Progress Alberta: We’ll start with the good news (July 21/2020)

Greetings, everyone. From time to time we’ll be adding information to the CUPE Local 46 website that you may find relevant. This post comes to us from Progress Alberta via one of our members.

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It’s official. The Edmonton CFL team has finally changed its racist team name.

The team made the announcement after the pressure became intolerable.

Inuit leaders like Natan Obed, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq and Norma Dunning here in Edmonton led the way. At least four sponsors had either walked away or issued ultimatums to change the name. And we can’t forget our campaign to put pressure on the sponsors. More than 1800 emails were sent and it definitely helped ratchet up the pressure.

Obed, the leader of the national Inuit organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) spoke candidly about the name change to the CBC.

“When the name changes, I will be a little bit more at peace and I hopefully will be able to now start repairing some of these relationships that have been broken through this discourse,” Obed said.

“It was never about just blatantly criticizing and ridiculing anyone. This was about social justice. It is about systemic racism. And it is really about Inuit self-determination.”

We’re still working with Norma Dunning on a feature that will explore Edmonton’s historical relationship with the Inuit community so look out for that.

The Bad News

We are still in the middle of a global pandemic but too many people are acting like we’re not. Alberta’s COVID-19 infection stats are through the roof and we have the highest per-capita infection numbers of any province.

I believe this is what Jason Kenney refers to as the Alberta Advantage.

COVID-19 infections are spiking in Calgary and amongst 20-40 year olds. Please mask up, wash your hands and limit your contact with people indoors. Not just for your safety (the organ damage cases from COVID-19 are super scary!) but for the safety of the elderly and the immunocompromised.

The details of the re-opening of Alberta’s schools are going to be announced today. Given how no new money is being allocated to make schools safer (in fact there will be less money and less teachers and less support staff) and how gung-ho the UCP is on re-opening the economy despite the pandemic it looks pretty grim. Stay safe out there folks.

Alberta Doctors: You can check out any time you like but you can never leave

In the midst of this pandemic Alberta’s UCP government has decided to engage in a full blown public war of words with the province’s doctors. Yes, doctors.

“Our relationship with the provincial government has reached an all-time low,” said Alberta Medical Association president Dr. Christine Molnar in a letter to the membership. “At every turn, we have been met with a combination of indifference and increasing hostility. It is damaging your practices, our health-care system and patient care every day that it continues.”

The AMA is currently suing the provincial government for $250 million over the termination of their bargaining agreement. A survey of AMA members found that 42 per cent of them are considering leaving the province. And every other day we have a new report of doctors resigning their hospital privileges or just leaving the province.

Health minister Tyler Shandro has responded to this pushback from doctors with all the grace and tact that one would expect from someone who confronted a neighbor in his driveway and then burst into tears over a meme that person had posted on Facebook.

Shandro has said that the news that doctors are leaving is a bluff but then in a desperate move contacted the College of Physicians and Surgeons and essentially told them that doctors are not allowed to leave. And just the other day he escalated the fight by signing a side deal with eye specialists. Classic divide conquer tactics.

We obviously have our disagreements with the UCP and their conservative ideology but is it too much to expect a government to not be in a months long public pissing match with the very people keeping us safe in the middle of a global pandemic? Our healthcare system is going to face a generational loss of doctors, much like it did in the ’90s when Klein’s cuts ravaged the system.

Jim Update

Here’s a brief message from the usual writer of the Progress Report newsletter, Jim Storrie.

“Hey folks—I hope all is well out there. Things didn’t go all that well at the hospital, and I was left with no option but a pretty dramatic surgery. I’ll be away on sick leave for another week or two while I recover and adjust to my new ‘body configuration.’ In the meantime you’re in good hands with Duncan. The UCP are aggressively advancing their plans to privatize our public services, pick apart the province’s labour unions, and give more and more away to their rich backers… so keep fighting! As soon as I’ve recovered I’ll be back in the fight with you.”

Police Brutality Update

As uprisings across North America continue to crop up in response to police violence there have been some incredible stories dug up by Alberta based journalists about police brutality here in Alberta that you need to know about.

The latest episode of Is This For Real gets into details of the case where an Edmonton cop inexplicably took down Jean-Claude Rekundo and put his knee on Rekundo’s head and neck in a manner very similar to the way George Floyd was killed. The cop never faced any consequences.

In the latest episode of the Alberta Advantage they interview the producers of Above the Law a CBC documentary that goes into detail on three separate and heart-rending police violence cases in Calgary.

And finally Kyle Muzyka of CBC Edmonton tells the story of the Houle brothers, two Cree men who were brutalized by police.

All three of these stories are incredibly well done, high-quality journalism and deserve to be listened to or read.


That’s all for this week. Please share our newsletter with any friends or family who you think would like political news and commentary from a left wing point of view. If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, you can sign up for it here. If you would like to support our ongoing work, please consider donating to help us keep going.

Duncan Kinney