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No lockdowns in Alberta if Emergency Management Agency was in charge – Former Executive Director David Redman

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As Canadians look south of the border it’s obvious different state governments have taken different approaches in the battle against Covid 19.  Some states have been opened entirely for months while in others, children haven’t been to school in an entire year.  But which approach is better when it comes to reducing Covid cases?  The State of Florida has been open during the entire second wave while New York State is just beginning to lift lockdowns. Despite the different approaches in Florida and New York, in both states cases are down to a third or less of where they were in early January.  Death rates are also down by two thirds since January in both states.

Alberta’s approach could have been vastly different too.  Premier Jason Kenney has the tough job of trying to balance the freedom to gather, to work and to worship, with the mandate to protect the health of Albertans by isolating us from teammates, workmates, and friendships.  As the ebb and flow of restrictions continues one year into the Covid experience, a growing number of people are convinced lockdowns are not an effective response.   But what is the alternative?

One person qualified to answer this difficult question is David Redman.  Redman is former Executive Director of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.   Before that he spent over 25 years in the military, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel with vast experience in logistics.  As ED of the Emergency Management Agency, Redman traveled side by side with then Premier Ralph Klein when tragedy struck the province.  His role included formulating plans to deal with a variety of emergencies, including pandemics.  When an emergency occurred, the staff would immediately gather with leaders from government agencies and relevant private companies (power companies, etc).  Within 36 hours, they’d revise an existing plan and present the Premier with options for moving forward.

The province of Alberta’s website makes a bold statement about emergency management.  As this screen shot indicates Alberta’s Emergency Management Agency “leads and oversees all emergency and disaster prevention, preparedness and responses.” 

There’s only one problem with this bold statement.  In what has become the farthest reaching emergency in modern Alberta history, for some reason Alberta’s Emergency Management Agency is not co-ordinating Alberta’s response. Premier Jason Kenney is co-ordinating Alberta’s response with Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and others.

This is not sitting well with David Redman.  Redman says when the first wave hit and Alberta announced a general lockdown, Redman was shocked such drastic measures were being taken. He knew immediately the emergency response plan had been thrown out.

Redman began contacting all Canada’s premiers.  He put together a presentation to show what they were doing wrong and what they should be doing instead.  It’s taken months to gain traction, but the media is starting to pay attention to Redman as he shares his presentation to people all over Canada.

His main message; governments can do a far better job of protecting the vulnerable AND protecting the economy.  Even though the second major wave is ebbing and restrictions are slowly disappearing, Redman says the matter is still urgent.  He’s convinced Covid variants will ensure future waves and unless they pivot to a new approach, governments will go back to the tool they’ve been relying on… lockdowns.

This is an abridged version of the presentation Redman has been showing all over the country is his effort to get at least one Premier to show the rest of Canada a different way to react to this emergency.

Also part of David Redman’s presentation is this comparison between lockdown measures and Canada’s Annual Viral Infection Curve.  Redman shows the annual viral infection curve performed exactly as usual in the past year.  In this part of the presentation Redman shows how the lockdown restrictions have coincided with the curve and therefore lockdowns have not greatly affected the spread of Covid.

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

Deadline day for inquiry's final report on eco groups and Alberta energy industry

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EDMONTON — Friday was the deadline for a public inquiry into what the Alberta government says is foreign funding of environmental groups who want to curtail energy development — an investigation lauded by Premier Jason Kenney as principled but derided by critics as a buffoonishly sinister political witch hunt.

“We have not yet received the (final) report but expect to have it delivered to the minister’s office sometime today,” Jerry Bellikka, chief of staff to Energy Minister Sonya Savage, said in an email.

The inquiry was given five deadline extension stretching back a year to July 30, 2020. Its budget was set at $2.5 million, but later increased to $3.5 million.

Savage has up to three months to release the report once she receives it from forensic accountant Steve Allan.

Kenney launched the inquiry in 2019, fulfilling a United Conservative election campaign promise. He accused Canadian environmental charities of accepting foreign funding in a co-ordinated attempt to hinder energy infrastructure and landlock Alberta’s oil to benefit U.S. competitors.

Kenney recently said he was not surprised eco-groups are criticizing the inquiry as unfair and tilted toward a prejudged outcome

“They don’t want the public to realize they have been receiving massive amounts of money from foreign sources to shut down the largest job-creating industry in Canada,” Kenney said on July 22.

“They don’t want the disinfectant of transparency to come down on them. That’s why they went to court … Thankfully, the Court of Queen’s Bench threw their case out.”

