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Tag: Danielle Smith

Government of Alberta word logo as heading for provincial statements

Rebranding the carbon tax won’t fix a failure

Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Environment and Protected Areas Rebecca Schulz issued the following joint statement on the rebranding of the federal carbon tax:

“The federal government, in its flawed environmental activism, imposed a punitive carbon tax that did not reduce emissions, but instead, raised the cost of everything.

“Now, five years later, the federal carbon tax is universally known as a resounding failure. The carbon tax has punished Canadians while failing to reduce emissions.

“Canadians are struggling to pay a carbon tax on top of the federal government’s self-inflicted inflation crisis. We know that the carbon tax is costing Alberta families hundreds of dollars each year.

“In an act of desperation, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have the audacity to try and ‘rebrand’ the carbon tax – a cynical and desperate ploy that will fail.

“No ‘rebrand’ will save the federal government from its dwindling poll numbers. No speeches or sound bites will make a difference.

“Canadians will see it for what it is: a tax on the fuel they use to drive their kids to school, a tax on the food they buy, a tax on the businesses that they run, a tax on everything.

“Alberta’s government has a plan to achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. We are confident this can be done without a consumer carbon tax, and we’ll continue to call on Minister Guilbeault to end his relentless pursuit of a more expensive Canada and to work with us instead.”

 

Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion

 

Canada Pension cheque with loonies on top of it.

Province seeking input on proposed APP

The provincial government is giving Albertans another way to weigh in on its idea to introduce a provincially based pension plan, but it will be done virtually, by phone.

Premier Danielle Smith, during a press conference last month, said Albertans would pay substantially less and receive higher benefits under a potential Alberta Pension Plan.

A recent government-commissioned report said the province would have $334 billion at its disposal if it were to take over payments and benefits currently handled by the Canada Pension Plan.

“Now that the LifeWorks report is out for discussion, our panel has been tasked with listening to Albertans and hearing their thoughts, views and concerns,” said Jim Dinning, who chairs the engagement panel, in an Oct. 12 government statement.

“For something this big, Albertans deserve the benefit of a rational, adult conversation.”

The provincial Opposition, meanwhile, doesn’t share the same opinion, calling the APP concept destructive and dangerous.

Shannon Phillips, NDP critic for finance, insurance and premiums, reiterated the party’s stance, questioning why there are no in-person town hall sessions planned.

“Danielle Smith is in hiding while trying to gamble away Albertans’ pensions,” Phillips said in a release Oct. 14. “The premier is afraid of Albertans.”

 

Ad for Sara Hawthorn, Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass realtor

 

The first of five “telephone town halls” took place on Monday, Oct. 16, for northern Albertans.

A second such event is set for southern Alberta residents, including the southwest, Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Three more sessions are scheduled in November for the Calgary region, Edmonton and area, and central Alberta.

Participation details are available online at albertapensionplan.ca/engagement.

The province had already established a web-based survey component. Respondents have until Dec. 10 to take the 10-minute survey, which can be found at bit.ly/45wj65M.

A panel report is due out in May of next year.

 

 

 

Livingstone-Macleod election forum panelists seated at table – five men and one woman, with white-haired female moderator off to right side

Livingstone-Macleod candidates make last appeals at Crowsnest Pass forum

Riding candidates in Livingstone-Macleod gave mostly stock performances at an election forum in Crowsnest Pass on Wednesday, May 24.

The United Conservatives’ Chelsae Petrovic and the Alberta NDP’s Kevin Van Tighem, certainly no strangers to political controversy in what has been a bitterly contested election, were distinctly on-brand, repeating, defending and doubling down on their parties’ campaign planks. 

A re-elected UCP under Danielle Smith would “embrace the renewed Alberta Advantage,” Petrovic said, warning that to vote for anyone else would jeopardize her party’s recent accomplishments — especially this year’s whopping budget surplus.

Smith’s erstwhile promise to replace the Alberta RCMP with an independent provincial police force “is no longer a topic of conversation,” the candidate said. Nor does Petrovic have “any affiliation with” Take Back Alberta, the right-wing populist movement whose Marco Van Huigenbos watched the forum from the back of the room. 

Petrovic, who told TBA founder David Parker in a February podcast interview that she wouldn’t necessarily cleave to the party line if she were elected, strongly endorsed Smith’s leadership.  

Holding precisely the opposite view was Van Tighem, who wasted little time laying claim to Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservative legacy for the NDP. Party leader Rachel Notley would deliver “good government you can trust,” he said, holding up Smith’s “unstable and chaotic leadership” as the mirror opposite. 

An NDP government would eliminate Alberta’s small-business tax, and wouldn’t add to personal income taxes, he promised. He was less keen to engage Notley’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate from eight to 11 per cent, although he said the increased rate would stay the lowest in Canada. 

The Alberta Party’s Kevin Todd, who briefly entertained a run at the UCP nomination, repeatedly positioned himself as an independent voice for Livingstone-Macleod, reminding the audience that his party doesn’t whip votes — unlike the UCP and NDP.

Ad for Creekview Dental Hygiene clinic in Pincher Creek

Van Tighem took knocks for his untrammelled opposition to coal exploration on the Eastern Rockies. 

“It’s a terrible position to take,” Pincher Creek MD councillor John MacGarva said from the floor, drawing thunderous applause from roughly half the audience. 

Lougheed’s PC’s blocked regional coal exploration for perfectly sound ecological reasons, Van Tighem shot back, scoring loud approval from the other half. 

Another resident introduced himself to Van Tighem as “one of those entitled rednecks you despise,” alluding to the candidate’s 2021 Alberta Views article wherein the author paints a disconcerting stereotype of oil and gas workers. 

