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Alberta

Court orders Whistle Stop Cafe to shut down

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5 minute read

Mirror, AB

February 3, 2021

Thousands of business owners across Alberta are following the very public tilt between a Central Alberta restaurant and Alberta Health Services.  Wednesday afternoon the owner of the Whistle Stop Cafe at Mirror was notified a judge has granted AHS’s emergency closure application. Although the Whistle Stop Cafe has been ordered to close, owner Chris Scott has shared on facebook page “We are open and awaiting police response.”

Like restaurants across Alberta, the Whistle Stop Cafe closed in mid December as ordered by the Provincial Government.  The Cafe remained closed for 4 weeks but when the province announced an indefinite extension to the closure orders, Scott decided he could not afford to remain closed any longer.  On January 21st the Cafe reopened with limited seating for social distancing, asking customers and staff to wear masks while moving about. Since defying the closure order the Whistle Stop has been visited by the RCMP and then by AHS.

Despite significant community support, Scott is now facing the very difficult choice to close or to fight for his right to make a living for himself and his staff members. This recent Facebook post offers a glimpse into the heart wrenching decisions being faced by many Albertans.

From the Facebook page of Whistle Stop Cafe, owner Chris Scott

As many of you know, AHS served me with court documents Monday to appear before the court. AHS has asked the Court of Queen’s Bench to order my dining room closed until an officer of Alberta health services rescinds the order. Now I have a serious decision to make. If I lose tomorrow, and an order is granted which it likely will be, do I accept the courts ruling, (legal or not,) and give the government complete control over my cafe, or do I stand on principle and openly defy that ruling and get arrested for contempt of court?  I’m not a criminal. I have a family that needs me, a community that I wish to support, I like to travel. All of these would be impacted because I want to allow people to enjoy a meal sitting in a cozy cafe. I thought being a Canadian citizen meant something. I’m not a COVID denier and I haven’t once failed to ensure my staff and customers are safe. Alberta Health Services wants to force me to close tomorrow, using our justice system even though they are “allowing,” dine in service in 6 days!! (Maybe.)

What do I do? 

Who’s with me? 

What about all the other restaurants that are opening against the irresponsible rules? Will those owners be encouraged and remain open, with more following suit? Or will they be scared and discouraged over the infinite power of a government that doesn’t seem to listen to us?

As I sit here talking with lawyers and reporters I can hear the trucker salutes as they drive by on hwy 21. There are thousands of people who support what we’re doing here! Thousands of Albertans have spoken out against what AHS is doing to us and they’re not listening.  This is a problem. I even reached out to Health Minister Tyler Shandro today with the hopes of speaking man to man about this with no response.  The UCP wants us to think that they’re throwing us a bone by “allowing,” us to open on the 8th. The oppressors have some people convinced that giving them back some of their freedoms is some kind of a favor. Isn’t that ridiculous? 

Premier Kenney may have slowed this thing down by announcing possible reopening on the 8th, but the problem still exists that we’re only ALLOWED to be open by our government. This fight is far from over. 

-Chris”

Read more stories on Todayville.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Reducing funding for RCMP on the table for Saskatchewan amid firearm buyback debate

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REGINA — Saskatchewan says it would consider reducing its funding for the RCMP if the force was to help the federal government with its proposed firearms buyback program.

Public Safety Minister Christine Tell says all options are on the table, signalling the province will not help Ottawa collect guns it has banned.

“We as a province fund the RCMP to a tune of 70 per cent, so it could even get more interesting,” Tell said Thursday.

The Saskatchewan Party government said it is pushing back to protect law-abiding firearms owners from what it views as federal intrusion on its provincial autonomy.

Under Ottawa’s proposed firearms buyback program, it would be mandatory for people to have their assault-style firearms rendered inoperable or have them discarded. That could also include centrefire semi-automatic rifles or shotguns designed to accept a detachable magazine that can hold more than five cartridges.

In response, Saskatchewan has introduced its own firearms act to forbid municipalities and police services from receiving federal money to help confiscate firearms.

The proposed law says a municipality, police service or board would have to get written approval from the province’s public safety minister before agreeing to support the federal buyback program.

It also states that Saskatchewan’s chief firearms officer would enforce which federal agent can or cannot confiscate firearms in the province.

“These legal firearm owners are not the ones committing the crimes,” Tell said.

The legislation was tabled Thursday, months after Tell wrote a letter to Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, the head of Saskatchewan’s RCMP. It stated that the province would not support the Mounties using provincially funded resources to help confiscate firearms.

Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick have sent similar letters to their RCMP forces. They have joined Saskatchewan in asking Ottawa to not use up “scarce RCMP and municipal resources” for its buyback program.

In October, Blackmore said Mounties are service providers, not decision-makers, and any decisions over the buyback program are between the federal and provincial governments.

“As the service provider, we would be the individuals that get our information from them,” Blackmore told The Canadian Press.

That includes if additional resources would be needed by RCMP once the buyback program rolls out.

“It would depend on the level of expectation, and what that looks like, and what the involvement is if there are additional resources,” Blackmore said.

The specific role of the RCMP and the details surrounding the buyback program have not been determined.

On Friday, the Saskatchewan RCMP said it will continue to prioritize front-line services and the safety of communities is its highest priority.

The Saskatchewan Firearms Act also calls for helping firearm owners get fair market value for guns collected through the buyback program and would require all seized firearms to go through forensic and ballistic testing.

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, which advocates for hunters and the protection of the province’s hunting heritage, praised the proposed act, saying it would mitigate the “draconian” federal legislation.

There are approximately 115,000 licensed firearms owners in Saskatchewan, 75,000 of whom may be penalized under the federal government’s policy. That’s about 10 per cent of Saskatchewan’s adult population, the province said.

Saskatchewan’s NDP Opposition has stood united with the government to denounce the program.

“It does not strike the right balance for Saskatchewan,” justice critic Nicole Sarauer said last week in the legislature.

“These amendments are overbroad and capture rifles that have legitimate uses for both hunters and producers in Saskatchewan.”

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

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Premier Smith goes on the attack against NDP opposition to the Alberta Sovereignty Act

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It appears Premier Danielle Smith has had enough of playing defence. In the days since introducing the Alberta Sovereignty Act in the Alberta Legislature this week, Smith has found herself explaining and re-explaining how the Act will survive scrutiny and serve the province well in ongoing battles over issues of contention with Ottawa.  Peppered by the media and by the Official Opposition NDP inside and outside the legislature, Smith and her team decided to turn the tables.
The media and the official opposition claim the Sovereignty Act allows laws to be crafted by cabinet members “behind closed doors” after the legislature has declared a federal overreach into provincial jurisdiction.
However that appears to be a confusing opposition tactic since the Sovereignty Act does not require the passing of new laws.  Rather, the Province will simply provide reasons for declining to enforce federal laws which (i) intrudes into provincial legislation jurisdiction, (ii) violates the rights and freedoms of Albertans under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or (iii) causes or is anticipated to cause harm to Albertans.
Thursday, Premier Smith took the opportunity during Ministerial Statements to lash out at the opposition leader Rachel Notley for siding with Ottawa instead of Alberta in the struggle to defend provincial rights.

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