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AUPE demand UCP’s Barnes apologize for musing about civil service cuts

Barnes took to Twitter promoting a Financial Post column by Philip Cross that argued a cut to the wages of civil servants in Canada would help pay for the ballooning federal deficit.

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Apparently a pandemic is not the time to talk about how the bills are going to be paid.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees is demanding an apology from Cypress-Medicine Hat UCP MLA Drew Barnes for suggesting the civil service should have to face pay cuts of up to 20 per cent once the coronavirus crisis is over.

“At a time when workers are exposing themselves and their families to possible infections, it’s outrageous to see a member of the government caucus float a trial balloon suggesting workers should take a twenty percent pay cut,” said AUPE Vice-President Karen Weiers.

“When provinces like Ontario and Quebec have been providing raises to staff to recognize their work, Barnes seems to want to do the opposite.”

On Tuesday, Barnes took to Twitter promoting a Financial Post column by Philip Cross that argued a cut to the wages of civil servants in Canada would help pay for the ballooning federal deficit caused by the pandemic.

Noting the federal civil service was the third highest-paying industry in Canada, Cross wrote and Barnes tweeted: “reforming Cnd’s public sector pay would send clear message to investors that this country is serious about lowering its deficit, being honest with taxpayers about cost of civil service compensation, above all, relying on the private sector to raise econ growth”

Cross, a senior fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, argued a 20% cut in civil servants wages would be a place to start.

That didn’t sit well with the AUPE.

“We’re calling on Drew Barnes to reject hurtful cuts and apologize to the front line workers he has devalued,” said Weiers.

“Instead of twitter trial balloons, we need this government coming to the table with unions like AUPE to talk about how we can better support our front line heroes.”

But it appears the AUPE may be waiting a long time for an apology.

“I’m just throwing ideas out for discussion,” Barnes told the Western Standard on Wednesday.

“It seems unions always want to shut down dialogue. What are they scared of.

“I am grateful to live in one of the freest and richest places – I’m grateful to be able to look at all options.”

Stats Canada’s latest job report shows that the COVID-19 downturn has impacted private sector jobs more than government jobs. Between February and April 2020, private sector employment has declined by 21.9 per cent, while government employment has declined by 4.7 per cent in Alberta. 


“MLA Barnes and the United Conservative government were given an overwhelming mandate to fix the government’s finances without increasing taxes. With struggling taxpayers and potentially a $20-billion deficit, Barnes and the government will have to address the government’s ballooning labour costs. It’s good to see that Barnes isn’t shying away from having tough discussions,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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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UCP has no plans to debate their own anti-independence motion: source

Sources tell the Western Standard that the UCP motion meant to skirt an NDP anti-independence motion will die on the order paper.

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A UCP motion intended to shut down debate on rejecting Alberta independence is likely to die on the order paper without any debate or vote, sources tell the Western Standard.

On Monday, NDP MLA Heather Sweet introduced a motion  asking for the Legislature to reject independence and support a united Canada.

But the UCP refused to give it the unanimous consent needed to allow debate. Instead, the UCP gave a notice of their own motion, which makes no explicit mention of the independence question.

The resolution would “affirm its [Alberta’s] loyalty to a united Canadian federation, and urge the Government to obtain a fair deal for Alberta within the Canadian federation.”

But now, sources inside the UCP tell the Western Standard that the government has no plans to allow their own motion to come forward for debate, instead letting it die on the order paper.

Government House Leader Jason Nixon did not respond to requests for comment, however after this story was originally published, a spokesperson told the Western Standard, “Oral notice for the motion was provided yesterday, and the motion is now on the Order Paper. This is standard procedure.”

Nixon’s spokesperson did not say if and when the motion would be debated.

The NDP motion appears to have been an attempt to try and divide the UCP caucus between its federalist leadership and sovereigntist-leaning elements in the backbenches; most notably, MLA Drew Barnes who said that a referendum on independence should be on the table in negotiations with the rest if Canada fail to secure Alberta a fairer deal within confederation

“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.

Kenney slammed the independence movement after Barnes’ first comments were made public.

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.”

In an earlier interview with the Western Standard, Barnes dismissed the motion at NDP politicking.

“I am very, very disappointed the NDP with the motion would try and diminish the role of Alberta within Confederation,” Barnes said.

