Peace River MLA Dan Williams (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

Peace River MLA Dan Williams’ member’s statement in the Legislature last Thursday attacking Alberta Health Services leadership for trying to require employees to be vaccinated against the disease that has caused the deadliest pandemic in a century will sound to many like a bizarre rant.

Mr. Williams got up on his hind legs during the afternoon session of the Legislature to imaginatively assail as “rapacious and reckless” an AHS plan to place health care employees who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on unpaid leaves of absence.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Still, as nonsensical as this sounds, it’s worth listening to Mr. Williams because the MLA for Peace River often says what Jason Kenney really thinks.

Now, Mr. Williams must have the least informative official biography of any Alberta MLA. To read it, you’d almost think he never did anything before running for office but work in the gravel pit in La Crete, the northwestern community he and his wife call home.

It’s not that simple, though. Back when Mr. Kenney was minister of defence in Stephen Harper’s cabinet in Ottawa, Mr. Williams was a political aide in his office.

Both men share extreme anti-abortion views. But, unlike the premier nowadays, Mr. Williams still wears his on his sleeve.

In 2019, Mr. Williams participated in the controversial March for Life in Edmonton, where students of publicly financed Roman Catholic Schools are bused into Edmonton on the taxpayers’ dime to protest against the reproductive rights of other Albertans.

The same year, he introduced a private member’s bill to reopen the debate about physicians’ ability to assert religious “conscience rights” if they don’t want to refer patients to doctors who will provide abortions, contraception, or medically assisted death. He denied the bill was a back-door manoeuvre to undermine access to abortion and contraception, claiming he was just trying “to protect the Charter rights that individuals have.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Williams published a video attacking AHS for throwing up a fence around an Edmonton-area evangelical church that refused on multiple Sundays to obey provincial COVID-19 restrictions. He called the public health measure an attack on freedom of religion.

NDP Health Critic David Shepherd (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

He even seems to have gotten the nomination in Peace River using hard-ball tactics reminiscent of Mr. Kenney’s own leadership campaign – leastways, an opponent complained that party polling stations ended up in locations that made it hard for her supporters to vote, and three candidates dropped out of the nomination battle.

It’s hard to believe the stuff Mr. Williams says doesn’t have a discreet nod from his mentor and former and current boss, Mr. Kenney. Late last month, Mr. Kenney appointed Mr. Williams parliamentary secretary to the minister of culture.

Judging from his member’s statement, Mr. Williams and Mr. Kenney even seem to share a penchant for faux professorial pontification.

So here’s what he said in context, courtesy of Hansard: “Since August tens of thousands of Albertans have been waiting to see if their hospitals, doctors, nurses will be told by Alberta Health Services’ leadership that they’re not wanted anymore,” he asserted. “Dozens of Alberta communities have been wondering if this rapacious and reckless plan would move access to life-saving health care even further away.”

Now, while that first sentence is pure pish-posh, it is true that the town of La Crete is a hotbed of rural anti-vaccine sentiment where AHS may very well have been concerned about being able to find enough vaccinated personnel to keep the doors of the community health centre open.

The timing of Mr. Williams’ statement was peculiar, since two days before, the Kenney Government had taken steps to overrule AHS’s sensible policy and require the health authority to suspend its mandated vaccination policy in vaccine-resistant rural communities.

Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

At a news conference on Nov. 29, Health Minister Jason Copping said that despite the objections of AHS leaders, vaccine refuseniks in places like La Crete will be permitted to keep working and AHS must provide them with “frequent and targeted COVID-19 testing.”

In his member’s statement, Mr. Williams lauded the government for that move – which will cause many problems for AHS. “By forcing AHS to allow rapid testing, the Minister of Health’s directive is saving many communities from health care oblivion,” he claimed.

“AHS leadership has held a knife to the throat, every day for 91 days, of many of my remote communities,” he continued hyperbolically. “AHS leadership has abandoned Albertans. In an absolute act of shame their plan was to abrogate their obligation to the sick and dying Albertans and instead concentrate themselves with legal liability, crass ideology, capricious authoritarianism, or who knows what.”

