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UPDATED: Kenney puts Alberta in hard 3-week lockdown

Kenney, in a televised address said the move was needed to “avoid disaster in our hospitals.”

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has ordered a three-week hard lockdown on the province.

In a televised address, Kenney said the move was needed a “avoid disaster unfolding in our hospitals.

“We will not permit our health care system to be overwhelmed,” he said.

“This is a last resort and a necessary step. With cases continuing to rise, we have no choice but to take serious action now or jeopardize putting the health system at risk. If we don’t do this now, if this doesn’t work, then we’ll need a much longer list of restrictions, which no Albertan wants to see. The best way to get out of this is for all Albertans to follow these new measures and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.”

Kenney had previously been scheduled to give a press conference and take questions from reporters, but it was canceled in favour of the speech soon after the Western Standard published a story about his comments to the UCP caucus following the Bowden rodeo where he said “I want a new base”.

He said as of Tuesday there were 671 people in hospital with 150 in ICU.

Here’s a list of the new regulations:

Schools

Mandatory, additional restrictions for hot spot regions

  • Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools will transition to online learning, effective May 7.
  • Post-secondary schools will transition to online learning, effective May 5.
  • Childcare facilities can remain open.

Indoor gatherings

  • All indoor gatherings remain prohibited.

Outdoor gatherings

  • All outdoor social gatherings must be limited to no more than 5 people and a maximum of 2 household cohorts.
  • Mandatory physical distancing must be maintained at all times between members of different households.

RETAIL

  • Retail services must limit customer capacity to 10% of fire code occupancy (not including staff) or a minimum of 5 customers. This includes individual stores and common areas.
  • Shopping mall capacity limits will exclude common area square footage.
  • Curbside pick-up, delivery and online services are encouraged.

Restaurants, bars, pubs, lounges and cafes

Mandatory, additional restrictions for hot spot regions – Effective 11:59 pm on May 9

  • All in-person dining, including on patios, is prohibited.
  • Only take out or delivery services are allowed.

Indoor activities

  • All indoor sport, performance and recreation activities for youth and adults are prohibited.
  • Indoor fitness and recreation facilities must close, including for 1-on-1 training.

Outdoor activities

  • All outdoor sports and recreation activities are prohibited, except with members of your household, or your two close contacts if you live alone. This includes:
    • all group physical activities, such as team sports, fitness classes, training sessions
    • all one-on-one lessons and training activities
    • all practices, training and games
  • Outdoor recreation facilities can remain open unless specifically closed by public health order.

Professional sport organizations

  • Professional sport organizations that have received an exemption can continue, provided protocols are strictly followed.

Personal and wellness services

Mandatory, additional restrictions for hot spot regions – Effective at 11:59 pm on May 9

  • Personal and wellness services, including hair salons, barbers, nail salons, estheticians, tattoos and piercing, must close.

Places of worship

Mandatory, additional restrictions for hot spot regions – Effective May 5

  • Faith services are limited to 15 in-person attendees.
  • Physical distancing between households must be maintained at all times.
  • Virtual or online services are strongly recommended.
  • Drive-in services where people do not leave their vehicles and adhere to guidance are allowed.

Funerals

Mandatory, additional restrictions for hot spot regions – Effective May 5

  • 10-people maximum for funerals, including participants and guests.
  • Funeral receptions are not permitted.

Kenney is also doubling the fine for not obeying COVID-19 cabinet orders from $1,000 to $2,000. The maximum fine stays the same at $100,000.

“We will not tolerate those who endanger the health of fellow Albertans,” said Kenney.

Retail spaces will be limited to 10% of capacity.

Outdoor gathering limits will drop from 10 people currently to 5.

Churches have to change from 15% capacity to only 15 people.

Funeral services are having their attendance cut in half from 20-10.

Kenney called on those who can work from home, to do so.

“If you can stay home, do so for the next three weeks,” said Kenney.

Normal procedure for previous lockdowns has been for Kenney to appear in a press conference format – announcing the new restrictions and then taking questions from the media.

