Dutrisac: Souveraineté provinciale

Dutrisac on Alberta and Saskatchewan’s focus on provincial sovereignty, along with picking up on Ibbitson’s arguments that aggressive federalism is fanning the flames (true but exaggerated IMO). Of particular note the last para:

Quant à François Legault, après les gaffes répétitives commises sur le dos des immigrants, il n’aura qu’à attendre ce que lui réserve le fédéralisme agressif d’un gouvernement Trudeau qui insiste pour que Québec se plie à la politique d’immigration pléthorique de ce pays postnational.

Full article:

La nouvelle cheffe du Parti conservateur uni (PCU) et, depuis mardi, première ministre, Danielle Smith, a remporté la course à la direction de son parti en promettant de présenter un projet de loi sur la souveraineté de l’Alberta.

L’utilisation du terme souveraineté, un concept au coeur du projet du Parti québécois depuis la fin des années 1960, peut prêter à confusion. On ne saurait voir dans Danielle Smith une émule de René Lévesque. Il ne s’agit pas pour la première ministre de promouvoir une quelconque sécession, ce qui ne correspond d’ailleurs pas aux inclinations de la plupart des Albertains. Cette souveraineté est bien celle d’une province, dans ses champs de compétence, une forme de néo-autonomisme, selon le politologue de l’Université de l’Alberta Frédéric Boily. C’est le modèle mis en oeuvre par le gouvernement Legault, en définitive.

Danielle Smith a repris l’expression du premier ministre de la Saskatchewan, Scott Moe, en affirmant que sa province, avec cette loi sur la souveraineté, pourra se comporter comme « une nation au sein d’une nation ». Mais il s’agit plutôt d’un régionalisme axé sur la défense d’intérêts économiques, notamment la poursuite de l’exploitation des hydrocarbures, et non pas d’un nationalisme de nature identitaire comme au Québec.

Certains ont vu dans ce projet de loi une bombe constitutionnelle… et surtout anticonstitutionnelle. Le premier ministre sortant, Jason Kenney, a qualifié l’idée de « cinglée ». De fait, il est encore difficile de savoir comment une telle loi s’appliquerait. Elle permettrait à la province de refuser de se soumettre à une loi fédérale ou à un jugement de la Cour s’ils sont contraires aux intérêts de l’Alberta ou s’il s’agit d’une intrusion illégale dans ses champs de compétence. Il reviendrait aux élus de l’Assemblée législative albertaine d’adopter une motion spéciale en ce sens. Selon la description somme toute sommaire de l’éventuel projet de loi, le gouvernement fédéral devrait alors s’adresser aux tribunaux pour trancher le litige.

À terme, c’est la Cour suprême qui aurait le dernier mot, faut-il comprendre. Le principal conseiller de Danielle Smith a indiqué lundi qu’une fois le projet de loi en vigueur, l’Alberta continuerait de respecter les jugements de la Cour suprême. La bombe est en train de se transformer en pétard mouillé.

Comme cela s’est vu quand Trudeau père était aux commandes, un fort ressentiment envers le gouvernement fédéral s’est développé dans les provinces de l’Ouest, ressentiment relié à l’exploitation des ressources pétrolières et gazières. Le fils semble suivre la trace du père. À l’époque, il s’agissait de la propriété de ces ressources naturelles et des revenus qu’elles généraient. Aujourd’hui, c’est le contrôle qu’entend exercer Ottawa sur ces ressources en raison de la lutte contre les changements climatiques.

Si jamais ce projet de loi sur cette souveraineté provinciale voit le jour, il viendra tard. Déjà, la Cour suprême, dans son jugement l’an dernier sur la taxe carbone du gouvernement Trudeau, a dépossédé les provinces de leur compétence exclusive en la matière au nom de « l’intérêt national » et du pouvoir d’Ottawa de faire des lois pour « la paix, l’ordre et le bon gouvernement ». Nous sommes à l’ère du fédéralisme évolutif, coopératif, qui se déploie au détriment des pouvoirs réservés aux provinces. Un fédéralisme de supervision, selon l’expression d’un juge dissident dans cette cause, Russell Brown.

Selon le chroniqueur du Globe and Mail John Ibbitson, le « fédéralisme agressif » que pratique le gouvernement Trudeau a mis en rogne l’Alberta, alors que le « fédéralisme passif » de Stephen Harper avait calmé le jeu, y compris avec le Québec.