The candidate said the article’s subtext underlined widely held conceptions about a rapacious oil and gas industry — conceptions Van Tighem has consistently said hurt Alberta’s interests on the world stage — but the barb stuck. 

Petrovic and Independence Party candidate Corrie Toone were pointedly asked if they would support a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Neither candidate gave a yes or no answer, despite prodding from moderator Val Danielson. 

Toone and Petrovic each said “life begins at conception,” with Petrovic saying that, while she supported bodily autonomy when it came to vaccines, she and the UCP are “pro-life.” 

The most compelling performance came from the Alberta Liberals’ Dylin Hauser, if audience reactions are to be any guide. 

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When the candidates were asked to defend their leadership credentials, Hauser was the only one who gave a full “with flaws and all” recounting of a life well lived, but also tempered by ordinary struggles. 

“What do I bring?” he asked rhetorically. “I bring failure. I bring hardship. I bring the ups and downs we all face down in life.”

His answer palpably won over the audience, drawing applause so loud and intense, it rumbled the floor. Many cheered as strenuously Hauser’s call to “vote for who you want,” rather than voting in the least offensive party with the most realistic chances of forming Alberta’s next government. 

Toone and independent candidate Erik Abildgaard spent much time trying to convince the audience that climate change was bogus, that pandemic health restrictions were draconian and that the UCP and NDP were fundamentally untrustworthy. 

Albertans head to the polls Monday, May 29.

Advanced voting is open May 23 to 27.

For voter information, including polling stations, see pages 9 to 11.

View Crowsnest Pass election forum videos here: Part 1, Part 2

Individual candidate statements:

Dylin Hauser – Alberta Liberal Party

Kevin Van Tighem – Alberta New Democratic Party

Kevin Todd – Alberta Party

Erik Abildgaard – Independent

Corrie Toone – Independence Party of Alberta

Chelsae Petrovic – United Conservative Party

Related articles:

Livingstone-Macleod Candidates Make Last Appeals At Crowsnest Pass Forum

‘Not Notley’ Sign To Come Down, Says MD Of Pincher Creek

Scheduling Conflicts Derail Livingstone-Macleod Election Forum In Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek Health-Care Forum Draws Large Audience

UCP Candidate Calls Out Heart Attack Survivors

Claresholm Politician Enters UCP Nomination Race For Livingstone-Macleod

Read more Livingstone-Macleod articles

UCP candidate Chelsae Petrovic – smiling woman with long, straight, light-brown hair, wearing a grey sweater

United Conservative Party candidate Chelsea Petrovic

Six candidates are vying for your vote on May 29, hoping to be Livingstone-Macleod’s next MLA. All were invited to submit a piece outlining their election platform for publication in Shootin’ the Breeze.

The people of Livingstone-Macleod deserve conservative representation that truly understands and values their needs. We have unique challenges, from growing our economy to preserving our precious natural spaces. Our access to health care and education must improve, and we need strong advocates who genuinely care. It’s crucial that we elect a government focused on the well-being of Albertans in Livingstone-Macleod.

This upcoming election is one of the most pivotal moments in Alberta’s history. The UCP and Danielle Smith are unwavering in their commitment to moving Alberta forward by fostering economic growth and further diversification. This means more jobs, more prosperity.

We will safeguard the services and values dear to Albertans, unlike the NDP who would drag us backward. We cannot risk their failed ideological policies that have already hurt so many Albertans before.

 

 

As a nurse, charity worker and mayor, my experience has prepared me to serve you, my fellow citizens, as an MLA. I intimately understand the importance of health care, economic development and community support. I firmly believe that a good job is the best social program. Through my volunteer work, I’ve witnessed first-hand the significance of caring for the vulnerable and fostering a sense of unity among us. I will be the elected official and public servant you deserve.

I humbly ask for your votes, my neighbours in Livingstone-Macleod, so that together we can be part of a government that truly helps and uplifts our community.

Today, Alberta proudly leads the nation in economic growth, and all indicators predict a continued upward trajectory. This accomplishment is the result of the UCP’s diligent efforts, and it’s crucial that they remain in government to build upon this success.

 

 

We are witnessing a historic influx of new Albertans, as families from across Canada embrace the renewed Alberta Advantage. The UCP made this possible, while under the NDP, people were leaving our province. With the UCP at the helm, major international companies have invested in Alberta, propelling us forward.

Electing the NDP puts all of these achievements at risk.

This is why we must re-elect a United Conservative government to continue the remarkable progress we’ve made. Alberta must remain the economic engine of our great country, ensuring that our hard-working citizens thrive. Together, we’ll preserve Alberta as a beacon of opportunity for generations to come.

I humbly ask for your vote and your support.

 

Albertans head to the polls Monday, May 29.

Advanced voting is open May 23 to 27.

For voter information, including polling stations, see pages 9 to 11.

View Crowsnest Pass election forum videos here: Part 1, Part 2

Individual candidate statements:

Dylin Hauser – Alberta Liberal Party

Kevin Van Tighem – Alberta New Democratic Party

Kevin Todd – Alberta Party

Erik Abildgaard – Independent

Corrie Toone – Independence Party of Alberta

Chelsae Petrovic – United Conservative Party

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

 

Related articles:

Livingstone-Macleod Candidates Make Last Appeals At Crowsnest Pass Forum

‘Not Notley’ Sign To Come Down, Says MD Of Pincher Creek

Scheduling Conflicts Derail Livingstone-Macleod Election Forum In Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek Health-Care Forum Draws Large Audience

UCP Candidate Calls Out Heart Attack Survivors

Claresholm Politician Enters UCP Nomination Race For Livingstone-Macleod

Read more Livingstone-Macleod articles

NDP candidate Kevin Van Tighem – smiling white man with short grey hair wearing a grey dress shirt

Alberta NDP candidate Kevin Van Tighem

Six candidates are vying for your vote on May 29, hoping to be Livingstone-Macleod’s next MLA. All were invited to submit a piece outlining their election platform for publication in Shootin’ the Breeze.

