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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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BREAKING: Trudeau says barricades must come down now

Saying Canadians have “run out of patience”, Justin Trudeau on Friday called for Indigenous protesters to remove their rail barricades immediately.

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Enough is enough, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Saying Canadians have “run out of patience”, Trudeau on Friday called for Indigenous protesters to remove their rail barricades against the Coastal GasLink pipeline immediately.

“We have exhausted our capacity to engage… to resolve this. The onus has shifted to the Indigenous leadership,” Trudeau told a press conference in Ottawa Friday afternoon.

“All Canadian are paying the price. Some can’t get to work, others have lost their jobs.

“Canadians have been patient. The government has been patient.

“The barricades need to come down. The injunctions must be obeyed and the law must be upheld.”

• What the Western Standard says

Trudeau noted the barricades have been up for two weeks and said his government has been in dialogue with the Indigenous groups since the start.

“Every attempt at dialogue has been made, but discussions have not been productive. We can’t have dialogue when only one party is coming to the table,” Trudeau said.

• In other developments, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he was worried about more citizen vigilantism.

Last Thursday,  CN Rail announced it was closing down operations in eastern Canada while Via Rail shuttered its entire network because of a Mohawk rail blockade near Brockville, Ont.

Tory leader Andrew Scheer said enough is enough and it’s time for Trudeau to call in the RCMP to clear the blockades.

“Quite frankly, this is getting ridiculous. Radical activists, many of whom have no connection to theWet’suwet’en people, are holding our economy hostage. Meanwhile our prime minister has been out of the country on a vanity project to win a vote at the UN, neglecting his duties here at home,” Scheer said, referencing Trudeau’s jaunt to Africa.

“Do the right thing, Prime Minister Trudeau. We can’t allow a small number of activists to hold our economy hostage and threaten thousands of jobs. I believe it’s time for the law to be enforced. Law enforcement should enforce the law. We have court orders, court injunctions, they need to be respected.”

The protests have been growing across Canada for two weeks since the RCMP raided and tore down an Indigenous camp near Smithers.

Last Thursday, the protesters at the main camp released a new video of RCMP action at the site.

COURTESY GIDIMT’EN CHECKPOINT





RCMP officer seen at Indigenous camp near Smithers, B.C.

The pipeline has the support of all First Nations along the route, but hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation, through which 28% of the 670-km route passes, oppose it.

A group of unelected hereditary chiefs had set up a camp near Smithers and have kicked out Coastal GasLink workers.

Courtesy Twitter

The RCMP said they have found traps like felled trees and three stacks of tires along with flammables along the access road.

On Jan. 7, 2019, RCMP arrested 14 protesters along the B.C. logging road. 

International attention was drawn to the issue when a British newspaper reported RCMP were ready to shoot protesters when they broke up the camp. The RCMP denied the story.

On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted CGL an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from blocking the pipeline route near Smithers, B.C.

But the situation has been further complicated after a Jan. 3 edict by the Unist’ot’en, a smaller group within the First Nation, that they intend to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access to the land.

The RCMP checkpoint had been set up at the 27-km mark of the forest service road “to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway.”

The $6.6 billion pipeline, to be operated by TC Energy Corp, would transport gas from near Dawson Creek in northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the coast and supply Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas export terminal, called LNG Canada, which is under construction.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

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Kenney warns of further citizen vigilantism over rail blockades

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he is concerned that if police don’t start dealing with rail protesters across the country, Canadians will do so.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he is concerned that if police don’t start dealing with rail protesters across the country, Canadians will do so.

“There is concern with police not enforcing court orders – I am concerned citizens may do so,” Kenney told reporters in Calgary on Friday.

“We’ve seen elements of that already.”

Kenney was referring to an Edmonton- area blockade earlier this week. After about eight hours a group of six men in a couple of pick-up trucks arrived and dismantled the barricade in a matter of minutes.

“I’d much rather the trained and properly authorized police enforce court orders,” Kenney said.

Several courts across the country have handed down injunctions barring protesters from blocking rail lines. But so far, there haven’t been any police force that have acted on them.

The blockaders say they are in support of a B.C. Indigenous band that is protesting the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built through their land.

Kenney said he is very concerned the rule of elected Indigenous chiefs is not being followed.

He noted there have been ten elections in the last decade among the Wet’suwet’en people and every elected chief has supported the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

“I am very concerned that we not end up undermining the legitimate elected authority of First Nation leaders in a case like this,” Kenney said.

• What the Western Standard says

Last Thursday,  CN Rail announced it was closing down operations in eastern Canada while Via Rail shuttered its entire network because of a Mohawk rail blockade near Brockville, Ont.

Tory leader Andrew Scheer said enough is enough and it’s time for Trudeau to call in the RCMP to clear the blockades.

“Quite frankly, this is getting ridiculous. Radical activists, many of whom have no connection to theWet’suwet’en people, are holding our economy hostage. Meanwhile our prime minister has been out of the country on a vanity project to win a vote at the UN, neglecting his duties here at home,” Scheer said, referencing Trudeau’s jaunt to Africa.

“Do the right thing, Prime Minister Trudeau. We can’t allow a small number of activists to hold our economy hostage and threaten thousands of jobs. I believe it’s time for the law to be enforced. Law enforcement should enforce the law. We have court orders, court injunctions, they need to be respected.”

The protests have been growing across Canada for two weeks since the RCMP raided and tore down an Indigenous camp near Smithers.

Last Thursday, the protesters at the main camp released a new video of RCMP action at the site.

