Category: Post to Social

Province may extend deadline for report on growing high-tech sector

EDMONTON – Alberta’s economic development minister says she’s open to extending the deadline for a looming benchmark panel report on growing the high-tech sector.

But Tanya Fir but says she wants to start taking action on the recommendations no later than the end of spring.

The panel of business, tech, and academic leaders is to deliver its report by the end of February, but Fir says she’ll give them more time if necessary as long as the government gets the answers it needs.

The seven-member Innovation Capital Working Group is tasked with presenting options and strategies to grow Alberta’s tech sector.

The opposition NDP says creating the panel shows the United Conservative government recognizes its actions are putting the tech sector in the ditch and that corrective action is needed.

In last fall’s budget the UCP scrapped multiple tax incentives designed by the NDP to encourage investment in the tech sector.

The UCP said at that time that its broad cut in the corporate income tax, and reducing red tape, should be enough to lift businesses in all industries, including tech.

Rebels fall 5-2 to Calgary to start home and home series

The Red Deer Rebels fell 5-2 to the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday night in the first of three meetings between the two teams over the next week.

“It wasn’t a great game by us,” said Rebels GM/head coach Brent Sutter. “Full marks to them (Hitmen), they played well enough to win and we didn’t play well enough to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Calgary opened the scoring in the game with captain Mark Kastelic netted his 22nd goal on a tip-in 5:12 into the first period.

The Hitmen added a second goal on a five-on-three man advantage in the second period. Jett Woo faked a shot that froze Rebels defenders, allowing him to set up Riley Stotts for an easy goal into an open net at the 7:56 mark.

After a scramble in front of the net with just over a minute to go in the second period, the puck popped out in front of the goal, catching Rebels goaltender Ethan Anders out of position and allowing Kastelic to tally his second goal of the game for a 3-0 Hitmen lead.

Just over five minutes into the final frame a broken play at the Rebel blue line allowed Josh Prokop to sneak into the zone unnoticed and outwait Anders before sliding the puck past him for a 4-0 lead.

Red Deer finally found the back of the net not long after as Ben King sniped a shot over the glove of Hitmen goalie Brayden Peters for his ninth of the season.

With four minutes to play in the third period, the Rebels scored to make it a 4-2 game when Jace Isley tucked home his second goal of the year.

The Rebels then pulled Anders in favour of the extra attacker, but Stotts snuffed out any futher hopes of a comeback with an empty net goal from 100 feet out with two minutes left to play.

Calgary outshot Red Deer 30-22 on the night. Red Deer was 0-for-4 on the power play while Calgary was 1-for-3.

“I didn’t like our game at all tonight,” said Brent Sutter. “I thought our details weren’t very good. Our positional play, our play with the puck… when we had it we didn’t have four other guys working for the guy who had it. “We did a lot of looping tonight, not a lot of stopping and starting.”

The Rebels and Hitmen battle again Sunday in Calgary at 2 p.m. You can listen to the game live on 106.7 THE DRIVE.

Peter MacKay officially launches Conservative leadership bid

After a more than four-year hiatus from politics, former cabinet minister Peter MacKay officially launched his bid to capture the leadership of the federal Conservative party before an enthusiastic hometown crowd in Nova Scotia.

MacKay made the announcement at the Museum of Industry in Stellarton, N.S., in front of a large Canadian flag and before more than 200 supporters bearing signs with his name.

He said he is running because the current Liberal government is making the lives of Canadians harder and he doesn’t want to stand by and hope someone else can get the job done.

“I am here to stand up and do my part to help unite this country, to put shoulder to the wheel and with others to help build a better life for all of us,” MacKay told the gathering.

In a 23-minute long speech, MacKay touted his experience as a former defence minister and stressed the need for leadership that will assert Canada’s place in the world.

He also took a swipe at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Leadership on the world stage, serious diplomacy to advance Canada’s interest requires authenticity of actions, measured by outcomes, not selfies or photo-ops. Canadians have had enough of posturing that produces no results.”

MacKay served in a number of positions under prime minister Stephen Harper and was the leader of the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party when it merged with the Canadian Alliance in 2003, creating the current Conservative party.

He stepped away from politics ahead of the 2015 election, the year the Harper Tories lost power and Harper himself resigned as leader.

MacKay addressed the need for party unity and highlighted his past role in its creation.

“I have played my part in uniting the conservative family into one big tent,” he said. “All conservatives belong in this party and have a voice and a place at the table.”

MacKay also addressed national unity and included a message to Quebec.

“I am here to speak to you of hope. Of the hope of electing a national government that shares your Quebec values, respects your jurisdiction, and is proud of Quebec’s place as a nation in Canada.”

MacKay used the speech to launch an attack on the governing Liberals’ record signalling that past controversies haven’t been forgotten.

“The concentration of power in the PMO has interfered with justice, has failed Canadians and has empowered only those close to the PM and his cronies. The Liberals have broken Canadians trust, and let’s be clear, we need to earn the trust to govern with confidence for all Canadians.”

MacKay’s announcement came as current party leader Andrew Scheer was meeting with Conservative MPs and senators in Ottawa.

