News You Need to Know

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Linda Toews, President Elect, Alberta Women’s Institutes.
Contact Linda directly by emailing her click here.

ALBERTA

Announcements, Alberta News

Fiscal Update

              Alberta’s outlook has dramatically improved over the first three months of the fiscal year. Finance  Minister Travis Toews says that Alberta’s Recovery Plan to diversify the economy and create  jobs is working

As of July, Alberta added 73,000 jobs since the beginning of the year and has recovered nearly 90% of the jobs lost when the pandemic started. The real gross domestic product is expected to grow by 6.7% in 2021, up from the budget forecast of 4.8%. Many economic forecasters, including the Conference Board of Canada and some of the largest Canadian banks, predict Alberta will lead all provinces in growth this year.

Increased investment and economic activity has led to unemployment dropping to 5.5%. Oilsands production has risen over 8% in the first half of the year. Investment in commodities other than energy is forecasted to grow about 5% in 2021 and 2022 and will return to 2019 levels this year.

Alberta’s deficit is still sizeable and more than $2.6 billion will be spent this year on debt servicing, reducing the amounts that could be spent on public services.

Alberta’s government is using 3 fiscal anchors to guide decision-making:

1.       Keeping net debt below 30% of GDP

2.       Aligning per capita spending with comparative provinces

3.       Setting a time frame for blaancing the budget once there is a clear picture of the long-term global pandemic impacts.

Quick Facts:

·       The deficit for 2021-22 is forecast at $78 billion, 410.5 billion lower than reported in the budget

·       The revenue forecast for 2021-22 is $56 billion $11.3 billion higher than reported in the budget

·       Expense is forecast at $62.7 billion, up $.8 billion from the budget

·       Taxpayer supported debt is forecast at $105.7 billion on March 31, 2022, which is $4.9 billion lower than estimated in the budget

·       The net debt-to-GDP ratio will be an estimated 19.6% at the end of the fiscal year, well below the province’s goal of 30%.

Freedom to Care Act

Removing Barriers for Non-Profits Doing Social Good

Non-profits can use a new website to make delivering programs and services in the community easier and more efficient.

The website will allow organizations to find existing exemptions or apply for new exemptions to regulations that were never intended for them. It also provides information and resources to support the sector’s understanding and implementation of the volunteer liability protections under the Freedom to Care Act. This includes resources for best practices in volunteer management and a volunteer checklist.

Government regulations intended for business can prevent non-profits from addressing immediate needs in the community. However, these regulations often have exemptions for non-profits and charitable groups because of the unique nature of their work. For example, there are exemptions to limit liability for civil society organizations that accept donated food.

The website provides information about existing exemptions to regulations and how to apply for them. Non-profits can also use the website to apply for a new one-time common-sense exemption from a regulation.

The website supports the implementation of the Freedom to Care Act, which comes into force Sept. 1. The Freedom to Care Act:

·       Allows cabinet (through order in council) to grant one-time, short-term exemptions for non-profits from government regulations intended for business, where an exemption does not already exist.

·       Requires the Minister of Culture to report annually to cabinet on exemption requests that cannot be addressed through existing processes or legislation.

·       Provides individual volunteers with liability protections.

Quick facts

·       There are more than 26,200 non-profit organizations in Alberta.

·       In 2018, nearly 83 per cent of Albertans volunteered either formally and/or informally, contributing 578 million volunteer hours.

·       The non-profit sector is an economic driver – it employs 280,000 Albertans and accounts for $5.5 billion in GDP annually.

Current COVID Situation

As of September 3, 70% of eligible Albertans are fully vaccinated; 78% have at least 1 dose. This is a tremendous achievement considering that Alberta has a younger population than other provinces. However, the Delta variant has spread widely particularly among unvaccinated people. Since August 1, unvaccinated Albertans in the age group 20-59 have had 50-60X greater risk of being hospitalized than vaccinated.

