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A letter from Alberta to my Quebec friends

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Chers amis québecois,

You may have heard about one of our many recent pro-pipeline rallies, where Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi began to speak to the crowd in French. The crowd quickly interrupted with boos and heckles, until an organizer pleaded for politeness. At the same event, demonstrators jeered a city councillor when he suggested listeners show pro-trade goodwill and buy Quebec dairy products. “Wow. Really? And you guys call yourselves Canadians?” he replied.

It’s a question you may also ask in response—swift hostility by Albertans at the mere mention of Quebec products or its official language. Frankly, it’s jarring for many Albertans to see that, too, reviving the angry redneck stereotype. But there’s been a lot lately that’s jarred Albertans and made residents feel besieged.

Normally, Quebec culture gets much love  in Alberta. Canadiens jerseys come out in force whenever they play our arenas; the Habs were the western favourite before the Oilers and Flames arrived, because somebody had to beat up on the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Montréal bagel shops in Calgary are impressively close to the real thing, and I understand hardcore bagel fans might soon have to venture west for the authentic wood-burning oven variety. Franco-albertain communities dot northern Alberta. Your term, sables bitumeneux (bituminous sands), neatly cuts through the irksome oil sands/tar sands rhetoric squabble.

My personal appreciation for Québec goes beyond drooling at thoughts of squeaky-curd poutine or Schwartz’s smoked meat. My mother grew up in Outremont, much of her anglo family still lives there, and my father worked 50 years in sales for Montréal-based clothing factories. Montréal’s Gibeau julep giant orange is a familiar landmark of my youth; I cherish the five weeks I spent in Quebec City at a Université Laval undergrad French immersion program (but regret I didn’t retain more language); and as I type this, I’m in shirt and pants from La Maison Simons, now with outlets out west.

As a journalist in Calgary, it feels abundantly strange that a practitioner in my long-beleaguered field has lately felt less job security than a petroleum engineer or rig hand. Premier Rachel Notley’s drastic step to mandate a sector-wide oil production cut helped curb a dramatic drop in Alberta oil prices and prevent widespread layoffs. We’ve had busts before, but usually because of global commodity prices; emotions run rawer when we approach an economic cliff because of domestic failings: in this case, the inability to build pipelines, thanks to a flurry of legal/constitutional holdups (Trans Mountain and Keystone XL), political decisions (Northern Gateway), and regulatory/economic issues (Energy East).

If my French was better, I’d have better appreciation for the witty repartee of Tout le monde en parle, but I figure the new Quebec premier’s parries to a recent question on the Energy East pipeline were not TLMEP-grade. The swipes from Quebec’s new premier about “dirty energy” and no “social acceptability” for pipelines were not only clumsy and gratuitous, they also represented the sort of pugnacity Albertans thought we’d fondly waved goodbye to with the electoral defeat of former Montréal mayor Denis Coderre, who advocated loudly against Energy East and called the project’s demise a “major victory.” Then-premier Philippe Couillard was more muted about the pipeline, and we thought François Legault was a supposedly more conservative premier—no Stephen Harper clone, to be sure, but perhaps at least sensitive to the Alberta moment. Nope. It felt like kicking Alberta when we were already down, and in pan-Canadian stereo, after a year of B.C.’s premier and mayors similarly decrying the steel arteries of Alberta’s economic lifeblood. It was wholly unnecessary for Legault to poke Alberta resources when asked about Energy East, which the company TransCanada has no plans to revive. Rookie politicians should know better than to dally with hypothetical questions. Legault also ought to know a provincial premier lacks jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines—just as B.C.’s premier cannot block Trans Mountain, or, if we’re being honest, as Alberta’s can force it through. There’s no Quebec veto. But it was dismaying to see that the guy with the jurisdiction, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, appears to bolster Legault’s ill-advised remark by agreeing on CTV that “there is no support for a pipeline through Quebec.” If public opinion actually determined economic and environmental decisions, Mr. Trudeau, B.C.’s Lower Mainland may want a word with you and that Burnaby-bound pipeline expansion you’ve purchased.

