fuels such as asphalt, vanadium batteries, plastics and carbon fibre.
● The development of these alternatives is a long term approach that will help to increase demand for our resources, create jobs, lower our exposure to global oil prices, and help diversify our economy.
● The NDP have reduced the Alberta Innovates budget going from $288M in 2018-19 to $244M in 2020-21.
● An Alberta Party government will not only reverse those cuts but increase the total Alberta Innovates budget by 30% to $375M by 2020-21 and direct the additional funds to a rapid expansion of research into new uses for our resources.

Expanding Refining in Alberta
● Once Phase 1 is proven out, an Alberta Party government will support construction of Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the Sturgeon Refinery.
● This helps Alberta expand its refining capacity, creating more value here in the province and creating thousands of skilled jobs for Albertans.
● An Alberta Party government will expedite the review of necessary approvals and expand its Bitumen Royalty in Kind (BRIK) program.
● Construction of both Phase 2 and 3 have a combined total construction expenditure of an estimated $18.0 billion which will result in an increase in GDP of $16.0 billion, and create 140,000 person-years of employment.
● Once construction is complete, the additional the two phases will increase GDP by an average of $5 billion per year, and result in an estimated 13,000 additional jobs per year.

Energizing Petrochemical Processing
● To stimulate petrochemical processing in the province, an Alberta Party government will establish a Gas Royalty in Kind program that takes a similar approach to the Bitumen Royalty in Kind program.
● This will have the Government of Alberta take a portion of its natural gas royalties “in kind” rather than in cash. This will enable the government to market the natural gas in ways that stimulate gas processing and petrochemical plant expansions in the province.
● An Alberta Party government will also establish Alberta’s petrochemical diversification program as a 10 year program, rather than the NDP’s unpredictable annual program. This would provide stability and certainty to the market, helping attract more investment.
● The petrochemical diversification program will also be adjusted to move from a royaltycredit to a more efficient subsidy program.

 

NDP 

Rachel Notley pledges to expand heavy-load roads and build new access highway to Fort McMurray, creating 7,500 jobs.

“We will never forget the sight of families fleeing out of the city on Highway 63 while flames licked at the trucks and cars. It was one of the scariest moments of people’s lives,” said Notley. “Fort McMurray needs a second route out and we will get it done. We will keep families safe and help people sleep a little easier a night.”

Rachel Notley – Leader of the New Democratic Party of Alberta

UCP

UCP outlines plans to tackle growing crime wave.

“We will do everything within our power to stop the revolving door in our justice system, and to keep Albertans safe.” 

Jason Kenney, Leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta

The UCP has promised more judges, more prosecutors and stronger laws part of a plan to tackle Alberta’s growing crime wave.

Kenney cited statistics that reveal a growing crime problem in Alberta:

  • Auto theft is way up and Alberta leads the country in auto-theft—at three times the national average with 62 stolen vehicles per day, on average.1 The Alberta Motor Association says there has been a 32% increase in vehicle thefts since 20142. 29% percent of all vehicle thefts in Canada happen in Alberta, according to Statistics Canada3
  • By 2018, the rural crime rate in some communities rose by 250% compared with 2011.4They included communities such as Innisfail and Bonnyville where property break-ins were up 94% and up by 133% respectively between 2016 and 2017.5
  • In 2018, Edmonton Police Service reported6)that since 2015, assaults were up 11%; property crimes were up 13%, and sexual assault incidents were up 17%.
  • In 2018, Calgary Police services reported7 that over the last five years there was a 6% increase in property crimes, a 25%increase in financial robberies, a 26.3% increase in sex offences, a  27.6% increase in robberies, and a 35.9% total increase in assault crimes.8
  • Maclean’s reported last November that 7 of the top 10 cities in their Canada’s Most Dangerous Places 2019 ranking (based on 5-year change in crime severity index) are from Alberta.9

Kenney stated a United Conservative Party government will hire 50 new prosecutors and support staff, a $10 million investment.

