Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs (SACPA)



Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs (SACPA) was founded in 1968. It is an independent forum, moderated by volunteers, meeting Thursdays at noon some 40 weeks a year and at occasional special evening sessions, to debate local, provincial, national, and international issues of concern to the residents of Lethbridge and Southern Alberta.


  • The Need for More Voices in the Public Sphere for Albertans


    Join Acting Leader Jacquie Fenske of the Alberta Party for a conversation about the need for a choice in Alberta politics. The speaker will discuss what doing politics differently really means, grassroots politics, and the state of the Alberta Party. Speaker: Jacquie Fenske – Acting Leader of the Alberta Party Jacquie Fenske is the Acting Leader of the Alberta Party. She previously served as a PC MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville, and as a Strathcona County Councilor. She is a managing partner for the family business, Fifendekel Pie Shop Café. Date and time: Thursday May 6, 2021 at 10:00 am MST YouTube Live link: In order to ask questions of our speaker in the chat feature of YouTube, you must have a YouTube account and be signed in. Please do so well ahead of the scheduled start time, so you’ll be ready. Go to the YouTube Live link provided in this session flyer and on the top right of your browser click the “sign in” button. If you have Google or Gm

  • Post Pandemic Recovery: What are the Main Issues Facing Alberta?


    Alberta is arguably in the midst of a generational economic shift as we face the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Looking ahead to the post-pandemic recovery, what should Albertans expect from their Government with regards to the serious economic challenges we face as a province. Alberta's government recently tabled Budget 2021 during this public health and economic crisis that has led to reduced revenue and increased costs. The speaker will argue that this budget is a responsible approach to spending, while creating more investment in priority areas like health care and job creation. As the COVID pandemic continues to affect all Albertans, the budget provides for key funding to healthcare and education as well as investments in Alberta's natural resources, tech and farming sectors beyond COVID-19. Speaker: Nathan Neudorf, Alberta MLA for Lethbridge East Constituency Nathan Neudorf was elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Lethbridge-East on April 16, 2019. Nathan currently cha

  • Public Consultation and Alberta Politics: What’s Going On?


    The fate of liberal democratic governments hinges importantly on building and sustaining political support for their agenda. Public consultation is one tool governments may use to secure this support. Public consultation, a very broad concept, may be regarded generally as the effort political and government leaders make, to seek input or comments from non-governmental actors. Consultations may be more or less inclusive, more or less wide-ranging. They may solicit the opinions of the public generally or only of selected stakeholders (individuals or groups with a particularly important interest or concern in an issue). Public consultation also is risky. Governments may not receive the feedback they expect or would like to receive from whatever version of the public they consult. For this reason, governments may be tempted to shape consultation processes in ways privileging their preferred policy approaches. This presentation will focus on the government’s public consultation approach regarding the developmen

  • The Wildrose Independence Party: What is their Vision for Alberta?


    With Alberta running an $18 billion deficit in its 2021-22 budget and more than $100 billion in accumulated debt, it appears obvious that fiscal changes are needed – spending cuts or revenue increases or both? The speaker will argue fundamental changes are needed and that his Wildrose Independence Party (WIP) plan to be a strong contender in Alberta’s next provincial election. Should they gain power, WIP would assert Alberta’s independence and redefine its relationship with Canada, create a “Constitution of Alberta” and affirm all individual freedoms and rights. An Alberta Police Force, an Alberta Revenue Agency, an Alberta Pension/Employment Insurance Plan, and an Alberta Immigration policy would be established. Under the guidance of WIP, Alberta would refine its own Environmental policies while continuing to develop and transport our natural resources responsibly. New trade agreements with other provinces and nations would be prioritized, as would improved access to immediate and high quality health care

  • Current Challenges for Alberta’s and Canada’s Farmers


    Agriculture is an important sector of Canada’s economy supplying the much larger food production and processing industries. The Alberta Federation of Agriculture is Alberta's largest producer funded general farm organization. It is an organization comprised of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural enterprises that wish to have a voice in shaping the future of farming operations. Unlike many other farm organizations, there are no check-offs. Nearly 85% of the money raised each year comes from membership and membership services. There are many challenges facing Alberta’s and Canada’s farmers. Among the topics that will be covered include research and funding, carbon tax, business risk management, Ag Stability changes, Canadian Grain Act review, seed modernization, and rail road crossings. Speaker: Mr. Lynn Jacobson, President, Alberta Federation of Agriculture Mr. Jacobson’s farm is located in Enchant Ab, mostly irrigated. He is a board member of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. He

  • Coal Dust, Wind and Human Health: What are the Risks of Open-Pit Coal Mining in Southwest Alberta?


