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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

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

News

Calgary students suspended after taping principal using N-word

One of the students at the school, 4511 8 Ave S.W., played it for their family who then posted the six second clip online.

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A group of students have been suspended from a Calgary Catholic school after a tape recording was released of the principal using the N-word.

“So how come it’s OK for you to say [the N-word]?” St. Michael School principal Lianne Anderson asked a group of Black students, questioning their use of the word, CBC reported.

One of the students at the school, 4511 8 Ave S.W., played it for their family who then posted the six second clip online.

It is against Calgary Catholic School District rules to tape events or conversations in school unless it is open to the public.

“The word was more so used in a situation to explain, like, ‘If it’s not OK for me to use the word, why is it OK for you to use the word?'” said district spokeswoman Sandra Borowski to the CBC.

“I think the whole point was to kind of clarify that, bottom line, the use of the word is just generally unacceptable for anyone.

“I definitely understand that there is, you know, the possibility that it’s coming across that the students are being disciplined for the use of that word.

“But at the end of the day, they’re only being disciplined for having recorded a conversation, taking clips out of context and posting that conversation online. So it’s unfortunate that the topic of a negative racist term is the focus of the conversation.”

The principal is not facing any disciplinary actions.

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

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ANALYSIS: Saskatchewan Party’s strengths & weaknesses

The Western Standard breaks down the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the Saskatchewan Party.

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Saskatchewan is headed to the polls October 26, 2020. In the first in a series, our Saskatchewan correspondent Lee Harding will examine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats each party faces in this election campaign. Our first in the series looks at the Saskatchewan Party which has governed Saskatchewan for the last 13 years.

Background:

The Saskatchewan Party was formed in 1997 when four Progressive Conservative and four Liberal MLAs left their respective parties to form a new entity. Two elections by with former Reform MP Elwin Hermanson at the helm failed bring the party to government. Brad Wall won majority governments in 2007, 2011, and 2016 before handing over the reins to Scott Moe in January of 2018.

Strengths:

The Sask Party has overwhelming reasons to win. The party has enjoyed over 50 per cent support in opinion polls since July of 2018. The high rate of population growth since 2007 continued until the pandemic hit. The province of 1.18 million people has had just 1900 cases and 24 deaths from COVID-19, despite restrictions that were less onerous than most provinces. The provincial deficit of $2.1 billion is perhaps forgivable, given the circumstances, which include a government in Ottawa that remains largely hostile to the oil and gas sector. 

Scott Moe is no slouch. Although this will be his first election as Sask Party leader, the 46-year-old has more experience and savvy than his counterparts in other parties. He won his riding of Rosthern-Shelbrook quite handily in 2011 and 2016 and has held various cabinet posts. In 2018, he beat out five other competitors in a fiercely-contested party leadership battle. And, for the past year, he has chaired the Council of the Federation meeting with his fellow premiers. Polling by Angus Reid showed that 59 per cent of Saskatchewan residents approved of his performance, placing him fifth nationally.

The Sask Party team remains intact even though seven incumbent MLAs are not seeking re-election. Columnist Murray Mandryk noted the party’s “solid cabinet base” of veterans with governing experience.

Weaknesses:

“I’m not Brad,” Moe told the Leader-Post in a recent interview, to which the NDP said, “we strongly agree.” An NDP press release also noted Moe’s comment that “Boring might be just not too bad,” and that his vision for the future was “managing events that we’ve been presented with.” 

An urban female university graduate is the only demographic coin flip in the province. An August 31 EKOS Politics pollshowed the Sask Party had its smallest margins of preference over the NDP with university-aged voters (9 percent) and those in Regina (12 percent) and Saskatoon (13 percent). The margin was also smaller for women (23 points) than men (42). 

Cracks in the Sask Party armour began to appear before Wall left, and some have emerged since.

In 2017, longtime MLA Bill Boyd was flagged by the Conflict of Interest Commissioner over land dealings related to the Global Transportation Hub, Regina’s inland train terminal. The NDP actually led in two public opinion polls over the matter.

In 2019, Moe reached an agreement with the federal government to shut down most coal-fired power plants by 2030, an unpopular move in Sask Party ridings where jobs will be lost.

In May, the Moe government closed 12 rural emergency wards as a contingency measure for COVID-19 and even built field hospitals in June in what seemed a misguided effort to many.

Moe had a mini-WE scandal of his own. The premier has known the Kielbergers for years and took his wife to visit the Kenya compound last winter, all at his own expense. The province cancelled a $260,000 contract that would have put a WE Charity initiative in schools.

Opportunities

This is Moe’s chance to fully emerge from Brad Wall’s shadow and put his fingerprints on the direction of the party. His main opponent is Saskatoon MLA Ryan Meili, a doctor who was elected for the first time in a 2018 by-election. None of the remaining parties have a leader who has ever been elected or led their party into an election. Four NDP incumbents are retiring; three of them in Saskatoon and Warren McCall in Regina, making it a little easier for a Sask Party contender to steal a seat.