Until last year, I was always non-partisan and was never involved with politics.

But that ended when I saw what the UCP was doing to the province I love and call home. 

I started my campaign about a month before being appointed as the NDP candidate for Livingstone-Macleod at a nomination meeting last November.

Since then, I’ve had conversations with people on over 2,000 doorsteps in Coleman, Fort Macleod, Beaver Mines, Pincher Creek, Blackie and High River. When counting the conversations volunteers on our team have had, we’re well past 5,000 doors.

 

 

Each conversation has been fascinating, meaningful, and even heartbreaking. After more than three decades of working with neighbours on what matters here, I thought I knew Livingstone-Macleod.

I now realize I had barely scratched the surface.

I’ve talked to people who’ve lost their family doctor and can’t get primary care. The severe challenges facing rural health care under the UCP have forced people to turn to emergency rooms instead of walk-in clinics or doctors’ offices.

I’ve heard about expectant mothers driving to Calgary on winter roads for maternity care because Fort Macleod and Pincher Creek can no longer have it.

On the other side, doctors have told me they are burnt out and frustrated. They’re too busy to take on more patients. A nurse told me she and her whole team are in counselling after three years of constant work, overtime and pressure — all while the UCP government disrespects them.

 

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I spoke with an elderly woman who has to stretch her pension further to keep up with her rising mortgage and utility bills. Now, she has to rely on the food bank. She used to donate before the UCP took the caps off utility rates. Now she’s a client. 

Doorway after doorway, I’ve learned of our communities’ challenges. It’s been sobering. It’s also been inspiring.

I’m more determined than ever to represent the people in my community and make sure a trustworthy government hears these concerns and acts.

Politics has to be about more than partisanship and political games; it has to be a sincere offer and commitment to deliver a better future.

That’s why my team and I have been to every community in our riding. It’s why we started hosting meet-and-greet sessions in the winter and have gone to school meetings, health workshops, trade fairs and countless other gatherings. 

 

 

We are in this for our neighbours and their families.

And what we’re seeing is more Alberta NDP supporters. Almost a third have told me they are conservatives but cannot vote, in good conscience, for what the UCP has become under Danielle Smith’s chaotic leadership. 

Last November, I chose to fight for a better future for Alberta by stepping out of retirement to run for the party that puts people first: the Alberta NDP. I am running with a real leader who cares and who’s focused on what matters to Albertans: Rachel Notley.

I want people to know I’ve done my homework, and you can rely on me. I am in this for Livingstone-Macleod and the families, communities and land we all cherish.

 

Albertans head to the polls Monday, May 29.

Advanced voting is open May 23 to 27.

For voter information, including polling stations, see pages 9 to 11.

View Crowsnest Pass election forum videos here: Part 1, Part 2

Individual candidate statements:

Dylin Hauser – Alberta Liberal Party

Kevin Van Tighem – Alberta New Democratic Party

Kevin Todd – Alberta Party

Erik Abildgaard – Independent

Corrie Toone – Independence Party of Alberta

Chelsae Petrovic – United Conservative Party

 

 

Related articles:

Livingstone-Macleod Candidates Make Last Appeals At Crowsnest Pass Forum

‘Not Notley’ Sign To Come Down, Says MD Of Pincher Creek

Scheduling Conflicts Derail Livingstone-Macleod Election Forum In Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek Health-Care Forum Draws Large Audience

UCP Candidate Calls Out Heart Attack Survivors

Claresholm Politician Enters UCP Nomination Race For Livingstone-Macleod

Read more Livingstone-Macleod articles

 

Alberta premier Danielle Smith, smiling woman with shoulder-length dark brown hair

Smith promises UCP is committed to preserving public health care

Premier Danielle Smith has issued a “public health guarantee” that, if re-elected, her United Conservative government won’t leave Albertans paying for medical treatment, including visits to doctors.

Speaking Tuesday in Sherwood Park, Smith said, “I want to be clear: under the UCP’s public health-care guarantee, we are committing to all Albertans that under no circumstances will any Albertan ever have to pay out-of-pocket to see their family doctor or to get the medical treatment they need. And it means that a UCP government, under my leadership, will not delist any medical services or prescriptions now covered by Alberta Health Insurance. No exceptions.” 

The United Conservatives’ 2023 budget includes $24.5 billion for Alberta’s public health-care system — roughly a billion dollars more than spending forecasted in 2023-23, according to budget highlights published on the Government of Alberta’s website. 

 

 

A 2021 public policy paper written by Smith and published by the University of Calgary makes it clear that Smith was open to other ideas two years before she won the UCP leadership race last fall. 

“We can no longer afford universal social programs that are 100 per cent paid by taxpayers,” Smith wrote in her paper, entitled “Alberta’s Key Challenges And Opportunities.” 

Under the subheading User Fees, Smith specified that Albertans should pay for doctor visits out of personal health spending accounts to be subsidized by the province.

“If the government funded the account at $375 a year, that’s the equivalent of 10 trips to a GP, so there can be no argument that this would compromise access on the basis of ability to pay,” Smith wrote. 

Smith went on to insist that any redefinition of universality “must mean that no one is denied care when they need it and no one should face bankruptcy because of medical bills. Full stop.”

UCP candidate Chelsae Petrovic – smiling woman with long, straight, light-brown hair, wearing a grey sweater

UCP candidate calls out heart attack survivors

Chelsae Petrovic, an ER nurse and United Conservative Party candidate for Livingstone-Macleod, is refusing media interviews after flirting with “political suicide” by suggesting that heart attack survivors should bear accountability for their poor health. 