    Everyone living in Southern Alberta are familiar with our winds. Those residing in “Chinook Country” have heard Environment Canada’s frequent wind warnings, particularly between November to April. It would follow then, that Benga Mining Ltd (Riversdale) would, as part of their application, have completed comprehensive and accurate assessments of wind speed, dust particle size etc., as part of their Environmental Impact Assessment for their Grassy Mountain Open-Pit coal mining proposal. But have they? The speaker will argue Benga’s Environmental Impact Assessment contains flaws and inaccuracies in methodology and the time-frame of data collection. This resulted in underestimating the amount and movement of micro dust particles and the distance micro and larger dust particles would be carried by the winds, resulting in errors in the data of Environmental Impact Assessment submissions. Finally, the speaker will discuss the research on short and long-term health outcomes for people living in communities cl

  • LAUGH UNTIL IT HELPS! If you can laugh at it, you can survive it!


    The Science is in! What you always knew instinctively to be true, laughter and play have been proven to be beneficial to your health. Laughter and play activate your immune system and increases your energy for getting well and maintaining health! When we talk about stress, usually we focus on our tight muscles, aching heads and sleeplessness. Yet, the speaker advocates that what we really should be concerned about, is our breathing. The act of laughter is the science of breathing. In times of stress, we take shallower breaths; therefore, we take in less oxygen. The longer we feel anxious, the longer our body is going to be operating without its optimal supply of air. Over time, this weakens the immune system, opening the door to all sorts of problems. Ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, peptic ulcers and insomnia all have some connection to stress. The speaker asks “when was the last time you really laughed out loud? How about at least a good chuckle? Do you play every day?” If you can’t

  • The People’s Party of Canada: What is their Vision for Canada – and Alberta?


    Freedom, Responsibility, Fairness and Respect are the principles that guide and inform the policies of the People’s Party of Canada (PPC). The speaker will contend that we must bring together common sense, populism, classical conservatism, and libertarianism to create solutions adapted for the challenges of the 21st century. The mission of PPC is to offer Canadians a real principled alternative to the current establishment parties, which arguably rely on pandering and vote-buying schemes to further their interests and those of lobbyists rather than those of the people. The PPC envisions a bright future where the government puts Canadians first instead of pleasing other countries and global organizations. The PPC believes the government has to get out of the way and allow individuals to make decisions rather than controlling the economy and every aspect of your life. The balance of power and jurisdiction between Ottawa and the provinces are constant sources for internal squabbling. The speaker will detail

  • Policing in Challenging Times


    These are challenging times for the world, and law enforcement agencies are not exempt from the taxing circumstances or the growing expectations of the community, whether that’s from a global or local perspective. Under greater scrutiny than perhaps ever before, policing in 2021 presents numerous potential perils which must be safely navigated. In his presentation, ‘Policing in Challenging Times’, the speaker will discuss the many and varied challenges facing the Lethbridge Police Service, ranging from the opioid crisis and resulting spin-offs, to policing during a pandemic and dealing with budget constraints in the face of rising crime rates. The discussion will also include both internal and external means to tackle those challenges. Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh will open his presentation by outlining the journey which brought him to a leadership role with the Lethbridge Police Service (LPS). Speaker: Shahin Mehdizadeh, Lethbridge Police Chief Sworn in as the Lethbridge Chief of Police in

  • Private health care for Alberta: efficiency, effectiveness and equity?


    The question of the role of the private sector in providing health care in Canada is both complex and politically charged. In this presentation, Dr. McCabe will seek to separate out issues of fact from issues of value and explore the importance of each in assessing the impact of different potential models of private health care in the Canadian context. Speaker:Dr. Christopher McCabe CEO & Executive Director of the Institute of Health Economics (IHE). Dr. McCabe brings more than 25 years of experience as a health economist to his role with the organization. He trained and worked for 20 years in the UK before emigrating to Canada. During this time, he held Full Professorships at the Universities of Sheffield, Warwick and Leeds. He was more recently a Professor of Health Economics at the University of Alberta, where he was appointed Capital Health Endowed Research Chair at the University of Alberta. In this position he led two Genome Canada funded research groups focused on the evaluation, adop

  • Why we need insects and spiders, which of them are declining, and which moving in.


