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JEAN: Albertans missing point of Equalization referendum

I was clear that a referendum was a tool to force negotiations which would lead to changes to the Canadian constitution – Brian Jean

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By BRIAN JEAN

In the last few weeks, I have watched Alberta politicians and advocacy groups discussing referendums and I feel the need to speak up. Everyone is missing the point and viewing the tool-to-an-end as an end-in-itself.

In mid-March of 2017 as Leader of the Opposition I first called for an equalization referendum. In a media release I stated that Alberta should more aggressively “challenge the constitutional status quo” and use a referendum to get constitutional changes which would result in a “better deal for Alberta.”

I was clear that a referendum was a tool to force negotiations which would lead to changes to the Canadian constitution. This flowed from the Supreme Court of Canada reference on Quebec Secession which said that a province having a clear result on a referendum on a constitutional question forced the Federal government and other provinces to enter into bonafide constitutional negotiations on the topic of the referendum.

As I said then: “A clear vote through a referendum would send a clear mandate to not only the provincial government but the federal government on getting Alberta a better deal.” I was clear that the purpose of a referendum on equalization was to force the “federal government to the table.” It has always been my belief that constitutional discussions, once started, would not be limited to just equalization – which is a good thing because equalization is not the biggest constitutional problem facing Alberta.

In the last few weeks Alberta politicians and advocacy groups have been speaking as if an equalization referendum is a solution in and of itself. Some are now calling for many different referendums on different topics. Gone is any clarity on the need for constitutional negotiations and changes. Instead Albertans are offered a set of comparatively minor autonomy measures as a replacement for real change.

While I have no big issue with the autonomy changes being considered they won’t fundamentally change the relationship between Alberta and Canada. They won’t get our energy to tide water where we can sell to someone other than the Americans. They won’t fix the fundamental imbalances that cause Canada to not recognize Alberta’s contributions. They won’t fix our broken democracy where neither of the houses of Parliament treat Alberta fairly or equitably. And they won’t return Canada to the original spirit of Confederation: that Canada was created so that its constituent parts could use the strength of a combined Canada to trade with the world and to increase the prosperity of Canada and all the pieces that make Canada.

These are the important things that will make Canada work for another century. They matter more than provincial police forces or pensions or other symbols of provincial autonomy. Autonomy inside the province of Alberta won’t change the fundamentals of Canada. With the exception of pulling Alberta out of the CPP, none of these other changes would be felt in the rest of Canada.

So why are so many politicians and advocacy groups pushing something less than the needed constitutional changes?

Some have likely missed the significance of what I was pushing for. Others are likely prepared to settle for these smaller changes because they fear the consequences of failed constitutional discussions.

They probably agree with me that Albertans won’t vote to leave Canada until Alberta has made a good faith effort to fix Canada — and failed. Right now, a clear majority of Albertans want to fix Canada – they aren’t prepared to leave. At this time. 

Any good faith effort to fix Canada requires constitutional changes. Ordinary politics and policy changes won’t cut it. They are too easily changed by the next government. I served a decade under Stephen Harper, the only majority conservative government in the last 30 years. All of Harper’s major policy changes were undone in Trudeau’s first two years. We can’t fix Canada through ordinary politics – it will require constitutional change.

Status quo politicians are terrified of constitutional negotiations. But Albertans should press them to find the courage to charge ahead. Either we negotiate a good constitutional deal with the federal government and other provinces – which would be excellent – or we fail because the rest of Canada won’t recognize our aspirations, our legitimate grievances, and our immense contributions. And that situation might change the attitude and intentions of a clear majority of Albertans.

Those who want Albertans to settle for something other than serious changes, fear that crucial change of attitude. They hope to play for time by getting us to settle for symbolic items that make us feel better but don’t actually change anything. They hope that time and circumstances will solve these problems because they fear the consequences of taking action to force things.

The time has come to be brave and see what happens. Albertans need to pressure Jason Kenney to push for constitutional negotiations. With Premier Kenney Alberta will be represented by an ardent Canadian nationalist who can ably present Alberta’s issues to the rest of Canada in both official languages.

We can fix Canada. And if we can’t, then Albertans will know where we stand and what we will have to do.

Jean was first elected as a Tory MP in a Fort MacMurray-area riding in 2004. He was re-elected in 2008 and 2011. He resigned in 2014, and the next year become the leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party. After the party merged with the UCP, Jean ran to become leader but lost to Jason Kenney.

