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Are partisan politics creeping into Edmonton’s municipal election? –



Running in Edmonton’s ward papastew, Susan Field says while out door knocking, she’s often getting asked a question she didn’t expect – ‘What party are you with?’

Traditionally, political analyst John Brennan says Edmonton doesn’t have party politics at the local government level — unlike Vancouver.

Field ended up re-printing her campaign materials to note her non-partisan status for voters.

“They ask me which way I lean, politically, socially, fiscally and it’s really interesting because they’re quite angry about the party politics coming into the city election.”

Field says she feels strongly about being an independent voice.

“I’m not to report to the mayor, I’m not to report to a party. I’m supposed to report to the citizens of my ward and they’re very concerned the engagement hasn’t been genuine and authentic to begin with,” she explained.

But a number of candidates have been connected to various parties, either in past experience, with endorsements, or other support.

For example, in the Mayoral campaign, three of the top-runners have been involved with other political parties.

Amarjeet Sohi was a Cabinet Minister in Ottawa, holding some key positions for the Liberals under Justin Trudeau.

Sohi declined an interview, but in a statement wrote “I was proud to represent Edmontonians in Ottawa, but I prefer being back in non-partisan politics.”

Kim Krushell was a director on the board for Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives as recently as 2017.

She was also unavailable for an interview, but wrote “I currently do not have any party affiliations and would not allow any previous party affiliation to impact my mayoral campaign.”

Mike Nickel ran for nomination with the UCP government just two years ago, in 2019.

“This is not about left versus right. This is about people who want to get this city back on its feet and that’s all it is. Anyone who reads more into that is just making a mistake,” Nickel said.

READ MORE: Edmonton mayoral candidate giving and receiving endorsements from other candidates

And the party ties don’t stop with the mayor’s race.

Running for council in ward Dene, Tricia Velthuizen is the current press secretary for UCP MLA Nate Glubish. That fact though is missing from the ‘About Me’ page on her campaign website.

Velthuizen also declined an interview.

In ward Metis, Cori Longo is taking a different approach, vowing to be transparent about her ties to the NDP party.

She intentionally designed her campaign signage to look like the provincial party’s.

“It was an informed choice by my campaign and by me to make sure we were really clear with my values and where my politics lie. So it’s not something I’ve been shy about. In fact I’m the only candidate in the riding who’s been endorsed by the NDP, and we wanted to be really visible about that.”

Longo said that doesn’t mean her votes will be determined by someone else, saying she’s running an independent campaign.

But she stresses she plans to stand up to Jason Kenney’s UCP if elected to city council.

And back in papastew, long-time public school board trustee Michael Janz has Lou Arab, union leader and Rachel Notley’s husband, as his campaign manager.

Janz has also been endorsed by some high-profile NDP MLAs.

Janz, too, declined an interview, but in a statement wrote: “My views are progressive. I always put my constituents needs first.”

READ MORE: Majority of Edmonton mayoral hopefuls supportive of mandatory vaccinations

Brennan explained while the idea of partisan politics on council isn’t common in Edmonton today, it was once – with slates, or teams of people working towards a common goal.

“People knew who they were and that they were running as part of a slate and that they had a particular point of view. This time it’s more ad hoc, and unless you’re really following a campaign, I think most voters wouldn’t even be aware of it.”

Brennan added there’s no shame in candidates having these ties, as long as they’re transparent about them.

“People who are involved in politics, are involved at all levels. They’re interested in municipal, provincial and federal politics. I think people should just be up front about it. Don’t be secretive about it.”

Edmontonians will decide with their votes what representation they want on October 18th.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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ACWS release report on dynamics of violence against women in politics – Sherwood Park News



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The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) has released a new research report exploring the dynamics of violence against women in politics.

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“On the eve of the Alberta municipal elections, this report about violence against women in politics is timely,” explained Olivia Street, Coordinator of Communications and Social Advocacy for the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters.

The municipal election this week yielded encouraging results for gender parity.

As of Tuesday, Fort Saskatchewan unofficially has a gender-balanced council, with three of the six council seats filled by women.

The recent election saw two women run for the role of mayor, with incumbent Gale Katchur set to add to her ten-year tenure as mayor of Fort Saskatchewan.

For the first time ever, there are more female Edmonton city councillors than male ones, with eight female candidates having been elected in the nearby city.

The ‘Lift Her Up’ initiative, a campaign launched by ACWS in 2016 to counter the negative rhetoric being directed at women in political office, seeks to encourage understanding of the links between violence against women in the public sphere and domestic violence.

Considering the current Alberta municipal elections, ACWS’ members collectively saw an opportunity to encourage a “more welcoming and supportive political discourse.” The second iteration of the #LiftHerUp campaign is in full swing, and many candidates across Alberta committed to participating in non-violent discourse throughout the campaign.

