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DOLPHIN: Kenney’s Second Throne Speech, Maitre-Chez-Nous Deja Vu

Kenney, having failed to be blessed with high oil prices, is now toying with Lougheedian models of government largesse in Gettyesque times. This too seems somehow very French.

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The Alberta government’s Throne Speech that opened the UCP’s second session of the 30th Legislature on Tuesday (Feb. 25) contained a lot of the same stuff as the last: cutting spending, supporting pipeline construction, reducing corporate taxes to encourage investment, removing barriers to inter-provincial trade, allowing for more parental choice in education. There were a number of proposed initiatives that seemed designed to assuage the growing unrest and independence sentiment driven by Ottawa’s apparent distaste for Alberta and its major industry – initiatives to make Alberta stronger and freer. And more like Québec.

The proposed measures recall the efforts of that province during the “Quiet Revolution” in the 1960s when Québec sought to take charge of areas hitherto controlled by or shared with the federal government, including tax collection, pension management, and health care provision. Québec also bought and nationalized the private electricity providers, placing all under the umbrella of the hugely profitable Hydro Québec. Jean Lesage, the premier of the day, famously referred to the process as becoming “Maîtres chez nous” (masters of our own house). And Jason Kenney – a man who never misses an opportunity to show off his French and who frequently expresses a grudging respect for la belle province – appears to be taking notes from the Lesage playbook.

Bill 1, The Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, for example, might be interpreted as a rebuke of the federal government’s belated and seemingly reluctant policing of the blockades of railways and other public places by (mostly) anti-oil activists on the pretext of supporting the handful of renegade Wetsuweten “hereditary” Indian chiefs. All 20 elected chiefs and tribal councils along the route support the Coastal GasLink L.N.G. pipeline, but the media have bought the narrative that this handful of these would-be monarchs speak for First Nations. Bill 1 – which was tabled following Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell’s reading of the Throne Speech, could also be seen as a precursor to the creation – or more correctly the re-creation – of the Alberta Provincial Police force, which was disbanded in 1932, but which Alberta sovereigntists – the the Maîtres-Chez-Alberta bloc – have been pushing for several decades.

An A.P.P. was one of the initiatives discussed at the recent series of town halls held by the UCP’s “Fair Deal Panel,” which makes its recommendations in March. A proposed provincial police force is also found in the Buffalo Declaration, the long-winded manifesto presented by Calgary MP Michelle Rempel and three fellow CPC MPs last week. The police force was also recommended in the so-called “Firewall Letter” written by a future prime minister, Stephen Harper and several of his “Calgary School” fellow travellers to Premier Ralph Klein in 2001. That letter urged more provincial autonomy a-la-Québec. (Ralph – a paper tiger when it came to fighting the feds – appointed a committee to examine the firewall proposals, which rejected every one of them.)

Bill 1 creates new provincial penalties for damaging, destroying, obstructing, or trespassing on “essential infrastructure,” including pipelines, oil and gas plants, highways, rail lines, bridges, and public buildings. It specifies fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 for the first day, and $1,000-$25,000 for each subsequent day for each person summarily convicted, plus an up to six-month jail sentence.

Although analogous to federal Criminal Code laws against trespass and mischief, the provincial legislation is likely to be enforced more wholeheartedly and rapidly by a police force – currently the contracted RCMP or municipal forces – under the aegis of an attorney general less dependent on the environmentalist vote.

“These kinds of illegal protests on critical infrastructure are already illegal, but apparently those disincentives have not been strong enough for some people”, said Kenney at a presser preceding the Throne Speech. “We are using the powers that we do have to create summary offences of this nature… to give police and prosecutors additional tools to crack down on illegal blockages of critical infrastructure and we’re adding to the disincentive of that kind of lawlessness.”

