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UPDATED: Kenney says Albertans may get ‘multi-issues’ referendum; blasts independence movement

The government has already committed to hold a referendum on equalization payments next October at the same time as municipal elections

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says the UCP could have multiple referendum questions for voters next year as he continues his battles with Ottawa for a fair deal for the province.

“I know a lot of people in the party, in the province, get frustrated we’re not going to 10 out of 10 in a belligerent approach to Ottawa on every issue, every day,” Kenney said during the party’s virutal AGM on Saturday.

Kenney reiterated the province needs leverage in its fight.

“That’s why we’re doing a referendum on equalization next year, not this year.”

And he warned of further economic doom should the province move on the independence debate.

“(When Quebec voted in the PC) There was an enormous exodus of people, of businesses, of jobs, of capital. The real estate values declined by over a third,” said Kenney

“We’re already struggling enough as it is.”

In terms of referendums, the government has already committed to hold one on equalization payments next October at the same time as municipal elections.

Kenney said the party is also looking at adding other issues.

“I believe on the big consequential issues it’s right to go to the public,” kenney told 1,400 delegates who had signed up for the virtual convention.

He said a decision to get rid of Daylight Savings Time, a Senate election, constitutionally changing property rights and a provincial pension plan are some of the things Albertans may have a chance to vote on.

Kenney spent most of his speech hilighting UCP policies they have brought in, including scrapping the carbon tax and repealing Bill 6.

“We are one-third through our mandate and we have implemented two-thirds of our 261 election promises,” said Kenney.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
TWITTER: 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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Hinshaw says leaked tape a ‘personal betrayal’

Alberta will soon begin piloting point-of-care rapid testing for COVID-19, providing faster, more convenient testing for the disease.

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Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says she feels “personally betrayed” after tape recordings of secret meetings of the province’s Emergency Operations Centre were leaked to the media.

And she vowed an investigation to find out who the culprit is.

“I am profoundly disappointed… it’s a personal betrayal,” Hinshaw told a Thursday press conference, the day after the recordings were given to the CBC.

The tapes were of talks involving EOC and members of the UCP Jason Kenney government. Hinshaw has a team of 40 people in the centre.

Hinshaw said the tapes “were taken out of context.

“Our team has been dedicated to the health of Albertans…today I reminded them of my gratitude,” she said.

“The process has been violated… the safety and trust has been broken.”

Hinshaw said her role is provide the best possible advice and it’s up to elected officials to decide how to proceed.

“There are no risk free options with COVID,” Hinshaw said.

“I’ve always felt my ideas have been respectively considered.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro voiced his support for Hinshaw, adding the recordings “violated and embarrassed” the doctor.

Hinshaw reported 1,077 new COVID-19 cases in the province and 10 more deaths.

Meanwhile, Alberta will soon begin piloting point-of-care rapid testing for COVID-19, providing faster, more convenient testing for the disease.

Over the last two months, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) have been working to evaluate the effectiveness of the Abbott IDNow and PanBio COVID-19 testing kits, which have been approved by Health Canada and provided to provinces and territories by the federal government.

More than 100,000 tests are available for distribution to targeted sites to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect Albertans.

Two point-of-care rapid testing systems will be rolled out in clinical pilots at several sites throughout the province.

The PanBio rapid antigen tests will be used at one assessment centre in Calgary and one assessment centre in Edmonton. The IDNow tests will begin to be used at the COVID-19 assessment centres in Slave Lake and St. Paul and at the hospital lab in Bonnyville.

The tests will be used on patients who are within the first seven days of expressing symptoms, allowing health officials to quickly identify positive cases at testing sites, reducing the need for patient samples to be transported to centralized public laboratories for processing.

To ensure the validity of the results, two swabs will be collected from each patient, and all negative tests from both systems will be subject to confirmation by the existing lab-based polymerase chain-reaction (PCR) testing method. This is because a negative result is not as reliable as a PCR test and the test may miss some COVID-positive samples.

