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Restaurants and bars are not shuttered. Workers should work from home if they can. Kids in Grade 7 and up will soon study at home until the new year.
Kenney admits he resisted a lockdown because of the “profound damage it would cause” by throwing hundreds of thousands out of work, deepening the mental health crisis and leaving many to despair.
Importantly, the premier says it would be a violation of rights and freedoms.
Rights and freedoms. You don’t hear those words often these days.
Still, there is a grim reality.
The Kenney government is giving us until the middle of December to see if the spread of the virus slows down.
When questioned by a press corps where many seem to salivate at the thought of a lockdown, Kenney says he’s not interested in chasing after zero COVID-19 cases by way of a widespread crackdown and shutdown.
He looks at other places wielding the sledgehammer and they’re in shutdowns and not in a healthy state.
Again, Kenney speaks on Tuesday in a tone not heard from a lot of Canadian politicians who look like they’re quite comfortable barking out more and more marching orders.
“Where have we forgotten about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?” asks Kenney, picking up steam and sounding like the populist guy on the hustings last year winning a landslide in the last election.
Where did this Jason Kenney go? We’re just glad he’s back.
“Since when should governments start with an impairment of Charter-protected rights and freedoms? If governments are to impair Charter rights, it must be a minimal impairment.”
As for enforcing the law on social gatherings, the premier sounds clearly uncomfortable.
He is not setting up a snitch line but there will be $1,000 fines for those out of line.
“This whole thing is just incredibly tough,” says Kenney.
But he won’t play the patsy when those with the super-size megaphones try to muscle him to a lockdown.
“We’re not going to let political pressure or ideological approaches cause indiscriminate damage to people’s lives and livelihoods.”
Kenney says he’s sure those pushing for a lockdown are doing so in good faith.
But … yes, there is a but.
The premier wants those “who have the certainty of a paycheque, particularly a government paycheque” to think for a moment about those who’ve sunk their life savings into a business or those who could lose their jobs.
After all, many of those pushing lockdowns claim to be speaking for the working class.
In answer to a question, Kenney says regulated restaurants are safer than in-house gatherings and he points to four-in-10 eateries who may not be able to survive a lockdown.
Kenney adds perhaps for some, “it’s just a little bit easy to say just flick a switch and shut ‘er down.”
There is still an end of the line and for all of Kenney’s resistance to lockdowns, it could get ugly.
If things don’t turn around there will be real-life consequences.
“Let me be blunt. We will impose stricter measures, likely in about three weeks’ time.”