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Alberta ethics commissioner clears almost all UCP members of conflict of interest in Bill 22 vote

Commissioner Trussler determined that only those who were currently under investigation by the Elections Commissioner would have a “personal interest” in seeing the termination of the position and that interest would not apply to other caucus members.

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A report by Ethics Commissioner Hon. Marguerite Trussler, Q.C., has found only one UCP caucus member, Calgary-East MLA Peter Singh, breached the Conflict of Interest Act in voting for Bill 22.

Bill 22, the omnibus legislation introduced in the Alberta Legislature in November 2019, roundly came under fire by the Official Opposition.

NDP leader Rachel Notley sent a request for an ethics investigation specifically with regard to the portion of the bill that effectively terminated Alberta’s Election Commissioner role.

Notley’s complaint centred around the conflict of interest that one has, as an elected member as part of a partisan political party, to benefit the future success of the party as a whole, in order to benefit personally from that success.

Trussler, as well as previous commissioners cited in the report, disagreed.

“In my view, a Member does not have a private interest in the outcome of an investigation by the Election Commissioner into another Member in the same political party,” Trussler stated in the report.

Trussler referenced a 1997 investigation into former Premier Ralph Klein where Commissioner Robert C. Clark was forced to determine the scope of “personal interest” of elected officials.

“If political interests, especially the interest in winning an election, is a ‘private interest,’ practically everything a Member does could be a breach of the Act because almost every activity undertaken by an elected official contains an element of seeking popular support and the possibility of receiving that support in a re-election bid,” Clark wrote.

After reviewing the evidence provided and previous rulings, Trussler determined only those who were currently under investigation by the Elections Commissioner would have a “personal interest” in seeing the termination of the position and that interest would not apply to other caucus members.

Even if a private interest is identified, as it was in the case of Peter Singh, his only infraction was that he did not declare the conflict and remove himself from the proceedings. Singh did, however, abstain from the vote on Bill 22.

Trussler recommended Singh apologize for the procedural misstep.

Notley was also removed from the Legislature after accusing the UCP House Leader, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon, of “misleading” the members about the Bill.

Speaker Nathan Cooper halted debate and asked that Notley apologize.

“The greatest jeopardy posed in this house is posed by Bill 22,” Notley responded.

“And at this point we must have a full and honest conversation that does not involve misleading statements by any member over there.”

The former Premier was barred from re-entering the Legislature until she withdrew her remarks – which she did six days later.

“We strongly disagree with the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling on Bill 22,” Notley wrote on social media.

“When UCP MLAs voted to fire the very individual investigating their leader, they were in clear conflict. The law is broken and must be fixed to prevent this abuse of power.”

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

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Calgary police, fire statues desecrated

“I thought it was disgusting,” said Calgary police Supt. Ryan Jepson

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Vandals have desecrated statues to brave Calgary police officers and firefighters.

City crews were forced Friday to clear away red paint thrown on the statues sometime Thursday night or Friday morning.

The statues are in front of city hall.

“I thought it was disgusting,” Calgary police Supt. Ryan Jepson told Global on Friday.

Courtesy Global

“It’s as disgusting as it would be if a memorial site was desecrated anywhere. So, it’s unfortunate that it happened and I understand that it’s likely out of some frustration from some community members.

“That is not OK. It doesn’t solve anything.”

The Calgary Fire Department also condemned the targeting of the statues.

“The statue and the monument, they are there to represent what we do as emergency responders. Firefighters, we’re in service to Calgarians, to help them in their time of need,” spokeswoman Carol Henke told Global.

Police are investigating the incident.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP launches independent probe into 2016 Grande Prairie hospital noose incident

“Racism and bigotry have no place in our health-care system,” said Health Care Minister Tyler Shandro

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The Alberta government has ordered an independent investigation after reports a noose was found hanging in a Grande Prairie hospital four years ago.

“In 2016, a piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital. In August of 2019, I was first made aware of this incident and was reassured by senior officials that the matter was being dealt with appropriately, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a statement Friday morning.

“Recently, individuals with first-hand knowledge of the incident have raised this matter again, questioning how AHS handled this matter in 2016. I share their concerns and I am not satisfied that this matter was handled appropriately.

