Alberta Politics
The University of Lethbridge – now able to demand proof of vaccination and make students wear non-medical masks (Photo: University of Lethbridge).

Three Alberta universities announce COVID-19 restrictions declared impossible just three weeks ago

Posted on August 18, 2021, 1:01 am
6 mins

The universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge announced a joint back-to-school vaccine strategy yesterday that will require everyone on campus who can’t prove they’ve been fully vaccinated to undergo rapid COVID-19 testing.

“Students, faculty, and staff who are not fully vaccinated, and those who would prefer not to disclose their vaccine status, will need to regularly complete a rapid screening test and receive a negative result before they participate in in-person activities,” said the news release published by the three post-secondary institutions. 

Taylor Hides, press secretary to the minister of advanced education (Photo: Twitter).

What’s more, the release said, non-medical face masks must now be worn in all public indoor areas of the three universities’ campuses where physical distancing is not possible.

Wait! Rewind! 

How can this be? Just three weeks ago, university administrators were telling nervous professors it was simply impossible.

“There is no mechanism that would allow institutions to require students to be vaccinated for in-person attendance on campus,” Taylor Hides, press secretary to Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, said on July 29. 

Well, that was then and this is now. Last Friday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw walked back most of the province’s risky July 28 plan to ignore the Delta variant and announced instead it would put off suspending testing, contract tracing and mandatory isolation until the end of September. 

Will everything change again at that point – presuming the Delta variant fourth wave isn’t packing the province’s hospitals again with unvaccinated Albertans? 

Probably.

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

After all, the federal election called by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday is scheduled to take place on Sept. 20. As noted in this space on Monday, that was the moment that Alberta Conservatives who had been declaring the pandemic to be all but over and Alberta to be open for good changed their tune to a dirge about cynical Liberals calling an election in the midst of a deadly pandemic. 

Looks like masks and restrictions on university students’ freedom to infect their fellow scholars with respiratory illnesses will have to remain in place at least until the election as Canada’s Conservatives blame the prime minister and pray for a repeat of yesterday’s Nova Scotia election at the end of next month. 

The triumphant Bluenose Tories are not quite the sour Prairie reactionaries who dominate the federal Conservative Party led by Erin O’Toole, but just the same last night’s majority outcome must be making the prime minister’s inner circle wonder if they chose the right moment to call an election. 

It’s said here a nice surprise on Sept 20 would be an unexpected election victory by Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats with the Liberals reduced to a capable opposition. 

No Alberta Senate election voting on First Nations reserves

There will be no voting in Alberta’s supposedly crucial Senate nominee election on First Nations reserves in the province. 

Senate-abolition candidate Duncan Kinney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

While not exactly a secret, this troubling fact seems to have escaped mention by the United Conservative Party Government that is pushing the Senate vote or notice by the media. Arguably, it completely invalidates whatever dubious legitimacy the constitutionally meaningless Senate election might have.

Senate vote candidate Duncan Kinney – who is campaigning on abolishing unelected the Upper House of the Canadian Parliament – tweeted yesterday that he’d finally gotten through to the Municipal Affairs Department to ask where on-reserve voters could go to cast their Senate ballots. 

The answer: They’ll have to make the trek to a neighbouring municipality, which in some cases may not be an onerous requirement, but in many will make voting all but impossible. 

“This excludes around 150,000 people from the process,” Mr. Kinney said. 

Alberta’s United Conservatives: finding new ways to suppress the vote. 

CORRECTION: Thanks to my many readers who noticed I’d gotten the date of the federal election wrong by 10 days. I am grateful to you all. The election, of course, will be on Sept. 20. Apologies to everyone for ignoring their corrections for hours. The wages of late-night blog writing are public humiliation. As penance, I have posted them all. DJC

35 Comments to: Three Alberta universities announce COVID-19 restrictions declared impossible just three weeks ago

  1. Trudy Grebenstein.

    August 18th, 2021

    Typo. Fed election is Sept 20.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    August 18th, 2021

    The UCP’s handling of Covid-19 protocols in Alberta has more flip flops than a beach in some tropical resort. As cases of Covid-19 keep on climbing, faster and faster, the UCP has to backtrack on their previous requirements and strategies, which haven’t been met with any successful outcomes. The greatest summer ever has turned into the greatest per capita infection rates of Covid-19 in Canada. Basically, the UCP are proving they are the best, at being the worst provincial government in Canada. I don’t think we want this at the federal level, with the CPC.

