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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

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. 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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O’Toole moves to expel Sloan from Tory caucus over $131 donation from Paul Fromm

The $131 donation constitutes approximately 0.01 per cent of the $1.3 million Sloan raising during the Conservative leadership race. Sloan says that he did not know who Paul Fromm was.

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Federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole is asking his MPs to expel Ontario MP Derek Sloan out of the Tory caucus after he accepted a $131 leadership donation from what he says is a “well-known” Canadian neo-Nazi.

“Derek Sloan’s acceptance of a donation from a well-known white supremacist is far worse than a gross error of judgment or failure of due diligence,” O’Toole said in a statement issued Monday evening.

“In accordance with the Reform Act, I have initiated the process to remove Mr. Sloan from the Conservative Party of Canada caucus. I expect this to be done as quickly as possible. Moreover, as leader of Canada’s Conservatives, I will not allow Mr. Sloan to run as a candidate for our party.”

O’Toole statement

The caucus will vote on whether or not to keep Sloan a member. That could come as early as Thursday as the Tories are set to hold a virtual retreat.

But late Monday, Sloan revealed the party itself has taken their cut of the donation.

In August of last year, while running for the leadership of the Conservative Party, Sloan accepted a $131 donation from Paul Fromm.

However, most candidates do not know who most of their smaller donors are.

The $131 donation constitutes approximately 0.01 per cent of the $1.3 million Sloan raising during the Conservative leadership race.

In a post to Twitter, Sloan said he had no idea where the donation came from.

“Today, at approximately 4 p.m. eastern time, I became aware of a Press Progress article that brought to light that Paul Fromm, a person with known connections to racist groups, donated $131 to my campaign,” tweeted Sloan.

“My campaign raised well over $1,300,000 and had over 13,000 separate donations. On any given day we had upwards of hundreds of different donations, and my team, which was run in many cases by volunteers, processed cheques and other things. At no time was I ever aware of this donation.

“Paul Fromm is a notorious name to some, but not to everyone, and clearly this name, mixed as it was in the midst of thousands of other donations, did not ring any bells to my team. Upon learning about what happened, I immediately contacted the Executive Director of the Conservative Party, Janet Dorey, and requested this donation be returned.”

Sloan tweet

Fromm is a founder of the Canadian Association for Free Expression and Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform, has appeared at far-right protests and has been the subject of police investigations.

In a later Monday tweet, Sloan lashed back at the Tory HQ, saying they took their cut of the Fromm donation.

“Guess who else took a donation from “Frederick P Fromm”? After conducting my own investigation, I realized @CPC_HQ took a 10% cut ($13.10) from the same donation I am now possibly being expelled from caucus over. It looks like they didn’t know who this individual was either?” tweeted Sloan.

Sloan, the MP for Hastings—Lennox and Addington, came in fourth place in the Tory leadership campaign.

He was eliminated after the first round of voting in the four-person race getting 27,278 votes, almost 16 per cent of the total.

There have been calls in the past to remove him from caucus over his comments on gay rights.

On Sunday, O’Toole had taken to Twitter to say there is no room for ‘far-right’ ideology in his party.

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

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Ousted UCP MLA Rehn blames clerical error for expenses confusion

A deep-dive into the expense claims of the Lesser Slave Lake MLA raised questions about where the MLA spent most of his time when the legislature was not in session, and their appropriateness.

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MLA Pat Rehn says it was all a clerical error.

A deep-dive into the expense claims of the Lesser Slave Lake MLA raised questions about where the MLA spent most of his time when the legislature was not in session, and their appropriateness.

The MLA billed for three meals a day in Edmonton for two full months – even when the legislature was not in session – despite representing a constituency in northern Alberta.

“It has come to my attention that an assistant of mine has made some errors in recording meal allowances, that I was not aware of. I apologize for this, and in the future I will make sure that I personally review all expense claims before they are submitted to the province to make sure that they are correct,” said Rehn in a Monday Facebook page entry.

” I WILL NOT be claiming any expense claims for meals in Edmonton for the entire year of 2021 as a sign of my sincere regret for this.

“I can assure my constituents and all Albertans that I try to keep public expenditures that are under my control as low as possible. In the fiscal year of 2019-2020, I had a budget of $153,222.05. At the end of the year in March 2020, I still had $41,686.22 remaining which I didn’t spend. This $41,686.22 went back to the Province to be used in other needed areas.”

On January 15, Premier Jason Kenney unilaterally expelled Rehn from the UCP Caucus saying he “has made no meaningful effort to be more present in his constituency or to properly represent his hard-working constituents” and “ignored” calls to be more present in Slave Lake.