But after an exclusive story this afternoon from the Western Standard, the premier’s office changed the Tuesday night event to a televised address where no questions could be asked.

The Western Standard has learned Kenney told a closed-door UCP caucus meeting on Sunday “I want a new base” as he slammed the rogue anti-lockdown rodeo in Bowden.

Kenney used the Sunday virtual caucus meeting to rail against the ‘No More Lockdowns Rodeo’, which attracted approximately 4,000-5,000 attendees over the weekend.

Three UCP MLAs, who spoke to the Western Standard on the condition of anonymity, said another MLA spoke up and reminded Kenney that the people who went to the rodeo were the “base” of the UCP’s support.

“If they are our base, I want a new base,” Kenney told the meeting, according to the three MLAs.

On Monday, when Kenney announced further restrictions were coming, he noted cases were dropping in BC and Saskatchewan, who have similar restrictions.

“These are people that simply don’t care about COVID,” said Kenney, adding the rodeo crowd believed COVID-19 was a “conspiracy or hoax.

“Too many Albertans are ignoring the rules in place.

“(They have) forced me to take further steps. Stronger health measures will be announced (Tuesday).”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Dennis Richter

    May 5, 2021 at 9:33 am

    Time for Albertans to look to a whole new government “For the People, By the People”. Purchase a membership in the Wildrose Independance Party of Alberta and invest in the future of Alberta. Left or Right? The status quo is not working. It’s time for a change in 2023. https://wildrose.party/

  2. Left Coast

    May 5, 2021 at 8:58 am

    671 people in hospital in Alberta ? ? ?
    Alberta has about 150 hospitals, that 4.4 people per hospital.
    Is the Health System in that bad a shape it can’t handle those tiny numbers?

    People have been avoiding Hospitals for a year now . . . how’s that working out?

    Perhaps no one has explained to this lame Premier that most folks catch the virus indoors ie at home.

    I heard a rumor that Lockdown No. 9 is the key to success . . .

    Meanwhile, Florida, Tenassee, South Dakota, Texas and Sweden are doing fine today . . . how about asking what they are doing correct Mr. Premier?

  3. Kathleen Gust

    May 4, 2021 at 10:48 pm

    Canadian economist from Simon Fraser University Douglas Ward Allen published a cost benefit analysis of lockdowns: http://www.sfu.ca/~allen/LockdownReport.pdf

    Douglas Ward Allen’s conclusion: Lockdowns are the “greatest peacetime policy failure” in Canada’s history. https://fee.org/articles/economist-lockdowns-greatest-peacetime-policy-failure-in-canada-s-history/

  4. Robert Lang

    May 4, 2021 at 10:40 pm

    Kenney has lost his mind and his base. I caught covid by visiting a hospital emergency ward. Proving wearing a mask didn’t protect me. However, it feels like a very mild cold. Lockdowns are a inexcusable method of controlling what can’t be stopped.

  5. Erik Tarves

    May 4, 2021 at 10:00 pm

    Maybe those third world places have it figured out when it comes to bad leadership.

    Get a crowd and do bad things to these scumbag politicans,remind them who they work for

  6. Proudly_Free

    May 4, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    If Comrade Kenney really gave a rip about treating sick people, he would’ve ordered at least 6 truckloads of IVERMECTIN months ago. Then we could all just go the doctor, get a prescription, go home and take the damn things and get better. And we would have at least 80 percent fewer cases of real sick people. This is the move of a clueless, vindictive, petty overgrown child tyrant throwing a temper tantrum over his subject’s exercising their civic duty to protest laws and rules that are utterly antithetical to human flourishing.

    Great way to protect lives and livelihoods by fining us all $100,000 for the “crime” of coming within 5ft of another human being a few times in row! EXCELLENT WORK, COMRADE!! You are well on your way to fulfilling your goal of becoming Supreme Leader of the People’s Republic of Alberta very soon!