But if we’re talking opinion: polls have routinely shown that most British Columbians support the Trans Mountain expansion, and Quebec is the region most strongly opposed to the westbound pipeline. Support likely has roots in direct benefits from a sturdy, opportunity-providing Alberta oil sector. Many B.C. residents and/or their relatives have long sought work in Alberta’s oilfields as mining and forestry work declined, just as east-coast families arrived on the heels of trouble in fisheries and other industries. Much of Ontario’s financial sector understands too, thanks to oil and gas’ super-sized share of the Canadian stock market: banks and deal-makers ride the ups and downs of oil prices and activity levels. Quebec feels these linkages to a lesser extent, though many manufacturers have oil sands supply deals; and when Fort McMurray burned in the 2016 wildfire, hundreds of Quebecers fled their homes and oil sands jobs, just as Saskatchewan ex-pats and Newfoundlanders did.

As Alec Castonguay of L’Actualité wrote in an earlier letter (received, thanks!), much of Quebec’s oil already comes from Alberta—via rail and the Enbridge Line 9 reversal—and less from overseas. And that’s the way Quebecers prefer it, a recent poll shows. Those in Quebec who told Via Rail to  “Buy Canadian!” as it considered a major contract with Siemens over Bombardier (Siemens won) might get that Albertans want the same thing. However, pipeline hearings and radio call-in shows afford you much greater opportunity to decry future capacity expansions for Canada’s oil, and there’s no real chance to thwart additional oil tankers from Algeria or U.S. supply trains.

Climate change fears, I recognize, drive much of the bad sentiment around pipelines and oil sands. Maybe not enough Albertans share concerns about a warming planet, but our current government and corporate leaders pay attention. The province is phasing out coal power plants and ramping up renewables, and has enacted a carbon tax and pledged to cap oil sands. Imperial Oil’s newly announced bitumen project would cut emissions and water use by 25 per cent. Green transitions take time and aren’t easy, just as the aerospace sector isn’t switching in a blink to plug-in planes instead of fuel-burners—and note how long it took Quebec to wean itself off asbestos mining. “Dirty energy” smears tends to make Albertans feel that no matter their efforts and advancements, old images of oil-soaked ducks and belching smoke stacks are all that anyone sees. Additionally, it can be difficult to focus on a cleaner, brighter future when the province’s present seems so bleak. (Fair warning: next spring’s election will likely bring leadership that pares back Alberta’s climate plan, giving you more to worry about.)

Bleakness, of course, can be relative; even after the recent recession, Albertans remain the wealthiest people in Canada. Because of that industry-driven prosperity, it’s a “have” province, while Quebec’s below-average capacity has made it an equalization-receiving “have-not.” The fresh grumbling must come across as Alberta grousing that your residents are less prosperous than ours, and Quebec should shaddup to keep getting this wealth transfer. Well… fair point. You’re a too-convenient target, getting less per capita than other have-not provinces but more overall because you’re twice as populous as the other provinces combined. There’s too much overheated rhetoric about Alberta deficits and Quebec daycare provisions (which have nothing to do with equalization’s formula) and not enough reasoned discussion about the program’s flaws and distortions, such as how, according to economist Trevor Tombe, each $1 in Quebec natural resource revenue would mean $0.67 less in equalization, creating a disincentive to produce.

At the same time as British Columbia pursues Canada’s most comprehensive climate change plan, it’s proceeding with a $40-billion liquefied natural gas project—not dissimilar to a Saguenay LNG terminal venture in the works, though the western project will take plenty of B.C. natural gas and Quebec’s project will import gas from the west. The province, meanwhile, sits on its own resource bonanza. According to a 2013 study, Quebec’s shale gas sector could produce between 6,000 and 15,000 direct jobs (plus spin-off employment)—enough to replace, several times over, 2,500 jobs cut recently by Bombardier. Quebec could, as B.C. intends to, leverage hydro power to make extraction cleaner, and edge closer to weaning itself off equalization (which Legault professes to want), which the three western gas-producing provinces don’t get or require.

