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Trudeau backs embattled Bennett after Wet’suwet’en elected chiefs called for her ouster

On Monday, four elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs demanded B.C. and the feds reject a recent agreement reached with hereditary chiefs.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave his backing Tuesday to Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett after elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs said she should resign after making a deal with hereditary chiefs they claim was drafted without their consent. 

“I want to begin by thanking Minister Bennett for the extraordinary work that she has done over the past months and continues to do on a very difficult issue that … has gone on for decades now,” Trudeau said.

“The challenges facing the Wet’suwet’en are significant in terms of how they engage and how they work with the federal government and we will always be there … as a partner, to listen, to work with them, and to continue moving forward on the path to reconciliation and partnership.”

On Monday, four elected Wet’suwet’en chiefs demanded B.C. and the feds reject a recent agreement reached with hereditary chiefs.

They want negotiations restarted to include the elected leadership.

The agreement lays out the steps to transfer jurisdiction of Wet’suwet’en territory to traditional governance, including land, water and revenue-sharing that would give the hereditary chiefs leverage over further resource development, the CBC reported.

The release by the elected chiefs was signed by Chief Rosemarie Skin of Skin Tyee Nation, Chief Dan George of Ts’ilh Kaz Koh First Nation, Chief Maureen Luggi of Wet’suwet’en First Nation and Chief Patricia Prince of Nee Thai Buhn Indian Band.

Luggi told CBC  the elected chiefs want Bennett to resign — and not B.C.’s Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Scott Fraser — because Bennett has a special constitutional relationship with First Nations as the minister who represents the Crown.

“In this instance, we are witnessing a failure of the Crown and we believe they are wanting to pursue negotiations and leaving a certain group of people out,” Luggi said to CBC.

“When you look at Aboriginal rights and title, they are collective rights and all members and all of our interests must be respected at every stage.”

Luggi said the elected chiefs are considering legal action.

The agreement with hereditary chiefs came on the heels of a dispute over the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which triggered protests and railway blockades that paralyzed parts of Canada’s economy over the winter.

The pipeline has the support of all First Nations along the route, but hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation, through which 28% of the 670-km route passes, oppose it.

A group of unelected hereditary chiefs had set up a camp near Smithers and had kicked out Coastal GasLink workers.

The RCMP said they have found traps like felled trees and three stacks of tires along with flammables along the access road.

On Jan. 7, 2019, RCMP arrested 14 protesters along the B.C. logging road. 

International attention was drawn to the issue when a British newspaper reported RCMP were ready to shoot protesters when they broke up the camp. The RCMP denied the story.

On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted CGL an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from blocking the pipeline route near Smithers, B.C.

But the situation has been further complicated after a Jan. 3 edict by the Unist’ot’en, a smaller group within the First Nation, that they intend to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access to the land.

The RCMP checkpoint had been set up at the 27-km mark of the forest service road “to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway.”

The $6.6 billion pipeline, to be operated by TC Energy Corp, would transport gas from near Dawson Creek in northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the coast and supply Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas export terminal, called LNG Canada, which is under construction.

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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Justice Centre sues province of Alberta over COVID restrictions

The JCCF is suing on behalf of two Alberta churches and two individuals.

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The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) has filed a court challenge against the Alberta UCP government’s health regulations, saying they violate ACharter freedoms.

The JCCF is suing on behalf of two Alberta churches and two individuals.

The Alberta government first declared a state of public health emergency in Alberta on March 17.

“Under the guise of ‘two weeks to flatten the curve,’ the resulting lockdown devastated small businesses and has led to large-scale societal harm in the form of increased unemployment and poverty, deteriorating mental and physical health, drug overdoses, cancelled surgeries, the loss of personal liberty and even death,” said the JCFF in a Saturday release.

“On November 24, the Alberta government again declared a state of public health emergency, imposing a ‘second wave’ of lockdown harms and authoritarian restrictions on the ability of Albertans to travel, conduct business, visit family and friends, obtain necessities, peacefully assemble, manifest their religious beliefs, and breathe freely.”

Currently in Alberta, no gathering around allowed in houses, outdoor gatherings must have no more than 10 participants and only members of the same household are allowed to dine in restaurants together. Pubs must also stop booze service at 10 p.m. Weddings and funerals are limited to 10 people.

