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Alberta treaty chiefs unite against United Conservatives’ proposed sovereignty act

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EDMONTON — In what may have been an unprecedented show of unanimity, all of Alberta’s treaty chiefs have spoken out strongly against the provincial government’s proposed sovereignty act.

“It is nothing but a dangerous and damaging plan to undermine democracy and abandon the rule of law,” said Chief Darcy Dixon of the Bearspaw Nation, one of dozens of chiefs from Treaties 6, 7 and 8 who appeared Friday at a news conference to protest the proposed legislation.

The act is the United Conservative Party government’s signature bills for the upcoming legislative session.

“This is a far cry from sovereignty,” Dixon said.

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Premier Danielle Smith told the Calgary Chamber of Commerce on Friday that it would be called the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act. She has said it would be intended to give the province the power to opt out of federal legislation it deems harmful to its interests.

Although the proposal has been widely derided by constitutional scholars, Smith has said the bill won’t break any of its rules.

Yes it will, said the chiefs, who represent 61 First Nations and all of the province’s treaty groups.

“We take offence to Danielle Smith’s forthcoming sovereignty act and outright reject it,” said Arthur Noskey, Grand Chief of Treaty 8.

The chiefs argue that the treaties are with the Crown, not the provinces. It’s not up to Alberta to recast the terms of the deal.

“We entered into treaty with the Imperial Crown,” said Regena Crowchild, an elder and treaty adviser from Treaty 7. “We certainly did not enter into treaty with (Premier Smith).”

Chief Tony Alexis of the Alexis First Nation said the bill is ultimately aimed at easing resource extraction in the province.

“This bill sets up the province to allow extraction at any rate, completely unprotected.”

Others pointed out that although the bill has been discussed and debated publicly for months, nobody from Smith’s office or cabinet contacted First Nations about it.

“There has been zero consultation,” Alexis said.

“If (Smith) is going to do anything for the people, it can’t be done without the people and that’s what’s happening right now.”

In an emailed response, Smith’s spokeswoman Rebecca Polak said consultations are coming. She said Smith and Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson are to set up meetings with the chiefs.

“The Government of Alberta acknowledges the concerns of the chiefs from Treaty 6, 7 and 8 regarding the proposed Alberta sovereignty act,” Polak wrote. “We are committed to ensuring the legislation specifically states nothing within the act is to be construed as abrogating or derogating from any existing Aboriginal and treaty rights.”

Richard Feehan, the Opposition NDP’s Indigenous relations critic, said his party has already been talking with the chiefs.

“(We) have been hearing their very serious concerns about Danielle Smith’s Sovereignty Act,” he said in a release.

“From the very moment Danielle Smith promised this would be her first piece of legislation, Albertans have been very vocal in their opposition to this damaging bill.”

The proposed legislation has been highly controversial since it became the centrepiece of Smith’s campaign for the leadership of her party last spring.

While its proponents call it a warning to Ottawa against interference in Alberta’s resource industry, others have said it would not withstand a constitutional challenge and that it would drive away investment in the province by creating uncertainty.

Alberta chiefs aren’t the first to oppose what they call provincial encroachment on the Crown-Indigenous relationship.

When the Saskatchewan Party of Premier Scott Moe introduced its own similar legislation, the Saskatchewan First Act, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations said it ignored treaty rights.

“The blatant disrespect that this province continues to display is unbelievable,” wrote Chief Bobby Cameron, who represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

The next session of the Alberta Legislature is to begin Nov. 29.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2022.

 

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

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Petr Pavel: Polyglot, war hero, and the new Czech president – Euronews

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Ex-general Petr Pavel has won another gritty campaign — this time at the ballot box.

The bearded 61-year-old, a decorated veteran who took part in a high-stakes peacekeeping mission in the Balkans and represented his country as a top-tier NATO general, was voted Czech president on Saturday, beating billionaire ex-prime minister Andrej Babiš.

With the ballots from 97% of almost 15,000 polling stations counted by the Czech Statistics Office, Pavel had 57.8% of the vote compared with 42.2% for Babiš.

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Though Czech presidents wield little day-to-day power, Pavel will have influence over foreign policy and government opinion, as well as the power to appoint prime ministers, constitutional judges and central bankers.

True to his military past, he has vowed to bring “order” to the Czech Republic, a 10 million-strong EU and NATO member, hammered by record inflation and economic turmoil due to the Ukraine war.

“I can’t ignore the fact that people here increasingly feel chaos, disorder and uncertainty. That the state has somehow ceased to function,” Pavel said on his campaign website.

“We need to change this,” he added. “We need to play by the rules, which will be valid for everyone alike. We need a general sweep.”

From Communist to war hero

Following in his father’s footsteps, Pavel underwent a military education in former Czechoslovakia, which was then ruled by Moscow-backed communists.