On August 24, 243 hospitalized and 59 in ICU; by September 1 had 373 (80% unvaccinated) and 119 in ICU (90% unvaccinated).  Premier Kenney urges unvaccinated people to get vaccinated to protect themselves, others and the health care system. Dr. Hinshaw relates the risk for COVID for unvaccinated eligible Albertans as higher than COPD, heart disease or cancer.

Since July 1, no hospitalizations from ages 5-11 and no increase in delta variant cases beyond other COVID variants.  Risk to children from hospitalization from flu in a normal year is about the same as that from COVID.

Alberta will now provide an additional incentive to anyone getting a first or second dose – a $100 gift card.

Details of cases at alberta.ca/COVID19.

Pressure on Alberta’s health care system is building so additional precautions are being taken. Dr Verna Yiu, CEO of Alberta Health Services stated that Alberta’s ICU usage is now at 95% ,with 97% in Edmonton.  They are making adjustments so that more ICU beds will be available if needed.

Beginning this morning, AHS is postponing non-urgent health care procedures across all zones. The specific number of postponements will be determined by each zone. AHS will maintain urgent and emergency procedures as well as cancer surgeries. North zone will see up to 60% reduction; Edmonton, up to 50% from 30% last week, some non-urgent pediatric procedures will also be reduced; Central, Calgary & Southern zones will see up to 30% reduction in endoscopy procedures and surgical procedures.

Contact tracing is being instituted in high-risk situations such as congregate care and health care settings. Contact tracing is not being instituted throughout the province as only 1 in 4 were captured before, and it is likely much less now. This is more effective use of scarce resources.

Reinstitution of Restrictions

Temporary restrictions will be put in place.

Anyone sick should isolate and stay home until they are well. Testing will be available for anyone with symptoms.

As of 8am, September 4, masks will be mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces except at workstations or where 6 foot distancing or barriers are in place. Schools are also exempted from the provincial mask mandate. They will be given the flexibility to determine their own mask requirement.

All businesses serving alcohol will be required to stop serving liquor at 10pm. Businesses will NOT be required to close.

Wherever possible, employers should pause their plans for staff to return to workplaces and continue to allow staff to work from home wherever possible.

It is recommended that unvaccinated Alberta limit their contacts to a 2 family cohorts and a maximum of 10 close social contacts.

              Some cities have instituted their own mask mandates. Edmonton and surrounding communities did so last week. Calgary did so yesterday after the provincial announcement.

Incentive Program

Anyone 18 and over who receives a first or second dose between September 4 and October 14 will receive a pre-filled debit card for $100. Registration begins September 13.  Information is available at alberta.ca/vaccine.  If you already have your vaccine you can still enter to win $1 million and outdoor adventure prizes.

Endemic Virus

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw was the first in Canada to tell citizens that they would have to learn to live with the virus as an endemic virus.  Other medical officers are now doing the same thing.

No Mandatory Vaccinations in Alberta

              The government is NOT pursuing mandatory vaccinations for all Albertans. The UCP government made an amendment to the Public Health Act to remove the long-standing power that enabled the Premier / Cabinet to mandate vaccinations.

Mandatory Vaccinations in some Workplaces

              According to legal precedent, employers have the ability to mandate vaccinations to protect their workforce from harm. This is not universal. Employers must prove that their specific circumstance uniquely requires vaccines because of inherent vulnerabilities. It is the responsibility of an employer to make sure any vaccination policy is within the bounds of the law and aligns with their specific context.

              Alberta Health Services has announced a mandatory vaccination policy for healthcare workers. Any AHS employee who is unable to be vaccinated due to medical or religious reasons is entitled to be reasonably accommodated under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

              AHS, as an employer, maintains the independent ability to make decisions to mandate vaccinations without the Premier or Cabinet. AHS sought legal advice which determined that as the risk of acquiring COVID was higher than other workplaces and patients might be more vulnerable to serious illness, that this met the test that the decision was within the bounds of the law and aligned with their specific context to protect from harm workers and those using their services.

