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NDP slams UCP for no-bid spending from Kenney’s office

The UCP response has been: Well you guys did it as well.

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Alberta’s NDP is accusing Premier Jason Kenney office for funnelling hundreds of thousands of dollars to his pals in no-bid contracts.

The UCP response has been: Well you guys did it as well.

An NDP release said Yorkville Strategies, the UCP’s polling company, “was handed $481,560 worth of taxpayers’ money through no-bid contracts, according to recently released government sole-source contract disclosures.

The release said Yorkville’s president, Dimitri Pantazopoulos, was Kenney’s “senior strategic advisor” during the 2019 provincial election campaign

The release claimed since the election, Vek Labs – a video production company – has gotten $73,500 worth of public money through no-bid contracts to make “flattering videos of the premier.”

The release also claimed Enterprise Canada, a company run by Erika Barootes, who was president of the United Conservative Party through the 2019 election campaign, was handed $12,800 in no-bid contracts to provide “media training for the Premier’s Communications Staff and Minister’s Office Press Secretaries.”

Neither Yorkville Strategies, Vek Labs, or Enterprise Canada had won any government contracts before the 2019 election, the NDP said.

“All Alberta companies should have a right to bid for government contracts,” said Heather Sweet, NDP Opposition Critic for Democracy and Ethics in a release.

“Alberta taxpayers have a right to expect these companies to compete on price and value, and for public servants to select them based on the strength of their bid, not their coziness with the premier.

“Jason Kenney is the most corrupt premier in Alberta history, and now he’s letting his partisan cronies skip the bidding and help themselves to taxpayers’ money. 

“Jason Kenney shamefully diverted pandemic relief funding from taxpayers to subsidize his political party.

“Now we see he’s also funneling Alberta taxpayers’ money to his partisan cronies’ companies. While Albertans are losing their jobs and businesses in massive numbers, Jason Kenney’s partisan cronies are laughing all the way to the bank with Alberta taxpayers’ money.”

Kenney’s issue manger, Matt Wolf, quickly took to Twitter to defend his boss, saying the NDP did the same thing when they were in power.

Wolf tweet

“Let’s not forget John Heaney, one of @RachelNotley‘s former chiefs of staff. He was paid $287,000/year in that role. Then a few months after he left that role, he was swiftly handed a $130,000 contract from @joececiyyc‘s ministry. #ableg“, Wolf also tweeted.

Kenney’s office also responded with a lengthy release.

“The Government of Alberta has been polling more frequently recently in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as it’s important to better understand Albertans’ views,” said the statement.

“This government’s contracting has followed all applicable policies – the same policies that existed under the previous NDP Government.

“Yorkville Strategies is on Communications and Public Engagement’s pre-qualified vendor list. This list exists so that polling can take place for rapidly emerging issues in a timely fashion (ex. COVID-19).

“Our government spent less last year than the former NDP government in 2018-19. Yorkville is but one firm able to provide government polling. 

“The NDP’s criticism is rich:

“They provided $438,000 to NDP-linked campaign firm Stratcom. Stratcom was founded in Vancouver by a former Greenpeace director, and has had clients including the NDP (federal and provincial), the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace, Ecojustice, and the Alberta Federation of Labour. 

“Rachel Notley’s former chief of staff, John Heaney. He was paid a salary of $287,000/year. Just months after he left, he was awarded a $130,000 contract by the Ministry of Finance.

“A former chief of staff to Saskatchewan NDP Premier Roy Romanow was awarded contracts worth $40,000 to “provide advice on…efficient working relationships” and to “make recommendations on processes and paper flow.”

“Most recently, it was even discovered that Rachel Notley is using tax dollars for Facebook ads to promote her new dog.”

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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