    Insects and spiders matter to us because of their enormous contributions to ecosystems, including in food webs, for pollination, enjoyment, and pest control. Some set back agriculture and forestry, and can harm health of humans, livestock, and wildlife. Some species seem to be in decline, or are being replaced. We will see examples of the lives of insects and spiders in our area, including some that are worthy of conservation. Citizen science participation and personal interest expressed by the public and students is an important part. Speaker: Dan Johnson (BSc, Sask; MSc, PhD, UBC, Institute of Animal Resource Ecology & Department of Plant Science) Bio: Dan promotes public understanding of science, especially about ecosystems and biodiversity. He conducts research on weather and life, sustainable crop protection, entomology, and environment. As a Professor at the University of Lethbridge, he has taught environmental science, including in the First Nations Transition Program, data analysis, experimental

  • How are Post-Secondary Students Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic?


    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many challenges for post-secondary students. Despite the flexibility, support and hard work of professors to create an engaging online learning experience, the change to at-home learning has been very difficult for some students. Isolation and uncertainty have affected the mental health of numerous others. Many students lost jobs, co-op, and internship experiences in 2020, affecting their financial sustainability, career development, and progress to complete their academic programs. In short, the very important public health requirements required to protect the health and safety of the University community have limited or drastically changed many aspects of the student experience that are so fundamental to students’ growth, development, and sense of connection. Whether it’s making new friends on campus, participating in research, conferences, club activities, or being involved in sport, the well-known pre-pandemic transformative experience has given way to something less fu

  • Sustainable Farming: What role can Biogas Production Play in Reducing CO2 Emissions?


    Biogas production is essentially an industrial stomach which converts organic waste into usable fuel. Biogas is 60% methane and is used to fuel powerful engines that drives generators producing 24/7 100% renewable electricity. This electricity can be used by the producer or sold into the Alberta Electricity Grid through AESO. Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) is arguably the green gas of tomorrow and is the most efficient means of converting organics into renewable energy. Once biogas is upgraded to RNG, it is interchangeable with Natural Gas and can be injected into local gas grids and used for generating electricity or vehicle fueling. Biogas plants can process a wide array of organic waste materials from the food industry and agricultural residues including deadstock and manure. In the food industry business sector, anaerobic digestion offers significant cost advantages over traditional disposal methods, both to waste management companies and producers alike. The speaker will explain the lengthy regulatory p

  • Alberta’s Future: A Virtual Conversation with Rachel Notley


    Alberta is in the midst of a generational economic shift as we face the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we look ahead to the post-pandemic recovery, it is time for Albertans to come together to overcome the economic challenges we face as a province. Join Rachel Notley for a conversation about how we can create a new economic strategy and build a more resilient and diversified economy in Alberta. Speaker: Rachel Notley, MLA and Leader of the Official Opposition in Alberta Rachel Notley served as Alberta’s Premier from 2015-2019. She has represented the constituency of Edmonton-Strathcona since 2008. Rachel grew up in Fairview, Alberta, and is the daughter of former Alberta NDP leader Grant Notley and his wife Sandy. She holds a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of Alberta, and a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. Date and time: Thursday, February 18, 2021 at 10am MST YouTube Live link: In order to ask questions of our speaker in the chat f

  • Coal Mining in the Oldman River Watershed: What is happening and what are the long-term impacts?


    There is significant interest in establishing metallurgical coal mining operations throughout the eastern slopes of Alberta. The areas residing within the Oldman watershed are no exception. Currently, there are four companies exploring potential mining operations in the region. All of the currently proposed coal mines are open-pit “mountain top removal” mines and are located in the Crowsnest Pass area. Coal mining exploration is also happening along the Livingstone Range and in the Bighorn area west of Red Deer. On May 15, 2020, the Government of Alberta announced it was rescinding the long-standing provincial Coal Policy, which was implemented by the Peter Lougheed Government in 1976. Since then, Crown coal rights have been sold on land where coal mining was previously not considered, in order to protect the watershed and wildlife. Coal companies are currently building roads and drilling exploratory holes to better understand the value of the coal to their business. Of the four companies currently expl

  • COVID-19 Vaccines: Are there any reasons to be concerned about efficacy and long-term safety?