              A number of private employers have mandated vaccines for their employees. Other private businesses have instituted vaccine requirements for people entering their businesses. This includes businesses such as sports teams, some concert venues, and other private employers. Most have also included reasonable accommodations for those who are exempt for medical or religious reasons. Some have not made accommodations and have advised employees they will have to find other jobs.

Expect to see court cases.

Some Points on Vaccines

It is important to note that vaccinations do not completely prevent people from contracting COVID. Studies on the vaccines show that they range from 60-80% effective against catching the virus, but have been shown to be more effective – the mRNA vaccines up to 95% – against serious disease and hospitalization. Unfortunately, the variants are less susceptible to the vaccines, and are much more infectious. The delta variant has proven to be much more infectious and the vaccines are not as effective against it. Newly emerging variants are mutating to become increasingly infectious and less affected by the vaccines. This means that fully vaccinated people can still contract the virus, although the course of their illness is likely to be less.

However, fully vaccinated people can still transmit the virus to other people. It is inaccurate to say the unvaccinated are spreading the virus. It is being spread by anyone who contracts it, including fully vaccinated people. Most people have less serious illness; some people have serious illness and may wind up in the hospital or ICU.

It is also important to remember that some people CANNOT be vaccinated, due to medical or religious reasons.

Booster shots

Booster – or third – shots are available in Alberta for those at greater risk. This includes people who are immunocompromised who can take the shot; those in congregate living settings like seniors’ homes, and with less efficient immune systems; and people who are vaccinated with AstroZeneca or with two different vaccines; this is because the AstroZeneca vaccine is not approved in all countries which causes problems for people travelling to these countries where it is not recognized as a valid vaccination. Some countries also do not recognize vaccination with 2 different vaccines.


CANADA

COVID Across Canada

·       Total confirmed cases 1,513,334

·       Total deaths 27,018

·       Total recovered 1,451,072

·       Fully vaccinated 25,627,078 (76.79%); at least one dose 28,081,744 (84.7%)

Total Case Count

As of September 5, 2020 9:00 am MST

                                               Total Cases                     Deaths               Recovered

CANADA                                  1,513,324                      27,018                1,451,072

British Columbia                        168,325                        1,827                    160,268

Alberta                                        256,985                        2,390                    241,100

Saskatchewan                              55,750                           610                      52,248

Manitoba                                      58,845                        1,192                      57,213

Ontario                                        569,633                        9,548                    553,549

Quebec                                        391,363                      11,291                    374,808

New Brunswick                              2,798                              46                        2,625

Nova Scotia                                     6,047                              94                        5,898

Prince Edward Island                       233                                0                           225

Newfoundland and Labrador     1,491                                7                          1,48

Yukon                                                  694                                8                           665

Northwest Territories                      499                                1                           362

Nunavut                                      658                                4                           653

More details below, in alphabetical order

Modelling in April and May suggested that if 75% of eligible Canadians – 12+ years old – had at least 1 dose of a vaccine, that provinces could safely reduce restrictions without overwhelming hospitals again. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam says that didn’t include the Delta variant. The Alpha variant is also continuing to spread against the country. The Delta variant is believed to be more infectious and to cause more severe illness; it is currently the dominant variant.

Alberta

·       Total of 256,985 cases, 2390 deaths, 241,000 recovered.

·       70% fully vaccinated; 78% at least one shot

·       Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw was the first in Canada to tell citizens that they would have to learn to live with the virus as an endemic virus.  Other medical officers are now doing the same thing.

·       The Province just announced a province-wide mask mandate for all indoor public spaces and workplaces, except in classrooms where decisions are up to school boards

·       Licensed bars, restaurants and pubs must stop alcohol sales by 10pm, and all businesses are being asked to rethink having staff return to work.

·       Recommended that unvaccinated people limit close contacts to 10 people or less.

British Columbia

·       671 new cases of Sept. 3; total infections 168,325, 3 new deaths to a total of 1,827 deaths; 160,268 recovered

·       British Columbia has re-instituted restrictions on gatherings in the Northern Health region due to a spike in cases fueled by the Delta variant. Indoor gatherings are now restricted to only one other family or five guests; outdoor gatherings are limited to 50 people.

