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Western premiers gathered in Edmonton



Western premiers gathered in Edmonton Thursday, tackling issues from climate change and Arctic sovereignty to the opioid crisis as they set the scene for the national premiers meeting in Saskatoon next month.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney hosted the annual summer meeting.

Despite simmering tensions between Alberta and B.C. thanks to duelling positions on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Kenney and his western-most colleague John Horgan shrugged off questions about their rapport.

Sitting between the pair, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister joked he came to the conference with years of experience as a referee, but didn’t have to use any of it.

“We met (Wednesday) night and we had good, robust discussion,” Horgan said.

“We have worked, I believe, very cooperatively as a group, and I think Premier Kenney and I are off on the right foot.”

Kenney agreed, even as B.C. prepares for its injunction application against Alberta’s so-called Turn Off The Taps law to be heard Friday in Calgary.

“I think we understand each other’s positions very clearly,” Kenney said.

“I made it clear to Premier Horgan that if we see from any province obstruction of the movement of our products … we will take action to defend our vital economic interests.”

But Kenney added he hopes it doesn’t come to that and the two can instead have a respectful relationship to approach issues “with a clear understanding of our mutual goals.”

While the bulk of discussions took place inside Government House Thursday, an informal Wednesday night gathering ended up pushing to the fore talks about Indigenous rights in resource development.

The result was a unanimous agreement that Indigenous communities should have more involvement in project opportunities.

“Not just in the consultation stage and the run-up to building new (projects), but in terms of the wealth creation opportunities, the job creation, the strengthening of those communities,” Pallister said.

“This is a critical piece of how we need to move forward as a country. It’s not exclusive to Western Canada.”

Premiers agree to priorities

Unlike last year, when Alberta refused to sign the joint communique over the Trans Mountain pipeline spat, this year saw unanimous agreement on a laundry list of western priorities.

The first point outlined in the communique detailed the importance of economic corridors across the nation for transmission lines, communications infrastructure, rail lines and roads.

Those corridors would also secure market access. Yes, that includes pipelines, but also port access and airports which are “critical to attracting the capital needed to create and sustain the economic prosperity Canadians have come to expect.”

The second major item urged action on climate change and the “importance of balancing environmental stewardship and climate action with economic growth and competitiveness.”

Ripping down barriers to internal trade also got a shout-out — Kenney noting it was the strongest language around the issue he’s ever seen — along with removing roadblocks to inter-provincial worker qualifications.

And despite disagreement about the benefit of a carbon tax, premiers also urged the federal government to stay in its lane when it comes to natural resources and health care.

Joining Kenney at the table were premiers John Horgan (British Columbia), Brian Pallister (Manitoba), Scott Moe (Saskatchewan), Bob McLeod (Northwest Territories), Joe Savikataaq (Nunavut) and Sandy Silver (Yukon).

Unanimous support of the priorities for Western Canada indicate the “constructive conversations” Kenney hoped for prior to the meeting managed to transpire.

“We’re all in the right place at the right time with the promise that Western Canada offers with our resources, our well-educated people, our strength of our Indigenous people, our new Canadians,” Kenney said in his opening remarks Thursday morning.

“There’s so much where we can work together to strengthen the federation and strengthen the economies of Western Canada.”

Western premiers

Premier Jason Kenney, centre, opens the Western Premiers Conference with remarks at Government House in Edmonton on Thursday, June 27, 2019.

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Cloverdale pastor found guilty on one sex charge




A Cloverdale pastor has been found guilty on one count of sexual assault, while his wife has been acquitted on all counts.

Samuel Emerson was a pastor at Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church for eight years.

Emerson was being tried on five counts of sexual assault, two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual interference.

What did church know about B.C. pastor accused of sexual assault?

His wife Madelaine was charged with two counts of sexual assault, one count touching a young person for a sexual purpose and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.

A publication ban was in effect to protect the identities of the victims.

“I was kind of overwhelmed by it all, I know everybody involved, and its the first time to hear a lot of the circumstances,” said Emerson’s father, Randy, the church’s senior pastor.

“So, it’s been a long two and a half years for us, and lots of hurt all the way around.”

Many members of the church were in attendance at the Surrey court room where the verdict was delivered, some of them expressing disappointment with the result.

Emerson will be sentenced at a later date, and remains free from custody on court-ordered conditions.

The offences were alleged to have occurred between 2015 and 2017.

Randy Emerson told Global News in a previous interview the incidents were alleged to have taken place off church grounds.

Randy also previously told Global News that Samuel resigned his position upon his arrest.

He said the family’s five children had been living with their grandparents after their parents’ arrest.

With files from Catherine Urquhart

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Ron MacLean ponders his future




He’s been called Judas. Pontius Pilate. Brute, too.

But while Ron MacLean has heard these references, he said there is only one truth when it comes to how he feels about Donald S. Cherry.

“I love Don,” he said.

You can tell from his voice these have not been easy days for MacLean. He’s worrying about the well-being of his close friend and the criticism he has faced for his response after last week’s controversial Coach’s Corner broadcast.

They have, after all, been partners for 35-years on Coach’s Corner until Remembrance Day when Cherry was fired by Sportsnet for saying “you people who come here” should wear poppies to honour the troops who provided this way of life and freedom.

