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Alberta county calls for independence referendum

Wheatland County in southern Alberta passed a resolution on Tuesday demanding changes in confederation – that if rejected by Ottawa – would trigger a referendum on Alberta’s independence.

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STRATHMORE, AB: Wheatland County in southern Alberta passed a resolution on Tuesday demanding changes in confederation – that if rejected by Ottawa – would trigger a referendum on Alberta’s independence.

The resolution, by Jason Wilson, a councillor in Wheatland County, was passed unanimously and will now be sent to municipalities and cities across Alberta for their input.

The motion calls for the province’s withdrawal from the Canada Pension Plan, a start to collecting it’s own income tax, the end of equalization payments, Senate reform, replacing the RCMP and better control over immigration into Alberta.

Wilson’s resolution says if those issues aren’t dealt with then a referendum on independence would be held Oct. 18, 2021.

“We can’t silence debate. I’m not a separatist. I’m an Albertan and I want to fix confederation,” Wilson said at the council meeting near Strathmore Tuesday.

Wheatland County Councillor Jason Wilson

“If things aren’t fixed we are going to continue to bend over.”

Wilson was a Jason Kenney delegate for his 2017 run for the PC leadership, and currently holds memberships in the United Conservative Party of Alberta, Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta, and the People’s Party of Canada.

People’s Party of Canada candidate for the area’s Bow River constituency Tom Ikert is also a Wheatland councillor, and voted for the motion.

The reeve of Wheatland County, Amber Link, said she expected the motion to be met with strong support across the province.

In an interview, Wilson told the Western Standard it was a deep sense of frustration that led to him bringing forward the motion.

He said while door-knocking for a friend running for office, all he heard from voters was their frustration where Alberta is at the moment in Confederation.

“I’m a sixth generation Albertan. Our family has lost members in both World Wars. They were fighting for a better future that might now be getting thrown under the bus. Our family didn’t lose (a member) in World War One to have Justin Trudeau throw away all our values,” he said.

Wilson said he will now work with other municipal officials across the province to “tweak” the motion to have it ready for a central zone meeting in February, followed by a province-wide meeting in March.

Wilson’s entire motion can be read below.

Whereas: Alberta contributes more, per person, to the national economy than any other province.  With only 12% of Canada’s population, Alberta attracts one quarter of all capital investment in the country and is responsible for more than one fifth of all Canadian goods exported.

Whereas: Albertan workers contribute far more to the Canada Pension Plan than its retirees take out.  In 2017, 16.5% of all CPP contributions came from Alberta workers, while just 10.6% of CPP expenditures made their way back to the province. If Alberta were to remove itself from the Canadian pension Plan, the current CPP rate (9.9%) would have to increase to 10.6%, resulting in up to $367 in additional contributions (in the form of payroll taxes) for workers outside of Alberta. Meanwhile, Albertans would pay just 5.85% for a CPP-like program for the province.

Whereas: A Statistics Canada 2017 report states that the Government of Canada generated $50.3 billion from Alberta taxpayers and only spent $28.5 billion in Alberta. Albertans pay more in federal taxes than we get back in federal spending. Meanwhile, the federal government generated $53.7 billion from Quebec taxpayers and spent $70.1 billion in Quebec.

Whereas: The Province of Alberta is under-represented in both houses of Parliament. While holding 12% of the nation’s population, Alberta only commands 10% of the seats in The House of Commons with 34 seats, and 5.7% of the seats in The Senate (6 seats). The Maritime provinces; Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island hold 5.1% the total population of Canada, yet they hold 22% of the seats within The Senate (24 seats).

Whereas:   The North-West Mounted Police were founded in 1873 with a military culture, and that remains a central aspect of the RCMP culture today. Over the last number of decades the changing of society has caused the RCMP to change into an inefficient and poor service. As Wheatland County has found, having five different Divisions and many detachments under staffed, with no future plans of reaching the organizations own recommendation of officers per capita, the national police force is no longer fulfilling local needs across the Province of Alberta.

Whereas: Alberta accepted 38,683 immigrants in 2018 and Quebec (with a populations twice the size of Alberta), accepted 47,903 immigrants. The Province of Alberta accepted 61% more immigrants per capita than Quebec, while having no way to regulate or refuse immigration. Alberta is allowed only to choose 5500 economic immigrants, unlike Quebec which has stronger authority over the province’s immigration.

Therefor be it resolved: The Government of Alberta act on the following recommendations in order to insert Alberta’s constitutional rights within confederation.

