The Alberta UCP Irrational Report for February 21-27, 2021

This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter, “The Missive” on Aug.15, 2021. Subscribe for free at: https://jodymacpherson.substack.com/ or access background info and special content with a paid subscription.

Thousands of Albertans trying to book COVID-19 vaccination appointments for their elderly relatives on Wednesday were met with a blank stare from the Alberta Health Services website this past week. It turns out there was a problem with one of the initial screening steps in the process, the part where you enter your postal code. That step just couldn’t handle the volume of requests.

As someone whose day job is in websites (on the content side, not the developer side), I’m aware of the behind-the-scenes and underappreciated work of web teams. What is often overlooked though, is how much web work involves collaboration. Jason Kenney could learn a thing or two.

As it turns out, three brothers – one in Montreal, one in Ottawa and one in Edmonton – connected across the country to come up with a quick fix allowing users to bypass the step in order to get directly to the form. After booking all their relatives, they quickly shared the code on Twitter. Anyone with a basic understanding of how websites work, could figure out how to apply the fix. Of course, some people without supportive family and friends, would’ve struggled with this until a fix came through later in the week.

As one of those people trying to book my mom’s appointment in Okotoks, I was thrilled when it worked for us. As evidenced by the number of thank yous posted on Kory Mathewson’s tweet thread, there were a lot of appreciative folks. The Alberta government also owes the brothers Mathewson (Kory, Ky and Keyfer) a big thanks.

It’s an example of the knowledge and ingenuity we need to ensure a better future. Ironically, post-secondary education was one of the areas targeted for cuts this week.

But of course, they didn’t thank the brothers in a statement released Feb. 25, but instead took credit for the 100,000+ seniors who were booked,. They made absolutely no mention of their contribution. To make the release even worse, in typical UCP fashion, they chose to gloat about other provinces being farther behind than Alberta.

“This is a significant milestone for our province and it deserves to be celebrated. Many other provinces remain days or even weeks away from even getting started.”

Tyler Shandro

This is not a sporting event, Minister Shandro. The slow vaccine roll-out could lead to actual deaths in Canada, especially among this vulnerable age group. Putting on your Team Alberta jersey and blowing your own horn is unseemly and gross in this instance.

It’s especially galling since this story is an example of how people in Ottawa and Edmonton, as well as in Montreal (but Quebec!) worked together for a solution to help a good many Albertans. The message should be about how we do better when we work together on solutions.

Of course, that message is obviously lost on this government and Premier Kenney, who retweeted—of all things this week—an op-ed by Ted “Firewall” Morton about the useless referendum on equalization. This will be a huge waste of money since the outcome is irrelevant. It’s about something not within the province’s jurisdication. Morton is also infamous for opposing same-sex marriage. At least Morton is putting his real name to his writing now.

Kenney’s bro circle includes some of the most spiteful dudes of the last two decades. It’s a “Hate Club” that most would know enough not to talk about. Not Kenney though. He likes to continually remind us of what his dudes are up to.

Here’s a recap of the many inexplicable actions of Jason Kenney and the UCP government over just the last week. The government issued a whopping 29 official news releases, including eight on the budget, five releases about the COVID-19 pandemic and two Orders in Council.

Minister of Energy Sonya Savage announced the public consultations on something called a “modern coal policy” for Alberta. Modern is one of those words that is just not used that much, but the UCP is bringing it back from the 70’s again. It’s an odd choice of words since it’s defined as a change from the past, which really strikes fear in the heart of opponents who actually like the 1976 policy.

There was an op-ed in the Calgary Herald from Ian Urquhart of the Alberta Wilderness Association reminding us the Lougheed coal policy may have been written in 1976 but it was pretty darn good:

“The creation and use of the Environment Conservation Authority were unprecedented in Canada. Reviving the authority would be an excellent option for improving provincial policy-making. It might also restore some of the public trust the Kenney government has lost. As Minister Savage searches for a “modernized policy,” she should recognize that some of the best approaches to making good policy live in our past.”

Ian Urquhart

If you want to learn more and hear some great music, there’s another pay-what-you-can concert tonight starting at 7 p.m. to raise awareness of the threats posed by coal development in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies.

In other major stories, the anti-mask, anti-vaccine rallies are turning into a racist nightmare. Symbolic Tiki torches are being lit as I write this in Calgary today and organizers are ludicrously claiming they are for “decoration.” Four police officers were hurt in scuffles with protesters first in Edmonton last weekend and now the protesters are bringing their circus to Calgary.

It’s an ongoing embarrassment for the province as these rallies are literally creating a public safety hazard every Saturday in downtown Calgary. Even if people wanted to go downtown for a stroll or skate or to visit the small number of open businesses, they wouldn’t be able to. The protestors have been basically locking the rest of us out of our own downtown core every Saturday for months now.

Multiculturalism Minister Leela Aheer really showed her priorities were out of whack in the days before Kenney finally put out his statement. When asked about the rallies, she shot back:

“Right now, I’m actually focused on making sure that junior hockey gets back up on its feet again.”

Leela Aheer

She did recover her senses and go on to condemn racism, while encouraging peaceful protest (how is hate towards a group ever peaceful?) and then took exception to the fact she was even asked the question. All-in-all not a good day for Aheer or for Albertans.

Yet, Kenney waited several days until the pressure was at a breaking point, before he put out a rambling “there are good people on both sides” themed statement on Twitter that did not go over well at all.

AHS is getting ready to move to Stage 2 of reopening on March 1, but doctors are already raising alarms and confusion reigns. Dr. Deena Hinshaw would only say that March 1 would be a decision day rather than a sure thing. The information about what phase we are currently in and what is happening on March 1 is pretty tough to find anywhere on the government’s COVID-19 website.

On the MLGay front: NDP Janis Irwin always has something interesting going on and this week was no different. Alberta’s most lovable politician awoke this morning (Feb. 27) to find her office spray painted.

We are in this upside down reality where calling someone “antifa” is a slur alongside being called a “liar.” Being antifascist is— checks notes—bad in some twisted logic? I’ll never get used to it.

You’ll notice I haven’t included much commentary on the budget. I’m saving that for a future post once the dust settles a bit. But, in the meantime, here’s a good commentary from Scott Schmidt in the Medicine Hat News to get you thinking.

I’m going to end this week’s Irrational Report. It’s an exhausting report this week and I definitely only scratched the surface.

It’s going to be Lady Gaga for my featured video this week. Gaga got a lot of attention for a bad thing that happened to her this week – I mean – a lot of attention.

But it was definitely not as bad as what happened to Trayvon Martin, who was killed by George Zimmerman for being Black. Gaga wrote this song about it:

“I was overwhelmed by the fact that people just stood around and didn’t do anything about it.”

Lady Gaga

There’s a lesson here somewhere…

Jody MacPherson is a professional communicator, commuting cyclist (currently working from home), and would love to punch a Nazi, so I guess that makes her a dangerous Antifa.

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