The Irrational Report for Feb. 28-March 5, 2021

This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter, “The MacPherson Missive.” Subscribe for free at: https://jodymacpherson.substack.com/

The UCP government is locking in their new defensive position, “Protecting lives and livelihoods” with the slogan appearing on their visuals and in other communication. They are presumably trying to pivot from their disastrous “Jobs, Economy, Pipelines” mantra. That one has turned into an embarrassment since they’ve not been able to deliver on any of the three.

Here’s a recap of the many confusing actions of Jason Kenney and the UCP government over just the last week. The government is back to normal pace issuing 20 official news releases, including four on the budget and eight releases about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amid a growing split in his caucus over COVID restrictions, Premier Kenney modified his plans for Step 2 reopening by delaying some of the measures. The move raised more than a few eyebrows since Kenney and Shandro have shown a propensity for easing restrictions too quickly rather than this more cautious approach. With the vaccine roll-out now picking up speed, it seems like they’ve now realized we could be close to getting back to some type of normalcy and don’t want to jeopardize it.

This would be a welcome stance, but the trust Albertans have in this government is extremely low. So, they’ll get little credit for this and Kenney’s growing threat from extremists in the UCP (many of them former Wildrosers) continues to simmer with help from the Sun’s Rick Bell. Dave Cournoyer is writing today on his blog that the number of rogue-ish MLA’s could be as high as 20, although not all are ready to go public.

The government may be discovering how the ongoing erosion of trust has impacted their ability to get credit for any positive developments, including the vaccine roll-out. With seniors over the age of 75 now getting the vaccine and the outlook for an accelerated roll-out looking rosy, the Health Minister and the Premier nevertheless continue to be lampooned on social media. The top tweets on both the #abpoli #ableg feed overwhelmingly negative, issue managers be damned.

It turns out lying, obfuscating and gaslighting do not garner trust with anyone, including your own caucus. Who could’ve predicted?

On the #MountainsNotMines front, activists are not impressed and opposition continues to mount despite Minister Savage’s assurances of a public consultation. One of the stories circulating in anti-coal circles is an infuriating article by Andrew Nikiforuk. In the story, the government is reported to have said that “mountaintop removal” is defined as removing more than 90% of the peak. As long as there is about 10% left, that isn’t removing the mountaintop. That’s like saying you’re not eating a steak as long as there’s a few bits left on the plate. That’s not how it works, guys, and you know it.

On a very sad note, the renowned water expert Dr. David Schindler passed away this week. One of the last things he did was register his own opposition to the government’s position on coal development:

The budget conversation continued this week as the government launched the usual campaign to promote and defend its financial decisions. It will probably have little effect in terms of changing minds. The general consensus is that the fiscal situation is terrible and getting worse. With no hint of a vision for the future from the government or hope for any new revenue sources being introduced, the situation is dire. There is little confidence the government will do the right thing, again largely due to the giant trust deficit they have with just about every segment of the population.

There were a couple of attempts at distraction this week with Minister Schweitzer announcing there would be townhalls soon on the future of downtown Calgary. With a municipal election looming, the government is continuing to signal its interest in gaining more conservative control over the big cities by muscling in on their jurisdiction at every turn.

Then, Alberta Health Services tweeted out an erroneous claim about the province’s hospitals being ranked as among the best in the world and then had to remove the tweet after it was pointed out it wasn’t true. Kenney quote tweeted the incorrect claim but still hasn’t removed it as of this writing.

Finally, with International Women’s Day coming up on Monday, March 8 – there has been one demographic so ignored by the UCP government that it’s worth calling out again. The deafening silence from Kenney and his cabinet on the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on women continues.

“According to a new analysis by RBC published Thursday, nearly 100,000 working-age Canadian women have completely left the workforce since the pandemic started, which means they aren’t even trying to get a job any more. The figure for men is more than 10 times smaller — a sign that on the whole, they are not feeling quite so gloomy about their prospects.” (CBC)

UCP women instead used the opportunity to reinforce the idea that systemic discrimination against women is a myth and that we just need to “work hard” and “earn” our way to the top. MLA Michaela Glasgo, for example, tweeted out a trite message implying that women are not able to achieve equality due to their own lack of drive, rather than any privilege enjoyed by men.

This is an incredibly harmful attitude and serves to further oppress and discourage women who are struggling against the odds every day. It also conveniently removes responsibility for her, and others in a position of power, to do something to help.

One woman’s success doesn’t negate the struggles of many, many others. If MLA Glasgo truly wanted to “lift others up,” she should practice some empathy as described eloquently by Brene Brown and contemplate how she can help women from her own position of privilege and influence.

That is going to wrap up this week’s Irrational Report. I’ve had a bit of an emotional week trying to help elevate the concerns of women in another sphere. There’s a lot of pain and hurt out there that needs addressing and reconciling. It’s going to take more than a single symbolic day in March.

Jody MacPherson is a professional communicator, commuting cyclist (currently working from home), and was required to get approval from her husband (who was unemployed at the time) to get her first credit card even though she was the sole breadwinner for the family. Looking at you Bank of Montreal.

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