Calgary city council to debate safety bylaws after protests at library drag events
Calgary’s city council is set to discuss updating one bylaw and bringing in another to address protests at drag events.
The proposed changes, which are on the agenda for this week’s council meeting, include adding the word “intimidation” to the existing public behaviour bylaw.
A second bylaw, which would be called the safe and inclusive access bylaw, is also set to be debated by councillors as early as today.
It would prohibit protests within 100 metres of an entrance to a recreation facility or library and anywhere inside those facilities.
The move comes as a 36-year-old man faces criminal and bylaw charges related to a disruption during a Reading with Royalty event at a public library in February.
The family-friendly story times at libraries are led by drag queens or kings, and children are invited to dress in their best outfit, cape or crown.
Charges under the city’s public behaviour bylaw carry a maximum penalty of up to $10,000 or six months in jail.
If passed by council, the safe and inclusive access bylaw would carry the same penalty.
“Recent protests have targeted members of the (LGBTQ) community and impeding the city of Calgary’s ability to provide safe and inclusive access to city services,” reads the new bylaw proposal. “The public is entitled to access these services without being exposed to messaging or behaviour that is hateful, intimidates, harasses or discriminates.”
It lists multiple events that have led to safety concerns including: a Drag on Ice event that was postponed at the Chinook Blast festival Feb. 10; ongoing protests at Canyon Meadows aquatic and fitness centre, which is connected to Calgary Recreation’s transgender and gender diverse facility; and the children’s reading programs at public libraries.
Libraries across Canada — including Moncton, Halifax and Coquitlam, B.C. — have faced similar protests this year.
There have also been anti-drag protests outside the Tate Britain art gallery in London, as well as several bookstores and libraries in the United States.
Tennessee recently brought in a law that would ban drag shows in public spaces, starting July 1, and several other states are considering restrictions.
Across the United States, conservative activists and politicians have complained that drag contributes to the “sexualization” or “grooming” of children.
The efforts seek to smother popular “drag story hours,” at which drag queens read to kids. Organizers of LGBTQ Pride events say they put a chill on their parades.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2023.
— With files from The Associated Press
United Conservatives jump out to early lead in tight Alberta election
By Dean Bennett
Alberta’s United Conservative Party jumped out to a lead over the NDP in early returns Monday in what was forecast to be a tight race in the provincial election.
Danielle Smith’s UCP was holding strong in its traditional rural strongholds while Rachel Notley’s NDP was faring well in Edmonton, where it won all but one seat in 2019.
Early results were still mixed in the key battleground of Calgary.
The UCP is seeking a second mandate while the NDP is fighting to regain the majority government it lost to the UCP in 2019.
Polling have suggested a close contest between the two parties, with support for smaller parties falling off.
Advance polls set a record of 758,540 votes cast, eclipsing the previous record of more than 700,000 in 2019.
The campaign has taken place alongside a record-breaking spring for wildfires in Alberta. Ten communities were under evacuation orders Monday.
Elections Alberta set up alternate voting locations for those displaced. Evacuation was added as an eligible reason to vote by special ballot and mobile voting stations were placed in evacuation centres.
Calgary has been seen as the campaign’s battleground and half of the top 10 advance polling stations were in that city. Two were in Edmonton suburbs.
To win, the NDP would have to continue its dominance in Edmonton, flip the majority in Calgary and hope for some help in smaller cities, while defeating scores of UCP incumbents including cabinet ministers.
The NDP needs to swing 20 seats in the 87-seat legislature.
The UCP won 63 seats under then-leader Jason Kenney in 2019 to 24 for Notley’s NDP.
Polls suggest the UCP should continue its near total domination in rural areas and smaller centres, giving it a cushion of up to 40 or so seats to reach the 44 needed to form a majority government.
The month-long campaign has been dominated by the economy and health care.
Albertans are struggling with high costs for consumer goods, a shortage of family doctors and long waits in emergency rooms.
Smith has promised to keep Alberta the lowest-tax regime in Canada.
Her government, she says, would introduce a law to mandate a referendum before any personal or corporate income tax hikes. There would also be tax changes to benefit those making more than $60,000 a year, at a cost of $1 billion annually to the treasury.
The NDP promised to maintain Alberta’s status as Canada’s lowest tax regime. It pledged to end the tax on small businesses and raise the corporate income tax to 11 per cent from eight per cent, which it says would help pay for investments in health and education while keeping the books balanced and maintaining the lowest corporate rate in Canada.
The NDP also promised legislation to counteract UCP policies that hiked the cost of utilities, auto insurance, a range of fees and tuition.
Both leaders promised to preserve the publicly funded health system while creating more primary care teams — physicians accompanied by related specialists such as nurses and therapists — so more Albertans are able to access a family doctor and not clog emergency wards for care.
Polls showed trust was a key issue, with Notley viewed more favourably than her party and vice versa for Smith.
Smith was dogged during the campaign by past comments she made comparing those who took the COVID-19 vaccine to credulous followers of Adolf Hitler. A report also came out mid-campaign from the province’s ethics commissioner that concluded Smith undermined the rule of law by pressuring her justice minister to end the criminal court case of a COVID-19 protester.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2023.
Police looking for these 3 suspects after Super 8 Motel in Innisfail robbed early Monday morning
Innisfail RCMP investigate robbery
Innisfail Ala. – On May 29, 2023, at approximately 4:10 a.m., the Super 8 motel in Innisfail was the victim of an armed robbery. Three male suspects entered the hotel, two of which had firearms. Money was demanded from the manager. All three left the motel in a vehicle which is described as:
- Chevrolet Dura Max truck
The suspects are described as:
Suspect #1: Caucasian male, tall and muscular. Wearing jeans and a grey Under Armour hoody. He was carrying a pistol.
Suspect #2: Caucasian male, short. Wearing all black. He was carrying a sawed off shotgun
Suspect #3: Caucasian male tall with a chubby belly. He was wearing a grey hoody, jeans and a black ball hat.
If you have information about this incident, please call the Innisfail RCMP at 403-227-3341 or call your local police. If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), by internet atwww.tipsubmit.com, or by SMS (check your local Crime Stoppers www.crimestoppers.ab.ca for instructions).
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