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Pipeline company vows to move ahead despite aboriginal opposition

The company building a natural gas pipeline in B.C. says they will be resuming construction Tuesday – despite being given an eviction notice from an aboriginal band who claims it is on their land.

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The company building a natural gas pipeline in B.C. says they will resume construction Tuesday – despite being given an eviction notice from an aboriginal band who claim it is on their land.

“Coastal GasLink continues to remobilize construction crews across the right-of-way in anticipation of work resumption and ramp up this week, beginning with safety refresh meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday,” the company said in a statement on their website on Monday.

“Clearing, grading, workforce accommodation establishment and other activities are expected to continue as scheduled across the route. Pipe delivery also resumes this week, with continued receipt of materials at various storage sites, including north of Kitimat.”

On the weekend, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs issued a letter telling the company that its staff and contractors were trespassing and demanding they vacate the land immediately.

Even though they had a legal right to be there, CGL workers left over the weekend, leaving a small security staff behind.

On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted CGL an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from blocking the pipeline route near Smithers, B.C.

But the situation has been further complicated after an Jan. 3 indict by the Unist’ot’en, a smaller group within the First Nation, that they intend to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access to the land, effective Friday.

“In addition, early on January 5, Coastal GasLink personnel discovered that trees had been felled on the Morice River Forest Service Road at Kilometer 39, making the road impassable. While it is unclear who felled these trees, this action is a clear violation of the Interlocutory Injunction as it prevents our crews from accessing work areas,” the company said in a statement.

“We are disappointed that after nearly a year of successful joint implementation of the Access Agreement, the Unist’ot’en has decided to terminate it. Our preference has always been to find mutually agreeable solutions through productive and meaningful dialogue. We have reached out to better understand their reasons and are hopeful we can find a mutually agreeable path forward. To that end, we are requesting to meet with Unist’ot’en and the Hereditary Chiefs as soon as possible.

“In granting Coastal GasLink an Interlocutory Injunction, the B.C .Supreme Court made clear that it is unlawful to obstruct or blockade Coastal GasLink from pursuing its permitted and authorized activities.”

The Coastal GasLink pipeline will deliver natural gas from the Dawson Creek area to the LNG Canada facility near Kitimat, B.C., a distance of 670 km.

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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

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NDP MLA calls for investigation into Lethbridge police after cops demoted for stalking her

“Using police power to stalk and intimidate a minister is the stuff of a police state,” said Shannon Phillips

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A former Alberta NDP cabinet minister is calling for an out-of-province investigation into the Lethbridge Police Service accusing them of “intimidation for political purposes.”

Former Environment Minister Shannon Phillips made the call Monday after media reports that two police officers in Lethbridge had been demoted for following and photographing her before distributing the pictures on Facebook.

“The Lethbridge Police Service illegally put me under surveillance and harassed me in public,” said the Lethbridge West MLA in a press conference.

“There’s no question I’m worried about my safety…it’s terrifying.

“Using police power to stalk and intimidate a minister is the stuff of a police state.”

Phillips was referring to a Good Friday 2017 meeting she had with stakeholders involved in the Castle Mountain wilderness area.

As Environment Minister, Phillips made a controversial decision to limit access to the area, including the use of quads.

CHAT News reported Sgt. Jason Carrier and Const. Keon Woronuk both had an interest in quadding.

Carrier was on-duty but on a meal break with two other officers when Phillips entered the Chef Stella Diner to meet informally with stakeholders, CHAT reported from the decision paper issued July 9 after an LPS internal investigation.

The decision said Carrier texted the acting sergeant Woronuk that Phillips was at the restaurant and sent him a photo. Woronuk arrived at the diner a short time later.

As the two officers left the diner Woronuk said to Carrier that he, “would hate to see Phillips drive away from the restaurant and there was a reason to stop her.”

Woronuk also set up surveillance and subsequently following one of the stakeholders while running a police information check on them.

Woronuk found a nearby position of surveillance of the diner and Carrier took position at nearby parkade with a view of the diner, according to agreed facts entered at the hearing. Phillips eventually left the diner on foot.

“The intent of Const. (Keon) Woronuk to target an attendee of Minister Phillips’ meeting is truly troubling,” stated the hearing’s presiding officer Paul Manuel, a former Calgary Police Service inspector.

“I cannot see any purpose for such an action.”

Woronuk later posted photos of the meeting on a Facebook page under the name “Mike Corps” which included identifying the stakeholders and, “was accompanied by a long caption criticizing Minister Phillips and her NDP government,” CHAT reported.

Phillips and NDP justice critic Kathleen Ganley called on Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer to order an independent, out of province investigation. Phillips said the investigation is needed to see if the corruption is “more broad” within the LPS.

“Tonight I was informed of two Lethbridge police officers who had been conducting an unauthorized surveillance of MLA Shannon Phillips in 2017. I share in the outrage being expressed by many following this news.,” said Schweitzer, in a statement.

“To say it is completely unacceptable that members of the police would conduct unauthorized surveillance of any Albertan – in particular an elected official – is an understatement. Law enforcement is entrusted with a great deal of power, so it is particularly egregious when that power is abused. 

“I was not previously aware of this incident nor was the government involved in the professional standards investigation which resulted in the temporary demotion of the two officers involved. 

