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Alberta NDP support delay of Fair Deal report

“Our premier’s primary strategy and tool for supporting Alberta through the pandemic is to stand back and wait for the federal government to step in and do the heavy lifting,” said Notley.

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Rachel Notley said Premier Jason Kenney is right not release the findings of Alberta’s Fair Deal panel – because the feds have been doing a better job for the province in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our premier’s primary strategy and tool for supporting Alberta through the pandemic is to stand back and wait for the federal government to step in and do the heavy lifting,” the NDP’s Notley told the Canadian Press Thursday.

Kenney said in a statement Saturday the report won’t be released until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Kenney created the panel in November 2019 “in response to the unprecedented levels of frustration Albertans have experienced with the province’s voice in Canada.”

The report deals with how best to define and secure a fair deal for Alberta in Canada’s Confederation, and is informed by the input of tens of thousands of Albertans.

Kenney told a Facebook town hall on Wednesday night he hasn’t read the report yet “because we’re all, around this table, preoccupied with dealing with the pandemic and the economic crisis.”

Notley told the CP: “The panel and the report is mostly a political tool that Jason Kenney put into play… to try to distract people’s frustration and anger from the fact that he was not actually creating jobs. He was losing jobs well before the pandemic.”

The panel gathered input through in-person town hall engagement sessions, a survey, interviews with experts and stakeholders, polling, and online submissions and emails.

Subjects covered include potentially moving towards a provincial pension plan, establishing a provincial police force and appointing a Chief Firearms Office for Alberta.

The report contains an assessment of Albertans’ positions on how these issues relate to Alberta’s role in Canada, and recommendations on how to strengthen the province’s voice on the national stage.

“Connecting with Albertans and hearing their stories and ideas about how our province fits into the Canadian federation has been the experience of a lifetime. The members of the panel are incredibly proud of the work we have done together, and we fully support government’s decision to postpone its assessment and response to the report until we are safely through the current public health crisis,” said panel chair Oryssia Lennie.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/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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Two debates set in Tory leadership race

The four candidates currently qualified for the final ballot are Erin O’Toole, Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.

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The Conservative Party of Canada has set dates for two debates in their leadership campaign.

The French debate will be on June 17 and the English debate will be on June 18, the party announced Monday.

Both debates will be livestreamed at conservative.ca starting at 7 p.m. (EST)

“These debates are an important part of our leadership election. They will allow our Conservative members the opportunity to inform their choice, and give all Canadians a preview of the next election,” the party said in an email to members.

And the party is asking members to send in their questions for candidates.

All you have to do is submit your 20-second question by June 10, 2020 here.

The Tory race will have mail-in voting this summer and conclude Aug. 21.

The four candidates currently qualified for the final ballot are Erin O’Toole, Peter MacKay, Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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TMX expansion has finally started to lay pipe in B.C.

Trans Mountain said in June, a workforce of 30-50 people will be working in Kamloops and this will increase to approximately 600 people at peak construction in the late summer or early fall.

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Trans Mountain announced Monday work has started in Kamloops on a section of pipeline that is 7 km in length and will take approximately 7 months to complete.  

“The start of pipeline construction in Kamloops, British Columbia is another key milestone for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project – it is good news for workers in the region and an important step forward on the path to building this critical piece of infrastructure,” Ian Anderson, President and CEO of Trans Mountain Corporation, said in a statement.

“We know these are challenging times for many communities and we are pleased to be able to contribute safely to the economy in Kamloops.  Trans Mountain knows that getting to work is important, but it must go hand in hand with a strong and unwavering commitment to the safety of our workforce and communities.” 

Trans Mountain said in June, a workforce of 30-50 people will be working in Kamloops and this will increase to approximately 600 people at peak construction in the late summer or early fall.

“Trans Mountain has identified local hotel and service providers who have confirmed their ability to meet the COVID-19 measures we require including food service, extra cleaning requirements and a dedicated area for our workforce to get COVID-19 screening before they go to the worksite,” the company said in a statement.

“Trans Mountain will work with a small number of hotels to provide these services in June and will include additional properties as the workforce builds throughout the coming months.”

The company said construction spending in the Kamloops area is expected to be more than $450 million over the next two years with additional workforce spending of more than $40 million for goods and services at local businesses. 

After expansion, Trans Mountain’s annual contribution to the city of Kamloops in taxes will increase by $1.2 million to $2.8 million.