Petrovic offered her remarks, first reported by Global Edmonton’s Saif Kaisar, during her guest appearance on a podcast episode of The Canadian Story published to YouTube on Feb. 21, roughly three weeks before she swept the UCP’s nomination in Livingstone-Macleod.

Social media response to reports on this issue has been overwhelmingly negative. 

Speaking as a hopeful nominee and the mayor of Claresholm, Petrovic also disparaged unions, including her own, and made it plain that she would rather be ejected from the UCP’s legislative caucus if she felt supporting the party line would go against the riding’s best interests. 

Petrovic’s campaign responded to Shootin’ the Breeze’s request for comment with a statement saying her remarks about heart attack survivors had been “taken out of context.” 

A statement attributed to the candidate reads: “I understand my comment could be offensive when removed from the longer interview, and I should have chosen better language. I believe we should be a province that not only focuses on reactive health for those in need but also one that teaches our kids to practise healthy living, which includes taking care of our physical and mental health.”

“No interviews or additional statements will be made regarding the situation,” her campaign team wrote.  

 

Ad for Ascent Dental in Pincher Creek

 

Accountability, dependence and heart attacks 

Telling podcast hosts David Parker and Zach Gerber that she’d seen “a lot of similarities” between her roles as a nurse and a small-town mayor, Petrovic started talking about hospital patients.

“Everyone comes in with their problems, and how do you fix it? How do you go about being polite to them when you’re trying to save their lives in a high-stress environment?” 

It’s a matter of “balancing saving their life and doing it with a smile on your face as they’re bleeding out,” she told Parker, who founded the right-wing populist movement Take Back Alberta, according to TBA’s website. 

Asked where she saw “a lack of accountability and responsibility playing out in our Canadian society right now,” Petrovic told Parker that what she was about to say “might be political suicide … which is fine with me, because it needs to be said.” 

Canadians have become “so dependent on being saved” by the government, they no longer take responsibility for themselves, she said.

“And I see it in health care,” she continued, dressing down a hypothetical patient. 

 

 

“You know, I’m going to say it: Maybe the reason why you had a heart attack was because you haven’t taken care of yourself. You’re extremely overweight. You haven’t managed your congestive heart failure. You haven’t managed your diabetes and there’s no personal accountability. 

“But they come into the hospital, and all of a sudden, it’s everyone else’s problem but their own.”

Petrovic went on to say that she wanted to rally behind one of her neighbours she said had recently suffered a heart attack. 

“Well, let’s start shovelling his driveway,” she suggested.  

Kevin Van Tighem, the NDP’s riding candidate, issued a statement Tuesday calling on Premier Danielle Smith and Petrovic to apologize for Petrovic’s comments “blaming Albertans for cardiac disease.” 

“Last year, Danielle Smith said Albertans are responsible for developing cancer. Now her candidate blames Albertans for having a heart attack. This is a pattern of cruel and hurtful language that kicks Albertans when they’re down,” Van Tighem said.

Kevin Todd, the Alberta Party’s riding candidate, wrote in a prepared statement, “People of our constituency shouldn’t be made to feel as though their access to medical care is predicated on whether or not they ‘deserve’ help in one of life’s challenging moments.”  

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

‘All the nurses are going to hate me for that’

On the subject of front-line nursing, Petrovic said during the podcast, “We have the unions who butt in [to the nursing process]. Let’s be honest, the unions only have [their] best interests at heart and how they make money.”  

“All the nurses are going to hate me for that,” she went on, adding, “Union reps are going to come after me for that one.” 

Livingstone-Macleod above all else 

Petrovic went on to say she’d represent the interests of Livingstone-Macleod if they conflicted with her party’s policy agenda. 

“I promise that I’ll never cross the floor, but I can’t promise that I will always be a UCP representative,” she said, telling Parker and Gerber that she understood that the UCP, like most parties, would boot her out if she won her riding and then voted against the party as an MLA.  

“If that means that … someone says, ‘You have to vote this way, otherwise you’re kicked out,’ and it’s not in Livingstone-Macleod’s best interest — well, I guess I’m no longer a UCP representative.” 

Petrovic several times stressed that she valued Claresholm’s “very diverse” council, and that effective leadership meant honing the ability to change one’s mind. 

The candidate will face the NDP’s Kevin Van Tighem and the Alberta Party’s Kevin Todd when Albertans head to the polls in May.

Travis Toews, man with short grey hair and glasses, and dressed in a blue suit jacket, white shirt and blue tie, speaks to reporters

UCP unveils Budget ’23 ahead of spring election

Finance Minister Travis Toews tabled Alberta’s 2023 budget Feb. 28, predicting a $2.4-billion surplus through a fiscal plan that relies heavily on oil and gas royalties to swell Edmonton’s coffers.

The budget, released roughly 90 days ahead of this spring’s provincial election, contains a massive bump in health-care spending and a plan to boost policing. 

Speaking to rural journalists the next day, Toews touted the United Conservative Party’s “fiscal responsibility” since taking over from Rachel Notley’s NDP in 2019. The UCP has done much “heavy lifting” to curb the government’s per-capita spending, which had been roughly $10 billion higher in Alberta than in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, the minister said. 

Fiscal responsibility remains “a key theme” in this year’s budget, with Toews outlining legislative steps to rein in deficit spending in the years ahead.

 

 

“Those fiscal rules will require a balanced budget, with appropriate exceptions [for heavy revenue shortfalls, sudden emergencies, etc.], and the fiscal rules will provide a strategy and a framework for surplus management.” 

Budget 2023 projects roughly $71 billion in revenue by the end of next March, $18 billion of which is expected to come from oil and gas. 

