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Trudeau cancels Caribbean jaunt over rail blockades

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cancelled his junket to Barbados to stay in Ottawa to deal with the growing crisis of rail blockades by protesters upset with the Coastal GasLink construction

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has cancelled his junket to Barbados to stay in Ottawa to deal with the growing crisis of rail blockades by protesters upset with the Coastal GasLink construction.

Trudeau spent last week in Africa lobbing for Canada to get a seat on the UN Security Council. He was going to Barbados for a two-day gathering of leaders from across the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, but will send Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne instead.

“Following the government’s ongoing efforts to address infrastructure disruptions across the country, the prime minister will convene the Incident Response Group tomorrow to discuss steps forward,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. 

“Our priority remains the safety and security of all Canadians and the swift resolution of this issue to restore service across the rail system in accordance with the law.”

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said Trudeau had no choice but to cancel his latest junket.

“Going to Africa/Caribbean in pursuit of UNSC seat was consistent with an established foreign policy goal. But the shutdown of rail across much of Canada due to solidarity protests over Wet’suwet’en is too much of a domestic crisis for PM to be leaving the country,” Bratt tweeted.

On 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.”

• What the Western Standard says

The protests have been growing across Canada since last Thursday when the RCMP raided and tore down an Indigenous camp near Smithers.

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

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

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Southeast Alberta Liberal candidate charged with multiple assaults

Anwar Kamaran has been charged with one count of assault, two counts of assault causing bodily harm, and three counts of failing to comply with an undertaking condition

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RCMP have charged a former provincial Liberal candidate with attacking three members of the same family.

In a release, Redcliff RCMP said they have charged Anwar Kamaran, of Walsh, about 50 km east of Medicine Hat, after two incidents on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9.

“On August 8, it is alleged that Mr. Kamaran assaulted a female in Walsh, and on August 9, assaulted two men.  All of the victims are from the same family,” the RCMP release said.

“Kamaran was arrested on August 9 and was held in custody until August 12 when he appeared in Medicine Hat Provincial Court. 

“He was released on several conditions including no contact with the victims and not to attend the Village of Walsh except under court ordered circumstances. 

“Mr. Kamaran has been charged with one count of assault, two counts of assault causing bodily harm, and three counts of failing to comply with an undertaking condition.”

He will next appear in Medicine Hat court Sept. 16.

Kamaran was the Liberal candidate in the riding of Cypress-Medicine Hat in the 2019 provincial election.

He finished dead last with 219 votes. The UCP’s Drew Barnes won the seat.

A bio posted to the Alberta Liberal website said Kamaran “owns a Petro-Canada gas station in Walsh and also owns a trucking company. He speaks seven languages, has a fine arts diploma and is an accomplished musician. He is married with four children and in his spare time is a bodybuilder and kick boxer.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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City decides to move proposed BLM mural from iconic downtown site

City council approved more than $120,000 for four BLM murals in Calgary.

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A wave of public anger has convinced city officials not to paint over a beloved downtown mural with a new Black Lives Matter one.

The controversy erupted after it was announced the Calgary Arts Development group had hired a organization called Pink Flamingo and was going to paint over a mural called Giving Wings to the Dream, done by Calgary artist Doug Driediger in 1995, that has graced the outside of the downtown Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) building.

“As there has been unprecedented citizen support for Giving Wings, we are working with Pink Flamingo and CADA to explore new sites for a downtown BLM mural. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in negative and hostile messages directed at Pink Flamingo as a result of the recent media attention. We are working with Pink Flamingo and CADA to monitor social media and support the ongoing communications where appropriate,” Jennifer Thompson, acting manager for Arts and Culture for the city, said in email to councillors.

City council approved more than $120,000 for four BLM murals in Calgary.

But Coun. Dianne Colley-Urqhart, who voted against the grant, said they weren’t told on any locations.

And she blamed Coun. Evan Wooley for the controversy.

“One of the council members made an end run around current policy to get this done,” she said.

