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Alberta

Man at the centre of lockdown battle urges Premier Kenney to ease lockdown restrictions

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In Alberta’s political theatre, the little Whistle Stop Cafe along the highway at Mirror is punching way above it’s weight.  By opening to sit-down customers when it wasn’t legal to do so, owner Christopher Scott was risking fines and even imprisonment to keep his small business alive.  Other restaurant and business owners have done the same, but perhaps none have communicated as eloquently with the public. Through his facebook posts, Chris Scott has become the epicentre of the battle to ease COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and reopen businesses.
The latest example is from an article Chris posted to The Whistle Stop Cafe Facebook page on Tuesday evening.  In less than three days the post has been shared well over 1,000 times and hundreds of comments are streaming in from across Alberta and beyond.  It’s clear this restaurant owner has hit a nerve in a province full of small business owners who feel they are on the edge.

The post was written as a response to Premier Kenney’s regular Q and A Facebook livestream with Albertans.

My comment on Premier Kenney’s recent livestream. I’m sorry for the length of it. I had more to say but I’m getting angry just thinking about everything i want to write!
“Premier Kenney, you have a big problem on your hands right now. The majority of us have realized, (after hearing you and Dr. Hinshaw speak,) that these restrictions will be never ending. You and the government that we worked so hard to ensure were given the opportunity to govern responsibly have let us down. Our Party, the UCP is supposed to be a grass roots party guided by its membership. We don’t see that happening. As a matter of fact, we’re demanding that recall legislation is put on the table immediately.
How do you feel knowing that Albertans have given up on you and your governance and instead have asked the owner of a small cafe in the boonies to run for your office? Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But it’s very telling. What I see as ridiculous is a government that lives in fear. A government that is hell bent on destroying small business by implementing sweeping mandates that are NOT backed by sufficient evidence. You’re likely to see that once I get my day in court.
I see a government where the Premier is chastising MLA’s for supporting their constituents. That’s completely disgusting. You should never have done that. It shows you wish to silence the voices that need to be heard, to keep your own ego intact.
One of the greatest blessings of being in the middle of a hub like this is that I get to talk to hundreds of people. Just like you do. But I listen. I listen to the doctors, and nurses, and law enforcement people who think what you’re doing is garbage. Do you know how many front line workers I’ve talked to since I put my neck on the chopping block to protest against your restrictions? The repeating information that I get is that it’s BS. Nurses have spoke to me that there was never a concern about COVID like what’s pushed by the media, by you. At first, yes they were worried because they didn’t know what they were dealing with. But not now. Doctors have spoken out to me, (in confidence as they’re worried they will be persecuted for speaking out,) and the common denominator in all the conversations is “this virus is really no different, and in some cases less transmissible and or deadly than previous concerns such as H1N1.” These words come straight from the mouths of those working on the front lines.
Now I’ll concede, of course, that this is a deadly virus worse than your average flu. I’m sure you are aware that most flu strains, common cold etc are of the corona variety. They kill the elderly, every year. Our average death age in Alberta is 82, and remarkably the average COVID death age is 82. What does that tell you? Of course I believe we should protect the vulnerable and elderly. I’m not a monster.
My question is, with the current and ongoing restrictions especially casinos and gaming, you must know that the AGLC is losing up to $18,000,000 PER DAY that would otherwise be funding our healthcare system. That’s a big number and could go a LONG way to protecting our vulnerable. Let’s not even think about the lost tax revenue from small business that will carry losses forward for years.
So who doesn’t care about our front line workers? I’d say the government that shoots AHS in the foot and forces them to enforce rules that HURT our healthcare system! Did you know that in long term care facilities, (which are still being forced to accept COVID positive clients, by the way,) when a staff member tests positive they isolate that wing, test the staff and the staff RETURN TO WORK while awaiting their results? But my cafe of 30 seats will “do irreparable harm to the people of Alberta.” YOU’RE doing irreparable harm with your garbage, sweeping policies that lack evidentiary merit.
I’m growing tired of your veiled, or direct threats. I’m growing tired of your fear mongering and use of the media to peddle this fear. I’m growing tired of hearing heart wrenching tales of the damage to my friends and neighbors from these restrictions. The majority of Albertans are tired of you, and your unwillingness to stand up for us. Our voice is getting louder and louder by the day. We’re becoming organized. We’re listening to each other and we’re taking the time to talk to front line workers, the elderly and frail, and others directly affected or at risk and THEY are supporting our move to lift restrictions as well.
Who are you listening to? Perhaps Ms. Notley’s friend Dr. Hinshaw? We see you’re being led down the wrong path and we refuse to let you take Alberta with you. I suggest you take time to reflect on these words and become the leader you promised you would. If you don’t want to do that, that’s ok too. But in that case, you should get out of the way and let someone else do it.
Respectfully,
Christopher Scott, the irresponsible, selfish Rebel.”

