CALGARY- If you missed the big illegal rodeo this weekend, Jason Kenny would like you to know that, when it comes to public health regulations, Alberta has a compliance issue.
Over the weekend, pictures of hundreds of spectators gathered in the north-east of Calgary gathered due to spitting rain and defiance of provincial epidemiological guidelines.
Taking to Twitter on Sunday night, then speaking to the media on Monday, the Alberta premier uttered harsh words for rule-breakers, upset and annoyed at the “outrageous disregard for public health orders.”
But for some observers, his condemnation was too low, too late – in particular, that it had been two days of celebration before arriving after the rodeo.
Rather, what is left with observers is another sign of Alberta’s emerging rural-urban divide, which is dividing the province and, some argue, reducing its epidemic response.
“Maybe, maybe there’s a compliance problem because a quarter of your caucus is telling them to ignore the rules and you’re not enforcing them,” said political science professor Duane Brat of Mount Royal University, Calgary. “
“He’s right,” Brat Kenny says. “But he doesn’t recognize Why We have a compliance problem. “
Alberta currently has the highest rate of new cases of any jurisdiction in Canada or the United States, with the province having 23,608 active COVID-19 infections, an all-time high, and 658 people with the disease.
But it is also a sprawling province, where a handful of urban centers are surrounded by mountains, forests and prachi, surrounded by small towns and ranks. Its politics has been around for a long time as to how the demands have changed as people have moved into the city at a rapid pace. Now, some leaders in rural areas argue that the province has seen two epidemics this year. While ICUs are packed and doctors are overwhelmed in cities, many rural areas have become largely uncontrolled – At least until now.
It is not that all rural Albertans oppose the lockdown, which is comparatively minor in Alberta compared to all other provinces. Most people in the voting province show support measures to curb COVID-19, but a large minority – an Angus Reid poll showed this month 45 Percent – Albertans believe measures go far.
Kenny’s United Conservative Party, a few years old, relies on rural areas where those views are more general, whose votes have made him prominent, and now it is the voters who are working to hold him, Brat’s It’s logic. This was another setback when the NDP came to power in 2015 and it was a victory by the same type of scholars on the right side of the spectrum that Kenny is now working to avoid.
This is not an easy feat, as many government legislators in rural areas have started speaking out against the restrictions, Brat explains. Last month, 16 of them wrote a letter publicly criticizing the move to shut down food and limit retail.
“For the past year, everything touches on this rural-urban divide within the UCP caucus. Brett says that you are not going to hear against the Calgary legislators. “This really shows Fisher within the party. He is worried about this. “
Enter the rodeo.
In a livestream of the event, rancher and organizer Ty Northcott, wearing a white cowboy hat and standing in the Meshift Rodeo field, is overcome by emotions when public health restrictions were in place for his business – and how Kenny had to go.
“this is my life. It has been 18 months without a rodeo, ”Northcott said, in the form of a crowd of hundreds.
Like many sports, the rodeo has been largely shut down over the past 14 months, which is a serious setback for those who depend on it. But unlike other sports, the Alberta government is aware of cultural significance for many in the West – joint conservatives recently announced a move to make it the province’s official sport.
Nevertheless, the government’s hold on some rural voters may be loosened. “If you all know we went to put it together, you will never vote,” said Northcott.
“We have got a whole lot of blue-collar boys who are handling our politics and we have to get them out of there. Let’s put some farmers and farm.
But as matters are growing throughout the province, the rodeo did not receive universal acclaim.
In a statement, Alberta Health Services said inspectors “spoke with – and provided written information to – the organizers, informing them that going ahead with their plans would be a violation of public health orders.”
Officials are now working with the RCMP and local bylaw officials, the statement continued.
Bratt argues that the province could have done more. KD did not speak until the rodeo was done, and the local MLA remained relatively calm.
When Rob Stuart ran on TV on Monday morning, he said, he was surprised to find Bowden, his hometown at the center of a national anger.
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The story of dubbing the “Boden Rodeo” was led by a newscast in which they found themselves watching, a union that has been frustrating the longtime mayor of a small community for nearly an hour north of Calgary.
“A lot of news reports said that (the location of the rodeo) was a vacant lot in the city,” he told the Star on Monday, calling him one of the strings he gave to reporters, but you clearly There are no rodeos if you think it can fit on empty space. “
But Stuart insisted that the incident occurred outside Boden city limits and therefore outside his purview, leaving him wondering why the public, as well as public health regulations, did not forbid large ceremonies during the epidemic .
When the local agricultural society refused the organizers to use the rodeo grounds, they began making plans to move to a private place. Stuart says he left a message for the Premier’s office and last week reached out to his local legislator to flag off the event and was surprised to see that it was still moving forward.
“Jason said on the news that we have to follow the rules,” Stuart said. “Okay, sorry, if we have a bylaw in the city, and people are breaking it, then we have to implement it somehow.”
Boden, with a population of over 1,000, causes Alberta’s urban-rural divide in some ways. Until now, Boden was mostly known to outsiders for its proximity to an extensive medium-security federal peninsula – “like, ‘Oh, I’m from Boden,” and then “Oh, what time are you for Was doing?” Stuart tells Chuckle.
But recently, a growing number of people have moved to the small town lifestyle with relatively easy commuting for people like Red Deer and Calgary. This is what Stuart did – he grew up in Boden and then moved to Calgary to work at the federal Department of Water Resources before returning home, retiring and running for mayor.
He says that his city has not been far away from COVID-19, although there have been some cases in recent times. While Boden has not seen major outbreaks like cities, cases are increasing in the county at large.
The mayor said it may be a tough sell to convince people in need of public health measures, but towns have worked hard to follow the rules and ensure residents are protected as much as possible Go
For now, he is just looking forward to weekend events that have not resulted in an increase in cases in his community. This weekend he said there was more traffic at the liquor store and second-hand shop, but he did not think that many people had arrived in the city. As mayor, he says he will continue to encourage people to follow the rules and protect their neighbors.
Bruce McKay, a self-described “cowboy hat-white clad man” from nearby Chestermere, was driven by the rodeo this weekend and did not stop.
“It is disappointing that some people see the in-person (COVID-19 ban). He says, “If I want to take the risk, I will take the risk.” “We are all trying to do the best we can. We are trying to listen to science and get rid of this damned virus. “
McKay is sympathetic that people remember rodeos, a staple of summer, in many small towns. But he did not think that was the main driver of the weekend’s schedule.
“Everyone who likes to go to a rodeo is going to miss it,” McKay said. “I think it was a 100 percent draw for those who are opposing the COVID measures.”
“You can’t convince a police officer that you accidentally exceeded the speed limit or you forgot to put your seatbelt on. And these people are disobeying the rules. ”