·       Organized outdoor events of more than 200 people will need a covid-19 safety plan in place.

·       A mask mandate is already in place across the province.

·       77.1% are fully vaccinated; 84.8% have had their 1st shot

·       BC has a vaccine passport

Manitoba

·       Total 58,845 infections, deaths 1,192, 57,213 recovered

·       Vaccination cards and QR digital bar codes are available. Individuals will have to have had 2 doses of any combination, or a single shot of Johnson & Johnson, at least 2 weeks before the request for the card or code.

·       If vaccinated outside the province, individuals will need to provide proof to public health to record the data.

Manitoba has a public health order that people be double vaccinated to attend sporting events and concerts, indoor theatre and dance performances, restaurants, night clubs, movie theatres and casinos.

New Brunswick

·       2,798 cases; 46 deaths; 2,625 recoveries

·       Over 75% fully vaccinated; 84.9% at least one dose

·       The Premier of New Brunswick has announced that there is no urgency to impose a vaccine passport system in the province.

Newfoundland and Labrador

·       1,491 total cases, 7 deaths, 1,448 recovered

·       Contact tracing is underway and close contacts are advised regarding quarantine.

·       29 current active cases, none in hospital

·       76.2% fully vaccinated, over 86% first dose

Northwest Territories

·       499 total cases, 1 death, 362 recovered

·       2 communities under lockdown orders since mid-August were lifted yesterday as cases decline. Colville Lake and Fort Good Hope saw the worst of the outbreak in Northwest Territories after a superspreader event at a hand games tournament in Colville Lake.

·       Norman Wells is under a 10-day lockdown after cases climbed last week.

Nova Scotia

·       Total cases 6,047; 94 deaths; 5,898 recovered

·       71% fully vaccinated, 78% at least 1 dose

·       Premier Tim Houston has announced that once 75% of residents are vaccinated it will go into its final phase of reopening. It will then open all restrictions against the province.

·       Students will return to classes on Tuesday. They will be required to wear masks inside school buildings or buses at all times except for limited circumstances such as eating. Under Phase 5, schools will be allowed to transition to optional mask use.

Nunavut

·       658 cases, 4 deaths; 653 recovered

·       Rankin Inlet has the territory’s first new case since June. The person travelled outside the territory and was symptomatic before travelling. The person has been flown to a hospital in southern Canada. Masks are mandatory in public spaces in Rankin Inlet.

Ontario

·       Ontario reports 811 new cases and 3 deaths, 482 of whom were unvaccinated, 168 fully vaccinated, 98 partially vaccinated, and 6 of unknown vaccine status.

·       Total death toll is 9548.

·       Active case count 6536, total cases total 553,549. Hospitalizations are at 266 with 179 in ICU, and 155 in ICU on a ventilator

·       Nearly 83.5% of people aged 12+ have received at least 1 vaccine dose; more than 76.9% are fully vaccinated.

·       Ontario just instituted vaccine passports to access some non-essential services

Prince Edward Island

·       233 total cases, 0 deaths, 225 have recovered

·       Staff at long-term care homes and community care facilities who are not fully vaccinated will now be tested up to 3 times per week and must wear masks.

Quebec

·       391,363 cases, 11,291 deaths, over 375,000 recovered

·       Quebec’s Health Minister Christian Dube wrote an open letter to Quebecers warning that they would have to live with the virus for the forseeable future and suggesting collective immunity against COVID-19 is a long way off. He also noted that additional variants were likely.

·       He said “Instead of looking for the date when all this will end we will have to learn to live with the virus.” We will have to accept a certain number of cases and a certain number of hospitalizations if we want to return to a normal life.”

Saskatchewan

·       Total 53,396 cases, 610 deaths, 52,031 recovered

·       SaskatchewanHealth Authority is asking people who test positive to notify close contacts on their own. Rising cases in the province mean limited public health resources have been unable to provide timely notice to those who may have been exposed.

