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Alberta

Being a Cop has Always Been a Thankless Job

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11 minute read

Being a cop has always been a thankless job.

But in our current climate, police would be happy for the bygone days of a thankless community, compared to what they are currently enduring.

Never before in modern history have police officers been accused of being the worst of society.  Today, the reputation of cops is constantly under attack by the media. And fringe groups who purport to have a noble agenda are paradoxically allowed by our governments to wreak havoc on our cities without consequence. Entire city blocks have been burned, children have been murdered, and yet the media all but ignores the backlash of the problem, which they themselves are largely responsible for inciting.

Well-intended people have been duped into believing that roughly half of society are devout white supremacists, and that visible minorities are being hunted and killed by the police.  The media bolsters this false narrative daily, which has created an incredibly unstable and explosive environment. When a group of people believes that they are in danger of being killed by the police, it’s only natural for a member of that group to be afraid, and resist arrest.  When you resist arrest, you are making a safe situation dangerous by escalating the force required to arrest you. If you comply with the orders of the police officer, you are almost ALWAYS safe.  It is extremely rare that a compliant arrestee is harmed or killed as a result of the arrest. In those rare instances, the police officers are likely at fault, and deserve to be charged. Only improved training and selection practices can reduce these rare instances.

A part of policing which very few average people are willing to engage in is combat.  Most people have never been in a dangerous fistfight, but for cops, getting into scraps is a common occurrence.  Some of these fights involve armed bad guys who are high on crystal meth, and who are nearly impossible to control.  When a crazed meth head charges at you with a knife, the only realistic response is to pull out your pistol and fire a few rounds into the center of the target.  The pollyanic fools who cry, “you should have shot them in the leg!” have no concept of the reality of combat.  There isn’t a police officer alive that has the training and skill to reliably make a “leg shot” against a crazed charging assailant.  And no, a taser is not reliable enough to deploy in this situation either.

Armchair critics are quick to judge and condemn the use of violent force, without having the faintest idea of the reality of a combat environment.  Many will recoil at the word “combat”, by saying, “combat is for a battle field, not for our streets! Our cops are not soldiers!”   And, they would be wrong.  Combat is a violent “must win” altercation.  When someone is violently resisting arrest…that absolutely qualifies as combat.  It’s not the police who initiate the combat…it’s the person being arrested who creates the combat situation, which the police have no choice but to respond to with force.

Police officers work in a world that is completely foreign to most middle class folks.  The average person can no more understand what it is to be a cop, than they can understand what it’s like to live on Mars.

It seems that the public has forgotten the simple fact that cops are just people.  Flawed, regular human beings who have decided to risk their lives so that others may live safely.

When people join the police force, they do so for one of four reasons.

  1. Most join out of a sense of responsibility to provide meaningful service to their community. These people tend to make the best police officers, and often make up the majority of a good police force. Lately the media has been ignoring the fact that most police officers fit this description.
  2. Some others join out of a sense of adventure, craving fun and action in their job.
  3. And there are those who join simply to have a respectable, and reliable source of income.
  4. But unfortunately, there are a few who join because they crave having a sense of power.  These are the problem cops which every police organization tries to weed out, yet every police service has at least a few of these problem children to deal with. These are the minority of cops, which the media are currently focusing on, and they are painting all police with this contaminated brush.

In addition to these four types of police officers, there is a rare outlier. Occasionally, a trigger-happy psychopath will slip through the cracks.  The psychological evaluations are put in place as a filter to weed out these types of applicants, but no system is perfect.  Psychopaths often know the right words to say, and how to mask their true identity.  Even a lie detector test can be defeated by a psychopath or sociopath.  I won’t pretend that these people don’t occasionally make it onto an otherwise honourable police service, however I also won’t agree that police services across the western world have been over-run by them as the media would have you believe.

There are bad apples in every organization, and try as you might, you’ll never weed 100% of them out.  If you’re going to have a large group of people, there will always be a tiny minority within the ranks who will potentially cause great harm.

The truth about police officers is that they have chosen a life of dangerous, high stress service, so that you and I can live a safer, less stressful life.  They deal with dangerous people, so that YOU don’t have to.  They literally get punched in the face, so that YOU don’t have to.  Lets face it, most people have no ability whatsoever to defend themselves against a violent attacker.  We should all be grateful to those who put themselves in harms way so that they can arrest, and lock up the people who are a danger to society.

Now, with all of that being said, how can Police officers muscle through the negativity and added danger they now face?

Let’s’ start with something we can control, which is our perspective. 

“I hate you!” are three words a parent never wants to hear from their child. When it happens, although it may sting for a moment, a good parent quickly realizes that their kid is simply having a fit, and doesn’t know how else to express themselves.   Also, it’s easy to discard unkind words from a child by realizing that they simply don’t know any better.  “If they knew better, they would do better” is a mantra I strive to remember.

