EDMONTON — Alberta’s Opposition NDP leader says Premier Danielle Smith has made the province an international embarrassment by proclaiming those who didn’t get vaccinated during COVID-19 endured the worst discrimination she’s seen in her lifetime.
Rachel Notley says the United Conservative Party premier needs to withdraw the comment, apologize and be clear about where she stands on previous controversial statements, including that smoking isn’t necessarily bad for your health and about patients having control over whether they get early-stage cancer.
“Over the last 48 hours, I’ve been overwhelmed by thousands and thousands of folks reaching out to me who feel deeply hurt and frankly a little fearful as a result of the comments coming from our new premier,” Notley said Thursday.
“We understand that hundreds of thousands of Albertans face discrimination each and every day because of characteristics over which they have no choice.”
Notley said the story has made international headlines, including one published online earlier Thursday in the U.S.-based Forbes magazine, which is published in various editions around the world.
“This is a story about Alberta in one of the world’s most well-read economic publications,” said Notley.
“It is a story that hurts Alberta’s reputation, and we will now have to spend months undoing it.”
Smith, 51, made the discrimination comment at a news conference Tuesday, hours after she was sworn in as premier.
“(The unvaccinated) have been the most discriminated-against group that I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime,” she said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a situation in my lifetime where a person was fired from their job or not allowed to watch their kids play hockey or not allowed to go visit a loved one in long-term care or hospital, not allowed to get on a plane to either go across the country to see family or even travel across the border.”
Minority groups, health professionals and some premiers across Canada condemned the remarks as ridiculous and insensitive, pointing out that in Smith’s lifetime there was still forced sterilization, residential schools and bans on gay marriage.
As furor escalated Wednesday, Smith’s office issued a statement clarifying that she did not seek to minimize the experiences of other discriminated groups. The statement did not withdraw her original comment or offer an apology.
Smith’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Smith won the leadership of Alberta’s governing UCP last week to become the new premier on a promise of no more vaccine mandates or health restrictions that violate personal liberties.
A former journalist, Smith stated in early 2021: “My entire adult life and career has been spent questioning authority and institutions and conventional wisdom.”
In a May 2003 column for the Calgary Herald newspaper, she questioned whether smoking is harmful to one’s health. “The evidence shows moderate cigarette consumption can reduce traditional risks of disease by 75 per cent or more,” she wrote.
In October 2012, as leader of the Opposition Wildrose Party, Smith said those in poverty should be fed beef tainted with E.coli, so the unsellable product didn’t go to waste.
“We all know meat can be safely eaten if cooked properly,” Smith tweeted.
As a radio talk show host in 2020, she retweeted — and later apologized for doing so — a false claim that the drug hydroxychloroquine could defeat COVID-19. A year later, she backed ivermectin, a livestock anti-parasite medication, which was touted and later debunked as a possible COVID-19 cure.
This past July, during the UCP leadership campaign, Smith released a video of her interview with a naturopath in which Smith says responsibility for early-stage cancer is within a person’s control. Patients and health professionals called the comment profoundly misinformed and cruel.
Smith’s leadership opponents criticized her, including one who had lost his son to cancer, and she apologized for the hurt she had caused.
She said she had expressed herself “awkwardly” and meant to say preventive health measures are just one more way to combat early-stage cancer.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 13, 2022.
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Trump's slow 2024 start worries allies – CNN
Back in 2015, Donald Trump’s first campaign rally in Iowa as a contender for the Republican presidential nomination came just 10 hours after he declared his candidacy in New York. The following day, he was across the country in New Hampshire, with plans to visit South Carolina before the end of his first week.
But seven years later – and nearly three weeks into his 2024 presidential campaign – Trump has yet to leave his home state or hold a public campaign event in an early voting state.
Trump’s disengaged posture has baffled former and current allies, many of whom experienced firsthand the frenetic pace of his two previous White House bids, and who now say he’s missed the window to make a splash with his 2024 rollout. The uninspiring launch of his supposed political comeback comes as his campaign appears to be operating on auto pilot, with few signs of momentum or enthusiastic support from donors or party heavyweights.
