Is Alberta burning?
by Rick Peterson
Heather McPherson is fired up. She thinks Alberta is burning, and she has Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau both in her line of fire.
During Wednesday night’s Emergency Debate in the House of Commons, the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona said that Mr. Kenney‘s government is a “bumbling, stumbling joke” for its handling of the COVID pandemic. The Premier, she said, is “an unmitigated disaster” thanks to his "Donald Trump-like" approach to the crisis.
The Prime Minister, she went on, “would rather watch Alberta burn than help Jason Kenney.”
Wow. It’s not often you hear vitriol like this in the House of Commons. But, then again, this is becoming a pattern for the NDP Member of Parliament.
Last fall, Ms. McPherson suggested that the federal government halt transfer payments to Alberta because of the Alberta government’s approach to dealing with healthcare issues. Whether you think the Kenney government's approach to managing Alberta's healthcare system is on the right track or not, the suggestion from our Member of Parliament to stop transfers to the province in the middle of a pandemic is absolutely ridiculous. It's putting politics above the people she is supposed to be representing.
As I mentioned in my video on Thursday, Alberta’s provincial government hasn’t been perfect in its response to COVID-19. Neither has the federal government. There are reasonable criticisms to be made about the federal response to this crisis, just as there are reasonable criticisms to be made about the provincial response to this crisis.
Our Member of Parliament’s comments last night don’t strike me as falling into the category of “reasonable criticism.”
For decision-makers at both the federal and provincial level – regardless of party colour – COVID-19 has presented an unprecedented challenge. Whether Liberal or Conservative, I believe that our elected leaders are doing their absolute best to respond to that challenge in the face of overwhelming uncertainty.
Have I agreed with every decision made by those leading the way? No. Do I expect Heather McPherson to agree with every decision made by those in charge? No. It’s fair to ask questions and criticize. It’s fair to propose alternative solutions.
What’s not fair, though, is taking this crisis and treating it as an opportunity to take uninformed cheap shots.
To suggest that Alberta’s Premier is an “unmitigated disaster,” just as the province’s vaccine rollout plan opens for every adult, is hardly fair. To suggest that the federal government hasn’t been willing to help Alberta through these challenging times, considering the momentous impacts of programs like the CERB and CEWS, is detached from the truth.
While there are no doubt disagreements between Alberta’s government and its federal counterpart, there have been plenty of examples during this pandemic of them coming together to help Albertans in need.
That’s the kind of leadership residents of Edmonton Strathcona expect and deserve. It’s certainly not the kind of leadership they’re not getting from their current Member of Parliament.
Is Alberta burning? No. It’s Heather McPherson’s credibility that seems to be going up in smoke.
Rick Peterson is an Edmonton businessman and candidate for the Conservative nomination in Edmonton Strathcona.