“The fact is, Alberta has a volatile revenue structure. We do still depend to a significant degree on royalty income [from non-renewable resources] to cover operational spending,” Toews acknowledged, qualifying in the next breath that Alberta’s economy was rapidly diversifying. 

Vowing that “support levels for our most vulnerable cannot be dictated by globally set commodity prices,” Toews highlighted several commitments to boost health care, many of which had been announced before budget day. 

 

Ad for Aurora Eggert Coaching in Beaver Mines

 

To that point, the budget provides nearly $1 billion to shave ambulance wait times, plus $4.2 billion over the next three years to boost health care in rural and Indigenous communities. 

The budget meanwhile provides 13 per cent more for the ministries of Justice and Public Safety. Toews said he would hold Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis accountable for putting 200 extra law enforcement officers on Alberta streets, mostly in the form of provincial sheriffs. 

Toews did not say how much money the province has spent on exploring the possibility of replacing the RCMP with an independent Alberta Police Service, echoing Ellis’s comments last month that the government hasn’t made up its mind. 

“We’ve obviously made no decision as would be reflected in this budget. But we have made a decision to increase enforcement in the meantime,” Toews said.

 

 

Notley’s NDP panned the budget, pouring scorn on Danielle Smith, who succeeded former premier Jason Kenney last fall.   

“Frankly, the best news in Danielle Smith’s first budget is that it could be her last one because, very soon, Albertans will have a choice to turn the page,” Notley said. 

The Opposition leader swung at Smith’s contentious revamp of the province’s RStar program that rewards petro companies for meeting their legal obligations to reclaim spent oil wells, calling Budget 2023 “a fraudulent budget designed to buy votes ahead of the election and then spring the costs on Albertans after the polls have closed.”

 

RCMP Sgt. Ryan Hodge speaks into a microphone at Pincher Creek town council

RCMP patrols in Pincher Creek to be scaled back

A policy change by Alberta RCMP (K Division) will shave an hour off Pincher Creek Mounties’ regular patrols, likely at a cost to the town, according to Sgt. Ryan Hodge.

“It will specifically impact our detachment,” Hodge told town council on Feb. 13. 

K Division announced the policy a week earlier, citing the need to protect Mounties’ safety, he explained. Pincher Creek RCMP will either scale back regular patrols by an hour in the early morning or start patrols an hour later, he added. 

Coun. Mark Barber asked if this would increase the town’s annual policing costs, now budgeted at over $200,000. 

“I believe there will be a cost increase,” Hodge answered.

 

Ad for Dragons Heart Quilt Shop in Pincher Creek

 

The new scheduling policy will not take away from the detachment’s ability to police the community, and may increase the number of officer shifts, Hodge explained.

Hodge said he hoped to explain the policy change and hear from town residents more generally at an open house before the town’s police advisory committee meets on March 15.

The detachment is currently at full strength, Hodge said.

The United Conservative Party under former premier Jason Kenney voted to phase in policing costs to Albertan municipalities under 5,000 residents starting in 2020. 

 

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Pincher Creek’s new policing budget has steadily risen from $74,000 in 2020 to just over $217,000 in 2023, according to finance director Wendy Catonio. 

Premier Danielle Smith, who succeeded Kenney last fall, instructed Justice Minister Tyler Shandro in a Nov. 8 letter to “finalize a decision on establishing an Alberta Police Service,” but Public Safety Minister Ellis said no decision had been made as of the new year.

K Division wasn’t immediately available for comment when Shootin’ the Breeze went to press Tuesday.

 

Read more from the Breeze:

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Crowsnest Pass council approves business licence payment plan

Folklore shrouds early NWMP camps in mystery

 

 

 

 

UCP candidate Chelsae Petrovic – smiling woman with long, straight, light-brown hair, wearing a grey sweater

Claresholm politician enters UCP nomination race for Livingstone-Macleod

Chelsae Petrovic, a licensed practical nurse outside of town chambers, told Shootin’ the Breeze on Jan. 31 that she wants to return provincial politics to its grassroots within the riding. 

“As politicians, we need to take our orders from and listen to our constituents,” she said. 

She’d been generally uninterested in politics until she decided to run for council in Claresholm in the run-up to its October 2021 civic election. 

Her husband, Cody, suggested that she aim higher, so she went for the mayoral spot and won.

 

 

“My specialty is advocating for people,” she said, adding that she resolved to run for the UCP’s riding nomination after some heart-wrenching conversations with local moms and dads last Christmas. 

“When I heard from parents who said they had to choose between buying presents for their children and filling up their gas tank … that’s what put me over the edge.” 

She wants to run under the UCP banner because, in her words, “I’m a mom; a wife; a Christian. I resonate more with the party’s traditional values.”

Petrovic said Premier Danielle Smith needs MLAs who will hold her to account while supporting her policy initiatives, including and especially Smith’s controversial Sovereign Alberta Within a United Canada Act.

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

“I truly believe that’s a good thing for Alberta,” she told the Breeze

As an LPN at Claresholm General Hospital and the emergency department in Fort Macleod, Petrovic said she “lives and breathes” health care. Fixing health care has to be about listening to front-line nurses and doctors and getting them what they need to stay in their jobs, she said. 

Petrovic said she planned to submit her finalized application to the UCP’s constituency association in Livingstone-Macleod within the week.

She will have to contend with a number of other hopeful nominees, including Don Whalen of nearby Parkland. 

 

Shootin' the Breeze connection to more local stories

 

The UCP reopened riding nominations on Jan. 26, roughly two months after the party disqualified Nadine Wellwood over her social media posts wherein she compared Canada’s Covid-19 measures to public policy in Nazi Germany. 

The party will close nominations in the riding Feb. 9, with the contest to be decided sometime in March, Petrovic said.