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

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Edmonton Councillor Caterina pays son 90K a year as staffer

Caterina has had his son on the payroll for the last 12 years

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Edmonton Ward 7 Councillor Tony Caterina is paying more than $90,000 a year to his only office assistant – his son Rocco Caterina.

Figures released by the City of Edmonton show Caterina billed taxpayers $45,363.21 for personnel between January and June this year.

Extrapolated over a full year, the salary would come to $90,726.42.

Most Edmonton councillors use their budget to employ several support staff. Caterina is one of a small number to have only one paid assistant.

Tony Caterina has had his son on the payroll for the last 12 years. Rocco also ran for Edmonton City Council in Ward 4 in the last election but was defeated.

Rocco Caterina

For the first six months of the year, Caterina has billed office expenses of $50,883.21 – including $4,000 for community expenses, $920 for communications and $600 for travel and transportation.

The Edmonton City Integrity Commissioner, Jamie Pytel, has looked into the issue in 2019 after a formal complaint was filed but has said there is no rules against nepotism in this case.

Pytel said hiring family members was a longstanding, accepted practice within council.

“I’m extremely happy that the findings were what they were,” Caterina told CBC in 2019 after the ruling.

But a week after Pytel completed her report, all councillors agreed to a new policy that will prevent elected officials from hiring relatives.

“To eliminate actual or perceived conflicts of interest or favouritism: Councillors cannot hire relatives to work in their offices,” the human resources management policy reads.

Caterina said he agreed with the change.

“We want to make sure perceptions are correct – I’m in complete agreement with it,” he said. 

But the policy also includes a grandfather clause allowing current staff to keep their jobs. 

“He has performed his duties extremely well and in my view there’s never been a conflict,” Caterina told CBC.

“Why would someone expect someone that’s doing their job extremely well be fired for a change that’s come in 12 years after initial employment.”

Similar arrangements have landed a couple of federal politicians in hot water recently.

Former Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer fired his sister-in-law earlier this month after it was revealed he employed her in his constituency office.

“I understand that in this case, following the rules may not have been enough. Even the perception of a conflict concerns me. As such, I have met with Erica and I have ended her employment in my office,” Scheer said in a statement.

“As an elected official, I understand expectations on me are high. Whenever there has ever been a question of following the letter and the spirit of the rules, I checked with the Ethics Commissioner first,” Scheer said.

Ontario MP Yasmin Ratansi left the Liberal caucus on November 16 after admitting she hired her sister to work in her Don Valley East constituency office.

“I made an error in judgement by employing my sister in my constituency office, and I have remedied the situation, but this does not excuse the error I made,” she said in a Facebook post at the time.

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

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Cops arrest BBQ joint owner who refused to close in Ontario

A crowd of supporters chanted “Shame” as police took Adam Skelly away.

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The owner of a Toronto-area BBQ joint was led away in handcuffs Thursday after refusing to shut down in the face of provincial health orders.

A crowd of supporters chanted “Shame” as police took Adam Skelly away.

Toronto police had a heavy presence at Adamsons Barbecue the entire day.

More than 10 police cars as many as 18 officers are now at the restaurant after a Wednesday raid saw them change the locks and bolt it shut.

Before being arrested, Skelly vowed to remain open.

“The break-in of #adamsonbarbecue by Toronto Police and the city is tyrannical. They CANNOT silence us!” he tweeted Thursday.

He also issued a call for a locksmith to come and help him get into his place in Etobicoke.

Also this morning police blocked off the street and refused to allow vehicles to enter.

The mounted patrol even showed up.

A group of protesters then surrounded the doors to the restaurant, refusing to allow police access.

Skelly also operates a welding shop at the back of the building.

“This isn’t just about #adamsonbarbecue. it’s about all small businesses and their livelihoods. spread the word and let’s get back to work. thank you. #IStandWithAdam” he tweeted.

Skelly was charged with attempt to obstruct police, mischief under, failure to comply with Reopening Act.

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

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