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UPDATED: Alberta MPs issue declaration on province’s future

Four Alberta MPs are speaking out – with what they are calling their Buffalo Declaration – aimed at fixing the province’s role in Confederation.

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Four Alberta MPs are speaking out – with what they are calling their Buffalo Declaration – aimed at fixing the province’s role in Confederation.

Saying “Canada is in crisis”, Michelle Rempel Garner, of Calgary Nose Hill, Blake Richards, of Banff-Airdrie, Glen Motz , of Medicine Hat-Cardston-Warner, and Arnold Vierson, of Peace River released their manifesto to the Western Standard on Thursday afternoon.

Buffalo Declaration

The group said there are four main reasons why Alberta is not working within Confederation.

They say Alberta has not been recognized as being culturally distinct, it has never been an equal partner, is physically and practically separated from power structures and is “treated as a colony”.

Michelle Rempel Garner
MP for Calgary Nose Hill

“Our federation has reached a crossroads at which Canada must decide to move forward in equality and respect, or people in our region will look at independence from Confederation as the solution,” the four write.

“We believe a Canada united in equality is in the best interests of its inhabitants. However, that is not the current state of Canadian federation.  Immediate action must be taken to permanently correct inherent inequities that privilege some at the expense of others.”

Blake Richards
MP for Banff-Airdrie

“The economic and social challenges faced by Canada today are not the cause of the strains on our union, but rather are the symptom of the colonial power structures from which Alberta and Saskatchewan were born.

“Defeating the incumbent Liberal government, or building a pipeline, will not permanently address the systemic inequities Albertans face. For confederation to be sustainable, Canada must commit to permanent nation-building structural change within its institutions of power.”

Glen Motz
MP for Medicine Hat-Cypress

The quartet has listed numerous points in order for the situation to be resolved.

• Recognize Alberta is not an equal partner in Confederation.

• Balanced representation in Parliament, including an elected Senate.

• Recognize Alberta – or Buffalo – as a culturally distinct region within Confederation.

• Acknowledge, in the House of Commons, the devastation the National Energy Program caused to the people of Alberta.

• Fix the Equalization program.

• Retrench and clarify free-trade provisions in Canada in the Constitution.

• Constitutionally entrench resource projects as the sole domain of the provinces. 

• In the event Alberta begins to collect its own taxes, enable the province to also collect federal taxes and remit the federal share to Ottawa.  

• Enact structural change within Canada’s federal government to ensure all regions have a voice within its political and justice system.

• Mandate regional balance in all federal infrastructure funding programs.

• Mandate equitable regional distribution of funding to arts and culture as part of federal spending programs. Ensure Western art is prominently displayed in national museums.

• Recognize rural areas of Western Canada are isolated from the power structures of urban Eastern Canada and face unique challenges.

The Declaration continues: “The tone has changed because gains made during previous governments were erased in the first months of the current Trudeau Liberal government, and worse, more inequities have been put in place.

“Therefore, we acknowledge without immediate and permanent structural change, this cycle of paternalism towards Alberta is doomed to continue. This is especially true as Eastern Canada continues to urbanize, and the divide between our way of life and the power elites of the Laurentian consensus becomes more acute.”

Arnold Viersen
MP for Peace River

“The path forward starts today. One way or another, Albertans will have equality.”

In an exclusive interview with the Western Standard, Rempel-Garner said she came to the realization after the last election something needed to be done.

“After the last election it was just a case of history repeating itself. Nothing was going to change and that’s a statement of fact,” she said.

She praised the three other Alberta MPs for signing onto the declaration.

“A lot of people in our caucus have expressed their concerns. I think others will sign on,” she said.

Asked how optimistic she was about getting the declaration accomplished, Rempel Garner said: “It has to be done.”

And any further talk about Alberta independence would depend on “how the rest of Canada reacts.

“I worry about independence. Unless a clear effort is made in all of Canada to address these inequities, I think, in a very short period of time, that’s a question my constituents will be asking themselves.”

And she said it was critical that candidates in the federal Tory leadership race discuss the issue.

Former Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall praised Rempel Garner in a tweet.

The Freedom Conservative Party of Alberta also lauded Rempel-Garner.

The FCP fully supports this action and is encouraged to hear that mainstream politicians in Alberta are beginning to champion the ‘Equality or Independence’ stance. We know all to well that it takes guts to break from a party line and defy establishment politics. We support this 100 per cent,” said FCP president Bill Jones.

The entire Buffalo Declaration can be read here.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor on the Western Standarddnaylor@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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Calgary councillor calls for immediate changes after shocking police arrest video

Jyoti Gondek said changes need to be made to the police act to enable the force to immediately fire officers for gross misconduct.

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A city councillor is calling on the Calgary Police Service to make immediate changes in the wake of shocking footage of a constable slamming a woman face-first to the ground while she had her hands cuffed behind her back.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek, who is wrapping up a three-year term on the Calgary Police Commission, said changes need to be made to the police act to enable the force to immediately fire officers for gross misconduct.

