Update: Wednesday, April 7—Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright MLA Garth Rowswell has also signed making for a total of 16 UCP MLAs who oppose the recent restrictions.
MLA David Hanson says he does not agree with the latest round of restrictions imposed by the provincial government on Tuesday.
The representative for the Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul is one of 16 United Conservative Party MLAs who have publicly come out and said they disagree with the government abandoning the Path Forward plan to easing restrictions.
“I didn’t agree with them [added restrictions]. Myself, and many of my colleagues spoke out against them,” Hanson told Lakeland Connect on Wednesday.
The restrictions include shutting down dine-in seating at restaurants Friday at noon, and effective on Wednesday, returning fitness to one-on-one appointments only, and reducing capacity at retail stores. Libraries are forced to close as well.
A letter published on social media and signed by 16 MLAs says they believed they had set a clear path forward in early 2021 to address COVID-19 concerns while moving step-by-step to ease restrictions.
The letter says they are calling on its government colleagues to “recognize the plea of our constituents” and “do not support the additional restrictions imposed on Albertans yesterday, and we will continue advocating for a transparent path forward that provides certainty to Alberta families, communities, and businesses.”
Hanson alluded there should’ve been more consistency in how restrictions were loosened and then tightened.
“When it came to lifting restrictions, there was lots of hesitancy, three weeks advance notice that we have to keep following this trend. And yet, when it comes to imposing restrictions, there’s very little notice,” said Hanson. “And that’s what frustrates me is that I think we should have talked to Albertans and be very clear with them that if the trend continues that restrictions would have to be put in place,” he said.
“But I don’t agree with penalizing all of our restaurants again, over the non-compliance of a few. It frustrates me.”
Hanson said his job is to bring the constituents’ frustrations forward to caucus.
“All we can do is bring forward our constituents’ concerns. It was a pretty clear message I thought that went from caucus to the committee that makes the decision,” he said.
NDP Opposition leader Rachel Notley tweeted a response to the letter saying: “Building public support for necessary health measures requires strong leadership. Instead, Alberta has government MLAs fighting against them. This sows mistrust, encourages open defiance of the law, and means all of this will last LONGER. [sic]”
Premier Jason Kenney during Tuesday’s press conference when announcing the new public health restrictions that he recognizes the stress and anxiety for many Albertans.
“Announcements like the one today disrupt many people’s lives and their livelihoods. The spike we are living through is going to send hundreds of Albertans to hospital and is going to affect many families in a dramatic way,” said Kenney during the press conference.“Folks, I know we are all so tired of this. Everyone has what we call COVID fatigue. Everyone is feeling it in your families. Everyone is feeling some level of mental or emotional stress and are just so tired of the uncertainty in policy during the changes in the pandemic.
“Please know that we are getting to the end of it. We just have to finish strong. We have to pull together. I am worried about the real polarization in the debate in this province and that we’ve seen around the world. How about we find unity in our shared commitment to keep each other safe.”