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Alberta

Premier Smith urges Albertans to watch her full remarks on new gender identity policies

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By now, you have likely heard about policy updates our government has initiated on the sensitive and vital topics of gender identity and the well-being of our children.
This conversation, while complex, is necessary, and I approach it with a spirit of kindness and compassion.
I encourage you to watch my full remarks in the video below to gain a deeper understanding of our policies and the principles behind them.
As we navigate these changes, I urge all Albertans to engage in these conversations with empathy, respect, and a shared commitment to the well-being of our children.

Preserving choice for children and youth

Alberta’s government is introducing policies to make sure children are supported as they grow into adults to become the people they want to be.

The government is introducing policies across several ministries to preserve the choices children and youth have before potentially making life-altering and often irreversible adult decisions involving the alteration of their biological sex while also ensuring women and girls have the opportunity to participate safely and meaningfully in sport. In addition, the government will improve access to health services for Alberta’s transgender community and social supports for children identifying as transgender and their families.

Supports for transgender adults

Health care supports for transgender Albertans are critically important, which is why the government is working to bring medical professionals who specialize in pre- and post-operative transgender care for adults to Alberta. Having this expertise in the province will ensure transitioning Albertans have improved access to an Alberta-based medical expert to assist them with their unique and complex medical needs without having to travel to Quebec, which is currently the practice.

In addition, Alberta Health will develop a private registry of medical professionals who specialize in this field to make it easier for transgender Albertans to access needed medical treatment and care.

Child-and youth-centred policies

In the coming months, Alberta’s government will implement the following health policies related to children identifying as transgender:

  • All gender reassignment surgeries for minors aged 17 and under will be prohibited.
  • The use of puberty blockers and hormone therapies for the purpose of gender reassignment or affirmation will not be permitted for children aged 15 and under, except for those who have already commenced treatment.
  • Mature teens, aged 16 and 17, may only choose to commence puberty blockers and hormone therapies for gender reassignment and affirmation purposes with parental, physician and psychologist approval.

As it relates to Alberta’s education system, the following reforms will be implemented:

  • Parents must be notified and opt in to any instance when a teacher provides formal instruction on subject matter involving gender identity, sexual orientation or human sexuality.
  • All third-party resource materials or presentations related to gender identity, sexual orientation or human sexuality available in Alberta classrooms must be pre-approved by the Ministry of Education to ensure they are age-appropriate.
  • Parents must consent for their child aged 15 and under to alter their name or pronouns used by school teachers, administration and other educational staff.
  • Parents must be notified for their child aged 16 or 17 to alter their name or pronouns used by school teachers, administration and other educational staff.

Alberta’s government is also developing a counselling pilot project to help youth identifying as transgender and their families work through often difficult and complex issues and discussions.

Women, girls and transgender athletes

Finally, as it relates to women, girls and transgender female athletes, Alberta’s government will work with sporting organizations in the province to ensure biologically born female athletes are able to compete in a biological female-only division without having to compete against transgender female athletes while also expanding co-ed or other gender-neutral divisions for athletic competitions to ensure that transgender athletes are able to meaningfully participate in the sport of their choice.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

TDF funds defence of the “Coutts Three”

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The “Coutts Three,” Marco Van Huigenbos, Alex Van Herk and George Janzen

News release from The Democracy Fund

A jury trial is expected to proceed after pretrial applications.

LETHBRIDGE: The Democracy Fund (TDF) is funding the defence of three men charged with mischief in Lethbridge, Alberta. The men, known as the “Coutts Three,” are Marco Van Huigenbos, Alex Van Herk and George Janzen. All three are alleged to have been leaders of the 17-day trucker protest against COVID-19 restrictions that shut down the Coutts border in February 2022.

The matter is expected to proceed to a jury trial after pretrial applications are heard over the next few days. Jury trials are only available for serious criminal matters where the accused faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment or more.

