Kenney accuses Calgary council of bending to 'angry voices on Twitter' over mask decision

·3 min read
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney criticized Calgary city council for not removing its mask bylaw in time for the province reopening on July 1.  (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney criticized Calgary city council for not removing its mask bylaw in time for the province reopening on July 1. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says Calgary city council should stop listening to "angry voices on Twitter" when it comes to repealing the city's mask bylaw.

Kenney said the province has tried to work closely with municipalities to keep COVID messaging consistent and that it's "not helpful" that Calgary will continue to have a mask bylaw when the province removes most restrictions on July 1.

"I've conveyed that repeatedly to Mayor Nenshi," he said on Wednesday.

"I don't think it's helpful for different governments to adopt different and conflicting policies. I think that can only lead to confusion in the general public when what we need instead is clarity."

Kenney said Calgary is ahead of the curve in terms of vaccinations, with rates around 76 per cent for those 12 and older having at least one dose.

On Monday, Calgary council debated repealing its bylaw, with much of the discussion focusing on whether it was too early to ease the city-mandated restriction.

WATCH | Jason Kenney criticizes Calgary's decision to extend mask bylaw:

The issue will be revisited on July 5. Any decision will be based on metrics like how many second doses have been administered and the rate of infection.

When asked Wednesday about the premier's point of view, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was unconcerned about any perceived confusion.

"I don't have that kind of contempt for citizens. I don't think people are so dumb that they won't know there's a difference in different cities," Nenshi said.

"Certainly it was like that all last summer, and we were absolutely fine. So I've got a lot of faith in citizens that they will understand and do what's right."

Nenshi questions provincial record

Kenney has been pushing hard to reopen the province by July 1 and said the government is following the advice of the chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and not "following angry voices on Twitter."

"I would encourage every municipality to respect the expert advice that we are receiving and to not confuse the public but rather maintain consistency between the provincial and municipal governments," he said.

"I think that's the best way forward."

On Monday, however, Nenshi said the mask was about protecting others, particularly those workers who would come into contact with many maskless people over the course of a day.

He said additional time will give more protection to workers like bus drivers and grocery store cashiers, as well as children, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

The mayor also questioned the provincial government's record on pandemic safety.

"I'm not sure how much credibility the Government of Alberta has on these measures. We've seen them put in restrictions too late and lift them too early continuously for the last 15 months, causing further waves."

The province announced on Tuesday that its own removal of mask mandates would not be without exceptions. Masks will still be required in continuing care and acute care facilities, as well as taxis, ride-sharing and public transit.

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