Both our provinces excel at having long and often bitter memories—for separate reasons we have harsh recollections of Pierre Trudeau, and those who spit at the thought of Maclean’s after our 2010 Bonhomme cover likely haven’t read down this far. The momentary bitterness toward Quebec and its leader need not endure, just as Alberta hopes its economic logjam doesn’t. You can play a role in accomplishing both those goals: let’s agree that booing Quebec has no social acceptability, just as poorly timed broadsides don’t, either.

Joyeux Noël, Joyeuses Fêtes et bonne année,

Jason

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John Summers: How Ottawa lawyer mocked motherhood and society, reveals new book

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An Ottawa based lawyer from a leading law firm has been entangled in a web of controversy due to his action, which many have described has shocking and inhumane.

Despite claiming to uphold justice, human rights and societal values, John Summers, a lawyer at Bell Baker LLP, is a clear-cut example of just how broken the legal system in Canada is. It appears that Summers and his firm for years now have been exploiting a disturbed senior citizens  with chronic health conditions in his continuous abuse of his wife, for financial gains.

Summers has consistently stood in the way of justice by fabricating numerous lies. Resorting to lies in an attempt to hinder justice is an action that is heavily frowned upon by ethical legal practitioners. But Dezrin continued to suffer domestic abuse due to Summers’ action which had preventing her son, Raymond from seeing his own mother.

Summers’ actions since February 2016 has now resulted in the reported premature death of Dezrin Carby-Samuels who had been an RN who was selflessly dedicated to serving both her family and every community that she had lived.

Raymond and his mother, Dezrin, had sought the intervention of the law courts as a last resort in their quest for justice after Dezrin has been consistently abused by her husband, Horace and her daughter, Marcella. Rather than getting the fair hearing and justice that they expected, they received the direct opposite due to Summers apparently employing every dirty trick in the book. He has resorted to lies and illicit collaboration with judges of him alma mata just to inhibit every effort being made by Dezrin and her son.

In a book titled John Summers: The Untold Story of Corruption, Systemic Racism and Evil at Bell Baker LLP, author Peter Tremblay takes readers on a shocking journey into John Summers’ tactics which lacked ethical properiety and human decency.

Summers is proof that the ethical practices associated with the legal profession is quickly fading and it is a course for concern. In the case against Horace, Summers produced an apparent fraudulent affidavit which claimed that Raymond suffers from a mental condition—an entirely false claim. Lawyers like Summers are willing to go any length in an attempt to hinder justice, even if it leads to the destruction of lives and properties.

Summers falsely claimed that his client, Horace couldn’t file a defence for himself because he was unaware of the adopted court proceedings. However, in the early 1900s, Horace was the same one who showed so much confidence in his legal capabilities that he decided not to hire a legal counsel but represent himself during a lawsuit between his union and the Canadian Government. This act is contradictory to Summers’ claim of his poor legal understanding.

As humans, some certain moral ethics and values set us apart from other living things and one of them is showing respect for elders. Lawyers are respected in the society due to their pledge to always ensure justice prevails but Summers’ apparent greed and love for money have made him violate the human rights of an ailing mother and her son.

Peter Tremblay’s book uncovers untold stories of a corrupt system that accommodates abuse in the most inhumane form.  In Canada’s legal system, empathy and compassion were thrown out the door in exchange for money and an unknown demomic agenda. It begs the question: How then are aggrieved citizens supposed to trust a legal system for justice when a lawyer can tell unending lies against a senior citizen without any consequences or accountability?

The Law Society of Upper Canada which is supposed to regulate the legal profession in Ontario is a complete joke run by similarly corrupt lawyers who ignore the misdeeds of their colleagues.

Summers’ actions have led to Dezrin being unable to do anything since she lost her ability to walk, talk or even write due to abuse and ultimately her premature death.

Her inability to receive help from even her own son due to Summers’ fraudulent activities resulted in the destruction of Dezrin Carby-Samuels and for that reason Summers should be barred from the further practice of law anywhere in Canada.

In my view, Summers is an abomination to the legal profession and Peter Tremblay’s book documents the activities of John Summers since 2016 against three judges who where not from Summers’ alma mata and who sought justice for Dezrin and her son.