    As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths (currently near 100 million and over 2 million respectively) continues to rise around the globe, health-care systems are being put under extreme stress and the need for effective vaccines, with enough supplies for everyone, is crucial. The response must be global because this virus will keep circulating in countries without a vaccine, giving it the opportunity to mutate, completely change its structure and possibly come back as a new strain of virus. Sadly, mutations have already occurred, but the good news is, some very effective vaccines are currently being administered in many countries, Canada included. Several other vaccines are in the final stages of pre-clinical trials. The challenge remains however, how to make vaccines widely available throughout the world. Vaccine manufactures Moderna and Pfizer for example, uses “messenger” RNA (mRNA) as ingredients, but at this stage, the long-term effects of those vaccines, if any, aren’t known. As well, during the ur

  • Setting a Broad Table of Energy and the Environment: How there has to be a merger of the two in order to be successful


    With the November 3, 2020 US election resulting in Joe Biden being elected President and the Democrats gaining control of both houses of Congress, what are the likely implications for Alberta’s Energy Sector? The new President and Administration has signaled we can expect changes to US Environmental policy and to the approval process of Keystone XL Pipeline, but what does that mean for energy rich Alberta? The speaker will analyze the questions and argue that a more collaborative approach will return on issues of mutual concern, continuing the strong Canada US relationship benefits that Alberta’s Energy sector rely on. Speaker: Gary G. Mar, Q.C. President and CEO. Canada West Foundation (CWF) Gary Mar was named President & CEO of CWF in April 2020. An accomplished & respected leader, Gary brings deep experience in government & business, & established expertise in CWF’s key policy areas in natural resources, trade & investment & human capital. Prior to joining the CWF, Gary served as Preside

  • The Corporate interests and -ideologies shaping Alberta's universities: What do they mean for our future?


    The speaker asserts that: “If ever there were a time for universities to assume a leadership role in providing the knowledge needed for socio-ecological change, this is surely that moment.” But what drives research and innovation in Alberta’s largest universities, and in what directions? What kinds of knowledge are our universities producing to help Albertans make a transition to a post-carbon economy that can provide income security and a good life for all? These are the questions that motivated the research that led to the June 2020 report, Knowledge for an Ecologically Sustainable Future? Innovation Policy and Alberta Universities, published by the Parkland Institute and the Corporate Mapping Project. Over five years, painstaking data collection from multiple sources allowed Adkin and her research assistants to reconstruct a picture of the funding flows to the Universities of Alberta and Calgary over a period of twenty years. Focusing on funding to the domains of energy and environmental research, located

  • Rioters storming the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021: A Wodehousian Putsch Against the Madisonian Constitution?


    On January 6, 2021, rioters supporting United States President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election stormed the United States Capitol. After breaching multiple police perimeters, they damaged, ransacked, and occupied parts of the building for several hours. The storming led to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol building, and it disrupted a joint session of Congress assembled to count the electoral votes and formalize Joe Biden's election victory for President. The rioters gathered in support of Trump's false claims that the 2020 election had been "stolen" from him. Summoned by Trump, thousands of his supporters gathered in Washington, D.C., on January 5 and 6 to demand that Vice President Mike Pence and Congress reject Biden's victory. On the morning of January 6, protesters assembled near the White House for a "Save America" rally. At the rally, Trump himself, Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani among others, addressed the crowd. Trump encouraged his suppo

  • Agrifood Trade and Export: Is there a Growing Market for Canadian Farm Produce?


    Canada has traditionally been a major exporter of both agricultural commodities, technology, equipment and food. Yet, in many ways, Canada’s position in global food exports indicates good potential for growth. In 2019, Canada ranked fifth among global commodity exporters and 11th in food. As the world’s population expands and especially the portion of it that is “middle class” grows, demand for better quality and higher-priced food will climb, which in turn creates opportunities for Canada to increase exports both to meet this need directly and to meet the technology and equipment needs for others who will also be increasing production to meet increased demand The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the global food industry and highlighted the importance of a robust agrifood supply chain at home and abroad. Canada’s competitive advantage in agriculture and food production are very relevant with abundant natural resources, productivity, innovative entrepreneurs and a well-established food safety reputation. Th

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