Open Letter, Writer-Not-Author

An Open Letter to Jason Kenney

Friends, I know it’s been a long while since you’ve heard from me, and I promise I’ll have news about the next installment of The Code and Natalia’s continuing adventures soon. In the meantime, there is something that I have been sitting on for 18 months or so, and I think it’s about time it got said.

Mr. Kenney,

I would begin this letter with a customary “dear”, but that would indicate some level of respect or affection towards you that is wholly unwarranted at this time. I am an Albertan. I was born here, and while I was raised in Kelowna, it seemed I was destined to make my way home again. If you’d like to hum Four Strong Winds at this point in the letter, it might make what I’m about to say next a bit more palatable.

Normally, I would provide some scathing commentary on how you have handled this pandemic. How the thousands of dead Albertans – and God, I still can’t believe it’s thousands – is not a reflection of your skills as a leader. How your Best Summer Ever and Open for Summer plan was just an itty bitty oopsie in the scheme of things and to not let it get you down. And by the way, ignore that time our Province had the highest number of COVID-19 cases per capita in North America, and ignore the fact that we have more cases than Ontario, Manitoba, and probably any other province combined. Don’t fret about the 54 Alberta schools who just declared an outbreak, or the 702 more that are on alert. Or the face that without surge capacity our hospitals would be at 177% which is, in case you didn’t notice, higher than 100% – a number which is commonly thought of to be the maximum of anything. Even coaches know when they tell their teams to give them 110%, they’re really just asking them to not fuck it up.

Normally I would say all the above with blistering, withering sarcasm, and then launch into a spiel about how much of a blithering idiot I think you are, and believe me, I am using all my self-restraint to avoid that now. Truthfully, I don’t think it would do any good. Your head seems to be so thoroughly lodged up your own behind that you probably won’t need a colonoscopy until you’re in your 80s. You have proven yourself to be so divorced from reality that even Rick Bell – Rick Bell of all goddamned people – thinks you’ve absolutely doomed us. That in itself is a reason for congratulations, I suppose. Most people would have pitched The Best Summer Ever and been laughed out of the Legislature, but you seem to have drunk the Koolaid of your voting base, and are prepared to ride this sugar-high all the way down to Hell while the rest of Alberta dies.

Kudos, I guess.

Here’s the thing. Mid-June you chose to dismiss the fears of very vocal scientists, reporters, doctors, and average joes. You were quoted as saying

“At this stage of this, I don’t think it’s responsible to constantly be spreading fear. We need to embrace the science of the protective effect of vaccines,”

Not entirely untrue. We do need to embrace the science of the vaccines. I’m staunchly pro-vaccine. Jab me right there in the arm, Nurse Ratched. I got mine as soon as I could. Of course, this isn’t about the absolutely, mind-boggling anti-vaxxers who have chosen to take on a ‘My body, my choice’ position, or the ‘Government doesn’t get to tell me what to do’ position, or even the ‘I never get sick so what is the point?’ position. Those are fights for people with far more patience than myself.

No, I want to address the accusation of fearmongering by our media by yourself. And I’d like to address it by specifically examining your strategy to introduce something so lovingly referred to as the War Room.

You see, Kenney. When I think of war, I don’t think of joining hands with my neighbour, singing Kumbaya while we make daisy chains, and then inviting my neighbours over for a cup of tea and a laugh. I, and so many others, associate war with our grandparents and great-grandparents. I think of trenches and bombings, and blackouts over London. I think of my Grandpa training to be a navigator down in Lethbridge. I think of shell-shocked kids, and Flanders Fields, and landmines still hiding in the pastures of Cambodia. I think of orphans and veterans. I think of people coming home to find there is no home left, and other people never coming home again. I think of my oldest brother, who has served overseas, and the friends he has lost through his long career. I think of how he has changed.

People, that is, people with basic empathy and an ability to read a room, do not hear war, and think of success, and power, and winning. I know. I asked. They thought of a lot of things, but none of them happy. No semper invictus to be found here. In war, there are no winners.

In some twisted way, I understand why having a War Room is a strong political move. It is not a gentle statement. You are saying to your people that you are here to make things happen through sheer force of will. At least that’s what I imagine you must have told yourself. The thing is, when the concept of war brings about words like this, well, you may have been off the mark a bit.

Division, death, and ironically enough, politicians profit. That is what your War Room means to the people of Alberta, Kenney. There is no uniting, no seeking of common ground, no give and take. Division, trauma, dishonor, hate, suffering. That is what you have wrought in the last 18 months, under your callous disregard for the lives of the people of Alberta. This is what you have brought us to. War. We are in a fight for our lives every single day.

So, tell me, Kenney. All this talk of the media acting as fearmongers…

How does it feel to be a warmonger?

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