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Alberta COVID crisis: made by Kenney

John Bell

September 18, 2021

Premier Jason Kenney is from the school of thought that denies society really exists. There are individuals, there is family, and beyond that there is only cutthroat competition among individuals corrupted by original sin.

What we call society is rule by a meritocratic elite using force to keep the inferior rabble in line and at work. The rich and powerful are because they deserve to be. The poor and oppressed are because they deserve to be. As bad as all this sounds, it is God’s will and any attempt to reform or ameliorate the harsh conditions is an affront to God.

Public services, healthcare, universal education, welfare – to Kenney these are like a splinter deep under his skin. They are “unnatural”, contrary to his twisted view of human nature. They are a constant annoyance and he has devoted his career to getting rid of them.

To understand how Kenney and his Alberta UCP government created Canada’s worst COVID 19 crisis is not that difficult. They turned their back on all science and public health recommendations. But to understand why requires a step back and a look at the man’s mindset, as unpleasant as that is.

He decided that COVID wasn’t as serious as the “experts” said, because after all it mostly killed the weak and vulnerable. But it interfered with business and could not be ignored. He and his government did the minimum for public health and concentrated on supporting business, especially the oil and gas business. 

COVID, like any other crisis, presents opportunities for government. Kenney’s UCP, like other provincial Tory regimes, granted themselves emergency powers and used them to attack teachers, rip up their contract with doctors and launch an attack on nurses’ pay and reputations. A campaign to portray nurses as greedy and overpaid, in the midst of a health crisis, was a bold move – in a twisted Jason Kenney sort of way.

He demanded a 5% wage cut and threatened to make it retroactive to before the pandemic. Nurses organized and fought back with small but significant rallies occurring on an almost daily basis. The nurses generated support for their valuable service to a society that doesn’t really exist, and received widespread solidarity from people which seems contrary to their selfish human nature. 

This is sure to have confused and demoralized Jason Kenney. As the 4th wave threatened to get out of hand, Kenney said maybe a 3% cut is enough. Then, at the beginning of September, he scrapped the pay cut entirely. However, Alberta nurses still face a pay freeze as inflation eats into their living standards. 

4th Wave

In July, in a hurry to get back to business, Kenney, his health minister Tyler Shandro, and CMO Deena Hinshaw decided not to let anything as mundane as a public health emergency get in the way of their beloved Calgary Stampede.

They declared themselves satisfied with Alberta’s rate of vaccination (65% of eligible Albertans were fully vaccinated by the end of July, the lowest in Canada). COVID was firmly under control, if not over, and 2021 was officially designated “The Best Summer Ever”.

Predictably, about 2 weeks after the Stampede, Calgary saw its number of COVID cases surge ahead of the rest of the province. The virulent Delta variant was targeting younger, healthier victims, the unvaccinated and people who insisted on attending unsafe indoor gatherings. So Kenney and Hinshaw declared that COVID was now no worse than a cold, and ended virtually all public health measures. No masks, no contact tracing, no need for isolation if you got the virus. 

All this on the eve of the return of in-person schooling.

COVID was still a problem, but it was no longer the government’s problem. And if you wanted a COVID test you could get one for a nominal fee.

In essence Kenney decided to do with COVID what he tries to do with everything – he tried to privatize it.

Public health officials and scientists were almost unanimous – the Alberta government was negligent in protecting people’s health. They predicted a runaway 4th wave when school returned, and following that the collapse of Alberta’s over-worked, under-funded health system.

Now the predictable has happened. The hospital system is stretched to capacity and triage is being used to postpone many necessary procedures. After hiding from the public eye for almost a month and a half, Jason Kenney emerged to apologize (sort of) and declare a state of emergency. Vaccination certificates, previously shunned, will now be required. Gatherings of fully vaccinated people are limited to 10 and those of the unvaccinated are prohibited. All who can should work from home. Places of worship are limited to 1/3 capacity. 

But schools are staying open, with mask requirements and cohorting.

The government of Alberta put politics and its sleazy ideology of greed and selfishness ahead of public health. As a result hundreds die unnecessarily. An average of 10 die daily from COVID. More die because their heart conditions, cancer, or other illness cannot be treated while COVID victims occupy all the hospital space.

These deaths are on Jason Kenney’s head.


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