The Friday Focus is a weekly blog post from Interim Leader John Roggeveen. It covers some of the pressing political issues of the week.
With reckless abandon
March 1st saw Jason Kenney roll back nearly all protective measures in Alberta. This is a rushed and potentially dangerous move by the Premier. Like most Albertans, I want to see a return to normal. However, that's only possible in the long term with a diligent and evidence-based strategy.
Looking at the recent numbers, progress has stalled. Both hospitalizations and COVID-related deaths are no longer dropping. Before further weakening protective restrictions, the UCP should have waited for these numbers to decrease significantly. The last two waves have taught Albertans that rushing headlong into easing the preventive health measures can result in greater harm and require even more restrictions in the long run. Sadly, Jason Kenney and the UCP haven't learned the same lesson.
Kenney Knows Best
This week also saw Premier Kenney forcing municipalities to lift mask bylaws. At the start of the pandemic, Kenney claimed to defer to municipalities on COVID issues, citing the importance of local decision-makers. Now he’s undermining those same local leaders to suit his political agenda.
Kenney and the UCP’s lack of respect for municipal autonomy isn’t new. Time and again, this government revokes power from and cuts funding to municipal governments. Local leaders need the freedom and tools to address problems in their communities. And he isn’t stopping at municipal autonomy. He is also pushing to overrule the standards for health care workers set by supposedly-independent Alberta Health Services.
This week Canada imposed sanctions against Russia and Russian oligarchs. I fully support our federal government taking these and other moves to support Ukraine against Russia's brutal and unjustifiable invasion. But the federal government shouldn’t be left to act alone. The provincial government can and should take action. In coordination with the federal government, Alberta should explore ways to use our constitutional jurisdiction over property and civil rights to amplify federal efforts to stop the Ukraine invasion by pressuring Russian oligarchs. Democracy and freedom demand we do our part to end this war.