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Alberta

MLA says Trudeau’s “Emergency” underlines the need for a full public inquiry into government handling of covid crisis

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This article and video submitted by Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan

As of Tuesday restrictions are substantially all gone from Alberta. Good. This is more how it should have been all along. We have seen too much top-down, command and control approach by all levels of government. I have and will continue to ask for an independent, comprehensive public inquiry. The better way is for Governments to trust adults to govern themselves and their families in respectful ways. Trudeau’s use of the Emergency Act looks increasingly ridiculous, even dangerous.

Last week the Alberta Government brought forward a motion on the Emergency Act. I stood in the legislature and the following are excerpts of my statement:  (video and then written statement)

 

“Mr. Speaker, about a month ago I attended the Trucker Convoy Rally at Gasoline Alley. It was packed with friends. It was not an angry gathering; it was a positive atmosphere filled with hope. Why? Because men and women and families, had felt voiceless, disenfranchised by Federal and Provincial governments. But now they had a voice in a trucker convoy. That was a cause to celebrate; they did not feel listened to, they felt ignored.

I understand that feeling. I have felt it myself. We have seen a top-down, command and control approach that treated adults as children, not respecting and trusting them to govern themselves and their families in respectful ways.
Mr. Speaker what I have witnessed, offends my core values as a public servant. Mr. Speaker, many Albertans feel the same. In the end the truth will prevail, and history will show, that governments made gross errors, that across-the-board vaccine passports and mandates caused more harm than good, especially to young adults and children. Public health authorities undermined their own authority with biased reporting and using fear and coercion as a tool.

Mr. Speaker I have spoken on this before, and I will be bringing forward a motion in this legislature for there to be a comprehensive, public inquiry into COVID, including a full cost analysis of COVID restrictions, mandates and passports, especially on young adults and children. The truth must prevail. Mr. Speaker, in respect of the trucker convoy, we know what the Prime Minister did, that he went into hiding, and sought to cancel and delegitimize the protestors calling them a fringe minority, labelling them as misogynists and racists.

Now Mr. Speaker, there were a few protestors who did blockade public roads. I do not condone that. I do not believe, like some politicians in this legislature, that the ends justify the means. Even in a cause that is just, it is not right to blockade. It undermines the moral high ground of a just cause. I sorrow that it occurs. The Prime Minister enacted the Emergency Act. While he quickly revoked it, why did he do it in the first place? This was not an emergency. Yes, there were a few breaking the law, and in those isolated cases, the police should have been enforcing the laws.

This is a very serious matter. The Emergency Act must never be used as a political tool, attacking an entire movement of Canadians, including many Albertans, who felt disenfranchised, whose crime was disagreeing with government.
It labelled an entire movement which disagrees with government, as a public danger, an emergency, a voice that must be stomped out and silenced. Mr. Speaker, this is a very bad precedent. What will the government do when there is a real emergency? Will citizens need to look over their shoulders if they support causes that an insecure, unprincipled government feels threatens their power and position? Government is supposed to protect freedoms and support prosperity for its people. In many cases, they have done the opposite. There is cause for concern, turbulence is on the horizon, in some respects it is already upon us. There is an urgency to prepare.”

The truth produces hope.  There is healing in the truth.  The truth makes us better.  In the end, the truth prevails.

 

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Alberta

Calgary man who admitted to participating in terrorism activity to be sentenced

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CALGARY — A man who admitted to terrorism-related acts with the militant group Islamic State is to be sentenced today in a Calgary courtroom.

Hussein Borhot, who is 36, has pleaded guilty to one count of participating in terrorism group activity between May 9, 2013, and June 7, 2014, as well as to kidnapping for a terrorist group while in Syria.

RCMP arrested him in July 2020 after a seven-year investigation.

An agreed statement of facts read in court last month said Borhot travelled to Syria through Turkey to join the Islamic State.

The statement said he signed up as a fighter, received substantial training and excelled as a sniper, but did not tell his wife or father before the trip.

Court heard that Borhot revealed much of the information to an undercover officer after he returned to Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Cheese not on the table in Canada-U.K. trade talks as Britain seeks market access

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OTTAWA — The British foreign secretary has often been mocked for her preoccupation with cheese. It started eight years ago when Liz Truss expressed outrage in a speech to her party’s annual conference. 

“We import two thirds of our cheese,” she raged. “That is a disgrace.”

Now Truss is facing another battle over cheese, this time with Canada. 

Britain wants greater access to Canadian markets for more than 700 varieties of cheese including Stilton, Cheshire, and Wensleydale, a crumbly variety originating from Yorkshire. 