·       Those testing positive in health care settings, vulnerable populations, long-term care and other congregate living settings to prevent or control outbreaks.

Yukon

·       694 total cases, 8 deaths, 665 recovered

·       1st case in a long-term care facility since the beginning of the pandemic. The person is in isolstion and residents and staff in the same unit are being monitored and tested as required.

·       Vaccination in long-term care residents over 95%.

·       Yukon’s long-term care homes were the first to introduce pandemic related health and safety protocols. There are 220 residents in long-term care homes in Yukon.

Vaccine Passports

Until last week, vaccine passports were being provided in 3 provinces in Canada: British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec. Trudeau announced that the Liberal government would give money to any province mandating vaccine passports. Last week, Ontario declared that it would also be issuing vaccine passports.

Liberal defeat in Nova Scotia

Premier Iain Rankin’s Liberal government went to the polls expecting to win a majority. Wrong! Big upset by the Nova Scotian voters who voted in a new Conservative government led by Ken Houston. Houston ran a forward-looking campaign and talked about things that mattered to Nova Scotians.

Is this a harbinger of the electorate’s true opinion of holding an election during a pandemic?

Federal Election

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called this federal election because he thought he could get a majority government. But it hasn’t been going his way.

He started out with a fairly substantial majority in the eyes of voters, but it has been steadily going down. On August 22, Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos, released results of a poll done for Global news which showed the Liberals only 5% ahead in popular opinion at start of election even after all the spending promises.

57% of Canadians think another party should have a shot at government

44% of Canadians think that Trudeau would say anything to get elected.

36% think Trudeau has a hidden agenda – 10 points above the other leaders.

In the survey, Trudeau was ahead in voters’ opinions of who would make best PM, largely because the others are not well-known.  Throughout the pandemic, Canadians have been treated to daily news conferences with Trudeau but little coverage of any other leader. However, now that the other leaders have had a chance to be seen the gap between the parties – and the leaders – is tightening.

              The expected top 5 issues in the election and who is usually better at those issues are:

Health care- liberals

Covid-19 pandemic – liberals

Economy  – conservative

Affordability – ndp

Climate change – greens / liberals

Possibly low turnout in election due to the pandemic and the feeling among Liberals that a majority is in the bag. Baby boomers are most likely to show up for to vote. Conservatives are doing better among male baby boomers; Liberals among female baby boomers. Many non-baby boomers are put off by the idea of going to a polling booth, and there are a number of hurdles to mail-in ballots so it is likely there will be low turnout in election. In my opinion, Erin O’Toole should be making sure he targets female baby boomers.

Leader Quotes

Jagmeet Singh “Trudeau’s selfish election”

Trudeau – “When I think about the biggest most economic policy that this government will be formed on – you will forgive me if I don’t think about monetary policy.”

O’Toole has defined the election as being about the economy and who can get the economy back on track.  

Trudeau using the Winnipeg Jets plane. Some people saying that is an omen for the Liberals as the Jets came in looking like a sure winner then lost. Trudeau made a whistlestop in Calgary at the campaign of George Chahal, former City councilor, who is running in Calgary Skyview.

O’Toole had the best 1st week of the leaders. He spent much of the first week in the Conservative TV studio doing virtual town halls introducing himself to voters. He dropped the entire platform right off the bat and spent the week talking about policy. Other campaigns had to spend time addressing CPC policies. O’Toole has also shown to be an effective, personable campaigner on the actual in-person stops. He did stop in Edmonton during the week.

The Liberals had a tough first week – they had to play the abortion card in Day 4. Usually this has worked well to make it appear that the Conservatives have a hidden agenda. However, O’Toole handed it right back to them making it look like the Liberals were the ones with the hidden agenda.

Since then the polls have showed the Liberal lead over the Conservatives tightening. By the second week, the Liberals and Conservatives were neck and neck – Liberals 33%; Conservatives 32% – a statistical tie.