‘Lift Her Up’ has since evolved into a broader initiative to remove gendered violence from political participation, which led to the creation of the new report.

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“Building on what we learned in the 2017 Alberta municipal elections, ACWS examined the research, combed the news, and spoke directly with women who have participated in campaigns or currently hold political office to inform the project,” Jan Reimer, Executive Director of ACWS, said of the research process. “These conversations revealed some troubling data about the violence and abuse experienced by women in politics. The women themselves always knew these things to be true, but we now have a way to visualize that experience and interpret it a part of the larger social issue of violence against women.”

Following the release of these findings, ACWS will embark on another stage of the project––developing an “equity and accountability wheel,” a positive spin, in partnership with organizations committed to supporting diversity in public office. “This balancing wheel will help us understand the key elements in creating and supporting safe(r) spaces for women in politics.”

“The ACWS is driven by the belief that the issues of violence and abuse are the responsibilities of the entire community including, legal, social and political structures, and in seeing violence against women in politics manifest explicitly in Alberta, we felt compelled to act to further our vision of a world free from violence and abuse,” Street wrote.

For more information about the Lift Her Up campaign, visit ACWS’ website at

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Twitter's algorithm favours right-leaning politics, research finds – BBC News



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Twitter amplifies tweets from right-leaning political parties and news outlets more than from the left, its own research suggests.

The social-media giant said it made the discovery while exploring how its algorithm recommends political content to users.

But it admitted it did not know why, saying that was a “more difficult question to answer”.

Twitter’s study examined tweets from political parties and users sharing content from news outlets in seven countries around the world: Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the US.

It analysed millions of tweets sent between 1 April and 15 August 2020.

Researchers then used the data to see which tweets were being amplified more on an algorithmically ordered feed compared with a reverse-chronological feed, both of which users have an option of using.

They found that mainstream parties and outlets on the political right enjoyed higher levels of “algorithmic amplification” compared with their counterparts on the left.

Rumman Chowdhury, director of Twitter’s Meta (machine-learning, ethics, transparency, and accountability) team, said the company’s next step was to find out the reason behind the phenomenon.

“In six out of seven countries, tweets posted by political-right elected officials are algorithmically amplified more than the political left. Right-leaning news outlets… see greater amplification compared to left-leaning,” she said.

“Establishing why these observed patterns occur is a significantly more difficult question to answer and something Meta will examine.”

Researchers noted that the difference in amplification could be due to the “differing strategies” used by political parties to reach audiences on the platform.

They also said the findings did not suggest that its algorithms pushed “extreme ideologies more than mainstream political voices” – another common concern expressed by Twitter’s critics.

This is not the first time Twitter has highlighted apparent bias in its algorithm.

In April, the platform revealed that it was conducting a study to determine whether its algorithms contributed to “unintentional harms”.

In May, the company revealed that its automatic cropping of images had underlying issues that favoured white individuals over black people, and women over men.

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Biden says United States would come to Taiwan’s defense



The United States would come to Taiwan‘s defense and has a commitment to defend the island China claims as its own, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Thursday, though the White House said later there was no change in policy towards the island.

“Yes, we have a commitment to do that,” Biden said at a CNN town hall when asked if the United States would come to the defense of Taiwan, which has complained of mounting military and political pressure from Beijing to accept Chinese sovereignty.

While Washington is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, it has long followed a policy of “strategic ambiguity” on whether it would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

In August, a Biden administration official said U.S. policy on Taiwan had not changed after the president appeared to suggest the United States would defend the island if it were attacked.

A White House spokesperson said Biden at his town hall was not announcing any change in U.S. policy and “there is no change in our policy”.

“The U.S. defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act. We will uphold our commitment under the Act, we will continue to support Taiwan’s self-defense, and we will continue to oppose any unilateral changes to the status quo,” the spokesperson said.

Biden said people should not worry about Washington’s military strength because “China, Russia and the rest of the world knows we’re the most powerful military in the history of the world,”

“What you do have to worry about is whether or not they’re going to engage in activities that would put them in a position where they may make a serious mistake,” Biden said.

“I don’t want a cold war with China. I just want China to understand that we’re not going to step back, that we’re not going to change any of our views.”

Military tensions between Taiwan and China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said this month, adding that China will be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.

Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.

China says Taiwan is the most sensitive and important issue in its ties with the United States and has denounced what it calls “collusion” between Washington and Taipei.

Speaking to reporters earlier on Thursday, China’s United Nations Ambassador Zhang Jun said they are pursuing “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and responding to “separatist attempts” by its ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

“We are not the troublemaker. On the contrary, some countries – the U.S. in particular – is taking dangerous actions, leading the situation in Taiwan Strait into a dangerous direction,” he said.

“I think at this moment what we should call is that the United States to stop such practice. Dragging Taiwan into a war definitely is in nobody’s interest. I don’t see that the United States will gain anything from that.”

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington, Michelle Nichols in New York and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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