UCP Leader Jason Kenney made a stop in Lethbridge, one day after the provincial election was called, to talk about the economy and the NDP carbon tax.
An animated Kenney appeared without tie, his shirtsleeves rolled up against a backdrop of goggled and helmeted steel workers at the Lethbridge Iron Works to announce the first bill of his government, if elected, would be the “Carbon Tax Repeal Act.”
“The NDP tries to disguise this huge tax grab as some kind of ‘green tax,’” said Kenney. “The truth is the NDP cash grab has had zero measurable effect on carbon emissions. Why? Albertans can’t stop heating their homes in a cold winter. They can’t stop buying groceries that are made more expensive because of the higher shipping costs due to the carbon tax. What the NDP has done is to punish people for living normal lives in this big, cold, northern, energy-intensive economy.”
“And here is the biggest whopper of all,” he continued. “The NDP told us the carbon tax would get Alberta social licence for pipelines. Not a single environmental group went from anti-pipeline to pro-pipeline as result of the NDP government. Not one government went from No to Yes. Not one First Nation. Not one municipality in British Columbia. All of those who are trying to block our energy today were trying to block our energy before the carbon tax.”
While the carbon tax was firmly in Kenney’s crosshairs Wednesday, he was also asked by local reporters about his commitment to following through on the NDP’s recent announcement about building a new $100-million bridge to replace the current Highway 3 one by 2022.
Notley warns of UCP plans
The opposition United Conservatives’ plan for Alberta was spelled out last Wednesday — by Premier Rachel Notley.
Speaking in Lethbridge, Notley said voters have a clear choice.
Jason Kenney’s plan for the economy, she said, is to “hand out the biggest corporate tax cut in history.”
For economic diversification, “ignore it.” For education, “cut it.” For health care, “privatize it.”
Speaking to hundreds at the Coast Lethbridge, the premier also described her opponent’s plan for new infrastructure: “Toll it.”
As for Canadian democracy, she said Kenney’s approach is to “sell it, break it and lie about it.”
“Jason Kenney’s nasty record of intolerance, division and fear has no place in the premier’s office,” she insisted. Now, with members of Kenney’s party charging him with “kamikaze” tactics, “If he’ll cheat on his own members, who won’t he cheat?”
The New Democrats’ plan for Alberta’s next four years is straightforward, she told a cheering crowd: “Good jobs, good hospitals and schools (and) honest government.”
“We are the progressive, moderate mainstream of today’s Alberta,” she said.
Notley vowed to “fight for our province and our energy industry,” without building “firewalls” against other provinces. Her government will balance the budget “without destroying our public services,” and will help Albertans who need assistance, not “just the wealthiest and luckiest.”
Citing the leadership of former premier Peter Lougheed, Notley said her government will “supercharge” Alberta’s energy diversification plan by supporting more refining, more upgrading and more petrochemical operations.
By doubling previous commitments for royalty credits and other “fiscal tools,” she said a “conservative estimate” predicts Albertans will see private investment of $75 billion in that sector by 2030, creating 70,000 new jobs.
LPA claims toxic work environment
The Lethbridge Police Association is accusing Lethbridge Police Service Chief Rob Davis of creating a “toxic” environment in the workplace where officers are “bullied” and “intimidated.”
“There is a lack of trust and confidence right now within our organization,” confirmed LPA president Jay McMillan at a press conference March 18. “It’s a morale issue, and that is due to a lack of confidence, a lack of trust in the leadership of the organization. I don’t think it is a stretch to say there is a bit of a toxic culture right now. Almost one-third of our members have been directly bullied and intimidated by the Chief. And 54 per cent of our members indicate their co-workers have been bullied and intimidated by the Chief of Police.
“That’s concern in any work environment. It is not something we take lightly, and something we have an obligation to react to.”
McMillan called the press conference Monday morning after confidential LPA survey results were released to the media. The survey was conducted last December and was seeking to determine LPA members’ level of satisfaction with the LPS command structure after numerous complaints were reported to the LPA executive, said McMillan. The report on the survey was returned from a third-body survey organization to the LPA executive in January and was distributed to LPA members at a March 13 meeting. It was after that meeting, said McMillan, the confidential results were leaked.
Less than six months after being designated Lethbridge’s 26th Municipal Historic Resource, city council has disregarded the advice of it own Historic Places Advisory Committee and granted the ownership group behind the historic Bentley Block permission to destroy part of the structure and massively redevelop it.
Representatives of LDTL made the request to council on Monday to intervene to allow them to destroy a five-foot tall brick parapet built in 1911 on the Bentley’s one-storey structure so two more levels with outlooking balconies could be constructed on top of the underlying structure.
