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Alberta

Taking wildfire operations to new heights

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Drone and helicopter testing being performed by Alberta Wildfire personnel. Photo Credit: Alberta Wildfire

Budget 2024 enables Alberta to make use of leading-edge technologies to prevent and respond to wildfires.

As Alberta heads into wildfire season, many areas of the province are experiencing heightened wildfire risk. Alberta’s government continues to prioritize new technologies and tactics that will enhance front-line response and suppression efforts.

Budget 2024 will invest an additional $151 million over the next three years for wildfire preparedness, prevention, response and mitigation. This additional funding will enhance wildland firefighting capacity with increased wildfire resources such as personnel, aircraft, drones, artificial intelligence (AI) and night-vision technology.

“Alberta’s government is well prepared for the 2024 wildfire season. We have emerging technologies that will enable us to better protect forests and communities while continuing to prioritize proactive measures that build wildfire resilience throughout the province.”

Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry and Parks

Aerial operations are integral to firefighting efforts and increased funding will enable the province to add two additional long-term helicopter contracts, two new air tanker contracts and additional drones for aerial wildfire surveillance. Budget 2024 will also support the renewal of 130 helicopter contracts by April 1.

“We live in a time where we have access to incredible technologies and last year, we recognized some great successes from various firefighting technology pilot programs. I can say with confidence that the additional night-vision equipped helicopters and drones will make a big difference in our wildfire mitigation and response efforts this year.”

Bernie Schmitte, executive director, Alberta Wildfire

Alberta Wildfire will continue to explore, research and test new developments in wildfire prevention, mitigation, smoke detection and suppression to assess how innovative technologies can support a rapid response and help extinguish wildfires. Wildfire management best practices are always evolving, and Alberta’s government is working to stay ahead of the curve.

For future wildfire seasons, the government is exploring options to potentially expand the province’s air tanker fleet and pilot more emerging firefighting technologies.

Quick facts

  • Night-vision goggles amplify light 60,000 times and allow helicopter pilots to work overnight and conduct activities like bucketing operations.
  • Wildfire suppression efforts are more likely to be successful at night, as temperatures are usually lower, humidity is typically higher and wildfires are less active.
  • Alberta has been successfully using an AI wildfire occurrence prediction system since 2022 to identify areas where wildfires are likely to occur.
  • Budget 2024 also includes hiring 100 new firefighters, which will result in five additional 20-person crews.

Alberta

Alberta moves to protect Edmonton park from Trudeau government’s ‘diversity’ plan

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

If Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative is implemented, Alberta could see its parks, including Edmonton’s River Valley, hijacked by the federal government in the name of ‘sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.’

Edmonton is working to protect its River Valley from the Trudeau government’s “diversity” park plan. 

On April 15, Alberta Legislature passed MLA Brandon Lunty’s private members’ Bill 204 to protect the Edmonton River Valley from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative which would give the federal government power over provincial parks to enforce a variety of quotas related to the “climate” and “diversity.”  

“Albertans elected our United Conservative government with a majority mandate to, among other things, protect families and communities from federal overreach and intrusion. That’s exactly what this bill accomplishes,” Lunty said in a press release  

Bill 204, titled the Municipal Government (National Urban Parks) Amendment Act, is a response to the National Urban Park Initiative which would give the Trudeau government jurisdiction over Alberta’s provincial parks.  

The Trudeau government’s plan promises to “provide long-lasting benefits to the urban area” by using “sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.” 

If the program is approved, the Edmonton River Valley could be “fully owned by the Federal Government,” which will use the space to advance their values, including addressing the impacts of “climate change” and creating spaces where “diversity is welcomed.”  

The plan also promises that equity will be “intentionally advanced” while “respecting indigenous rights” through “reconciliation.”   

However, many Edmonton citizens were concerned with the Urban Park Initiative and met with their MLAs to discuss the issue.  

Edmonton citizen Sheila Phimester worked with MLA Jackie Lovely to create a petition to prevent the River Valley from becoming federally owned. The petition has received over 5,000 signatures.  

“Oh, and because it’s the federal government, their ‘priorities’ for these parks are ‘healthier communities’, ‘climate resilience’, ‘reconciliation’, ‘equity’, ‘diversity’, and ‘inclusion,’” it continued.   

Already, Trudeau has attempted to assert power over Alberta’s industry by placing “climate” restrictions on their oil and gas production in an attempt to force net-zero regulations on all Canadian provinces, including on electricity generation, by as early as 2035.   

However, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has repeatedly vowed to protect the province from Trudeau’s radical “net zero” push. 

In December, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith blasted Trudeau’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s plan to slash oil and gas emissions by 35 percent to 38 percent below 2019 levels as “unrealistic” and “unconstitutional.”  

Trudeau’s current environmental goals are in lockstep with the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and include phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.  

The reduction and eventual elimination of the use of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the globalist group behind the socialist “Great Reset” agenda – an organization in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved. 