The men should not be confused with the “Coutts Four,” who were among the twelve persons arrested in connection to an RCMP raid that resulted in the seizure of weapons and the end of the protest. According to Van Huigenbos, the message of the Coutts protesters “had been lost” following the arrests and the border blockade was voluntarily dismantled.

Donations for the three men can be made on this page.

About The Democracy Fund:

Founded in 2021, The Democracy Fund (TDF) is a Canadian charity dedicated to constitutional rights, advancing education and relieving poverty. TDF promotes constitutional rights through litigation and public education. TDF supports an access to justice initiative for Canadians whose civil liberties have been infringed by government lockdowns and other public policy responses to the pandemic.

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Alberta

Low emissions, Indigenous-owned Cascade Power Project to boost Alberta electrical grid reliability

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The Cascade Power Project. Photo courtesy Kinetcor

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Will Gibson

New 900-megawatt natural gas-fired facility to supply more than eight per cent of Alberta’s power needs

Alberta’s electrical grid is about to get a boost in reliability from a major new natural gas-fired power plant owned in part by Indigenous communities.  

Next month operations are scheduled to start at the Cascade Power Project, which will have enough capacity to supply more than eight per cent of Alberta’s energy needs.  

It’s good news in a province where just over one month ago an emergency alert suddenly blared on cell phones and other electronic devices warning residents to immediately reduce electricity use to avoid outages.  

“Living in an energy-rich province, we sometimes take electricity for granted,” says Chana Martineau, CEO of the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation (AIOC) and member of the Frog Lake First Nation.  

“Given much of the province was dealing with -40C weather at the time, that alert was a vivid reminder of the importance of having a reliable electrical grid.” 

Cascade Power was the first project to receive funding through the AIOC, the provincial corporation established in 2020 to provide loan guarantees for Indigenous groups seeking partnerships in major development projects. 

So far, the AIOC has underwritten more than $500 million in support. This year it has $3 billion  available, up from $2 billion in 2023.  

In August 2020 it provided a $93 million loan guarantee to the Indigenous Communities Consortium — comprised of the Alexis Nakota Sioux NationEnoch Cree NationKehewin Cree NationOChiese First NationPaul First Nation, and Whitefish (Goodfish) Lake First Nation — to become equity owners. 

The 900-megawatt, $1.5-billion facility is scheduled to come online in March. 

“It’s personally gratifying for me to see how we moved from having Indigenous communities being seen as obstacles to partners in a generation,” says Martineau. 

The added capacity brought by Cascade is welcomed by the Alberta Electrical System Operator (AESO), which is responsible for the provinces electrical grid. =

“The AESO welcomes all new forms of generation into the Alberta marketplace, including renewables, thermal, storage, and others,” said Diane Kossman, a spokeswoman for the agency.  

“It is imperative that Alberta continue to have sufficient dispatchable generation to serve load during peak demand periods when other forms of generation are not able to contribute in a meaningful way.” 

The Cascade project also provides environmental benefits. It is a so-called “combined cycle” power facility, meaning it uses both a gas turbine and a steam turbine simultaneously to produce up to 50 per cent more electricity from the same amount of fuel than a traditional facility.  

Once complete, Cascade is expected to be the largest and most efficient combined cycle power plant in Alberta, producing 62 per cent less CO2 than a coal-fired power plant and 30 per cent less CO2 than a typical coal-to-gas conversion.  

“This project really is aligned with the goals of Indigenous communities on environmental performance,” says Martineau. 

The partnership behind the power plant includes Axium InfrastructureDIF Capital Partners  and Kineticor Resource Corp. along with the Indigenous Communities Consortium. 

The nations invested through a partnership with OPTrust, one of Canada’s largest pension funds.  

“Innovation is not just what we invest in, but it is also how we invest,” said James Davis, OPTrust’s chief investment officer. 

“The participation of six First Nations in the Cascade Power Project is a prime example of what is possible when investors, the government and local communities work together.” 

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