When it’s a large group of “adults” who are pitching a fit in the form of a riot, it’s difficult to remember that they don’t know any better.  EVERYONE feels justified in their cause, regardless of the facts at hand.

Regardless of the haters, try to remember why you’re there in uniform.  You are there to serve those who need you, with or without their appreciation.  Your life is one of sacrifice, and some days suck worse than others, but there are still good days.  You help.  You DO make a difference, and whether the public knows it or not, they need you.

Remember that the anti-cop sentiment is based on a belief in a false narrative.  Despite the demonstrative evidence to the contrary, these misguided people actually believe that the Police are out to get people of colour.  We must realize that although misguided, their outrage is real to THEM. They really don’t know any better, and it’s not their fault.   The media has created this environment with their bias.

Be mindful of your focus.

Now is a great time to stay off of Facebook.  If you can’t limit your social media, then at least purge everyone from your contacts list who shared negative posts about the police.  It’s easy to unfriend, unfollow, or even BLOCK people.  You don’t need to engage. You won’t change anyone’s mind, so why try?

Remember, and focus on those who appreciate you.  If you look, you’ll see armies of supporters who are cheering for you.  They may be the “silent” majority, but they are there all the same.

Mark E. Meincke
Listen to this article on Operation Tango Romeo HERE

Alberta

Curling Alberta decision will have ripple effect on potential wild-card teams

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Never has so little curling action created so many headlines ahead of the national championships.

With many teams, clubs and provincial playdowns on ice due to the pandemic, several curling associations have had to get creative in this most unusual season.

Curling Canada is no exception. The national federation added two more wild-card teams to the field at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts and Tim Hortons Brier to create 18-team competitions.

“Unique circumstances call for unique solutions,” read the top of last week’s release announcing the news. 

The one-time switch will allow a few more highly ranked teams into the mix. Now the big question is who will get in and when can they pack their bags for the so-called bubble in Calgary.

Many associations recently cancelled their championships and declared representatives. Other provinces and territories are planning to hold playdowns over the next few weeks.

The big decision that will have a ripple-down effect on wild-card spots is expected soon. Curling Alberta cancelled its championships Jan. 8 but didn’t declare representatives for nationals, pending a “decision by the organization’s board of directors.”

Board members were scheduled to meet over the weekend to decide. An announcement will be made no earlier than Monday, executive director Jill Richard said in an email.

Many member associations used last year’s championship results to determine their representatives. Others considered recent results, rankings and standings for their picks. 

Normally at the Scotties and Brier, the top two teams in the Canadian rankings not already entered in the draw square off in a play-in game to become Team Wild Card.

Curling Canada scrapped that setup for this season only and will instead give wild-card spots to the teams that would have played in the game, based on the 2019-20 final standings. The third wild-card spot – based on criteria to be determined – will get the final entry and create two even pools of nine teams each.

Here’s where it gets interesting and Alberta has a unique hammer.

Brendan Bottcher is the reigning men’s provincial champion. Kevin Koe was not in the playdowns last year since he had an automatic Brier berth as Team Canada. Jeremy Harty, meanwhile, has a slight lead on the second-place Koe in the provincial points race. 

Bottcher is ranked fourth in Canada, Koe is sixth and Harty is 15th. If Curling Alberta goes with an under-the-radar Harty pick, it would give the province a worthy representative and allow all three teams to enter rather than just two. 

Manitoba’s Mike McEwen can rest easy in the No. 5 spot knowing he’s in. 

If Bottcher is Team Alberta, McEwen and Koe are in as wild-card entries and No. 9 Glenn Howard is a potential pick for the third spot.

If Koe wears provincial colours, Bottcher and McEwen would be wild-card entries. Howard would be a good bet for the third but the selection is not necessarily a slam dunk.

If Harty gets the Alberta nod, Bottcher and McEwen would secure wild-card spots and Koe would be a virtual lock for the final berth. Boosting Harty’s case was Nova Scotia’s recent decision to give Jill Brothers the Scotties spot based on this season’s standings.

On the women’s side, Laura Walker is the favourite to be named Team Alberta. The reigning provincial champion is ranked seventh in Canada and is second in the provincial standings.

Alberta leader Kelsey Rocque, the Canadian No. 6, only has two returning members from last season, one short of the required minimum. 

The 3-of-4 rule also affects No. 10 Robyn Silvernagle of Saskatchewan, since she has two new players as well. Fifth-ranked Chelsea Carey, also of Alberta, is a free agent.

Manitoba’s Tracy Fleury is the only Scotties wild-card lock at No. 2. World junior champion Mackenzie Zacharias is in the mix at No. 11 along with fellow Manitoban Beth Peterson at No. 12. 

Suzanne Birt is a heavy favourite to win the two-team Prince Edward Island championship at the end of the month, but a loss would move her into a wild-card spot at No. 9. 

Like the men’s pick, the third spot is a real guessing game, thanks in part to the uncertain criteria. 

