It was a wild week, here’s the Irrational Report for March 5-13, 2021

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

Just when you thought the UCP couldn’t go any lower, the Bigfoot Family story broke on Friday.

For those who missed it, the Canadian Energy Centre, funded by our tax dollars, was discovered to have created a website collecting signatures on a petition to cancel a children’s animated movie on Netflix.

This all went down, in the week following a “cancel panic” in conservative circles over the decision to pull some old, racist Dr. Seuss books out of print. The conservative brain trust over at the war room decided it wants to “cancel” a children’s movie about Bigfoot because of “misinformation” about the oil and gas industry.

(Twitter almost broke. I won’t get into the multiple lines of ridicule here.)

However, as some were quick to point out, the Bigfoot Family story is not that far off reality. As a PR person who worked in the oilsands industry for decades, I can attest to this surprising revelation and other wild ideas that were considered:

But beyond the sheer audacity of claiming a children’s fictional cartoon about an elusive, furry creature of folklore should be more – accurate – this whole episode is extremely disturbing from a censorship perspective. When you have the full force and resources of a government, trying to silence critics, including in the artistic realm, this is never acceptable. It’s an abuse of power. We should be alarmed, not just embarrassed.

In reality, the whole thing has backfired so spectacularly that it surpasses all previous controversies, which is a pretty stunning achievement given the war room’s record. One Reddit user has started a campaign to make it the most popular streaming movie in Canada. The #Bigfootgate hashtag has been trending and more people are now watching the movie than would have likely watched it before. Well done, war room, well done.

The Bigfoot story is really tough to top but here’s a short recap of the many missteps of Jason Kenney and the UCP government over just the last week. The government was churning out releases at breakneck pace this week with 25 official news releases, including eight releases about the COVID-19 pandemic and absolutely no statement from the Premier on International Women’s Day.

He did put out a statements over the past year on the Lunar New YearSir John A. Macdonald Day, and even sent congratulations to Shell, a giant multi-national that couldn’t be less in need of his support, but silence from the Premier on a day to celebrate 50 per cent of the population. Women notice these things.

(By the way, a retweet does not count as a statement.)

Even before the Bigfoot story broke, the Kenney government popularity had sunk so low that it was barely above the teens. A Leger poll conducted March 5-8 found the UCP at 20% compared to the NDP’s 40%. And that is even with the NDP now under increased criticism from the left to adopt more progressive policies.

Side note: Is anyone else annoyed by Post Media’s continous selection of terrible photos of people? Is it on purpose or just incompetence?

With conservatives scattering in all directions, Bigfoot-style, to try and hide from this latest controversy, there’s no better time to discuss the Alberta NDP’s position on a number of issues. From their position leading in the polls, many are pushing for stronger action on issues such as climate change, universal basic income and tax increases. Taylor Lambert had a good article in The Sprawl back in February with more on whether the NDP is progressive enough. The answer is clearly no.

“I’d say they did miss an opportunity to make broader changes and move the province in a much better direction.” (Roberta Lexier, an associate professor in the general education and humanities departments at Mount Royal University)

Pandemically speaking, you wouldn’t think it was possible to stumble on both the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out and women’s reproductive health at the same time, but this is Kenney. This week, he revealed on Facebook live that he wants to be able to choose which vaccine he takes and wants to make sure people have freedom not to use vaccines that may be created from “abortion-derived cell lines.”

But health experts disagreed saying that when vaccines are more readily available or require booster shots in the future, choice may be an option — but not in the midst of a pandemic when supplies are limited.

“At this point in time, vaccine choice is a luxury we simply can’t afford.” (Dr. Noel Gibney, co-chair of the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association)

Even the Vatican has given people the okay to take the first available vaccine but whatever, Kenney, whatever. You’ve crossed the Pope before and you’ll do it again.

Side note: I watched the Amazon Prime series, “It’s a Sin” this week and highly recommend it. It will remind you of another piece in The Sprawl about a certain young zealot in San Francisco in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

On International Women’s Day, news out of Lethbridge had more than a few women enraged. Among the bombshells out of a Freedom of Information request was the fact that that a complainant told police they believed then Minister of Environment, Shannon Phillips was meant to be drugged at a Lethbridge bar in 2016. The allegation was never shared with Phillips, nor investigated further.

We already know from previous news stories that Lethbridge police officers took surreptitious photographs of her at a diner and posted them anonymously on the internet. 

The Lethbridge police chief held a news conference and really stepped in it, just as the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) announced it would be investigating. It’s a shame he didn’t consider the backdrop in the room, where the now notorious thin blue line flag was prominently displayed.

The flag is no longer allowed on RCMP uniforms or on RCMP premises. The American version figured prominently in the uprising and insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and has devolved into a symbol of white supremacy.

Why do we keep giving men in charge so many chances, even when they clearly are not up to the task? Defunding the police becomes more and more desirable each time those in power reinforce the message they are dangerously incompetent at dealing with the underlying problems with policing.

This week, the warm weather and some new cycling shoes have me thinking a lot more about biking and my promise to cover biking news in this newsletter. I’ve been woefully underperforming in that category. So, here’s one really great biking announcement you may have missed:

Side note: I’m always happy to highlight Catherine McKenna, one of the gutsiest women in politics.

The Government of Canada announced the National Active Transportation Fund, which is $400 million earmarked for upgrading bike paths, pedestrian walkways and bridges, and nature trails. Hooray!

In fact, the pandemic has created a boom for bicycles, with bike sales up more than 120 per cent in the United States. The shift to cycling is so huge that it’s creating bike shortages that may last into 2022.

So, to wrap-up this week’s Irrational Report, here’s a classic tune about bicycling:

Jody MacPherson is a professional communicator, commuting cyclist (currently working from home), and has never seen a Bigfoot even though I really would have loved to, but I have seen the open pit mine at several oilsands plants and it is not something anyone really wants to see.

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