Alberta’s summertime frustration


Summertime, and the living ain’t easy in Alberta.

The fish may be jumping, but you can’t eat them or feed them to a pet because of the toxic blue-green algae in the province’s fresh water lakes.

There’s no cotton, but the canola fields are looking a tad sickly after a July of record rain.

Nobody’s daddy is particularly rich these days, particularly as multinational oil giants write down billions in oil sands assets as the resource’s future continues to dim.

And it’s pretty tough to tell if anyone’s good lookin’ now that major centres are instituting blanket indoor mask bylaws to try to flatten the stubborn rising Covid curve.

Yup times are tough and clearly it’s getting to some folks more than others.

Take for instance the red-shirted and red-necked individual caught on video at an Edmonton liquor store shouting his racist views.  The video of course has gone viral.  The store clerk says he thinks the sign on the store door about the requirement for masks indoors set the guy off and it just snowballed from there.

And there’s the case of the Kenney mug.  This mug, available at a local specialty store in the leafy Edmonton neighbourhood of Highlands, boldly says F*** You Kenney.

The artisan is cranky over the Kenney government’s back to school plan and a number of other government initiatives.  The store’s website says the mug is made “by people who care about healthcare, teachers, schools, kids, parks, and lgtbq+.”

A quarter of the $22.50 sale price will be donated to schools to buy Covid PPE supplies, says the website, and if the government ponies up for PPE the donation will still go to classrooms. 

As it happens the government announced this week it will put $10 million into mask, sanitizer and face-shield gear for schools, presumably not just in reaction to the profane mug.

A local TV station did an overheated segment on the decline of political discourse when it stumbled on the political mug.  That set off a storm of backbiting on social media as left and right chatterers squared off on who has the crudest bumper stickers and gag items.

The spat is a tempest in a coffee mug, but it does illustrate the heightened political climate.  Usually that type of polarized debate is at its height in the winter.  Normally Albertans take a break from the political hullabaloo in the summer while they sip a beer on a patio or run into the cool waters at a crowded beach.

But the normal escape valves just aren’t available in the same way in 2020.

The privileged can pop out to their cottages.  But the rest of the populace is sitting at home sweating through a heat wave without precious little relief and a steady stream of anxiety laden news pouring out of smart phones and TV sets.

The provincial government isn’t taking the usual summer pause either, with the legislature running through July and the UCP producing a seemingly never-ending series of controversial policy decisions.

And under it all is the big source of discontent.  Covid hasn’t gone away.  New case numbers in Alberta popped up over the 100 mark for several days in the past two weeks.

Even the province’s previously unassailable Chief Medical Officer Deena Hinshaw has become the target of some social media criticism as parents begin to dread the thing they usually long for about this time of year – the kids’ return to school.

No doubt tempers are frayed.  Here’s hoping the worst expressions of Alberta’s summertime frustration stay at the level of naughty coffee mugs and liquor store meltdowns.

More from Kathy Kerr.     @kathkerr1

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