La Saskatchewan et le Manitoba, deux provinces dotées de gouvernements conservateurs, partagent les doléances de l’Alberta. Il lui manque un appui de taille : celui de l’Ontario et du premier ministre conservateur Doug Ford. Lui aussi s’opposait à la taxe carbone du gouvernement Trudeau, mais, depuis le jugement de la Cour suprême, il semble s’être désintéressé de l’affaire. Il faut dire que le premier ministre ontarien a beau jeu. Justin Trudeau a tout intérêt à soigner ses relations avec lui. Doug Ford préférera sans doute profiter des avantages que lui offrira Ottawa au lieu de se joindre aux provinces de l’Ouest dans une fronde perdue d’avance contre le pouvoir fédéral.

Quant à François Legault, après les gaffes répétitives commises sur le dos des immigrants, il n’aura qu’à attendre ce que lui réserve le fédéralisme agressif d’un gouvernement Trudeau qui insiste pour que Québec se plie à la politique d’immigration pléthorique de ce pays postnational.

Source: Souveraineté provinciale

Alberta UCP government’s anti-racism action plan met with criticism, questions

Of note:
Some advocates and the Opposition NDP say the Alberta government’s anti-racism action plan avoids taking important action.
Released on July 18, the Alberta government’s 20-page anti-racism action plan, presented as a “living document” that will change based on feedback, outlines three years’ worth of initiatives, including some the government has already done or begun to work on.Irfan Chaudhry, director of MacEwan University’s office of human rights, diversity and equity, said in an interview with Postmedia Wednesday the plan offers some constructive initiatives, but he doesn’t have much hope in it achieving its goals.

“I think it’s really weak,” he said

The action plan comes more than a year-and-a-half after the Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council, whose membership has since shifted, submitted a report to the government in January 2021. The public report with 48 recommendations was released last June, after the government had already announced action, including creating a hate crime liaison, a Hate Crimes Coordination Unit and the rollout of a grant program for religious and ethnic organizations to boost security against potential hate crimes.

Some recommendations of the council, however, including to mandate the collection of race-based data across government departments and police services, appear to have been either rejected, or relegated to another day.Over the next three years, the latest plan commits to developing data standards, and commissioning an expert report to guide the potential collection and use of race-based data

“There’s likely zero to no commitment from this government to any collection of race-based data … to me that just sounds like kicking the can down the road,” said Chaudhry.

In April, a UCP-led committee rejected a bill from NDP MLA David Shepherd that would have required the collection of race-based databy government.

Roy Dallmann, press secretary to Labour and Immigration Minister Kaycee Madu, said the government wants to get the collection of race-based data right, citing the historic misuse of such information.Alberta NDP multiculturalism critic Jasvir Deol said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed” the government sat on the recommendations of the council for a year and a half, and then failed to deliver a comprehensive action plan, including avoiding committing to data collection

“The UCP has not carefully or mindfully consulted with community members on the actions that would improve the lives of racialized Albertans,” said Deol.

The plan promises to tackle public education and cultural awareness, enable skills training for racialized and Indigenous peoples, create new grant and recognition programs for racialized and newcomer Albertans, and help remove barriers to cultural organizations applying for grants.

Bukola Salami, an associate professor in the faculty of nursing at the University of Alberta whose research focuses on health and immigration policies, said in an interview with Postmedia there are good elements, including promised grant funding.“It’s basic, it’s general, but at least it’s better than nothing,” she said, adding there is much to still be addressed in terms of accountability measures, including protection from backlash for those reporting injustices.

“The question is will it push the needle? Will it make any much difference, without having an accountability piece?” she said.

Chaudhry said helping cultural organizations apply for grants is a critical step that can help address systemic bias. However, he said he finds it disingenuous for the government to commit to new grants,since in 2019 the UCP removed the Human Rights and Multiculturalism Grants program.

“I have a hard time buying what’s being sold on this one, because there has been a patterned, sustained removal of a commitment to anti-racism from this specific government,” he said.While the plan promises to act to ensure “inclusion and diversity training” for law enforcement officers, it does not make clear whether that training might be mandatory, and for whom.