“I don’t know why he rushed this. It doesn’t make sense,” one Trump adviser said of his lackluster announcement speech last month, which came one week after Republicans delivered an underwhelming performance in the midterm elections and as the rest of the party turned its attention to the Senate runoff contest in Georgia.
Trump’s announcement was roundly panned for lacking zest, so much so that some audience members attempted an early exit, and his recent hosting of Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and embattled rapper Kanye “Ye” West at Mar-a-Lago only further galvanized GOP opposition against him. A person familiar with the matter said Trump spent the Sunday after Thanksgiving asking people around him if they thought the backlash to his private dinner with Ye and Fuentes was truly damaging.
“So far, he has gone down from his bedroom, made an announcement, gone back up to his bedroom and hasn’t been seen since except to have dinner with a White supremacist,” said a 2020 Trump campaign adviser.
“It’s 1000% a ho-hum campaign,” the adviser added.
The only other notable event to occur since Trump announced he was running again was both unintended and dreaded for weeks by the former president’s attorneys. Just three days after Trump launched his campaign, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee two ongoing criminal investigations into the 45th president and his associates.
While some Republicans long speculated that Trump entered the presidential race early to inoculate himself from further legal peril, his candidate status instead appeared to serve as the catalyst for Garland’s announcement.
A Trump campaign spokesman said the former president has held “multiple events since he announced,” noting his remote appearance at the annual Republican Jewish Coalition summit last month, video remarks to a conference for conservative activists in Mexico, a Patriots Freedom Fund event, his remarks at two separate political events held at Mar-a-Lago, and a tele-rally Monday night for Georgia Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker. None of these events were billed as campaign events.
Trump’s current campaign trajectory has left both allies and Republican opponents wondering if he will flip a switch in 2023 or fail to adapt to a different political environment. Even as the GOP’s undisputed 2024 frontrunner, some of his closest allies say he simply cannot afford to take his position for granted at a moment when influential Republicans appear exceedingly interested in dislodging him from his influential perch.
“If Trump was working in a lush jungle environment in 2016, he is in a desert today,” said a Republican close to the former president. “The political landscape has totally changed. He was irresistible because no one understood him but now everybody knows how to deal with him, so the question is, can he recalibrate?”
Some sources said Trump’s first-out-of-the-gate strategy, which was said to be partly aimed at clearing the GOP primary field, already looks poised to fail.
“You know what it’s done to dissuade people from getting in? Nothing. He hasn’t hired anyone. He hasn’t been to the early states,” said the 2020 campaign adviser.
Trump’s lack of impact was on display a week after his announcement, as other 2024 Republican hopefuls took the stage in Las Vegas for the annual RJC summit. Some attacked the former President, while others, once allies of Trump, indicated they were ready to take him on in 2024.
Just days before the event, Trump’s team announced plans for him to address the group remotely. Two people familiar with the matter said his virtual address was organized by aides at the last minute after he grew agitated upon realizing the event was a cattle call for Republican presidential prospects and he was not on its original list of speakers. The Trump campaign spokesman disputed this account, saying Trump’s remote remarks were planned “many weeks prior to the event.”
Other sources who for months harbored concerns that Trump wasn’t as enthusiastic about running as he was letting on in public appearances now say his inactivity has increased their worry. Apart from a planned fundraising appearance for a classical education group in Naples last weekend, the former president has yet to announce any events before the end of the year. A person familiar with the matter said Trump’s team is toying with a pre-Christmas event of some kind, though his campaign has not yet finalized any travel. In a statement last week panning a move by Democratic officials to put South Carolina first on the party’s primary calendar, Trump appeared to tease a visit to Iowa, currently the first state to cast votes in both parties’ presidential nominating contests, “in the very near future.”
“I can’t wait to be back in Iowa,” he said.
