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Bernier launches libel action against political blogger

People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier has officially filed a lawsuit against a prominent Canadian social media perssonality.




People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier has officially filed a lawsuit against a prominent Canadian social media personality.

Bernier has accused Warren Kinsella of branding him as a racist on social media and blog posts before, during and after the federal election campaign last year.

He is seeking $325,000 in damages.

Warren Kinsella

The Canadian Press said Bernier, in a statement of claim, called Kinsella’s descriptions damaging to his reputation and subjected him to public scandal and embarrassment.

Bernier was a former Tory who came in second to Andrew Scheer in the 2017 leadership campaign. He then left the Tories and formed the PPC. In October’s federal election Bernier failed to win his own riding.

Bernier said some of the blame for that can be laid at the feet of Kinsella.

“The defamatory statements furthered a false narrative regarding Maxime’s statements, policies, beliefs, and personal character,” the statement of claim reads.

“The defamatory statements forced Maxime to expend time and energy defending against unfounded and malicious smears.”

The statement alleges Kinsella was hired by the Tory party to run an anti-Bernier campaign leading up to the election.

A lawyer for Kinsella told CP he hadn’t seen the statement of claim yet but Kinsella has blogged that he would not be backing down from his comments.

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


Kenney brings in ‘minimum’ COVID restrictions; avoids full lockdown

The province announced 1,115 new COVID cases in Alberta on Tuesday with 16 new deaths, bringing that toll to 492.




Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has declared a state of health emergency in the province and launched a more set of more severe restrictions while avoiding a full lockdown.

A grim-faced premier laid out the series of measure in a Tuesday press conference.

House parties – the biggest single cause of the virus to spread – are now banned. Outdoor activities are limited to 10 people.

Calgary and Edmonton and their surrounding areas are now under a mandatory mask law in indoor work places.

Funerals and weddings are now limited to 10 people and restrictions after the events are now banned. Kenney said those gatherings are some of the biggest spreaders.

School for students in Grades 7 through Grade 12 will transition to online learning Nov. 30 to stop the spread of the virus through teenagers. Kenney said younger students are not responsible of spreading cases and their schools will remain open.

School winter breaks will be extended a week and all students will return to class Jan. 11, 2021.

Restaurants and bars can remain open but must continue with strict COVID-19 measures including no more than six people from the same family at a table and no movement between tables.

Couples will have to sit by themselves. Single people can sit with two named cohorts.

Amateur sports are now banned in the province.

Kenney noted nine recent outbreaks have been linked to rec hockey games.

Casinos are allowed to stay open but no table games will be allowed.

Churches will be allowed to hold services but only at one-third capacity. Kenney said some churches are “flagrantly violating” the rules.

Other businesses will be closed and others allowed to operate on a per appointment basis.

Banquet halls and conference rooms are now closed as are personal services.

Retail stores can remain open but only at 25 per cent capacity.

Kenney said the UCP “made a grave mistake” during the first full lockdown by allowing places like Walmart to stay open because they sell groceries while shutting down thousands of other businesses.

Kenney apologized for that move.

Hair stylists can remain open but only on an appointment basis.

Kenney said Alberta workers are also being asked to work from home as outbreaks continue to happen in the workplace.

He said people who break the laws will be given up to $1,000 fines. The province is now looking at enabling peace officers to hand out tickets.

Kenney said the province has no plans to set up a snitch line for Alberta to tell officials about private parties.

“These are bold targeted measures,” said Kenney at a press conference that was watch by more than 52,000 people, adding they were the “minimum” restrictions required.

Kenney said the measures came out of a emotional 8-hour long cabinet meeting where he read out letters and emails from people around the province who have suffered from the pandemic.

The premier said he also talked to front-line doctors and nurses about what to do.

“The virus is picking up speed,” said Kenney.

Kenney said the new restrictions will be in place for three weeks before being reviewed before Christmas.

He said if people don’t follow the new restrictions the province will be “forced to take more drastic measures in December.”

Kenney noted long term health care centres in the province have been devasted by the virus and outbreaks have more than quadrupled recently.

“We need to do everything we can to protect (the vulnerable),” Kenney said.

He said the increase in cases is threatening the health care system’s ability to deliver services, noting surgeries have already been cancelled in Edmonton.

He said the province’s move to increase the 8,400 acute beds stretches the system and “will cost lives.”

The province announced 1,115 new COVID cases in Alberta on Tuesday with 16 new deaths, bringing that toll to 492.

Kenney said Albertans will receive information of the restrictions later this week through the emergency alert system.

He urged Albertans to “shop locally” to help struggling businesses.

And he said further restrictions, like a full lockdown, may violate Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Earlier this month, the province announced new restrictions that critics said didn’t go far enough.