 

 

 

More Local Stories

 

 

 

‘No decision’ on Alberta Police Service, says Ellis

Danielle Smith announced last June that she would set the plan in motion if she won the United Conservatives’ leadership campaign, which she did in October.

Premier Smith instructed Ellis in a November mandate letter to “launch an Alberta Police Service” with Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. 

Smith further mandated Ellis, himself a former police officer, to work with local law enforcement and municipal governments to “establish a regional approach to policing in Alberta.” 

“There’s no decision that’s been made to establish an Alberta Police Service,” Ellis told Shootin’ the Breeze at a virtual press conference Jan. 24.

The minister said all options are on the table when it comes to curbing rural crime, pointing to Alberta Sheriffs’ success in pulling about 2,220 suspected impaired drivers off provincial highways in the last year and a half. 

“The reality is that the RCMP are struggling to meet the needs of Canadians when it comes to policing,” Ellis said, later adding, “The problem is that the RCMP just do not have enough human beings to provide their contracted services.”

 

 

Local heads of government disagree — forcefully, in some cases. 

“I can’t see how making changes in our provincial policing will have a positive effect on our community,” Crowsnest Pass Mayor Blair Painter told the Breeze.

“We’re 100 per cent behind the RCMP,” Reeve Rick Lemire said on behalf of the Municipal District of Pincher Creek. 

Town mayor Don Anderberg preferred not to stake a position at all, citing that town council hadn’t deliberated the issue. 

Previous councils had expressed concerns about low staffing levels at Pincher Creek RCMP, but Anderberg said the town has always had “a great working relationship” with the detachment. 

The Rural Municipalities of Alberta, which represents 69 rural counties and municipalities, including Crowsnest Pass and the Municipal District of Pincher Creek, wrote in a winter 2023 policy statement that “The creation of a provincial police force should not take place unless a detailed feasibility study proves that such an approach will reduce provincial and municipal policing costs and enhance service levels across the province.” 

 

 

The government’s own findings show that it would cost an estimated $366 million to create an APS and move away from the RCMP. The same report, published by Price Waterhouse Coopers in 2021, concluded that it would cost between $24 million and $49 million less to operate an established APS per year versus the RCMP’s current annual costs, assuming a 20 per cent pay bump in the RCMP’s new collective bargaining agreement with the federal government.

Regional crime is already down considerably across the region, according to the most recent statistics from Crowsnest Pass and Pincher Creek RCMP. As the Breeze reported in the new year, reported incidents of property crime and so-called persons crime (which accounts for assault, sexual assault, kidnapping, muggings, uttering threats and criminal harrasment) are at five-year lows, according to Pincher Creek RCMP’s Sgt. Ryan Hodge. 

Crowsnest Pass RCMP’s Sgt. Rendell Guinchard reported similar drops across both categories over the summer. 

Both commanders regularly consult with municipalities in their jurisdictions.

Minister Ellis repeatedly praised members of law enforcement, especially Alberta Mounties. 

“As a former police officer, myself, I personally didn’t care what uniform I was wearing,” he told reporters. “I just wanted to make sure that I was providing good service to the people that I was representing.”

UCP promises extensive affordability measures heading into winter

“Work is underway to get the system set up and running, and we will provide a more detailed update before the holidays if this legislation is passed,” Affordability and Utilities Minister Matt Jones told reporters at an Edmonton press conference.

Reporters grilled Finance Minister Travis Toews about the timing of monthly payments to seniors, families with children, and people receiving disability benefits, now set to end one month after May’s provincial election.

Toews said the government’s massive budgetary surplus allows the UCP to help Albertans. The government will reassess Albertans’ needs after the six-month time frame is up, he added. 

“The average Alberta household with or without children, with or without seniors, or vulnerable Albertans will receive up to an estimated $900 in broad-based relief alone,’’ Jones told reporters last Wednesday.

Jones made a similar statement in a Nov. 29 tweet, in which he quoted himself telling the Calgary Herald that “The broad-based relief alone will provide the vast majority of households — with or without children, with or without seniors — with up to $900 or more in relief.”

 

 

Jones then reiterated commitments Smith made when she publicly unveiled the plan on Nov. 22. The plan promises $100 payments to seniors and people receiving Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and Persons with Developmental Disability (PDD) payments for six months every month for the first half of 2023. Families that make less than $180,000 per year will get the same payments for every child. The income eligibility would see monthly payments go to 80 per cent of families in the province, Jones said. 

 Albertans already receiving core support programs like seniors benefits, AISH, PDD and income support wouldn’t have to apply for the plan’s monthly payments. Families with children would have to apply through a government website, where they would be asked to provide income information.

The payments will be non-taxable, Jones said.

The government will boost AISH, PDD, income support and seniors benefits by six per cent starting in the new year, which Jones said would match inflation for 2022.

 

 

The plan would defer a portion of winter electricity bills for consumers on regulated rate option plans for the first three months of the new year. Charges above 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour will be spread over monthly bills starting in April. This includes municipalities and energy suppliers not covered by the Alberta Utilities Commission. 

Seventy-five-dollar rebates will go to 1.9 million electricity consumers in January and February, with $25 rebates in March and April. Credits will carry over where electricity bills come in below $75, Jones said. 

The government will halt the province’s 13 per cent fuel tax on gas and diesel from January through the end of June, costing the treasury an estimated $600 million in lost revenue. The plan also increases provincial income tax exemptions and provincial tax brackets by just under 2.5 per cent. 

“I don’t have information on timing,” Jones said when pressed on the rollout for the proposed regulatory framework. The minister said he hoped to see permanent “natural gas price protection” starting in the new year, but again balked at providing a hard timeline.