Now after the third week, and the first French language debate (see more below), the Conservatives are ahead.

Across the country, a big change has happened in Ontario. Trudeau’s support at 33% has dropped 7 points, the NDP are picking up support in the Toronto area (905 area) and are up to 36% support, while the Conservatives are picking up steam in rural Ontario. In Alberta, the Conservatives are over 50% in support, and O’Toole is the top pick in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In British Columbia, it is a real horserace: NDP 32%, Conservatives 29%, Liberals 28%  (down 11 points)- a statistical tie with the three parties. BC could determine the outcome of the election.  

Most Recent Polls

Ipsos

In the most recent poll, taken August 27-30, the opinion of the leaders as of the beginning of September chose

Trudeau 34% – down 5%

O’Toole 29% up 4% and

Singh 29% up 6%

              Interestingly, Trudeau is still seen as the most likely to say anything to get elected – up 2% over the campaign at 46%, 36% say he has a hidden agenda – both beliefs higher than any other leader.

              Some other points from the poll:

o   Management during tough economic times – 27% Trudeau, 26% O’Toole

o   Getting things done – 25% Trudeau, 22% O’Toole

o   Spending taxpayer money wisely – 19% Trudeau, 22% O’Toole

              According to Ipsos’ Darrell Bricker, the Liberal leader is now starting to drag his party down mostly due to voters’ anger over how the election was called. “Really what this election has turned into is a referendum not on the performance of the Liberal Party, but on what Canadians think about the Prime Minister.”

Nanos  

According to Nanos, the Conservatives have opened a five point lead and leader Erin O’Toole has surpassed Justin Trudeau in popularity among voters. An Aug 12 poll showed Liberal support at 33.4% and Conservatives at 28.4%. The most recent poll was taken Thursday and released Friday morning. Conservative support is 35.7% while the Liberals are at 30.7%. Nik Nanos said on Friday’s edition of CTVNews.ca’s Trend Line podcast: “Looking at the trend, Erin O’Toole is shapig up to be a political freight trin. It’s been a game changer of an election and Erin O’Toole definitely has momentum. 

              O’Toole shows O’Toole as the most preferred prime minister at 31.1%, compared to Trudeau at 27.3% and NDP’s Jagmeet Singh at 19.6%. In a separate poll taken Aug 28-30, more than three-quarters of Canadians (76%) see the election as unnecessary.

              Nanos reports that while Atlantic Canada has traditionally been a Liberal stronghold, voters there are now very willing to consider Conservatives as government and expects the Conservatives will pick up seats. Conservatives are also gaining ground in Ontario and Quebec. British Columbia also sees Liberal support dropping, and the NDP looks to gain seats.

Twitter Flags Christia Freeland Tweet as Manipulative Media

Deputy Prime Minister Christia Freeland released a spliced-together clip of an interview with Erin O’Toole appearing to say that he was in favour of private health-care. Twitter flagged it as ‘Manipulated Media’ as the Liberals manipulated the interview to make it appear he said something other than he did. Elections Canada is being asked to investigate. 

Mandatory Vaccination Issue

Trudeau declared that federal employees would be mandated to be vaccinated. O’Toole maintained that a Conservative government would encourage but not mandate vaccination, and would institute rapid tests for employees who could not be vaccinated or who chose not to be vaccinated. Trudeau tried to create a wedge but the trap Trudeau tried to lay for O’Toole trapped Trudeau instead when it was revealed that there was an official government letter assuring unvaccinated employees that testing would be instituted.

Vaccine Passports

              Trudeau has announced that the Liberal government will give money to any province that institutes a vaccine passport.

1st French Debate

The French language debate can make a huge difference in the election. Some pundits say that Ontario decides who wins the election; Quebec decides by how much. In Quebec, Liberals and Bloc are at just over 30%, while the Conservatives are at 20% – much higher than their usual polling in Quebec – and the NDP are at 12%. This bodes well for the Conservatives.

