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Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan open letter calling for hope and unity in times of fear and contention

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Submitted by Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan

COVID-19, let’s have more hope and less fear

While COVID-19 should be respected, I am concerned there is too much fear, contention and polarization; hope is so much better.

Relying on true principles results in more happiness and better choices, carrying us through challenging times to better days. I know this is true.

One foundational principle of the United Conservative Party is to “[a]ffirm the family as the building block of society and the means by which citizens pass on their values and beliefs and ensure that families are protected from intrusion by government.” I love that.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is intended to protect families from intrusions by government.

When I was studying the Charter in law school, I learned that Section 2 of the Charter recognizes “fundamental freedoms” including freedoms of “association” and “peaceful assembly.”

The freedom of association allows for the “achievement of individual potential through interpersonal relationships”.

What interpersonal relationships allow for more opportunities for “achievement of our potential,” individually or collectively, than in our families?

The freedom of assembly protects the “physical gathering of people”. What physical gatherings are more important than with our own families?

Belonging to, and gathering in, our families are not mere fundamental freedoms, they are also among the highest, most important, expressions of these freedoms.

Families are the fundamental unit of society. More than ever, families need each other and need to be supported.

Section 1 of the Charter requires “minimal impairment”, “rational connection” and “proportionality” between the objective of reducing harms from COVID through public health orders and the harms of imposing limits on the freedoms of families to gather and act in ways to support each other in these challenging times.

I am blessed to be the father of two adult sons and a teenage daughter who I love.

Like many parents, I am concerned about the impact health orders are having on the mental and emotional health of our children.

I feel joy watching my sons become independent of their parents, to seek happiness as they individually see fit.

Yet, like many parents, I see the work and effort of young adults threatened by lockdowns or shutdowns with devasting social and economic consequences.

This ought not to be. Some of the loudest voices calling for more lockdowns or shutdowns, will not lose a penny of pay, while those impacted may lose it all.

No child under 20 has died from COVID-19 in Alberta. A single positive COVID case in a high school should not automatically result in 118 other students sent home to isolate, just because they were in the same classrooms, notwithstanding physical distancing may have been maintained throughout, and notwithstanding a student is in good health and exhibiting no symptoms.

Public health measures require these school children to go home and isolate for up to 14 days, avoiding close contact with household members, including parents, not leave their properties, even for walk, and even if they have no symptoms. For some children, all of this can be very unhealthy. Parents seeking the well-being of their children may be compelled to respond differently.

The WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Orders, lockdowns and shutdowns impose long term physical, mental and emotional health costs, especially on our children.

Children should never be made to fear. Truth is an antidote to fear. Truth is a knowledge of things as they are and as they are to come.

Perspective is integral to understanding truth.

Interpreting facts in isolation, or with selective fact emphasis, distorts perspective, allowing fears to take root.

Providing facts in context, with a balanced emphasis, supports healthier perspectives.

Vaccinations are increasing and the observed cyclical incidence of COVID-19 lessens as summer approaches.

Selective fact emphasis should not be used to magnify risk. Media hysteria, and those seeking to leverage a narrative of fear are not serving the truth.

While we should vigilant, fear should not be used as a tool to coerce compliance to restrictions. Great leaders lead in love and inspire hope and the best in those they serve.

Prescriptive approaches used for unhealthy individuals, should not be used for healthy populations. Prescriptive approaches can deny responsible adults the opportunity to make personal judgments appropriate for their own circumstances, their families, and their children.

A principled vision of hope trusts Albertans to govern themselves and their families in respectful ways. We will have more hope, and we will be healthier and happier.

We can love truth and trust that it will prevail.

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

Calgary man who killed girlfriend to receive verdict in her daughter's death

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CALGARY — A Calgary man who admitted to murdering his former girlfriend but denied killing her daughter is scheduled to receive a verdict in the case today.

Robert Leeming, who is 36, pleaded guilty on the first day of his trial to the second-degree murder of Jasmine Lovett in 2019 but not guilty in the death of 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.

His lawyer said during closing arguments in November that there’s no evidence to prove Leeming was responsible for the girl’s death.

Leeming testified he was looking after Aliyah when she fell down some stairs, then he found her limp and unresponsive when he checked on her later.

He said he snapped when Lovett accused him of doing something to her child and struck her several times with a hammer before coming back with a rifle and shooting her in the head.

The bodies of the mother and child were found buried in a shallow grave in Kananaskis Country, west of Calgary, in May 2019 after they went missing weeks earlier.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

WHL Roundup: Tetachuk stops 30 pucks, Warriors beat Hitmen 4-1 for 3rd straight win

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CALGARY — Carl Tetachuk made 30 saves to lift the Warriors to a 4-1 road victory over the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL Sunday, extending  Moose Jaw’s win streak to three games.

Cordel Larson scored a goal and added an assist, with Josh Hoekstra, Nathan Pilling and Majid Kaddoura providing the other goals for Moose Jaw (20-16-3-1). 

Tetachuk stopped 18 shots in the first period alone.

Grayden Siepmann replied late in the second period for Calgary (16-14-4-2), which got 17 saves from Brayden Peters.

WINTERHAWKS 5 CHIEFS 4 (OT)

PORTLAND – Ryan McCleary scored 2:44 in overtime as Portland (22-11-3-2) won its fourth in a row. Cross Hanas had a goal and three assists. The Winterhawks are 10-0-0-1 in their last 11 encounters. Bear Hughes had a goal and two assists for Spokane (10-21-3-1), which has dropped five straight games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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