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Reducing funding for RCMP on the table for Saskatchewan amid firearm buyback debate

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REGINA — Saskatchewan says it would consider reducing its funding for the RCMP if the force was to help the federal government with its proposed firearms buyback program.

Public Safety Minister Christine Tell says all options are on the table, signalling the province will not help Ottawa collect guns it has banned.

“We as a province fund the RCMP to a tune of 70 per cent, so it could even get more interesting,” Tell said Thursday.

The Saskatchewan Party government said it is pushing back to protect law-abiding firearms owners from what it views as federal intrusion on its provincial autonomy.

Under Ottawa’s proposed firearms buyback program, it would be mandatory for people to have their assault-style firearms rendered inoperable or have them discarded. That could also include centrefire semi-automatic rifles or shotguns designed to accept a detachable magazine that can hold more than five cartridges.

In response, Saskatchewan has introduced its own firearms act to forbid municipalities and police services from receiving federal money to help confiscate firearms.

The proposed law says a municipality, police service or board would have to get written approval from the province’s public safety minister before agreeing to support the federal buyback program.

It also states that Saskatchewan’s chief firearms officer would enforce which federal agent can or cannot confiscate firearms in the province.

“These legal firearm owners are not the ones committing the crimes,” Tell said.

The legislation was tabled Thursday, months after Tell wrote a letter to Assistant Commissioner Rhonda Blackmore, the head of Saskatchewan’s RCMP. It stated that the province would not support the Mounties using provincially funded resources to help confiscate firearms.

Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick have sent similar letters to their RCMP forces. They have joined Saskatchewan in asking Ottawa to not use up “scarce RCMP and municipal resources” for its buyback program.

In October, Blackmore said Mounties are service providers, not decision-makers, and any decisions over the buyback program are between the federal and provincial governments.

“As the service provider, we would be the individuals that get our information from them,” Blackmore told The Canadian Press.

That includes if additional resources would be needed by RCMP once the buyback program rolls out.

“It would depend on the level of expectation, and what that looks like, and what the involvement is if there are additional resources,” Blackmore said.

The specific role of the RCMP and the details surrounding the buyback program have not been determined.

On Friday, the Saskatchewan RCMP said it will continue to prioritize front-line services and the safety of communities is its highest priority.

The Saskatchewan Firearms Act also calls for helping firearm owners get fair market value for guns collected through the buyback program and would require all seized firearms to go through forensic and ballistic testing.

The Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, which advocates for hunters and the protection of the province’s hunting heritage, praised the proposed act, saying it would mitigate the “draconian” federal legislation.

There are approximately 115,000 licensed firearms owners in Saskatchewan, 75,000 of whom may be penalized under the federal government’s policy. That’s about 10 per cent of Saskatchewan’s adult population, the province said.

Saskatchewan’s NDP Opposition has stood united with the government to denounce the program.

“It does not strike the right balance for Saskatchewan,” justice critic Nicole Sarauer said last week in the legislature.

“These amendments are overbroad and capture rifles that have legitimate uses for both hunters and producers in Saskatchewan.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2022.

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Premier Smith goes on the attack against NDP opposition to the Alberta Sovereignty Act

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It appears Premier Danielle Smith has had enough of playing defence. In the days since introducing the Alberta Sovereignty Act in the Alberta Legislature this week, Smith has found herself explaining and re-explaining how the Act will survive scrutiny and serve the province well in ongoing battles over issues of contention with Ottawa.  Peppered by the media and by the Official Opposition NDP inside and outside the legislature, Smith and her team decided to turn the tables.
The media and the official opposition claim the Sovereignty Act allows laws to be crafted by cabinet members “behind closed doors” after the legislature has declared a federal overreach into provincial jurisdiction.
However that appears to be a confusing opposition tactic since the Sovereignty Act does not require the passing of new laws.  Rather, the Province will simply provide reasons for declining to enforce federal laws which (i) intrudes into provincial legislation jurisdiction, (ii) violates the rights and freedoms of Albertans under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or (iii) causes or is anticipated to cause harm to Albertans.
Thursday, Premier Smith took the opportunity during Ministerial Statements to lash out at the opposition leader Rachel Notley for siding with Ottawa instead of Alberta in the struggle to defend provincial rights.

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