    Reply
  3. Abs

    August 18th, 2021

    Typo: September 20.

    Reply
  4. Abs

    August 18th, 2021

    These post-secondary institutions have taken the first step to protect students, staff and faculty. It is only a first step. Students living in student residences, or eating in campus cafeterias will still be at risk. Likewise, faculty and staff will be at risk.

    Hundreds upon hundreds of post-secondary institutions south of the border have gone even further, limiting campus access to those with proof of full vaccination. Unvaccinated students get to stay home for online classes where available.

    So it seems that Alberta is likely to be stuck in the fourth wave for a very long time. Déjà vu all over again. We do things in half measures here. Delta is about to teach us that half measures will never win the war with this highly infectious virus. Vaccinations, masks and other measures in combination are what’s needed this time around. But hey, it’s Alberta. Stupid is as stupid does. Stupid doesn’t learn a lesson the first, second and third times. Alberta gets “F-” in Covid.

    Maybe LottoVaxx should offer a 50/50 draw, where the winner guesses how many people will die this time.

    Reply
    • Abs

      August 18th, 2021

      Vue. Autocorrect.

      Reply
  5. pogo

    August 18th, 2021

    Now being a world renown epidemiologist in my spare time here at “home”.. I have noticed an alarming trend! Some how the commie bastards of the NDP have made it appear that shortly after the election of the Used Car Party, our idyllic home (similar to the hinterlands of Germany circa 1933 *your mileage may vary*) experienced a spike in STDs. Many of the toxic wags from antifa have waxed poetic on the possibility that it’s a feature not a bug! As a professional? I must admit the concomitant features do present a compelling case!

    Reply
  6. pogo

    August 18th, 2021

    I think we should inundate conservative candidates with questions regarding the syphilis crisis and why it appears to coincide with the election of Jason Kenney! No condom on my FREE-DUMB? Maybe?

    Reply
  7. tom

    August 18th, 2021

    Give the Kenney government a break, Dave—leaving Alberta’s First Nations out of the senate elections is just another form of strategic voting–except on the government’s part. Aren’t they also considering only letting rural Albertans vote on Jason Kenney’s proposed personal police force? Maybe they’ll strategically limit the 2023 provincial election to people who vote far right of centre.

    Reply
  8. GMG

    August 18th, 2021

    Isn’t the federal election called for September 20th?

    Reply
  9. Bob Raynard

    August 18th, 2021

    Lest the CPC get too excited about the results, they might consider the following couple of sentences from the CBC story:

    During the campaign, Houston stressed the progressive elements of the party, distancing them from the Conservative Party of Canada. The provincial party pledged to spend $423 million in the first year alone of a Tory mandate trying to fix health care.

    I don’t know if that is the prevailing sentiment, or just CBC’s spin on the Liberal loss. I hope our regular Nova Scotia correspondent will share his observations.

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      August 19th, 2021

      When assessing the results of the Nova Scotia election, I think one must bear in mind that the Liberal government led ever so briefly by Mr Rankin was, in fact, probably the most conservative Liberal government in recent memory under his predecessor, Stephen McNeil. Mr McNeil did enjoy a bump in nationwide popularity during the pandemic, especially early on with “stay the blazes home!”, but his time in government was mostly characterized by the kind of austerity and anti-union, anti-worker policies most commonly associated with a right-wing government. During the campaign, there was also no sign Mr Rankin was pivoting more than slightly from his predecessor’s record.

