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Strathmore latest Alberta municipality to request a ban on conversion therapy

The town of Strathmore wants a ban on conversion therapy.

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The town of Strathmore wants a ban on conversion therapy.

Strathmore, a town of 13,000 located 40 km east of Calgary, last week voted to put its name on the list of Alberta communities that want the controversial therapy banned.

Coun. Bob Sobol proposed a motion to request advocacy against the practice with both the federal and provincial governments while also instituting a municipal bylaw prohibiting both within town boundaries.

“Conversion therapy is a practice that aims to change an individual’s sexual orientation to hetero-sexual or gender identity to CIS-gender which means identifying with the sex assigned to them at birth,” said Sobal, during a council meeting.

“It employs various approaches from talk therapy and medication to aversion therapy that attempts to condition a person’s behaviour by causing them discomfort through things like electric shocks when they’re exposed to specific stimuli.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro has previously stated that the UCP government doesn’t see a need for additional legislation.

“We don’t think there’s a need to address it specifically because it’s not a valid health service,” Shandro’s press secretary Steve Buick said in a statement to the Edmonton Journal last May.

The “service”, though, has not generally been provided by registered social workers or health service providers.

Pam Rocker, an LBGTQ advocate in Calgary, posted a list of “churches, universities and organizations” on social media that offer ‘treatment’ for homosexuals.

“Conversion therapy is alive and well… in Alberta,” Rocker wrote on Twitter.

Conversion therapy is strongly opposed by the American Psychological Association, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the Canadian Psychiatric Association, but opposition doesn’t stop non-regulated organizations from providing it.

For the most part, the courses or classes are called something else – in the past it would be to avoid stigmatization but, in the future, it could be to avoid breaking the law.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement in 2012 saying this type of therapy poses a severe threat to the health and human rights of the affected persons,” Sobol said.

“In the United States, 19 states and 1 district have laws or regulations protecting youth from this harmful practice as well as at least 60 cities and countries and other states have enacted similar protections.”

Sobol noted Ontario, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia all have provincial legislation in place and the legislation varies. Ontario has banned the practice, Manitoba regulates health professionals from offering it, and Nova Scotia has prohibited the practice only for minors.

“In our very own province, Edmonton, Sherwood Park and the City of St. Albert have all enacted bylaws which ban the practice and promotion of conversion therapy within municipal limits. Other municipalities including Spruce Grove, Fort McMurray and Calgary are in the process of drafting bylaws,” Sobol said.

Advocates in Lethbridge have also managed to get the proposition in front of City of Lethbridge council who will be debating a potential ban during Monday’s council meeting.

“For myself, I consider this proposed bylaw to be one dealing with very basic human rights; to suggest a person’s sexual orientation should be considered a curable disease or a mental disorder, one that requires therapy to ‘fix the problem’ is both archaic, dangerous and very misguided,” Sobol said.

“My desire with this motion is to enact a bylaw that very clearly demonstrates our community is not okay with this type of activity and to urge both our provincial and federal government to take appropriate action to ban this practice.”

Deirdre is the Senior News Reporter for the Western Standard.

story ideas? dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com, @Mitchell_AB on Twitter

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Phillips appeals decision not to fire cops who followed her

The appeal said the decision “fail(ed) to recognize the severity” of the two officers’ actions.

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Shannon Phillips, who as Alberta environment minister was watched and followed by members of the Lethbridge city police, is appealing a decision not to fire the officers involved.

The appeal, sent by Phillips’ lawyer, Michael Bates, to the Law Enforcement Review Board last week, said the decision “fail(ed) to recognize the severity” of the two officers’ actions.

It said targeting a cabinet minister for “personal political reasons,” should be enough to prove that neither is fit to be a police officer.

“I think public confidence in law enforcement was severely shaken in Lethbridge, and in fact across the province with the revelations of what happened,” the Lethbridge West MLA told the Star.

“I also think the public had a lot of questions about whether justice was seen to be done in this instance.”

Phillips had a Good Friday 2017 meeting 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.

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, said a 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.

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.

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.

Schweitzer called in the Alberta police watchdog, ASIRT to investigate.

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.

At the time, Phillips 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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Alberta experts fear Prussian fish attack in bodies of water

Nicole Kimmel, an aquatic invasive species expert with Alberta Environment and Parks, says the dangerous fish has been spotted in four Edmonton-area ponds.

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The Prussians are coming! The Prussians are coming!

Prussian carp that is. And they could be on their way to killing a lot of Alberta’s native fish.

Nicole Kimmel, an aquatic invasive species expert with Alberta Environment and Parks, says the dangerous fish has been spotted in four Edmonton-area ponds.

Prussian carp

A species of wild goldfish, Kimmel said it’s believed the fish were dumped there by humans.

The government says if you catch a Prussian carp, you are to kill it immediately. Even being caught with a live one will result in a charge.

If you are found dumping the carp into a water body, you could be hit with a fine of up to $100,000.

Kimmel said if the carp is found in a body of of water a pesticide can be used to kill them.

She said the Blood First Nation had a carp invasion a few years ago and “the native fishery is already vanishing.”

Kimmel said the main plan of attack is to educate people not to dump their carp into other bodies of water.

“This should go without saying, but NEVER transplant a species from one area to another. Invasive Prussian Carp are incredibly harmful to surrounding aquatic ecosystems and there are steep fines for letting them loose,” said Environment Minister Jason Nixon.

 In Canada, Prussian carp has only been found in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Alberta brewery shocks Maori people by naming beer after their pubic hair

New Zealand TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora, a member of the Maori community, blasted the brewery on his FaceBook page.

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An Alberta brewery has unwittingly offended the Maori people of New Zealand by naming one of its beers after their pubic hair.

The Hell’s Basement brewery in Medicine Hat used the Maori word “huruhuru” to name its “New Zealand hopped pale ale”.

Unfortunately, in the Maori language “huruhuru” means pubic hair.

New Zealand TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora, a member of the Maori community, blasted the brewery on his FaceBook page.

“Some people call it appreciation, I call it appropriation,” he wrote.

Nikora said he contacted the brewery to inform them of their blunder.

“Don’t call beer pubic hair unless you make it with pubic hair,” he said.

Brewery co-founder Mike Patriquin said in statement to the New Zealand news site RNZ he thought “huruhuru” meant “feather” and he didn’t realise it was a reference to pubic hair.

“We did not realise the potential to offend through our artistic interpretation, and given the response we will attempt to do better in the future,” he said.

“To those who feel disrespected we apologise. We also do not think pubic hair is shameful, though we admit it may not go well with beer.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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