Public art projects in Calgary have been suspended for about three years after controversy erupted after things like the Giant Blue Ring and the Bowfort Towers at the western edge of the city.

“I knew there was a risk for controversy. I’d never heard of these people (Pink Flamingo),” she said.

Colley-Urqhart said her office has been flood with complaints over news the mural would be painted over. An online petition to have it stopped drew thousands of names.

“I’m thrilled Calgarians have stepped up and have been heard,” she said.

As for arguments the mural was getting old Colley-Urqhart said she would support spending money to spruce it up, if needed.

Earlier Wednesday, councillors and an MP were up in arms about potentially losing the mural.

“This is devastating. This mural has stood for care and hope for decades for Calgary’s homeless, hungry and vulnerable. There are plenty of walls in our metropolis. Particularly given our high vacancy rate. Please pick another,” tweeted Stephanie Kusie, Calgary Midnapore MP.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek took to Facebook to say she thought council wasn’t given enough information when the proposal came before them.

“When the notice of motion for 4 BLM murals came before Council in mid-June, my primary concern was that Council was not provided enough time to review the proposal we would be voting on during the meeting.

“While I agreed that this type of initiative was a good one, my concerns had to do with logistics and process. Further, Councillor Farkas pointed out that a process for smaller grants was presently underway, and this project would jump the queue. I voted against the motion because I felt more consideration was needed to ensure that a project this significant was delivered in the best manner possible to respect the BLM mandate.”

Calgary Arts Development has set aside a budget of $20,000 for the first mural.

“(I have) an unease over the idea that something that’s valid and vital would be covered by another artist’s work,” Driediger told Global News.

“Surely there should be some professional respect for work that exists, so that just leaves me a little concerned.”

The mural measuring nine metres feet in height by 41 metres in width is seen by an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Calgarians per day due to its location opposite the Centre Street LRT station.

The CDA wants the murals done by the end of October. Artists have until Aug. 17 to submit their proposals.

Their ad states: “Candidates must be representative of Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities. Two Spirit, Indigiqueer, and Black LGBTQQIP2SA+ artists will be given priority for the Phase I mural. No mural painting experience is necessary to apply—we will work with artists of any experience level to achieve their design.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Anger grows over decision to paint over iconic mural with BLM one

Calgary councillor and an MP voice their disgust with decision

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Outrage is growing over plans to paint over a beloved Calgary mural and replace it with a Black Lives Matter one.

A mural called Giving Wings to the Dream, done by Calgary artist Doug Driediger in 1995, has graced the outside of the downtown Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) building.

But after city council approved more than $120,000 for four BLM murals in Calgary, Driediger’s mural will be painted over.

That has at least one Calgary councillor and an MP up in arms.

“This is devastating. This mural has stood for care and hope for decades for Calgary’s homeless, hungry and vulnerable. There are plenty of walls in our metropolis. Particularly given our high vacancy rate. Please pick another,” tweeted Stephanie Kusie, Calgary Midnapore MP.

Councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart also took to Twitter to announce her anger.

“I am deeply opposed to the approach that is being used regarding the new BLM mural downtown. I feel it bypasses the approach of the Public Art review, skipping over the public engagement process. This is not a time when we need more controversy surrounding race relations,” she tweeted.

Calgary Arts Development has set aside a budget of $20,000 for the first mural.

“(I have) an unease over the idea that something that’s valid and vital would be covered by another artist’s work,” Driediger told Global News.

“Surely there should be some professional respect for work that exists, so that just leaves me a little concerned.”

The mural measuring nine metres feet in height by 41 metres in width is seen by an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 Calgarians per day due to its location opposite the Centre Street LRT station.

The CDA wants the murals done by the end of October. Artists have until Aug. 17 to submit their proposals.

Their ad states: “Candidates must be representative of Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities. Two Spirit, Indigiqueer, and Black LGBTQQIP2SA+ artists will be given priority for the Phase I mural. No mural painting experience is necessary to apply—we will work with artists of any experience level to achieve their design.”

A petition to have to location of the BLM mural changed has received thousands of names.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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