  7. John

    May 4, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    Kenney said that the Constitution forbids infringement on rights unless it is absolutely necessary and “if it will not overwhelm our health care system “. I don’t recall reading that latter part in the constitution… we each pay 7500 a year into our Heath care system— the only thing we have required/expected is for the government to manage it well. They are admitting they cannot do so.

    I am 48. So far I have paid 360,000 into AB health. And yet I’m told that I cannot live my life normally, because they don’t have room for me to get sick in the public system. The way I see it is that they owe me 350k worth of care. If they don’t understand how to make that work, they’re clearly incompetent.

    , I would like to keep my annual contribution of 7500 and make my own choices, thank you very much. A private doctor would cost me much less than 360K.

    Who is with me?

  8. Kelly Carter

    May 4, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    The only one who does not care about the health of Albertan’s is Jason Kenney. Time to recall Kenney, fire Dr. Hinshaw and put someone in who can understand real world data and the full situation.

  9. DanBC

    May 4, 2021 at 8:17 pm

    Look how many so-called conservatives that get elected, turn into statists and leftists as soon as the job gets tough. Kenney is a grotesque fraud

  10. Declan Carroll

    May 4, 2021 at 8:08 pm

    Only one answer to this garbage is to keep your businesses open and get to work planning the next rodeo. This only ends when we make it end!

  11. Rob K

    May 4, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    You got that right.

  12. Baron Not Baron

    May 4, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    Kenney has to get the hell out immediately! He doesn’t represent any Albertans. He is the enemy of our province! So get out! Resign now!

  13. K Snyder

    May 4, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    The problem Kenney has is we can read and analyze data ourselves. The numbers don’t lie. Only the socialists support this kind of nonsense. This is nothing but a bully move by a premier on his way out.

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SLOBODIAN: O’Toole breaks promise. Again

This is a dramatic about-face from what O’Toole, trying to win over social conservatives, promised when he was campaigning for the leadership in 2020.

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Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has broken a critical promise he made to health professionals when vying for the leadership.

Doctors must refer patients seeking procedures such as abortions, medical assistance in dying, and gender reassignment surgery, said O’Toole during a campaign stop in Winnipeg Friday.

“They will have to refer, because the rights to access those services exist across the country,” he said.

“We have to respect conscience rights, but allow there to be referrals.”

He didn’t explain how the two could co-exist.

This is a dramatic about-face from what O’Toole, trying to win over social conservatives, promised when he was campaigning for the leadership in 2020.

At the time, O’Toole adamantly vowed to support health professionals whose moral or religious beliefs opposed certain medical procedures. 

In his platform he specifically zeroed in on the issue of referrals.

O’Toole said he would protect “the conscience rights of all health care professionals whose beliefs, religious or otherwise, prevent them from carrying out or referring patients for services that violate their conscience.”

Social conservatives were looking for protection for medical professionals wanting to neither perform specific procedure nor make referrals.

This isn’t the first time O’Toole betrayed the social conservative wing of his party.

In the past, he peddled himself as staunchly pro-life.

However, while campaigning in Quebec Wednesday, he assured potential voters they needn’t worry about him getting in the way of abortion rights.

“Je suis pro-choix,” O’Toole declared.

Later, when challenged on that moral reversal, O’Toole who is on record as being pro-life, insisted: “My position has never changed.”

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard

lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Gay Alberta NDP MLA openly mocks believers of God

And she sported a huge grin during a stunning display of reprehensibly rabid intolerance on Friday.

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Edmonton NDP MLA Janis Irwin mocked Jesus and the Bible, used bully tactics, interfered with a citizen’s right to free speech, and encouraged vigilantism against a street preacher.

And she sported a huge grin during a stunning display of reprehensibly rabid intolerance on Friday. 

In a climate where Christians are perceived as fair targets and churches are being burned and vandalized, a politician promoting this appalling behaviour shows pathetically poor judgment at best.

This is Alberta’s Official Opposition Deputy Whip, critic for women’s and LGBTQ2S+ issues, someone who peddles herself as committed to social justice (apparently only for whom she agrees with).