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

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Yet another U.S. court blow for Keystone XL pipeline

The court kept in place a lower court edict that blocked a key permit for the project.

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The Keystone XL pipeline project has been handed another legal hurdle in the U.S., this time by that country’s Supreme Court.

In a Monday ruling, the court kept in place a lower court edict that blocked a key permit for the project.

It’s yet another legal blow for Calgary-based TC Energy which has been trying to get the pipeline built for years.

Another blow could come in November with the U.S. election. Democrat candidate Joe Biden has vowed to cancel the pipeline’s permit that was brought in by President Donald Trump after it was cancelled by Barack Obama.

Last week, Premier Jason Kenney held a press conference to celebrate work getting underway in Alberta on the project. The Kenney government has invested $1.5 billion in the pipeline and has given TC access to $6 billion more in loan guarantees.

Work on the Alberta section will continue will the U.S. legal morass continues.

It’s been a bad few days for pipeline in the U.S. with the cancellation of the $8 billion Atlantic Coast gas pipeline in the Southeast and on Monday a ruling that shut down the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.

In the Keystone case, an April ruling from U.S. District Judge Brian Morris in Montana had threatened to delay not just Keystone but more than 70 pipeline projects across the U.S., and add as much as $2 billion in costs, according to industry representatives, the AP reported.

TC Energy spokesman Terry Cunha told the AP the company is not giving up on Keystone, but it will have to delay large portions of the 1,900-kilometre pipeline. 

Keystone was proposed in 2008 and would carry up to 830,000 barrels of Alberta crude daily to Nebraska, where it would be transferred to another TC Energy pipeline for shipment to refineries and export terminals on the Gulf of Mexico.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Former Alberta NDP Minister: People shouldn’t jump to conclusions about Communism

“I know some people will see the word Communist and jump to all kinds of conclusions but I’d say give it a read before you do that, it may surprise you,” Shaye Anderson said.

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Just give Communism a try, you might like it.

That’s the message from former Alberta NDP cabinet minister Shaye Anderson, who served as municipal affairs minister under Rachel Notley’s government.

“This is a good read. I know some people will see the word Communist and jump to all kinds of conclusions but I’d say give it a read before you do that, it may surprise you,” Anderson tweeted Monday in response to an article written by Elizabeth Rowley, the leader of the Communist Party of Canada.

Anderson tweet

The article, in a Communist website called The People’s Choice, covered a variety of tops including the COVID-19 pandemic and the rioting over police racism.

“The pandemic has underlined all the ills of capitalism. These include privatization and deregulation, tax cuts for the rich and the corporations, trade deals that destroy manufacturing and secondary industry, low wages and precarious work, growing poverty and insecurity,” Rowley wrote.

Elizabeth Rowley
Courtesy YouTube

“Eighty percent of COVID-related deaths in Canada have occurred among residents and workers in long-term care (LTC) homes. Most of these are private, for profit operations that are under-staffed, under-funded, and largely unregulated. LTC must be brought under public healthcare and treated as a public service with federal standards, needs-based staffing and funding.

“It is now clear to everyone that ‘we’re not all in this together.’ The wealthy have managed quite nicely. But the poor and unemployed, and those living and working in cramped or unaffordable housing without childcare, are in desperate straits and much more likely to become infected by the virus.

“While Cuba and China have been providing supplies, equipment and teams of healthcare workers to countries around the world, private producers of essential supplies and equipment in the capitalist countries have raised their prices, selling to the highest bidders.”

In the wake of race riots in the U.S., Rowley called for the disarming of police forces.

“The Central Committee received Party Executive’s previously issued statement supporting the protests and demanding an end to police killings and the systemic racism and violence against Black, Indigenous and racialized peoples. The statement noted that this oppression is a built-in feature of capitalism, which helps generate vast super-profits for the biggest exploiters, the large national and transnational corporations,” she wrote.

“The CC reiterated the Party’s long-standing demands for radical reform of policing. These include charging, prosecuting and sentencing police for crimes such as murder, rape and assault; demilitarizing police forces and disarming most police units, and putting an end to racial profiling and carding; enacting strong civilian control over police; slashing police and military budgets and redirecting those funds to civilian and social spending; and abolishing CSIS, the CSE and RCMP, as well as “anti-terrorist” legislation that threatens civil and democratic rights.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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