 

Reader opposes Sovereignty Act

 

If adopted, the Sovereignty Act will forever change how Alberta functions inside or outside of Canada.

There has been a lot of press coverage of the Sovereignty Act over the past few months. It was a major plank in Danielle Smith’s campaign to become leader of the UCP.

As we all know, Danielle won with just over 60,000 votes, in a province with more than four million citizens. With that as a mandate, she took over as premier, and has embarked on a program that will fundamentally alter the relationship of Alberta with the rest of Canada.

The premier had repeatedly asked that the Sovereignty Act not be judged until it had been tabled in the legislature. That happened last week, and there were some surprises in the package the government submitted.

Taking the premier at her word, I read the act carefully, and was surprised. I am not a lawyer, but I cannot help but think most members of the cabinet must have skipped the high school classes on how our democracy works.

The first and most important point is that you rarely get everything you want. You have to be gracious when you win, and accept it when there are outcomes you are unhappy with.

Canada and its laws are not a smorgasbord. You do not get to pick and choose the laws that you like, and ignore the ones you do not like.

If you believe a law, any law, is wrong, there are ways to express your views. The most serious is to take the law to court, and to abide by the ruling.

If we adopt a pick-and-choose approach, things start to fall apart. If the provincial government can ignore certain laws, why couldn’t a city do the same thing to provincial laws? Indeed, why would a private citizen be required to follow a law that disadvantaged them?

The situation gets even more complex when you note that Bill 1 would allow the provincial government to rule against things that have not even happened. The language in the bill allows government to act against any perceived intention by the federal government to do something.

A basic aspect of our laws is that we cannot be convicted for simply thinking about doing something illegal. Even talking about doing something is not usually a crime. In Bill 1, that assumption of innocence seems to have been forgotten.

Our system also requires that the legislature have an opportunity to debate changes to laws. Bill 1, as written, will allow cabinet to make laws and proclaim them, without any debate in the legislature. Those laws are in force for up to two years, and can then be renewed without legislature debate for a further two years.

There are news reports that the bill will now be amended to remove the lawmaking portions. This raises the question of why the bill was introduced with that language in it. Do the politicians not read their own legislation? Or was it a power grab that they hoped no one would notice?

Neither option is reassuring. In one reading, they are just incompetent. In the other, they are dictators-in-waiting.

So, we have a bill that will allow a small number of legislators to try and cancel a national law. It further allows cabinet to direct a large number of other bodies, including your local hospital, police force and the whole educational system, to also ignore federal law.

There appears to be no consideration of the degree to which at least some of those bodies must interact with the federal government, and that interaction requires the bodies to follow federal rules.

I find it disturbing that there does not appear to have been consideration of what the federal response to Bill 1 might be. There seems to be an assumption that the federal response will be either a legal challenge or nothing. However, that may be incorrect, as there are many actions that Ottawa could take that would have dramatic impacts on Alberta.

The premier has been loud in her demands that the Canadian government stay out of areas of provincial jurisdiction. Exactly what that might mean has not been spelled out, but there are some obvious areas where dramatic change might happen.

Health care is a provincial responsibility under our Constitution. Despite that, there are multiple shared-cost programs, where the provinces receive federal dollars to help deliver programs. If Ottawa stopped their cost-share, Alberta would lose several billion from the health budget.

The UCP government has vigorously promoted a provincial police force. They admit that would cost tens of millions of dollars more than the current arrangement. They also note that it would take several years to set up a completely new force. But, the current contract allows either party to cancel on two years’ notice. If Ottawa simply exercised that option, Alberta might have a very hard time replacing the RCMP by 2025.

Many students receive scholarships and similar support from federal bodies, especially at the university level. The universities and such also receive large sums from the federal government. If Ottawa decided that since education is a provincial responsibility they would stop their financial contributions, many students and institutions would be in serious trouble.

There will also be economic impacts. No large company is likely to start or expand operations where two levels of government are in a fierce battle. If there is an alternative place to invest, they will likely avoid Alberta until things are sorted out.

In short, this bill, if adopted, will forever change how Alberta functions inside or outside of Canada. If Ms. Smith really wants to make such sweeping changes, she should at least wait until after we have an election.

Alan Garbutt
Resident of Cowley, Alberta

 

Shootin’ the Breeze welcomes submissions about local issues and activities. Personal views expressed in Mailbox articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect views of Shootin’ the Breeze management and staff. 

 

Grey-haired man with glasses, wearing blue suit speaks

Toews speaks to Sovereignty Act

Premier Danielle Smith’s proposed Sovereignty Act, introduced Tuesday in the Alberta legislature, won’t hurt foreign investment by triggering constitutional battles with Ottawa, Finance Minister Travis Toews said Wednesday.

Toews told a roundtable of community newspaper reporters in southern Alberta that the UCP government is eyeing volatility now affecting international commodity prices, especially oil. 

“When we take a look at the uncertainty right now that we see in the economy globally, which always has an impact on commodity prices and creates volatility in those prices, we have to always budget with that in mind here in the province of Alberta,” Toews said.

But the Sovereignty Act, he said, will ensure “certainty and predictability” because it upholds the rule of law and the Canadian Constitution.

Toews was openly critical of Smith’s Alberta Sovereignty Act during the recent UCP leadership race, in which both were candidates, when Smith said the act would empower the province to override federal laws, policies and programs the legislature determined to be unconstitutional or hurtful to Alberta’s economic interests.

 

 

“I’ll just be really transparent,” he said Wednesday. “My concern was that (the Sovereignty Act) certainly would have the probability of creating unpredictability or a lack of certainty within our business environment.” 

But Toews now says the UCP’s rebranded Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act (Bill 1) shouldn’t worry investors that the province might upend the status quo.

