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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

Fire investigators can't pin cause of fire at Edmonton-area seniors complex

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ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire investigators say they have been unable to figure out what caused a fire at an Edmonton-area retirement and long-term care complex last week.

Residents were forced to leave when the fire at the Citadel Mews West Continuing Care Facility in St. Albert broke out on May 6.

It destroyed part of the complex and three residents suffered smoke inhalation.

Investigators say the fire started on a ground-floor patio.

They say it spread from patio furniture to the underside of the deck above and from there up the siding into the building’s attic.

A damage estimate has yet to be made and investigators are still trying to determine what caused the blaze.

“This was a large and devastating fire where thankfully no one was seriously hurt,” St. Albert acting fire Chief Scott Wilde said Friday in a news release.

“If you live in a multi-family building, be aware of your building’s fire safety plan and practise your escape.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta health agency obtains restraining order against Calgary mayoral candidate

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CALGARY — Alberta Health Services says it has obtained a restraining order against a Calgary mayoral candidate who the agency says has threatened health workers.

AHS says Kevin Johnston must stay at least 100 metres away from health officers and must not publish any threats or hate speech directed at them.

Johnston is running in this fall’s municipal election and has been a vocal supporter of anti-lockdown protests.

He appears regularly online where he promotes far-right ideology.

AHS says Johnston has been aggressive and threatening towards two particular health workers as well as to the general AHS workforce.

The agency says it wants to protect staff and ensure they feel supported.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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may, 2021

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