The government said it’s currently reviewing the Police Act to modernize policing, including officer training requirements, but it referred specific questions about recruiting and in-service training to police services.

Chaudhry said a focus on further discussion with community groups can put off taking action.

“I don’t think communities want more talking or discussion, I think they’ve already ‘been there, done that,’ so to speak, and that’s where I think a lot of this is going to fall flat.”

While the government’s release noted that the actions “build on” the work of the council, Postmedia did not receive a response to an email to the current advisory council asking for comment on how the action plan relates to its work.Madu said in the news release announcing the plan that his government has shown a proven track record in dealing with racism, discrimination and systemic racism, but there is more to be done.

“This action plan serves as a road map for our province to confront and take steps to eliminate racism to ensure Alberta is a free, fair and prosperous place for everyone,” Madu said. In the document, Madu acknowledges the effort of the council, and of Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism Muhammad Yaseen, who did the work developing the plan

Heather Campbell, a former co-chair of the advisory council, said in a Twitter thread shortly after the plan’s release that it’s “terrible and offensive.”

“There is so much ugly ‘collect information’ and ‘do nothing with the information’ in the document,” she wrote.

Dallmann said that kind of reaction to the first such anti-racism plan from any Alberta government is “unfortunate” because it downplays the importance of steps being undertaken.

“Given that this plan is rooted in the recommendations from the former (council) chair, we’re surprised she doesn’t recognize that this is a huge step forward to set Alberta up for increasingly successful diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts in the future,” Dallmann said.

Source: Alberta UCP government’s anti-racism action plan met with criticism, questions

Albertans launch Dignity Forum in response to increase in racism, hatred

Of note. Will be interesting to see how effective its work is:
A new forum is working to give Alberta Human Rights Commission a fresh platform to stand on by elevating the importance of human rights progression through collaboration.
Officially launching May 25, the Dignity Forum was founded out of deep concern for the increase in discrimination and prejudice faced by racialized groups in Alberta.

Founded by former Alberta MLA and senator Ron Ghitter, the Dignity Forum brings together key stakeholders from human rights groups to speak with one voice to combat the systemic issues of intolerance, harassment, and discrimination in Alberta.

Ghitter has been involved with the development of human rights policies over the past 45 years, and was awarded the Alberta Human Rights Award in 1990.

The commission was once a leader in human rights protection in Canada, Ghitter said, but funding cuts, low profile and lack of political support have diminished the judicial body’s impact on legislation, community outreach and education.

The plan for the forum is to elevate human rights conversations in the province through advocacy, collaboration and education systems, he said.“The commission used to be the engine that brings the people together in the province. Instead, they operate in isolation,” Ghitter said.

“The resources that they’re given are really only enough to allow them to deal with the enforcement side. But you can’t force someone to love thy neighbour.”

In 2019, the UCP government cut the commission’s $1 million annual Human Rights and Multiculturalism Grants program, which was aimed at fighting racism and promoting human rights and equality through community projects.

The cuts came before the COVID-19 pandemic, when communities across Canada saw an increase in hate-motivated incidents, particularly against Asian communities.

Hate crimes reported to Calgary police have risen almost 60 per cent in three years, from 165 files in 2019 to 388 in 2021.

“I’ve never seen before the elements of racism and bullying, assaults on the streets and guards in mosques and synagogues. We decided we needed a different approach in dealing with the issue.”

A call to action posted to the organization’s website outlines recommendations to better equip the commission, including sustainable funding and shifting reporting responsibilities to the Alberta legislative assembly instead of Alberta’s justice minister.

The Dignity Forum is made up of a board of directors and an advisory council with expertise from a variety of different backgrounds, from legal to immigrant and Indigenous voices. Ghitter said he believes this collaborative approach will make a difference in the province.

“You get a number of groups together, and they became the one voice that is more persuasive in the community and government for change,” he said. “We need to have a stronger message to really get out and explain to Albertans just the dangers that we’re falling into.”

Source: Albertans launch Dignity Forum in response to increase in racism, hatred

Bell: Kenney’s plan to woo ethnic voters to help him save his job

Back to his days of Minister for Curry in a Hurry:
This is getting to be serious business.
I hear Rishi Nagar on West of Centre, a CBC podcast.When he talks about Premier Jason Kenney courting voters from cultural communities in northeast Calgary in a bid to keep his job it gets me curious.

