Hey, Hi, Hello
Yesterday I wrote a piece introducing us to the pattern of Government intimidation we’ve been seeing in Alberta. I outlined a few public cases that illustrated the types of behaviors I’ve seen from government representatives in my province that I find concerning and I asked people to share their stories with me, publicly or privately, and the results have been distressing to say the least.
Over the last 24 hours, I have been inundated with personal accounts of government representatives, and even ministers, attacking private citizens who raise concerns. Government officials blocking people who speak out against their policies and even targeted threats against people via their employers demanding that tweets be deleted. Currently, I am choosing to keep everyone anonymous for safety purposes, as we have good reason to be concerned about the potential “doxxing” of more vocal critics of the government, which is something that I never thought I would write in Canada.
Our current government likes to crow about their “free speech” and how any dissent or disagreement is an attack on them, yet they are frighteningly comfortable with silencing the voices of the people they are meant to be serving, particularly women. Which brings us to another facet of the UCP ~MAP TO TOTALITARIANISM~, using women to claim dissent or disagreement is sexist. A perfect example of this is when Katy Merrifield called a private citizen a “sad, sexist, basement dwelling, mouth breather” for the crime of questioning how much the UCP comms team boosts each others social media posts. This was in response to her claiming the Former Premier Notley’s team was paying people to do the same. The citizen in question did not call her any names, attack her as a person or in any way behave inappropriately.
When Samantha Peck was called out for attacking a mother who was advocating for her children, calling her “Bitter”, Samantha’s team rallied and attempted to paint those calling out her behavior and continued attacks on a private citizen as “bullies” who were just “jealous of how pretty she is”. There’s that word again, “Bully”. The UCP loves to claim victim hood when their behavior is criticized. If the UCP were a person, this behavior would be classic abuse.
BUT WAIT! According to a well known UCP supporter who is apparently very concerned with my tweets, to call it such is “Deranged”. Yes, someone with 13 thousand followers has retweeted me and called me such, not once, but twice! Keep in mind, I am anonymous online and I am a relatively small account. I am mostly safe. Someone would have to go out of their way to find me, so I have a fair amount of wiggle room before I start to feel scared, but I can tell you, being targeted by someone like that twice made me anxious. For professionals and people who use their real names, that kind of thing can be genuinely dangerous. Which the UCP seems oddly unconcerned with considering their focus on their own online freedom and safety. It’s almost as though there’s a double standard at play.
An important factor here is that the voices being silenced are raising valid concerns, from potential conflicts of interest to the under funding of vital services. These citizens are Parents, Teachers, Doctors and Scientists. They are not internet trolls or rabid opponents of specific ministers, they’re the people the government is supposed to represent.
The topics I’ve seen raised include:
1) The Telus Babylon Health App, which doctors have been raising concerns about since it’s launch, is Saudi funded and which some are concerned is facilitating a move toward a privatized healthcare system by moving funding from out local, front line healthcare services to a private corporation and is in violation of Canadian privacy laws. Many have noted that the Government of Alberta pays physicians only $20 for telephone appointments, but that doctors who are not in Alberta receive $38 per appointment through Babylon.
2) Cuts to healthcare and the ongoing attack on Doctors and Nurses within our province. This topic has been especially concerning in the face of the COVID19 pandemic, with doctors finding themselves unable to cover the costs of running their clinics and our healthcare system facing a real cut during a global health crisis even with an emergency infusion of $500 million. The UCP has refused to back down on their rhetoric calling doctors and nurses “overpaid” during this time of crisis and have offered no assurances (to my knowledge) in regards to their compensation.
3) Cuts to education, which the UCP chooses to frame as a funding freeze, but which actually amounts to a notable cut when inflation is factored in . Changes to the funding model are likely to be harmful to school boards that serve more rural communities as well as children with special needs.
4) Which brings us to PUF or Program Unit Funding, which has been a major concern for parents of children in the province entering Kindergarten who require educational and social supports. These supports include Occupational, Speech and Physical therapy among other services to support children’s learning and help them be successful in school. Thanks to the UCP budgetary changes, the model has changed and PUF is no longer provided to Kindergarten students in Public schools. The funding to replace PUF stems from grants which offer, you guessed it, a significant cut. To get a feel for how a UCP MLA feels about these issues, check out https://prolificprogressive.com/2020/03/14/my-fireside-chat-with-a-ucp-mla/
5) The potential conflict of interest in regard to the spouse of our Minister of Health being Founder and Principal of a company that offers health insurance to people and businesses while he actively engaged in behaviors that people see as intentional acts to undermine our public health system.
The most common concern that I see repeated is under funding as a means of implementing a private option, for the personal gain of those in power or those connected to people in power, which is a valid concern. Citizens should be free to raise their concerns with their government without fear of retaliation.
When a government starts to silence the voices of the public, and to engage in retaliatory acts against their opponents, that’s troubling. It’s happening, not just around us, we’re in it.
Don’t allow it. Step up, speak out, protect each other. Keep records.
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