      Reply
  10. Bob Raynard

    August 18th, 2021

    Something that never seems to get mentioned when we hear a politician mention rapid testing as an alternative to providing proof of vaccination, is who is paying for the test? I don’t know what the true cost of a test is, but our local Shoppers Drug Mart charges $40, so those costs are going to add up. Will taxpayers have to subsidize people’s belief that they have a right to choose? Will universities, already cash strapped, thanks to the UCP pay it?

    Reply
  11. Jim Clarke

    August 18th, 2021

    The federal election is on Sept. 20, not Sept. 30.

    Reply
  12. Barry Boroditsky

    August 18th, 2021

    Check the federal election date you mention in this piece. Isn’t it 20 September?

    Reply
  13. A.O.

    August 18th, 2021

    Thanks for the story David.

    This is what happens when you have an illegitimate provincial carpetbagger premier trying to interfere with federal government responsibilities by foisting a referendumb question on the ballot of a municipal government election.

    It’s too bad this same miscreant is using every smokescreen he can dream up to carry on with his agenda (of leaving Alberta in ruins) when he makes his exit.

    Reply
  14. Dave

    August 18th, 2021

    Fear. Lets put it out there right up front. There is a reason these three Universities were hesitant up until now and even then only acted together, so no one could be singled out. They know their main funder can be very controlling, punitive and vindictive. Now with the Federal election on, the Conservative message has shifted from the pandemic is over, to it is not, so the Universities took this as their opening to do what was more sensible and should have been done before.

    The Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives are not the same thing as the Federal Reform/Conservative party. The slight difference in name should be a clue. Also, they campaigned mostly on improving health care and spending more on it. I am sure most of them would not fit in with or be welcome in the UCP either.

    No surprise that the UCP has disenfranchised so many First Nations voters in their Senate election. I am not sure if this is due to oversight and neglect or intentional, but I suppose the effect is the same either way.

    Reply
  15. Carlos

    August 18th, 2021

    It is obvious that Albertans and Alberta Institutions are realizing how useless this government is and do what they have to do. Jason Kenney will not interfere because he simply does not care. His only objective is to privatize the best Alberta services to his friends and increase his dividends and then later claim that the government never makes any money.
    Obviously Not. They are all the same and without political reform we will be stuck in the 20th century for a long time to come and hopefully Alberta will not become a failed province, which in my estimation it is very possible.

    Reply
  16. Just Me

    August 18th, 2021

    I guess the polling for the CPC in Alberta is highly questionable. They may not win by their usual 60% margins (on average) so there could be some embarassing situations in the offing.

    Since it’s very unlikely Kenney will sideline himself for the duration of the election campaign Alberta (lest he be called that coward who hides in the ‘Sky Palace’) at the very least he’s going to go back to treating the pandemic as a public health thing. Now that COVID 19 infections (among others) are way, way, way up in Alberta, it looks like that entreaty for ‘personal responsibility’ fell on its flat face, again. Alberta, you will never learn.

    The question is what will happen once the election has passed?

    Will the Kenney and the UCP maintain their temperment and act as adults in the room? Or, will they go all freeDUMB or DEATH again?

    Pandora’s Box was opened on June 28th and the wrath of the “Greatest Summer Cull Ever” is yet to be felt.

    I suspect there have been multiple super-spreaders already, which makes one wonder if there will be any Alberta Uber Alles rallies before election day? Judging by the CPC’s caution over their events in Ontario, it looks like masks and limited capacity are required at all campaign events. Letting in only those who are friendly to O’Toole in the room should go a long way to calming the CPC’s looney bin public image.

    As for PMJT, he’s taken a different tact. He’s making appearances at small events and luring the anti-mask anti-vaxx crowds to his event walk-ups. They heckle him with their special brand of crazy and he heckles them back. Say what one will about PMJT, he’s a brilliant campaigner who revels in the heated moments. He reminds me a lot of Brian Mulhroney, but I disgress.

