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Britain celebrates independence from E.U.

Happy Independence Day, Great Britain!




Happy Independence Day, Great Britain!

For the first time since 1973, the Brits have shaken off the yoke of being controlled from Brussels by the European Union.

For some Brits it will mean an extra-patriotic version of God Save the Queen on Friday because Brussels will no longer be able to dictate what shape British sausages are sold in. For others, their nightly cuppa will be taken with some trepidation for what the future may hold.

Most of the celebrations in London on Friday night will be low-key. In other parts of Britain there will be protests

Front page of Friday’s Telegraph

There will be a massive light show around the Parliament and Big Ben and the U.K. will formally leave the E.U. at Friday 11 p.m. their time. The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace has been bedecked with Union Jacks.

However, there will be no booze, fireworks or live music, as most British politicians know the hard work is just beginning.

Flags along the Mall in London – Photo from Twitter

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday morning will hold a special cabinet meeting before addressing the nation that night.

In Brussels this week, there was an emotional final meeting with British MEPs.

Ursula Von Der Leyen, European Commission president, said: “We will always love you and we will never be far.”

Ursula Von Der Leyen. Courtesy Wikipedia

‘No new partnership will bring back the benefits of being part of the same union but we have the duty to seek the best for the British and for the European people in a post-Brexit world.

‘To our British friends and many – perhaps not all – but many of our British MEPs here in the room, I want to use the words of the famous British poet George Eliot.

Von Der Leyen quoted: ”Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depth of love.”

‘We will always love you and we will never be far, long live Europe.’

But not everyone was as congenial as Von Der Leyen.

As Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage waved a Union Jack, vice-president Mairead McGuinness cut off his microphone, saying: ‘Please sit down, put your flags away, you’re leaving – and take them with you.”

The Parliament eventually voted 621 votes to 49 to ratify Brexit.

Nigel Farage farewell speech

Now the hard work begins with the E.U. and Britain having only 11 months to hammer out things like trade deals with all the countries. The E.U. has already said it can’t be done in that timeline, while Johnson has refused to extend it.

The Brexit world will also see changes to immigration into the country.

The removal of the current E.U. freedom of movement will likely slow immigration growth in the U.K.

Johnson said he will bring in a points-based system similar to one used in Australia, where applicants get a personal score based on their skills and age. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – from Twitter

In a poll in early January, most Britons said nurses, doctors and dentists should score the highest under the points-based immigration system.

The government has already said businesses will face increased paperwork for the deals with the mainland. Everything from cell phones to pet travel is now up in the air.

The U.K. joined the E.U back in 1973 and a 1975 referendum approved staying in it.

The road to Brexit hasn’t been easy. There was a June 2016 referendum where a slim 51.9 percent voted to leave. That was followed in March 2017, when the British government formally began the process.

But then things became bogged down. Tory PM Theresa May lost her job. The process remained in a quagmire until Johnson won a massive majority in a December general election

There now begins an 11-month process of formalizing the withdrawal and securing new trading deals within the E.U. for Britain.

Economist seemed mixed in their predictions for the future, with some even issuing dire warnings.

There are approximately 759 international agreements, spanning 168 non-E.U. countries, that the U.K. would no longer be a party to upon leaving, reported the Financial Times.

Economist have predict a 2-2.5 per cent drop in the British GNP and up to a 10 per cent hit in income per capita.

Johnson has said there will be a investment boom in Britain now the Brexit uncertainty has gone away.

In Scotland, some residents are less than happy they are leaving the E.U.

In fact, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will mark Britain’s historic exit on Friday by flying the flag of the E.U. over the Scottish Government HQ.

Johnson has already turned down a request by Sturgeon to hold another independence vote for Scottish voters.

This week Scottish MPs voted 64 to 54 to agree that circumstances have changed since the 2014 ‘indyref,’ and that “a referendum should be held”

Sturgeon has said Jan. 31 is a “sad day for Scotland” and a “future in Europe can only be achieved by Scotland becoming an independent country.”

Nicola Sturgeon. Courtesy Wikipedia

“While the impacts on business and citizens may not be immediate, there is no doubt that from 11 p.m. on Friday Jan. 31 there will have been a material change in Scotland’s circumstances against the wishes of the vast majority of people in Scotland,” Sturgeon told the Telegraph.

 A total of 17.4 million people in Scotland, 62%, voted against leaving.

Another problem remains the Irish border. It now becomes the only U.K.-E.U. land border.

The Johnson government has announced they will not perform customs checks at the border, which has been basically unmanned since 2005.

Saturday morning, Brits will wake up realizing they are now going it alone.

The guardian front page for friday
Daily Express front page for friday
The Independents’s front page
Friday’s Daily Mail

Its success or failure will only be told in time.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard


Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com


Leaders thank businesses and Canadians

Five more residents die at Calgary seniors home.




Businesses, non-profits and individuals have been stepping up all over the country to offer products and services that have been identified as necessary. 

ATCO has offered trailers with a potential for remote testing, distilleries began making hand sanitizer, Suncor has donated masks, Shell has donated isopropyl, a major ingredient in producing hand sanitizer, and McDonald’s and Tim Hortons have ensured truck drivers can order food for pick-up. 

“I’m deeply touched by the outpouring of support we’re seeing from private and non-profit organizations, both foreign and domestic. When times are tough, Alberta’s spirit of ingenuity and generosity always answers the call,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said Friday.