The young man who once whinged that “even if you’re not interested in leftist politics, leftist politics has an in interest in you,” also complained, typical of the anti-vaxx right, that “so much moralizing has gone on from the world’s public health authorities during this pandemic, but most of its smugness has been directed towards constituents like mine.”

He ended his jeremiad about AHS with, “Shame on them.”

This brought a sharp riposte from the Opposition NDP, which like Mr. Williams’ comments was ignored by mainstream media.

“At a time when health care workers are already facing harassment and threats of violence from the UCP’s extremist anti-vaccine fringe, this kind of rhetoric is extremely dangerous,” NDP Health Critic David Shepherd said in a news release.

“This is a shocking new low in the UCP’s shameful history of undermining efforts to boost vaccination rates in Alberta,” he added.

Former Calgary West MP Rob Anders (Photo: Facebook/Rob Anders).

“Williams must immediately and unreservedly apologize to Alberta’s front line health care workers who have already been pushed to the brink by the UCP government’s gross mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Shepherd concluded. “Jason Kenney must also immediately condemn this incendiary and grossly irresponsible statement from his UCP colleague.”

But the premier won’t be condemning anything, of course, because he and Mr. Williams are singing from the same song sheet. Mr. Williams is just singing a little louder.

Rob Anders tax evasion trial moved to June 6

For those of you have been wondering what happened to former Calgary West Conservative MP Rob Anders’ tax evasion trial, originally set to start on October 25, it has been rescheduled.

Mr. Anders faces five charges under the Income Tax Act that are now scheduled to be heard in Provincial Court in Calgary, commencing on June 6, 2022.

Join the Conversation

23 Comments

  1. It’s not something most observers wouldn’t expect from the UCP, particularly from an MLA so close to Jason Kenney, a leader-on-probation who now needs to pipe his bit to men like avatars, ‘ands-ifs-or-buts’ Williams, too piddly revelling, too much hidden, in-tent, to miss, taken as holy sincertainty.

    But “rapacious”? Is that something practicing pro-lifers sugar-coat, hangers-on too? Is it the Con version of therapy? One man won women? Who’s kidding now?

    Yeah, MSM isn’t interested, but insofar as Albertans should be, this is great reporting.

  2. It is fairly impressive how Kenney managed to stack the UCP so full of loyal and like minded MLA’S. I suppose it was a bit of an empty vessel, but still.

    It also helps explain why he is still leader. A party with a collection of MLA’s who rose to positions of power under other different leaders would not let things go so far, just ask Alison Redford.

    So Kenney seems like a man who intends to go down with the ship, or is it bring down the ship with him? A number of his MLA’s seem to be ok with that.

    In the process it also seems like a bit of a scorched earth policy is happening and they will try inflict as much damage on anyone they are suspicious who may be an enemy of their intentions. I suppose the rest of us Albertans will just be collateral damage in what seems to have now gone beyond what was a war against doctors or nurses and now has become one against the whole health care system.

  3. If Mr. Williams was truly concerned about “saving many communities from health care oblivion” he should have spoken out at the first sign of former health minister Tyler Shandro’s war on doctors and plans to lay off 11,000 health care workers. The UCP is directly responsible for service disruptions and bed closures at health care facilities across the province yet strangely Mr. Williams kept quiet about that, making it hard for most sensible people to believe his crocodile tears shed over the effects the vaccine mandate is having on staffing.

  4. I think in specific locations, like La Crete, the government has just been forced to accept practicalities over the ideal. Mr. Williams grandstanding aside, I do hope that in locations where AHS has been forced to compromise, they will at least be able to consider an employee’s vaccine status when considering candidates for promotion, or even retention, if a vaccinated applicant becomes available.