I decide to give the political deep thinker a call. Nagar also happens to be a heck of a nice guy who knows his stuff.

Nagar is the news director at RED FM, a multicultural radio station in Calgary.

The questions come easily

How many people in northeast Calgary filled out membership forms for Kenney’s United Conservative Party?

Folks who snagged a membership by this past Saturday can register to vote Yes or No next month on the premier’s fate. As many as 20,000 across the province may register. It is an astounding number.

So what is the educated guess, the ballpark number?

Who better to ask than a man who attended a half-dozen Kenney events in the city’s northeast?

He says around 2,000-plus signed up for the premier

The premier. The citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism minister in his previous life in Ottawa.

His job back then was to win new Canadians to the federal Conservative side. Kenney was tagged with a nickname by an MP. The Minister for Curry in a Hurry.

As the premier scrounges for votes in the upcoming vote on his leadership, Nagar mentions organizers from different communities reaching out to their people “to fill the membership form for Mr. Kenney.”

He mentions Hindus and Sikhs and Muslims. He mentions Muslims from Pakistan and Muslims from Lebanon and Muslims from South Africa.

In every event there are forms filled out and collected in groups of 50. The memberships add up, the promises to vote for Kenney.Kenney is a very frequent visitor to the city’s northeast. The premier even goes to very small gatherings, as small as 15 people.

“He’s very happy,” says Nagar, of the premier.

Local members of the legislature, serving under the banner of Kenney’s United Conservatives, are at the back of the room.

It could be Rajan Sawhney or Mickey Amery or Peter Singh.

Nagar cannot say, and nobody knows, how many with UCP memberships will actually vote in Red Deer.

Of course if the UCP decides to have voting in Calgary as well as Red Deer it will be much more convenient.

Ditto if they decide to allow in-person voting in the capital city.

“Mr. Kenney is targeting minority communities here in Calgary. He must be doing the same thing in Edmonton,” adds NagarThe Kenney pitch is first and foremost the fear of the NDP.

Then the fear of breaking up the United Conservatives, an uneasy marriage of convenience with former Wildrosers and former PC types intent on seeing the NDP defeated last election.

Then there’s Kenney on the economy coming out of COVID, pledging to make communities “happy and flourishing.”

Kenney talks a lot about the economy.

The man from RED FM says there is not one single question on the premier’s past comments on the spread of COVID in northeast Calgary or on the issue of hail insurance after the huge storm.

Nagar says just before the Alberta government budget Kenney was “absolutely unpopular.”

After the budget things started changing. He started showing up.

There is “one interesting feature” mentioned. The desire to get a picture with Kenney.

“Whenever there is a photo-op with the premier they forget everything. A picture is important. If I have a picture with Jason Kenney I will hang it in my family room.”

Such is the sentiment.

“There is a lineup for the pictures.”

Nagar says the members Kenney is signing up may not be the deciding factor in his survival but it is big support for him to win.

The premier’s people know they’re in a fight.

They know his approval is nothing to write home about and they don’t talk about it.

They know polls show most Albertans aren’t happy with him.

They emphasize how the UCP could squeak out a win against the NDP, not pointing to the fact some of that UCP vote may come from those who expect Kenney could be gone after his party’s leadership vote

But when the premier is in Calgary’s northeast he is one happy camper

“You can see his tone and language when he departs. He’s super-happy. He’s very confident. His gait is changed. His way of talking changes after seeing all these people.”

Source: Bell: Kenney’s plan to woo ethnic voters to help him save his job

Alberta launching new programs to boost rural immigration

Always an uphill challenge, and latest Census data indicates ever increasing percentage flocking to urban areas. That being said, even small increases in rural areas can make a difference there even if one of the motivators is political:

Alberta’s United Conservative government is hoping two new programs will bring more immigrants to rural Alberta communities.

Speaking at the Fairness for Newcomers Summit in downtown Calgary on Wednesday, Premier Jason Kenney said the programs will encourage skilled workers from abroad to settle outside the province’s big cities to help fill anticipated labour shortages.

“We’re determined to get more than our share of newcomers,” Kenney said. “Newcomers don’t take jobs away from Albertans but help to create jobs. They create additional demand, they create additional wealth and, very typically, they create additional businesses that hire people.”