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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Phillips appeals decision not to fire cops who followed her

The appeal said the decision “fail(ed) to recognize the severity” of the two officers’ actions.

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Shannon Phillips, who as Alberta environment minister was watched and followed by members of the Lethbridge city police, is appealing a decision not to fire the officers involved.

The appeal, sent by Phillips’ lawyer, Michael Bates, to the Law Enforcement Review Board last week, said the decision “fail(ed) to recognize the severity” of the two officers’ actions.

It said targeting a cabinet minister for “personal political reasons,” should be enough to prove that neither is fit to be a police officer.

“I think public confidence in law enforcement was severely shaken in Lethbridge, and in fact across the province with the revelations of what happened,” the Lethbridge West MLA told the Star.

“I also think the public had a lot of questions about whether justice was seen to be done in this instance.”

Phillips had a Good Friday 2017 meeting with stakeholders involved in the Castle Mountain wilderness area.

As Environment Minister, Phillips made a controversial decision to limit access to the area, including the use of quads.

Sgt. Jason Carrier and Const. Keon Woronuk both had an interest in quadding.

Carrier was on-duty but on a meal break with two other officers when Phillips entered the Chef Stella Diner to meet informally with stakeholders, said a decision paper issued July 9 after an LPS internal investigation.

The decision said Carrier texted the acting sergeant Woronuk that Phillips was at the restaurant and sent him a photo. Woronuk arrived at the diner a short time later.

Woronuk also set up surveillance and subsequently following one of the stakeholders while running a police information check on them.

Woronuk found a nearby position of surveillance of the diner and Carrier took position at nearby parkade with a view of the diner, according to agreed facts entered at the hearing. Phillips eventually left the diner on foot.

“The intent of Const. (Keon) Woronuk to target an attendee of Minister Phillips’ meeting is truly troubling,” stated the hearing’s presiding officer Paul Manuel, a former Calgary Police Service inspector.

Woronuk later posted photos of the meeting on a Facebook page under the name “Mike Corps” which included identifying the stakeholders and, “was accompanied by a long caption criticizing Minister Phillips and her NDP government,” CHAT reported.

Phillips and NDP justice critic Kathleen Ganley called on Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer to order an independent, out of province investigation. Phillips said the investigation is needed to see if the corruption is “more broad” within the LPS.

Schweitzer called in the Alberta police watchdog, ASIRT to investigate.

Woronuk, a 19-year veteran, admitted to five charges under the Police Service Regulation including two counts of corrupt practice and a single count each of deceit, discreditable conduct and insubordination.

He was demoted from senior constable to first-class constable for two years.

Carrier, a 23-year veteran, admitted to discreditable conduct and neglect of duty and was demoted to senior constable for one year.

At the time, Phillips took issue with demotions being the outcome.

“That they can still drive by my house is not an acceptable penalty,” she said.

“I don’t feel safe…these people are still driving around in cruisers, who made a plan to follow me for political purposes.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Alberta experts fear Prussian fish attack in bodies of water

Nicole Kimmel, an aquatic invasive species expert with Alberta Environment and Parks, says the dangerous fish has been spotted in four Edmonton-area ponds.

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The Prussians are coming! The Prussians are coming!

Prussian carp that is. And they could be on their way to killing a lot of Alberta’s native fish.

Nicole Kimmel, an aquatic invasive species expert with Alberta Environment and Parks, says the dangerous fish has been spotted in four Edmonton-area ponds.

Prussian carp

A species of wild goldfish, Kimmel said it’s believed the fish were dumped there by humans.

The government says if you catch a Prussian carp, you are to kill it immediately. Even being caught with a live one will result in a charge.

If you are found dumping the carp into a water body, you could be hit with a fine of up to $100,000.

Kimmel said if the carp is found in a body of of water a pesticide can be used to kill them.

She said the Blood First Nation had a carp invasion a few years ago and “the native fishery is already vanishing.”

Kimmel said the main plan of attack is to educate people not to dump their carp into other bodies of water.

“This should go without saying, but NEVER transplant a species from one area to another. Invasive Prussian Carp are incredibly harmful to surrounding aquatic ecosystems and there are steep fines for letting them loose,” said Environment Minister Jason Nixon.

 In Canada, Prussian carp has only been found in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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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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