Political discourse in Alberta kicked off very tediously this week with the Premier trying to pick a fight about trucks. The question of whether Canada’s city-dwellers really need all those F-150s popped up in Passage, a left-wing online publication, last week, and Fox News in the United States picked it up as something to holler about for a few days. And so the Premier ended up hollering about it too.
It’s a safe bet that when Jason Kenney is pivoting to the culture war there’s something real he’d prefer you not be paying attention to. This week, it’s worrying COVID numbers in Alberta, especially out of Calgary. Late last Friday afternoon AHS reported that the R value (an estimate of how many other people each person with COVID infects, on average) was holding steady above 1 and the virus was making gains again. Monday and Tuesday’s data is continuing the trend.
Robson Fletcher, a data journalist with CBC Calgary, provides daily visualizations like these of Alberta’s COVID stats on his Twitter account
The good news is that with much of the population vaccinated, if there is a fourth wave, it at least won’t get so large that our hospitals are driven to full capacity, like they were during the last one. But that’s cold comfort to the people who do catch a virus that we really should have had under control by now, and I don’t think it will be very satisfying for those of us who are just sick and tired of this pandemic and Alberta’s failure to clean it up, either. As I’m writing this, only 54% of the population has been fully vaccinated. 46% of 4 million Albertans is an awful lot of people to be putting at risk.
For the Premier a fourth wave originating in Calgary would be extremely politically damaging. It was Jason Kenney, after all, who pushed for not just the Calgary Stampede but a relaxation of infection control protocols across the province. If COVID infections spike again this week, it’s Jason Kenney who will have to wear it, and rightfully so.
In the context of rising violence against racialized people in Alberta—particularly a series of attacks against Muslim women—Justice Minister Kaycee Madu is proposing that the federal government relax the law so that everyone can arm themselves with pepper spray. Local police are warning that they do not think this is a very good idea. I do not think that arming people and telling them to handle things themselves is a very appropriate response to racist violence either, especially considering that the aggressors would have access to the same weapons. Dr. Muna Saleh and Haiqa Cheema will be guests on the Progress Report podcast tomorrow to discuss this proposal from the perspective of the people who are presently under threat.
The federal government is offering to go halfsies in establishing $10-a-day universal daycare in Alberta, but Jason Kenney isn’t interested. The UCP are proposing a much more meagre plan that will offer $125 a month child care subsidies to certain families. The subsidy amounts to a mere fraction of what families would save under the $10-a-day plan.
- Citing cost overruns, the owners of the Calgary Flames have squeezed another $12.5 million out of the city for their arena.
Will the Jeff Davison campaign eat a fine for violating election fundraising law? Probably not, but it really ought to. Davison’s campaign manager was caught soliciting big corporate donations, a blatant violation of Alberta’s election laws, and a complaint to Elections Alberta is in but Davison denies any wrongdoing. Davison and his key ally Steve Allan promoted the event, a big-ticket brunch and golf day to be held on Thursday, yet when contacted by Global News Davison claimed he had no knowledge of it.
Speaking of Steve Allan—the leaked draft of Allan’s inquiry into “anti-Alberta” environmentalists is not going over well with, well, pretty much anyone. Up on the Progress Report site we are aggregating all of the responses from environmental groups targeted by the inquiry.
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