Let me walk you through it – The irrationality of June 7-13, 2021

This post originally appeared in my weekly newsletter, “The Missive” on Nov. 19, 2021. Subscribe for free at: https://jodymacpherson.substack.com/ or access background info and special content with a paid subscription.

This week. I don’t even know where to start.

I could start with the introduction of the referendum question on equalization on Monday. The wording was unveiled and very quickly forgotten, like the referendum itself will be immediately after it is defeated in October.

“Should Section 36(2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 – Parliament and the Government of Canada’s commitment to the principle of making equalization payments – be removed from the Constitution?”

Most Albertans know this is a ruse. Also, most Albertans know there could be a time in the very near future when the province is on the receiving end of equalization payments if we continue down the path we’re on with climate change destroying the planet and our province still reliant on fossil fuel production.

Either way, the result of the referendum is meaningless since one province can’t unilaterally decide to remove a key principle of the federation for reasons not even grounded in reality (that it is somehow unfair when our own Premier was involved in writing the formula). It may be hoped by some that the referendum will launch a full-on separation movement in Alberta, another highly unlikely outcome.

The only separation the majority of Albertans are anticipating right now is the separation of Jason Kenney from his job as the Premier.

I could start with the ongoing opioid crisis and how the government announced new nasal naloxone kits and re-announced treatment beds on Thursday, while at the same time, proceeding with plans to close emergency lifesaving services (also known as supervised consumption sites).

Imagine if the government was closing emergency departments because it wanted to push for a “continuum of care” model of healthcare instead of helping those in immediate need. Only in the case of addictions is it acceptable to publicly pass judgment and even withhold treatment in such a nauseatingly paternalistic way.

“We’re not seeing investments in the right places, and that is why people continue to die and it’s extremely, honestly, really difficult to watch.” University of Alberta public health Prof. Elaine Hyshka told the CBC

Meanwhile, in the musical chairs game of moving emergency services around continuously so no one knows where they are, there are still no announcements about the new locations for services now being provided at the Sheldon Chumir.

I could start with the announcement of the government’s termination of its involvement in the Keystone XL pipeline project on Wednesday after foolishly investing $1.3B on the project. This followed the news that TC Energy was terminating the project and amidst a lot of celebrating by environmental and Indigenous groups opposed to the pipeline.

For their part, the government was – understandably – trying to play down the lsing gamble, avoiding reporters and I’m guessing, removing all signage from their past campaign slogan which was “Jobs, Economy, Pipelines”.

I could start with the Western Standard story about the newly dubbed “Liquor Cabinet” that broke on Wednesday. This is the one from anonymous sources (now subject to a defamation lawsuit) about Kenney, caucus and staff having a private dining/party room at an Edmonton restaurant throughout the pandemic where they were flouting all the rules.

I could, but I won’t. The story was a big hit on social media but doesn’t exactly stand up to close scrutiny.

I could start with the move to Stage 2 of the reopening plan on Thursday, the moving targets and the subsequent announcement of a $1M lottery for those with the first dose of the vaccine. The plan is not really based on targets, Dr. Deena Hinshaw revealed as much this week, it is more like a schedule that will be followed, no matter what.  

What can I say that hasn’t already been said about the lottery?

Concentrating wealth in the hands of a few is totally on brand for Jason Kenney and the UCP. Today’s Republican/Conservatives would probably consider Ralph Bucks to be too socialist. Klein’s prosperity bonus delivered $400 cheques to three million Albertans in 2006. This was actually a small percentage of the province’s total surplus at the time.

At the time, I was not a fan, but looking back on this early populism, it offers an interesting contrast to Kenney’s suggested approach of giving $1M to one person (full details not yet announced).

Almost 70% of Albertans over the age of 12 did not need this incentive, but yeah, let’s waste money that could be used for badly needed services because 30% just haven’t gotten around to getting vaccinated in time for the Stampede. A tiny, tiny percentage will actually be enticed to get the shot by the remote chance at this lottery win.

I could start with the claim this week from Education Minister Adriana LaGrange that she is being “bullied” by Alberta teachers. This is a classic move by a powerful person who wants to turn the tables on her critics. Accuse them of doing the thing you’re doing so their accusation is neutralized. No one wants to be seen as saying “no, you’re the bully” and the whole question becomes moot.

Also, it is a frequent tactic employed by autocrats, who don’t see themselves as accountable to anyone, including their constituents. This is not how democracy works, Minister LaGrange, in case you’ve forgotten. Good luck getting re-elected next time around, by the way. Your lack of respect for teachers, parents and voters, in general, will not be rewarded at the ballot box.

In other ironic news, LaGrange, who claims computer literacy can be taught equally effectively using pen and paper, forgot to pay her bill and so her domain name became available for purchase. The whole coverage of the story was a mess, too. So few people even understand what a domain name is and how to manage them effectively.

Having worked for Alberta Health Services in 2005, one of my tasks was to clean up a bunch of domain names they had lost track of and which had ended up in nefarious hands, including in the hands of those offering x-rated content. LaGrange is pretty lucky that it was simply a guy with a request to donate to a charity that managed to pick up her domain name. Sure, he did want to send a message as well, but no harm done.

So, rather than start with any of the above, I am going to tell you instead about two men who started walking from Fort McMurray to Ottawa this week to raise awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Adam McDonald and Stanley Gilbert Jean. McDonald has been walking every major highway in Canada for the past five years and he’s not giving up.

“We’re seeing a lot more non-Indigenous people asking how they can help. It’s important that the people with decision-making power know that the people care about change.” Stephanie Harpe, who organized a welcoming committee for the pair in Edmonton.

“And after all the violence and double talk

There’s just a song in all the trouble and the strife

You do the walk, yeah, you do the walk of life

Hmm, you do the walk of life”

Jody MacPherson is a professional communicator, commuting cyclist (currently working from home), and believes she already won the lottery just by being privileded enough to be fully vaccinated (AZ + Pfizer = winning!)


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