“The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has been ordered to conduct a comprehensive review of the professional standards investigation to determine if there are grounds for a criminal investigation. 

“I have instructed my department to arrange for an out-of-province prosecutor should ASIRT require legal advice in conducting its investigation, including the determination of laying charges.”

Woronuk, a 19-year veteran, admitted to five charges under the Police Service Regulation including two counts of corrupt practice and a single count each of deceit, discreditable conduct and insubordination.

He was demoted from senior constable to first-class constable for two years.

Carrier, a 23-year veteran, admitted to discreditable conduct and neglect of duty and was demoted to senior constable for one year.

Phillips said she was met with a torrent of online abuse “from the far-right” after the Castle decision, something she said would dissuade other women thinking of running for politics.

And she took issue with demotions being the outcome.

“That they can still drive by my house is not an acceptable penalty,” she said.

“I don’t feel safe…these people are still driving around in cruisers, who made a plan to follow me for political purposes.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP passes motion to educate Albertans on true cost of Equalization

“Since 1961, Alberta families and businesses have contributed more than $600 billion into the Canada partnership; while Quebec took more than $476 billion from it,” said MLA Jason Stephan

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The Alberta government has passed a motion calling for the education of Albertans on exactly what they are paying in Equalization payments to the rest of the country.

Bill 507 was proposed by Red Deer South UCP MLA Jason Stephan and will include telling Albertans how much they subsidize the Canada Pension Plan.

“As Albertans grow in awareness of the massive, unfair subsidies and taxes they are paying, the more accountability they will require from government in respect of those costs,” Stephan said.

“Canada is spending itself into oblivion; marching towards bankruptcy, dragging Alberta down with it.  Canada is rudderless; at a worst possible time; under the control of individuals out of their depth.

“Since 1961, Alberta families and businesses have contributed more than $600 billion into the Canada partnership; while Quebec took more than $476 billion from it.”

Stephan noted the Quebec benefits from having the state-owned Hydro Quebec which delivers customers low cost electricity. He said those low rates have led to Quebec having the highest rate of personal swimming pools, other than Florida, in North America.

“Quebec is not a tropical paradise; its swimming pools are a function of Quebec Hydro selling its power at deep discounts to Quebec residents.  As Quebec Hydro artificially sells its hydro power at deep market discount to Quebeckers, it is reduces Quebec’s income and fiscal capacity, thereby increasing equalization payments from Alberta families and businesses,” Stephan said.

Speaking in support of the bill, Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin said it’s “ludicrous” the amount of money Alberta has paid in Equalization to Quebec allowing their governments to run “surpluses with Alberta’s money.

Rosin, a member of the Alberta Fair Deal Panel, said between 2007-2018, Alberta put $240 billion into the Equalization program. She said that worked out to $57,000 per Albertan.

“There’s nothing more Albertan than a common distaste for Equalization,” Rosin told the Legislature.

“We deserve to be treated better in this federation.”

In terms of a possible made-in-Alberta pension plan, Stephan said Alberta business and workers contribute $3 billion yearly more than they are getting out of the CPP.

He said an in-house Alberta pension plan would be a “game-changing competitive advantage.”

The bill eventually passed by a vote of 30-7, with neither Premier Jason Kenney nor NDP leader Rachel Notley present for the vote.

Kenney has said Albertans will have a say on Equalization in a provincial referendum.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Trudeau: ‘I’m sorry for not recusing myself on vote for WE money’

“I made a mistake in not recusing myself immediately from the discussions given our family’s history,” Justin Trudeau said.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was sorry he didn’t recuse himself from a cabinet vote that gave nearly a billion dollars to a charity that had given his family members hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I made a mistake in not recusing myself immediately from the discussions given our family’s history, and I’m sincerely sorry about not having done that,” Trudeau told reporters at a Monday press conference .

“When it came to this organization and this program, the involvement that I’d had in the past and that my family has, should have had me remove myself from those discussions and I’m sorry that I didn’t. I’m particularly sorry because not only has it created unnecessary controversy and issues, it also means that young people who are facing a difficult time right now getting summer jobs, contributing to their communities, are going to have to wait a little longer before getting those opportunities to serve, and that’s frustrating.”

It was Trudeau’s first public comments after it emerged last week the WE organization had paid his mother $250,000, his brother $32,000 and his wife $1,400 to appear at WE events.

In April, Trudeau announced a new program called the Canada Student Service Grant that promised to pay to students who volunteer over the summer.

Management of the $900-million program was outsourced to WE Charity. WE Charity would be paid at least $19.5-million to run the program.

After controversy erupted, the WE organization withdrew from the program.

Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion has announced that his office is investigating.

WE Charity Co-Founders Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger issued a statement on the WE website.

“… We respect the public concern that Margaret Trudeau and Alexandre Trudeau were paid past speaking honorariums,” they wrote.

“The past two weeks have been extremely difficult. The charity’s integrity and purpose has been called into question. It has had direct impacts on our staff, supporters, and beneficiaries. We have made mistakes that we sincerely regret. It has led us to more closely examine our own internal structures, governance and organization.

“In the days to come we will have more to say on these matters and about the organization’s future. For now, we wanted to set the record straight, take responsibility for our part, and refocus on the mission that started twenty-five years ago.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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