Among the other sovereigntist-flavoured measures outlined in the relatively short, 2,400-word Throne Speech (3,500 words is average) read by Mitchell, 80, in her final Throner of a five-year term that ends in June were the following:

  • Legislation to replace the federal Parole Board with a provincial parole board in charge of parole eligibility and terms for provincial prisoners.
  • A citizen initiative act that will allow Albertans to put important issues to a referendum. The bill explicitly outlaws referendums of a “constitutional” nature, meaning they will not allow a vote on independence.
  • Amendments to the Alberta Senate Election Act to “update the election rules” for the next Senator-in-waiting election to be held during the 2021 municipal elections.
  • The establishment of a new “investment promotion agency” with funds set aside in the 2019 budget to expand Alberta’s profile in key capital markets around the world. This enhancement of Alberta’s existing trade missions abroad brings to mind Québec’s aggressive expansion of its presence abroad that began during the Quiet Revolution and now numbers 26 offices in fourteen countries, with several enjoying embassy-like status.

Then there’s the business of state capitalism, otherwise known as “crony capitalism”. Kenney isn’t about to nationalize the oil industry like Québec did to its Hydro, but rather as the Notley government did with petrochemical plants. He has opened the door to using taxpayers’ money to fund energy projects that are having difficulty finding investors. And like Notley before him, Kenney invoked the sainted name of Peter Lougheed, who, during a time when the booming province was swimming in cash, created the Alberta Energy Company (AEC) – among other government investment corporations – to find ways to spend it. The AEC was jointly owned by the government and by members of the general public who bought shares, and it invested in energy projects, most famously the fledging Syncrude oilsands project, of which it owned 10% (the federal Liberals had 15%).

At his press conference, Kenney said his government would be setting up an AEC-like agency in which the public would be able to buy shares.

“When regulatory uncertainty, hostility by the federal government, or pressure from special-interest groups inhibits investment in Alberta resource development, my government will act,” Kenney’s Throne Speech read. “Like the government of the late Premier Lougheed, Alberta is prepared to invest directly and support companies and indigenous groups, when necessary, to assure the future of responsible resource development.”

This recalls Lougheed’s remarks in defence of his state capitalism policies, which many harder-line conservatives called socialist. He said he would use the government to do what the private sector “can’t or won’t.” And in an interview for the Alberta in the 20th Century history series in 2001, Lougheed admitted, “We were not a conservative government, never pretended to be. We were an activist government wanting to get things done.”

Yet while Lougheed’s investment in Syncrude worked out well – the initial $200M investment returned a profit of $1B over ten years – other investments by he and especially by his successor Don Getty, who was handed the reins as the economy galloped into recession, proved to be costly mistakes.

Lougheed had the money to gamble and his mistakes – the purchase of Pacific Western Airlines comes to mind – got lost in the green wash. Getty’s failures – the purchase of the Novatel cell phone company subsequently lost taxpayers $900 million – contributed to what history remembers as a failed premiership.

Kenney, having failed to be blessed with high oil prices, is now toying with Lougheedian models of government largesse in Gettyesque times. This too seems somehow very French.

Ric Dolphin is the Alberta Political Editor of the Western Standard. He has had a long career in journalism with Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, Alberta Report, and the original Western Standard. He was previously Publisher and Chief Editor of Insight into Government.
rdolphin@westernstandardonline.com

Ric Dolphin is the Alberta Political Editor of the Western Standard. He has had a long career in journalism with Maclean’s, the Globe and Mail, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, Alberta Report, and the original Western Standard. He was previously Publisher and Chief Editor of Insight into Government. rdolphin@westernstandardonline.com

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Kenney hits out against anti-mask protesters

Kenney has been under fire for not condemning the 500 protesters who showed up in Calgary to protest mandatory mask regulations. Rallies were also held in Red Deer and Edmonton.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has lashed out at protesters who refuse to wear masks – telling them to visit his friend in ICU if they think COVID-19 is a hoax.

Kenney has been under fire for not condemning the 500 protesters who showed up in Calgary last weekend to protest mandatory mask regulations. Rallies were also held in Red Deer and Edmonton.

“If you think this is a hoax, talk to my friend in the ICU, fighting for his life,” said Kenney during a live Facebook stream Thursday night.

“If you’re thinking of going to an anti-mask rally this weekend, how about instead send me an email, call me all the names you want, send me a letter, organize an online rally.”

Another rally is planned for Saturday in Calgary. The province has currently outlawed public gatherings of more than 10 people.

