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Alberta

Firefighters mount AHS court challenge over ‘unconstitutional’ vaccine mandate

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A group of firefighters have said they plan to take Alberta Health Services to court over the vaccine mandate.

Last week a group of Alberta first responders sent a letter to Alberta Health Services saying they will take AHS to court over what they call the “unconstitutional” vaccine mandate.

The group, known as Fight for the Frontline, is made up of firefighters, paramedics, and other front-line staff who have hired a law firm to take up their case in court.

Spokesperson Tim Moen, who is a firefighter-paramedic, said he speaks for those who may have medical conditions, religious exemptions, or what he calls natural immunity from contracting the COVID-19 virus.

Moen said, in listening to his colleagues, he found many who may lose their jobs because they are unvaccinated.

“Hearing their stories kind of broke my heart and so I wanted to get involved and help them out,” Moen said.

“Our communities are less safe without these guys working for us.”

Moen expects around one to two per cent of first responders may lose their jobs on Nov. 1, after the AHS mandate kicks in. Right now, the group is made up of around 40 to 50 front-line firefighters and 200 front-line workers.

The group wrote a letter to AHS demanding it provide rapid-testing options, and recognize: natural immunity; exemptions under the Alberta Human Rights Act; that an unpaid leave of absence is a constructive dismissal; that unvaccinated employees are entitled to severance upon dismissal; and that it compensate individuals who suffer vaccine injuries because of this mandate.

Moen said some people would prefer to get tested regularly, and other staff have “taken the vaccination under coercion.”

Moen said he is vaccinated, but may not want a future series of booster shots, or he may have a health problem that could prevent him from getting the vaccine.

The letter sent to AHS said the mandate is unfair because none of the COVID-19 vaccines have been satisfactorily proven safe. The letter said those who are vaccinated should be required to undergo testing to ensure they are not unwittingly spreading infections.

The World Health Organization and all other leading health organizations say the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and there are strict protections in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines.

“Before receiving validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies, COVID-19 vaccines must undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and efficacy,” the WHO website reads.

“Unprecedented scientific collaborations have allowed COVID-19 vaccine research, development, and authorizations to be completed in record time — to meet the urgent need for these vaccines while maintaining high safety standards. As with all vaccines, WHO and regulatory authorities will continuously monitor the use of COVID-19 vaccines to identify and respond to any safety issues that might arise, and through that process to assure they remain safe for use around the world.”

Experts say natural immunity doesn’t replace immunity from vaccination.

The group said they have other concerns, including that religious and medical exemptions are exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to attain.

Moen said they have heard back from AHS, who is asking them for the identities of those behind the letter. Moen said they are reluctant to reveal their identities for fear of retribution.

Firefighters and paramedics are often employed by municipalities that have contracts to provide emergency medical services, such as the situation in St. Albert, and Moen said they just want to follow the same rules municipalities have in place, such as regular testing, rather than have a vaccine mandate.

The letter said that if the demands listed are not met, they will be moving forward with a Constitutional challenge in court. Moen said they hope to have the issue resolved before it reaches the justice system.

Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette

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Alberta

Alliances shift to Danielle Smith in final days to sign up for UCP leadership vote

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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton

Seven candidates scrambled Friday to sign up last-minute memberships in Alberta’s United Conservative Party leadership race while political observers say that without hard data on which contender has a leg up, follow the feet.

Danielle Smith, who started out with a handful of supporters in the United Conservative caucus and cabinet, has seen more in-house support in recent days, including some who had initially pledged to back rival Travis Toews.

“Sometimes when you see people starting to shift allegiances, it sort of gives you a sense of where the momentum is going,” political scientist Lori Williams, with Mount Royal University, said Friday in an interview.

“It’s those people who want to be in cabinet or in a position where they can work with whoever the new premier is. They think things are moving in that direction and they’re moving with them.”

Labour Minister Kaycee Madu was the latest convert, announcing his support for Smith at rally in Edmonton on Thursday.

