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First-time drunk drivers in Alberta won’t be charged criminally

Instead, under a measure designed to clear up thousands of hours of court time, the drivers will face steeper fines and restrictions in a process the government says will take no longer than 30 days.

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Alberta drivers arrested for the first time for drunk driving will not be charged criminally, under new laws unveiled by the Alberta government Thursday.

Instead, under a measure designed to clear up thousands of hours of court time, the drivers will face steeper fines and restrictions in a process the government says will take no longer than 30 days.

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer said Thursday the legislation would see a first-time impaired driver fined $1,000 and banned from driving for over a year unless they have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicle.

Drivers can appeal the decision, with the entire process scheduled to take no more than 30 days.

Schweitzer said repeat offenders and those who cause bodily harm or death will still face criminal charges.

“By removing these matters from the court system, we will save thousands of hours of police and court time per year, ensuring Alberta’s prosecutors and courts are able focus on the most serious justice matters and more police are patrolling the streets,” the government said in a release.

“This bill would introduce a new Immediate Roadside Sanction program in late 2020 that would keep our roads safer by providing serious, immediate and escalating consequences for all impaired drivers – a system that has been proven to significantly reduce impaired driving and especially impaired driving fatalities in other jurisdictions.”

The government said new zero-tolerance consequences for novice drivers and commercial drivers will also be introduced, as will new fines, longer vehicle seizures, mandatory education and lengthy periods of ignition interlock. 

“The new impaired driving administrative model is based on changes made in British Columbia, which has seen their rates of impaired driving incidents drop by 36 per cent from 2011 to 2018 and the number of impaired driving fatalities fall by 54 per cent from 2010 to 2018,” said the government.

“We have heard loud and clear from Albertans that they are frustrated with seeing cases dropped because of the court backlog we inherited from the previous government. This legislation proposes smart administrative changes that will ensure our courts and police can keep our communities safe by focusing on serious and violent crime,” said Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer.

Alberta police chiefs welcomed the move.

“This announcement is good news for policing and the justice system as a whole. With court time being used more appropriately, we will have increased capacity to begin repairing the damage caused by impaired driving and follow other successful models in reducing traffic collisions that cause serious injury or death. An expedient, simplified traffic system also means officers are granted more time in our communities to focus on reducing crime and victimization,” said Dale McFee, chief of the Edmonton Police Service, and president, of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police

Anti-drunk driving advocates also welcomed the proposed changes.

“MADD Canada welcomes these new laws and sanctions. These streamlined administrative options for certain offenders have proven very effective at reducing impaired driving and saving lives in other provinces. They will do the same in Alberta. We thank the Government of Alberta for its leadership and ongoing efforts to prevent impaired driving,” said Andrew Murie, chief executive officer, of MADD Canada.

The UCP government is also setting up a new system to deal with traffic tickets.

“If passed, Bill 21 would also create an administrative process for dealing with non-criminal traffic offences. The new online system would be introduced in late 2021 and would be easier and quicker for Albertans to navigate,” the government said.

“These tickets, currently dealt with by the courts, will be handled online by administrative adjudicators – removing almost two million tickets from the courts. This system will be easier to use and Albertans will have their matters dealt with in 30 days, not months or years after the fact to ensure impaired drivers are off the roads as soon as possible.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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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Alberta brewery shocks Maori people by naming beer after their pubic hair

New Zealand TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora, a member of the Maori community, blasted the brewery on his FaceBook page.

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An Alberta brewery has unwittingly offended the Maori people of New Zealand by naming one of its beers after their pubic hair.

The Hell’s Basement brewery in Medicine Hat used the Maori word “huruhuru” to name its “New Zealand hopped pale ale”.

Unfortunately, in the Maori language “huruhuru” means pubic hair.

New Zealand TV presenter Te Hamua Nikora, a member of the Maori community, blasted the brewery on his FaceBook page.

“Some people call it appreciation, I call it appropriation,” he wrote.

Nikora said he contacted the brewery to inform them of their blunder.

“Don’t call beer pubic hair unless you make it with pubic hair,” he said.

Brewery co-founder Mike Patriquin said in statement to the New Zealand news site RNZ he thought “huruhuru” meant “feather” and he didn’t realise it was a reference to pubic hair.

“We did not realise the potential to offend through our artistic interpretation, and given the response we will attempt to do better in the future,” he said.

“To those who feel disrespected we apologise. We also do not think pubic hair is shameful, though we admit it may not go well with beer.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Gov.-Gen. Pyette spending hundreds of thousands of dollars so she doesn’t have to see people

But Pyette’s spokeswoman says Canadians don’t have to right to ask about her living arrangements.

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There’s more evidence out of Ottawa of Gov.-Gen. Julie Pyette acting like a drama queen – including spending $141,000 to plan for a private staircase that was never built.

But Pyette’s spokeswoman says Canadians don’t have to right to ask about her living arrangements.

It was part of hundreds of thousands of dollars Pyette demanded in privacy upgrades before she would move into Rideau Hall – but she still hasn’t moved into her official residence almost three years into her five-year mandate. 

