Incoming Alberta premier Danielle Smith pledges unity after first UCP caucus meeting
By Colette Derworiz in Calgary
Danielle Smith, who is to become Alberta’s next premier, came out of her first United Conservative Party caucus meeting with a message of unity heading into a 2023 provincial election.
Smith defeated six rivals in party voting Thursday, capturing nearly 54 per cent of the vote on the sixth and final ballot to claim victory.
She met with her UCP caucus, except for Premier Jason Kenney and two others, on Friday morning and started to put her stamp on the party and government.
“We had just a terrific caucus meeting,” she told reporters following the meeting at McDougall Centre, the provincial government office building in Calgary.
“I feel like everybody is really keen to pull together as a group and make sure that we’re prepared for the next election coming up in 2023.”
Smith is to be sworn in as the province’s next premier on Tuesday, but she still needs to secure a seat in the legislature.
Michaela Frey, who had earlier signalled she did not intend to run in the 2023 provincial election, has resigned and says it’s her hope that Smith will choose to run in the constituency of Brooks-Medicine Hat.
Smith says she will visit the southeastern riding this weekend to meet with Frey’s board and the local campaign team before making a formal announcement next week.
In Edmonton, NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley chided Smith for being scared to run in the already-open Calgary-Elbow constituency and called on her to declare a byelection in that riding as soon as possible.
“Today is Day 1 of Danielle Smith’s seven-month government. These next seven months will bring more chaos, more costs and more controversy and more conflict.”
Notley said Smith has no mandate to bring in her controversial ideas, such as a sovereignty act to allow the province to ignore federal laws and court orders deemed not in its interests.
“She’s got one per cent of the vote of Albertans so far and a byelection will not change that,” she said.
“The reality is that if she wants to move ahead with those things, she must wait until after a general election.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2022.
— With files from Bob Weber in Edmonton
Canada under pressure to produce more food, protect agricultural land: report
Canada’s agricultural land is under increasing pressure to produce more food as demand grows domestically and internationally, while the industry grapples with limited resources and environmental constraints, a new report found.
“We need to grow more food on less land and in a volatile climate,” said Tyler McCann, managing director of the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute.
The report by the institute released Thursday looks at the pressures on Canada’s agricultural land to produce more food while also mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, said McCann.
Despite Canada being a big country, it doesn’t have as much agricultural land as people might think, said McCann, with the report noting that agricultural land makes up only around seven per cent of the country.
Because of that, we can’t take what we do have for granted, he said. “We need to be really thoughtful about how we are using our agricultural land.”
In 2020, Canada was the eighth largest country in terms of cropland area, the report said, with that cropland decreasing by seven per cent over the previous two decades.
Canada is a major producer and net exporter of agriculture and agri-food products, the report said, exporting $91 billion in products in 2022, and one of the top 10 exporters of wheat, canola, pulses, pork and beef.
In the coming years, Canada will face increased demand from countries whose populations are growing, the report said.
“With population growth on one side and climate change on the other, Canada will be amongst an increasingly smaller number of countries that is a net exporter,” said McCann, noting that Canada’s own population is growing, and farmland also needs to be protected against urban sprawl.
The wildfires clouding Canadian skies this week are a “vivid reminder” of the pressure that extreme weather and the changing climate are putting on the agricultural sector, said McCann.
“We need to clearly mitigate … agriculture’s impact on climate change. But we also need to make sure agriculture is adapting to climate change’s impacts,” he said.
One of the ways the world has responded to demand for increased agricultural production over time is to create more agricultural land, in some cases by cutting down forests, said McCann. But that’s not a viable option for Canada, which doesn’t have a lot of land that can be sustainably converted into farmland — and even if it could, doing so could have a variety of adverse environmental effects, he said.
Some of the practices used to reduce emissions and sequester carbon in agriculture can also improve production output on existing farmland, the report found, such as precision agriculture and no-till practices.
However, intensifying the production of current agricultural land also comes with potential environmental downsides, the report said.
For example, McCann said fertilizer is an important part of sustainable agriculture, but there’s a balance to be struck because excessive use of fertilizer can quickly turn food production unsustainable.
“We need to be a lot more thoughtful about the inputs that we’re using,” he said, adding the same can be said about the use of technology in agriculture and the policies and programs put in place to encourage sustainable intensification of Canadian agriculture.
The report recommends that Canada adopt policies that provide financial incentives and technical assistance to farmers and develop regulatory frameworks promoting sustainable land use, as well as promoting education and awareness campaigns, so that the country can “ensure the long-term sustainability of its agricultural sector while protecting the environment.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.
