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Alberta

Red Deer South UCP constituency board member resigns in response to COVID-19 restrictions

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A political firestorm is brewing in Alberta.  The province’s response to COVID-19 is leading to a growing rift amongst members of Alberta’s UCP.  In an effort to slow the spread of COVID the government’s approach has been to protect hospitals by limiting interactions between people. This has lead to thousands of job losses and months of painful uncertainty for small business owners.  Increasingly, individual UCP politicians and Constituency Associations are calling on the Premier to take a new direction. They want the province to shift focus to provide comfortable quarantine sites for vulnerable citizens and the people who work with them, while the rest of Alberta returns to normal.  In an effort to protect the fragile economy, a number of constituency associations are considering their strongest possible move.  They’re deciding whether they should call for a leadership review which would be a direct challenge to Premier Jason Kenney.

In Central Alberta, Calvin Goulet-Jones a member of the Red Deer South UCP Board has resigned.  In his resignation letter (below) Goulet-Jones says the UCP has abandoned the core principals which brought conservatives from different parties together.   Janis Nett, President of the Red Deer South UCP Board says other members of the board support the decision Goulet-Jones has made, but they also support Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan and the party.  Nett says remaining board members are hoping a change in direction can be accomplished without fracturing conservatives into two more more parties in the next provincial election.  The Red Deer South Constituency Association meets later this week and a discussion about how best to convince party leadership to change direction will be on the agenda. 

Below is a post from the Facebook page of former Red Deer South Constituency Association board member Calvin Goulet-Jones.

Here is an excerpt of the my resignation letter to the local UCP board. I share this as a reminder of what the UCP was built on. For context, the content within the letter is relevant to the end of January. Please also note that this was not an admonishment of local board members, but a recognition that I can no longer be involved at this time for the reasons I state below.

It is no secret that times have changed and I strongly believe we have lost sight of the principles I feel we all hold dear. I am saddened when I look at the core principles that the UCP was built upon. I am saddened because it is so evident that the UCP has abandoned their foundation. They are no longer the party that Albertans elected.

Let me elaborate on the principles the UCP was built upon and where we find ourselves today.

Principle 1 – A robust civil society made up of free individuals, strong families, and voluntary associations.

We live in an era right now where individuals are not free. In fact, we live in an era where the freedom to earn an income is fined, where putting in an honest day’s work to put food on the table results in intimidation and strong families are being weakened as a result. This may not affect you, but it affects our society. When freedom is taken away from one individual it is taken away from all of us. Our society is neither robust, nor is it civil. In fact, it can be argued it is breaking down at the hands of our government.

Principle 2 – Freedom of speech, worship and assembly.

No one can take away the freedom to worship, including the government, however they certainly can put a major damper on it. Our government has intimidated and bullied churches severely beyond what could ever be deemed reasonable. Not only in Alberta but across this country the freedom to corporately worship has been taken away. The point is that this is a core principle of the UCP and the government seems to have not given it a second thought.

Principle 3 – Affirm 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.

The family is the building block of society, meanwhile families are suffering and children are bearing the brunt of the governments decisions. While the child help line has received an unprecedented amount of calls for help our government applies bandaids. This government is deconstructing the building block of society, mental health issues are rampant, and they have shifted the burden of covid and placed it upon the most vulnerable: Our children. They are affected by the very specific decisions that the government makes more than they will ever know.

Furthermore, the government’s logic is beyond reason. To say that a loved one may babysit your kids but that same loved one may not stay for dinner is absurd. To impose a fine to an individual who is struggling with loneliness and needs familiar company, yet allow a contractor to enter homes is mean spirited. I can go on, but I cannot imagine anyone can truly say that this government is busy ensuring that individuals are protected by the intrusion of government.

Principle 4 – Economic freedom in a market economy which encourages the creation of wealth through free enterprise, and protection of the right to own, enjoy and exchange property.

This government has shut down businesses and are bankrupting the individuals who own them. What’s more, this government has taken it further and has called those people who are soon to be homeless ‘selfish’. Alluding to the idea that they are greedy for wanting to earn an income. I find it very sad that the UCP has abandoned this principle as it is cornerstone policy that the UCP was built on. Free markets and private sector job creation. Instead, the UCP continues to actively work towards shutting small businesses down.

Principle 5 – Limited government, including low levels of taxation to help generate economic growth while allowing Albertans to enjoy the fruits of their own labour.

This government has given itself an unprecedented amount of power to intervene in any and every situation it deems fit. This is not limited government. The UCP speaks of low taxation while putting in policies that result in businesses and individuals earning a pittance. This government has literally made it a crime for certain people in our society to enjoy the fruits of their own labour by threatening fines and threatening prison.

Principle 6 – Fiscal responsibility, including balanced budgets, debt reduction, and respect for taxpayers’ money

The government has stifled growth and has ballooned debt. There was a reasonable point (back in March/April) where I can understand some of the decisions that were made. No one, including the government knew what was going on. We are well beyond that point though, yet the government continues to double down. Balanced budgets are a thing of fantasy, and we seem to live in a dream world that Trudeau himself would be proud of – that the government has an endless amount of money.

Principle 7 – Protecting public safety as a primary responsibility of government.

“Two Weeks to bend the curve.” “Stay home, stay safe.” “We are all in this together.” Three catch phrases used by our government to convince the public that abandoning your principles is worth it. Instead, this government is creating a never seen before amount of unrest. People are not happy. People are losing their homes and becoming desperate. It would be easy to say that this is because of the virus, but it is not. It is because of the specific decisions that our government is making.

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Alberta

Gustavsson leads AHL Senators in 4-2 win over Heat

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CALGARY — Filip Gustavsson stopped 30 shots as the Belleville Senators doubled up the Stockton Heat 4-2 on Wednesday in American Hockey League play.

Lassi Thomson, Egor Sokolov, Mark Kastelic and Parker Kelly scored to help the Senators (8-12-1) halt a three-game slide.

Matthew Phillips and Zac Leslie replied for the Heat (10-12-1).

Garret Sparks stopped 28-of-31 shots for Stockton.

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

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Calgary schools to shift to at-home learning for grades 7 to 12 due to COVID-19

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CALGARY — The Alberta government says schools in Calgary will move to at-home learning starting Monday for students in grades 7 to 12.

The change, due to COVID-19, is to last for two weeks.

Alberta Education said Wednesday that it approved requests from public and Catholic schools in the city to make the move to online learning.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said in a release that some school boards are dealing with operational pressures due to rising COVID-19 cases.

“The safety of students and staff is my top priority, which is why I am responding to the boards’ requests and respecting their autonomy,” she said.

“By having a clear process in place, we are giving them flexibility to move to at-home learning when necessary.”

The province said it has not closed any schools for health reasons, and any decision to move a portion of a school to at-home learning is at the discretion of each school board.

About 19 per cent of schools have COVID-19 alerts or outbreaks. Nine schools are currently doing online learning.

Marilyn Dennis, board chair with the Calgary Board of Education, said in the release that the greatest impacts of COVID-19 have been in schools with higher grades.

Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, also said there has been a sharp rise in cases among school-aged Albertans.

The province, with 15,569 active infections, currently has the highest rate of active cases in Canada.

On Wednesday, the province reported 1,412 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths due to the virus. There were 420 people in hospital due to COVID-19, with 92 in intensive care.

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

The Canadian Press

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