    Given the success of vaccine passports getting reluctant people to get vaccinated, I think the government should look at more ways to put pressure on people to get vaccinated. One possibility would be for the government to give a priority to companies that have implemented an employee vaccine mandate when selecting suppliers. I would also like to see businesses that cater to the general public be required to make their vaccine policy public, so people can take it into account when choosing a business to patronize.

  5. It’s not surprising that our ‘come-from-away’ Premiere, has dragged along other ‘imports’ from historical conservative backrooms to blow his dog whistle for him…

  6. Speaking of of throwing up, chain link fences are often erected on rural properties in La Crete, to protect its residents from the real and present danger of rapacious bears. Surely Mr. Williams understands that one does not ignore such threats, and that vulnerable children are easy targets. Also, many children do not replace the one taken by a bear, which is why people protect the one. Abrogation of fence construction leads to the expected conclusion. The easiest way to stop a rogue bear is before it attacks.

  7. No surprises here. We have seen this movie before. UCP caucus members, possibly a significant portion of them, are all too willing to put ideology and unfounded, crack-pot beliefs ahead of evidence and science-based public policy decisions that are informed by a desire to protect our health and, ultimately, our economic well being by getting us out of this mess, made worse by the vaccine hesitant and deniers, as soon as practically possible.

    Of course, when it comes to women’s rights, some members of the UCP caucus would be all too willing to trample on those, if they saw a chance of success.

    They have no sense of the public good and appear not to know that one of the government’s desirable roles is to reduce the amount of suffering and try to improve the lot of the governed overall. A bunch of knuckle-dragging, flat-earther ideologues is about the most charitable thing you say about this clown-car UCP caucus being driven by premier Bumbles.

    1. Actually, if we look at evidence and statistics, we will see that UCP caucus members do not have unfounded, crack-pot beliefs. If we even use a little common sense, we will realize that by allowing unvaccinated health care workers to test frequently, we are actually being very safe. The vaccinated do not have to test and are given false security due to the fact they have the vaccine. We know that even vaccinated can be carriers of diseases. However, since they don’t have to test, they can very easily and unconsciously spread the disease. The unvaccinated, by being required to test, will never go to work if they are infected, because the test will come back positive, and consequently, they will stay home. Therefore, they are actually being safer than the vaccinated!

      In regards to what you said about the members of the UCP caucus willing to trample women’s rights, this is not true. If you are speaking about the fact that Dan Williams is prolife, then we have to first see that abortion is not a woman’s right. It is taking the life of another human being. We can all agree that if one kills someone else, it is not a right of theirs, but rather a crime worthy of jail time. Though unborn, the mother should be required to sustain and care for her child instead of taking its life. The unborn have the same basic human rights as any other person living on the face of this earth. Any biology textbook will show you that life begins at the moment of conception. This is an unarguable fact. To try to deny this is to deny science. Therefore, all abortions, no matter how early in the pregnancy, are the termination of a life. The “right” to kill another human is not a right, but rather an overturning of the very fundamentals that built this country. Therefore, those who stand for life are the ones truly standing for women’s rights.

      Truly, the role of government is to reduce suffering. By firing all unvaccinated health care workers, we are increasing all suffering, as hospitals become understaffed and unable to provide adequate help to those in need. If we allow all health care workers the choice of vaccination or testing, we will help to uphold the health care system, which consequently ensures that those in need of help receive it.

      To try to force everyone to get the vaccine, we are forgetting to respect everyone’s rights, regardless of which side of the spectrum they are on. By allowing testing as a replacement for vaccination, we are giving everybody the chance to live together with equal rights and opportunities.

  8. Moving Dan Williams into cabinet as a parliamentary secretary served two purposes…

    Reward a Kenney loyalist

    Give the SoCONs, who have been clamouring for more proof Kenney is really on their side, a bone.

    Williams will serve as a defacto “Obama’s Anger Interpreter”. A US comedy show created a skit where President Obama speaks through his Anger Interpreter, who then tells the world what Obama is really thinking. Williams will serve a similar purpose. He will say exactly what Kenney wants to say, but can’t because he’s the premier.

