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NDP calls on Kenney to release details of Keystone deal

Kenney announced on Tuesday his government was providing $1.5 billion in equity investment and a $6-billion loan guarantee to TC Energy to get the Keystone XL project completed but so far no details have been publicly released.

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NDP leader Rachel Notley has called on Premier Jason Kenney to release of the details of the province’s $7.5 billion deal to help get the Keystone pipeline built.

Kenney announced on Tuesday his government was providing $1.5 billion in equity investment and a $6-billion loan guarantee to TC Energy to get the Keystone XL project completed but so far no details have been publicly released. 

“We support the oil and gas industry and that’s why we also support the Keystone XL pipeline because we understand its strategic value to Alberta’s oil and gas industry,” said Notley in a release Thursday.

“That is why, when we were in government, we supported it by committing to ship 50,000 barrels per day. However, the Government of Alberta’s commitment of up to $7.5 billion of Albertans’ money is unprecedented and people deserve to know the details of the deal and the genuine risks associated with this project.”

Kenney said after the project is completed the government would sell its shares back to TC Energy but he did not say at what price.

“Given that Albertans are now financing a major portion of Keystone XL, the Opposition requests that TC Energy and the UCP government provide further oversight of how public dollars are spent. This includes ensuring workers have a seat on the company’s board of directors, guarantees that payroll is maintained, collective agreements remain in place, and all construction labour is procured through unionized building trades,” the NDP release said.

“The NDP Opposition will be proposing an amendment to the motion, asking the government to provide full disclosure of the deal to the public and that all members of the Legislature be briefed on the associated costs, benefits, and risks. A second amendment will propose to refer the deal to the Public Accounts Committee for further analysis and consultation with the Auditor General to ensure Albertans are getting good value for money.”

Notley’s call for transparancy was welcomed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“This is a ton of tax dollars, full transparency is a MUST. The Premier must also continue to report back to Albertans on the progress of construction, provide updates to show what’s happening with our money and get taxpayers’ money back ASAP,” tweeted Franco Terrazzano, Alberta director of the CTF.

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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Tory leadership hopefuls blast own party for taking wage subsidies

Both Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole said the federal Conservative party should not have applied for the subsidies.

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The two top Tory leadership candidates have criticized their own party for accepting federal wage subsidies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole said the federal Conservative party should not have applied for the subsidies.

Over the weekend it was revealed the federal Liberal, Tory and NDP parties are all accepting the packages on behalf of their paid staff due to a steep drop in political donations.

In Alberta, the UCP party is also accepting the subsidy.

“Canadians have sacrificed enough,” O’Toole said in a Twitter post on the weekend.

“They shouldn’t have to pay wage subsidies for political parties. Under my leadership the Conservative Party will not take the subsidy and over time will repay the amount it has taken. I call on all parties to do the same.”

MacKay also tweeted he was against the Tory party taking the money.

“Political parties should not qualify for a wage subsidy and Justin Trudeau’s law is flawed. As leader, I would have stopped the application in its tracks. We should not be bailed out by taxpayer money with millions unemployed and small businesses struggling to stay afloat.”

At his daily press conference in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried to defend the Liberal Party accessing the funds.

Trudeau was repeatedly asked by reporters on Monday how he can justify his own Liberal party making use of the funding, given the amount his party has already raised this year. He did not directly answer.

“We put in place a wage subsidy that is available to small businesses, large businesses, non-profits and charities to be able to support people who might otherwise be laid off – this is going to be an important part of the economy bouncing back, and that’s what we’re focused on.”

The wage subsidy covers 75 per cent of an employer’s payroll if revenue has dropped by at least 30 per cent in one month since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Bloc Quebecois did not apply for the subsidy.

Leader Yves-François Blanchet mocked the Tories and Liberals for using the program despite having already raised millions of dollars this year.

“The money is not a gift provided to the people by the government because they are nice people. It is reserved for businesses, the companies and the people who really need it. And the Liberals don’t need it and the Conservatives don’t need it. Maybe the NDP needs it. Maybe the Greens need it. We do not,” Blanchet told reporters.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation slammed the political parties that applied for the federal wage subsidy, noting that the intent of the program is to help struggling families and businesses, not subsidize more political attack ads. 

“The UCP and all political parties that took the subsidy need to pay it back,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. “The UCP ran on being the party that would look out for taxpayers, but the party is now taking money from struggling taxpayers. Even the Alberta NDP know that political parties shouldn’t be doing this.

“Albertans are lying awake worried about a lot of things right now like their small business, their job or their next grocery bill. But I’m pretty sure there aren’t many Albertans worried that there isn’t enough political attack ads.”

The CTF has launched a petition asking the parties repay the subsidy money.

According to the National Post, first quarter fundraising for 2020 shows the Conservatives raised $3.8 million, the Liberals took in $2.9 million, the NDP raised $964,000 and the Bloc raised $184,000.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Bigots deface French signs in historic Calgary neighbourhood

Located in the community of Rouleauville, also known as Mission, the stop signs also contained the French word ‘Arret’, French for halt.

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Bilingual signs in a historic Calgary neighbourhood have been defaced, with French words being spray-painted out.

Located in the community of Rouleauville, now known as Mission, the stop signs also contained the French word ‘Arret’, French for halt.

But vandals have recently gone through the community with black spray-paint and covered up the French part.

“Oh look: Calgary’s bigots have been busy -erasing one tiny French word. Come on guys, we’re a better city than this! #frab ⁦@cityofcalgary⁩ ⁦@nenshi,” Sheila Risbud tweeted.

Defaced signs

Leela Sharon Aheer, Alberta’s Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, responded with disgust.

“These actions have no place in our province and must be condemned. Our government values the role of Franco-Albertans and is committed to ensuring the French language and culture flourish in Alberta,” she tweeted.

Rouleauville, now Mission, was originally named for Charles and Edward Rouleau — brothers who moved to Calgary from Quebec in the late 1800s.

The village had been founded by French Canadian priests. 

In 1907, when the village was annexed by the Calgary its French street names were replaced with the current numbered street system.

Council voted in June to add French to the signs.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP hires fired federal Tory official as new executive director

Dustin van Vugt was fired in December after the federal Conservative party’s fundraising arm (the Fund) launched an internal audit into how the party handles expenses.

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The Alberta United Conservative Party has a new executive director – the man fired over the Andrew Scheer private school controversy.

Dustin van Vugt was fired in December after the federal Conservative party’s fundraising arm (the Fund) launched an internal audit into how the party handles expenses.

van Vugt was the executive director of the Fund.

The firing came less than 24 hours after Global News reported that Conservative leader Scheer was using Fund money to send his children to private school, an arrangement van Vugt took responsibility for.

In a statement, van Vugt described the arrangement as “normal practice for political parties” and said “all proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people.”

The seven-person board, which included former prime minister Stephen Harper, were furious over the arrangement, Global reported at the time.

Other Tories said van Vugt was being made a scapegoat.

Van Vugt replaces Brad Tennant, who left the job to become a vice-president at the lobbying firm Wellington Advocacy. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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