UPDATE: Since this was first published Heron has apologized alongside the author of the Facebook page where it first appeared. The original column continues below.
Michael Corleone famously mused about being pulled back in just when you think you are out in The Godfather Part III and so like him, I am drawn back to Alberta.
While I am no longer living in Canada’s best and least insufferable province, I do still make an attempt to stay engaged with what goes on there. I read work from my former colleague Josh Thomas, regularly check the Edmonton Journal and just today found a disgusting example of an official in St. Albert disregarding reality.
For those who have not been living under a rock, the world has been going through a global pandemic brought on by COVID-19 for the past year and change. Economies have been paralyzed, scores have gone to their grave early and my former country of residence has struggled to get vaccines delivered quickly. This has made many angry, put pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and is not something you would think a person in elected office would make a joke about.
Well, you would be wrong.
On April Fools Day the Community of St. Albert Facebook page actually put out content claiming the provincial government had privately acquired enough vaccine to inoculate everyone in the region over the next 45 days. The callous lie – which has since been deleted but not before it was screenshotted – had a fake quote from Premier Jason Kenney, likely delivered false hope to hundreds desperate to hug their loved ones and reopen businesses and got a giggle from Mayor Cathy Heron.
“Good April Fool’s from the community page,” she wrote in another post which has since been scrubbed like the above bit. “Its okay to laugh once and awhile.”
It is okay to laugh once and awhile? While I get levity in tough times there are more than 40 people who have died in the area she was elected to oversee according to the most-recent data on the province’s geospatial COVID-19 tracking map. Those are people who can never vote this disgrace to public service out of the job she presently holds. They can never go outside again or feel a warm embrace.
Heron and the page above have not responded to criticism as of this opinion being filed. I would hope they see this as a teachable moment and if not, one wonders what they would have done in other times of strife at the national and global levels.
Maybe Heron would’ve thought a fictional magazine promising to admit more Jewish refugees to Canada during the Second World War was a laugh riot? If false hope for medicine tickles her funny bone, who is to say she would not have been giggling like a schoolgirl at the thought of people escaping from the Holocaust?
The “writer” of the post is a private citizen so my ire is less for him. But it is fair to speculate what else he thinks is on the cutting edge of comedy? Maybe the man has a good joke or two about those who have survived domestic violence or overdosed in the community? If he was dense enough to do the above it is not inconceivable.
Ultimately what I hope people take away from this is what we have all been through globally, nationally and locally is no joke. It is not appropriate to peddle false hope to people desperate to move on from the most significant domestic disruption to life since the Second World War and any politician who thinks it is fun to make jokes about the pandemic and all the issues which have come along with it should be voted out, forced to resign or tarred and feathered in some form.
St. Albert deserves better.
IMAGE: Mayor Cathy Heron apparently thinks false hope is funny. Via @average_mammal on Twitter.