Kenney allows ousted candidates to remain in the UCP after media smears
Jason Kenney has refused to budge on calls to remove Eva Kiryakos and Caylan Ford from the United Conservative Party of Alberta.
“There’s a different approach to candidates who are representing the party on the ballot than there are towards ordinary members,” said Kenney on Tuesday.
“We have a process to identify people who might belong to organizations that are actually militating to promote hatred. I think that’s a different category than old social media postings or private texts.”
The two beleaguered candidates were forced to resign from their candidacies after social media posts and messages were dug up from the past and used against them.
Both candidates claim that the comments were taken out of context and used for political purposes.
In Ford’s case, private messages were dug up from 2017 in which she criticized the media double standard about Islamic extremism and far-right extremism. The messages were then released shortly after the Christchurch terrorist attack for maximum effect, forcing her to resign.
“You just don’t have the same attempts to separate the violent terrorists from the wider community of belief,” she said pointing to valid criticisms of immigration and demographic change.
“This article represents a gross distortion of my views and it doesn’t represent what I believe in. I’m not interested in attempting to explain or rationalize what’s the context of an academic discussion,” said Ford about the original article detailing her comments.
Shortly after Ford’s resignation, another candidate Eva Kiryakos was forced into stepping down because of comments on gender neutral washrooms and sharing an article titled “Germany’s (Migrant) Rape Crisis spirals Out of Control”.
In a video announcement of her resignation, Kiryakos, who is a refugee herself defended her comments, saying: “The possibility of a grown man sharing a washroom with the little girl to me is a perversion.”
“I admit the image on the article wasn’t positive but the article was on women getting raped and the crisis there. When women are being assaulted, I care, no matter the faiths or the backgrounds of the people,” said Kiryakos.
UCP Party Leader Jason Kenney accepted both Kiryakos’ and Ford’s resignations but has maintained that they will remain within the UCP party.
A new report by the Fraser Institute shows that any province can force other provinces and the federal government to renegotiate the constitution.
In what will be a welcome report to Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, the Fraser Institute made a particular note of equalization payments—finding that the payment system could be restructured.
Speaking to the Fraser Institute, Professor Rainer Knopff stated, “If Alberta charts the correct course, it can bring otherwise reluctant governments to the table to discuss fiscal federalism.”
Equalization has long been a point of contention between Western Canada and Ottawa—so much so, that Premier Kenney is considering a provincial referendum on the subject of removing equalization payments from the constitution. If Kenney is successful, the referendum may trigger the “duty to negotiate” is there is also an element of succession.
Last year, the leader of the Bloc Quebecois, Yves-Francois Blanchet, suggested that Quebec had disproportionally sent money to Quebec to pay for pipelines. In reality, Alberta got the short end of the stick, despite unemployment skyrocketing and industry leaving.
Alberta has long been fueling Canada’s gas pumps nationwide, but since world oil collapsed in 2014, thousands of displaced energy jobs migrated south of the border.
According to a new interview with Calgary-based Osprey Informatics COO Paul Ritchie, moving jobs to Houston was a move that the lone star state has welcomed him with open arms.
The company opened its Houston-based office in January and is budgeted to do a sizable 10 percent of its business out of the states in 2020. That 10 percent, though, is expected to bring in 70 percent of the company’s business, and Canada only 30 percent.
Ritchie told Global News that the move was a no brainer.
“I wouldn’t have left Canada without the opportunity that sits in front of us right now.”
“Canadian companies are so well respected that it’s not even a blip in the road when you’re dealing with somebody. It’s like, ‘Oh, you’re a Canadian company—it’s going to be good, and you’re going to be nice to me.’”
Ritchie says it’s not just individuals who’ve made the moves—companies, large and small, have flocked to states with more welcoming attitudes towards oil work.
“We all know the big names that have left. There are hundreds of smaller companies that are very significant employers here in Calgary that, 50, 60, 70 percent of their revenues are coming out of the United States and they had no choice.”
“This isn’t something that they wanted to do, but if the business is in the U.S. you are going to go where that business is.”
Oil analysts say Ritchie’s case is far from unusual. Tim Pickering with Auspice Capital Advisors Ltd. said there’s definitely an energy exodus happening.
“It’s just a lot easier in Texas in a lot of ways,” Pickering said. “There’s no real edge to being in Alberta and that’s painful to say.”