Irwin proudly tweeted and posted a photo on Facebook of herself intimidating a street preacher. She included childish emojis and an invite for others to join in the harassment “every Friday” at Pride Corner, located on Whyte Avenue and Calgary Trail, not even in the Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood riding she represents.

Irwin in street protest

She posted these comments:

“On my way back home and I couldn’t possibly drive past Pride Corner without stopping.”

“Stayed just long enough to hear about my sins and dance a little too.”

“Stop by! They’re there every Friday night til late, drowning out the hate.”

Stop by to do what exactly? Sounds like an invitation to harass, or possibly worse, a street preacher. 

Mission accomplished. Several fuming people promised to head on down to do just that.

The photo shows a male holding a sign saying: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be Saved.’

A female, attempting to block him, holds signs saying: ‘Respect my existence or expect my resistance’ and ‘Keeping YEG hate free.’

Fine. Two people expressing their views.

The problem is the other person in the photo, that being Irwin, holding signs saying: ’This is homophobia disguised as Bible quotes’ and ‘Hate speech is not welcome here.’

A politician inserting herself into this is a pure intimidation tactic against someone she disagrees with.

It takes imagination to conclude the male’s sign spews hate.

One person who commented on Facebook was hardly impressed.

“The Christian has every right to be there – freedom of speech – preaching what he genuinely believes. You are the ones invading his space to make a scene and to provoke a reaction.”

Amen, brother!

Another person wrote: “I am confused, the scripture on the sign has no reference to homosexuality. How is that hate speech?”

Irwin retorted that the preacher says “hateful and harmful” words but neglected to elaborate.

“His preacher friend across the street confirmed to me that I am, in fact ,going to hell,” she claimed, not elaborating on how that alleged encounter transpired.

“I can laugh, but it’s not about me. It’s about that young kid struggling with their sexuality,” she added.

Oh, save it. That young kid deserves a role model who doesn’t condone double standards.

Irwin’s openly gay. 

Yeah, about that…don’t care. The concern here is character and actions, not where one’s affections lie.

When a politician promotes tolerance for me, but not for thee, there’s a serious problem.

Irwin’s Facebook page is saturated with selfies, promoting LGBTQ2S+ issues, and condemnation of Kerry Diotte, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Griesbach, who defeated her in the 2015 federal election.

A red flag about her credibility with facts swirls around false accusations that Diotte promotes conversion therapy.

He has stated that “conversion therapy is a harmful practice and should be banned.”

But he voted against a final “flawed” Liberal Bill C-6 failing to address what would be considered conversion therapy on the grounds that it could “jeopardize or even criminalize some conversations with religious leaders and others when counselling someone.”

The point is Irwin has dishonestly, relentlessly portrayed Diotte as an intolerant hater.

Having known Diotte for many years, it can be stated with absolute surety that he is decidedly not intolerant of gays or anyone, regardless of skin colour or religion.

A new attack appeared Friday on Irwin’s Facebook page spewing the same lies.

When contacted to get his take on whether Irwin crossed a political line, Diotte wondered what her performance has to do with provincial politics.

“People have a right to free speech no matter who they choose to worship. If somebody is fomenting hatred, we have laws against that. The correct thing to do is call the police and make a complaint. If a person is saying something hateful, it is your duty to report, not to incite,” said Diotte.

“What on earth is wrong with spreading the word of God? What kind of world do we live in when people are mocked for that? It’s seriously a sick world when that happens,” he said.

“There are many homeless people in the market with various addictions and maybe the preacher will reach even just one of them and turn their lives around,” said Diotte.

Irwin is obliged to fairly represent Christians in her constituency. With her intolerant bias, can she?

Christians leaders must step out from behind the safety of their pulpits and tell this MLA to respectfully stop mocking Jesus and those who, in Irwin’s view, have the audacity to worship Him.