              Former high-profile Liberal, and now political commentator Warren Kinsella declared Erin O’Toole the winner of the debate.

“O’Toole was aggressive, at times, going after Trudeau on the appalling Liberal record on sexual harassment and treatment of women. Trudeau was left blinking and sputtering throughout much of what the moderator Bruneau noted was the “MeToo” segment of the debate — because O’Toole put Trudeau on the ropes, and kept him there.”

He went on to say:

“All of the opposition leaders hammered Trudeau on the election call itself, too. As in the rest of Canada, Quebec voters are mystified — and angry — that Trudeau called an election during a fourth wave in the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.”

and

 “O’Toole needed to show that he could be prime minister for all of Canada, not just Western Canada.

Based on his first debate performance as Conservative leader, he did that and then some.

And that’s why he, more than Messrs. Trudeau or Singh, was the winner.”

Full story: https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/kinsella-breaking-down-the-wins-and-losses-in-the-first-leaders-debate?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=New%20Campaign%202021-09-03&utm_term=SUNMEDIA_ELECTION_CA_2021

Liberal Candidate Accused of Sexual Misconduct Drops Out of Election

              Two-term Liberal MP in Kitchener Centre, and candidate in this election, Raj Saini has been accused of sexual misconduct by a number of women. Liberal leader Justin Trudeau stood behind him and refused to remove him as a candidate. Trudeau defended the ‘processes’ used to determine that Saini had not committed any sexual improprieties but refused to say what those processes were. Raj Saini denies the allegations brought against him by several women alleging he had behaved inappropriately towards them.

A woman who worked for Saini alleged that he made inappropriate and suggestive comments to her throughout her employment and that he pushed her up against a wall. She filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission in May 2020 describing a hostile work environment that included unwelcomed advances, harassing behavior and psychological abuse. She told the Globe & Mail that she had raised concerns regarding Mr. Saini’s conduct with the Liberal Party’s president Suzanne Cowan, national director Azam Ishael and the chief of staff to Mark Holland, the government whip in the House of Commons and forwarded emails to the Globe & Mail. No action appears to have been taken regarding her concerns, other than to direct her to take them to Mr. Holland’s office. Saini claims he initiated a third-party review through the House of Commons in June 2020 and was cleared; however, the woman who made that allegation said she was never part of the process.

CBC reported seven sources with knowledge of claims describing four different cases against Mr. Saini of unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate comments. CBC News reported that concerns about Mr. Saini’s behavior toward young female staffers were brought to Mr. Trudeau’s office as far back as 2015.

              After Mr. Saini dropped out the Liberal party said another review was launched after “new information” was brought to the party on Friday.

              The Liberals will not have a candidate in Kitchener Centre as it is too late to name another candidate. His name will still appear on the ballot as it is too late to remove it.

              To read more about this, go to https://www.theglobeandmail.com/politics/article-liberal-candidate-raj-saini-drops-out-of-federal-election-race/.

Two Michaels

              China has now held Canada’s two Michaels for 1000 days.

In retaliation for Canada’s holding of Meng Wanzhou in 2019 at the request of the US, China arrested Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.  Durig the 1000 days, Meng has been free to live in her mansion in an exclusive area of Vancouver while the two Michaels languish in solitary confinement in what have been described as “deplorable conditions.”

              The Liberals are claiming to be doing everything they can to get their release from China. So far, we have seen no action on this front. Furthermore, China recently held ‘trials’ for both Michaels. Michael Spavor has been sentenced to 11 years in Chinese prison for supposedly taking industrial espionage photos. No sentence has yet been announced for Michael Kovrig.

Other Canadians in Chinese prisons have seen their sentences lengthened or worse. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison for working with others to smuggle methamphetamine. One month after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, his sentence was changed to a death sentence. Two other Canadians have been sentenced to death since 2019.  Fan Wei was found guilty of participating in a national methamphetamine manufacturing ring, while Xu Weihong was convicted of making ketamine.