Since 2016, Dezrin had sought obtain freedom from forcible confinement imposed by her abusive husband but was unsuccessful, due to the interference Summers who refused to divulge who was in fact paying him reportedly $300/hr to frustrate justice.

Reports from credible sources allege that Dezrin passed away sometime last year due to Summers’ evil practices and this report has cast a dark cloud over the future of the legal system in Canada which had been ignoring the plight of other black Canadians.

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City staff propose ‘gold belt’ to hem in future Ottawa development

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The City of Ottawa is about to have a second marathon debate about where to allow future suburbs to be built, and this time staff propose hemming in development by creating what’s being dubbed the “gold belt.”

Eight months after city council decided to expand the urban boundary by 1,281 hectares to help house a growing population, senior city planners have released the map of which properties should be developed — and which property owners stand to see values soar if their lands are rezoned. 

They include areas north of Kanata on March Road, near the future Bowesville O-Train station in the south end, and at the southern edge of Orléans.

Scoring rural properties on such things as how close they are to transit and how costly it would be to build pipes and roads proved a challenge over the past several months, however.

“The easy land has been gobbled up in years past, in previous boundary expansions,” said Coun. Scott Moffatt, who belongs to a group of councillors that meets about the new official plan. “So now we’re looking at those leftover pieces and where we can [grow], knowing council was clear we would not be touching agricultural lands.”

270 hectares short of goal

Staff struggled to come up with all 1,281 hectares council approved adding in May 2020 because they had too many issues with “sub-optimal” lands.

Instead, they recommended converting 1,011 hectares of rural land to urban for now to meet provincial requirements, and then spending the next five years studying three options for making up the 270-hectare shortfall.

That opens the door to creating an entirely new suburb. 

For instance, one option involves a huge parcel near the Amazon warehouse southeast of the city where the Algonquins of Ontario envision a community of 35,000 to 45,000 people called Tewin, which they would build with developers Taggart.

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How an Ottawa woman built a majestic snow dragon in her front yard

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OTTAWA — You may sometimes feel winter drag on, but one Ottawa woman is not letting that dim her creativity.

Dr. Mary Naciuk is family doctor and rural emergency room physician. She spent some of her free time this weekend building a majestic snow dragon in front of her south Ottawa home.

“It’s just fun to get outside and do something creative,” she told CTV News on Sunday.

There was plenty of snow to use, after Ottawa saw a record 21 cm of snow on Saturday.

She said that after her husband cleared the driveway, the pile of snow left behind lent itself to being turned into a magnificent dragon, but it takes more than just the right kind of snow to make a sculpture like this.

Naciuk tells CTV News a shovel, a butter knife, a spoon and even a blowtorch were used to give the dragon its sharp edges and defined scales.

“Anything pointy with a small detail is really hard to do with just your fingers or the butter knife and spoon I was using, so (the blowtorch) just makes a fine point,” she said.

Her son tweeted about it on Saturday and Naciuk says many people have stopped to take a look.

My mom has reached the pass me a blowtorch and shovel and watch me make a snow dragon stage of the pandemic

(I was only allowed to shovel piles of snow) pic.twitter.com/aphZotpHiC — Tom Naciuk (@NaciukThomas) January 16, 2021

“A lot of people stop on their way to the ice rink and have a look and take pictures. It’s kind of fun,” she said.

It was a welcome relief to spend some time working on something creative outdoors, Naciuk said.

“Get outside, get some exercise, clear your mind, do something that is not COVID for a few hours. It obeys all the rules. It was great,” she said, adding that the dragon took her about five hours to build.

She’s been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for months. 

“It’s been a steep learning curve. It’s been exhausting,” she said. “A lot of the time is learning how to deliver care to people and maintain all the precautions that we need to. That’s been hard. A lot of people are not able to work from time to time, so we fill a lot of extra shifts. It’s been a lot more hours of work than it used to be, that’s for sure.”

Naciuk returns to work on Monday after a weekend of respite but says if the conditions are right—a nice mild day, a good snowfall, and some free time—another sculpture may well appear.

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