Cartoon by Krahnicle: September 17, 2021
“Criminal incompetence” was the term used by a senior UCP member today.
“If these guys were running a business, they would all be fired for it,” the curator said.
It has been over a year and a half since COVID-19 began to roam the coasts of Canada.
Governments overreacted at the time with draconian lockdowns and other mandatory restrictions. This initial overreaction could have been forgiven. Little was known about the virus, and the Chinese Communist Party jailed doctors and journalists who tried to speak out. As far as we knew, it was the apocalyptic bug of our worst Hollywood nightmares.
It turned out that was not the case. It was serious, but it was not the Spanish flu that we feared. This may have been excessive caution, but not entirely unwarranted in the circumstances.
But the actions of the Government of Alberta since are more than excusable.
“Two weeks to flatten the curve” was the mantra.
It is now more than likely that we will soon be entering ‘two years to flatten the curve’.
Prime Minister Jason Kenney admirably acknowledged some of the mistakes of the first lockdown, such as shutting down most independent retailers while allowing big box stores to continue with only a slight hiatus. As summer 2020 approaches and cases drop, he ended the lockdown and eased restrictions to more or less tolerable levels.
And then the fall of 2020 was approaching. As the regular flu season progressed, so did an increase in COVID-19 cases. NDP Leader Rachel Notley called for a return to lockdown and weeks later Kenney did just that.
It was containment number 2.
A majority of Albertans supported her at the time, but some resisted, including a teenager who was assaulted by incompetent police officers for the offense of playing hockey.
“I’ll fuck you!” Was heard as the outlaw tried to skate away from the crime scene.
This lasted throughout Christmas, with the government banning most family members from visiting loved ones during the holidays. That is, unless you’ve traveled to sunny destinations with no restrictions, as a significant number of MPs, staff, and a UCP minister have done.
If we are going to mark a time when the government has lost its moral authority, we can draw a straight line from this event. It was at this point that Kenney and his government began to lose the plot.
Several refusing congregations have refused to close their churches or follow other orders of government. Their pastors were arrested and jailed, while police raided churches and took control. Real stuff from the free world.
In May, a rebel farmer near Bowden, Alta. organized a “No More Lockdowns Rodeo” in defiance of the government.
Shortly after, Kenney told his caucus, “If they are our base, I want a new base,” according to several MPs in attendance.
More than a dozen UCP constituency associations have passed a special resolution demanding a leadership review before Kenney leads them to the pass by having his review scheduled shortly before the 2023 election.
Then 17 UCP MPs signed an open letter criticizing Kenney’s handling of COVID-19 and demanded an end to the lockdowns and restrictions. Caucus members told the Western standard at the time, the prime minister threatened the rebels with early elections if they did not line up.
It was a clear sign that Kenney was losing his iron grip on the caucus.
Then on May 31, MP Todd Loewen called for Kenney’s resignation and was joined in his appeal by fellow MP Dave Hanson. Kenney responded by firing Loewen, alongside troublemaker Drew Barnes. Members of the caucus told us they thought the vote was close, but the actual tally was never revealed. At least for them.
It was a political bloodbath, with a serious revolt against Kenney’s leadership on the march.
The uprising gathered momentum days later, when photos of Kenney, Environment Minister Jason Nixon, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Finance Minister Travis Toews – along with an assortment of members staff – were illegally dined on the Sky Palace rooftop terrace in clear violation of their own rules.
The uprising threatened to spiral out of control, until Kenney announced on May 26 that all restrictions would be lifted in stages. By July 1, Alberta would be “Open for Summer ™”.
In fact, it would be the “Best Summer Ever ™”.
The Conservatives were so confident in this that they sold merchandise with the jovial slogan plastered on the hats.
The rebels in the caucus weren’t very happy campers, but that more or less silenced them. The caucus revolt was dead.
At one point in August, a man approached the Prime Minister at what appeared to be a Stampede rally, surreptitiously recording their conversation.
“It’s open for good. Open for good, ”Kenney said to the man.
“I swear to God,” Kenney said, making the sign of the cross.
On September 2, Notley asked Kenney to reinstate forced masking and impose a mandatory vaccination passport. In no time, Kenney followed the NDP leader’s request for masking, but not on vaccine passports.
For good measure, the government made it illegal to serve beer or alcohol after 10 pm because hey, you left me stumped there.
The number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise this fall, just like last fall. They will likely come down again when the weather warms up in 2022.
The capacities of hospitals and intensive care are in great strain.
But how is this possible? How come after a year and a half of COVID-19 as an overwhelming government priority and massive amounts of money borrowed to pay for increased spending, and 70% of the population now vaccinated, that our system is health care providers have the capacity to handle a relatively predictable increase in cases?
How is it possible that after the suffering, sacrifice and toil endured by Albertans since March 2020, Alberta is back in yet another lockdown, starting Friday.
Oh yeah, that would be lockdown number 3.
The UCP caucus is bitterly divided on whether to return to blockages or impose mandatory vaccine passports.
Caucus sources tell the Western standard that three MPPs openly said they had “no confidence” in Kenney’s continued premier and leadership roles during their emergency meeting on Tuesday.
Much of the caucus is on the warpath against Kenney who broke his word that Alberta was “Open for Good ™”.
Other caucus members, like Leela Aheer, blatantly criticize the Prime Minister for botching everything by reopening too early in their minds.
Kenney tried to straddle both sides of the fence from the start, with predictable inconsistent results.
Mandatory vaxers and lockdowners are furious at what they perceive to be Kenney’s inaction and weak leadership. Refusniks and anti-lockdowns are also furious at the Prime Minister’s overreaction and weak leadership.
The result is that Alberta will enter its second year to flatten the curve, with no end in sight.
Derek Fildebrandt is editor of Western Standard