Many of those MPs have already thrown their support behind MacKay, and he’s expected in the capital for a campaign event on Sunday.

Scheer became leader of the party in 2017, beating out 14 other candidates. He will step down in June once the next leader is elected, a decision he announced in December.

He said he looks forward to watching the race unfold.

“We’re the party of competition so it’s good to have a healthy competition”

MacKay did not speak to reporters following the speech, leaving it to others to bolster his candidacy.

His father, former longtime Central Nova MP Elmer MacKay, said his son will bring strengths to the party when it comes to the national unity front.

“I think too often this country has been unbalanced because of the historical dominance of the centre, Quebec and Ontario,” he said. “I think Peter like (Brian) Mulroney has a better sense of nation-wide development.”

Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Kathy Dunderdale said the time is right for MacKay to run because of the varied experience he would bring to the job. Dunderdale said she even sees his time away from politics as an asset.

“He’s … had the experience of being in the private sector and being focused on raising his family, so it brings a whole new dimension on what he brings to the table.”

MacKay is the first high profile Tory to announce for the leadership after Jean Charest, Rona Ambrose and Pierre Poilievre announced they wouldn’t be running.

Current MP Erin O’Toole is expected to launch his bid on Monday.

He released a pre-launch video on Saturday entitled “Let’s go” showing a smiling O’Toole driving to work. O’Toole doesn’t speak in the video, which simply ends with his announcement date 01-27-2020.

Body found in burned out Wetaskiwin hotel, RCMP investigating

Wetaskiwin RCMP and the Major Crimes Unit are investigating after human remains were discovered in what was left of a local hotel that went up in flames earlier this month.

Shortly before midnight on January 14, emergency crews responded to a fire at “Manny’s Hotel” just off 40 Avenue in Wetaskiwin.

In a release, Mounties say extreme cold weather hindered efforts to examine the scene and determine the cause of the fire, and that it wasn’t until January 20 that crews managed to thaw enough ice to begin their investigation.

Police say it was on January 23 human remains were discovered in the burned out building.

On the same day, the fire investigator determined that the cause of the fire was suspicious, resulting in the RCMP Major Crimes Unit being brought in.

An autopsy was held on Friday, however, the identity of the deceased has not yet been confirmed and the cause and manner of death has yet to be determined, according to RCMP.

RCMP continue to examine the scene of the fire and ask anyone who has information regarding this incident to contact Wetaskiwin RCMP at 780-312-7267, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), visit or use the “P3 Tips” mobile app.

‘Presumptive positive’ coronavirus case detected in Toronto

TORONTO – Health officials in Ontario say Canada has confirmed its first presumptive positive case of the new coronavirus.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, says a man in his 50s who had travelled to Wuhan, China, was taken to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital and is now in a negative pressure room

The confirmation comes as authorities around the world grapple with the new type of virus, which originated in China but has since spread to Europe and North America.

Authorities around the world have confirmed more than 1,200 cases so far, including three in France and two in the United States.

While 41 people have died of the virus in China, the World Health Organization has not declared the outbreak to be an international public health emergency.

Williams said the “risk to Ontarians is low” and the “system is operating as it should.”

According to the federal government, it is estimated that influenza results in 12,200 hospitalizations and about 3,500 deaths yearly.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2020.

Transport industry urging driver safety after fatal crashes involving semis

A spokesperson for Alberta’s transportation industry is reminding all motorists to drive safely on the province’s highways following two fatal collisions near Red Deer this week involving semi-trailer units.

Chris Nash, president of the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA), admits that from an industry perspective, the crashes are concerning.

“This is what we try to stop, this is what we try to prevent,” he laments. “The industry has, with the new government training that’s involved to get people licensed, we’re working towards getting safer roadways.

“With the QE2 being one of the busiest roadways in Alberta, we have to make sure that the people operating the equipment are set to do it safely.”

Nash notes most drivers may pass 25 trucks per day in their routine travels, and stresses that it’s important to be safe when sharing the road with them.

“Until you drive one, you don’t realize the sheer size, the weight, the breaking, everything that goes with it, the visibility and where you are as a car,” he explains. “Don’t be in blind spots and just give them the room they need to operate. They are going to be driving slower than you, they’re a lot bigger, just realize it’s not like driving a little car, they don’t stop as quick, so just keep that in mind as you’re driving around them.”

Nash also points out different rules for commercial truck drivers, both provincially and federally.

“When you look at federal rules, you’re allowed 13 hours of driving, so 14 hours in a day of work time,” says Nash. “Then you have to take an eight-hour break, plus an additional two hours of break time in the day to formulate your maximum hours. You also have cycles federally where you can drive in any seven-day period, you can have 70 hours of driving time, and in 14 days if you’re running that cycle, it’s 120 hours.”

Under provincial rules, Nash says truck drivers can run 13 hours per day, every day.

“The volume of commercial truck traffic is heavy on that road (the QE2). However, what we do every day is help to train from fatigue management, to pre-trips to make sure your vehicle is in good shape, to making sure you’re checking your vehicle on the way, you have safe places to stop, and to be aware of what’s on the road around you.”

