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Alberta

Writer opposing Free Alberta Strategy in national article confuses chartered banks with financial institutions

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12 minute read

From the Free Alberta Strategy Team

In a new article published in the federal-government-funded “The Conversation” publication, Robert L. Ascah, a researcher at the also-federal-government-funded Parkland Institute, attempts to lay the hatchet to the Free Alberta Strategy.

In his piece, entitled “What the Free Alberta Strategy gets wrong about Canada’s banking system,” Mr. Ascah argues that the Alberta Independent Banking Act that is proposed in the Free Alberta Strategy report is unconstitutional because banking is an entirely federal area of jurisdiction.

Here is the key quote from Mr. Ascah:

“The Free Alberta Strategy, however, purports to allow Alberta to incorporate and regulate banks, which is clearly unconstitutional. There’s no mention that this proposal is beyond the powers of the provincial legislature.”

But, as so often seems to happen, this latest Free Alberta Strategy critic clearly doesn’t appear to have read – or taken the time to understand – what the Free Alberta Strategy is actually proposing.

While it’s true that “chartered banks” are federally regulated, that doesn’t mean that any type or form of “banking”, as the term is colloquially used, must be federally regulated.

Credit unions, for example, offer “banking” services, while not being “chartered banks” that are federally regulated.

This definition, while technical, is the crux of the issue.

And while we admit that this is very technical, when you’re talking about writing laws, technicalities matter a lot.

To be clear, here is the exact proposal from the Free Alberta Strategy report itself:

1. Expanding the number of provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions;

2. Promoting private ownership of these new financial institutions; and

3. Mandating that all provincially regulated financial institutions and credit unions (including ATB) remain compliant with the Alberta Sovereignty Act as it relates to the non-enforcement of federal laws and court decisions deemed to infringe unduly on Alberta’s provincial jurisdiction.

You will note, very clearly, that this proposal in our Free Alberta Strategy report talks about “provincially regulated financial institutions” not “chartered banks”.

This is because the authors of the strategy understand (unlike Mr. Ascah, apparently) that while “chartered banks” must be regulated by the federal government, “financial institutions” can be regulated by the provincial government.

This is exactly why our Free Alberta Strategy report suggests modelling any new “banks” in Alberta on ATB Financial (previously known as Alberta Treasury Branches), which is a long-standing Alberta financial institution.

(Note: Although ATB is a crown corporation, our proposal envisages privately owned and operated financial institutions, not more government-owned and operated financial institutions. Just in case anyone was worried we were suddenly advocating for bigger government!)

Just as Alberta’s credit unions are not “chartered banks” and so are not federally regulated, ATB Financial is not a “chartered bank”, and so it is not regulated by the federal government.

ATB Financial is a “financial institution” that is provincially regulated by the Alberta government under the ATB Financial Act.

This is precisely what the Free Alberta Strategy report proposes – an increase in the number of provincially regulated financial institutions in Alberta.

We can clearly see then that, despite the claim by Mr. Ascah that provincial regulation of banking is unconstitutional, the mere existence of ATB is proof that our proposal is, in fact, constitutional.

The remainder of Mr. Ascah’s article goes on to argue that if Alberta unconstitutionally incorporated its own new “chartered banks”, the federal government would cut those banks off from being able to transfer funds to other banks in Canada, making them impractical for the public to use.

Maybe it’s true that the federal government would cut off any unauthorized provincial “chartered banks” from payment mechanisms.

But, given no one is proposing Alberta incorporate its own new “chartered banks”, this entire second half of the article is an irrelevant straw man argument.

Again, the Free Alberta Strategy proposes to incorporate new provincially regulated financial institutions, like ATB.

And, in case you haven’t noticed, ATB has not been cut off from being able to transfer funds to other banks by the federal government, because – shock – the existence of ATB is perfectly constitutional.

The real question then, is whether or not the first half of Mr. Ascah’s article, where he claims we are proposing to do something unconstitutional, is simply a misunderstanding, or a deliberately misleading diatribe.

Either way, such a fundamental error really makes you wonder why the Parkland Institute would allow the article to be published at all!

Are Parkland Institute staff no longer expected to read the thing they are publicly criticizing anymore?

Are The Conversation editors no longer expected to check whether their authors have their facts straight?

