Alberta set a new daily record for COVID-19 yesterday, with 1,105 confirmed new cases reported over the previous 24 hours.
No fear, though. Apparently the worst of the pandemic is already behind us!
Leastways, that cheerful message has been showing up in mailboxes in Alberta's Banff-Kananaskis riding, courtesy of Miranda Rosin, the area's young United Conservative Party MLA.
According to a circular mailed to constituents by Rosin, circa 25, "with the worst of the COVID-19 health pandemic behind us, it is critical that we take a confident and optimistic step forward into our future as a province."
Of course, there's precious little evidence for this assertion. On the contrary, in addition to the record 1,105 new cases posted yesterday, eight more people died from COVID-19 in the same time period, and there are now well over 10,000 active cases in the province.
People who pay attention to infectious diseases expect the number of infections to continue soaring -- especially with the Christmas and New Year's holidays still ahead of us and strong resistance to public safety measures by many Albertans.
The per capita infection rate in Alberta is now the highest in Canada, almost double Ontario's and on a par with Quebec's. As of July 16, Alberta's infection rate was almost five times higher than British Columbia's -- where sweeping measures to control the virus, including mandatory masks in all indoor shopping spaces, have just been announced.
B.C. hasn't closed the border to Alberta yet, but some of the UCP's nuttier supporters are already threatening to bust through the barricades if the coastal dippers dare. Alert readers will recall that such folks, not so long ago, were screeching about the need to close the border to goods and services going the other way if we didn't get our pipeline to the sea.
It's hard to say if Rosin actually believes what she wrote, or had written for her. If she does, she can't be paying much attention. If she doesn't, she's certainly being highly irresponsible given the current circumstances.
Rosin, a former member of the UCP's ludicrous "fair deal" panel, is not a complete stranger to controversy. Recently, she was in hot water for reassuring a constituent the UCP would never think of opening COVID "concentration camps" -- while adding on social media that if such rumours were true, "those are being set up by the federal government and not us."
As for her boss, Premier Jason Kenney seems unmoved in his determination not to see Alberta impose anything resembling a lockdown on the province's supposedly responsible population. He just keeps telling us Albertans that he expects us to knock it off and quit socializing, otherwise he's going to have to close the bars or something.
Well, nothing could be worse than that. According to Kenney -- channelled by Rick Bell, the premier's favourite columnist and practically the poet laureate of the UCP -- closing bars would all but tip Alberta into becoming a police state!
"We're not going to turn Alberta into a police state," the dinger (approvingly reposted by Rosin on her Facebook page) quoted Premier Kenney vowing -- unless, perhaps, you're thinking about briefly blocking a road or protesting in the vicinity of some "critical infrastructure."
Still, it's troubling to think the UCP might be trying out a new talking point with Rosin's constituents as a focus group.
Well, at least she didn't promise on the coronavirus's behalf that, "one day, it's like a miracle, it will disappear." Then we'd know it was an official message, right from the top!
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald.
Image: Miranda Rosin/Facebook
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