The Rural Renewal Stream will allow municipalities outside the Calgary and Edmonton metropolitan areas with fewer than 100,000 people to apply to become a designated community for immigrants.

The other program, the Rural Entrepreneur Stream, will let immigrants who want to start or buy a business in rural Alberta visit communities to assess their plans. The UCP had first pitched the programs as campaign promises before the 2019 provincial election.

The Wednesday announcement comes in the wake of the 2021 census, which revealed Alberta has seven of the 10 fastest-shrinking municipalities across Canada, all in far-flung rural areas, as rural communities face aging populations and a dwindling workforce.

One difficulty for immigrants to rural communities is having their foreign credentials recognized, said UCP Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism Muhammad Yaseen. He said the government is aiming to make it easier for trained professionals to put their skills to use, which he said could help alleviate the province’s ongoing rural doctor shortage.

“A larger issue is, how do we get international medical graduates who are here, in Calgary or Edmonton, who are also willing to go to rural Alberta?” Yaseen told Postmedia.“We’re doing whatever we can to help them, to facilitate them, and not only doctors but engineers and pharmacists and others. We don’t want anybody left behind just because their credentials are not recognized.”

Yaseen immigrated to Canada from Pakistan with his family when he was 17, and in 1979 took his first job in Rimbey, about 65 kilometres northwest of Red Deer. At the time, he was the only person of colour in the rural community, something he said has shifted in the intervening decades.

Yaseen did face some discrimination, but said many people welcomed him into the community.

“Rural Alberta culture is a culture of hospitality, a culture of generosity, a culture of sharing and caring, and I learned a lot when I moved there,” he said.

Immigrant Services Calgary applauded the new initiatives, saying they expect plans to boost rural immigration to have broader economic benefits for the province.

“The rural immigration streams announced today will not only contribute to the local economies of small towns and centres across Alberta, but they’ll also support and grow the provincial economy,” said Hyder Hassan, CEO of the local non-profit.

The Opposition NDP criticized the announcement, saying additional community supports need to be established in communities that will be welcoming immigrants.

“These new streams will not be enough to help communities set newcomers up for success,” NDP labour critic Christina Gray said in a statement.

Source: Alberta launching new programs to boost rural immigration

Document suggesting students learn positive aspects of Nazi Germany deleted by Alberta education officials

Striking that the document dates from 1984 with multiple revisions without anyone noticing or taking action:

A document that suggested Alberta students learn about the positive aspects of Nazi Germany has been deleted from the Ministry of Education’s website, following criticism from multiple groups.

The document, a set of guidelines for “recognizing diversity and promoting respect,” suggested considering whether a given educational resource addressed “both the positive and negative behaviours” of various groups.

“For instance,” it read, “if a video details war atrocities committed by the Nazis, does it also point out that before World War II, German government’s policies substantially strengthened the country’s economy?”

Source: Document suggesting students learn positive aspects of Nazi Germany deleted by Alberta education officials

New curriculum deepens old political divide in Alberta

Brings back memories of working on Discover Canada, the citizenship study guide introduced by former immigration and citizenship minister Kenney (my book, https://wordpress.com/page/multiculturalmeanderings.com/2507, has a chapter covering that):

When Alberta’s NDP government was still in power, the United Conservative Party campaigned on the idea that its political rival was trying to smuggle politics into Alberta classrooms. Once in office, UCP Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said her own government’s plans for a sweeping curriculum revamp would be about getting away from any “ideological bent.”

But when everyone got the first official look at the UCP’s draft kindergarten-to-Grade 6 curriculum this week, it became clear that the governing party’s political stamp is on its own strategy. In social studies, in particular, it’s a prescriptive, details-heavy document with a take on history that’s not an easy sell to many parents, or the people who teach the stuff.

The document asks Grade 3 students – kids aged 8 or 9 – to explain items many grownups struggle with, including the clauses of Magna Carta, the First Nations’ claim to land beyond the settled area of New France and “why Alberta is a leading resource-producing region.”

There was never a chance that a large-scale blueprint that outlines the lessons that will mould young minds would be anything but political. Education is a fraught issue everywhere, but it’s especially so in the polarized landscape that is Alberta politics. Here, there’s no consensus on where the oil and gas-focused economy needs to go, and where it feels like the NDP and UCP are locked in a perpetual, election-like battle.