A three-day trial for Alexander Dunn has just wrapped up. he was charged with assault causing bodily harm. A judge will release his verdict at a later date.

Arrest video

The video of the incident, released to the media by the judge, has now been shown around the world – even being picked up by TMZ and the New York Daily News.

“The recently released footage of Constable Dunn with Ms. (Dalia ) Kafi was horrifying & painful to watch. While I appreciate the CPS explanation of why Dunn was not removed from the service immediately, the public is not asking for a technical response,” Gondek said Friday in a series of tweets.

“The public is not interested in hearing about the limitations CPS faces or the inability to take disciplinary action while the case is before the courts. We want to know what leadership will do to ensure it can never happen again.”

CPS has released a statement that said the trial “has raised questions about police accountability in Calgary.

Jyoti Gondek

“These questions are understandable, and we agree that the system needs improvement,” said the CPS statement.

It said there are two areas needing improvement including a quicker timeline in matters of police accountability and asking the province for clarity on when officers can be relieved without pay.

“I implore both the CPS & Calgary Police Commission to issue a clear statement about how the service will ensure that unethical use of force will be dealt with swiftly & justly. Make a statement that shows you understand the gravity of the issue,” said Gondek.

“Calgarians need to hear from CPS leadership that they understand unethical service members are not just “bad apples”. These are officers who hold power & have no desire to follow either the rules of the CPS or civil society.

“It is not enough to say that cases which are now coming into the public eye happened before the current CPS executive team came into their roles. How are you making sure policies & practices have changed?

“Push the Minister of Justice to assign “exceptional circumstances” status in situations where CPS has limited jurisdiction. Use these public revelations of misconduct to open up the Police Act.”

A CPS internal hearing will be held once the criminal matter has been dealt with.

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

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Good news for patch: Spanish firm looking to buy 2 million barrels of oil a month

The move comes after a refiner in India signed a six month deal for heavy oil from Canada.

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A massive Spanish refiner is looking to buy more than 2 million barrels of Canadian oil a month.

The move comes after a refiner in India signed a six month deal for heavy oil from Canada.

The deals have been done, in part, because of the threat of more U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, reports Bloomberg.

“Repsol SA is in talks with trading houses and producers for a contract to buy as much as 2 million barrels of Canadian oil a month, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity,” reported Bloomberg.

“Spain’s biggest oil company is following in the footsteps of India’s Reliance Industries Ltd., which recently signed a six-month purchase deal for heavy Canadian oil.”

The deals have also been made because it’s expected exports from Mexico will increase in price next year.

Repsol has been Mexico’s biggest customer while being Venezuela’s third best.

The Madrid-based company has five refineries in it’s country.

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

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UCP launches new program to improve French service in Alberta

More than 268,615 Albertans speak French, and 86,705 Albertans identify French as their first official language.

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The UCP has launched a program to help deliver French services in the province.

“The 2020-2023 French Policy Action Plan builds on the 2018-2021 plan. It outlines the path for continuing to implement the  French policy that was endorsed by the government in 2019,” said the government in a release.

“All government departments are moving forward with new and existing initiatives – about 100 in total – that make life better for French-speaking Albertans.”

The first multi-year French Policy Action Plan was published in December 2018 for the 2018-2021 period.

In the government’s 2019 French Policy Annual Report, Alberta confirmed that it had successfully delivered on 37 planned initiatives and that ministries had undertaken 23 additional initiatives to improve services in French, said the release

More than 268,615 Albertans speak French, and 86,705 Albertans identify French as their first official language.

Alberta’s Francophonie is the third-largest outside Quebec, after Ontario and New Brunswick.

“I’m thrilled to unveil the 2020-23 French Policy Action Plan that builds on our commitment to further enhance services in French areas that are a priority for the Francophonie. This commitment supports the province’s significant French-speaking population. A vibrant multilingual workforce is an asset to Alberta’s and Canada’s economy. It helps diversify trade, boosts exports and imports, and creates jobs and growth,” said Leela Sharon Aheer, Alberta Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women.

Since 1996, Alberta’s Francophone population has grown by 40 per cent and enrolment in Francophone schools has increased by almost 270 per cent.

Statistics Canada predicts Francophone population growth is projected to be the highest in Alberta and the territories by 2036. The scenarios predict a 25 per cent to more than 50 per cent increase in Alberta in this time frame.

“Over the course of its two years of existence, the Alberta Advisory Council on the Francophonie has had an increasing number of exchanges and communications with government ministries on issues of prime importance to Alberta’s French-speaking population. I am pleased to see that our recommendations have contributed to the development of the new French Policy Action Plan, which involves 21 ministries and increases access to French-language services.,” said François Eudes, co-chair of the Alberta Francophone Advisory Council.

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

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