    The first leaders’ debate will be a stunning affair, because Trudeau will remind O’Toole that his party is full of crazies and they don’t like him.

    Need. More. Popcorn.

    Reply
  17. Scotty on Denman

    August 18th, 2021

    Conservatives have been suppressing the vote ever since there were votes to suppress. They’re just getting more blatant about it now (could it get any more so than tRumpublican Red states reacting to over sixty courts of law rejecting The Donald’s Big Lie by enacting unabashed suppressed-voting legislations?)

    No wonder the right doesn’t like mail-in ballots, one of the silver linings of an otherwise horrible Covid experience: in the USA, mail-ins (required because of the pandemic) precluded the usual vote suppressing tactics long inflicted upon voters of colour who don’t vote Republican, tactics like too few polling places with too few workers in coloured (Democrat-leaning) districts which create super-long lineups where police can shakedown voters for unpaid parking tickets and the like. Mail-ins don’t involve that kind of harassment and so encourage more people of colour to vote. This being the case, tRump brazenly demanded state electoral officials simply discount ballots from black neighbourhoods where, he claimed, massive fraud had taken place. Too bad for him the courts rejected the allegations for which he had absolutely no evidence.

    Too bad for democracy that the suppressors aren’t themselves suppressed with prosecutions for conspiracy to interfere with citizens’ right to vote. Mueller said the DoJ wouldn’t indict a sitting president (in that case for electoral cheating in the 2016 US election), but now that tRump is a private citizen, there’s surely enough dope on him to proceed with prosecution for his blatant attempts to subvert the 2020 election—like that phone call to the Georgia state electoral official which was recorded and released to news media in order to shield said official from just such prosecution.

    This voter suppression stuff has just got to stop. Alberta’s Senate elections are a farce anyway, but if there’s any value, it’s that it exposes the UCP’s penchant for practicing voter-suppression on citizens who probably don’t support the UCP or its preferred Senate candidate. There is some evidence that CPC MP Dean del Monstro’s conviction and jail sentence for electoral cheating had a salutary effect on the party—if begrudgingly.

    Reply
  18. Bill Malcolm

    August 18th, 2021

    The federal election is Sept 20, not the end of next month on the 30th, which you mention twice and weave into your essay.

    I live in NS. It was obvious a week ago that the PCs would win the provincial election. Just talking to people where I live outside Halfax Metro, we were fed up to the gills with the Liberals’ austerity and concentration on policy over people. The Liberals here have practised intense austerity government and thoroughly cheesed off the rural population. Hospital closures, no doctors, no nurses, crap road maintenance, bad internet, closure of bank branches, no local investment, a general feeling of being abandoned, nothing but Halifax city types dominating the news and associated money, all contributed to their defeat. The PC leader is from a rural town and he knew the score. Had a pretty darn left platform in so many ways that the NDP were left gasping. Their actual percentage of the provincial vote went down very slightly, and was concentrated in the inner city where regular people cannot afford rent — the rest of their platform was essentially non-existent and never talked about that I read about or heard in interviews.

    Also, NO mention of healthcare privatization by the PCs was made here whatsoever, I can assure you. The opposite was the case — more money. Giving away a provincial park, Owl’s Head, in a protected area to a private developer to build a damn golf course, but with zero public consultation, was another Liberal faux pas. The premier was monotonic in speech, had to admit two past DUIs and seemed out-of-touch and low key, practising the Trudeau um and ah routine. Then he blew his concession speech last night fifteen ways to Sunday, claiming he wouldn’t have changed a thing in his losing campaign. Huh? Even an old NDP cabinet minister had stepped up and endorsed the PCs 10 days ago, specifically mentioning that the PCs repudiation of Old Toole and the CPC made it possible for her to do so. The NDP vote went down as a percentage but was better concentrated in the inner city this time. To what avail, only time will tell.

