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Alberta

Provincial Opposition: Why did Kenney’s closest advisor stay at London hotels four times in the last 6 months?

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From Alberta’s NDP Caucus

TOP KENNEY AIDE BILLED ALBERTA TAXPAYERS FOR THOUSANDS IN FLIGHTS, MEALS AND FIVE-STAR HOTELS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

Premier Jason Kenney’s closest adviser has billed Alberta taxpayers for more than $45,000 worth of expenses, including thousands of dollars’ worth of flights, meals and stays in London’s fanciest hotels.

David Knight-Legg, a Yale and Oxford-educated international banker currently earning $195,000 a year as the premier’s Principal Advisor, has expensed three times more than any other member of the Premier’s staff, including the Chief of Staff. Knight-Legg’s expenses after six months are more than Rachel Notley’s Principal Secretary expensed over four years.

Among these expenses are $18,680.77 for four trips to London, each three to four days long, where he stayed either at the five-star Chilworth London Paddington Hotel, or in the upscale Soho neighbourhood at the historic Kettner’s hotel, “home to aristocrats since 1867”, which was opened by Napoleon III’s chef and features an art-nouveau champagne bar. Knight-Legg also billed Alberta taxpayers for Ubers, train rides and 43 meals in Great Britain’s capital.

“What on Earth could this close adviser of the Premier be doing in London?” asked Heather Sweet, Official Opposition Critic for Democracy and Ethics and MLA for Edmonton-Manning. “While the Premier is hiking taxes, cutting funding for schools and hospitals, disbanding firefighting teams and throwing Albertans off the senior’s drug plan amid claims the province is broke, David Knight-Legg was living a life of luxury in London at Alberta taxpayer’s expense.

“We have seen no substantive announcements about policy or collaboration with the United Kingdom. In fact, we can’t find a record of a member of the Kenney cabinet going to London or referencing the trade relationship with the country as a whole. Albertans paid for four luxurious trips in six months. The Premier must immediately release the full, detailed itineraries of each of David Knight-Legg’s trips. Otherwise Albertans have no way of knowing if this former international banker was conducting his own business and making the taxpayer pick up the bill,” Sweet said.

Although the bulk of Knight-Legg’s banking career has been in China and the Pacific Rim, he has yet to travel west of Vancouver on government business. There’s also no evidence that any officials from Economic Development and Trade accompanied Knight-Legg on his trips to London.

Last week, Premier Kenney drew widespread criticism for spending Alberta taxpayers’ money on private aircraft to carry himself, several other conservative premiers and their wives from a pancake party photo-op in Calgary to a meeting in Saskatoon.

“Albertans have a right to know what the purpose of these over-the-top extravagant trips was, and what return – if any – they got for them,” Sweet said. “The premier must apologize for the ongoing pattern of entitlement and frivolous spending of Albertans’ tax dollars in his office.”

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Alberta

Canadian women’s hockey team holds Calgary “bubble” camp

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CALGARY — The Canadian women’s hockey team has opened a 35-player camp in a Calgary “bubble.”

The 14-day camp is the first physical gathering of national-team players in months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hockey Canada invited 47 players to Calgary, but 12 won’t participate because of school commitments “and other reasons,” the organization said Monday in a statement.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin, veteran forwards Natalie Spooner, Brianne Jenner and Laura Stacey and defenders Laura Fortino and Laurianne Rougeau were among the 35 who arrived Sunday in Calgary.

Forwards Rebecca Johnston and Sarah Nurse were among the dozen who didn’t.

National team players have skated and trained this winter in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary hubs with access to Hockey Canada skills coaches. 

“We recognize it has been a challenge for our players, coaches and support staff, but we have made tremendous gains through our resiliency and strength,” said Gina Kingsbury, director of women’s national teams with Hockey Canada. 

“We stress to our athletes about controlling what they can, and that has been shown in their individual work, off-ice training, weekly ice sessions and staying committed through our virtual connections.”

Hockey Canada received clearance from the Alberta government to hold the camp, which is closed to the public.

“We are able to hold our camp in a safe and secure bubble,” Kingsbury said. 

The 2020 women’s world hockey championship in Halifax and Truro, N.S., was postponed to April 7-17, 2021 because of the pandemic.

Twenty-two players named to the 2020 world roster were invited to camp, as well as 18 veterans of the squad that won an Olympic silver medal in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.

Seven games against the U.S., including a five-game Rivalry Series, has been Canada’s only international competition since finishing third in the 2019 world championship in Finland.

The 2019 Four Nations Cup in Sweden was cancelled because of a dispute between the host team and its federation.

Troy Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., returns as Canada’s head coach for a second year. Doug Derraugh, Kori Cheverie, former national-team player Vicky Sunohara and goalie coach Brad Kirkwood are his assistants.

The reigning Olympic and world champion United States held an evaluation camp Oct. 25-31 in Blaine, Minn.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Public opposition growing: Petitions against Alberta coal mines top 100K signatures

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Public opposition to the Alberta government’s plan to expand coal mining in the Rocky Mountains appears to be growing.

More than 100,000 signatures have been collected on two petitions opposing the move, one addressed to the federal government and one to the province.

A Facebook site called Protect Alberta’s Rockies and Headwaters has more than doubled its membership over the last week to more than 10,000 people.

An environmental review into one coal project has received more than 4,000 statements of concern from members of the public. 

Government documents that have surfaced show three more recreation areas in the mountains and foothills are surrounded by coal exploration leases — for a total of eight.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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january, 2021

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