Campaign is ‘taking a breather’
Inside Trump’s campaign, sources said his current approach is entirely intentional, dismissing concerns that he has forfeited the spotlight at a critical time but acknowledging that Trump is currently working with a bare-bones staff.
The campaign “is doing exactly what everyone always accuses [them] of not doing – taking a breather, planning and forming a strategy for the next two years,” said one source familiar with Trump’s operation said.
Senior staff are holed up working on a plan,” this person added, noting that Trump’s campaign travel is expected to begin early in the new year, right as possible rivals who have taken the holidays to mull their own political futures may start launching their own campaigns or exploratory committees.
And while some Trump allies have been surprised by his lack of a hiring spree right out of the gate, his campaign has been content to maintain a lean operation while he’s the only candidate in the field. The former president is not expected to tap a formal campaign manager, instead elevating three trusted advisers – Susie Wiles, Brian Jack and Chris LaCivita – to senior roles, but allies said he will likely need to build out his on-the-ground staff in early voting states in the months to come, as well as a robust communications operation if he finds himself in a competitive primary.
While those hires don’t need to happen immediately, people close to Trump said his early entry into the 2024 race does raise questions about how he will sustain campaign-related costs over a longer period than other candidates who declare later, including chief potential rival Ron DeSantis. CNN has previously reported that the Florida governor, should he decide to take on Trump, would announce next May or June, after the conclusion of his state’s legislative session and just months before the Republican party could host its first primary debate, according to a party official involved in debate planning.
“The question a lot of us have is can Trump sustain a campaign for two years. That’s the real difficulty here. The pacing we’re seeing right now is designed to do that,” said a person close to Trump.
In addition to planning rallies and events and building momentum around the former President, the campaign staff is also looking at how to best insulate Trump after many were caught off guard learning of Trump’s dinner with Fuentes and West. The event, and the days of fallout and negative coverage, has expedited some of the campaign’s long-term plans, including ensuring a senior campaign staffer is always with the former president, a source familiar with the campaign said.
Trump’s White House staff worked with resort staff during his presidency in a similar fashion to protect Trump from potentially “unsavory” guests of members, the source said. Those close to Trump blamed “low level staffers” for allowing Fuentes to slip into the resort without any flags being raised.
Macron shows his politics on Russia are bush league
What’s wrong with French President Emmanuel Macron? First, he needlessly tells Russian dictator Vladimir Putin that there are two conditions under which France might cease supplying weapons to Ukraine: “We will never compromise the ability of our army to defend our own territory and our citizens. We will also never supply such weapons that would make us a party to the conflict as a result of their use for attacks on Russian territory.”
One doesn’t have to be a Metternich to appreciate that it’s unwise to tell your enemies what you will or will not do before you enter into negotiations with them. The smart thing is to keep the adversary in the dark, guessing about your intentions. What Macron did was simply bush league, evidence of either arrogance or ignorance or both. Then, a little later, he outdid himself when he proclaimed: “We need to prepare what we are ready to do, how we protect our allies and member states, and how to give guarantees to Russia the day it returns to the negotiating table. … One of the essential points we must address — as President Putin has always said — is the fear that NATO comes right up to its doors, and the deployment of weapons that could threaten Russia.”
This statement is inane. For starters, let’s remind the French president that, with Finland’s admission into NATO, the alliance has come right up to Russia’s door and that the strategic nuclear weapons that could threaten Putin’s realm are primarily based, and will continue to be based, in the United States, the United Kingdom and — oh, yes — France. Deploying nukes on the Finnish border may send a signal of NATO’s toughness, but it effectively does nothing to enhance Russia’s insecurity or the West’s security. And everybody knew, and knows, that the West would have to be completely daft to base nuclear weapons in, of all places, Ukraine, which isn’t a NATO member.