Earlier Thursday, former cabinet minister Devin Dreeshen said he would support Smith. Earlier in the week, Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish switched his support from Toews to Smith.

Before that, Toews supporter Pat Rehn switched his support to Smith, joining fellow backbenchers Devinder Toor, Peter Guthrie and Nathan Neudorf.

Toews, who quit as finance minister to run in the contest, still has the lion’s share of support, with about two dozen cabinet and caucus members openly in his camp.

Political scientist Duane Bratt said even so, by any metric from crowd sizes to polling to the fact Smith is the focus of attacks by her opponents, she is clearly the one to beat as party members being voting next month, with results to be announced Oct. 6.

“She’s drawing the biggest crowds, we’ve got (MLA) endorsements that are now coming her way because they see her as the front-runner,” said Bratt, also with Mount Royal University.

“All the other candidates are responding to her in some fashion (and) some are adopting the same policies.

“I wonder after midnight, (when membership sales end) if there is some soul searching among the other candidates and whether they drop out or not.”

The party says hand-delivered-memberships were due by 5 p.m. Friday, with the cutoff for online memberships by midnight. These are to be the only memberships allowed to vote in the race.

Final count totals on memberships aren’t expected from the party for about two weeks.

Smith, a former Wildrose party leader, grabbed headlines out of the starting gate in the contest with her proposed Alberta sovereignty act. The act, as pitched by Smith, would seek to give Alberta the right to ignore federal laws and court rulings deemed not in its interest.

Legal scholars and most of the other candidates in the race have labelled it an outrageously inflammatory, bizarre and illegal scheme that would create a domino effect of economic and investment uncertainty bordering on chaos.

But Bratt noted the other two main contenders have excoriated Smith’s plan while adopting versions of it.

Toews has promised his government would seek to levy tariffs on goods and services or imports from specific regions to counter rules and policies deemed unfair to Alberta. Brian Jean has pledged to affirm that the Alberta Bill of Rights is paramount over Section 1 of the Constitution.

“It’s an attempt by the sovereignty act by a different name,” Bratt said.

Candidates Rajan Sawhney and Rebecca Schulz have been equally critical of Smith’s sovereignty act, but have in recent days adopted more combative policies when it comes to federal relations.

Schulz has promised a protecting provincial rights summit within two months of winning, while Sawhney is pledging to pursue go-it-alone initiatives such as a provincial pension plan and police force.

Both Bratt and Williams said Smith has done a better job capturing and harnessing latent anger within the party’s base when it comes to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government

And they note Alberta’s 4.5 million people could, come Oct. 6, be propelled in a new direction dictated by 40,000 or so UCP voters.

“To me, it looks like it’s only the really animated, diehard, engaged and largely angry folks that are driving the narrative right now,” said Williams.

“They’re angry and they want to see change not just provincially but federally, and they want someone who is going to fight.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2022.

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Alberta

From Cafe Owner to Political Activist at the heart of the Alberta Prosperity Project

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The COVID pandemic has turned Central Alberta Cafe Owner Chris Scott into nothing short of a lightning rod.

Many business owners grumbled and suffered through a couple years of mayhem due to wave after wave of COVID and the various restrictions affecting day to day operations.  Where most business owners zigged, Scott, as they say… zagged.

Chances are you know something about his story as he’s been in the news and seemingly on a never ending speaking tour ever since this all started.

You likely won’t be surprised to know Chis Scott is still operating his cafe, still facing court charges, and heavily involved in trying to influence Alberta politicians.

No matter what side of this discussion you fall on, no matter what you think of the business owners, doctors, and religious leaders who stood in defiance of covid restrictions, this conversation will help you understand where those who have emerged as leaders of those who stood up to the health restrictions are putting their attention in the summer of 2022.

If you’re interesting in learning more about the Alberta Prosperity Project.

If you’re interested in WS Full Steam Ahead

 

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