Thursday, April 8, 2021

Elected Right-Wing Extremists Challenge Public Health Measures in Alberta

An interesting dynamic is at play in Alberta - one that I hope we don't see here in Ontario (and don't expect that we will). Despite the endless scandals and incredible mis-steps, until now Premier Jason Kenney has ruled over his United Conservative Party with an iron fist. But after finally implementing public health measures commensurate with the requirements of getting out in front of the COVID-19 pandemic, a quarter of his caucus (16 MLA's) are now in open rebellion against his government, claiming the measures are too strict and demanding they be reversed, perhaps on a regional basis.

Jason Kenney. Source: Calgary Herald

Here in Ontario, Premier Ford quickly (like within the hour quickly) threw out a member of his team (MPP Roman Baber) at the first sign of questioning Ford's public health decisions. Kenney isn't likely to take this step, as he is aware that his United Conservative Party is a coalition between traditional Conservatives (like himself) and Alberta's own brand of right-wing extremists in the form of former Wild Rose Party (a.k.a. "Lake of Fire") MLA's, who seem to treat the existence of science, evidence and fact with contempt and disdain.
Now, all of the 16 MLA's that signed the open letter against Kenney are backbenchers, at least one was a member of Kenney's government up until she was caught and publicly exposed and derided for taking a vacation outside the country this past Christmastime. So it's not as if there aren't some "mainstream" (for Alberta) people involved here. And now that the forces that be have decided to take action against the anti-masker's symbolic Grace United Church (which keeps holding services despite public health measures that ought to have seen it shut down a long time ago), this rebellion could grow.
I fully expect Kenney to start caving in to the demands of the Profit over People crowd in his own caucus - maybe by developing some sort of regional framework similar to the one we tried here in Ontario for awhile that we proved DOES NOT WORK. Woe be to Albertans caught up in this right-wing political in-fighting - many of whom are putting their lives on the line just going to work or sending their kids to school.
Say what you want about the Ontario government's handling of the pandemic (and there is *a lot* that can and should be said), but at least they're not beholden to the king of right-wing extremists within their own caucus that Alberta has to deal with. That people with such extreme and marginal views can find themselves in positions of power is disconcerting to say the least. But our first-past-the-post electoral system that promotes a kind of tribalism at the ballot box is clearly responsible. All the extremists have to do in many ridings is win a nomination contest - as their Party's endorsement almost assures that they'll be elected, no questions asked. And that's another reason all levels of government need to start taking a look at proportional representation - to keep the extremists out.
So, Sudbury, we might find ourselves in the midst of a pretty lousy time right now - but it could be a lot worse.

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