The government says the draft K-6 curriculum brings a renewed focus to literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills. Everyone seems to agree that the addition of financial skills, computer coding and sexual consent are good things.

The government is asking for feedback from the public but intends to test the curriculum in some classrooms this fall, and all students are expected to be learning it in the 2022-23 school year. The quick turnaround for reimagining the curriculum is in step with the government’s focus on fulfilling campaign commitments, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Alberta has long had a strong, well-regarded public-education system with high student test scores in reading, math and science, compared with global peers. Ms. LaGrange, however, also notes that some parts of the curriculum are decades old, and raw scores are either flat or seeing a decline.

“This is actually very ambitious – to change all of the curriculum at one time,” said Ms. LaGrange in an interview this week with The Globe and Mail.

But already, the Métis Nation of Alberta has called for a redo. Edmonton Public Schools – which counts more than 100,000 students of all grades on its rolls – said Thursday that it will not participate in a pilot run of the draft elementary curriculum this fall. The decision is based on worries about bringing in a new program during the pandemic. But there’s also high public concern as to whether the curriculum is age-appropriate, whether it properly addresses the issues of residential schools and reconciliation, and whether an “us-versus-them mentality” is embedded in the document.

Elk Island Public Schools is also out, and Edmonton Catholic Schools has saidit “will not be committing to piloting the curriculum.”

All subjects are under intense scrutiny but social studies appears to be the major sticking point. Some parents and critics say the curriculum is far too dense for young students, mishandles issues of race and leaves out LGBTQ issues, is too American- and European-centric, or is focused on the three major Abrahamic religions.

There are seemingly gratuitous partisan jabs, like in Grade 6, where the curriculum notes that “the United States Congress, controlled by the Democratic party, ruled in the Fugitive Slave Act that escaped slaves must be returned to their owners.”

NDP critic Sarah Hoffman’s blunt assessment is “this is a mess of a curriculum.”

But the UCP is responding, in part, to broader concerns about the education system – which Ms. LaGrange notes helped her party win the 2019 election. A key part of this is what she has described as the political biases of some individual teachers.

Last year, Ms. LaGrange referred to an excerpt from an exam that she said was from a Grade 10 class in Calgary. She argued that it was an attack on the province’s responsible energy sector. A multiple-choice question asked students to identify “one of the valid arguments against oil sands development” being the destruction of tracts of forest.

“My main concern has always been to ensure that our curriculum is taught without bias,” the Education Minister said the interview. “And the fact that the new draft curriculum is really based on factual content – that will really leave little room for bias in our classrooms.”

But the other side of this argument is that the ability of teachers to adapt to circumstances is diminished. “The new curriculum turns education into a checklist and rote memorization,” said Alberta Party Leader Jacquie Fenske.

And a second, related theme for the UCP is that current teaching now is so focused on the many errors of history, and injustices, that it fails to note the accomplishments of modern civilization, in Alberta and elsewhere. Premier Jason Kenney says it’s possible to face up to historical racism, for instance, “while also teaching how we have increasingly managed to overcome those things, and how we’ve created this incredibly diverse, pluralistic society.”

This part of the revamp is very on-brand for the UCP. Part of it, however, feels incongruous in a week when Mr. Kenney talked about “hitting our stride in diversification.”

An overly political remaking of Alberta’s now-strong school system is galvanizing parent groups who are against the changes. A big fight over the base curriculum for the youngest kids is not only bad for the province, it could make potential newcomers – and even the companies and investors Mr. Kenney’s government has spent two years trying to entice – less enthusiastic about coming to the province.

Politics will be part of any new curriculum. But Mr. Kenney’s UCP is, as often, in danger of letting politics take over.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-new-curriculum-deepens-old-political-divide-in-alberta/

Former co-chair of Alberta’s anti-racism council calls on government to release recommendations

Of note, but not surprising. Focus on “dinner and dance:”

A former co-chair of Alberta’s Anti-Racism Advisory Council is calling for the government to publicly release the group’s report and its recommendations to combat racism.

The Alberta government has not committed to releasing the report, which it received earlier this month. Heather Campbell said in a Twitter thread Wednesday the public should press them to.

“The report should be made public. Demand it be so. With racism, silence is merely an act of complicity,” she wrote, also noting that her experience serving on the council has been challenging and difficult.

