This column is an opinion from Graham Thomson, an award-winning journalist who has lined Alberta politics for greater than 30 years.
As Alberta continues to publish the worst per-capita COVID-19 numbers in North America, Premier Jason Kenney has launched a circuit breaker.
A political circuit breaker, that’s. Not a COVID lockdown circuit breaker, as beneficial by docs.
Kenney’s sudden and unilateral choice to close down the work of the legislative meeting for at the very least two weeks won’t seize you as important. It’s.
Kenney has made a degree previously COVID-filled 12 months of retaining the legislature open and the MLAs sitting for extra days than another provincial meeting. Final 12 months, Kenney really referenced the British Parliament working throughout the blitz when bombs have been falling on London.
“The work of democracy doesn’t finish in a disaster,” declared Kenney.
Except, that’s, Kenney is dealing with a political disaster. In that case, it is lock the doorways, head to the bomb shelter and begin up the press-release machine.
“The federal government has decided that having MLAs return to Edmonton from everywhere in the province after constituency week is now not prudent,” stated authorities Home chief Jason Nixon. “Suspending proceedings is the suitable factor to do as case counts enhance.”
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“Prudent” will not be the primary phrase that popped into NDP Chief Rachel Notley’s head when she discovered Sunday that the sitting wouldn’t resume on Monday.
“He is a coward,” stated Notley. “This premier has locked the individuals out of their very own legislature at a time when they’re seemingly trying greater than ever to that very constructing, and the individuals operating the federal government inside it, for management.”
For Kenney, operating from Notley might be the higher a part of valour. Or, maybe, it is merely higher to be thought a idiot throughout a pandemic than flip up for query interval and take away all doubt.
Kenney’s troubles do not cease with Notley.
He’s embroiled in a steadily rising disaster the place 18 of his personal caucus members have publicly criticized his COVID-related restrictions, UCP members have known as for a management evaluation and a latest opinion ballot performed for the CBC signifies the NDP would seemingly win an election if held immediately.
Kenney is caught in a political battle of curiosity the place the individuals most certainly to flout the legislation and maintain protest rodeos are rural Albertans with a robust libertarian streak. In different phrases, Kenney supporters. And Kenney is loath to antagonize them additional with extra restrictions.
However his resolve appears to be cracking as he telegraphed his intent on Monday to impose extra restrictions this week.
Suspending the work of the legislature does not finish his disaster but it surely does give Kenney some respiration room. It means he avoids operating the each day gauntlet of query interval the place he’s pummelled each day by Notley who simply may need the best job in Canadian politics: opposition chief to Kenney throughout a public well being emergency.
In holding Kenney to account, Notley is armed not solely with Alberta’s abysmal COVID-19 numbers but additionally Kenney’s confused and, at occasions, hypocritical response to the emergency.
On Monday, he admitted that Alberta’s mounting COVID numbers point out the province has an issue with non-compliance. He steered that is as a result of the province has a youthful inhabitants oblivious to the hazard.
Hmm. May I recommend it is as a result of he’s permitting 18 members of his caucus to brazenly criticize COVID-19 measures?
Or possibly it is as a result of a whole lot of Albertans held a “no extra lockdowns” protest rodeo in Bowden final weekend and Kenney did little however ship out some sternly worded tweets telling individuals, by golly, to “smarten up.”
For months Kenney has downplayed the danger of transmission in colleges and resisted pleas from academics to get them vaccinated. On Monday, Kenney introduced academics and others in touch with college students might get a jab beginning Tuesday.
It was the suitable motion to take however Kenney is loath to confess he made a mistake by not performing sooner.
Additionally on Monday, he accused others of enjoying the “blame recreation” with COVID-19 after which a mere breath later threw shade on the federal authorities for not closing the border to worldwide travellers sooner.
Kenney can not seem to assist himself.
He’s continuously looking out for enemies inside Alberta and outdoors.
However the largest enemy is staring him within the face — each time he seems to be within the mirror.