Perhaps the oddest part of this whole situation is that the Parkland Institute, where Mr. Ascah works, has previously written about the benefits of having an Alberta-based, Alberta-regulated financial institution!

They did so in a report that goes into detail explaining the difference between federally regulated chartered banks and provincially regulated financial institutions!

Even stranger still – which Parkland Institute researcher do you think it was who wrote this report?

Yes, you guessed it, it was Robert L. Ascah!

It gets worse…

Once upon a time, Mr. Ascah worked at Alberta Treasury, the government department that is responsible for regulating ATB.

Then, after he worked at Alberta Treasury, Mr. Ascah went to work at ATB itself, where he was responsible for government relations, strategic planning, and economic research.

That’s right folks…

Our Free Alberta Strategy critic, who attacked us by claiming that provincially regulated financial institutions are unconstitutional, actually worked as a senior executive at both the organization he claims is unconstitutional, and the organization that is supposed to regulate the thing that he claims is unconstitutional.

We must either believe, then:

  • That Mr. Ascah, who has written about the benefits of provincially-regulated financial institutions, has worked for a provincially-regulated financial institution, and has worked for the organization that regulates provincially-regulated financial institutions, is somehow entirely unaware that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal.

Or, we must believe:

  • That Mr. Ascah perfectly understands that provincially-regulated financial institutions are legal and that that is how ATB is established, but that it’s somehow, all of a sudden, now beneficial for him to pretend that he doesn’t, and that anyone suggesting other financial institutions be regulated in that way is suggesting something “unconstitutional”.

How could it possibly be beneficial for Mr. Ascah to pretend that this idea is unconstitutional all of a sudden, I hear you ask?

Well, the answer to that question is actually the least confusing part of his article.

Contained right at the bottom of the article, under “Disclosure statement” (and conveniently excluded from most re-publications of the piece by the media) are 9 little words:

“Robert (Bob) L. Ascah is affiliated with Alberta NDP.”

Of course, affiliated with is a little bit of an understatement in this case.

Mr. Ascah has donated thousands of dollars to the Alberta NDP for many years, while several of his Parkland Institute colleagues are actually running as Alberta NDP candidates in the 2023 Alberta election!

Now, as a non-partisan organization, we generally try to avoid pointing out the political affiliations of individual people.

As an organization, we base our support for ideas on whether the ideas are good or not, rather than on who is proposing them.

But, in this case, we’re not criticizing the person proposing the ideas, but the lack of independence and the conflict of interest inherent in a situation where federal-government-funded researchers are published by federal-government-funded websites and re-printed by federal-government-funded newspapers.

Unfortunately, in a world where government-funded academics get government funding to write government propaganda published in government-funded media, there’s really no incentive to cover the truth anymore.

As to why the federal government would want to fund researchers to write propaganda for them, and fund media outlets to publish it for them, we’ll leave that one to you to answer!

In the end, this is exactly why we need more independent research and independent distribution of ideas in our society.

The Free Alberta Strategy jealously guards our independence.

That’s why we never accept any money or resources from any government, regardless of political stripe.

But that’s also why we need your help.

We need your help so that we can continue to do research and analysis on ways in which Alberta can fight back, such as the Sovereignty Act.

We need your help to further our work to protect Alberta’s interests from a hostile and divisive federal government in Ottawa.

We need your help to grow our supporter, activist, and volunteer network across our great province.

We need your help to share our work with like-minded friends and family in order to get the word out to as many members of the public as possible.

If you’re ready to help, click here:

Alberta

Red Deer Doctor critical of Alberta’s COVID response to submit report to Danielle Smith this May

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From LifeSiteNews

By Anthony Murdoch

Leading the task force is Dr. Gary Davidson, who was skeptical of mandates at the time.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith will soon be receiving a little-known report she commissioned which tasked an Alberta doctor who was critical of the previous administration’s handling of COVID to look into how accurate the province’s COVID data collection was, as well as the previous administration’s decision-making process and effectiveness. 

As noted in a recent Globe and Mail report, records it obtained show that just less than one month after becoming Premier of Alberta in November of 2022, Smith tasked then-health minister Jason Copping to create the COVID data task force. 