“Racism and bigotry have no place in our health-care system. That’s why I am announcing an independent third-party investigation of how this matter was handled by Alberta Health Services.

“It also appears that the investigation was limited by medical staff bylaws that govern how AHS responds to complaints and disciplines staff. These bylaws have not been updated in more than a decade. Consequently, I have issued a directive requiring AHS to revise their bylaws within 60 days.

“Finally, I will be introducing legislation next week that will increase the number of public representatives on college councils, hearing tribunals and complaint review committees from 25 per cent to 50 per cent – which will increase the public’s oversight of health professions.

“These initial steps are only the beginning. The review, which will be made public, will undoubtedly bring further required changes to our attention. While it may be uncomfortable for some, Albertans demand and expect our health-care system to reject racism and intolerance. If our system failed, we will fix it.”

Former NDP health minister Sarah Hoffman said she was unaware of the incident.

“I am shocked and disgusted to learn of the violent, racist incident that occurred at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016. I want to be clear that I was not aware of this incident at the time. If I had been informed, I would have taken swift action and that doctor would have been fired immediately,” Hoffman said in a statement.

“My record on confronting racism is clear. In 2017, when two AHS employees used a racial slur against an Indigenous woman, we moved swiftly to dismiss them. 

“I am deeply concerned that Tyler Shandro, the current Health Minister, has known about this incident for nearly a year and he has not raised this publicly or acted. That’s not leadership. We must confront racism head on. We must be anti-racist.”


CBC reported, a white South African-born surgeon tied a noose and then taped it to the door of an operating room in the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.

He told another doctor the noose was for a Black Nigerian-born surgical assistant, CBC said.

In a statement to CBC, the surgeon said: “Some years ago, as a foolish joke, I made what I considered to be a lasso and hung it in an operating room door. In no way was it intended to be a racist gesture.

“It was very quickly drawn to my attention by staff members that this was unacceptable I subsequently brought the matter to the attention of AHS and apologized both verbally and in writing to my colleagues.

“At the time, I did not appreciate the heinous symbolism behind the knot I created. I did undertake some self-study and I now have great insight into the symbolism here and I am terribly sorry and embarrassed about this incident.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Rebel UCP MLA Barnes blasts NDP motion on unity

“It’s part of Rachel Notley’s plan to work with her friend (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau,” said Drew Barnes.

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Rogue UCP MLA Drew Barnes says he will talk to his caucus colleagues before deciding how to vote on an upcoming NDP motion reject independence and support a united Canada.

The NDP said on Canada Day they would bring in the motion to the Legislature on Monday.

“I am very, very disappointed the NDP with the motion would try and diminish the role of Alberta within Confederation,” Barnes told the Western Standard on Thursday.

“It’s part of Rachel Notley’s plan to work with her friend (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau.”

Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Barnes said his concern with the NDP motion supporting Canada is it uses the phrase “always.”

“We heard it in the Fair Deal hearings and from my constituents loud and clear that there has to be serious discussions about Alberta with a (independence) referendum on the table,” Barnes said.

“I plan on being in the Legislature Monday and speaking on it – after I’ve had a chance to discuss it with my UCP colleagues.”

There have been calls for Premier Jason Kenney to kick Barnes out of caucus for saying a referendum on independence should be on the table for Alberta in any discussions with Ottawa to get a fairer deal for the province.

“Repeatedly, UCP Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes has, without challenge or objection  from Jason Kenney or any member of the UCP Cabinet and Caucus, supported the idea of Alberta separating from Canada,” the NDP said in a release on Canada Day.

“As well, UCP Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan read off a bizarre rant last month in the Legislature in which he referred to other Canadian provinces as, ‘hostile, parasitic partners.’”

Heather Sweet, NDP House Leader, said: “This motion will force Jason Kenney and the UCP to finally take a stand. Fanning the flames of separatism is this Premier’s way of distracting Albertans from his failed $4.7-billion corporate handout, which hasn’t created jobs or drawn in new investment.”

“Our caucus has been clear and open with Albertans in our support for a united Canada and unanimous in our belief that Alberta’s best interest lay within Canada. It is time for Jason Kenney and the UCP to finally be upfront with Albertans on this serious issue.”

Stephan couldn’t be reached for comment.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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