Three MLAs whose constituencies include areas of Rocky View County have co-signed a letter in opposition to the recently announced public health restrictions in Alberta.
RVC-area MLAs who signed onto the letter, which includes the signatures of 16 United Conservative Party MLAs, include Miranda Rosin, the MLA for Banff-Kananaskis, Angela Pitt, the MLA for Airdrie-East and Nathan Cooper, the MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills.
The letter acknowledged the threat COVID-19 has had on “the vulnerable members of our population,” but denounced Premier Jason Kenney’s April 5 announcement to return Alberta to Step 1 of its reopening plan.
The MLAs called the decision “backwards” and that it “effectively [abandons] the plan that Albertans had worked diligently over the past months to follow.” It states the 16 UCP colleagues heard their constituents were largely opposed to the provincial government's move.
“We are calling on our government colleagues to recognize the plea of our constituents. After 13 painstaking months of COVID-19 public health restrictions, we do not support the additional restrictions imposed on Albertans,” the letter stated.
In a Facebook post, Pitt said she was disappointed with last week's news of additional restrictions in Alberta.
“I have heard loud and clear that this move doesn't represent the views of so many of you in which I represent,” she wrote. “I will continue to push back on damaging measures to business, families and our community as a whole. We can protect vulnerable people AND have a functioning society. I won't stop until life resumes to normal. Please do not lose hope, you are not alone in this fight.”
Rosin – the area MLA for Bragg Creek and Springbank – said she had received thousands of emails and hundreds of phone calls outlining citizens’ concerns. She noted as the legislative representative for an area that is reliant on tourism, the pandemic has heavily affected residents.
“The need to progress forward, not backward, is dire,” she wrote in an April 7 Facebook post.
The restrictions come as new COVID-19 cases in Alberta and across the country have seen a dramatic increase, while other provinces have instituted strict measures. The newest regulations reduce retail capacity to 15 per cent, close libraries and shutter indoor dining, though the restrictions still allow patio dining, takeout and curbside pickup. Indoor gatherings continue to be banned and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.
When Kenney announced the restrictions, he acknowledged he would likely get some pushback from members of his own party.
"I've always welcomed a wide-ranging debate on how best to rise to the challenge of this pandemic. I just ask that the debate be informed by facts. Alberta is a diverse province, and that includes diversity of opinion," he said.
The only RVC-area MLAs that did not sign the letter were Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie and Chestermere-Strathmore MLA Leela Aheer.
—With files from Scott Strasser/Rocky View Weekly