News

Braid: Kenney takes action against Omicron but blurs his message again


At this crucial moment, he gives the anti-vax crew a win that goes against all the government’s advice about how to deal with this virus

Article content

Last year at this exact time, seven of Premier Jason Kenney’s staff and MLAs were packing their bags for foreign vacations.

Advertisement

Article content

Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard went to Hawaii — and soon enough to the government backbenches.

Kenney’s chief of staff, Jamie Huckabay, resigned at the premier’s request after travelling to the U.K.

MLAs Jeremy Nixon, Tanya Fir, Pat Rehn, Jason Stephan and Tany Yao lost appointments to committees and other plums. Stephan was booted from a prized Treasury Board spot.

The travel was incredibly insensitive when regular folks were being advised against foreign trips.

Kenney waffled at first, then punished the travellers and said Albertans “are right to be angry about people in positions of leadership vacationing outside the country.”

Those same Albertans would be incandescent if it happened again this year just as another COVID-19 threat looms.

Advertisement

Article content

The premier’s office was working on a statement to MLAs firmly advising against foreign trips over Christmas and New Year’s. The details weren’t quite finalized Wednesday but said to be coming soon.

“We are reviewing the federal travel restrictions and will be providing updated guidelines to government staff and caucus members shortly,” Kenney’s press secretary, Harrison Fleming, said in a statement.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said she’s already told her MLAs not to travel. Some were unwinding personal plans. The NDP politicians won’t go travelling, count on it.

But Kenney’s caucus is an unruly beast. Some people in there would go to Vegas just to spite the premier.

And yet, the COVID-19 decision-makers have learned hard lessons in the past year.

Advertisement

Article content

With steps announced Wednesday morning, the UCP anticipated the arrival of a new Omicron wave, rather than waiting for “evidence” until it’s too late.

Events also seem to have cured Kenney of his tendency to analyze away this virus.

Although he noted Wednesday that there’s a suggestion this variant may not make people as sick as previous ones, he doesn’t see that as a reason for complacency.

Experts including epidemiologist Dr. Isaac Bogoch agree. They say an extremely contagious variant, even if its general effect is milder, could infect so many people that even a tiny minority of seriously ill patients will overwhelm the hospitals.

And there are many signs that even before Omicron really gets started, the Delta variant is still very active.

Advertisement

Article content

Infections are way up in Ontario. The U.K. faces a new crisis.

Here at home, 27 Calgary Flames players, staff and coaches are infected.

The Scotiabank Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, was photographed on Wednesday, December 15, 2021. More Calgary Flames games were postponed while the team deals with a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Scotiabank Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, was photographed on Wednesday, December 15, 2021. More Calgary Flames games were postponed while the team deals with a COVID-19 outbreak. Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia

The provision of free rapid testing kits through AHS sites and pharmacies, as well as schools, is a very sensible move.

It will enable thousands of people who think they might have been in contact with an infected person to test themselves quickly.

The government will focus on more third booster vaccinations, with eligibility down to age 50 and lower categories to come as more vaccine arrives.

But then, despite signs of quick action and serious vigilance, Kenney once again blurred his message.

He gave unvaccinated people an exemption to gather over the holidays under the same conditions as those who are vaccinated.

Advertisement

Article content

He said Alberta’s new standards — allowing indoor groups of 10 people from more than two households — are still more strict than those of any other province.

But he and chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw have always said one of the greatest dangers comes from unvaccinated people gathering in groups. Now he gives them the same privileges as vaccinated people.

At this crucial moment, he gives the anti-vax crew a win that goes against all the government’s advice about how to deal with this virus.

This doesn’t make sense. It’s another victory of confusion over clarity.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

Twitter: @DonBraid

Facebook: Don Braid Politics

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.




Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.