WORLD

Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan is a travesty. For the last seven years, Canadians have been asking the Trudea government to get Afghan citizens who helped Canadian troops safely out to Canada. The Taliban had threatened to kill Afghan interpreters and other workers, along with their families. Some were murdered; others are missing. In recent months, Canadians stepped up the pace and demanded the Liberals get people out. Finally, in the last few weeks before the US withdrawal on August 31, the Liberal government acted. Too little, too late.

There has been much criticism of speed with which the federal government acted, thecomplicated paperwork requiring internet connections, and an overall lack of action. The 21,000 Afghans that the government announced would be resettled is just a redesignation of Afghan refugees who are already here.

Trudeau has been facing a lot of criticism for the failure of his government to act during its tenure.  Conservatives were consistently been calling for the government to act. There have been repeated requests to do so from many segments of the Canadian population, NGOs, etc. I myself wrote letters on behalf of an Alberta non-profit association requesting the government to protect our Afghani allies and get them to Canada. The government did not act until the US announced they would be withdrawing on August 31. The Taliban announced they would not tolerate a delay in withdrawing and the US confirmed it had no intention of staying on past their deadline.  

The situation on the ground was critical, and still is. Currently, women and children are hiding in Afghanistan in fear for their lives. Even the staff of NGOs like Women for Women in Afghanistan are afraid for their lives. It was almost impossible for women and children to get to the airport. Taliban were blocking the way and shooting people. Some families were called by the Canadian government to come to the airport more than once. They were told to wear red and say they were Canadian. but they were  unable to get through the Taliban roadblocks, Afghan checkpoints and the difficulty of finding the military personnel who can help them if they finally got through to the gates and fences of the airport. Many made it all the way only to be turned back at the gates. Heartbreaking videos have been taken of women passing their children over the gates of the Kabul airport into the arms of military personnel to save the children, knowing that they themselves will likely die at the hands of the Taliban.

Countries like the UK, and France used commandos to get Afghanis safely to the airport. The US was been picking people up by helicopter and ferrying them to the airport.  Other countries also took drastic action to rescue their nationals, refugees and Canadians.

The government did finally manage to fly out a number of Afghani refugees on Canadian planes or planes or allies but there are still over 1200 people in Afghan who hold Canadian citizenship or landed immigrant status, and many more who should have been rescued by Canada.

The Taliban claims they will respect women’s rights and that they will forgive anyone that has worked against them. If you believe that, I have some beautiful beachfront property in the middle of Death Valley that I’d like to sell you.  People on the ground say that previous Taliban rule meant no education for women, forced marriages, as well as retribution once the foreign military forces are gone. They are afraid for those people and for the country as a whole.  

Now we are negotiating with the Taliban to allow people safe passage.

The Canadian government has let down our allies.

Women Protesting

Women have been demonstrating in Kabul for days since the Taliban takeover. Today they demonstrated outside the Presidential palace. They are demanding participation women’s in government and education for their children.

COVID Around the World

World Count 221,414,481 cases; deaths 4,579,709; recovered 197,897,085

Sept 5, 5:40 GMT

Top 10 Highest Case Counts

                                               Total Cases                     Deaths               Recovered

US                                           40,765,356                    665,858              31,299,924

India                                       33,026,741                    440,779              32,173,733

Brazil                                      20,877,864                    583,362              19,838,912

Russia                                       7,012,599                    187,200                6,270,731

United Kingdom                     6,978,126                    133,229                5,609,575

France                                      6,836,452                    114,905                6,362,009

Turkey                                      6,478,663                      57,837                5,906,376

Argentina                                5,202,405                    112,444                4,895,988

Iran                                           5,129,407                    110,674                4,362,814

Iran                                           5,129,407                    110,674                4,362,814

Columbia                                 4,916,980                    125,230                4,746,546

Canada is 28th in total case count

Other countries of note:

Spain and Italy, both of which had high early case counts are now at 11th and 12th, respectively.

Germany is at 14th;

Netherlands is at 21st;

Japan is 26th;

Sweden is at 32nd

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