Too little. Too late.
It’s a turn of phrase we hear every week in Jason Kenney’s Alberta. Experts warned Kenney’s “Open for Summer” plan was dangerous. Within weeks evidence was showing this and with each passing week, that evidence mounted. The evidence was ignored by Dr. Hinshaw and the UCP and now our healthcare is on the precipice of collapse.
The measures announced this week to lessen the spread of the COVID virus are certainly better than the status quo but they are far from enough. Even now Kenney, Shandro and Dr. Hinshaw are pulling their punches in the fight against COVID. There are gaping holes in this plan on critical issues like enforcement and the spread of COVID through schools.
The effectiveness of new public health measures is being diminished by confusing and muddled language. One example is the new vaccine passport being euphemistically called a “restrictions exemption program” which appears to be used simply to avoid accusations of a political flip flop Kenney. Creating more confusion for the tiniest amount of political gain shows just how petty and self-centred this government is. The changes Kenney and the UCP have re-instituted continues his hands-off approach, turning businesses into the gate-keepers and rule-enforcers, rather than the government taking a clear and bold position, as a competent leader would.
These new measures are also further undermined by the complete lack of trust Albertans have in this government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health. How can you trust a government this indecisive and this inconsistent? The incompetence demonstrated isn’t just causing distrust in the vaccine-hesitant. I’m hearing from vaccinated Albertans that they no longer know which public health orders to follow and which to ignore because they simply can’t trust what Dr. Hinshaw is recommending.
The biggest betrayal of trust has been Kenney’s near-complete refusal to accept responsibility for Alberta’s state of peril. While Kenney did apologize in Wednesday's press conference, it’s not clear exactly what he's sorry for. That might be because he spent the next hour explaining all the ways the situation was not his fault, going so far as to say he was right to lift all restrictions in July. This is a man who will make these exact mistakes again. And again.
Kenney has laid bare the truth of what hardline conservatism is: stubborn, careless and reckless. Alberta and the world are in a time of change. COVID-19 is just a warm-up for tackling the challenges of climate change and a rapidly evolving economy. What we are seeing in Alberta is the failure of conservative ideology on full display. Hardline conservatives cannot solve big problems, they cannot keep people safe and they will not put facts and evidence first. Now more than ever we need to embrace evidence-based policy and cooperative politics. It’s critical we all remember that on Monday when we cast our vote. Alberta has been deeply damaged by one conservative government. We cannot afford another.
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