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Judge grants Co-op injunction; barricades must come down

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Unifor protesters must be at least five metres from entrances to Co-op Cardlock in Carseland.

Lawyers for Co-op were in a Calgary court Wednesday seeking an injunction against striking Unifor workers in Carseland, west of Calgary. The judge granted the order Thursday morning.

“We are asking Co-ops and other businesses to take a strong stand against Unifor’s illegal actions,” company CEO Scott Banda told a crowd gathered Wednesday afternoon at the Carseland community hall.

“They are establishing a dangerous precedent for other negotiations – not just for our labour disruption but all other negotiations. Just think about that for a minute; if an organized group doesn’t like what you’re doing, or disagrees with you, they can simply barricade your business until they get what they want.”

Unifor members set up outside the Carseland Co-op Cardlock in southern Alberta on Jan. 24. The dispute is spilling over from Saskatchewan where Local 594 members have been locked out of the Co-op Refinery in Regina since Dec. 5, 2019.

Co-op has now begun to limit the amount of gasoline available to customers to 300 litres a day to try to stop outages in smaller centres.

According to social media, members from across the country, as far east as Quebec, have been holding the line at the Carseland industrial site west of the hamlet of less than 600.

Carseland is a major hub for gasoline transport. Trucks fill up and haul fuel as far north as Rocky Mountain House and it’s also the start of the return trip back to Regina where trucks deliver fuel along the Trans-Canada Hwy. between Carseland and Regina.

RCMP are on site and are currently treating it as a labour dispute, Staff Sgt. Dale Morgan said.

“It’s been peaceful to date. It’s important to note that proper exercise of police discretion should not be confused with lack of enforcement,” Morgan said.

Enforcement could be coming soon as the Consumers Co-operative Refinery Limited (on behalf of Federated Co-op Limited) received the news that their request for an injunction had been granted.

The decision is similar to the one granted in Regina on Dec. 27 against Unifor protesters at the Co-op Refinery in Regina.

Local 594 also set up a blockade at a fuelling depot in East Saint Paul, just outside of Winnipeg on Jan. 28. The depot belongs to Imperial Oil and the union is blocking Co-op trucks from access.

“We just want to send a message to Co-op that we’re prepared as a unit to go wherever we need to go to make our statement,” John Harte, a Local 594 member from Regina told Global News.

Local 594 in Regina has continued with blockades despite the current judicial orders. Uniform national president Jerry Dias and 13 others were arrested less than two weeks ago and charged with mischief.

Banda said the company wants to continue bargaining with the union but they want the business’s rights respected as well.

“Unifor, I’m calling on you to end these illegal blockades and get back to the bargaining table for as long as it takes to get our people back to work,” Banda said in a press release Monday.

Banda said bargaining does not look like blockades and defying court orders.

“You can’t have meaningful bargaining when your business is being held hostage.”

Local 594 president Kevin Bittman said they are the only union out of 63 locals who was unable to renew their contract last year.

“We’ve been negotiating since February (2019) – we met 22 times,” Bittman said.

“We were happy with the status quo – we just wanted to sign again and keep working.”

FCL has a “refinery facts” page on their website with the company’s take on the offer presently before the union.

Deirdre is Western Standard’s Senior Reporter

dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com @Mitchell_AB

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Having children causes traffic jams, billboard warns

The strange reminders are courtesy from a group called World Population Balance who are concerned the growth of the world’s population is unsustainable.

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Vancouver drivers are being told that having fewer children would cut down on traffic jams.

The strange reminders are courtesy from a group called World Population Balance who are concerned the growth of the world’s population is unsustainable.

“The world is overpopulated. But a surprising number of journalists, elected officials, pundits and members of the public are unaware,” says the group on their website.

“This billboard campaign will raise public awareness of overpopulation, improve everyone’s knowledge on the subject, and serve as a demonstration model that jump-starts a global campaign to speed progress toward a ‘small family norm.'”

Before putting up the billboards in Vancouver, they erected two billboards in Minneapolis and another between Denver and Colorado Springs.

“Human overpopulation is present in Vancouver just as it is in most parts of the world. Everyone around the world needs to be aware of this crisis, because we all have a role to play in resolving it,” said the group.

“While Vancouver occupies an area of about 2,800 square kilometers, its footprint (the area of the planet required to provide food, water and other resources, and to process the waste) is 36 times that.

“Reducing overconsumption can help Vancouver get back into sustainable equilibrium, but contracting population also must be part of the equation. Cities like Vancouver need to rethink their economic development strategies, ceasing to pursue population growth, and begin to celebrate the trend of more couples choosing smaller families.”

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

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UCP demand Lethbridge cops shut down drug injection site

The pop-up drug site operates on a nightly basis in a park that is the centre of the opioid abuse in the southern Alberta city.

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The provincial government is demanding Lethbridge police shut down an illegal safe injection site being operated in a tent.

The tent sprung up after a controversial Lethbridge safe drug consumption site shuttered its doors on Aug. 31 after the Alberta government cut its funding after an independent audit discovered a litany of problems including “financial irregularities.”

Now the pop-up drug site operates on a nightly basis in a park that is the centre of the opioid abuse in the southern Alberta city.

