Seven days have now passed since an explosion of discontent towards Canada’s confederation was unleashed by Justin Trudeau’s reelection. In Quebec, a once buried Bloc Quebecois shattered their meagre expectations, winning the third most seats in the House of Commons; a testament to our electoral system, as well as the NDP’s incompetency.
A robust Bloc Quebecois evidently poses a direct risk to the health of Canadian unity. This, however, will cause little panic in Ottawa’s bureaucracies. Canada has survived far more intimidating threats from Quebec City— and we currently have a Bloc Quebecois who could not be less confident in their founding principle of sovereignty at all cost.
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.
Albertan oil and gas companies owe the province’s rural municipalities unpaid property tax, and the amount has doubled since the beginning of last year. Some people are referring to this trend as a tax revolt according to CTV News.
“If Alberta’s property tax system is not amended to prevent oil and gas companies from refusing to pay property taxes, many rural municipalities will struggle to remain viable,” association president Al Kemmere said in a release.
The municipalities want the province to change the rules in order to force companies accountable for the taxes they owe Kemmere explained. As it currently stands property taxes are controlled by the province and not the local communities.
“A lot of the oil and gas is doing their fair part as citizens, but we need legislation to force others to pay much like everybody else has to pay,” said Kemmere.
Rural Municipalities Alberta conducted a survey of the owed taxes and found that the number has increased 114 percent from a similar survey they conducted in the spring of 2019. According to the survey, oil and gas companies owe a total of $173 million.
Reeve Paul McLauchlin estimates that his municipality of Ponoka County, south of Edmonton, is owed about $2.6 million out of a total of $27 million. The oilpatch consultant said, “It creates operational constraints, our ability to provide community services. We have nonprofits asking for assistance. We say ‘no’ more and more.”
Many people in the industry believe that it’s the way that taxes are assessed that is driving companies out of business. The provincial government is in charge of assessing properties however they evaluate them based on replacement cost and not market value.
“We defend the need for the province to take a look at how assessment works and have it reflective of the market,” said Ben Brunnen, vice-president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
“A lot of these unpaid taxes are coming in jurisdictions where you’ve got assets that are older and not as productive or economic. The choice for these types of assets is to shut (them) in or find a way to reduce costs.” he said.
Brunnen suggested that some municipalities are going to have to accept less revenue from oil and gas companies as a result of such shut-in walls which are often abandoned or never reclaimed after bankruptcy.
Last year it was ruled that municipalities are unsecured creditors by the Alberta Court of Appeal. This ruling effectively puts them at the back of the line when it comes to tax collection following a bankruptcy.
The Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project works to comprehend the impact of old energy infrastructure on the province. Regan Boychuck, a researcher working for the project claimed, “Oilpatch property tax are now voluntary.”
About 40 per cent of unpaid taxes are from distressed companies that are feeling the effects of an industry hit by lower resource prices according to McLauchlin. The rest belongs to companies that continue to operate without paying.
“My personal opinion is that this is a tax revolt,” McLauchlin said. “They are using this as a lever to decrease their assessment and change those costs.”
One could argue that in a sense the process has already begun. Alberta’s United Conservative government brought in legislation that allowed municipalities to cut taxes on specific well by up to about one-third last year.
Initially, the cuts would be reimbursed by the province but the municipalities said that the program has been abandoned and they are left to deal with the loss.
Boychuck said despite the decline of oil and gas reserves the mill rates on wells and other facilities have remained unchanged for years.
“What industry is really saying is that they’ve depleted their wells so far they can’t cover operating costs. The wells are done and whatever wealth remains needs to be directed to clean up rather than looted any further before bankruptcy.”
The Orphan Well Association is an industry-funded group that was created to clean up abandoned wells. They currently have 3,400 abandoned wells under their care and that number is up by 300 since the beginning of last year.
Iranian-Canadians and community leaders gathered Thursday night at the Iranian Islamic Centre of Montreal to commemorate the lives lost in the tragic shooting down of Ukranian flight 752 by Iranian missiles.
Those who attended included Mayor of Lachine/Lasalle/Dorval, Maya Vodanovich; Assistant of Mayor of Pierrefonds, Sophie Mohsen; MP of Lachine, Anju Dhillon; City councillor for Lachine, Michele Flennery; and Imam Saleh Sibeveih, Director and Cleric of the Islamic Centre of Montreal Canada and Zurich Switzerland.
Imam Saleh Sibeveih spoke at the solemn gathering, one of many such gatherings across Canada during this time of mourning for the 176 victims of the murderous act by the Iranian regime.
The Islamic Centre of Montreal is an orthodox Islamic Centre and cannot be dismissed as fringe or discredited by the Iranian regime.
Left-wing activist Jaggi Singh has been released of all charges in a Quebec City court, due to the city’s inability to hold a trial in English.
Singh, who was facing charges of Obstruction of Justice, was also facing charges of impersonation after being arrested by police and giving the name “Michel Goulet,” with a home address of “the Colosseum,” attempting to impersonate a former Quebec Nordique of the same name.
After 29 months of charges being laid, the trial began—but Quebec’s chief prosecutor Steve Marquis had to postpone the trial.
Mainly due to the fact that the main prosecutor, Marie-Helene Guillemette, has been absent on maternity leave.
This meant that Marquis would have to carry out the trial, but due to his very limited English, the trial would not be proceeding as planned.
Judge Guillemette had set the trial for January without mentioning that she would be absent on maternity leave, something that judges say boiled down to disorganization.
With no one able to hold the trial, Justice Bordeleau announced that Singh would be acquitted of the two charges against him.
In an interview after the decision, Singh chalked up the acquittal to the court “self-sabotaging,” knowing that the Crown would lose in a full trial.
Singh later returned to Montreal, telling media that his struggle “is not in the courtrooms,” but is rather against the “far right.”
Singh has a long history of activism in his hometown Montreal and throughout Canada.
In 2002, Singh participated in an anti-Israel protest against Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, held by the Hillel club at Concordia University. The talk was later cancelled, as the event turned into a violent clash between protestors and security.
In January 2003, Singh was deported by Israeli authorities after having gone to the West Bank.
On April 19, 2006, Singh was arrested at a pro-Palestinian poetry event at El Salon cafe. There are conflicting reports as to why Singh was arrested, though local police say they were responding to an alleged assault on a taxi driver.