COURTESY GIDIMT’EN CHECKPOINT





RCMP officer seen at Indigenous camp near Smithers, B.C.

The pipeline has the support of all First Nations along the route, but hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation, through which 28% of the 670-km route passes, oppose it.

A group of unelected hereditary chiefs had set up a camp near Smithers and have kicked out Coastal GasLink workers.

Courtesy Twitter

The RCMP said they have found traps like felled trees and three stacks of tires along with flammables along the access road.

On Jan. 7, 2019, RCMP arrested 14 protesters along the B.C. logging road. 

International attention was drawn to the issue when a British newspaper reported RCMP were ready to shoot protesters when they broke up the camp. The RCMP denied the story.

On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted CGL an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from blocking the pipeline route near Smithers, B.C.

But the situation has been further complicated after a Jan. 3 edict by the Unist’ot’en, a smaller group within the First Nation, that they intend to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access to the land.

The RCMP checkpoint had been set up at the 27-km mark of the forest service road “to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway.”

The $6.6 billion pipeline, to be operated by TC Energy Corp, would transport gas from near Dawson Creek in northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the coast and supply Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas export terminal, called LNG Canada, which is under construction.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

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Kenney slams Nobel winners who called for Teck mine cancellation

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More than 40 Nobel prize winners are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject the proposed massive Teck mine – but Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the group likely didn’t have all the facts.

“I suspect they were presented with a distorted view of this project,” Kenney told reporters at a Friday press conference at the Glenbow Museum where the province handed over a $40 million cheque to fund improvements.

“In this province, we can’t sustain infrastructure like this without revenue like that. It’s just that simple.

“I suspect many of them did not have the full facts in front of them. Opponents of this mine don’t want the people to know (the full facts) that this would be the lowest emitting oil sands project in history.

“In the real world, we have a choice of Canadian energy and OPEC dictatorship energy.

Kenney noted Teck is supported by the surrounding 14 Indigenous nations and has vowed to be a net zero emitter in 2050, the same year the federal government is aiming for.

Their letter, signed by Nobel Prize recipients from the fields of physics, peace, literature, chemistry, economics, and medicine, said there is no place for new mines in the current climate change battle.

“There is enough carbon embedded in already operating oil, gas, and coal fields and mines to take us beyond 2°C , let alone 1.5°C. The implications of this are clear: there is no room for expansion of the fossil fuel sector. There is no room for the Teck Frontier tar sands mine,” the letter said.

“Projects that enable fossil fuel growth at this moment in time are an affront to our state of climate emergency, and the mere fact that they warrant debate in Canada should be seen as a disgrace. They are wholly incompatible with your government’s recent commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. And with clear infringements on First Nations rights, such projects fly in the face of rhetoric and purported efforts towards reconciliation.”

The letter said the federal government should “act with the moral clarity required by the state of this crisis and reject the proposed Teck Frontier mine proposal.

“The Teck Frontier mine is the largest tar sands extraction proposal ever. If built, it would further undermine Canada’s commitments to both climate action and Indigenous reconciliation.”

The group’s letter can be found here.

The letter comes days after the Western Standard revealed the Bloc Quebecois was set to introduce a motion into Parliament asking the government to kill the mine.

The $20.6-billion Teck mega project in northern Alberta has already been approved by the non-political regulators, but the Liberal natural resources minister has said the federal government may delay approval of the project unless Alberta drops its opposition to Ottawa’s carbon tax. Adding fuel to the fire were several Eastern Liberal MPs lobbying to kill the project outright.

Reports of an aid package for the beleaguered province appear to confirm that the federal government is seriously considering nixing the mega project, which Teck says will create 7,000 jobs and significantly add to the provinces GDP.

In place of allowing the private investment project to go ahead, federal sources say that direct government spending on infrastructure projects and well cleanup is in the mix.

Teck itself issued a statement this week saying it also hoped it would become a net-zero emitter by 2050.

The project, a “truck and shovel” oil sands mine, “will consist of surface mining operations, a processing plant, tailings management facilities, water management facilities, and associated infrastructure and support facilities,” according to a statement on the company’s website. It’s expected to produce 260,000 barrels of oil a day.

Teck has also reached agreements with all 14 Indigenous communities in the broader Frontier project area.

The federal government has said they would give an answer on the mine before the end of February.

Federal Environment Minister Johnathan Wilkinson has hinted approval would be based on how Alberta approaches climate change.

“With respect to (Frontier), we need to look at all the environmental impacts, we obviously need to look at the economic opportunities, and we need to ensure we’re taking both into account,” Wilkinson said.

Certainly, one of those issues is how does this project fit with Canada’s commitments to achieving the reductions we are committing to (for) 2030, and the net zero commitment to 2050? I would just say again that it’s important that all provinces are working to help Canada to achieve its targets.”

Wilkinson said all provinces, including Alberta, are expected to do their part to help Canada meet those commitments.

The UCP government unveiled their industrial emitter plan, TIER (Technology, Innovation and Emissions Reduction system), in Bill 19, passed during the fall legislature session.

TIER replaced the NDP’s Climate Leadership Plan by maintaining the carbon tax on large emitters but repealing the tax on other businesses and residents. The federal price on carbon for Albertans, excepting large emitters, came into effect January 1, 2020.

Under TIER, facilities can either reduce their emissions or; use credits from other facilities, use emissions offsets from non-regulated organizations, or pay into the TIER fund at $30 per tonne.

The Alberta government launched its challenge of federal carbon tax in 2019 and presented arguments Dec. 16-18 in Alberta’s Court of Appeal.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

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