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Tory leadership race underway with huge barriers to candidates

The race to become the new leader of the national Conservative Party started Monday.

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Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

The race to become the new leader of the national Conservative Party started Monday.

But the party has put in considerable barriers to most people running, hoping to avoid the last campaign in 2017 when there were more than a dozen candidates.

Over the weekend, the party released the rules for the campaign – with candidates having to scrape together $300,000 and get 3,000 signatures to enter.

“This is going to be an exciting and competitive contest that shows Canadians how Conservatives are ready to do the hard work that comes with being a government in waiting,” said Lisa Raitt, a former Conservative MP who is the co-chair of the leadership organizing committee, in a statement.

The first deadline candidates will have to meet is Feb. 27. They will have to pay $25,000 and have the signatures of 1,000 members from 30 different ridings in seven different provinces or territories.

Then they’ll have until March 25 to meet the remaining financial and other obligations.

The fee itself is in two parts — a non-refundable $200,000, and a $100,00 deposit candidates will get back if they follow all the rules.

Current leader Andrew Scheer quit in December after not being able to defeat Justin Trudeau in October’s election.

Those likely to enter the contest include current MPs Pierre Poilievre and Erin O’Toole, former cabinet minister Peter MacKay and former Quebec premier Jean Charest. Former MP Rosa Ambrose’s name has also been bandied about.

The Conservatives will elect their next leader at a convention on June 27 in Toronto.

To vote in the election, members will have to sign up by April 17.

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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