    The PC party said it would SPEND money on healthcare after the austerity we have had here, and won the election. There’s your takeaway. Sure, the provincial Liberals let our star Chief Medical Officer of Health run the Covid show so we’re #1 in the country, but the PCs acknowledge his performance as well. The Liberals gored themselves by being deaf on everything else but Covid, but with such a small effect of the disease here, people had time to consider everything else that was crap about the provincial Liberals.

    Old Toole and all real right wing Cons seem to think tax credits are wonderful, as in child care. Tax credits amount to NOTHING if your income isn’t high enough for the the full amount of available credit to more than offset the income tax you owe and leave you with a plus balance that is refundable! It keeps the poor poor. Just an Old Toole Con dodge, smoke and mirrors. $10 a Daycare wins gong away. Cons like Polievre banging way on balancing budgets are so full of sh!t, they’re out of touch like the NS Liberals. Useless smoke and mirrors environmental policy, equally so. The NS PCs and the federal Cons are 180 degrees out-of-phase, in my opinion.

    And to prove my point, the oh-so business-oriented Halifax Chamber of Commerce stood up on its patrician hind legs of privilege today and “reminded” the new PC premier-elect that he must govern for ALL Nova Scotians. Including the fat cats and developers, I guess. That shows you what Business thinks of the leftie PC win — the moneyed folks’ heads are rolling around in abject horror! My God, we might be overlooked!

    Reply
    • GMG

      August 19th, 2021

      Thank you for this. I was trying to understand why the Conservatives won in N.S. This explains it well.

      Reply
  19. Hammer

    August 18th, 2021

    The NS Tories moved quite a bit left ( especially on Healthcare) in order to beat out the Liberals, basically ran on a Liberal style platform. The elephant in the room is that the Tories had 1.8% more of the vote, yet beat the Libs 31-17 to form a majority. Proportional rep anyone? HMM….

    Reply
  20. Greg Francis

    August 18th, 2021

    Hi Dave,

    Election is Sept. 20 I think, not Sept. 30. Oops!

    Greg

    Reply
  21. Mike J Danysh

    August 18th, 2021

    “There is no mechanism that would allow institutions to require students to be vaccinated for in-person attendance on campus”: Taylor Hides. I bet there wasn’t a mechanism to FORBID it, either, till one of the Kenney Klowns said “No you can’t.”

    Reply
  22. Neil Lore

    August 18th, 2021

    Just want to say that if someone is getting a rapid covid test every day so they can go to work or go to school without showing they are vaccinated, it should be at their expense.

    Also, if a person who could have been safely vaccinated chooses not to and then gets COVID, they should be billed in full for their medical care. Ditto for measles, mumps, and all the other diseases that scientists would have eradicated if not for the determined efforts of grifters and grifting politicians.

    Anyone interested in understanding how we got to this point is encouraged to go to youtube and search for “anti-vaxxers: what went wrong?” Was very helpful for me to hear an explanation that didn’t call anyone an idiot or an asshole.

    Reply
    • Jim

      August 19th, 2021

      How about obese people? Charge them as well, do you see where this goes? The other illnesses you mention have vaccines with a long track record and have been tested.
      It is important to remember that the rights and freedoms you advocate being taken from others can easily be taken from you as well. My body my choice. And hey if the covid “vaccines” are so effective you have nothing to be scared about anyway.

      Reply
      • ayeamaye

        August 19th, 2021

        Nothing to be scared about….except the mutations. ” what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” applies equally to viruses.

        Reply
  23. Mike J Danysh

    August 18th, 2021

    Yet another whiplash-inducing 180 from the Kenney Klowns. None of them are wearing visible neck braces. I’m beginning to wonder if their necks are now internally braced.

    I give credit for the UCP climb-down to the loud protests from educators, their students and the kids’ parents. They had a big assist from Patty Hajdu, when she asked for the science behind the UCP’s “doors-wide-open” policy and non-plan. Deena Hinshaw, in particular, must have been under a LOT of pressure from health professionals to justify her support for Kenney’s policy of “ignore it, it’ll go away.”