The Historic Places Advisory Committee had already rejected the proposal because the massive redesign was “far more extensive than (originally) described” by the ownership group and committee members strongly felt strongly the existing brick parapet should be preserved as part of the design of any new additions to the building, located at 118 5 St. S.
In the end, LDTL’s $3.5-million proposed investment and the fact the company had come up with a new design “compromise” to preserve the one-storey structure after originally wanting to demolish it entirely weighed in the group’s favour with most council members. Councillors voted to 8-1 to override the Historic Places Advisory Committee’s initial rejection of the LDTL development proposal for the Bentley Block.
City to pay Canes
The City of Lethbridge will pay The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club $85,000 for every game they play at the Nicholas Sheran Arena during their upcoming playoff run.
City council ratified the compensation plan as a part of their amended 15-year lease agreement between the Hurricanes with the Enmax Centre during Monday’s council meeting.
The 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship will take place at the Enmax Centre March 30 to April 7, and will likely displace the Hurricanes for some of their WHL home playoff games. The first-round of WHL playoffs begins on Friday.
Mayor Chris Spearman commented the amended lease agreement was beneficial to both the Hurricanes and the City as Lethbridge residents get set to welcome two exciting sports events at the same time.
“The amendments align with the strategic goals of Lethbridge being a destination city and having the ability to attract multiple large special events to Lethbridge,” said Mayor Chris Spearman. “We want to continue to provide a thriving home for the Hurricanes and draw those big-name events to our city that bring financial benefits to businesses and residents.”
Budget goodies for many
Seniors, students and home buyers will be among Canadians who benefit from changes in the new federal budget.
Research companies that purchase new equipment will also gain financially, a Lethbridge audience heard Wednesday. And so will anyone buying an electric “zero emission” vehicle.
While those changes will slow the nation’s return to a balanced budget, speakers noted, Canada’s debt-to-gross national product ratio will be 30 per cent compared with 100 per cent in the U.S.
Tuesday’s budget announcement offered no comprehensive tax reform, tax accountant Riley Honess pointed out during a KPMG presentation to Lethbridge business people and seniors. And there were no significant changes in the nation’s personal or corporate taxes.
Personal income taxes are expected to generate more than $170 billion in the next fiscal year, explained Ryan Stevenson. That compares with about $46 billion from corporate taxes. Income raised through the GST will be close behind, slightly over $40 billion.
Man guilty in drug bust
By the time Drew Daniel Boake was finally set to begin trial on a two-year-old, record-breaking drug case, he was the only one of three accused still facing charges. And of the eight counts of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of stolen property with which he was originally charged, only four remained.
Then on Monday, the first day of his week-long trial in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench, he pleaded guilty, but to only one charge of drug possession for the purpose of trafficking. The other charges, court was told, would likely be withdrawn during sentencing later this spring.
Calgary lawyer Patrick Fagan told Justice J.T. DeWit his client admits to possessing more than three kilograms of cannabis marijuana. He said defence and the Crown will have a joint submission for sentencing when the matter returns to court June 17.
Although details and facts of the case were not read in court, Boake, 29, was charged in February 2017 following what police called the city’s largest drug bust on record, during which they reportedly seized from four homes more than $1.2 million in drugs, firearms and stolen property. Drugs seized included 8,054 ecstasy pills, 546 grams of cocaine, 305 grams of methamphetamine, 20.9 kilograms of marijuana, 4.5 kilograms of cannabis resin, nine kilograms of psilocybin mushrooms, 1,605 tabs of LSD, and 1,575 Xanax pills.
Dressing for success
Lethbridge College Student Services has teamed up with the Lethbridge College Students’ Association (LCSA) to create a new fundraiser to aid students in the professional world.
Career Closet will run until Sunday and will see the LCSA accepting donations of gently used clothes, shoes and accessories for students to use for entering the workforce. The clothing the college is looking to obtain should be suitable for everything from office jobs to the trades, as the college has a wide range of academic fields.
“I was talking with a co-worker about how we should maybe look at providing some services for students to get discounted clothes or free clothes on campus and then this spiralled from there,” says Stephanie Savage, Lethbridge College international recruiter. “This is totally free for students, and whatever doesn’t get taken we will find homes for. If it isn’t quite what we are looking for, because we are looking for more of that business, we will make sure that it will go to the women’s shelter and places like that.”
For many students, buying professional clothing for their job right after spending many semesters in school with low income can be a challenge, which is where Student Services and the LCSA discovered where they could help.
“I think sometimes it becomes a barrier for students who are just leaving school or even during their school time trying to find part-time jobs and not necessarily having the income to put in to a nice dress, pants or top, and sometimes it makes the difference between them having a career and not having a career,” says Savage. “In our poverty study last year, it was indicated that this was a key strategy moving forward that we should offer something like this to students, so we have definitely had some students approaching us already telling us that this is exciting for them and this is going to help them.”