Happy Easter 2021!
It being Easter, presumably the flock at GraceLife Church in Parkland County packed into the pews inside their barn-like rolled-steel worship centre southwest of Edmonton in open defiance of Alberta's COVID-19 restrictions.
We can likewise be assured that, for the umpteenth time, polite Alberta Health Services inspectors will confirm the church is operating in violation of provincial pandemic regulations and that they really ought not to do so.
We can certainly predict with confidence the United Conservative government of Premier Jason Kenney will do nothing to make them obey the rules -- and that after the fact Kenney will complain there's really no way you can make folks obey rules they don't want to obey. (This may not be entirely true, but it is certainly true if their government signals to them that they need not worry about complying.)
At least the RCMP officers whose trucks were doubtless parked in the vicinity of the church weren't completely wasting taxpayers' money. They were on hand to protect the health inspectors and media from harassment by those congregants who also choose not to obey that guy's instruction to turn the other cheek.
At her next news conference, it seems likely Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw will sigh and remind us that it's really, really, important that we all obey the rules just for a little bit longer.
On Saturday, we're told, like Friday, there were another 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, half of them caused by "variants of concern." So it would appear undeniable we're in the midst of third wave of COVID-19, even without the super-spreading assistance of the faithful at GraceLife Church and whatever happens over this long weekend.
We have been promised that at Dr. Hinshaw's next news conference she will tell us more about the "significant" outbreak of cases of the Brazilian variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, which is occurring somewhere in the province.
If you'd thought it might be handy before the long weekend to have an idea of the general location of this outbreak, which was apparently brought here by a traveller from abroad, you are out of luck.
Self-initiative saving yourself and your family is apparently frowned upon in the UCP's Alberta, particularly if it means curtailing your shopping or dining out over a long weekend. I'm being sarcastic, of course. I'm sure there are sound epidemiological reasons for denying us this information.
Meanwhile, other important stories will be relegated to the back burner by the province's minuscule and distracted media contingent, among them:
- The metastasizing primary school curriculum scandal, which has moved on from Premier Kenney's musical grandparents to outright plagiarism. In addition to passages borrowed and lightly modified from the always-reliable Wikipedia and the State of Virginia's school curriculum, the document is now known to also include a lengthy passage simply cut and pasted without attribution. "This is an obvious case of word-for-word plagiarism," says a University of Calgary expert in academic ethics.
- Documented proof that early in the pandemic the UCP government and health officials "knew Alberta's meatpacking plants were unsafe due to the risk of COVID-19 infection, but lied to workers to keep the plants running."
- The government of Alberta's expensive, humiliating and entirely predictable loss in the Supreme Court of Canada in its legal effort to challenge the constitutionality of the federal government's carbon-mitigation strategy and block Ottawa from taking measures to control carbon in the atmosphere, which is known to be a contributing factor to global climate change.
- The continuing fallout of the Kenney government's war on doctors, which resulted in rejection by the province's physicians of the tentative agreement reached between the Alberta Medical Association's bargaining committee and the government. Whether it was the fact it was a truly lousy deal, or physicians' justified distrust of Health Minister Tyler Shandro, continued disruption of the health-care system is now guaranteed.
- The startling, chronic, and often unintentionally hilarious incompetence of the Alberta energy war room, also known as Canadian Energy Centre Ltd., in its ongoing efforts to defend Alberta's fossil fuel industry from children's cartoons like Bigfoot Family.
And these are just stories that have been in the news in the past couple of weeks. Readers can be forgiven if they can hardly remember such things as the UCP's plans to permit open-pit coal mining on the eastern slopes of the Rockies or sell off parks, and Premier Kenney's decision to bet $1.3 billion of our money on his conviction Donald Trump would win the U.S. election.
I have lived nearly 70 years in this country and have been engaged by Canadian politics since my teen years. I cannot recall ever seeing such negligence, incompetence, mismanagement and fatal malfeasance by any party in government in any province or in Ottawa.
It's disheartening and exhausting to keep up. On the other hand, for me at least, it's entertaining to write about it.
Either way, it is astonishing.
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 credit: Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta/Flickr
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