  1. That the Province of Alberta withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan and create an Alberta Pension Plan offering the same benefits at lower cost while giving Alberta control over the investment fund. Pensions are a provincial responsibility under section 94A of the Constitution Act. 1867.
  2. That the Province of Alberta collects its own revenue from personal income tax, as the province already does for corporate income tax. There is no reason to have Ottawa collect Alberta’s revenue. Any incremental cost of collecting our own personal income tax would be far outweighed by the policy flexibility that Alberta would gain.
  3. That the Province of Alberta use Section 88 of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Quebec Secession Reference to REMOVE EQUALIZATION from the Canadian Constitution. The federal government and other provinces must seriously consider a proposal for constitutional reform endorsed by “a clear majority on a clear question” in a provincial referendum.
  4. That the Province of Alberta again uses Section 88 of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Quebec Secession Reference to demand Senate reform.. Alberta has acted decisively in holding Senate elections. Now is the time to drive the issue further.
  5. That the Province of Alberta start preparing options to replace the RCMP as the province’s police force.  Alberta is a unique province and needs a police force operated, owned, and directed by the people they serve. Like the other major provinces of Ontario and Quebec, we should have our own provincial police force that answers to the Government of Alberta and understands the regional needs throughout the province. We have no doubt that Alberta can run a more efficient and effective police force than Ottawa can.
  6. That the Province of Alberta enter into an agreement with the federal government, similar to the Canada-Quebec Accord, allowing Alberta to oversee its own immigration that depicts the regional, cultural and economic needs of the Province.

Further be it resolved: If the federal government does not deal with these demands in good faith; if they block, hinder, or otherwise prevent Alberta from exercising its rights as outlined above, that the Government of Alberta will hold a Referendum with a “clear question”, as defined by The Clarity Act, on the secession of Alberta from the Canadian Confederation on October 18th 2021. 


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Rural municipalities told to ‘stop crying wolf’ over proposed property tax changes

Rural Municipalities of Alberta President Al Kemmere said 69 counties and municipal districts represented by the RMA stand to lose up to 40 per cent of their tax base.

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Fears are growing amongst rural Alberta municipalities about a proposed UCP plan to give oil and gas companies property tax breaks at the expense of residents.

But the head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the municipalities should “stop crying wolf” and get to work cutting their own taxes.

“If municipal councillors and mayors were half as worried about finding savings as they are about trying to grab more tax dollars then many more of our challenges would be solved by now,” Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director of the CTF, told the Western Standard.

The proposed changes are a way to bring relief to Alberta’s struggling oil and gas companies and a report outlining four possible linear taxation models was given to the UCP caucus last month.

Rural Municipalities of Alberta President Al Kemmere said 69 counties and municipal districts represented by the RMA stand to lose up to 40 per cent of their tax base.

A survey released by the RMA in January said the oil and gas sector also owes $173 million in unpaid taxes to rural municipalities.

“Nobody lives in a Cadillac world here – rural Albertans often get by with the marginal, but when you reduce like this, it’s going to hurt,” Kemmere told the CBC, adding some municipalities might not survive the possible changes.

“To collect what we’re losing, it’s almost a non-realistic approach. We’ve got some members that are going to have to double their present tax rates within the residential sector. And that’s just not doable.”

Lacombe County officials are preparing for a worst case scenario of a 39 per cent increase.

One of the plans would see a $4-million drop in revenue for the County of Vermilion River, according to Reeve Dale Swyripa. That would mean increasing the residential mill rate by 109 per cent, increasing the non-residential mill rate by 25 per cent, cutting services by 45 per cent or a combination of all.

The M.D. of Wainwright said they could lose $6.9 to $9.4 million or 22 to 30 per cent of their total tax revenue. The M.D. may have to increase the residential tax rate by 290 to 393 per cent and the non-residential tax rate by 37.4 to 58.4 per cent. 

Camrose County is looking at increasing the residential mill rate by up to 56 per cent, the non-residential mill rate by 32 per cent.

“This isn’t a Camrose County issue. This is a rural issue,” she said. “There is no county in Alberta that will not be affected,” Reeve Cindy Trautman told CBC.

In Northern Sunrise County, the residential mill rate would have to be hiked by 200 to 500 per cent, or the county’s workforce — and corresponding services — cut by up to 80 per cent.

But Terrazzano said: “Northern Sunrise County is one of the biggest spending municipalities in Alberta, spending $17,000 per person annually!”

“A huge place all municipalities (including Northern Sunrise County) needs to cut is labour costs. Through the downturn (2014-2018), municipal government labour costs across Alberta increased by 17 per cent while all employee compensation in the province declined by 6 per cent.

Cypress-Medicine Hat UCP MLA said his phone has been ringing off the hook with worried residents.