Moreover, both Putin and Macron know full well that the armies that come under the NATO umbrella are, with the exception of those of the United States, United Kingdom and Poland, in miserable shape, having been severely neglected since the fall of the Berlin wall. America may pose a threat to Russia, but NATO does not. That Russians insist that it does is either self-serving propaganda meant to justify Putin’s militarism, imperialism and fascism or delusional paranoia rooted in Putin’s worldview that pits Russia against the world. Either way, the West needs to counter collective Russia’s mendacity or fantasies, not with mollycoddling but with straightforward explanations of reality.
But what really takes the cake in Macron’s statement about security guarantees for Russia is its silence about security guarantees for Ukraine — an issue on which France thus far has been notably silent. Surely, one can’t provide guarantees to a self-styled great power with a huge nuclear arsenal without at the same time providing guarantees to the country that it has invaded and subjected to a genocidal war. Now, Macron has also expressed his unwavering commitment to Ukraine, so it’s highly unlikely that he intends to sell Ukraine down the river while providing guarantees to Russia. No, it’s the incoherence of his thinking that is most striking — and alarming. He’s the president of a powerful and influential country. He should know that guaranteeing Russia’s security is infinitely harder than guaranteeing Ukraine’s, and since Europe isn’t all too keen on the latter, how can he reasonably expect it to be keen on the former?
Besides, just how does one guarantee the security of an imperialistic, warmongering, fascist state ruled by a leader who seems delusional? The comparison with Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia is unavoidable. Imagine Adolf Hitler’s insistence in 1939, just before his attack on Poland, on security guarantees. Or Joseph Stalin’s insistence in 1948, after the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe, of similar guarantees. Just what could such guarantees possibly have entailed? And wouldn’t the priority be to guarantee the security of the countries being threatened?
Hélas, Monsieur le Président needs to go back to his books and do a bit of thinking. Otherwise, he risks becoming risible, hardly the quality that would guarantee his security as president or his ability to deal with the Putin threat.
Alexander J. Motyl is a professor of political science at Rutgers University-Newark. A specialist on Ukraine, Russia and the USSR, and on nationalism, revolutions, empires and theory, he is the author of 10 books of nonfiction, as well as “Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires” and “Why Empires Reemerge: Imperial Collapse and Imperial Revival in Comparative Perspective.”
Eric Melillo MP – Week in National Politics Dec 5 2022
Kenora – Politics – It was great to be back in Red Lake this weekend to walk in the Santa Claus parade, thank you to all the volunteers who helped organize it.
Canada Summer Jobs Applications Open
The Canada Summer Jobs application for employers has opened and will be accepting applications until January 12, 2023. I encourage all applicable businesses in the region to consider applying.
Bill C-21 Amendment
This week I attended the Public Safety committee and expressed my opposition to the proposed Liberal amendment to ban many firearms traditionally used for hunting.
My message to the Liberal and NDP Members of Parliament was clear: taking away firearms from hunters, trappers, and sport shooters in northwestern Ontario will do nothing to make urban cities safer.
For many in our region, hunting is a way of life, an important tradition, and a way to put food on the table. But the Liberals don’t understand that.
I have appreciated so many people from our region reaching out to my office, expressing their opposition to this amendment, and sharing the role hunting, trapping, and sport shooting play in their lives. I’ve been able to share some of your stories, vocal opposition, and concerns with the government. I hope they’ll recognize how out of touch and problematic this proposal is and immediately withdraw it.
My Conservative colleagues and I will continue to advocate against this amendment. I encourage those who oppose this amendment to share your opposition with the Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino. You can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Council for Reconciliation
For the past few weeks at Indigenous and Northern Affairs committee I’ve been working on Bill C-29, which will create a National Council for Reconciliation. This Council will hold the government responsible on the path to reconciliation and provide updates on the progress made on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.
I was pleased to see Bill C-29 passed in the House of Commons and look forward to working with my colleagues to advance reconciliation.
Working for You
If you’re planning to be in Ottawa and are interested in attending Question Period or taking a tour of Parliament, please let me know, and my office can help reserve Question Period and tour tickets.
As always, if there is anything my office can assist you with, please call me at 807-223-2182 (Dryden) or 807-468-2170 (Kenora) or email me at email@example.com.
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