Kenney also announced that a UCP government will boost funding by $20 million over four years (69 percent) to the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), who deal with children’s exploitation, domestic violence, stalking, and gang issues, among others. The $20 million funding increase will:

  • Double ALERT’s funding for its sub-unit, the Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) unit that tracks, arrests and prosecutes child pornographers
  • Double the funding for its sub-unit, the Integrated Threat and Risk Assessment (I-TRAC) unit, the police unit that helps combat domestic violence and stalking
  • Create a new Opioid Enforcement Team

A UCP government will also work with ALERT to obtain a charitable foundation (akin to the Calgary and Edmonton Police foundations) which can then attract additional funds from the private donors.

Kenney also promised that under a UCP government Albertans would know the truth about crime in their province.

“We will pass the Public’s Right to Know Act. This bill will require an annual report to the legislature containing detailed provincial crime statistics.”

A UCP government would also replace the Parole Board of Canada with an Alberta Parole Board for offenders serving sentences of under two years.

And because crime victims can often fall through the cracks, a UCP government will also conduct an immediate review of the current model of victim service delivery, victim assistance funding, and victim compensation to ensure optimal assistance to victims of crime.

A UCP government would also invest $5 million to increase access to Drug Treatment Courts as an effective way of helping drug addicts to leave the cycle of crime and addiction through treatment, testing, incentives, sanctions and social support.

The responsibility for law enforcement is shared with the federal government. A UCP government will therefore also negotiate with the federal government (and with other provinces as necessary) to:

  • Secure additional Queen’s Bench justice appointments to reduce the backlog in superior courts.
  • Ensure that Grande Prairie be given its own Queen’s Bench.
  • Develop and put in place a specific Repeat Offender Policy.
  • Ensure the return of criminals who have fled to other provinces, to face justice in Alberta. (According to Alberta police forces, flight-across-borders has become a critical problem given the number of jurisdictions involved, especially in western Canada.)
  • Review current Criminal Code sentencing principles to ensure that in rural crime offences, specific facts be considered by a sentencing court as aggravating factors, and that the principles of deterrence and denunciation be prioritized.”

In 2018, the UCP released its Alberta Rural Crime Strategy, calling for a provincially regulated police response system linking all enforcement agencies to pursue the relatively small number of organized, repeat offenders who are responsible for most rural crime.

 

Media

Trudeau’s Online News Act has crushed hundreds of local Canadian news outlets: study

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

Trudeau’s Online News Act, framed as a way to support local media, has hurt small media outlets while giving massive payouts to legacy media, a study has found.

According to a new study, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Online News Act has successfully crushed local media outlets while mainstream media has remained relatively unaffected.  

According to an April study from the Media Ecosystem Observatory, Trudeau’s Online News Act, also known as Bill C-18, has caused a 84 percent drop in engagement for local Canadian outlets, as Big Tech company Meta – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram – has refused to publish links to Canadian news outlets on their platforms.  

“We lost 70 per cent of our audience when that happened,” Iain Burns, the managing editor of Now Media Group, which manages news posts for outlets serving smaller communities, revealed. He further explained that he experienced a 50 percent loss in revenue following the move. 

“We’re not the only ones. Many, many outlets are in this situation,” Burns added.

The Online News Act, passed by the Senate in June 2023, mandates that Big Tech companies pay to publish Canadian content on their platforms. While the legislation promised to support local media, it has seemingly accomplished the opposite.  

While Meta has blocked all news on its platforms, devastating small publishers, Google agreed to pay Canadian legacy media outlets $100 million to publish their content online. 

The study, a collaboration between the University of Toronto and McGill University, examined the 987 Facebook pages of Canadian news outlets, 183 personal pages of politicians, commentators and advocacy groups, and 589 political and local community groups.  

“The ban undoubtedly had a major impact on Canadian news,” the study found.  

“Local news outlets have been particularly affected by the ban: while large, national news outlets were less reliant on Facebook for visibility and able to recoup some of their Facebook engagement regardless, hundreds of local news outlets have left the platform entirely, effectively gutting the visibility of local news content,” it explained.   

However, LifeSiteNews has been relatively unaffected by the ban as viewership on its official Facebook page has remained relatively the same, similar to its Instagram account since most views already came from the United States.  

