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Coronavirus

Resign, Kenney, Resign

A political arsonist who sets his provincial house on fire three times is not fit to hold public office.

Andrew Nikiforuk 16 Sep 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Tyee contributing editor Andrew Nikiforuk is an award-winning journalist whose books and articles focus on epidemics, the energy industry, nature and more.

Resign, Premier Kenney, resign.

You have sown doubt and confusion in your province.

Your risible leadership has caused death, suffering, despair and fear.

You willfully fuelled the Delta wildfire by declaring the pandemic over, and then prohibited any more public health firefighting.

You disappeared from the battle. You abandoned your people. You betrayed your province. You ignored the best evidence. You invented fictions about “endemics.” You failed to act.

And all this you did to experience one narcissistic moment, so you could be the first premier to rhetorically promise “the best summer ever” on Canada Day.

And now, as you were warned repeatedly, a very bad autumn has descended upon the province with another “state of emergency.”

A raging conflagration is burning the unvaccinated and the vaccinated, too, by scorching small businesses and damaging Alberta’s health-care system for the third time in a row.

A serial political arsonist that sets his provincial house on fire three times in a row for ideological reasons is simply not fit to hold any public office.

And I’m not finished yet.

Your shameless ego also must now take responsibility for the anger of the vaccinated who find their ranks too thin.

You must feel the anguish of patients and their relatives dealing with cancelled surgeries.

You must feel the fatigue of health-care workers intubating those who can’t breathe.

You must acknowledge the dismay of families worried about the health of their children attending schools vulnerable to COVID.

You must face the fury of ordinary citizens who can no longer stomach the grandstanding of a career politician who’s repeatedly ignored the democratic wishes of 70 per cent of his people.

Albertans called for action, service and sacrifice, but you waffled, obfuscated and prevaricated.

You told us that “the flu” was a greater threat than COVID-19.

Then you disappeared.

Resign, Mr. Kenney, resign.

With your bombastic hubris you have authored a public health catastrophe that was entirely avoidable and entirely preventable.

You had the simple tools of viral freedom at your disposal: a multi-layered program of masks, testing, tracing, proper ventilation in schools and workplaces, and targeted vaccine campaigns for the wary and anxious.

And then you threw them away, and told Albertans to give up, and live with wildfire in their homes.

The developmental biologist Malgorzata Gasperowicz, who has repeatedly warned your government about exponential growth, has a powerful analogy for you.

She is Polish, and her grandmother survived the German occupation.

Gasperowicz compares a rapidly evolving novel virus to an occupying army. And she now wonders this: If the Germans had occupied Kenney’s home town of Oakville, Ontario, would the premier have told everyone to have a good summer because the occupiers won’t kill everyone immediately?

Or would he have said it’s okay if the occupiers kill people as long as they don’t overwhelm the hospitals?

Would he have noted a small drop-off in the number of German soldiers in town and declared victory, ignoring that all roads and skies were open to deliver more of them back in numbers greater than ever?

Is that the naively defeatist message you have for Alberta, Mr. Premier?

And if that’s what you truly believe (and we don’t know because you contort instead of communicate), then you have behaved like a Quisling and deserve Quisling’s fate. The fate of a collaborator.

And what did your right-hand man, Matt Wolf, the executive director of issues management, falsely declare on June 2?

Like the rest of your political pack, Wolf snarled on Twitter that “the pandemic is ending. Accept it.”

And what did you echo weeks later? That there would be no fourth wave. No more restrictions. No more COVID.

And how many Albertans died on Wednesday? Twenty-four.

And how many are packed in ICUs? A record 270.

And how many have died since Wolf declared the pandemic over? Two-hundred and forty-one. (Expect that figure to double over the next two weeks.)

And how many more have been infected? 40,000.

And what is the rate of infection in your province? Three times the national average.

And how many adults and children will now be burdened with Long COVID? Thousands more.

And how many are poor? The majority.

And how are political extremists allowed to harass health-care workers? With impunity.

You say that the pandemic is “just a crisis of the unvaccinated,” but that’s another bald-faced lie.

What about the vaccinated who can’t get essential health care or surgery now? What about doctors and nurses who have been fighting a pandemic for 19 months and can barely sleep?

What about parents worried about the health of unvaccinated children in schools already wracked by Delta outbreaks?

What about shopkeepers and other businesses struggling with your incoherent and confusing policies imposed by ministers who don’t even believe what they are saying?

You have shown yourself incapable of reading and learning and taking expert counsel and acting responsibly for the greater good of your citizens.

You and your incompetent chief medical officer, Deena Hinshaw, have chosen to violate three cardinal pandemic rules time and time again.

The first is rudimentary. If you don’t act fast against a deadly organism with the capability to grow exponentially, you will always fail, and do much harm.

The second is even more basic. Vaccines can’t stop the pandemic by themselves without the help of other public health measures.

The third is essential. If you don’t use vaccines and public health measures to eliminate transmission, you will be fighting one wildfire after another. The virus, unlike your government, is evolving.

And what critical truths about the virus does your government still brazenly ignore?

The Alberta emergency physician Joe Vipond has spelled them out for you: schools are nodes of infection, the virus is airborne, and people without symptoms spread the virus.

Meanwhile, you still refuse to accept responsibility for your cowardice by blaming the virus.

You stammer that it is “an ever-changing foe" and complain the pandemic “is unpredictable.”

But that’s total B.S.

Independent modellers have warned you and your incompetent government for weeks that the highly transmissible variant Delta grows exponentially, and nothing is more predictable than that.

Why is it that Gasperowicz can produce a model on her home computer showing Alberta on its disastrous course, but your government couldn’t?

Why is it that, as your province’s news media tried to tell you, the BC COVID-19 Modelling Group identified the dire trajectory for Alberta weeks ago while you partied on holiday?

So, resign Kenney, resign.

Be gone, and let this province breathe again.

Andrew Nikiforuk lives for stretches in his cabin in the Porcupine Hills of Alberta.  [Tyee]

Read more: Health, Politics, Coronavirus

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