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March 24: Western Canada and COVID-19

As of Tuesday March 24 there are 1,068 positive or presumptive cases of COVID-19 from B.C. to Manitoba and 2,757 positive or presumptive cases in Canada.

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As of Tuesday March 24 there are 1,068 positive or presumptive cases of COVID-19 from B.C. to Manitoba and 2,757 positive or presumptive cases in Canada.

Alberta

The province has identified 57 new cases to bring the province’s total to 358 – 28 of which are suspected to be related to community spread.

Alberta also announced its second death, a woman in her 80’s from MacKenzie Towne continuing care centre.

Two staff members from the MacKenzie Towne continuing care centre have also tested positive.

The number of new cases, including the most recent death is why Alberta is taking the measures they have to encourage social distancing and self-isolation if ill, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said during the press conference Wednesday.

The Edmonton Bonspiel that occurred March 14-15 has resulted in 12 positive cases of COVID-19. Three of the infected physicians are from the Red Deer area – 58 patients and 97 health professionals will be contacted by Alberta Health.

“This is why it is critical that individuals self-isolate at the first sign of symptoms,” Hinshaw said.

Those symptoms are fever, runny nose, sore throat or cough.

Dr. Hinshaw reiterated that self-isolation for those who are sick only needs to last 10 days after they become ill. Those who have no symptoms but are returning from out-of-country travel still need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Additional information for Alberta residents can be found here.

British Columbia

The province announced 145 new cases over the past 48 hours, bringing the province’s total to 617. 173 people have officially recovered and there are no new deaths, maintaining the province’s total at 13.

Two of the new cases come from one care home each, one in Little Mountain and another in Evergreen Heights.

A B.C. area dentist who attended the Pacific Dental Conference March 5-7 passed away over the weekend after contracting the virus.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said that the recovery numbers are increasing and 28 per cent of infected persons have recovered as of Tuesday.

Additional information for B.C. residents can be found here.

Manitoba

The province announced one new case of COVID-19 bringing its total to 21.

A drive-thru testing site will be open in Winkler on March 25 for referrals only.

“It’s really all about capacity,” Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday.

“As that capacity increases, those priorities will be people with respiratory illness in hospital, all health care workers with respiratory illness, and those priority groups in potentially closed settings such as First Nations (and) possibly corrections.”

Returning travellers will continue to be tested and still require self-isolation for 14 days.

All of Manitoba’s current cases are currently recovering at home.

Additional information for Manitoba residents can be found here.

Saskatchewan

The province announced an additional six cases on Tuesday bringing its total to 72.

A leaked document from Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) detailed a conservative estimate of up to 15,000 deaths in the province from COVID-19. The Ministry did not return a request for comment.

“Based on what we know from other jurisdictions, it is critical we act immediately to expand acute care capacity to mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said in a release after the leaked document was made public.

“Demand will exceed capacity.  All jurisdictions are facing this challenge.  We are not alone.  We are acting immediately to ensure Saskatchewan residents get the care they need from the right provider, at the right time, with the right supports in place.”

The release stated that SHA has “already initiated measures to ensure this demand is met.”

“Actions that people and communities must take to address this challenge include:

• Practicing good hygiene, washing hands regularly and practicing social distancing (two meters apart wherever possible);
• Abide by provincial and local travel, self-isolation, event and gathering restrictions;
• Use medical supplies effectively and efficiently so that they are there when needed;
• Avoid visiting our hospitals and long-term care facilities unless there are compassionate reasons for doing so.”

Additional information for Saskatchewan residents can be found here.

Provincial tallies:

  • Quebec: 1013 confirmed and presumptive cases, including 1 recovered and 4 deaths
  • British Columbia: 617 confirmed cases, including 5 recovered and 13 deaths
  • Ontario: 588 cases, including 5 recovered and 7 deaths
  • Alberta: 358 confirmed cases including 2 deaths
  • Saskatchewan: 72 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Nova Scotia: 41 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 24 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Manitoba: 21 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • New Brunswick: 17 confirmed and presumptive cases
  • Prince Edward Island: 3 confirmed cases
  • Yukon: 2 confirmed cases
  • Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed case

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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News

Horgan continues to hold massive lead in B.C. election

A new Angus Reid poll, taken after a televised leaders’ debate, shows John Horgan’s NDP continuing to hold a double digit lead a week before then Oct. 24 election.

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New polls on the B.C. election show the NDP continuing its large lead over the Liberals.

A new Angus Reid poll, taken after a televised leaders’ debate, shows John Horgan’s NDP continuing to hold a double digit lead a week before then Oct. 24 election.

“The BC NDP continues to hold a double-digit lead (49 per cent) over the second-place B.C. Liberals (33 per cent),” the poll said.

“The Greens, at 14 per cent, remain stuck in third place with a less committed vote base than the other parties. However, with the Green leader’s momentum surging, it is worth noting the party is the most common second choice for voters who have not yet locked in their choice.”