Similarly unaffected was Meta: “We find little evidence that Facebook usage has been impacted by the ban.”  

“After the ban took effect, the collapse of Canadian news content production and engagement on Facebook did not appear to substantially affect users themselves,” the study said.  

While local media outlets’ viewership has declined thanks to Trudeau’s new legislation, larger media outlets have thrived due to increased payouts from the Trudeau government.  

Legacy media journalists are projected to have roughly half of their salaries paid by the Liberal government after the $100 million Google agreement and the subsidies outlined in the Fall Economic Statement.  

Mainstream Canadian media had already received massive federal payouts, but they have nearly doubled after Trudeau announced increased subsidies for legacy media outlets ahead of the 2025 election. The subsidies are expected to cost taxpayers $129 million over the next five years.   

However, just as government payouts increase, Canadians’ trust in mainstream media has decreased. Recent polling found that only one-third of Canadians consider mainstream media trustworthy and balanced.   

Similarly, a recent study by Canada’s Public Health Agency revealed that less than a third of Canadians displayed “high trust” in the federal government, with “large media organizations” as well as celebrities getting even lower scores.  

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Indigenous

No accounts on $7.9 million dollar ‘Truth’ Fund

Published on

From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Blacklock’s Reporter

The First Nation prompted an international outcry in 2021 when it announced the discovery of 215 children’s graves hidden at the Kamloops Residential School. It said remains were found using ground penetrating radar.

Cabinet at the time lowered the Peace Tower flag at half mast for 161 days, approved $3.1 million for a national Residential Schools Student Death Register and another $238.8 million for a Residential Schools Missing Children Community Support Fund.

The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations has confirmed it spent millions to uncover the “heartbreaking truth” of unmarked Indian Residential School graves in Kamloops, B.C. No remains have been recovered to date and no accounting of what became of the $7.9 million has been disclosed.

“The community had received $7.9 million for field work, records searches and to secure the Residential School grounds,” said Carolane Gratton, spokesperson for the department. “Details of initiatives taken by Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation are best directed to the community.”

The department has not released financial accounts under the Access To Information Act. The First Nation said in a statement it “continues to grieve children that are in our care and are focused on the scientific work that needs to be done” but would not discuss the $7.9 million.

The 2021 funding was to document the “heartbreaking truth,” according to a 2022 department briefing note. “Our thoughts are with survivors, their families and communities as the heartbreaking truth about Residential Schools’ unmarked burials continues to be unveiled,” said the note.

“Funding is available to support communities, survivors and their families on their healing journey through researching, locating and memorializing those children who died while attending Indian Residential Schools,” said the note Indian Residential School Sites: Unmarked Burials.

“If pressed on Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Kamloops Indian Residential School site, the Government of Canada has provided $7.9 million over two years to the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation to support the community in conducting this important work,” said the note.

The First Nation prompted an international outcry in 2021 when it announced the discovery of 215 children’s graves hidden at the Kamloops Residential School. It said remains were found using ground penetrating radar.

Cabinet at the time lowered the Peace Tower flag at half mast for 161 days, approved $3.1 million for a national Residential Schools Student Death Register and another $238.8 million for a Residential Schools Missing Children Community Support Fund. The Fund expires in 2025.

“I think Canadians have seen with horror those unmarked graves across the country and realize that what happened decades ago isn’t part of our history, it is an irrefutable part of our present,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier told reporters.

No remains have been recovered at the Kamloops site to date. A Senate committee in a 2023 report described questions regarding documentation of the 215 graves as “Residential School denialism.”

“Denialism serves to distract people from the horrific consequences of Residential Schools and the realities of missing children, burials and unmarked graves,” said the Senate Indigenous peoples committee report Honouring The Children Who Never Came Home. It recommended “the Government of Canada take every action necessary to combat the rise of Residential School denialism.”

Published with kind permission from Blacklock’s Reporter. First published here.

Blacklock’s Reporter (founded October 2012) is an Ottawa-based Internet publication covering Canadian government administration.

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