    Science advances by figuring out how something works—then getting somebody to check your results. Peer-reviewed journals do this by distributing papers submitted for publication to recognized experts in the field (whichever field that might be). In the hard sciences (biology, chemistry and physics) the reviewers are anonymous, and there are supposed to be two of them. (I wouldn’t know about social or political science.) The reviewers may make suggestions to improve your analysis, or clarify your descriptions of results and conclusions. Rarely is a paper so poorly researched or written that it’s rejected as a waste of time.

    So where’s the model and analysis Hinshaw claimed to have? Has it been reviewed by an independent researcher, i.e. someone not working directly for the Kenney government? The sudden and very public about-face by Hinshaw and LaGrange makes me think the “scientific model” was an argument around the Cabinet conference table. The analysis was delivered (in my non-scientific, cynical scenario) by Jason Kenney himself: “OK, that’s enough. It’ll be fine. Go do it.”

    Any researcher worthy of the name would have handed over the data and explained his analysis. There’s no public record that Hinshaw (or whoever) even tried.

    Then there’s the undeniable (even for Kenney and the Klowns) fact the Delta variant is driving a fourth wave of infections across the country—indeed, the whole world. The “wide-open-doors” policy was doomed from the start. Covid-19 reared its head for the fourth time, and ugly reality struck down the “Best Summer Ever™“ yet again.

    Reply
  24. Bret Larson

    August 18th, 2021

    I wonder what the number of deaths would be in years of life lost for the policies implemented to fight the pandemic is? Would be interesting how close of a horse race it is in Alberta.

    Reply
    • Abs

      August 19th, 2021

      No doubt insurance companies are displeased by the number of life insurance payouts due to Covid, on top of hail claims from 2020. It would have been bad enough with all the natural disasters in 2020 alone. No matter. They can increase their premiums and pass it on to us.

      Reply
  25. Just Me

    August 18th, 2021

    Since I was interested in finding out why young people would waste their time being involved in the UCP’s vortex of nonsense, I took on the task of investigating the background of Taylor Hides, press secretary to the Minister of Advanced Education. Needless to say, I was not surprised by her background.

    Graduate of the U of C … I presume this was her first mistake, that and studying public policy there. If she had any exposure to Ted Morton’s lunacy, she’s clearly been lead astray.

    Following that, she had tenures at Crestview Strategy and Canadian Strategy Group, which it seems cemented her CON credentials. Oh, and she worked as a jr. analyst for Cardinal Energy, so there are her O & G credentials.

    There you have it. Another youth naively fell under the swoon of the UCP’s siren. In a former life, I’ve been there and I’ve done that. When you finally become wise and grow up, realizing that all CONs are just a tribe of grifters. There maybe hope for Ms. Hides, yet. Until then, she’s blindly following orders.

    Reply
    • Bret Larson

      August 19th, 2021

      Must be depressing when you can’t catch them young and foolish huh. I guess dippers should start hanging around play schools.

      Reply
      • ayeamaye

        August 19th, 2021

        What exactly is the point you are making. The “Dippers” are grifters like the UCP? The ” Dippers” are as useless as the UCP? The UCP are hanging around playschools so the “Dippers” should too? I know… you like to say “Dippers” because it empowers you and makes it seem like you know something the rest of us don’t and at the same time denigrating a whole cross section of the population.

        Reply
  26. Alan K Spiller

    August 19th, 2021

    Maybe Bret Larson would like to explain to us what exactly a Dipper is? The conservatives in my world are sick and tired of you guys calling those of who don’t share your level of stupidity a Dipper or a Leftist when you are the ones supporting a liberal turned reformer in Jason Kenney . It doesn’t make you look very smart, does it?

    Lougheed’s energy minister Bill Dickie was a brother in law of one my uncles and I got to know several of the MLAs from this era. They called the reformers enemies of the conservatives , I haven’t forgotten what they called guys like you.

    While the majority of the people want to see these damn reformers gone, the MLAs where right , there is no question that fools like you are Alberta traitors for not supporting what Albertans want.

    Reply

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