The times, they aren't a-changin'

We get our news in arcs, like they’re little plots in our Netflix shows, and when the media cycle turns over it’s easy to feel like whatever last week’s story was has got wrapped up. And while a new season has started—the invasion of Ukraine is now center-stage on every screen—many long-running Alberta plotlines are still trudging along.

The drug poisoning crisis continues to steal Albertans away from their families at an alarming rate. Drug traffickers’ incentive to maximize profit and minimize risk under a prohibition regime has led to a drug supply that leans more and more on dangerously potent substances like carfentanil and adulterants users aren’t expecting, like benzodiazepines. But Alberta’s UCP government is ideologically opposed to admitting that these poisonings are a distinct problem on top of addiction, Ben Mussett reports in the Tyee this week. The UCP have formed yet another panel which harm reduction activists say is stacked to reach the UCP’s desired outcome. Clients of AHS’s injectable opioid agonist program, which provides medicine like methadone to manage severe addictions, are fighting the Alberta government in court over threats to defund the program.

COVID-19 is still here, and active infections have yet to get down below the rate they were last October, but Kenney is pushing to do away with infection control measures anyway. Some of Alberta’s municipalities, including Edmonton, disagreed—so Kenney is legislating away their right to make their own mask bylaws. Vaccines have proven extremely effective in preventing death, but it doesn’t seem as though there are many folks left out there who are going to change their minds about them. And while there are a host of measures we could layer on top of vaccines to fight COVID better, like paid sick leave or more funding for protections in schools, the provincial government has no interest in them. The Alberta government announced Tuesday that they are doing away with AHS’s vaccine mandate in order to allow unvaccinated people to work in hospitals and health care facilities.

Police brutality and concerns around police accountability continue to be problems in Alberta’s cities. In Calgary, police responding to a call about a man with an alleged weapon turned a police dog on Latjor Tuel, then shot him four times and killed him when he allegedly “attacked the dog.” Tuel, who endured traumatic abuse as a youth in South Sudan, was suffering from a mental health crisis and posed no threat, say his family.

In Edmonton, police opened fire on a man accused of robbery while he stood in front of an apartment downtown and killed both that man and a resident inside the building with stray fire. Tension is mounting between the police service and a city council that has turned out to be more critical of EPS than former administrations. Those councilors weren’t impressed to find out that EPS had a secret plane council hadn’t heard of. The president of the police ‘union,’ the EPA, filed an ethics complaint (shot down by the ethics commissioner last Monday) that has locals asking whether the police maintain a blacklist of local critics.

Jason Kenney’s internal UCP drama is jerking the government around more than ever. Bitter divisions in the party are deepening as the party’s annual general meeting, on April 9 in Red Deer, approaches. Brian Jean, whose plan appears to be making the UCP even worse, is ready to pounce on him. Kenney’s own MLAs are showing up at planning meetings to take him down.

And all but the last of these problems are likely to get pushed back under the proverbial rug this week as media attention turns towards the looming UCP AGM circus. In a fit of journalistic recklessness, radio stations 630 CHED and 770 CHQR have decided to give Jason Kenney his own weekly program to campaign from, starting March 12. So you may not get the health care you need this month, or a safe workplace, or help with your surging food or utility bills, but more than ever, you’ll have the Jason Kenney Show.


And a quick word from Jim

Well, all of these words have been from Jim, but this is about Jim. The Progress Report email newsletter has been on hiatus since January while I’ve been struggling with my health. Like thousands of people in this province, I’m stuck waiting for surgery that I needed over a year ago. Life with half-completed intestinal surgery isn’t very good.

I’m grateful for your patience while I got my mental health in order, and I hope that our other content including the Progress Report podcast and the reporting and analysis on our blog has been able to tide you over in my absence. The Progress Report email newsletter will resume regular publication next week.

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