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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

Blue Bombers become first CFL team to earn playoff spot with 26-16 victory over Elks

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EDMONTON — Zach Collaros threw two touchdown passes as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Edmonton Elks 26-16 on Friday night to become the first CFL team to clinch a playoff berth.

Winnipeg (9-1) captured its seventh straight victory and improved to 7-0 within the West Division. Collaros finished 15-of-24 passing for 210 yards with an interception to remain the CFL’s passing leader (2,565 yards) but is also tops in TD passes with 15.

This marks the fifth straight season that Winnipeg, the defending Grey Cup champion, has made the playoffs.

Edmonton (2-7) suffered its fifth straight loss and dropped to 0-5 at home this season.

Edmonton’s defence forced a safety at 9:31 of the first quarter, then came up big five minutes later as Trumaine Washington intercepted Collaros in the end zone. The Bombers closed out the opening quarter with a 37-yard Ali Mourtada field goal.

The Elks responded with Sean Whyte’s 34-yard field goal at 11:22 of the second.

Winnipeg took the lead with three minutes left in the first half as a 47-yard completion to Kenny Lawler set up Collaros’s five-yard TD strike to Andrew Harris. But Harris appeared to suffer an injury to his right knee and did not return as Brady Oliveira finished up with 105 yards rushing on 16 carries.

Whyte kicked a 25-yard field cut Winnipeg’s half-time lead to 10-8.

Mourtada converted from 27 and a career-high 43 yards to start the third. Edmonton tied it 16-16 on Taylor Cornelius’s 11-yard TD toss to Shai Ross. Backup quarterback Dakota Prukop added the two-point convert.

Rookie Cornelius got the start as incumbent Trevor Harris was a healthy scratch.

Moments after Elks defender Aaron Grymes couldn’t hang on to an easy interception opportunity, Collaros hit Rasheed Bailey on a 48-yard completion before finding him on a five-yard scoring strike six minutes into the fourth.

Mourtada cemented the win with a 23-yard field goal with 50 seconds remaining.

Winnipeg hosts the B.C. Lions next Saturday while Edmonton has a bye week before returning home against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Oct. 29.

NOTES: Harris being sidelined while healthy has led to speculation the Elks are actively shopping their veteran quarterback on the trade front… Lawler returned to the lineup after being suspended by Winnipeg for its last game for an impaired driving arrest… The actual attendance appeared to be far beneath the announced 24,276 fans.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Medical examiner describes deaths of mother, toddler at Calgary murder trial

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CALGARY — A forensic pathologist has told a murder trial that a Calgary woman and her young daughter suffered blunt force trauma to their heads.

Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson were reported missing in April 2019.

The next month, their bodies were found buried in a day use area in Kananaskis Country, west of Calgary.

Robert Leeming has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Lovett but not guilty to second-degree murder in the child’s death.

Deputy medical examiner Dr. Akmal Coetzee-Khan described his findings through a series of autopsy photos.

He says Lovett appeared to have been moved after her death, judging from pooling of blood in her body.

She also had a black eye and bruising on her face.

The Canadian Press

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