A new Insights West poll shows the NDP with 47 per cent, the Liberals with 33 per cent and the Greens at 14 per cent.

Insights West poll

The televised debate, said Angus Reid, didn’t move voter preference.

“First, a frontrunner with the most to lose who appears to have emerged unscathed after an unsteady performance on a key question. The second, a political underdog who did not find a much-needed breakthrough with voters. And finally, a relatively unknown candidate whose introduction to the electorate is resulting in personal admiration, but crucially, no surge in vote intention.”

The poll said , NDP leader Horgan was chosen as having performed best in the TV debate by the largest number (29 per cent). Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau was seen as best by 23 per cent, while 15 per cent chose Andrew Wilkinson, the leader of the BC Liberals.

Angus Reid poll

“Beyond the debate, these new data reveal an electorate hardly enthralled by the options available to them. As the province enters this last week of the campaign, voters are motivated equally by blocking the party they dislike (52 per cent) versus a party they truly support (48 per cent).”

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

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Opinion

MORGAN: “Hyper-loop” pipe dream a financial disaster waiting to happen

Cory Morgan writes about the wild costs involved in Alberta’s latest “monorail” craze.

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It is a story that repeats itself every five years or so; proposals for a high-speed rail between Calgary and Edmonton. The pattern is always the same. An idea for a high-speed train is pitched with great fanfare, a feasibility study is conducted which concludes that a massive taxpayer investment is involved and the project gets put on the shelf. The latest proposal from Toronto-based Transpod to build a pie-in-the-sky hyperloop is no exception.

The concept sounds exciting indeed. A low-pressure tube would be constructed which will move pods containing passengers and freight at speeds of up to 1000 kilometers per hour. The models and drawings look cool and futuristic and many people are getting excited at the prospect of commuting to work in a vacuum tube as George Jetson in the futuristic 1960s. I hate to rain on folk’s parade, but this concept is simply not viable.

Let’s look at the cost to begin with. Transpod is giving an estimate of $6 billion to $8 billion simply to construct the line. Companies making pitches always low-ball estimates and the costs required to expropriate 300 kilometers of land for a line will be huge, not to mention the delays which will surely come as some intransigent landowners refuse to cooperate. With this not having been formally studied yet and with the long timelines, $10 billion will likely end up as a more realistic estimate and that is still modest.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s set a ticket price at $100 per passenger. At that price, the line would have to transport one hundred million passengers simply to recover the cost of construction for the line. The new line would have to carry 27,000 passengers per day for 10 years in order to reach that number. Again, this is simply to regain the capital costs on the project. Ongoing expenses such as electricity, staffing, maintenance have not been taken into consideration, let alone profit.

Now how will we capture the interest of 27,000 people per day in order to get them to ride this thing. How viable and practical does this sound?

Well let’s compare it to a typical family trip on the weekend from Calgary to see Aunt Ethel. The family will have to be packed up and taken to the station either in a personal vehicle or through some form of public transportation. They will have to check in and eventually be boarded onto the pod. Upon arrival in Edmonton, they will then have to take a cab or public transit to get to Aunt Ethel’s, where they will spend the weekend without the convenience of a personal vehicle. They will then have to repeat the process in order to get home.

With a $10 billion price tags, we can expect security times to be similar to airports. With half an hour on the pod – coupled with the other time delays due to check in and local transport – the trip will take about one and a half hours each way at the low cost of $800 in total. All this to save about the difference of 1 and a half hours in the family car at a fuel cost of perhaps $80. Would you do it?

This company will also be moving freight, but let’s face it, the freight will face all the same challenges that passenger services have. It would be a niche market at best for products which are small, in a rush and have somebody at each end to deal with drop off and pick up. It won’t compete well with conventional freight transport.

If anything does dramatically change, how we move people and freight between Edmonton and Calgary in the future, it will be driverless vehicles which are proving to be quite effective in many environments already. In anticipation of that trend, we should be perhaps examining a new, dedicated lane for these kinds of vehicles on the highway to complement the existing lanes. It would cost a fraction of the Transpod proposal and is much more likely to ever actually come into being.

Transpod and Jason Kenney are very clearly pointing out that this project is not costing a single tax dollar at this point. Let’s not pretend that it will stay that way. Once true viability studies are done, proponents for the hyperloop will surely come cap in hand and begging for tax dollars in order to get this thing running. There is no way they can or will get this going with purely private investment. It simply isn’t realistic.

By all means, let them test this thing out. Let them set up between Olds and Didsbury in order to build a test portion of the tube if indeed they can manage to get enough investors to get that far. There is no better time than the present to make it absolutely clear though that taxpayers will not pay for an inch of this project. We have enough boondoggles to pay for as it is and don’t need to sink ourselves billions further into debt for something which is somebody’s romantic pipe dream.

Cory Morgan is a columnist and the Podcast Editor of the Western Standard

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Kenney’s panel of education advisers contains no women

One panel member published an article that questioned the past “victimhood” of Aboriginal residential school survivors.