In November, after announcing she had “enough” of Trudeau’s extreme environmental rules, Smith said her province had no choice but to assert control over its electricity grid to combat federal overreach by enacting its Sovereignty Act. The Sovereignty Act serves to shield Albertans from future power blackouts due to federal government overreach.  

Unlike most provinces in Canada, Alberta’s electricity industry is nearly fully deregulated. However, the government still has the ability to take control of it at a moment’s notice. 

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Alberta

Coutts Three verdict: A warning to protestors who act as liaison with police

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Ray McGinnis

During the trial numbers of RCMP officers conceded that the Coutts Three were helpful in their interactions with the law. As well, there didn’t seem to be any truth to the suggestion that Van Huigenbos, Van Herk and Janzen were leaders of the protest.

Twelve jurors have found the Coutts Three guilty of mischief over $5,000 at a courthouse in Lethbridge, Alberta. Marco Van Huigenbois, Alex Van Herk and George Janzen will appear again in court on July 22 for sentencing.

Van Huigenbois, Van Herk and Janzen were each protesting at the Coutts Blockade in 2022. A blockade of Alberta Highway 4 began on January 29, 2022, blocking traffic, on and off, on Alberta Highway 4 near the Coutts-Sweetgrass Canada-USA border crossing. The protests were in support of the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa.

Protests began due to the vaccine mandates for truckers entering Canada, and lockdowns that bankrupted 120,000 small businesses. Government edicts were purportedly for “public health” to stop the spread of the C-19 virus. Yet the CDC’s Dr. Rachel Wallensky admitted on CNN in August 2021 the vaccine did not prevent infection or stop transmission.

By February 2022, a US court forced Pfizer to release its “Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports” revealing the company knew by the end of February, 2021, that 1,223 people  had a “case outcome” of “fatal” as a result of taking the companies’ vaccine.

On the day of February 14, 2022, the three men spoke to Coutts protesters after a cache of weapons had been displayed by the RCMP. These were in connection with the arrest of the Coutts Four. Van Huigenbos and others persuaded the protesters to leave Coutts, which they did by February 15, 2022.

During the trial numbers of RCMP officers conceded that the Coutts Three were helpful in their interactions with the law. As well, there didn’t seem to be any truth to the suggestion that Van Huigenbos, Van Herk and Janzen were leaders of the protest.

RCMP officer Greg Tulloch testified that there were a number of “factions” within the larger protest group. These factions had strong disagreements about how to proceed with the protest. The Crown contended the Coutts Three were the leaders of the protest.

During his testimony, Tulloch recalled how Van Huigenbos and Janzen assisted him in getting past the “vehicle blockade to enter Coutts at a time during the protest when access to Coutts from the north via the AB-4 highway was blocked.” Tulloch also testified that Janzen and Van Huigenbos helped with handling RCMP negotiations with the protesters. Tulloch gave credit to these two “being able to help move vehicles at times to open lanes on the AB-4 highway to facilitate the flow of traffic in both directions.”

During cross examination by George Janzen’s lawyer, Alan Honner, Tulloch stated that he noticed two of the defendants assisting RCMP with reopening the highway in both directions. Honner said in summary, “[Marco Van Huigenbos and George Janzen] didn’t close the road, they opened it.”

Mark Wielgosz, an RCMP officer for over twenty years, worked as a liaison between law enforcement and protesters at the Coutts blockade. Taking the stand, he concurred that there was sharp disagreement among the Coutts protesters and the path forward with their demonstration. Rebel News video clips “submitted by both the Crown and defence teams captured these disagreements as demonstrators congregated in the Smuggler’s Saloon, a location where many of the protesters met to discuss and debate their demonstration.” Wielgosz made several attempts to name the leaders of the protest in his role as a RCMP liaison with the protesters, but was unsuccessful.”

However, the Crown maintained that the protest unlawfully obstructed people’s access to property on Highway 4.

Canada’s Criminal Code defines mischief as follows in Section 430:

Every one commits mischief who willfully

(a)  destroys or damages property;

(b)  renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective;

(c)   obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property; or

(d)  obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.

Robert Kraychik reported that “RCMP Superintendent Gordon Corbett…cried (no comment on the sincerity of this emoting) while testifying about a female RCMP officer that was startled by the movement of a tractor with a large blade during the Coutts blockade/protest.” This was the climax of the trial. A tractor moving some distance away from an officer in rural Alberta, with blades. The shock of it all.

No evidence was presented in the trial that Van Huigenbos, Van Herk and Janzen destroyed or damaged property. Officers testified they couldn’t identify who the protest leaders were. They testified the defendants assisted with opening traffic lanes, and winding down the protest.

By volunteering to liaise with the RCMP, the Crown depicted the Coutts Three as the protest leaders. Who will choose to volunteer at any future peaceful, non-violent, protest to act as a liaison with the policing authorities? Knowing of the verdict handed down on April 16, 2024, in Lethbridge?

Ray McGinnis is a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. His forthcoming book is Unjustified: The Emergencies Act and the Inquiry that Got It Wrong.

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