Documents show that the Alberta government under Smith gave the new task force, led by Dr. Gary Davidson – who used to work as an emergency doctor in Red Deer, Alberta – a sweeping mandate to look at whether the “right data” was obtained during COVID as well as to assess the “integrity, validity, reliability and quality of the data/information used to inform pandemic decisions” by members of Alberta Health Services (AHS).  

As reported by LifeSiteNews in 2021, Davidson said during the height of COVID that the hospital capacity crisis in his province was “created,” was not a new phenomenon, and had nothing to do with COVID.

“We have a crisis, and we have a crisis because we have no staff, because our staff quit, because they’re burned out, they’re not burnt out from COVID,” Davidson said at the time. 

Davidson also claimed that the previous United Conservative Party government under former Premier Jason Kenney had been manipulating COVID statistics.  

In comments sent to the media, Smith said that in her view it was a good idea to have a “contrarian perspective” with Davidson looking at “everything that happened with some fresh eyes.” 

“I needed somebody who was going to look at everything that happened with some fresh eyes and maybe with a little bit of a contrarian perspective because we’ve only ever been given one perspective,” she told reporters Tuesday. 

“I left it to [Davidson] to assemble the panel with the guidance that I would like to have a broad range of perspectives.” 

After assuming her role as premier, Smith promptly fired the province’s top doctor, Deena Hinshaw, and the entire AHS board of directors, all of whom oversaw the implementation of COVID mandates. 

Under Kenney, thousands of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare and government workers lost their jobs for choosing to not get the jabs, leading Smith to say – only minutes after being sworn in – that over the past year the “unvaccinated” were the “most discriminated against” group of people in her lifetime. 

As for AHS, it still is promoting the COVID shots, for babies as young as six months old, as recently reported by LifeSiteNews.  

Task force made up of doctors both for and against COVID mandates  

In addition to COVID skeptic Dr. Gary Davidson, the rather secretive COVID task force includes other health professionals who were critical of COVID mandates and health restrictions, including vaccine mandates.  

The task force was given about $2 million to conduct its review, according to The Globe and Mail, and is completely separate from another task force headed by former Canadian MP Preston Manning, who led the Reform Party for years before it merged with another party to form the modern-day Conservative Party of Canada. 

Manning’s task force, known as the Public Health Emergencies Governance Review Panel (PHEGRP), released its findings last year. It recommend that many pro-freedom policies be implemented, such as strengthening personal medical freedoms via legislation so that one does not lose their job for refusing a vaccine, as well as concluding that Albertans’ rights were indeed infringed upon. 

The Smith government task force is run through the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) which is a provincial agency involved in healthcare research.  

Last March, Davidson was given a project description and terms of reference and was told to have a final report delivered to Alberta’s Health Minister by December of 2023. 

As of now, the task force’s final report won’t be available until May, as per Andrea Smith, press secretary to Health Minister Adriana LaGrange, who noted that the goal of the task force is to look at Alberta’s COVID response compared to other provinces.  

According to the Globe and Mail report, another person working on the task force is anesthetist Blaine Achen, who was part of a group of doctors that legally challenged AHS’s now-rescinded mandatory COVID jab policy for workers. 

Some doctors on the task force, whom the Globe and Mail noted held “more conventional views regarding the pandemic,” left it only after a few meetings. 

In a seeming attempt to prevent another draconian crackdown on civil liberties, the UCP government under Smith has already taken concrete action.

The Smith government late last year passed a new law, Bill 6, or the Public Health Amendment Act, that holds politicians accountable in times of a health crisis by putting sole decision-making on them for health matters instead of unelected medical officers. 

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Alberta

Alberta’s baby name superstar steals the show again

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Olivia and Noah continue to reign as top baby names in 2023.

Olivia and Noah are once again topping the lists in Alberta, highlighting the enduring appeal of the names. Olivia maintains a record setting streak as the most popular girls name in Alberta for the 11th year in a row, while Noah remains top pick for boys’ names for a fifth consecutive year.

“Congratulations to those who welcomed a new addition to their family in 2023. Bringing a child into the world is a truly momentous occasion. Whether the name you chose was in the top 10 or one of a kind, these names are only the beginning of the endless possibilities that lie ahead for each child. I look forward to supporting this generation by ensuring Alberta remains a place where they can thrive.”

