The Kenney, and now the Smith majority UCP government, are choosing dictatorial dogma over public health expertise. Covid pandemic control is the petri dish where these hardcore Alberta Cons are growing their anti-science culture in as they try to push health and safety on the back burner.
Even when the “Smithereens” have an opportunity to use science and evidence to prove their points, they fail, refuse, neglect, or just overtly omit to do so. Take the issue of mask mandates in schools. Ms. Smith has released a statement saying “Our government will not permit any further masking mandates of children in Alberta’s K-12 education system.”
Her statement is in reaction to a Court of King’s Bench ruling establishing, under the Public Health Act in Alberta, that in a public health emergency additional powers, to deal with emergencies like communicable diseases, were legally bestowed on the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
MASK FACTS, FICTION & FANTASY
She further alleges “The detrimental effects of masking on the mental health, development and education of children in classroom settings is well understood…” Is it? Why doesn’t she supply links to the conclusive and authoritative research that proves COVID prevention strategies, like classroom masking, have such detrimental mental health and developmental outcomes?
Even if this were proven to be true, where is the Smit plan to deal with such outcomes? Google children’s mental health implications of masking. You won’t find definitive and authoritative proven justification for the Smith mental health and developmental assertions.
That doesn’t mean there are no mental health consequences of masking for children. What it does confirm is we need to study more, to know more, and make this concern a major public policy priority. So far all we have is an inflexible, absolutist, political statement that panders to an anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-science UCP Base.
POLICY BASED ON BIAS, BELIEF & POLITICS
As for actual input to Smith’s position, apparently there was an internal “staff memo” on the children’s mental health and developmental issues provided to Premier Kenney. Contents of that internal staff memo, including what evidence was used, by non-expert staff, to support a policy position on the mental health and developmental issues, “caused” by Covid masking, were not made public, so far as I know.
It appears that this internal staff memo in the former Premier’s office is the source of support for Smith’s position that she will be “mandating” that schools cannot apply classroom masking requirements. We don’t know what Smith is using as justification for her rigid and reactionary position, because she is not telling us.
The known scientific evidence is that masking reduces the spread of disease. Have there been any randomized research trials of masking impacts on children? If so, what are the findings and why is the Smith regime not sharing the science and other reliable evidence that supports her policy decision?
DOGMA DISINFORMATION & DRIVEL DRIVING DECISIONS
Instead, she doubles down on dogma, disinformation, and political drivel. She says she has “directed our Justice minister to assess whether an appeal…of the Court decision is appropriate…” She also has demanded that the Departments of Health and Education “…alert me to any legislative or regulatory changes that may be necessary to reaffirm our government’s full authority with respect to this and other health and education matters.” (emphasis added).
It is fully within the authority of a duly elected majority government, in a free and fair election. She inherits Kenney’s majority government and can change legislation as she sees fit. That, in spite of the obvious shortcoming in her legitimacy to use such power, is how Democracy works, as we know it.
CALLING FOR CITIZENS TO TAKE ACTION
The citizenship question is, do you want the duly elected MLA representatives, who have no knowledge, experience or skills to make emergency decisions when the public’s health is at risk based on only political criteria? Of course not. But that is what Ms. Smith wants.
She believes the power to decide such matters should be based on politics, not by public health experts and science, in times of public health emergencies.
This can only be changed by public pressure. The Smith government, like Kenney’s before her, are there to serve and protect citizens. It is up to citizens to use our moral authority, and the power of our citizenship to press for pro-social change.
We must take action and demand that the Smith government reflect our values of accountability, transparency, and evidence-based decisions. It is especially important to become engaged when it comes to public safety and health of vulnerable children in the case of emergencies.