Ritchie went on to say that the move was a welcomed change in his life, and that he was excited to move to a city like Houston, which reminded him a lot of the city Calgary used to be 15 years ago.
“Houston has a Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Consulate is there, they have three trade commissioners there. They are very active in pushing Canadian companies to the U.S. market.”
Scholz said conversations are happening all over the province in businesses, wondering if it’s worth it to keep their head offices in Alberta.
Starting on March 1, Alberta is planning to drop coverage for those benefiting from the Alberta Seniors Benefit Drug Program.
CBC has reported that the change was made public in the 2019 Albertan budget as well as by letters recently mailed by the government.
The letter says, “To ensure the government can continue to provide this program to our province’s seniors and to keep Alberta’s health system sustainable, the government is changing the eligibility criteria for the program.”
According Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s spokesperson, Steve Buick, the seniors program is the largest drug program in Alberta. The program costs approximately $600 million annually.
“The Seniors [Benefit] Drug Program is for seniors—not for non-seniors. No other province covers non-seniors through a seniors’ drug program,” wrote Buick.
Buick says that dropping the coverage of dependents who are under the age of 65 is estimated to save Alberta about $36.5 million annually.
He noted that the number of Albertans currently using the program as dependants is about 46,000.
Heather Waldie is among the Albertans who will no longer receive coverage starting in march.
Waldie is an Edmonton resident and has Stage 4 breast cancer. Her cancer treatment requires costly drugs that the government has covered until now but that coverage will end in March.
“My coverage is ending because I’m 63. I’m under 65. My husband is over 65, but with the new eligibility criteria I am no longer eligible for drug coverage,” Waldie told CBC. “My future is very uncertain because I have ongoing treatment. So it’s a stressor.”
Waldie showed up to an NDP news conference to share her objections towards the program which she described as “absolute hogwash.”
“This affects 46,000 Albertans who have contributed to life in Alberta, who want to contribute as they live their lives. Billions of dollars have been given away in tax cuts to corporations,” she said.
“I think this is completely affordable by this government, but they are choosing to cut valuable programs that preserve the health and well-being of Albertans who have built this province. I think it’s outrageous.”
Waldie planned her retirement from a career in teaching with the benefit program in mind.
She said, “Seniors are part of a family household, and codependents, so it’s a family budget. You hurt one member of a family unit, you’re hurting everybody in that family unit.”
The option that the government has suggested is applying for non-group Blue Cross coverage for Albertans losing their benefits.
A liquor store in Edmonton is testing out a new security program to combat a string of thefts over the past 18 months. Under the proposed new security system, customers will have to scan their ID before they can enter the premises according to a recent article in CBC.
Alcanna, Canada’s biggest private retailer of alcohol is launching a pilot project in partnership with Edmonton police. The project will be tested at Ace Liquor, located at 11708 34th St. in northeast Edmonton. Alcanna stated the intent of the project is to deal with “the epidemic of liquor store robberies that has plagued the city,” a problem that has escalated rapidly in the past year and a half.
“In 2019, EPS officers responded to almost 9,600 calls of theft of liquor — about 26 calls per day across the city,” Const. Robin Wilson said in the release. An increase of 200 percent since 2018.
“It’s not just people taking advantage of something that is easy, it’s somebody preying on people as well,” he said.
Dale McFee, Chief of Edmonton police told CBC News that investigators often find that some of the thefts are gang-related and that it presents a huge problem for the city.
“Ultimately, the way we are right now and the amount of officer time and different things that are going on in this space, it’s not working. So it’s time to try a few things.”
The new scan system requires patrons to scan their identification before the door will unlock and allow entry into the store. This practice has already been used by bars and nightclubs in Edmonton for years.
The Alcanna pilot project has been positively received by many including Const. Wilson who commended the company for “taking proactive steps to increase the safety of both their employees and the general public,”
Joe Cook is the vice-president of Alcanna which in addition to Ace Liquor, also owns the Liquor Depot, Wine and Beyond and Nova Cannabis brands. “Just as was done with pre-pay and pay at the pump for gas stations, we are hoping Patronscan creates a safer shopping experience,” said Cook in a news release. “This is not shoplifting,” he said. “It is robbery with real or threatened violence.”
Edmontonians won’t have to worry about their privacy rights as the customer ID information will not be kept in the devices but stored in Patronscan’s data centre with restricted access, according to a press release from Alcanna.