He joined the Communist Party, like his billionaire rival Babiš, and soon rose through the army ranks, studying to become an intelligence agent for the oppressive regime.

Critics fault him for his communist past, though Pavel has defended himself by saying party membership was “normal” in his family and called it a “mistake”.

When the Iron Curtain crumbled in 1989, Pavel chucked out his party ID but went ahead with the intelligence course.

Amid the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, Pavel — trained as an elite paratrooper and holding the rank of Lieutenant Colonel at the time — helped evacuate French troops stuck in the midst of combat between Croats and ethnic Serb paramilitaries in Croatia, earning him the French Military Cross for bravery.

“We got into several tense situations and he always managed them with deliberation and calm,” said retired Czech general Aleš Opata, who served with Pavel.

He later studied at military training schools in Britain, gaining a master’s from King’s College London.

After his country joined NATO in 1999, Pavel soon climbed through the alliance’s ranks, becoming its top military official in 2015. 

With a chest full of decorations, he retired in 2018.

What are his political views?

Pavel ran as an independent and was the strongest of the three candidates backed by the liberal-conservative coalition SPOLU of now-former President Miloš Zeman.

He has argued for better redistribution of wealth and greater taxation of the rich while also supporting progressive policies on issues such as same-sex marriage and euthanasia.

Positioning himself as a counterweight to populism, Pavel anchors the Czech Republic in NATO and wants to align his country with the European Union.

“The main issue at stake is whether chaos and populism will continue to rein or we return to observing rules… and we will be a reliable country for our allies,” he said after narrowly winning the first election round.

A staunch supporter of Ukraine, Pavel’s political rivals have alleged he would drag the country into a war with Russia.

“I know what war is about and I certainly don’t wish it on anyone,” said Pavel. “The first thing I would do is try to keep the country as far away from war as possible.”

Often sporting jeans and a leather jacket, Pavel is a polyglot, speaking Czech, English, French and Russian, and loves motorcycling.

He holds a concealed weapon licence, allowing him to carry a firearm, and he is married to a fellow soldier, Eva Pavlová.

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Politics

Canadian and American Politics

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THIS SURVEY EXPLORES CANADIANS’ AND AMERICANS’ PERSPECTIVES ON CANADIAN AND AMERICAN POLITICS.

Our latest North American Tracker explores Canadians’ and Americans’ perspectives on Canadian and American politics.

It examines Canadians’ federal voting intentions and Americans’ approval of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris.

Download the report for the full results.

This survey was conducted in collaboration with the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) and published in the Canadian Press. This series of surveys is available on Leger’s website.

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CANADIAN POLITICS

  • The Conservatives and Liberals are tied: if a federal election were held today, 34% of Canadian decided voters would vote for Pierre Poilievre’s CPC and the same proportion would vote for Justin Trudeau’s LPC.

AMERICAN POLITICS

  • 42% of Americans approve of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president.
  • 40% of Americans approve of the way Kamala Harris is handling her job as vice-president.

METHODOLOGY

This web survey was conducted from January 20 to 22, 2023, with 1,554 Canadians and 1,005 Americans, 18 years of age or older, randomly recruited from LEO’s online panel.

A margin of error cannot be associated with a non-probability sample in a panel survey. For comparison, a probability sample of 1,554 respondents would have a margin of error of ±2.49%, 19 times out of 20, while a probability sample of 1,005 respondents would have a margin of error of ±3.09%, 19 times out of 20.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS THE RESULTS FOR THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS AND MORE!

  • If federal elections were held today, for which political party would you be most likely to vote?  Would it be for…?
  • Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Joe Biden is handling his job as president?
  • Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Kamala Harris is handling her job as vice president?​
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Legault won’t celebrate 25 years in politics

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Premier François Legault does not intend to celebrate his 25-year political career this year.

He became Minister of Industry in Lucien Bouchard’s PQ government on Sept. 23, 1998, but was elected on Nov. 30 of the same year as the representative for L’Assomption, the riding in which he is still a member.

In a news conference on Friday at the end of a caucus meeting of his party’s elected officials in a Laval hotel, the CAQ leader said that neither he nor his party had any intention of celebrating this anniversary.

“I don’t like these things,” he said.

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He pointed out that he is still younger than the former dean of the National Assembly, François Gendron. And smiling, he alluded to the U.S. President.

“I’m quite a bit younger than Mr. Biden, apart from that!” he said.

Legault is 65 years old, while the President is 80.

However, Legault is now the dean of the House. According to recent data, he has served as an elected official for 20 years, 6 months, and 27 days so far.

The premier was quick to add, however, that he has taken a break from politics.

He resigned on June 24, 2009 as a member of the Parti Québécois (PQ), then in opposition. But he was elected as an MNA and leader of the then-new Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) on Sept. 4, 2012.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Jan. 27, 2023.

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