Dale Nally, Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction

In choosing names for their new arrivals, parents appear to have found inspiration in a variety of places. Some parents may have been inspired by plants like Ivy, Rose, Juniper, Poppy, Azalea or in nature like Wren, River, Meadow and Flora.

Others may have taken a literary approach with names like Bennett, Sawyer, Juliet and Atticus or been inspired by notable names from religious texts like Eve, Noah, Mohammed and Gabriel.

As always, popular culture may have had an influence through famous musicians (Aretha, Lennon, Presley, Hendrix), athletes (Beckham, Crosby, Evander), and even fairytale princesses (Tiana, Jasmine, Aurora, Ariel, Belle).

Quick facts

  • A total of 47,263 births were registered in Alberta in 2023
  • Notable changes to the early 2020s lists:
  • Evelyn rose to seventh place on the girls’ names list after tying for 19th place in 2022.
  • Emily returned to the top 10 list for girls after taking a short break in 2021 and 2022 after a 10-year stretch in the top 10 that started in 2010.
  • Violet has cracked the top 10 list for the first time in at least four decades, tying with Ava and Emily in ninth place.
  • The top 10 boys’ names remain the same as last year but with a slight change in order.
  • Historically, girls’ names that held the No. 1 spot for the longest consecutive time period include:
  • Olivia: 11 years (2013-2023)
  • Jessica: six years (1990-1995)
  • Emily: five years (1998-2002)
  • Historically, boys’ names that held the No. 1 spot for the longest consecutive time period include:
  • Ethan: nine years (2001-2009)
  • Liam: seven years (2010-2016)
  • Matthew: five years (1995-1999)
  • Noah: five years (2019-2023)
  • Parents have up to one year to register their child’s birth. As a result, the list of 2023 baby names and birth statistics may change slightly.

Boys’ names and frequency – top 10 names 2018-23

(In brackets is the number of babies with each name)

Place Boy Names (2023) Boy Names

(2022)

Boy Names (2021) Boy Names (2020) Boy Names (2019) Boy Names (2018)
1 Noah (276) Noah (229) Noah (274) Noah (239) Noah (275) Liam (225)
2 Liam (181) Liam (176) Jack (220) Oliver (229) Liam (234) Oliver (212)
3 Oliver (178) Theodore (173) Oliver (208) Liam (206) Oliver (225) Noah (199)
4 Theodore (173) Oliver (172) Liam (198) Benjamin (182) Ethan (213) Ethan (188)
5 Jack (153) Jack (159) Theodore (191) William (178) Jack (198) Logan (182)

Lucas (182)

6 Henry (146) William (146) William (174) Jack (169) William (185) Jacob (181)
7 Lucas (140) Benjamin (138) Ethan (162) Lucas (163) Lucas (174) William (178)

Girls’ names and frequency – top 10 names 2018-2023

(In brackets is the number of babies with each name)

Place Girl Names (2023) Girl Names

(2022)

Girl Names (2021) Girl Names (2020) Girl Names (2019) Girl Names (2018)
1 Olivia (210) Olivia (192) Olivia (210) Olivia (236) Olivia (229) Olivia (235)
2 Amelia (145) Sophia (152) Charlotte (166) Emma (184) Charlotte (188) Emma (230)
3 Sophia

(138)

Emma (149) Ava (165) Charlotte (161) Sophia (181) Charlotte (175)
4 Charlotte

(135)

Amelia (133) Emma (164) Ava (159) Emma (178) Emily (164)
5 Emma (133) Harper (125) Amelia (161) Sophia (151) Ava (161) Ava (161)
6 Isla (120) Charlotte (117) Sophia (137) Amelia (145) Amelia (159) Abigail (153)
7 Evelyn (114) Ava (115) Isla (135) Isla (133) Emily (150) Harper (150)
8 Chloe (101)

Violet

(101)

Isla (101) Abigail (120)

Chloe (120)

Emily (127) Abigail (141) Sophia (146)
9 Ava (99)
Emily (99)
Lily (100) Evelyn (119) Lily (123) Hannah (137) Amelia (145)
10 Hannah (98)

Hazel

(98)

Chloe (92) Aria (112) Abigail (114) Elizabeth (124) Elizabeth (130)

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