“I’ve probably had about 30 calls in the last 24 hours,” Barnes told the Western Standard before stepping into a meeting Wednesday afternoon with municipal affairs officials.

“I’m glad the government has not finalized anything and is open to discussion. We have to do everything we can to leave money in the hands of citizens and every municipality has room to improve.”

But he said the government also needs to work with companies and suggested cheaper access to the Alberta Energy Regulator for them as one possible idea.

“If we don’t do something to arrest the trend of industry bankruptcies and financial insolvencies, there’s not going to be a long term or an industry in some of these communities, so the assessments are going to go to zero,” Ben Brunnen, vice-president of oilsands with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, told CBC.

“It’s one of those scenarios where everyone needs to sacrifice a little bit.”

The province says no policy decisions have been made.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP creates $10 million corporate welfare program to fight global warming

The Alberta government has created a new program funded through the province’s carbon tax.

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Albeta’s UCP government has launched another multi-million corporate welfare program – this time spending $10 million on three projects funded through the provincial carbon tax.

The government said Wednesday that $3 million will be given to the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group (SPOG) to test the viability of methane emissions reduction technology, saying that improvements could enhance the accuracy of finding methane emission leaks at a lower cost. 

The government also gave the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) $5-million to develop artificial intelligence capabilities that could help companies identify emission reductions opportunities.

Finally, it will give $2 million to the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC) to conduct applied research that could improve oil and gas sector methane emission management and control, while also reducing costs to industry. 

“Last year, when we introduced TIER, we said we would help job creators reduce their emissions by making investments in technology and research,” said Environment Minister Jason Nixon in a statement.

TIER (Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction Regulation) is the new name given to Alberta’s carbon tax to replace the NDP’s “Climate Action Plan”.

“Today’s announcement is an example of that, and helps further our position as a global leader in technology-driven environmentally responsible development. These programs will help industry identify, track, measure and ultimately reduce emissions. They will also ensure we maintain our competitive edge while creating jobs and economic growth for Alberta.”

The UCP platform broadly committed to ending corporate welfare subsidies.

“Premier Jason Kenney needs to get back to doing good work on reducing taxes for everyone and stop picking winners and losers,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Calgary cops identify suspects in hate crime attack

“It is shocking to see anyone targeted for a crime because of a personal characteristic, but it is extremely disturbing to see the same community targeted three times in one weekend,” said Sgt. Arlene Padnivelan,

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Calgary copssay they have identified two men who attacked a same sex couple as they strolled down a northwest street.

It was one of three attacks over the weekend against members of Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ community.

The incident occurred around 5:30 p.m., on Monday, as a same-sex couple was walking near the intersection of 9 St. and Memorial Dr. N.W., when two men and two women on electronic scooters approached them, police said.

“An altercation occurred and it is believed the two men on scooters assaulted the couple because of their sexual orientation. A belt, rocks and a recycling bin were used as weapons and then the group fled,” said police in a press released.

Suspects wanted in connection with a same sex attack
Courtesy Calgary Police Service

“Our officers arrived shortly after and searched the area but could not locate the group. The victims received medical care for non-life-threatening injuries.”

The two suspects are both described as being about 30 years old, average height and build, with trim black beards and short black hair. The one was wearing black framed glasses, white polo shirt, dark pants, brown loafers, and white socks. The other was wearing a grey polo shirt with white collar and sleeves, grey pants, and white runners.

Police said Wednesday morning the suspects had been identified and the investigation continues.

The first incident happened when man was assaulted near the intersection of 17 Ave. and 12 St. in the middle of the day on Friday. It is alleged that a group of men attacked the victim while calling him homophobic slurs and then fled.

The second incident occurred around 1 p.m. on Saturday on the Rainbow Crosswalk at the intersection of Centre St. and Stephen Avenue Mall. A Drag King recording a video was spat on by an unknown man walking past. The incident is now being investigated and video and CCTV footage is being collected by us to help identify the man responsible, said police.

“It is shocking to see anyone targeted for a crime because of a personal characteristic, but it is extremely disturbing to see the same community targeted three times in one weekend,” said Sgt. Arlene Padnivelan, with the Calgary Police Service Diversity Resource Team.

“It is unacceptable that this is happening and we will absolutely investigate anytime a crime is motivated by hate or bias.”

Police encourage anyone who has been targeted for ill treatment or a crime because of their sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or some other similar trait to report it.

“We fully recognize that sometimes people do not want to involve the police or don’t feel comfortable coming to us for help,” said Padnivelan.

“We respect the wishes of those who are most affected by the incident and never force a victim to participate in a police investigation. However, if there is a way we can help make a person feel safe enough to come forward, we want to try do that.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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