Pubs and bars were ordered to stop serving booze at 10 p.m. and doors closed one hour later.

Group gym classes and dance classes were also cancelled.

The last week has seen daily numbers approaching 1,600 new cases. Those figures are similar to Ontario and Quebec who have much larger populations.

The City of Calgary is also considering declaring a state of local emergency.

Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Chief Tom Sampson is scheduled to give city council a presentation behind closed doors at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Alberta is closing in on 50,000 COVID-19 cases causing nearly 500 deaths.

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

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Alberta reduces deficit by nearly $3 billion; debt now $97.4 billion

Toews said Alberta’s economy is gradually emerging from the depths of the downturn.




Alberta’s UCP says government spending restraint and improving revenues has cut this year’s deficit $2.8 billion and now sits at $21.3 billion.

“Alberta was the first province to introduce an economic recovery plan in response to COVID-19, and we will also be the first to introduce a comprehensive plan to bring Alberta back to prosperity,” said Finance Minsyer Travis Toews in an economic update Tuesday.

“The foundation of the next provincial budget will be to bring spending in line with other jurisdictions, keep the net debt-to-GDP ratio well below 30 per cent, and have a plan for balancing the budget as we get through the pandemic and there is more economic certainty.”

Toews said expenses not including COVID-19 measures have decreased $156 million from Budget 2020.

Total expense is forecast at $62.7 billion, up $135 million from last quarter and $5.4 billion from Budget 2020.

“The additional spending is for health care, personal protective equipment, municipal grants, financial supports to Albertans and businesses to help with the effects of the pandemic, and stimulus initiatives detailed in Alberta’s Recovery Plan. Taxpayer-supported debt is forecast to be $97.4 billion by the end of the fiscal year, a reduction of more than $2 billion since first quarter,” the government said.

“The revenue forecast is nearly $3 billion higher than last quarter, at $41.4 billion. The increase from first quarter is due to improved forecasts for non-renewable resource revenue, gaming revenue, investment income, and transfers from the Government of Canada.”

Toews said Alberta’s economy is gradually emerging from the depths of the downturn.

Alberta’s real GDP is expected to contract 8.1 per cent rather than the 8.8 per cent reported in August.

Real GDP is expected to fully recover to 2014 levels in 2023.

Alberta has also seen a significant rebound in employment already this year, recovering more than 258,000 of the 360,900 jobs lost between February and April, said the UCP.

The UCP is also again renewing calls to the federal fiscal stabilization program which was capped 30 years ago at $60 per person.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on Toews to reprioritize belt-tightening.

“The dismal fiscal update needs to be a wake up call for Toews to tighten the belt on government spending,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the CTF.

“It’s been months since the first bad-news budget update, but we haven’t seen Toews get serious about fixing the government’s spending and debt problem.”

The interest costs on the debt are expected to be $2.4 billion this year, which is more than $500 per Albertan, said the CTF.

The Alberta government has the highest per-person spending in Canada, according to the Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s finances. The panel also found that Alberta would spend $10.4 billion less every year if its per-person spending was in line with B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

Departments such as Advanced Education, Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Parks, Service Alberta and Transportation are all projecting higher operating spending than what was included in the 2020 budget.

“We shouldn’t see multiple non-health-care departments increasing their spending. Many families and businesses have been cutting back on nice-to-haves, and the government needs to do the same,” said Terrazzano.

“Toews has to do a better job saving money and reducing spending because struggling Albertans can’t afford higher taxes.”

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

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CTF demands Horgan reduce size of B.C. cabinet

The CTF said there are currently 22 cabinet ministers and eight parliamentary secretaries in the B.C. cabinet.




The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says NDP Premier John Horgan should reduce the size of his new cabinet to save money and to keep in step with everyday British Columbians.

“Many hardworking British Columbians have had their salaries reduced or they’ve lost their jobs during the COVID-19 economic crisis and it would be a good move for Premier Horgan to form a cabinet that is 15 per cent smaller than his last one,” said Kris Sims, B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in a statement.

“By reducing the size of his new cabinet and reducing their salaries, the premier will save taxpayers’ money and show that we are all in this together.”

The CTF said there are currently 22 cabinet ministers and eight parliamentary secretaries in the B.C. cabinet. Reducing the number by 15 per cent would keep the number to 19 cabinet ministers and seven parliamentary secretaries.

B.C. cabinet ministers are currently paid a salary of more than $166,000 plus living allowances, and if they reduced their salaries by 15 per cent it would bring the remuneration down to $141,000 plus living expenses.

“Reducing the size and cost of government would show solidarity with struggling taxpayers and help this government to understand what average people are going through,” said Sims. 

Cabinet ministers in B.C. who are in office for more than six years are in line for very generous pensions when they reach the age of 65, with many typically being paid more than $70,000 per year upon retirement.

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

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