Source: Former co-chair of Alberta’s anti-racism council calls on government to release recommendations

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 16 December Update

Main news continues to be with respect ongoing sharp spike in infections in most provinces and countries along with consequentdeath rate increases:

 

 
Weekly:
 
Infections per million: California ahead of New York, Sweden ahead of Italy (the Swedish model keeps on looking worse by the week)
 
Deaths per million: USA ahead of Quebec, Prairies ahead of Canada less Quebec
 
 
 
And Sun Media’s Brian Lilley painting a slightly more positive picture of Ontario than warranted (Ontario’s relative position within Canada reflects the upsurge in Western Canada):

If you listened to much of the media and the opposition parties, you’d think that Ontario was handling the COVID-19 crisis worse than anywhere in the country — perhaps worse than much of the world.

Despite all the problems that Ontario has faced, and I have written extensively about those, compared to our neighbours and similar jurisdictions, the province continues to perform well in the face of a horrific virus. This thought was brought to mind as I watched the first vaccines being administered. In Ontario, it was a nurse at the University Health Network giving a shot to a personal support worker from a long-term care centre.

Premier Doug Ford was nowhere to be found.

In neighbouring New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo actually conducted a live video conference with the nurse getting the first shot, inserting himself into the story in a way that only Cuomo can. The New York governor continues to receive praise for his handling of COVID and recently received an Emmy for his press conferences during the pandemic.

The media and the American establishment love Cuomo and his handling of the pandemic; it’s a shame his record is so abysmal. More on that in a moment.

Listening to opposition leaders here, you would think Ontario was in far worse shape than neighbouring New York.

“Today’s exploding COVID cases should be a wake-up call for Mr. Ford,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath tweeted.

Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca said that Ford’s priorities this fall were not looking after the people.

“He was focused on helping his buddies and forgot about the rest of us,” Del Duca said Tuesday.

When it comes to critiquing Ford’s handling of the pandemic, I’ll take a back seat to no one. I’ve been critical of his handling of long-term care, the length and style of his lockdowns and the collateral damage they have wrought, but criticism needs to be based in some kind of reality.

Could Ontario have done better in dealing with long-term care in the first wave? Absolutely. The province though made decisions based on the information before them. After watching emergency rooms be overwhelmed in China, Italy, in New York City, the province put scarce resources into hospitals. COVID-19 hit differently here than elsewhere: the general population was ready, a small portion of our long-term care homes were not.

The majority of homes still have not had an outbreak.

Now, back to that comparison.

On Tuesday, Ontario, with a population of 14.7 million reported 2,275 cases. This was the highest ever, due in part to a change in how cases are counted, but let’s take the number at face value. There were also 921 people in hospital and 20 deaths. New York State, with a population of 19.4 million, reported 10,353 new cases, 5,982 people in hospital and 128 deaths on Tuesday.

Deaths from COVID-19 would be the stat that matters most and while Ontario has 27 deaths per 100,000 of population, New York State has 183 per 100,000.

Within Canada, Quebec is the only province the comes close to Ontario in terms of population, international travel, urban density and other factors. With a population of about 8.5 million, Quebec has recorded 89 deaths per 100,000 of population or 3.3 times the rate of Ontario.

Other neighbours with similar populations fare no better.

Ohio is at 84 per 100,000, Pennsylvania at 98, and Michigan at 113.

In fact, were Ontario an American state, we would be the 45th lowest state in terms of COVID deaths per 100,000 and were we an independent country, we would be below most of the industrialized world. Only Japan would be among the G7 nations that would be lower than Ontario.

The province can always do better, and it must.

That requires targeted and constructive criticisms rather than what the opposition is offering up.

Source: LILLEY: Ontario outperforms much of the world in dealing with COVID

#COVID-19: Comparing provinces with other countries 9 December Update

Main news continues to be with respect ongoing sharp spike in infections along with death rate increases:

 
Weekly:
 
Infections per million: New York and California ahead of France, Sweden ahead of UK, Prairies ahead of Canada, Canada less Quebec ahead of Ontario, British Columbia ahead of India
 
Deaths per million: British Columbia ahead of India, Pakistan ahead of Australia
 
 
COVID Comparison Chart.002COVID Comparison Chart.003

And good commentary on Alberta Premier Kenney’s belated recognition of reality:

After months of pleading with Albertans to take “personal responsibility” to stop the spread of COVID-19, Premier Jason Kenney has finally taken personal responsibility himself.