    So, if Kenney wants to dog whistle to the antivaxxers and FreeDUMB crowd he wants to win over, Williams will do it for him. If Kenney wants to whistle to the prolife crowd that there will be moral judgements applied to health care, Williams will get on his own bullhorn and do that job. It’s the perfect arrangement for Kenney.

  9. The UCP has done a certified botch job on managing the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta. They have done this from incompetence, but also because these pretend Conservatives and Reformers in the UCP want to finish what their hero, the Liberal turned Reformer, Ralph Klein wanted to do, which was to have full on private for profit, Americanized healthcare in Alberta. The UCP wants to create more strain on the healthcare system in Alberta, just so they can privatize it. Where is the sense in this?

    1. Free public healthcare is the problem.

      People can make a decision to not get a $50 vaccination, with the consequences of a $100k plus hospital visit, or you know death, and it costs them the same amount. Zero.

      If they had to pay $100k plus for a month in ICU , there would be alot more people vaccinated.

      1. BRET LARSON: There are inherent flaws in your statements, and I shall cover that in a succinct and concise way. In the United States of America, people who have to pay for hospital care out of their own pockets, have ended up going broke. In states where Covid-19 cases have escalated, the problem is magnified. I don’t think we would want that here, given the fact that Alberta has often led the entire country of Canada, regarding the number of cases of Covid-19.

        1. Divesting the concept of scarcity to the government doesnt help anything. In fact it hurts.

          People work harder when they arent slaves. And peoples hard work is the basis for the prosperity of society. When people are prosperous, they tend to give back.

          Individuals are the basis for additional bounty which can be shared with society at large.

          I believe in socialized basic healthcare. But supporting individuals decisions which drops such a huge risk on society is not basic healthcare.

      2. Then let the UCP run on an explicit platform of healthcare privatization. Their motto could be “Trust Us.” Also, if the AB government really wanted more people to get vaccinated–I mean beyond merely giving lip service to it–they could enact stricter mandates. That seems less extreme to me than putting life-saving healthcare out of the reach of most Albertans.

        1. Well thats the whole point. I dont think governments should mandate, with force of law, such things. Every law you add has a toll. People die, from below:

          “For every reported infection to the end June last year, seven citizens were arrested for breach of regulations; for every 100 infections, one police officer was arrested; and for every 1,200 infections there was a High Court urgent application. Seven people had been killed in heavy-handed enforcement.”

          Such aspects are the basis for “defund the police” initiatives.

          One of the progressives ironies is that they want “defund the police” and “strict police enforcement of the things we currently want”.

          In the US its especially hilarious to watch Republicans and Democrats trade stances. When the Democrats are hawks, Republicans have to be doves.

          One would imagine its a different bunch of politicians but alot of the time its the same ones..

          1. Not to extend this thread too much further, Brett, but I think there’s a more than subtle distinction between harsh, targeted police violence, sometimes resulting in death, and prudent public health measures. I’m even willing to bet that civil liberties (not to mention lives) will survive the latter.

  10. Deadliest pandemic in a hundred years?

    Nah, the deadliest pandemic in the last hundred years has been government, heres a great example:
    https://unherd.com/2021/12/south-africas-looming-vaccine-revolt/

    Heres a couple excerpts:
    “Initial predictions were for between 87,000 and 350,000 fatalities in the first phase. There were 103.”

    “For every reported infection to the end June last year, seven citizens were arrested for breach of regulations; for every 100 infections, one police officer was arrested; and for every 1,200 infections there was a High Court urgent application. Seven people had been killed in heavy-handed enforcement.

    When two doctors working in a Government hospital were forcibly interned in one of the state’s make-shift rural isolation camps, the High Court ordered they be allowed to self-isolate at home: it accepted the doctors’ deposition that they stood more chance of dying from the conditions of incarceration than from the virus.”