Slobodian is the Senior Manitoba Columnist for the Western Standard 
lslobodian@westernstandardonline.com

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Opinion

BARNES & LOEWEN: Taking a lesson from Redford, Kenney appoints half of caucus to plum jobs

“With this shuffle, Kenney has increased the size of government while forcing a chosen few to pay a political price for his own failures. That fits a pattern of behaviour that Albertans have come to expect from a premier more concerned with his own scandals than Albertans’ interests.”

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With this week’s cabinet shuffle, Premier Kenney is going to great lengths to put his selfish short-term political interests first.

The premier increased the total size of Cabinet by 15%, up to 26 ministers and associate ministers. If you include parliamentary secretaries and other non-cabinet officers, the total number of the premier’s direct appointments now accounts for 50% of the UCP caucus.

It’s abundantly clear this shuffle has nothing to do with strengthening our province or helping Albertans. It was a crass attempt to buy the loyalty of disheartened and frustrated MLAs. 

It is also reminiscent of the tactics of another deeply unpopular premier from Alberta’s past. As Premier Alison Redford’s administration slipped into scandal, she also handed out 30 appointments, representing half her caucus. While most Albertans take Redford’s failed leadership as a cautionary tale, Premier Kenney seems take it as an instructional manual.

When you take a closer look at Premier Kenney’s new cabinet, things only get worse. Here are a few issues that stand out:

No change at the top

While cabinet shuffles are typically used to reset unpopular government policies, Premier Kenney obviously believes his policies are fine, and has made to no changes at the top of his cabinet. 

Notably, Premier Kenney remains his own minister of intergovernmental relations. Since taking on this post in April of 2019, the premier has achieved next to nothing on this file. He has outright failed to influence federal policy on the carbon tax, the tanker ban bill C-48, or Bill C-69, the no more pipelines bill. The federal government has not offered to address Alberta’s concerns on Equalization, and its minor tinkering with the Fiscal Stabilization program is little more than an insult.

To this day, federal government repeatedly meddles in provincial jurisdiction with regard to resource development, and when the Keystone XL pipeline was cancelled, the premier couldn’t get the prime minister to lift a finger. No minister in this government has a worse record than the intergovernmental relations minister, and he should be replaced.

No regional balance

Of the 26 people with seats at the cabinet table, 17 are from Calgary, making up 65% of the total.

Of Alberta’s 41 rural constituencies, only eight (less than 20%) are represented at the cabinet table. With the departure of MLA Grant Hunter from cabinet, there is now effectively no representation at the table for Albertans from the rural south. In fact, there isn’t a single MLA in cabinet south of Calgary’s city limits.

If you want to be in Jason Kenney’s cabinet, the obvious first step should be winning a seat in Calgary. Of 23 Calgary ridings won by the UCP, 17 (74%) are represented in cabinet.

Wildrose purge

Of the 13 former-Wildrose MLAs elected under the UCP banner in 2019 (each with a minimum of four years’ experience), there are only three in cabinet. Two former Wildrosers (Hunter and Aheer) were expelled from Cabinet, and two others (Loewen and Barnes) have been expelled from caucus altogether. 

No accountability

One of the biggest political scandals of the year (the Sky Palace patio party) featured several senior ministers including the premier himself violating their own health restrictions. Earlier in the year, the premier threatened any restriction violators with expulsion from the UCP caucus. In January, MLAs who did not break health restrictions were all punished. However, none of the Sky Palace ministers were demoted in this cabinet shuffle. Meanwhile, the lone minister who dared to question the premier’s claims that he followed the rules (which he later recanted) was dismissed from cabinet.

The bottom line is it’s hard to take this premier seriously when he talks about finding efficiencies or improving government accountability. With this shuffle, Kenney has increased the size of government while forcing a chosen few to pay a political price for his own failures. That fits a pattern of behaviour that Albertans have come to expect from a premier more concerned with his own scandals than Albertans’ interests.

Guest Column from Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen.
Drew Barnes is the Independent MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat
Todd Loewen is the Independent MLA for Central Peace-Notley

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