Threats

The Sask Party will face more opposition from the right than it has in any election since 1999. The Progressive Conservatives have tried to rejuvenate under new leader in Ken Grey. The Buffalo Party has also emerged to capture the post-Trudeau Wexit sentiment. These parties could play spoiler in a few ridings, or keep Moe on his toes from an angle not represented in years.

Conclusion

A majority government of at least 46 seats seems certain for Moe. Anything less than a majority government would be enough to trigger a leadership review. However, unless the premier makes a major mistake, that is unlikely to happen.

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Correspondent for the Western Standard

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News

Buffalo Party goes into its first Saskatchewan election

The new party will get its first baptism of fire on October 26th.

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Saskatchewan will head to the polls before on October 26, giving the province’s new Buffalo Party its first chance to test itself with the electorate, while Premier Scott Moe seeks to extend the Saskatchewan Party’s 13-year reign.

This will be Moe’s first time leading his party into an election, having gained the leadership in 2018 following Brad Wall’s retirement.

The sovereigntist Wexit Saskatchewan registered as an official political party in March but later rebranded itself as the Buffalo Party

Interim leader Wade Sira says that he wants a strong West. 

“I’m more on the independence side. I’ve always been very [pro] independence for Western Canada whether it was in Canada or out of Canada, but we do need a stronger voice and stronger say in what’s going on in this country. We’re kind of left as a colony of Eastern Canada. I’ve never liked that ever since I was in high school,” Sira told the Western Standard.

Although the second term of a Trudeau government is a fertile time for sovereigntists like the Buffalo Party to gain ground, a pandemic is not. Covid-19 restrictions have lowered legal attendance to 30 venues in some places. The economic setback from the lockdown makes it a difficult time to fundraise.

“It’d be nice to . . . have more funds because we’re taking on the juggernaut of the Sask Party. The NDP don’t have a lot, and any other party out there is in the same position we are–that some of our fundraising is going to be back to our own account for making sure we can at least get some advertising,” Sira says.

Sira says the party is picking up support, especially from disaffected Saskatchewan Party supporters.

“We always known there was no one who was going to be able to replace Brad Wall. That was just a given; but the fact [is] that he [Moe] hasn’t done much in the last two years except close down our power plants and helped to close down our oil fields. He keeps sending off letters down to Ottawa saying that he wants pipelines built or he’s not happy with the gun laws, but there’s not a lot of action coming out of him,” Sira says.

The NDP chose Saskatoon doctor Ryan Meili as their new leader in 2018. Sira says the NDP’s embrace of “identity politics” has not sat well with some old NDP voters.

“More people in Saskatchewan are traditional people, whether they are the NDP or whether they are right of the spectrum or left of the spectrum. And a lot more people believe that all people matter. Yeah, some people have been treated worse than others throughout history but we need to move past this,” Sira says.

Sira believes the Buffalo Party could snag six of Saskatchewan’s 61 seats. He expects just 12 to 16 candidates will fly his party’s banner in October, though at present only five have been confirmed.  Sira will run in Martensville-Warman just north of Saskatoon and former PPC candidate Phil Zajac will run in Estevan, where many are upset at the federal move to shut down coal-fired power plants.

“Carbon capture is there and it’s proven and it’s working. Estevan, they feel they’ve been let down by the province and let down by the feds, because they’ve got both industries down there, oil and gas and coal,” says Sira.

“I drive truck right now so I drive all over Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan…There’s a lot of people unhappy. You know as well as I do, can you turn that frustration into actual votes?”

University of Saskatchewan political science professor Joseph Garcea believes a Sask Party majority is a “foregone conclusion.” Garcea says the NDP lack an overarching vision to counter Sask Party attack ads aimed at Meili and the legacy of the Romanow-Calvert era. Garcea says a few seats in Regina or Saskatoon could be at play, but little else will change.

An EKOS poll released August 31 showed the Sask Party enjoyed 60 per cent popular support, compared to 28 percent for the NDP, and 12 percent for other parties. The SP/NDP spread was 12 and 13 points in Regina and Saskatoon respectively, and just 9 points among university grads in the province. The poll did not ask respondents about potentially voting for the Buffalo Party.

On the Buffalo Party, Garcea says, “They will get some votes, but I think it’ll be more along the lines of what the Green Party gets, where the Green Party gets a particular type of individual that believes primarily in one thing…They’re against the federal state but they’re also against the provincial state. And they’re going to get these really, if I may say so, angry and sense of marginalized, anti-statist [voters]. They will gravitate to that party, but I do not think that there are many constituencies where it is likely to garner enough support to come in second.”

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Affairs Columnist for the Western Standard

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