Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan strongly urges Central Albertans to participate in the upcoming Leadership Review
Leadership Review of Jason Kenney in Red Deer
On Saturday, April 9, Alberta conservatives, of which there are many in Central Alberta, will have the opportunity to decide whether it is time to change the leader of the United Conservative Party. The vote will occur at the Cambridge Hotel in Red Deer.
What is the purpose of the leadership review?
Jason Kenney has been leader of the party for over 4 years, and to date, members have not yet had an opportunity to review his performance.
Several months ago, 22 local UCP constituency associations, passed resolutions requiring a review of the leader. Members have been waiting for a leadership review; it aligns with conservative principles of governance and accountability.
The United Conservative Party belongs to all Alberta conservatives, and it is the grassroots members who determine whether it is time to change our leader.
We have seen too much contention. It is not right to label men or women as “mainstream” or “extreme” depending on whether or not they want a change in leader. Our party has seen too much dividing, too much labelling, sometimes change is required to heal, to unite and move forward.
We will have a provincial election in the spring of 2023. Alberta is a conservative province, yet our party is not doing as well as it should in the polls.
We should always seek to put our best foot forward. This review will provide members of the party with the option to change the leader before the upcoming 2023 provincial election.
This is Your Time. You decide, not the leader, not the party.
Have you sometimes felt voiceless over the past two years? I understand that feeling. I have sometimes felt it myself. But this is your time. You can have a voice and it will be important. This is an opportunity for you to decide, not the leader, not the party.
Alberta conservatives will agree with many of policies of a conservative government. That is no surprise, conservative policies are very different from NDP policies. Conservative policies, regardless of the leader, increase economic prosperity and it is exciting to see this occurring.
But a leadership review is not about a comparison to the NDP. That will be the purpose of the election. Leadership reviews are about conservatives putting our best foot forward with the right leader for the right time.
All of us have strengths and weaknesses – some leaders are better suited for some times but not others. Sometimes a change in leader is simply a positive recognition of this truth.
How do I vote?
This is what you must do to vote. There are three steps.
First, if you need to, buy or renew your party membership by March 19. The cost of a membership is $10 for one year. If you have any doubts whether your membership is current, you may want to pay $10 to make sure.
If you need to, but do not buy or renew your party membership by March 19 you do not get to vote!
Party memberships can be purchased online at – www.unitedconservative.ca/take-action/membership
Second, register on-line to vote. If you do this prior to March 19, the cost is $99 if you are over 25. If you less than 26, the cost is $49 – so let’s involve our families and many young conservatives, giving them a unique opportunity to have a voice!
After March 19, unless the party extends early bird prices, on-line registration costs increase to $149.
Online registration is at – www.unitedconservative.ca/sgm-2022
Last step, come to our Cambridge Hotel on April 9, between noon and 6 PM and vote!
What happens if Alberta conservatives want to change in their leader?
If Alberta conservatives say it is time to change the leader, there will be a leadership race for a new leader.
To assume that any one person is the only person who would be a good leader for our party is a false assumption, disregarding the many wonderful men and women in our province.
Politics should not be a career. It is a special opportunity to serve and having contributed one’s unique experiences and talents for the public good, stepping aside and allowing others to do the same.
Great leaders lead in love and inspire the best in those they serve.
There are many honest and principled men and women with their own unique strengths and experiences to offer for this time, who could be great leaders of our party.
A massive vote that is a true representation of Alberta grassroots conservatives is the right outcome.
Your voice matters! This is an important opportunity, let your friends and family know, invite them to come and join you, to have fun together, to take action together, to have your say, and to be heard! Let’s do it! See you there!
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.
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