As part of the court challenge the Justice Centre will argue the orders violate multiple Charter-protected rights, such as the right to peacefully assemble, the right to visit friends and family, the right to freely practice religious beliefs, the right to travel and the right to conduct business and earn a living.

The JCCF will also argue that these constitutional rights violations are not justified because lockdowns cause far more harm than whatever harm from COVID-19 lockdown measures may prevent.  

“In a free society, the government respects citizens as they exercise their freedom and responsibility to respond to a perceived crisis as they deem best for themselves and their loved ones. Arbitrary and authoritarian control, based on fearmongering by the government, only ever exasperates the problems facing society, as we have seen for the last nine months,” said JCCF lawyer James Kitchen.

“Politicians have not put forward any persuasive evidence that lockdowns have saved lives, but there is no question that lockdowns have caused grave harm to millions of Canadians suffering unemployment, poverty, cancelled surgeries, suicides, isolation and the loss of their liberty.

“The people of Alberta have suffered under the oppression of a medical dictatorship for long enough. The soul-destroying lockdowns have wrought havoc. It’s time for Albertans to get their freedom back.”

At a Calgary freedom rally on Saturday, JCCF head John Carpay said the group is seeking an immediate injunction to stop the orders followed by a permanent one.

Carpay told the Western Standard in an interview similar lawsuits will be filed against the governments of BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario before Christmas.

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

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‘WOE CANADA’: Canucks fire anthem singer for anti-mask support

“I sing ‘O Canada’ as a sign of unity and strength for all Canadians. The true north strong and free,” Mark Donnelly said.

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The Vancouver Canucks have fired their famed anthem singer for being set to perform “O Canada” at an anti-mask rally Saturday.

Mark Donnelly said he will sing ‘O Canada’ at the B.C. Christmas Freedom Rally 2020 at the Vancouver Art Gallery, protesting COVID-19 restrictions. 

“I sing ‘O Canada’ as a sign of unity and strength for all Canadians. The true north strong and free,” he told Postmedia.

Shortly after the Vancouver Sun published its story, Vancouver Canucks owner Franceso Aquilini tweeted: “Hey @VancouverSun change the headline to ‘Former Canucks anthem singer.’ #wearamask.”

The team then issued a statement confirming the firing.

Tweet of Vancouver Canucks’ owner

“Mark Donnelly is acting independently and we hope the public understands he is not representing the Vancouver Canucks,” the statement said.

“We encourage everyone to wear a mask and to follow the provincial health orders.”

BC residents are stay-at-home orders and a mask mandate. People have been told to avoid social gatherings of all kinds.

The singer has achieved world-wide fame with his booming voice and getting the fans to sing along.

He drew attention of a different sort when he took a tumble over a red carpet on the ice in a 2014 junior game – he got up and continued to perform the anthem while skating.

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

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Kenney hits out against anti-mask protesters

Kenney has been under fire for not condemning the 500 protesters who showed up in Calgary to protest mandatory mask regulations. Rallies were also held in Red Deer and Edmonton.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has lashed out at protesters who refuse to wear masks – telling them to visit his friend in ICU if they think COVID-19 is a hoax.

Kenney has been under fire for not condemning the 500 protesters who showed up in Calgary last weekend to protest mandatory mask regulations. Rallies were also held in Red Deer and Edmonton.

“If you think this is a hoax, talk to my friend in the ICU, fighting for his life,” said Kenney during a live Facebook stream Thursday night.

“If you’re thinking of going to an anti-mask rally this weekend, how about instead send me an email, call me all the names you want, send me a letter, organize an online rally.”

Another rally is planned for Saturday in Calgary. The province has currently outlawed public gatherings of more than 10 people.

If you refuse to wear a mask, Kenney said: “Don’t go where you have to wear a mask.”

On Thursday, Alberta announced a new record daily figure for new coronavirus cases at 1,854. There were also an additional 14 deaths reported.

Alberta has had 63,023 cases of COVID-19 resulting in 575 deaths.

The province currently has the most active cases and second highest hospitalization rate of any Canadian province.

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

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