More than $117,500 was also spent on a gate and series of doors to keep people away from Payette’s office, according to the National Capital Commission (NCC), which manages the official vice-regal residence.

While a large chunk of the grounds of Rideau Hall are open to the public, Payette “wanted to come and go without anyone seeing her,” one source with knowledge of the project told the CBC.

Multiple sources told CBC, Payette doesn’t like maintenance workers in her line of sight and even RCMP protection officers aren’t allowed to stand directly outside her office door and must hide in a room down the hallway.

Early in Payette’s mandate, CBC reported she wanted a door for her cats to be able to exit the living quarters on the second floor and go outside. The idea then changed into a private exit for Payette.

CBC said a team of government staff and outside companies spent months working on the project and going through a rigorous approval process to make the addition to the heritage building, according to sources. But the staircase was never built. 

But Payette’s press secretary, Ashlee Smith, suggested it’s not in the public’s interest for the media to ask about Payette’s living arrangements.

“To date, outstanding issues regarding universal accessibility and privacy in the space provided in Rideau Hall for the Governor General have not yet been addressed,” said Smith in a statement to CBC. 

“In this day and age, the interest in this seems contrary to respecting the life and privacy of a person.”

During the pandemic, Payette has spent time working at her own cottage in Quebec which means RCMP have to travel to the area near Mirabel and stay in hotels, the CBC reported.

Just last month there were claims the Queen’s representative in Canada had seen a mass exodus of staff while reducing others to tears after dressing-downs.

“Four members of Payette’s communications team have departed during the pandemic period alone. A fifth person is leaving this week and another two have taken leaves of absence. It’s just the latest wave of staff to quietly transfer out of the small office in response to mistreatment during Payette’s mandate”, multiple sources told the CBC.

“This has gone from being one of the most collegial and enjoyable work environments for many of the staff to being a house of horrors – it’s bullying and harassment at its worst,” one source told CBC.

CBC said they had spoken to dozens of sources to come up with the portrait of a tyrant Pyette.

The sources told CBC Payette has yelled at, belittled and publicly humiliated employees. They accused her of throwing tantrums in the office and, on one occasion, tossing an employee’s work aside and calling it “sh&%.”

CBC reported on one day along multiple people were seen leaving Pyette’s office in tears.

Multiple sources told CBC Payette routinely complained of being tired, underfed and overworked.

But Rideau Hall said Payette and “the management of the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General ‘strongly believe’ in the importance of a healthy workplace.”

“We deeply regret this reporting, which is in stark contrast to the reality of working at the OSGG, and obscures the important work done by our dedicated staff in honouring, representing, and showcasing Canadians,” said Ashlee Smith, press secretary to the Governor General, in a statement to CBC.

Payette, a former astronaut, was appointed Governor General on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in October 2017. Her term runs until 2022.

At the beginning of her mandate, CBC reported, Payette put staff on the spot by quizzing them about outer space — asking them to name all the planets in the solar system, for example, or to state the distance between the sun and the moon.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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WATCH: Alberta to explore nuclear option

Kenney said Alberta will enter into talks with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to support the development of versatile and scalable small modular reactors.

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Alberta is joining three other province to try and launch small scale nuclear power plants, says Premier Jason Kenney.

Kenney said Friday Alberta will enter into a memorandum of understanding with Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick to support the development of versatile and scalable small modular reactors (SMRs).

In a release, the government said SMRs are smaller than traditional nuclear reactors and scalable to suit local needs, with lower upfront capital costs and enhanced safety features. This new and versatile technology could supply non-emitting, low-cost energy for on-grid and off-grid communities in Alberta, including remote and rural areas of the province, as well as industries with a significant need for steam, such as Alberta’s oil sands.

“Our government is exploring all opportunities that could help diversify our economy and create jobs for Albertans,” said Kenney.

Government of Alberta video

“We are building on our track record of responsible and innovative energy production by exploring the potential for small modular reactors, which have the potential to generate reliable and affordable energy, while also strengthening our traditional resource sectors and reducing emissions.

“We are excited to collaborate with our provincial partners to stay ahead of the game in the development of this promising technology.”

The government said SMRs would be small enough to be built in a factory and shipped by truck, rail or ship.

A typical SMR would generate between two and 300 megawatts of electricity, which could provide power for a village or small city. In comparison, a conventional nuclear reactor can generate 600 to 1,000 megawatts, which can provide power for a large city.

SMRs could operate independently or be linked to multiple units, depending on the required amount of power.

“Alberta’s rich uranium deposits, respected innovation and research sector, and technically skilled and educated workforce could make us an attractive destination to develop and deploy SMRs,” said Energy Minister Sonya Savage in a statement.

“By signing on to this agreement, our government is taking another step to attract investment and job creators to our province by ensuring we have the appropriate regulatory framework in place should private industry decide to pursue this emerging technology.”

In December 2019, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to support the development and deployment of SMRs.

Canada is the second largest uranium producer in the world, with about 15 per cent of total world production.

The Athabasca Basin, which straddles the northern Alberta-Saskatchewan border, contains some of the greatest uranium resources in the world.

….MORE TO COME

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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