“We are pleased that Trans Mountain is getting this portion of the project underway in Kamloops. As we face the new realities of today, we are confident in the measures they have put in place to ensure the safety of our community, and we are excited about the economic activity for local businesses and workers the Project will bring over the next few years. This Project will help us with our economic recovery plan and provide much needed benefits to our city,” said Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian.

The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc Indigenous group is also pleased with the start on construction.

“As we keep our Member’s interests at the forefront, Trans Mountain’s commitment to provide direct benefits to our community has resulted in training, employment, and contract opportunities for Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc members as well as provided support for needed community infrastructure upgrades” said Chief Rosanne Casimir.

“During these unprecedented times, we are continuing to protect the health, safety, and well-being of our community members, and appreciate Trans Mountain’s openness and attention to communities.”

 The construction area begins at Black Pines – approximately 40 km north of Kamloops – and runs to the Coquihalla Summit.

It includes approximately 185 km of 36-inch pipeline and 18 valve assembly installations, as well as three pump stations.

Meanwhile, the RCMP is still investigating an arson fire that destroyed a $1-million piece of equipment helping building the TMX pipeline in B.C.

Western Standard sources said the May 19 fire, near Merritt destroyed a 3-Line cable puller, worth about $1-million.

The equipment was burned down to the frame.

RCMP have confirmed the fire and said the same piece of equipment was vandalized a day earlier and also had fuel stolen from it.

The feds bought the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion in May, 2018, after Kinder Morgan, pulled out because of political and environmental opposition.

In February, the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the latest attempt by four B.C. indigenous groups to quash the Government of Canada’s approval of the TMX clearing the way for the 1,150-km, 890,000 bbl/d line between Edmonton and Burnaby.

The cost to complete the project, from Alberta to the lower mainland, now stands at $12.6 billion.

Construction along the entire route should be complete in 2022.

The original Trans Mountain Pipeline was built in 1953 and the expansion is essentially a twinning of this existing 1,150-kilometre route.

The system will go from approximately 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Alberta school changes will produce ‘nutbar…right-wing warriors’, top NDP official says

McGowan is the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour and was an NDP candidate in the 2015 federal election.

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New laws governing Alberta’s education system are aimed at producing “nutbar…right-wing warriors”, says a prominent NDP member.

“UCP paves the way for nutbar religious charter schools & home-schooling that doesn’t follow the curriculum. They’re trying to create an army of brainwashed right-wing warriors. And they accused the NDP of being too political with education! #ableg #abpoli” tweeted Gil McGowan Thursday afternoon.

McGowan is the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour and was an NDP candidate in the 2015 federal election.

mcgown tweet

“To add insult to injury, this will pave the way for a money grab so that the government can use YOUR tax dollars to help fund these crazy right-wing, religious schools. No other province gives more public money to fund private schools than Alberta.”

McGowan was going ballistic after Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, said she’s making good on an election promise to safeguard parent choice in education introduced Bill 15, the Choice in Education Act.

The AFL gets automatic seats on the provincial NDP board.

“It is completely unacceptable that the head of the NDP-affiliated Alberta Federation of Labour would call families of students who are homeschooled or attend a charter school nutbars,” LaGrange said in a statement to the Western Standard.

“Unlike this NDP affiliate, our government stands with all parents, regardless of how they choose to educate their children. Rachel Notley and the NDP must condemn this hateful, bigoted rhetoric.”

LaGrange said the bill strengthens the idea that parents have the right to choose the type of education their children receive, through amendments to the Education Act.

Premier Jason Kenney told reporters the proposed legislation is important because there continues to be special interest groups and political parties in Alberta who undermine the right.

“This legislation won’t let them do so in the future,” he said. 

Courtesy Alberta Education

“This legislation enshrines the belief of Albertans in freedom, diversity, pluralism and choice as well as parental responsibility. Because we believe that parents know better than politicians or bureaucrats about what’s in the best interests of their kids.”

 Bill 15 changes the home education programs section of the Education Act, allowing for “unsupervised notification-only, non-funded home education program,” meaning those students would no longer need to be supervised by an Alberta school board.

Parents would have to submit an education plan that shows the ministry the student would have the opportunity to achieve appropriate learning outcomes.

The bill also proposes changes to how charter schools can start. 

Current laws say that those wishing to establish a charter school have to go to the school board in the area and request that the board establish an alternative program before considering the charter application. 

Under the proposed changes, those wishing to establish a charter school would go directly to the minister. 

There hasn’t been a single charter school application since Kenney took office.

“The waiting list for charter schools is unacceptably long. Last I heard, there were 14,000 students province-wide waiting for a position in a charter school,” he said.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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