    1. Bret: South Africa had a Covid death toll of 103 on April 30, 2020. Then it went up everyday to its present total of 90 thousand. That is just over the low end of the predicted mortality. The high end prediction, as was pointed out to you a couple of days ago, assumed nothing was done. So, education, masking, testing, tracing, and quarantining all played a role in preventing hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths.
      https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/south-africa/

      As I pointed out to you before, the web site you linked to has some zippy writing but many of its articles are full of the logical errors typically committed in the name of making rhetoric entertaining.

  11. Does this mean that if Dan Williams (or any of his nearest or dearest) was in the hospital he would be fine with having unvaccinated employees taking care of him?

    1. I must say I sure wouldn’t mind having an unvaccinated employee taking care of me. They have to undergo such frequent testing that it is impossible that they’re spreading anything to you, unlike the vaccinated, who can unconsciously spread the disease, as they do not ever have to get tested. Think about the asymptomatic… You would never know they’re spreading unless they take a test.
      So yes, I would be fine with it. Quite frankly, I would feel very safe!

  12. Am I missing something about Mr Williams and his balderdash?

    In NS, we had a large Covid outbreak in a Mennonite community back in September. Between 240 and 260 out of a population of 300 were infected, it was estimated. Not a vaccination among them, and only 60% consented to a Covid test. Five ended up in hospital. Didn’t change their minds or stop them running farmers’ market stalls. “Several of the farmers sell their produce and bakery at farmers’ markets in Truro, Halifax, and Dartmouth, as well as through roadside stands.” Here, have a free Covid dose with those carrots and buns.

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/news/canada/ns-health-officials-draw-lessons-from-covid-19-outbreak-in-mennonite-community/ar-AAOXKxm

    http://jms.uwinnipeg.ca/index.php/jms/article/download/1003/1002/0

    is the background of NS Mennonites and what they do for a living.

    La Crete is a largely Mennonite community, is it not? Not surprising Mr Williams is anti-vax, then. Whereas I bet dollars to donuts that kenney is fully vaccinated to save his own precious hide. Of course, kenney is Catholic and to the right of the pope who’s a raving marxist to him, so jason’s views on womens’ rights regarding abortion nestle up closely with that of the Mennonites (whose women have no say in anything) and all the intellectuals running Texas and Mississipi.

    Here in NS, we have all sorts of sects and religions out there in the depopulating countryside, and some American originally from olde Virginie and out-of-his-everlovin’ skull running some non-official Baptist sect or another held a 4 day “camp” back in late October, and didn’t follow any Covid gathering rules. Some of his thereby enlightened flock fanning back out across the province after their Super BBQ managed to enter an old folks home and a home for the disabled. It’s not been made clear if they were employees, but that’s the rumour. Six people have since died. Thanks so much. Very Christian of you.

    Such fine caring folk, all these religious nutbars! At least as a sort of minor compensation, 970 employees on the NS provincial payrolls are now home collecting no pay, on administrative leave for being dolts. Ain’t no cure for stupid.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/nova-scotia-mandatory-vaccination-policy-public-sector-staffing-leaves-of-absence-1.6272827

    Has anywhere else actually sent these people home to stew, or have the provincial governments prevaricated to the point of being ineffectual? I know the City of Toronto sent Dougie Fraud’s policeman son-in-law home to count his toes and fume, egged on by his wife Krista who’s posted Covid misinformation for months.

    https://www.narcity.com/toronto/fords-daughter-says-her-cop-husband-is-being-put-on-unpaid-leave-for-being-unvaccinated

    Mr Williams, to my mind, is just another modern day nutter. Nosey parkers who want to force their blinkered views on others and tell ’em how to live, while using religion as the crutch for their being anti-social. They simply cannot keep themselves from minding other peoples’ business. If I want to be proselytized and especially by the tangential backdoor route where “religion” crosses over into the societal scene and attempts to curtail the separation of “church” and state, I’ll ask for it. Otherwise, shut up.

  13. These guys vex me. Their holy rolling and juvenile economic theories? I am on my last lap. But I know bullshit! Good lord! Does it have value? This government could corner the market! Who needs carbon capture when we have so much methane!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.