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Explaining the UCP's feel-good fall news dump
Jason Kenney wants you to remember him fondly
The Government of Alberta made numerous new funding announcements in the dying days of Jason Kenney’s premiership — a transparent effort to earn Albertans’ goodwill before all hell breaks loose with a probable Danielle Smith premiership.
Since Friday, Sept. 30, the Alberta government has announced:
A collaboration with the Manitou Asinîy-Iniskim-Tsa Xani Center to return the Manitou Asinîy, or Manitou Stone, to its original home in Iron Creek, Alta. (Sept. 30)
Building a stone monument on Alberta’s legislature grounds to commemorate survivors of residential schools, as well as those who didn’t return home. (Sept. 30)
A $63-million investment in a provincial homelessness action plan over two years. (Oct. 1)
A $124-million contribution over two years to Alberta’s “recovery-oriented system of care” for mental health and addictions in Calgary and Edmonton. (Oct. 1)
The launch of CompassionateAlberta.ca, a website to assist seniors in advanced care planning and palliative care. (Oct. 1)
The near-completion of Red Deer’s much-ballyhooed “recovery community” for people who want to stop using drugs. (Oct. 1)
A $20.8-million commitment over four years to combat human trafficking. (Oct. 2)
A partnership with the federal government to provide $3 million for the Paul First Nation to provide 24 new “affordable” rental or rent-to-own units for its band members in Edmonton. (Oct. 3)
The establishment of an Alberta Bureau for International Education to attract international students and researchers to the province at a cost of $1 million. (Oct. 3)
The near-completion of the Highway 15 twinning project outside Fort Saskatchewan, which is expected to be ready by the end of the month. (Oct. 3)
An additional $11 million to further reduce wait times for CT and MRI scans. (Oct. 3)
Renaming the Provincial Court of Alberta to the Alberta Court of Justice. (Oct. 3)
The government has also announced October as Islamic Heritage Month, Foster and Kinship Caregiver Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month and Disability Employment Awareness Month, in addition to declaring Oct. 1 as the Day of Older Persons and the week beginning Oct. 3 as HPV Prevention Week.
That’s 19 positive news releases in four days, and there’s no doubt more to come. In fact, two of these announcements occurred as I was writing this piece.
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Could Kenney be laying the groundwork for a political comeback once a Smith government inevitably implodes? It’s impossible to know without being clairvoyant, but it’s certainly a question worth asking.
I asked Mount Royal University political scientist Keith Brownsey to make sure I’m not being overly cynical.
“You're talking about the UCP,” he said. “What could possibly in the known world be overly cynical?”
Anyone who subscribes to Government of Alberta news releases has had their inboxes full of them — not just over the past few days but the past couple of weeks, Brownsey added, citing the agreement the government announced on Sept. 29 with the Alberta Medical Association, who had been without a contract since the government decided to unilaterally tear it up in September 2019.
The goal of this good news dump is twofold — to repair Kenney’s image and to repair the UCP’s image.
“If it has any longer term consequences, that remains to be seen,” Brownsey said. “I'm not sure [the UCP] are much of a three-or-four moves ahead type of government.”
Unprecedented hearing into decriminalizing sex work began yesterday
A coalition of sex workers and advocacy groups are set to argue current laws don’t protect them from abuse and exploitation, and that the solution is decriminalization, in a landmark five-day Superior Court hearing, which began Monday in Toronto.
The 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act shields individual sex workers from prosecution but continues to criminalize the purchase of sexual services — a distinction which only serves to perpetuate a “culture of fear,” the coalition says.
“We fear clients even more because clients do not want to give up vital information, like their name and their number,” one of the applicants, Monica Forrester, a two-spirit, Black, trans woman who has been doing sex work for more than 30 years, told the Toronto Star.
Jenn Clamen, national co-ordinator of the applicant Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform which represents 25 sex worker rights group, told the Star the government has failed in its responsibility to protect sex workers, who represent “some of the most marginalized people” in society.
“Sex workers want to report violence but they don’t want to be in contact with police because they could lose their livelihoods, sometimes they lose their housing, they lose their children, they could lose ‘straight’ jobs that they have,” Clamen added.
Amnesty International Canada, LEAF and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association support the sex workers’ efforts.
Read the full story here.
In other news …
Quebec voters have re-elected François Legault and his Coalition Avenir Québec party to another majority government, with the Liberal Party maintaining Official Opposition status.
Calgary’s branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress wants Canada to take a harder line against Russia by declaring it a state sponsor of terrorism, suspending the issue of travel visas to Russian citizens and expelling Russian diplomats.
In addition to its National Equity Fund, Hockey Canada paid player registration fees into the newly-discovered Participants Legacy Trust Fund to compensate survivors of sexual assault, according to documents obtained by the Globe and Mail.
The federal government has announced sanctions against 25 major figures, as well as nine organizations, associated with the Islamic Republic of Iran in response to the country’s suppression of mass women’s rights protests.
The A/V Corner
Listen: I went on Alberta Advantage to talk about the ideology of Danielle Smith. This episode has everything — libertarianism, bad punditry, betrayal, pro-smoking advocacy, climate denial, COVID conspiracies, crypto and more.
Listen: The Dead Center: Reflections on Liberalism author Luke Savage joined me, Eric and Marino on Big Shiny Takes to dissect an egregious column from ur-centrist Max Fawcett.
Edited by Stephen Magusiak