But Ottawa has made it clear it does not want to see more British cheddar, let alone artisan varieties such as stinking bishop, renegade monk and Hereford hop, on Canadian fridge shelves. 

During the first round of negotiations of the U.K.-Canada trade deal, Canada told Britain that a larger quota for British cheese is not on the negotiating table.

When it was a European Union member, Britain was part of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with Canada, giving it some access to Canada’s cheese market. 

After the U.K. left the EU, a “continuity agreement” with Canada was swiftly put in place to maintain the CETA arrangement until a bilateral trade deal could be struck. 

Ralph Goodale, Canada’s high commissioner to the U.K., said if Britain wants more access to Canadian markets for its cheese as part of a bilateral free-trade agreement, it will have to knock on Brussels’ door and get its part of the dairy quota back. 

“The point is we have already provided that volume in the EU deal and the British left it there without taking it with them,” he said in an interview. “That’s an issue they need to resolve with the Europeans because the Europeans have their quota.” 

Goodale said the U.K.’s request for extra access for British cheese — on top of the access given to the EU — is “what the Canadian negotiators consider to be pretty much a dead end.”

“You are talking about a double concession — one we have already made to the EU and the request is being made by the U.K. for yet another one on top of that,” he said. 

The high commissioner said Canada values its trading relationship with the U.K., adding that he is confident that a mutually-beneficial trade deal will be reached.

But if Canada allows the British to export more of their cheese it would involve “a major commitment of compensation to dairy producers” in Canada to make up for lost incomes.  

In 2018, after the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement gave the U.S. fresh access to the Canadian dairy market, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would compensate Canadian dairy farmers.

Canada’s dairy industry was worth over $7 billion in 2020, according to the Canadian Dairy Commission’s annual report. 

There are over 10,000 dairy farms in Canada — most of them in Quebec and Ontario — with an average of 92 cows per farm, it said. 

Until at least the end of next year, Britain will be able to keep exporting its cheese to Canada under the trade continuity agreement, the U.K.’s trade department said. 

This allows U.K. cheese exporters to access the Canadian market tariff-free under the EU portion of Canada’s World Trade Organization cheese tariff rate quota. 

As part of the 1995 WTO agreement on agriculture, Canada established tariff rate quotas for cheese and other dairy products. The quotas set out quantities of dairy that could enter Canada with little or no duty. 

For Britain, a fully fledged free trade deal with Canada is crucial after Brexit left it looking for fresh tariff-free markets.

“We want to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive new agreement with Canada that will strengthen our close and historic bilateral trade relationship,” said a U.K. government trade spokesman in a statement, adding the relationship was worth about $34.5 billion in 2021.

In March, U.K. Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan flew to Canada to announce with Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng that bilateral negotiations had officially begun. 

In a speech in the House of Lords in London earlier this month, Goodale reported on progress in the talks, saying that “both sides are optimistic that, as good as CETA and the continuity agreement were, we can do better still when Canada and the U.K. negotiate a deal face-to-face, directly with each other.” 

Like Goodale, Ng said Canada is confident a free-trade deal with Britain will be reached, enhancing co-operation in a number of areas, including on renewables, sustainability and the digital economy.  

“Canada values the relationship with the United Kingdom. They are … an important trading partner and a trade agreement with the U.K. will be very good for Canadian businesses,” she said in a phone interview from Thailand last weekend.

But she was also firm about the need to protect Canada’s dairy producers, and that means keeping more British cheese out. 

“I have been very clear, our government has been very clear, that we will not provide access to our supply-managed sector,” she said. “We have been clear about that from the get-go.” 

The Canadian dairy sector now produces 1,450 varieties of cheese, including ewe, goat and buffalo varieties, as well as the cheese curds used in the Québécois dish poutine.

At least half of Canada’s cheese is made in Quebec, which is home to a number of artisan varieties including bleu l’ermite, or blue hermit, and Oka, a popular semi-soft rind cheese.

Pierre Lampron, president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, has made it clear he will fiercely protect Canadian cheese from British interlopers.

Lampron said he had “validated that the issue of access to the Canadian dairy market was not on the agenda of these trade talks.”

Canada’s protectionist stance toward its dairy industry may have pleased farmers. But it has caused some tension with close allies. 

Earlier this month, New Zealand launched a formal trade dispute against Canada, accusing the federal government of breaking promises to give access for dairy imports under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

The Biden administration also recently said it was asking for a second dispute settlement panel under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to review a trade dispute with Canada over dairy import quotas.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022. 

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

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