On Tuesday, he reluctantly announced the kind of sweeping COVID-19 restrictions he had been tersely rejecting for weeks.

He is now ordering everyone to wear a mask in public spaces everywhere in Alberta. And nobody is allowed to hold any social gatherings outside.

You can say “hi” to your neighbour walking the dog but stay two metres apart and don’t dawdle. Starting Sunday, you can only get take-out from restaurants and pubs. No in-person dining. Casinos are closing as are bingo halls, raceways, bowling alleys, pool halls, fitness centres, spas, gym, indoor skating rinks.

Retail stores can stay open but only allow in 15 per cent capacity at a time.

The list goes on. Odds are, if you enjoy doing it, it’s cancelled, postponed or diminished.

As Kenney recited the new restrictions, he must have felt like he was reading the Riot Act to Albertans.

And, in a sense, he was.

As the pandemic grew in the past month from bonfire to wildfire, Kenney had tried to argue his way through the crisis by ignoring pleas from physicians, ridiculing the NDP opposition, and insisting Albertans would bring the crisis under control by taking “personal responsibility.”

In the end he was done in by the might of two factors: freedom-loving Albertans who didn’t take the COVID-19 virus seriously; and the COVID-19 virus that didn’t take freedom-loving Albertans seriously.

Adding those two together gives you the inescapable math of a pandemic.

“The recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations will threaten our health-care system and the lives of many vulnerable Albertans unless further action is taken now,” said Kenney.

“With the promise of a vaccine early in 2021, we can see the end of this terrible time. But all Albertans must take this more seriously than ever by staying home whenever possible, and following these new measures.”

Even though Kenney was speaking to all Albertans, he focused particular attention on those who will resent the new measures. They’re more likely to live in rural areas, reject government interference in their lives, and preach self-sufficiency. In other words, United Conservative supporters. By refusing to introduce tougher restrictions for weeks, Kenney was bending over backwards to placate his political base.

But the inexorable math of COVID-19 has forced Kenney to demonstrate he has a spine.

“To many people, these policies, these restrictions seem unjust,” said Kenney. “I’ve made no secret of the fact that Alberta’s government has been reluctant to use extraordinary powers to damage or destroy livelihoods in this way. It is why we have stressed education together with personal and collective responsibility from the very beginning and it’s why we tried to balance the protection of lives and livelihood rather than resorting to damaging measures as a first resort.”

Kenney also announced more money to help small businesses survive the new measures. That is a great idea but it was a great idea when critics suggested it weeks ago, along with the very restrictions Kenney announced Tuesday.

Better late than never?

Understandably, Kenney bristled at questions from journalists about whether he might be responsible for the COVID deaths of Albertans because he didn’t lock down the province sooner. Kenney said it would be a “mistake” to draw simple conclusions during such a complicated time.

But it is a question that will dog him. And NDP MLAs will no doubt be helpfully re-asking the question whenever a microphone or TV camera is within hailing distance.

“The lockdown announced today comes late,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley after Kenney’s news conference. “We could have acted four weeks ago. Since then, an additional 317 people have died.”

Notley will be wielding this rhetorical knife through the next election.

Kenney might be thinking “better late than never” and while that might be great when talking about filling a pothole or repairing a school roof, it’s not so great when talking about enacting more precautions during a pandemic that’s killing people daily.

Kenney’s new restrictions will last four weeks. That will take us through the Christmas holiday and into the new year.

During Tuesday’s news conference, Doug Schweitzer, the minister of jobs, economy and innovation, happily declared “a vaccine is almost here” as if the pandemic will suddenly end Jan. 5 when Alberta is scheduled to start inoculations against COVID-19.

The reality is that, because of logistics and supply issues, during the first three months of 2021 only about 10 per cent of Albertans will receive vaccinations, mainly health-care workers and the elderly.

The rest of us will have to wait and continue to wear masks, wash our hands, and practise social distancing for many more months. Perhaps by then enough Albertans will know how to practise “personal responsibility” without Kenney having to read us the Riot Act.

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/opinion-thomson-covid-kenney-blinks-1.5833751?cmp=rss