“Alberta’s government provides a legal, sanctioned overdose prevention site a block away from this location, with adequate capacity for the community, said associate minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan in a statement to the Western Standard.

“This illegal site contravenes the Criminal Code of Canada and we expect the City of Lethbridge and the Lethbridge Police Service to enforce the law.”

ARCHES received up to 800 visits a day – one of the busiest supervised consumption sites in the world. Lethbridge, a city of 100,000, has the highest per-capita rate of opioid overdose deaths in Alberta.

The pop-up site is being run by the newly formed Lethbridge Overdose Prevention Society, CBC reported.

The tent offer services for a couple of hours before packing up for the day. There is enough room for two people to inject drugs at a time.

ARCHES had received more than $14.4 million in taxpayer dollars over the past two years.

The government announced in July the accounting firm Deloitte found:

  • $1,617,094 unaccounted for due to missing documentation for expenditures from 2017 to 2018.
  • $13,000 of interest off ARCHES bank accounts was used to fund parties, staff retreats, entertainment and gift cards.
  • A senior executive’s compensation totalled $342,943 for calendar year 2019. This includes $70,672 in overtime for fiscal year 2019-20. The grant agreement allows for a salary of $80,000.  
  • The Everyone Comes Together (ECT) program staff salaries and benefits also exceeded the amount allocated by the grant agreement by $16,000.
  • The number of ARCHES employees is greater than allowed by the grant agreement.  ARCHES maintained up to 126 employees. However, the exact number could not be verified.
  • $4,301 spent on European travel for management to attend a conference in Portugal.
  • Thousands of dollars in unverifiable travel expenses, including trips charged to company credit cards but not recorded in the ledger.
  • A senior executive’s family member was hired, earning $9,900. The auditors could not locate a resume or personnel file to verify any qualifications.
  • $7,557 for management retreats, including meals and mileage where documentation for spending was unclear.
  • The grant agreement requires the organization to maintain the funding received from Alberta Health within a separate bank account; however, the audit revealed that it was comingled with other funding sources. As a result of ARCHES comingling their accounts, the auditors could not verify thousands of dollars of expenses.
  • Proper personal conflict of interest declarations were not recorded when related individuals or vendors were hired or utilized.
  • Vendors were repeatedly secured in secrecy with a lack of transparency and accountability.
  • No petty cash reconciliations have been completed.
  • $1,129 was used to buy gift cards for board members for The Keg, iTunes, Boston Pizza, Earls, Gap, Shell, Chapters, Cineplex, Amazon, Starbuck’s, Tim Hortons, MasterCard, and Bath and Bodyworks. The expense was recorded as “Gift cards – Board Members.”
  • $2,100 was spent on gift cards to The Oil Changer – a business owned by a senior executive’s spouse.
  • $2,205 was spent on a television with no receipt documentation to support the purchase.

The report has been passed on to police.

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

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Trump approves $22-billion railway between Alaska and Alberta

A2A Rail vice chair Mead Treadwell said the so-called A2A Railway will succeed where others have failed, because markets are hungry for resources that Canada produces

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U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive permit allowing a $22-billion international railway to be built between Alaska and Alberta.

“Based on the strong recommendation of @SenDanSullivan and @repdonyoung of the Great State of Alaska, it is my honor to inform you that I will be issuing a Presidential Permit for the A2A Cross-Border Rail between Alaska & Canada. Congratulations to the people of Alaska & Canada!” the president tweeted Friday.

A2A Rail vice chair Mead Treadwell said the so-called A2A Railway will succeed where others have failed, because markets are hungry for resources that Canada produces, but can’t export quickly enough to meet demand.

A2A proposed route

The company will start by constructing rail from North Pole, near Fairbanks, where the Alaska Railroad ends today. From there the railway will move south and east through Alaska, across into Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and into Alberta.

“It is approximately 1,600 miles, with roughly 200 miles of new track in Alaska, and the remaining 1,400 miles in western and northern Canada. We estimate our investment to be $15 billion CAD in Canada and another $7 billion CAD in Alaska,” said the company’s website.

“The port capacity and sometimes the rail capacity at other places in Canada are just so choked that there’s a potential market for a new port and a new method to get to Asian markets,” Treadwell said in an interview in August with KUAC.

“The Alaska Railroad right now runs 512 miles from Seward to North Pole we’re going to take that track and extend it 1500 miles to connect up with rail lines in Alberta,” Treadwell said.

Treadwell said the the system will transport bitumen, potash, sulfur and grains.

“We believe we have a project which is competitive with pipeline and one of the reasons why it’s competitive is because its risks can spread over several different commodities,” he said.

Treadwell says if all goes according to plan, work on the project would begin within three years and be completed in six. 

The company said it will now begin an “extensive environmental impact assessment” (EIA) under Canadian legislation for the Yukon, B.C. and Alberta.

Company founder Sean McCoshen has already spent over $100 million USD through the pre-feasibility, feasibility, and detailed engineering phases of the project. 

A2A Rail has also started talks with Indigenous groups along the proposed path.

“The proposed route for the A2A Rail project includes portions of traditional, treaty and heritage lands of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and the United States. A2A Rail has initiated dialogue with Indigenous Peoples along the proposed route to brief them on the project,” said the company.

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

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