A Curling Canada spokesman said the 3-of-4 rule will apply to the first two wild-card teams in each gender, but noted qualifying criteria for the third wild-card team won’t be finalized until after all member associations have declared teams.

That would appear to give teams in a 2-of-4 situation at least a little bit of hope. 

The veteran Howard, a four-time Brier champion, could very well get the men’s spot. But it’s also possible a youngster like No. 14 Tyler Tardi, a world junior champ from B.C., could get the selection.

The third women’s spot is also a crapshoot. Several worthy teams could be in the mix from Zacharias and Peterson to No. 19 Casey Scheidegger of Alberta, a perennial contender who has played a limited schedule over the last couple seasons. 

The Scotties is set for Feb. 19-28 at Markin MacPhail Centre. The Brier is scheduled for March 5-14 at the same venue on the grounds of Canada Olympic Park.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. 

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Oilpatch woes boost Calgary’s downtown office vacancy rates to record levels

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CALGARY — Vacancies in Calgary’s downtown office towers have risen to record levels and there’s no landlord relief in sight with almost one in three offices sitting empty and sublets accounting for a quarter of available spaces on the market.

The city’s glut of empty office space has previously been linked to overbuilding but two commercial real estate reports released this past week show that downtown vacancy rates in Canada’s oil and gas capital are the highest in the country and growing — despite no major new towers opening in the past two years. 

Vacancies are likely to go even higher, both reports note, driven by short-term factors including layoffs resulting from the takeover of Husky Energy Inc. by Cenovus Energy Inc. and longer-term job losses from cost-cutting and mergers in the oil and gas sector.

In its report released Thursday, real estate firm CBRE says the equivalent of four CFL football fields in downtown office space was emptied in the last quarter of 2020. 

The net reduction of 355,000 square feet (32,000 square metres) took the vacancy rate to a record high of 29.5 per cent compared with 27.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019.

“The negative absorption is due to the oilpatch, not COVID-19,” said Greg Kwong, Calgary-based regional managing director for CBRE. 

“People may not be going back to work because of the lockdowns but these companies still have leases in place and have to pay the rent. It’s not considered vacated space.”

CBRE found that 23.7 per cent of the available downtown office space in Calgary is being sublet by the lease holder.

In a separate report using different calculation methods, Avison Young pegged the downtown office vacancy rate at a record 26.9 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from 24.2 per cent in the year-earlier period.

Under an optimistic scenario, Avison Young predicts the vacancy rate will rise to 28.6 per cent by the end of 2023; in its pessimistic forecast, it foresees a rate of 32.9 per cent.

The merger of Cenovus and Husky offices in 2021 is projected to result in between 36,000 and 54,000 square metres of downtown space being vacated later this year, said Todd Throndson, managing director for Avison Young’s Calgary office. That’s around one per cent of the total inventory of 4.16 million square metres.

“We have a very difficult marketplace and there’s no quick solutions to solving that problem,” he said. “The next 12 to 24 months are going to be a challenging time for there to be any growth in our marketplace.”

Cenovus and Husky have said their merger will result in a reduction of between 20 and 25 per cent of the 8,600 combined employees and contractors — potentially more than 2,000 workers.

The two companies have about 300,000 square metres of lease commitments in Calgary, with some of it already being sublet to other tenants, said Cenovus spokesman Reg Curren. More space is expected to be sublet going forward, he said, declining to give specifics.

“Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and we determine our plan to return to the workplace, Brookfield Place will be the head office of the combined company,” he said, referring to the 56-storey glass and steel tower opened in 2017 that Cenovus calls home.

Husky’s head office is a few blocks west in the much older Western Canadian Place. 

It’s not hard to find other Calgary companies reducing staff and their need for office space.

Suncor Energy Inc. announced in October it would reduce total staff by 10 to 15 per cent over 18 months, cutting as many as 1,930 jobs. Those cuts will be offset by the relocation of its Petro-Canada head office and most of its 700 jobs from Ontario to Calgary.

Imperial Oil Ltd. announced in November it would lay off 200 staff.

Meanwhile, office space held by Equinor Canada at Jamieson Place in downtown Calgary is on the sublet market after the Norwegian oil company decided to consolidate its Canadian operations in St. John’s, N.L.

Lower staff counts are also expected with the close of a handful of smaller oil and gas producer corporate mergers announced late last year.

Calgary’s office buildings have lost an overall 13 per cent of value, about $2.3 billion, over the past year due to higher vacancy rates and lower rents, the city said Thursday as it issued its 2021 property assessment notices. 

Declines in recent years have pushed more of the municipal tax burden to residential and other business ratepayers.

Economic Development Calgary is using the city’s abundance of discounted office space as a “huge selling feature” in attracting Calgary employers in new sectors like technology and renewable energy, said CEO Mary Moran, but she concedes those new tenants haven’t replaced the oil and gas losses.

“I think, long-term, we know that the energy industry is not going to be the job creator,” she said. “It’s a jobless recovery in oil and gas.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CVE, TSX:SU)

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

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