If you refuse to wear a mask, Kenney said: “Don’t go where you have to wear a mask.”

On Thursday, Alberta announced a new record daily figure for new coronavirus cases at 1,854. There were also an additional 14 deaths reported.

Alberta has had 63,023 cases of COVID-19 resulting in 575 deaths.

The province currently has the most active cases and second highest hospitalization rate of any Canadian province.

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

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Edmonton server glassed after mask dispute with female customer

“I’m going to have a helluva scar on my face – and it all started over a stupid mask” says Erin Shaw

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An Edmonton pub server was glassed in the face after asking a female customer to put on a facemask.

Erin Shaw, a server at the Crown & Anchor Pub & Grill needed 14 stitches to close facial wounds after the Saturday attack.

“I’m going to have a helluva scar on my face,” Shaw told CTV. “And it all started over a stupid mask.”

The drama began after the attacker was asked to put on a mask as she walked around the pub visiting. She finally agreed and sat back down.

Tensions escalated when the woman tried to order booze after the province’s 10 p.m. cut-off.

Another customer then openly questioned how a person could not know the mask mandatory mask regulations. Shaw said the woman went and begin yelling at that customer.

“She got into a regular’s face, calling her the b-word and the c-word and all this and saying how she’s a young Black woman with rights.”

Shaw intervened and a verbal exchange ensued during which the female allegedly accused Shaw of being racist.

“No one brought up race but her.”

Later on surveillance camera footage at the family-owned pub shows Shaw motioning for the woman to leave. The two then approach each other and the fight is on.

“She stood on her tippy toes and got right in my face and I pushed her back and I said, ‘Please do not touch me. You need to leave. Have a good night. You are not welcome,’” Shaw told CTV.

“But she came up and went right for my throat. I said, ‘Do not effing touch me,’ pushed her back into the corner and said, ‘You need to leave.’”

It was then the woman grabbed a glass and smashed it into Shaw’s face. The server was then able to take the woman to the ground.

“I didn’t notice until after she got up and ran out that I was bleeding,” said Shaw.

“I wanted people to know this is happening and I wanted the government to take note of it and make sure that the workers who are working are safe.”

“I’ve had people saying my guardian angels were there. She didn’t break my nose, she didn’t give me a concussion, and she didn’t hurt my eye.”

But Shaw added she is worried about continually trying to help enforce provincial health restrictions.

“If the government wants me to keep policing people still and doing this, then they’re going to need to start paying me.” said Shaw.

Edmonton police are investigating the attack.

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

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Violent Calgary killer on the run

Louis Bear now has more than 80 criminal convictions.

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Calgary police are warning that a violent killer – who was once shot by city police – is on the run.

On Wednesday, Louis Henry Bear, 42, failed to return to his approved halfway house in Calgary, said the Calgary Police Service in a release. Police added Bear’s current whereabouts are unknown, however, it is believed he may still be in the Calgary area.

Bear was previously convicted in the hit-and run deaths of Grant Liu, 26, and Brian Suh, 29, both of Calgary. The two men were standing beside parked cars outside the Whiskey nightclub on August 4, 2007, when Bear ran into them with a stolen vehicle.

He was sentenced to four years in prison, but because of time already served, he was released immediately.

In September of 2010, Calgary police shot Bear twice in the northeast community of Bridgeland. In that incident, he tried to mow several police officers down with his vehical. Police fired, stopping him. Bear survived the shooting.

He served three-and-a-half years in prison for that crime.

In 2018, Bear was put on statutory release even though the Parole Board of Canada said his “risk for violent and general reoffending is assessed as very high.” The parole board called Bear “reckless” and said he has “a pattern of escalation” with “risk-taking” fantasies, Global reported at the time.

The board said he has “historically viewed police and authorities as the ‘enemy,’ therefore justifying the use of violence.”

He now has more than 80 criminal convictions.

Bear is 5-ft.- 5ins., 170 lbs., with black hair and brown eyes. If spotted, citizens are asked not to approach Bear and to call the police immediately. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to contact police by calling the non-emergency number at 403-266-1234.

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

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