Category: Alberta

First Nations take action to evict drug dealers

Two Central Alberta First Nations are taking action to drive out the illegal drug trade and improve the lives of local youth.

Chiefs from the O’Chiese and Sunchild First Nation signed bylaws on Wednesday giving them the power to evict drug dealers from their communities.

“In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing, then some members approached me and said you have to do this, you have to stop this epidemic,” said Chief Douglas Beaverbones of the O’Chiese First Nation.

The new Residency and Trespass Bylaws will allow councils to evict anyone who has been found selling drugs. Penalties and appeals will be handled by a body made up of seven First Nations community members.

“This is an historic event for both nations… we’re a strong nation as one,” Beaverbones said in reference to the last time O’Chiese and Sunchild worked together against a problem like with the Intoxicants Prohibition By-Law of 1988.

Chief Beaverbones described during Wednesday’s signing ceremony the difficulties he’s felt watching his community suffer.

“It hurt me to see them like that, I wanted to help.”

Both First Nations say they are well aware of the difficulties that lay ahead, and even referenced the amount of pushback they may have to endure, saying “It may be tough, but we’re doing it for the kids.”

Local children attended Wednesday’s ceremony lofting signs stating their support. “Say no to drugs,” “Don’t use alcohol and drugs, they will kill you,” “Drugs ruin lives,” the signs read.

Elder Advisor Theresa Strawberry noted, “We need to look beyond our struggles, we need to look past the wrongdoings and instead, heal from it.”

O’Chiese and Sunchild First Nations received overwhelming support for the new bylaws from their residents and will be working collaboratively with the RCMP on enforcement of the new bylaws and all aspects of the criminal justice system.

Alberta education minister blasts Calgary school board over staff cuts

CALGARY- Education minister Adriana LaGrange is ordering a financial audit and governance review of the Calgary Board of Education.

LaGrange says it was difficult to hear that the public school board is ending the contracts of 300 temporary teachers, effective January 2.

She says she sympathizes with those affected, but calls the cuts another example of what she calls the board’s inability to appropriately manage its finances and prioritize student learning.

The board said last week that the United Conservative government’s inaugural budget left it with a $32-million shortfall.

Its chief superintendent said that would mean cutting funds to 246 schools by $22 million, which would include staff cuts and redeployments.

LaGrange says she made it clear that she expected all school boards to minimize the impact on front-line staff and teachers, and to put students’ educational experience first.

The board’s announcement comes after the University of Calgary said it was eliminating 250 positions because of provincial government cutbacks.

(The Canadian Press)

Alberta Review Board chair quits over lack of government support

EDMONTON- The chairwoman of the Alberta Review Board says she has decided to resign after months of what she characterizes as banging her head against a wall.

Jill Taylor sent her resignation letter yesterday after less than six months on the job.

The independent tribunal reviews the cases of people who have been deemed not criminally responsible of a crime or have been found unfit to stand trial because of mental disorders.

Taylor says she has been trying to get a meeting with Alberta Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer since she started on June 1.

She says she was concerned by the minister’s public comments on Twitter after the board ruled Matthew de Grood, a schizophrenic man who killed five young people in Calgary, could be eased back into the community with his doctor’s approval.

Taylor says she was open to a review of what the board does, but she wasn’t able to get in touch with Schweitzer to discuss it.

(The Canadian Press)

NDP wants entire UCP caucus banned from voting on Bill 22

EDMONTON- Opposition leader Rachel Notley wants the ethics commissioner to ban the entire United Conservative caucus from voting on a bill that would fire the province’s election watchdog.

Notley says government caucus members are in a conflict of interest because they would all benefit from having Election Commissioner Lorne Gibson’s contract terminated.

Gibson is currently investigating the UCP for violations of election fundraising rules in the 2017 leadership vote won by Jason Kenney before he became premier.

Gibson has already levied more than $200,000 in fines.

The government says the bill is simply a cost-saving move.

Meanwhile, Notley says she’s not ready to apologize for remarks that got her kicked out the legislature on Tuesday.

She was ordered to leave after accusing Government House Leader Jason Nixon of lying about legislation that would direct the firing of elections watchdog Lorne Gibson.

Notley objected after Nixon said no one is to be fired under Bill 22 and the Speaker’s office has made it clear she must apologize before she will be allowed back.

She says she and her colleagues are working on other strategies to stop the legislation and hasn’t decided when she will return to the legislature chamber.

Bill 27 receives first reading in legislature

EDMONTON- The UCP government has introduced legislation to strengthen protections for law-abiding Albertans and their property.

Bill 27 has received first reading in the legislature and, if passed, would better protect property owners from civil liability for injuries to trespassers where the owner has reasonable grounds to believe the trespasser is committing, or about to commit, a criminal offence.

“The proposed changes in Bill 27 came directly from listening to rural residents whose lives have been affected by crime. As our next step in our plan to combat rural crime, this legislation will not only protect property owners and help law-abiding Albertans feel safe in their communities, but also will ensure trespassers face the proper consequences for their actions.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

The proposed legislation would also strengthen deterrents to trespassing through amendments to trespass laws.

This includes five-fold increases to maximum fines for trespassing, with fines of up to $10,000 for a first offence and up to $25,000 for subsequent offences, as well as possible prison time of up to six months.

Corporations that help or direct trespassers would face fines up to $200,000 – a first for Canada.

In addition, the maximum amount a court may order for loss or damage to property would be raised from $25,000 to $100,000.