MacLean took to Twitter, as well as appearing on the Sunday night Hometown Hockey broadcast, to apologize.

But he had no idea he would never appear with Cherry on Coach’s Corner again.

“It all happened so fast. I wish we could have had another day,” he said.

And now he is faced with trying to figure out what comes next?

He spent Wednesday at CBC headquarters meeting with Sportsnet brass and producers to work on just that.

“I am doing some thinking,” MacLean said Wednesday. “I am taking these days to sort and order what I will say Saturday.”

It’s going to be interesting to see how Hockey Night in Canada is going to handle that first intermission. It’s a massive hole to fill.

My suggestion is for everybody to stop trying to sink this ship.

I am hoping saner heads will prevail and we can get Coach’s Corner back where it belongs.

Forgive Don for a minor faux pas. Forgive Ron for his reactions in what was clearly a difficult time.

Make amends to those who feel hurt by what they think Cherry was trying to say.

And then get back to entertaining the audience on Saturday night.

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Why Alberta is considering severing ties with the RCMP




One of the major bullet points emerging from Premier Jason Kenney’s speech in Red Deer on Saturday was a proposal to establish a provincial police force.

If the measure were to find support, Alberta would join Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador as the only provinces to operate a provincial police force outside of the RCMP.

“We will invite the panel to explore the feasibility of establishing an Alberta provincial police force by ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement with the Government of Canada,” Kenney said during his speech.

Like much of what was announced Saturday, establishing a provincial police force is part of a bigger strategy to give Alberta greater autonomy from Ottawa.

“As Canada, at various times in history, has moved in the direction of having [provinces] who are looking for a bigger stake in their own governance, taking control of policing is important for those governments,” said Michael Kempa, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa. “It’s a key component of the administration of justice, and something they would prefer not to leave to the federal government.”

But beyond a larger strategy of seeking to move powers from federal to provincial jurisdiction, how would police services be impacted in the province were this move to occur?

More control

Outside of municipal police services in Alberta like those in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta contracts its provincial police services from the RCMP.

As a federal police force operating across all of Canada, the responsibilities assigned to the RCMP are numerous — and that’s a challenge for any police service, Kempa said.

One agency may not be able to do all of those policing functions particularly well.– Michael Kempa, University of Ottawa criminology professor

“There’s been a raging debate around the RCMP for more than two decades as to whether or not they can continue to focus on federal policing issues alongside contracted provincial and sometimes municipal policing issues as well,” Kempa said. “One agency may not be able to do all of those different policing functions particularly well.”

Part of the appeal for a province seeking to distance itself from Ottawa is the centralization of police administration, according to Robert Gordon, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University.

“It results in significant improvements because you’re working with a single system. Theoretically, it doesn’t involve Ottawa … there is far, far greater levels of control and accountability where everything is being dealt with out of Edmonton, or if you wanted, Calgary,” Gordon said. “Whereas at the moment, policing, priorities and standards are all driven by Ottawa.

“And of course, that is the last thing that an independent Alberta will want to have.”

RCMP representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Higher costs

Any move to establish a provincial police force is likely to cost more, especially in its initial stages.

“It would cost more money, no doubt about that,” Gordon said. “And I’m not talking about startup money. You’re talking millions to transition over because you have to repaint the cars, change the uniforms, all that sort of stuff.”

Ongoing costs would also likely be higher than contracting policing out to the RCMP, Gordon said.

“They will be higher partly because provincial and municipal police services and non-RCMP are paid more highly,” he said. “[Here in British Columbia], if we were to switch over it wouldn’t be a hugely complicated thing to do, and we’ve got the resources and the infrastructure in place, but I don’t know about Alberta.”

It would cost more money, no doubt about that.– Robert Gordon, Simon Fraser University criminology professor

Despite those initial costs, Kempa said the presence of a local force could provide a return on investment.

“Even if you end up spending a little more, the hope would be that if you have it under provincial jurisdiction and directly accountable to local provincial police accountability bodies, you’re going to get a policing service tailored to the preferences, needs and standards of your territory,” he said.

Alberta has had its own police force before — the Alberta Provincial Police operated in the province from 1917 until 1932. It was replaced by the RCMP in 1932 as a cost-savings measure during the Great Depression, according to the Archives Society of Alberta.

As part of Kenney’s speech on Saturday, he reiterated a campaign pledge to create an Alberta Parole Board and take over responsibility for inmates from the Parole Board of Canada.

In such a scenario, existing correctional facilities would likely be restaffed, Gordon said.

“What you would find is that most of the existing federal staff would be staying in those facilities, and you could come to some kind of cost-sharing arrangement with the feds to ensure that there’s adequate coverage,” Gordon said. “I don’t see that as being a huge issue at all, in comparison with the policing side.”

Other measures the new Fair Deal Panel will study include:

  • Establishing a provincial revenue agency by ending Alberta’s Federal-Provincial Tax Collection Agreement.
  • Withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan and establishing a provincial plan.
  • Opting out of federal cost-sharing programs.
  • Seeking an exchange of tax points for federal cash transfer.
  • Establishing a formal provincial constitution.
  • Appointing a Chief Firearms Office for the province.

The panel is set to hold a series of consultations between Nov. 16 and Jan. 30, before completing a report to government by March 31.

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