Kananaskis Golf Course a Legacy of Government Mismanagement

CALGARY, AB (September 30, 2015): Dr. David Swann expressed his regret today that the mismanagement of the former PC regime continues to force taxpayers dollars to be spent on a golf course leased by a firm with Tory connections.

“To this day I think the only party that thinks fixing a golf course was the right priority for taxpayer dollars is the PC party,” says Swann. “Sadly, it seems the old regime was successful in protecting their friends’ interests even in the case of a change of government.”

An examination of the costs involved in cancelling the contract requiring taxpayers to pay for the cleanup of the Kananaskis have confirmed that proceeding with the cleanup is the most cost effective solution. However, Swann is calling on the government to proceed with the intent of eventually getting out of the golf business.

“The government has promised Albertans that they do not support the use of public money for things like this,” says Swann. “If there are opportunities over the life of the existing agreement to recoup our costs and end this contract early, the government should be pursuing that.”


New Payday Loan Regulations Must Protect Consumers

CALGARY, AB (September 28, 2015): Dr. David Swann today welcomed news that the government is reviewing regulations to protect Albertans from high interest payday loan companies.

“Obscenely high interest rates charged as part of payday loans negatively impact low-income Albertans who have found themselves in dire circumstances and in need of quick cash,” says Swann. “We are talking about families in need, post-secondary students, and individuals with addiction issues.

”The government has a responsibility to tighten regulations to ensure that people are better protected.”

Swann also welcomed the involvement of Momentum Community Economic Development, a non-profit organization in Calgary, which earlier this year recommended the government lower the current maximum interest rate of 23 per cent.

“There are common sense regulations that the government can work with companies to enact so that we can prevent low-income Albertans from being exploited.”

In 2014, Alberta Liberals passed a policy resolution calling on the government to prohibit high interest charges and fees for payday and car title loans.


Statement by David Swann: Police and Peace Officer Memorial Day

CALGARY, AB (September 27, 2015): Dr. David Swann released the following statement to mark Police and Peace Officer Memorial Day:

“Every day, brave men and women go to work as police and peace officers, tasked with the job of keeping us safe; and every day the families of those brave men and women feel the unique mixture of pride in their loved one and fear that this may be the day that they don’t home.

“This year, Albertans were heartbroken when two of those brave men did not come home. As we mourned and continue to mourn Constable David Wynn and Constable Daniel Woodall, we are reminded of the debt we owe their families and all families of police and peace officers.

“To all of those who put their lives in danger to keep us safe, we give you our deepest thanks, always.”


Government Finally Does Right Thing on PDD Safety Review

CALGARY, AB (September 18, 2015): Dr. David Swann joined Alberta’s non-profit organizations in celebrating an announcement that the government will hit the pause button on a government safety review that risked forcing many persons with developmental disabilities out of their homes.

“I’m pleased the government has finally done the right thing and will review this process to ensure that we strike the right balance on this issue,” says Swann. “For Alberta Liberals, this has always been about ensuring this process meets the real needs of disabled individuals.”

Swann had previously called on the government to review its safety review process after non-profit organizations raised alarm bells that the high cost of the safety inspections and required renovations would force disabled individuals out of their homes.

“Some of Alberta’s most vulnerable individuals have successfully stood up and asked that this government listen to their concerns and meet their needs,” says Swann. “That is indeed a victory. Now let’s all get to work on creating a better process to serve the needs of this community.”


Edmonton School Board Must Respect Law With Transgender Policy

CALGARY, AB (September 16, 2015): Dr. David Swann welcomed comments today by Education Minister David Eggen calling on the Edmonton Catholic School Board to produce an inclusivity policy to protect Transgender students.

“I am grateful that the minister has gone on record on this important issue of ensuring respectful and inclusive schools,” says Swann. “The school board has a duty under law to provide an inclusive and safe environment for these students, regardless of gender identity or gender expression.”

Last night the trustees of the Edmonton Catholic School Board deferred a policy on inclusivity arising out of a request by a transgender elementary student to use the girls’ washroom. The deferral followed a long and often tense discussion surrounding the needs of transgender students and the nature of discrimination.

Under section 45.1(1) of the School Act boards have a “responsibility to ensure that each student … is provided with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity”.

Swann added that this incident also highlights the need to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act.

“At last night’s board meeting there was a drawn out discussion about whether what this young girl had gone through even constituted discrimination,” noted Swann. “Clearly it did.

“What is needed is an explicit prohibition on discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. I hope the government will act on that as well.”


Merrifield Firing Should Spur Creation of Independent Appointments Commission

CALGARY, AB (September 14, 2015): Following the firing of Alberta’s Senior Representative to the U.S. by the NDP government, Dr. David Swann is once again calling for the creation of an independent public appointments commission to manage the recruitment and vetting process for candidates seeking appointments to agencies, boards and commissions and other key provincial positions.

“For decades, the former PC administration presided over an increasingly flawed and discredited public appointments process whereby political party affiliation gradually came to trump skill and experience,” says Swann. “We now have a tremendous opportunity in the first year of this new Alberta government to fix this repugnant aspect of the PC legacy.”

