Monday, April 12, 2021

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others (The Alberta Edition)

 In KenneyLand (aka Alaberta or Bertabama), it seems that there are two sets of rules at play.  

First, let me introduce you to the saga of GraceLife Church in Parkland County.  This organization has been holding services and ignoring public health orders since Fall of 2020.  The province has seemingly been unwilling to do anything about it until recently - in fact, it took until just after Easter (we'll come back to this point in a moment) for concrete steps to be taken.  Steps that the government had to take if they were going to enforce anything with a rising third wave of the pandemic. 

One of the pastors at this church was arrested in February, but basically the church tried to turn him into a martyr over that. Eventually the government backed down, dropping most of the charges against him and handing a minor fine. Similarly, Street Church in Calgary has also received what I can only call "kid glove" treatment

Meanwhile, operators of a cafe in a small town in Alberta were visited within 24 hours of new restrictions being brought into force, and this isn't the only example of this.  Restaurants in Calgary that chose to ignore the restrictions also found themselves being visited by inspectors and being handed shutdown orders. 

To be abundantly clear here, I am not endorsing the restaurants that chose to ignore the CMOH's orders.  There is an ethical duty to recognize the dangers of this rising third wave of COVID, especially in light of not one but at least 3 major variant strains with dramatically different properties.  

No, my irritation here rests firmly with the double standards around enforcement of restrictions.  The government has been acting very generously towards churches that defy them, but is far from so generous with small businesses and individuals that defy them. Why is this?

I suspect strongly it boils down to two things for this government: votes and donations. Evangelical rural churches in particular are an enormous source of political support for the Kenney government.  It would be naive of us to think otherwise.  These people got Kenney elected, and they stand to be his best chance of getting re-elected.  Alienating them would create a significant political liability. 

This also plays into another concerning aspect of the Kenney government. To say that the recently release "draft" curriculum outline is troubling is an understatement.  It clearly favours a "white, eurocentric" dominated perspective ... which mysteriously also seems to explicitly favour Christian faith over that of other traditions.  The role that Christian Nationalist types have played in developing this curriculum is not trivial, and the connections to Kenney's own preferences are similarly ... concerning. 

Meanwhile, the government gives barely a thought to supporting individuals and small businesses through this pandemic - in spite of much bravado about being "pro-business" in the run-up to the 2019 election.  

To paraphrase Orwell in 'Animal Farm', in Kenney's Alberta, it looks distinctly like religious groups are more equal than others. 

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