As a voice and resource for the commercial transportation industry in Alberta, Nash says AMTA works with government to advocate for the betterment and safety of the industry.

“As the standard, we have programs out there to measure carriers and show their quality,” he explains. “As well from the health and safety perspective, and compliance and on-road perspective, and as the resource, we have training. As well as help that we can give carriers and industry and shippers and receivers for best practices.”

Nash says his message of safety applies to everyone.

“Just be patient, be safe, be aware of what’s around you and make sure what you’re operating, everything is in good working order and you’ll get there eventually,” adds Nash. “We’re all for that vision zero. We’d love to see nothing bad happen on the roads.”

Alberta municipalities seek power to collect property taxes owed by failed oil & gas companies

The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) is calling on the province to change legislation to allow local governments to collect property taxes from oil and gas properties when they fail.

AUMA president Barry Morishita says having municipalities shoulder these economic burdens from oil and gas companies impairs the economy.

“Municipalities – both urban and rural – are already the most transparent, efficient, effective order of government. We cannot run deficits, which is why unpaid taxes by corporations are particularly unfair and result in increased costs directly borne by taxpayers,” said Morishita.

The AUMA represents cities, towns, villages, summer villages, and specialized municipalities where more than 85 per cent of Albertans live.

Earlier this week the Rural Municipalities of Alberta said its member communities are owed a total of 173 million dollars.

“Having municipalities shouldering these economic burdens from oil and gas companies impairs our economy,” Morishita added. “We must all support each other so we can share in brighter times ahead and build strong communities, and a stronger Alberta.”

Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu says the government recognizes the effect the unpaid taxes is having on communities and is working on the problem.

(With file from The Canadian Press, AUMA media release)

First Shift gives local youngsters a taste of hockey

First Shift gives local youngsters a taste of hockey

Forty-five youngsters between the ages of 6-10 years took their first strides towards becoming hockey players on Friday evening as they received their first-ever set of hockey equipment.

They are participants in the NHL/NHLPA First Shift program being offered in Red Deer. The program is co-sponsored by the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, and hosted by Hockey Alberta.

The welcome evening and equipment fitting was done at the Hockey Alberta office where the young players and their families were greeted by Harvey the Hound from the Flames and former Edmonton Oilers and Red Deer Rebels forward Colin Fraser.

On-ice sessions start on Saturday, February 15 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre and run for six weeks. The focus of the on-ice sessions is fun-first, while teaching basic skating and fundamental hockey skills through play. Each week’s session features alumni from the Flames and Oilers.

First Shift gives local youngsters a taste of hockey 1(Photo: Hockey Alberta)

(Hockey Alberta)

Crews battle mobile home fire in Penhold

About $40,000 in damage resulted from a fire at a mobile home in Penhold on Friday.

Firefighters responded to the residence in Penhold Estates at about 2 p.m.

“Engine 1 arrived on scene to find heavy smoke coming from the building and flames running up the side being fed by the gas line,” says Penhold Acting Fire Lieutenant Bailey McKay. “We sent a crew in right away and they knocked down the fire in the rear.”

Penhold Deputy Fire Chief Sean Pendergast said, “It was a difficult fire to get as there was a metal roof with a double shingle roof over top and the fire was in the space between, so access was a problem. The fire was also underneath the trailer running along between the beams.”

The fire was so intense, Pendergast says, that crews had to cut several holes in the roof for ventilation and access.

“Obviously, it was a difficult fire to get at but the crews did a great job containing the fire to the single unit,” says Penhold Fire Chief Jim Pendergast. “It was very hard work and taxed the firefighters both mentally and physically.”

Due to the lack of a nearby hydrant, crews had to roll out about 1200 feet of hose to and use a fire engine to pump water to the fire, Pendergast noted.

One firefighter was taken to hospital for treatment for a non-related medical issue before being released

The cause of the fire is still being investigated, but officials note there were renovations going on at the time of the fire. Firefighters remained on scene until 8 p.m. checking for hot spots.

Four fire units and 3 support units and 17 firefighters from Penhold, along with two units and five firefighters from Innisfail, RCMP, Sheriffs and Penhold Peace officers, Atco Gas, Fortis Electric and Penhold Public Works all responded to the fire.

Women charged with assaulting Eckville area woman, stealing her vehicle to face preliminary hearing

Two women charged after an Eckville area woman was assaulted at gunpoint last fall will face a preliminary hearing later this year.

It was just before 9 a.m. on Oct. 23, 2019 when Sylvan Lake RCMP responded to a rural property where two women had been dropped off by a man driving a stolen truck.

One of the owners of the rural property drove out to where the women were hiding in a ditch when one of them pulled her from her vehicle and began punching, kicking and threatening her while pointing a firearm at her face.

The suspects fled in the victim’s vehicle to Red Deer where they into multiple vehicles in the city before being arrested.

Brianna Crookedlegs, 20, and Chelsea Crowley, 27, each faces nine charges including robbery and eight firearms-related counts. Crowley also faces five additional counts for breach of recognizance.

Crookedlegs posted bail in November while bail for Crowley was denied on January 9.

A preliminary hearing for both women has been scheduled for June 11 in Red Deer provincial court.