In May, a judge dismissed a challenge by the environmental law firm Ecojustice to quash the inquiry. The judge ruled Ecojustice failed to prove the inquiry was called to intimidate charities concerned about the environmental impact of the energy industry.

In recent days, leaked sections of Allan’s draft report show he has concluded that eco-groups have not in any way broken the law. But critics say Allan exceeded his mandate by linking any opposition to resource development as being “anti-Albertan.”

Allan, in a letter this week to Greenpeace Canada, made it clear that “anti-Alberta” is meant simply as a “a non-pejorative geographic modifier.”

University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski said “anti-Alberta” is not an innocent term but a broad-based slur, easily weaponized by political opponents. He said it turns those concerned with the pace of resource development and its effect on the environment into scapegoats and depicts them as traitors to the community.

“The precedent (is) anything can become anti-Alberta, essentially anything that the premier disagrees with,” said Olszynski.

“To some extent a government has a democratic mandate, but it only goes so far. It can’t go to the point where opposition to that mandate –dissent — is branded as treason and sedition.

“That’s very authoritarian.”

The inquiry has been criticized for operating in secret: no witnesses called publicly, little to no evidence on its website and those investigated being given little time late in the game to respond. Its terms of reference have also been altered twice.

“This has been something out of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’” said Keith Stewart, a senior energy strategist with Greenpeace Canada. “We got funding from international foundations. It was about two per cent of our revenue over a decade.

“We got a lot more money from Albertans.”

He said Greenpeace Canada has been one of the inquiry’s targets and that letters to Allan asking for information and details have been ignored.

“We don’t even get to publicly defend ourselves or even see the evidence against us. (Allan) says, ‘I interviewed 100 people.’ He won’t tell us who they were. How are we supposed to respond to evidence that we’re not allowed to see?”

Allan, on his website, noted that his inquiry sent out 40 invitations in mid-June for participants to respond by mid-July. 

“Some participants did not accept the commissioner’s invitation until some weeks after June 18, and they were then granted access to the (inquiry) dataroom to review content,” Allan said in a statement July 21.

“The material provided to each party for review included material necessary to understand the context surrounding potential findings and contained potential findings related to them.”

Olszynski said there’s a “good chance” Allan’s final report will be challenged in court on the grounds it was procedurally flawed and reached unqualified conclusions.

“Inquiries are not courts of law … but it’s not the Wild West,” he said.

Kathleen Ganley, energy critic for the Opposition NDP, said Savage should release the report immediately upon receiving it.

“Leaked drafts of the report show the inquiry relied on misinformation found in Google searches and ‘research’ conducted by the UCP’s own ridiculous war room,” said Ganley.

“But despite putting their thumb on the scale with this shoddy research, the inquiry was still forced to conclude there was no wrongdoing or illegal activity.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Imperial Oil earns $366 million; Kearl oilsands site sets 25-year production record

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CALGARY — Imperial Oil Ltd. says it earned $366 million in the second quarter and boosted production to its highest level in 25 years for the same period.

The Calgary-based company says it earned 50 cents per share in the three months ended June 30, compared with a net loss of $526 million or 72 cents per share in the same period of 2020. 

However, its second quarter earnings declined from the first quarter of 2021, when it earned $758 million. Its cash flow from operating activities in the second quarter was $852 million, down from $1.05 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

Imperial attributed the decrease to significant planned turnaround activity, weaker downstream margins and foreign exchange rates. 

The company says its production for the second quarter averaged 401,000  boe per day, the highest second quarter production in more than 25 years. It says its Kearl oilsands mine in northern Alberta completed a major planned turnaround in the quarter and also established a new single-month production record of 311,000 boe per day in June.

Imperial says lingering effects of the weak 2020 business environment and the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have a negative impact on the company’s financial results in the first half of 2021, but strengthening crude oil prices mean the outlook is improving.

“The decisive actions Imperial took throughout the pandemic to accelerate structural business improvements have enabled the company to recover strongly,” CEO Brad Corson said in a release. 

“Imperial has significant momentum entering the second half of the year and is well-positioned to continue delivering on its commitments.”

West Texas Intermediate averaged US$62.22 per barrel in the first six months of 2021, up from US$36.66 per barrel in 2020.

Corson says with major turnarounds at Kearl and the company’s Strathcona Refinery complete, Imperial can turn its attention to increasing production, increasing refinery utilization, and returning cash to shareholders.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:IMO)

The Canadian Press

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