The curious reason given made no mention of the expense issue, which had come into the hands of the Western Standard and other Alberta media outlets.

Rehn has said he maintains a home in the Lesser Slave Lake constituency.

Despite this, he claimed $1,245.50 in Edmonton per diems for every day – including weekends – for every day in April, despite the the legislature sitting for just 10 days that month.

Most rural MLAs return their homes on weekends, and per diems are only to be claimed when on business.

The Western Standard has repeatedly attempted to contact Rehn for comment or explanation. As of press time, no response has been received.

Rehn also claimed $1,930 every month for his housing allowance in Edmonton, something MLAs from outside the capital region are allowed in order to maintain a residence. Alternatively, MLAs may expense stays at a hotel.

While claiming a monthly housing allowance is usual for most MLAs, it is intended for the maintenance of a secondary Edmonton residence, and not a primary residence.

The frequency of per diem meal claims on days when the legislature is not sitting raises questions about where Rehn’s actual primary residence was.

The Slave Lake Town Council alleged in a public letter that Rehn did not reside in or near the constituency, and that he spent more of his time outside of the legislature in Texas.

The legislature does not release the location of MLA primary residencies for privacy reasons.

In his May, Rehn claimed every day for meals in Edmonton except on May 1, when he just claimed only breakfast, and May 3, claiming dinner.

Every other day that month, the MLA claimed breakfast, lunch and dinner in Edmonton, billing a total of $1,193.35. He also claimed the $1,930 non-resident housing benefit. The legislature only sat for 10 days in May.

In June, Rehn appeared to make three weekend trips outside Edmonton. The legislature sat for 16 days that month, with Rehn claiming full per diems for 23 full days in Edmonton.

The house rose for the summer break on July 23, after sitting for 12 days. But Rehn claimed full Edmonton meal allowed from July 24-31, even though business had wrapped up in the capital.

The only day in July Rehn didn’t claim full per diems Edmonton was on July 18, where he billed $29.95 for lunch in Wabasca.

In the wake of the Snowbird Scandal, the mayor and entire council of Slave Lake called on their MLA to resign in an open letter. The council alleges a litany of problems they have had with him.

The town, with a population of 6,500, 255 km northeast of Edmonton, made public a laundry list of complaints against Rehn, including missed meetings and failure to represent the area for economic development.

They claim Rehn, MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, doesn’t even live in Alberta (or Canada), saying he resides in Texas.

“When Covid-19 began and the Canadian government said Canadians need to get home, you were in the United States. Since that time, you have made multiple trips abroad. In fact, right now, as our businesses suffer and many of our people aren’t working, you still aren’t here.,” said the letter signed by Mayor Tyler Warman and six other councilors.

In fact, the council claims the UCP government was aware of Rehn’s performance and have asked other MLAs to pick up his work.

“We have been told that your government has internally expressed its displeasure at your performance and have arranged for neighbouring MLA’s to check in to help make sure our Region is represented,” the letter reads.

“We seem to be making little to no progress in our Region in advocating for items that are a provincial responsibility. One of the factors that we believe is contributing heavily to this is the lack of engagement from you as our MLA.”

Pat Rehn’s public expense disclosure can be found on the Alberta Legislature’s website.

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

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CTF calls on governments to get their pipeline act together

A lack of pipelines is costing the federal government $13 billion in lost revenue, said Terrazzano.

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All levels of government must get on the same page to try and stop more taxpayers’ money from being flushed down the pipeline drain, says the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“This shows that politicians need to get their act together so we can build pipelines in Canada,” said Franco Terrazzano, the Alberta Director of the CTF, on Monday.

Terrazzano was reacting to reports from the U.S., that President-elect Joe Biden was planning on killing the Keystone XL pipeline expansion on the first day he enters the Oval Office, January 20.

Alberta has already invested $1.5 billion in the pipeline, even though Biden was already talking about killing the project as he campaigned in the Democratic primaries.

“That means the feds need to repeal damaging legislation such as the No More Pipelines Law and the discriminatory tanker ban, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to do everything in his power to make sure Keystone XL moves forward,” said Terrazzano.

“Taxpayers are being dragged further into debt because politicians have been roadblocking pipelines in Canada and that needs to stop.”

A lack of pipelines is costing the federal government $13 billion in lost revenue a year, said Terrazzano.

Kenney has said he is “concerned” over the reports and vowed legal action if Biden does cancel the US$8 billion project.

Trudeau has so far been mute.

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

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