The maximum fines for first and subsequent offences would increase from $2,000 and $5,000 to $10,000 and $25,000, respectively.

Bill 27 would also better protect farmers and ranchers from harassment and occupation by protesters, which are actions that risk introducing disease and threaten the welfare of animals.

Once the changes came into force, Alberta would be the first province to have offences and penalties for creating a biosecurity hazard to animals.

However, property owners can still be held criminally responsible for their actions and should call law enforcement to deal with trespassers.

The amendments to the bill would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.

Alberta launches online survey about Daylight Saving Time

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Albertans are again being invited to share their on whether the province should continue to observe daylight saving time, this time through an online survey.

“We know people have strong opinions about changing their clocks twice a year, and we want to hear them,” says Nate Glubish, Service Alberta Minister. “As more Canadian provinces and territories and some American states are having discussions about this, it’s important that we hear from Albertans.”

Albertans currently set their clocks forward one hour to observe daylight saving time from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday of November, putting the province in the same time zone as the Northwest Territories and Montana year-round.

“The practice of changing our clocks twice a year is largely done only in western Europe and North America,” Gulbish noted. “Earlier this year, the EU voted to abolish seasonal time changes by 2021. In North America, we’re seeing provincial and state governments table and pass legislation to do the same. It’s time for Alberta to have a serious conversation about this.”

The online survey will be open until Dec. 10.

Two years ago, Edmonton NDP MLA Thomas Dang put forward a private members’ bill proposing the province ditch the semi-annual time change. The bill didn’t proceed after MLAs heard from businesses who opposed the change.

Last month, legislation was tabled in British Columbia to move to year-round summer hours starting next year.

Saskatchewan, Arizona and Hawaii do not change their clocks twice a year.

(With file from Government of Alberta media release)

Notley kicked out of Alberta legislature for comment on election watchdog firing

EDMONTON – Alberta NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley has been kicked out of the legislature chamber after she refused to apologize for comments about the United Conservative government firing the province’s election watchdog.

Notley told the house that Government House Leader Jason Nixon was making misleading statements on why the government was firing Lorne Gibson during Gibson’s investigation of UCP fundraising misdeeds.

Legislature members have wide latitude to debate in the house, but rules don’t allow for allegations that one member is deliberately misleading or lying.

When Speaker Nathan Cooper directed Notley to apologize, she refused, saying bigger issues are stake and that legislation to fire Gibson is “corrupt.”

Cooper ejected Notley for the day, and she picked up her books and papers and walked out as colleagues pounded their desks in support.

Gibson has levelled more than $200,000 in fines surrounding rule-breaking linked to the 2017 United Conservative leadership race, which Jason Kenney won before he became premier this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2019.

The Canadian Press

Notley slams firing of election commissioner

EDMONTON- Opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley says the provincial government’s firing of the election commissioner is a shameful, authoritarian attack on the rule of law.

Finance Minister Travis Toews says the decision to end Lorne Gibson’s contract is about saving money, and has nothing to do with Gibson’s investigation of the governing United Conservative party.

Gibson had been investigating the 2017 United Conservative leadership race — which Jason Kenney won before he became premier — issuing more than 200-thousand dollars in fines for fundraising violations.

N-D-P Leader Rachel

Gibson’s job and five staff positions will be transferred to current chief electoral officer Glen Resler, who will hire a new election commissioner, and the office will decide whether to proceed with existing investigations.

The move is expected to save one-million dollars over five years.

(The Canadian Press)

Kids suffer minor injuries as school bus rolls west of Edmonton

Officials say about 35 students were on board when a school bus rolled onto its side in a single-vehicle collision Monday morning west of Edmonton.

According to Stony Plain RCMP, the rollover happened at about 8 a.m. on Forest Drive near Highway 779, an area about six kilometres north of Stony Plain.

The students on board were from the Evergreen Catholic Separate School and Parkland County School Divisions. No serious injuries were reported.

Parkland School Division posted a statement on its website stating the bus involved was serving the Muir Lake School area at the time.

“Paramedics were on the scene moments after it happened to check all the passengers and driver for injuries,” the statement reads.

The school division said all students and driver were “safe, warm and secured quickly after the accident took place while they waited for paramedics to evaluate any injuries.”

Another bus was dispatched to take the students to school once they were assessed by medical staff.

The school division said staff will provide assistance to the students.

“Thankfully no serious injuries,” read a statement on the Evergreen Catholic Schools’ website. “The icy road conditions in a rural subdivision north of Muir Lake School caused the bus to tip over into the ditch. The children are being transported to Muir Lake School.”

Premier Texas-bound to spur energy investment

EDMONTON- Premier Jason Kenney is heading to Texas this week (Nov. 18-21) to promote the province’s energy industry.

The government says Kenney will speak with investors and business leaders in Houston and Dallas to reaffirm Alberta’s position as a critical supplier of energy resources to Texas and North America.

“Our top goal is getting Alberta back to work. That means restoring investor confidence and reversing the flow of money, ideas and businesses from Alberta to places like Texas. That’s why I’m keeping my commitment to Albertans to take our ‘Open for Business’ message to some of the world’s biggest job creators. This trip will allow me to raise awareness among prospective investors about our growth strategy, including the Job Creation Tax Cut, Red Tape Reduction, and recent decisions like special production allowances to permit more Alberta energy to reach U.S. markets.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

Texas is Alberta’s second largest export market overall, and Alberta’s exports to Texas in 2018 totalled $11.5 billion worth of goods.

(The Canadian Press)