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The UCP government’s panel appointed to help draft a new school curriculum is made entirely of men – including one who published an article that questioned the past “victimhood” of Aboriginal residential school survivors.

The eight new male advisers are in addition to 358 teachers and other experts already serving on eight curriculum working groups assembled by the former NDP government to revamp K-12 lessons. It is hoped to be tested in classrooms starting in fall 2021.

In addition to the fact there are no women on the panel – despite the fact the majority of teachers are women – there is controversy to the appointment of Chris Champion as a social studies adviser. He used to be an adviser to Premier Jason Kenney during his time in Ottawa as a MP.

Champion founded and still publishes a history publication called The Dorchester Review.

A piece without a byline in the review’s first edition and republished this year, critiques history curriculum introduced by “left” governments.

The piece blasts an Australian history curriculum for being “light on facts and heavy with guilt about aboriginals and immigrants.”

“Here in Canada the preoccupation with victimhood has mostly centred on Japanese Canadians and residential school ‘survivors.’ “

The government claims Champion did not write the article.

It’s the second time a Kenney appointee has come under fire for writing about residential schools, the first being speech writer Paul Bunner.

“Women make up the majority of the teaching profession, but Jason Kenney and (Education Minister) Adriana LaGrange chose to not put a single woman on their panel and they managed to find room for a racist who used to work for the Premier,” said the NDP’s Janis Irwin Thursday.

“Instead of firing his racist, homophobic speechwriter Paul Bunner, Jason Kenney has doubled down on these racist beliefs by including them in the curriculum and he’s undone all of the work done under previous governments.

“By appointing a panel full of like-minded insiders, the UCP are dismissing the diverse input from Albertans that was vital in developing a modern curriculum in which kids see themselves represented – the UCP can’t even send our kids back to school safely this fall. They shouldn’t be trusted to rewrite the curriculum.”

In a 2003 article Canada’s Cracked Mosaic, Bunner recalled his time at Boston University when another Canadian student warned him “to be careful about blacks…one of the other hockey players, a native Bostonian, invited me into his room to show me the biggest handgun I had ever seen. ‘It’s for the n——,’ he said.'”

Bunner has also blamed minorities for a large percent of crime.

“Ethnic minorities are disproportionately involved in violent crime on both sides of the border, but at least Americans admit it,” Bunner wrote.

“In this country the Toronto Star attacks the police as racist when they point out the over-representation of blacks in the city’s violent crime statistics. When Indian thugs trap white kids and cut them to pieces, the Edmonton police quickly rule out a racial motive and nobody balks.

“Everyone knows that race is the defining element of violent crime in Canada today.

“The weekly casualty figures from the gang wars in Toronto’s Jamaican ghetto read like dispatches from a war zone. The shooting of five East Indians during the first weekend of December in Vancouver was but the latest skirmish in a decade-long war that has killed 50 people. On the prairies, if it’s not Asian gangbangers whacking each other and occasionally innocent bystanders, it’s aboriginal murder and mayhem.

“The Christmas season in Edmonton opened with five white teenagers being lured into a house, where at least a half-dozen reputed members of the Alberta Warriors Native gang allegedly tortured and terrorized them for two hours.”

The NDP said Bunner is the author of numerous racist, sexist, Islamophobic, and homophobic articles dating from the late 1990s up to 2016.

Bunner’s 2013 article The ‘Genocide’ That Failed claimed that residential school survivors were fabricating their experiences to create a “bogus genocide story” for financial gain. 

Several indigenous leaders have called for Kenney to fire Bunner, including the Confederacy of Treaty Six Chiefs, and Marlene Poitras, Alberta regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations.

Matt Wolf, Kenney’s issue manager tweeted at the time: “NDP claims that Paul Bunner used a racial slur. The column talks about his revulsion to the racism he saw in the US, and befriending 2 black students “I came away with the conviction that no matter how poisoned a society is by racism, it can be overcome.”

He also tweeted earlier NDP icon Tommy Douglas opposed homosexuality.

The advisers are:

  • George Georgiou, University of Alberta professor of educational psychology — literacy
  • David Chorney, associate professor of education, University of Alberta — wellness
  • Vladimir Troitsky, University of Alberta math professor — math
  • Chris Champion, visiting research fellow at Queen’s University and author — social studies
  • William French, lawyer, translator and board member of The Shakespeare Company in Calgary — arts and literature
  • Cameron Macdonell, associate professor of computer science, MacEwan University — science
  • Marvin Washington, professor, Alberta School of Business, University of Alberta — diversity and pluralism
  • Onookome Okome, English professor, University of Alberta — diversity and pluralism

The members include 19 government employees, 41 seconded teachers, 10 Northwest Territories representatives, three Nunavut representatives, 11 Indigenous teachers, 16 francophone teachers, 25 academics, 145 public school teachers, 61 Catholic school teachers, seven charter school teachers and two private school teachers.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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