Rosa Saba, The Canadian Press
Lawyer tells Alberta’s highest court review board biased in de Grood’s case
A family member of five slain students holds a heart sign with their names on it following a court decision in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, May 25, 2016. Alberta’s highest court is being asked to overturn a review board decision on the stabbing deaths of five young people at a Calgary house party that confined a man to a supervised Edmonton group home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
By Ritika Dubey in Edmonton
Alberta’s highest court is being asked to overturn a review board decision that confined a man to a supervised Edmonton group home after the stabbing deaths of five young people at a Calgary house party.
The lawyer representing Matthew de Grood argued Wednesday the review board’s decision was biased, citing what she described as political interference from Alberta’s former justice minister.
“The appellant says, ‘I think the conclusion about me is wrong. The board’s conclusion is incorrect and not supported by evidence,”’ Jacqueline Petrie said before the Alberta Court of Appeal. “He says there’s no significant evidence that he’s a risk.”
De Grood, 31, was found not criminally responsible in 2016 for the killings two years earlier of Zackariah Rathwell, Jordan Segura, Kaitlin Perras, Josh Hunter and Lawrence Hong because he was suffering from schizophrenia at the time. Petrie said de Grood has been stable on medication, is at low risk to reoffend and should be allowed to live with his parents while being monitored under a full warrant.
She argued the review board misunderstood medical evidence during the September 2022 review, which deemed de Grood a significant risk despite the assessment showing improvements. She said the board is supposed to recommend the least onerous disposition compatible with public safety and did not do that for de Grood.
The defence lawyer has said the review had been influenced by former justice minister Doug Schweitzer, who weighed in on de Grood’s case in October 2019 after the panel allowed de Grood to transition from institutional care to a supervised group home.
He has been under supervision at a group home. His case is reviewed by the Alberta Review Board yearly to see whether he can transition back into the community while maintaining public safety.
Petrie pointed at de Grood’s “exemplary record,” and that he has been “compliant to the (medical) treatment team.”
“Nobody knew he had schizophrenia (at the time of the stabbings) and needed medication.”
Crown prosecutor Matthew Griener said the board considered a conditional discharge but dismissed it, citing a relapse in schizophrenia symptoms in 2021.
Griener said de Grood’s relapses were brief and happened at the hospital, providing an early window for medical professionals to intervene.
Justice Kevin Feehan said de Grood may be low-risk, but the consequences of even one relapse could be significant.
Reading from an expert’s report, Feehan said: “A low risk to offend doesn’t mean the reoffence would not be severe.”
Some family members of the victims drove from Calgary for the hearing.
Segura’s mother, Patty, said the last nine years have been about de Grood and his rights.
“He should be thankful that he ended up NCR (not criminally responsible) rather than end(ing) with five life sentences for murdering five people,” she said. “He should not be appealing.”
Hunter’s father, Barclay, opposed a potential full release.
“The idea that he wouldn’t be monitored for the rest of his life seems to defy logic, it doesn’t make any sense,” said the father.
Hunter’s mother, Kelly, said the family has had “no healing.”
“We do this every year, at least once. Now, this is the second appeal,” she said. Barclay
Hunter said although there are attempts to reintegrate de Grood into society, he hopes the man is not left on his own with an absolute discharge.
“Regardless of what they say, he killed five people. If that doesn’t stand on its own as a risk factor, then I don’t know what does.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023.
Tour the 2023 Red Deer Hospital Home Lottery grand prize dream home
Cynthia Weil, Grammy winning lyricist who had hits with husband Barry Mann, dead at 82
‘All about the campfire’: Campers adjust their plans with fire bans in place
Why are people in Britain talking about Boris Johnson’s WhatsApp messages?
Saskatchewan landowners fight against illegal drainage washing out land, roads
Hundreds of thousands march in Poland anti-government protests to show support for democracy
Premiers need to keep talking about the health-care crisis: medical associations
Alberta2 days ago
Three men, including police officer, face charges after overdose death in cell
Business2 days ago
CNN head Chris Licht is out at the global news network after a brief, tumultuous tenure
Alberta2 days ago
Michael White, convicted of killing pregnant wife, gets full parole
Crime2 days ago
Ford calls for ouster, Poilievre decries Liberal response to Bernardo prison transfer
National2 days ago
Wildfire roundup: A look at what’s burning across the country and who’s affected
Automotive2 days ago
New York City goes after Hyundai, Kia after security flaw leads to wave of social media fueled theft
Canadian Energy Centre1 day ago
Indigenous leaders meet G7 diplomats to make case for Canadian LNG
Opinion1 day ago
EDDIE EDITOR’S EDDIE HEADLINE FOR JUNE 7