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Alberta

Welcome to the “Sky Palace” – Premier Kenney clears the record with photos of new temporary office

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The federal building boardroom prior to moving furniture in to make it a new Premier's office workspace.

From the Facebook page of Premier Jason Kenney

There has been much chatter over the last day or so about the office I’m currently occupying. I want to clear the record for those who didn’t hear about why this is when we disclosed this information last summer.
As many of you know, the Legislature’s 100 year-old sandstone is in need of repair. This project was contracted under the NDP in January of 2019, and is an important part of protecting Alberta’s temple of democracy.  This involves, jackhammering, grinding, blasting, and lots of other work that is, by nature, quite loud. But it’s necessary work that should get done to preserve the structural integrity of an important building that belongs to the people.
They work on different sections of the building at a time, and last summer they arrived at the section that includes the Premier’s office. As you can imagine, trying to conduct important phone calls or host meetings while this noisy work takes place is not easily done (see a sample of the noise from today in a comment below), so a decision was made to temporarily move offices and staff in the Premier’s office over to the federal building.
Thankfully, there are many office spaces that are available and under-utilized on the 10th and 11th floor of this building, so apart from minor moving expenses, there was no extra cost to repurposing these rooms with existing furniture and supplies for me and members of my staff.
Under previous governments, the entire 11th floor space was first designed as a penthouse suite, and when those plans were rightfully scrapped, it was repurposed to host the occasional meeting, and many other cocktail or guest receptions attended by the NDP while they were in government.  We believe these spaces should be there to support government business first and foremost.
The federal building boardroom prior to moving furniture in to make it a new Premier's office workspace.

The federal building boardroom prior to moving furniture in to make it a new Premier’s office workspace.

The Federal building workspace with furniture moved in, Jan 2021.

The Federal building workspace with furniture moved in, Jan 2021.

As you can see, the area I’m working in is a former boardroom that we moved existing furniture into to serve as an office space (see before and after pics). It’s not overly fancy or glamorous, but it serves the purpose of a functional workspace.
Premier's office in the Legislature, photo taken prior to exterior renovations, Jan. 2020.

Premier’s office in the Legislature, photo taken prior to exterior renovations, Jan. 2020.

Premier's office in the Legislature, photo taken prior to exterior renovations, Jan. 2020.

Premier’s office in the Legislature, photo taken prior to exterior renovations, Jan. 2020.

Once the work outside my Legislature office is complete, I’ll be happy to move back into the space that is intended to serve as the Premier’s office (see photos of that office prior to renovations).

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Alberta

Smith won’t seek early vote if she wins UCP leadership, becomes next Alberta premier

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United Conservative Party leadership candidate Danielle Smith says if she wins this week’s vote and becomes the next Alberta premier, she would not call an early election to seek a broad mandate on her policy ideas.

Smith, the perceived front-runner in the race, says the public tends to punish leaders who call an early election.

She says she would wait until the next scheduled election in May 2023, but believes she has a mandate now to proceed with her plans.

Smith has said she would immediately pass an Alberta sovereignty act, which would allow the province to ignore federal laws and court rulings deemed not in its interest.

Legal experts, some of Smith’s leadership rivals and Premier Jason Kenney have labelled the act not only illegal but a recipe for constitutional and economic chaos.

Smith has also talked about revamping the health system by using health spending accounts and firing the board of Alberta Health Services, which oversees the front-line delivery of care.

Today is the last day for advance voting, as seven candidates dig in for the final campaign push before UCP members select a new leader to replace Kenney on Thursday.

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Alberta

Alberta commits $20.8 million over the next four years to fight human trafficking

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By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton

The Alberta government is providing $20.8 million over the next four years to implement recommendations from a star-led task force on human trafficking.

Country singer Paul Brandt, chair of the Alberta Human Trafficking Task Force, personally thanked Premier Jason Kenney during the funding announcement Sunday at Edmonton International Airport for his willingness to prioritize the issue, and for putting faith in Brandt to lead the group.

“Premier Kenney’s longtime personal dedication and commitment to the issue of human trafficking is authentic and is admirable,” Brandt said.

“He’s the only political leader I’ve met in my 17 years of advocating for trafficking victims and survivors who took the time and initiative to personally write a plan to address this horrific crime.”

The money will establish an office to combat trafficking as well as a centre of excellence for research and data collection — recommendations the government accepted when the task force presented its report in March.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said the goal is to launch the office by next summer.

Other task force recommendations that will be supported include a new grant for community projects and Indigenous-led and culturally appropriate services. Civilian positions that will focus on supporting victims and survivors throughout human trafficking investigations will also be funded.

“Human trafficking is far more prevalent — way more common — than the stats would suggest because it’s a hidden crime,” Kenney said at the announcement.

“It festers in the dark. There are victims who face fear, shame and self-doubt and some who will never report what they’ve gone through.”

The task force was appointed in May 2020 and engaged with nearly 100 experts and survivors of trafficking to provide guidance on how to best implement the government’s action plan to fight human trafficking.

The government has said human trafficking includes sexual exploitation, forced labour trafficking and trafficking in human organs or tissues.

Kenney, who will be replaced as premier when his United Conservative Party selects a new leader on Thursday, noted he started fighting human trafficking over 20 years ago when he was an MP and joined a group of international parliamentarians on a coalition to fight the practice.

Later as Canada’s immigration minister, he said he took steps to make it easier for human trafficking victims who had migrated to Canada to obtain safety and protection.

In winter 2019, he said he committed the UCP to a nine-point action plan to combat human trafficking, which led to the Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act, which took effect in May 2020.

Brandt said it was exciting to be part of the funding commitment at the airport, where he said he stood in 2019 for a partnership with the facility and other groups in the Edmonton region to fight trafficking, which he called “modern day slavery.”

“It has been our dream that special focus and permanent funding would one day become a reality. Today is that day,” Brandt said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2022.

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