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Canada Braid: As Kenney's popularity sinks, he gives anti-maskers green light to protest

01:31  02 december  2020
01:31  02 december  2020 Source:   calgaryherald.com

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The following quotes are from the PC, Xbox Live and Playstation Network game Braid . "Tim is off on a search to rescue the Princess. She has been snatched by a horrible and evil monster. This happened because Tim made a mistake.". "Not just one.

Thousands of protesters descended on the British capital on Saturday to call for an end to coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions on businesses in the UK, which they described as a form of “tyranny”. In a Breitbart London exclusive video, protesters were seen singing: “I would rather be a human than a

Only 40 per cent of Albertans now approve Premier Jason Kenney’s performance, according to a poll for Postmedia by the Angus Reid Institute.

a group of people holding a sign: Hundreds of anti-mask protestors rally outside city hall in Calgary on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. © Provided by Calgary Herald Hundreds of anti-mask protestors rally outside city hall in Calgary on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

This is the premier whose approval rating was 61 per cent in April 2019.

His decline since then, even before anybody had heard of COVID-19, has been slow but steady with only a tiny upward bump in a single month.

All other premiers except Manitoba’s hapless Brian Pallister (32 per cent) are in majority territory. The rest are experiencing some slide but still have the backing of most citizens.

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There are many explanations for Kenney’s decline — the battle with doctors, looming spending cuts, and the alarming recent surge of the virus.

But another reason may be Kenney’s odd constitutional musings and his desire to hang on to the UCP’s ideological base.

It almost defies belief, for instance, that the premier would exempt anti-mask demonstrators from the new mandatory rule that limits outdoor gatherings to 10 people.

Hundreds gathered in Calgary Saturday to protest mask use and COVID-19 restrictions. Police were present but there has been no enforcement we know of.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd:  Hundreds showed up for an anti-mask protest in downtown Calgary on Saturday. © Provided by Calgary Herald Hundreds showed up for an anti-mask protest in downtown Calgary on Saturday.

Asked about his response by NDP Leader Rachel Notley, Kenney said in the legislature:

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Welshman Steve Bray is famously known as Mr. Stop Brexit for his daily anti -Brexit protests at College Green in Westminster. Aided with a megaphone, Piers

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“Obviously, when it comes to the constitutionally protected right to protest and the enforcement of these measures, that’s a matter for the police to determine, not for politicians to interfere in.

“We would ask people not to engage in large-scale protests, and if they do so, please wear masks.”

Kenney suggests that enforcing his own mandatory COVID-19 rules would be political interference. This is ridiculous.

He asks that people refrain from demonstrating, but then gives them leave to go ahead with “large-scale protests,” politely asking them to wear masks if they do.

He actually hands these people permission to break rules other Albertans are legally required to obey. The ones who whine about losing their freedoms turn out to be the freest of all.

This confusing message is no help to the premier when 71 per cent of Albertans, according to the Reid Institute, support a full-scale “circuit-breaker” lockdown.

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Strangest of all is Kenney’s continuing insistence that protests are “a constitutionally protected right.”

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures “freedom of peaceful assembly,” “freedom of association,” and “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression.”

Yes, there are strong individual rights to assembly and speech. They should be protected and cherished in almost all circumstances.

But the Charter makes no specific mention of protests. They are not some special category.

Jason Kenney wearing a suit and tie:  Premier Jason Kenney. © Provided by Calgary Herald Premier Jason Kenney.

Crucially, Kenney also ignores the first sentence of the Charter, which “guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”

In these times, many people might agree with “reasonable limits” on large public protests.

Kenney’s strict reading of the Charter is mildly ironical, considering that it was brought forward by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, back in 1982.

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Conservative premiers were deeply suspicious of federal motives.

They included Alberta’s Peter Lougheed and Sterling Lyon of Manitoba. Largely because of them, the “notwithstanding clause” was inserted in the Charter.

It ensures that Parliament or a legislature can pass a law notwithstanding the Charter guarantees. “Fundamental Rights” can be suspended for as long as five years.

Kenney wouldn’t do that, of course. Nor should he.

Indeed, he should not even drag the Charter into this question of illegal demonstrations.

In real life the government has all the power it needs to enforce rules without trying to hide behind the constitution.

Meanwhile, the premier might spend more time praising people who do what they should, and less defending those who won’t.

Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald

diagram © Provided by Calgary Herald

dbraid@postmedia.com

Twitter: @DonBraid

Facebook: Don Braid Politics

Top doc says rural COVID-19 rising, but Kenney says cities focus of any new rules .
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