In Ontario, the government has put out a call for “viable, innovative proposals that can quickly provide critical goods and services and the greatest benefit to the people of Ontario,” a government release said.

“Ontario has an army of innovators, entrepreneurs, and the hardest-working people in the world ready to roll up their sleeves, support our frontline healthcare workers, and beat this virus,” said Premier Ford.

“This mass mobilization of government, business, communities and private citizens to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe and healthy represents one of the largest and most ambitious efforts undertaken by Ontario in generations.”

The Prime Minister announced Tuesday that almost 3,000 Canadian companies have been able to add production to meet critical supply needs of medical and personal protection equipment, as well as test kits, and other companies have donated personal protection equipment they had in supply. 

“Canadian companies are answering the call to provide critical support to our health care workers, who are on the front lines of our country’s fight against COVID-19. As the situation continues to evolve, the Government of Canada will be there to work with Canadian industry to find solutions that will support our medical professionals and protect the health and safety of all Canadians,” the Prime Minister said.


The province reported an additional 107 cases bringing the total to 1,075. The province also announced five more COVID-related deaths in Alberta bringing the total to 18.

Four of the deaths were from the Mckenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary, bringing the total to eight from the single senior’s residence.

108 cases may be community transmission meaning they cannot be traced to international travel or known cases. 

174 people have recovered.

British Columbia

The province reported 53 new cases bringing its total to 1,174. Four additional COVID-related deaths were also reported bringing the province’s total to 35.

641 people have recovered.


The province has identified 15 additional probable cases bringing its total to 182. Manitoba also announced its second COVID-related death.

11 people have recovered.


The province reported 14 new cases Thursday bringing its total to 220. 

48 people have recovered.

Provincial cases:

·        Quebec: 6,101 confirmed cases, including 1 recovered and 61 deaths

·        Ontario: 3,675 cases including 501 recovered and 105 deaths

·        British Columbia: 1,131 confirmed cases including 641 recovered and 31 deaths

·        Alberta: 1,075 confirmed cases including 172 recovered and 14 deaths

·        Saskatchewan: 220 confirmed cases including 48 recovered and 3 deaths

·        Nova Scotia: 207 confirmed and presumptive cases

·        Newfoundland and Labrador: 195 confirmed cases and 1 death

·        Manitoba: 182 confirmed cases including 11 recovered and 2 deaths

·        New Brunswick: 95 confirmed and presumptive cases

·        Prince Edward Island: 22 confirmed cases, and 3 recovered

·        Yukon: 5 confirmed cases

·        Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed case

·        Nunavut: 0 cases

There are currently 12,909 cases across Canada with 2,608 from B.C. to Manitoba.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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Calgary Fire Dept. saves the day for locked down birthday parties




Planning a depressing lockdown birthday party for a young ‘un?


It’s the Calgary Fire Department to the rescue!


Fire Chief Steve Dongworth announced a plans on Friday to have a fire truck show up at the homes where people are self-isolating inside while they celebrate a birthday.


Dongworth said the fire truck would blast their sirens and the firefighters inside may get on the loudspeaker for a predictable awful version of “Happy Birthday!”


The program is open for any Calgary children between the ages of four to twelve, and anyone over 75.


He said the fire truck would hopefully get to the birthday party about 2 p.m.


Dongworth said some firefighters had already started doing this on their own volition before the department made it a city-wide program.


“Those families have been fairly overwhelmed (when the fire trucks showed up), said Dongworth.


The chief said the “Drive-by Birthday” program will last until the end of May but could be expanded.


Dongworth said the surprise for the younger children should be kept a secret in case the local fire truck gets called away for an emergency but that “we will get to you eventually.”


To book a fire truck for your party go here.


Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard




Twitter: @Nobby7694

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Calgary on lockdown til end of June; Stampede’s fate still uncertain

That puts the pressure on the Calgary Stampede to announce whether or not it plans to continue with year’s show which starts July 3.




The City of Calgary has cancelled all events through til the end of June.

That puts the pressure on the Calgary Stampede to announce whether or not it plans to continue with year’s show which starts July 3.

“All I can tell you is the (Stampede board) is taking this extraordinarly seriously,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said at a Friday press conference.

“At this moment there is no news. But they will make the right decision for the community,” said Nenshi, adding it was possible the city’s order could be pushed into June.

Last week, before the city’s latest order came down, Stampede CEO Warren Connell said all aspects were being studied. 

“We’re assessing what could be possible or not possible with respect to all of our programming in the coming months, given that the full impact of COVID-19 on the community remains uncertain,” Warren Connell, the CEO of the Calgary Stampede, said in an interview with the Globe and Mail.

“With any social-distancing requirements, it just really wouldn’t be responsible or possible for us to host a Stampede.”

The city ban on gatherings means a total of 79 events have been cancelled in June, including many charity walks and runs.

Also cancelled was Nenshi’s beloved Neighbour Day, the third Saturday in June, in honour of the city’s resilience to the 2013 flooding.

Also shut down by order are all the Plus 15s in the city which Calgary Emergency Management Agency Chief Tom Sampson said were being used by people to “mill around.”

And Sampson said the order would mean no games and the Saddledome or McMahon Stadium should NHL and CFL season’s astonishingly resume.

Sampson again urged people not to gather in places like parks. He said if people get too close in parks to “just turn away.

Dave Naylor is the News editor of the Western Standard


Twitter: twitter/Nobby7694

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