Alberta Liberals have long advocated for an independent appointments commission modeled after Ontario’s Public Appointments Secretariat. Such an idea has enjoyed support at all levels of government and among those of every political stripe.

Swann notes that there are important lessons to be learned from both Rob Merrifield’s hiring and dismissal.

“Here you had an individual whose appointment seemed to be based solely on his connection to the former premier. When Albertans elected a new government, he was promptly shown the door,” says Swann. “At no point in this entire saga was there ever any independent review of whether he was the right person – or indeed the wrong person – for the job. We can and should do better than that, and the obvious solution is having an independent commission pick the best candidate for the job among all interested and qualified persons.”

Swann questioned Premier Notley about the creation of an independent appointments commission during the summer session.


Unintended Consequences Should Force Rethink of PDD Home Safety Regulations

CALGARY, AB (September 9, 2015): Dr. David Swann today called on the NDP government to revisit new home safety regulations for clients of the Persons with Development Disabilities (PDD) program, saying the changes could result in some clients being evicted from their residences.

The new rules were drafted by the former PC government, and will soon see inspections of PDD clients’ homes to ensure that they meet heightened safety standards.

“While the new rules were well-intentioned, it is becoming clear that some landlords intend to evict their PDD tenants rather than undertake costly renovations to meet the higher safety standards,” says Swann. “We are nearing the end of a six month grace period granted by the previous regime, but thus far the NDP has taken no action to change course on a policy that will clearly have unintended consequences.”

Agencies that work with PDD clients have called on the government to pause the process and consult on next steps. Last July, Swann wrote to Premier Notley asking for her to change course.

“If the new safety rules could lead to PDD clients being evicted from their homes, then the province needs to step back and take another look at this,” says Swann. “Let’s take our time and ensure that this is done properly and in the best interests of allPDD clients.”


Statement by David Swann: Syrian Refugee Crisis

CALGARY, AB (September 8, 2015): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement:

“In the past week, Canadians learned of and witnessed several heart wrenching media accounts of Syrian refugees fleeing for safety from their war-torn homeland. Many of us saw the haunting image of young Aylan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian toddler, and shared the pain of his distraught and inconsolable father. Thousands of other refugees could no doubt recount similar stories of personal tragedy.

“And while Canada can sometimes feel very far removed from international crises such as this, it is not hard to imagine the horror, fear and desperation that so many families are now experiencing. The world, once so large, is in many ways much smaller now. Indeed, many of us recall the sad plight of the Vietnamese boat people, and how our nation stepped up to welcome so many with open arms.

“When an event such as that is viewed through the prism of today, the complete inadequacy of our federal government’s response under Stephen Harper is both painfully obvious and profoundly disappointing. Precious few countries on this planet have the means and the wherewithal to be a safe harbour in the tempest, and yet our federal government’s response is underwhelming at best – so much so that this effectively amounts to an abdication of who we are as a nation.

It is because of this that I am appealing to my fellow Canadians to once again step up and demonstrate to the world that we are a caring and resourceful people. Get involved. Contact a local charity or non-profit that you know can facilitate refugee sponsorship, or consider sponsoring a refugee along with your friends or faith community. If you do so, know that you will be saving a life.

“In my time as a physician working in South Africa, the Philippines and Iraq, I saw firsthand the dire consequences of when public policy fails to protect people. In such times, the only thing that people have is our common humanity.

“In the past Canada has often been a leader in helping those who are fleeing persecution or violence. Together, we can make a difference again.”


Government Finally Protects Castle Area

CALGARY, AB (September 4, 2015): Dr. David Swann welcomed the government’s announcement that they would boost protections for the Castle area in southwest Alberta.

“This marks a victory of many years of work,” says Swann. “The protection of Castle area is vital to safeguarding our waterways, and I am pleased that action is being taken.”

Alberta Liberals have long advocated for better protection for the Castle area, and Swann raised this matter in a recent letter to the environment minister.

“I must offer my special congratulations to the Alberta Wilderness Association and the Bert Riggall foundation who worked tirelessly to protect this area,” says Swann. “This is a victory for Albertans.”


STATEMENT BY DAVID SWANN: CALGARY PRIDE

CALGARY, AB (September 4, 2015): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement to mark the Calgary Pride Parade:

“Diversity and inclusivity are among the greatest strengths of Alberta. This weekend, we will see these strengths on display as we celebrate the Calgary Pride Festival.

“This year, as students are returning to school, we have much to celebrate. Thanks to the efforts of Alberta Liberals, in particular former MLAs Laurie Blakeman and Kent Hehr, students in Calgary and across Alberta have a right to create Gay-Straight Alliances in any school where they may be needed.  We also repealed the homophobic section 11.1 of the Alberta Human Rights Act, which banned discussions of sexual orientation in the classroom.

“There is still work to be done to protect the LGBTQ community. In particular, it is past time to explicitly protect transgender individuals from discrimination on the basis of their gender identity or gender expression. I have written to the Minister of Justice on this matter, I will continue to advocate for these needed protections, and I call on all MLAs to support this change.

“This weekend, we celebrate. Next week, we continue with the work that is needed.”