The overwhelming bulk of Alberta’s budget surplus, now on track to hit $12.3 billion for the current fiscal year, comes from energy royalties and corporate tax revenue. Toews said his ministry anticipates “solid surpluses” of $5.6 and $5.3 billion in the next two fiscal years. 

The minister said he’s confident the province’s political stability will continue to make Alberta a smart place to invest, but he won’t unconditionally vote for the new Sovereignty Act.

“Look, I can support this act if it, in fact, respects the rule of law; if it’s constitutional, and if it can be implemented in a way that’s not going to create uncertainty and a lack of predictability in our business environment.” 

 

 

Toews stressed that the act “won’t and can’t” compel Albertans or businesses that operate in the province to “disregard federal law.” 

As it now stands, Bill 1 gives Smith’s cabinet the authority to direct Crown corporations and a host of provincial entities, including post-secondaries and school boards, not to follow federal laws the legislature deems unconstitutional. The law is silent on what would happen to these bodies should they refuse cabinet’s direction.

“We’re talking hypotheticals here,” Toews said, adding, “There’s a lot of assumptions that we would have to make in order to answer that question. My concern is that, whatever we do with this legislation, we do it in a way that’s going to continue to provide certainty and predictability within Alberta’s economic environment.” 

“It won’t undermine the rule of law and it will be constitutional,” he said. “And those two pieces will be important as we continue to attract investment for our economy.”

MLAs will deliberate Bill 1 between now and Christmas, as the legislature works through its fall session.

 

Man blowing nose into handkerchief while woman wearing non-medical mask has hands in the air fending off germs

Respiratory illness outbreak at MHHS

A “respiratory illness outbreak” was announced at Matthew Halton High School in Pincher Creek on Tuesday, Nov. 22, according to Darryl Seguin, superintendent at Livingstone Range School Division. 

The outbreak came into effect at MHHS after at least 10 per cent of the 278 students stayed home with respiratory symptoms.

Schools are asked to notify Alberta Health Services’ Co-ordinated Early Identification and Response team whenever absenteeism due to respiratory illness hits 10 per cent or when there’s an unusual number of individuals (off sick) with similar symptoms.

Tuesday’s announcement came one day after an outbreak was declared at Pincher Creek’s Canyon School.

No further outbreaks were reported within LRSD as of Wednesday afternoon. A prior outbreak had been announced at the school division’s early-learning program at the Horace Allen School in Coleman. 

 

Seguin didn’t say if LRSD has the authority to impose masking mandates. Premier Danielle Smith announced earlier this month that “Our government will not permit any further masking mandates of children in Alberta’s K-12 education system.” 

A Court of King’s Bench judge had previously ruled that a health order to this effect by Dr. Deena Hinshaw, formerly Alberta’s chief medical officer, “was made for improper purposes.”

Justice G.S. Dunlop ruled that the chief medical officer has the authority to mandate school health measures, but that Hinshaw had based her order on a political decision by cabinet.

Custodial staff at Canyon and MHHS are taking extra care to clean surfaces, while teachers are being encouraged to rearrange classrooms to allow for more social distancing, Seguin said. 

The outbreak seems to have spared teachers at MHHS, with Seguin saying staff absences due to illness have been normal for this point in the school year.

The division is home to about 3,750 kids in K-12.

 

 

Grey-haired caucasian male wearing dark suit speaks into microphone

Don Whalen seeks Livingstone-Macleod nomination

Don Whalen, an entrepreneur and lay preacher from Parkland, Alta., announced Sunday, Nov. 18, that he will seek the United Conservative Party’s nomination to represent Livingstone-Macleod in the next provincial election. 

In his first media interview Wednesday, Whalen said he would file his papers as soon as the party reopens the nomination, probably after Christmas. 

Incumbent MLA Roger Reid announced Nov. 1 that he would not seek re-election. The UCP later rejected a nomination bid and subsequent appeal by former People’s Party candidate Nadine Wellwood, citing recent social media posts in which she likened vaccine passports and other pandemic health measures to Nazi Germany.

Next spring’s election would be Whalen’s first run for public office, he said. The nomination hopeful aligns himself closely with Premier Danielle Smith, calling himself “a lifelong conservative” and a former Wildrose voter.

“I’m liking what the premier is doing: She’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.” 

Whalen said he wants to serve in the legislature to be the voice of disaffected voters in the riding. 

 

 

“I’m really concerned about the direction our province and country have been going in over the last two to three years. People are being marginalized and they’re not being heard.” 

Taking aim at the federal government and former premier Jason Kenney, Whalen said pandemic health measures had gone too far. 

“Our personal rights and freedoms were just trampled on, and the Charter (of Rights and Freedoms) was just a piece of paper for a couple of years.” 

Whalen said public health policy should be informed by medical science, but lamented that pandemic measures had been overtly politicized. 

“During Covid, Deena Hinshaw,” Alberta’s chief public health officer until Smith fired her Nov. 14, “was the most important person in Alberta, and we had non-elected officials basically deciding everything for us,” he said.

Looking ahead to Smith’s long-promised Alberta Sovereignty Act, Whalen said the province doesn’t need legislation to assert its jurisdiction over things like natural resources. He was also highly critical of pending federal legislation he said would “confiscate” hundreds of local gun owners to give up their guns, but stopped short of advocating separatism.

 

 

“I’m an Albertan. But, I’m also a Canadian. I am concerned that it’s going to be very hard to change things with Ottawa, so I’m stepping up to be a voice for that change in a positive way.” 

On climate change, Whalen said he opposes the federal carbon tax, but supports the development of clean-burning energy. 

Whalen said he co-owns a small buy-and-sell business with a friend. He is also a lay preacher, taking the pulpit about once a month at Fort Macleod’s House of Prayer.