Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin is one of 16 UCP MLAs denouncing the government's decision to reinstate COVID-19 health restrictions in an open letter to Albertans issued yesterday.
"We believe that yesterday's announcement to move our province backward, effectively abandoning the plan that Albertans had worked diligently over the past months to follow, is the wrong decision," states the letter.
"After 13 painstaking months of COVID-19 public health restrictions, we do not support the additional restrictions imposed on Albertans yesterday, and we will continue advocating for a transparent path forward that provides certainty to Alberta families, communities, and businesses."
The 16 MLAs also call upon their colleagues to join them in opposing the government's action.
Rosin says the restrictions were met with understanding at the beginning of the pandemic, despite the hardship it caused. She believes that's no longer the case.
"But 13 long months later, I have heard resoundingly from citizens and small businesses alike that they cannot take this much longer. They need their livelihoods back and want the ability to once again take responsibility for their own destiny and visit with their loved ones," she states in a Facebook post explaining her position.
In a constituency that is heavily dependant upon the tourism and hospitality industry, unemployed peaked at 85 per cent during the harshest of measures imposed by the provincial and federal governments. She says steps need to be progressive, not regressive.
"Hospitality employees and small business owners have been clear with me that they did not enter entrepreneurship to become government employees, and that the best support our government can give them at this time is the endorsement to safely and permanently resume operations. That is what I will continue advocating for," she states.
"From the beginning of this pandemic, I have expressed your concerns directly to decision-makers privately, while demonstrating solidarity with the government, publicly. Today, I feel the need to speak out publicly."
Most of those signing the letter are backbenchers, but among them is House Speaker Nathan Cooper, MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills.
"After yesterday’s step backward to phase 1 restrictions and step backward from the reopening plan, I am compelled to speak out publicly on behalf of the residents of Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills," states Cooper in a Facebook posting. "I have heard your extreme disappointment and frustration – and in many cases your anger."
Former Municipal Affairs minister Tracy Allard, who was forced to resign after travelling to Hawaii at Christmas, also opposes the measures, as does nearby East Airdrie MLA Angela Pitts.
"I'm so incredibly disappointed with today's news of going backward with more restrictions," states Pitts in a Facebook post to her constituents. "I have heard loud and clear that this move doesn't represent the views of so many of you. I will continue to push back on damaging measures to business, families, and our community as a whole."
We are awaiting an opportunity to speak further with MLA Rosin on the letter and her position.
In the meantime, NDP leader Rachel Notley took a swing at Premier Jason Kenney on the matter during yesterday's question period.
"Instead of preparing for the inevitable reinstallation of restrictions, this premier has been distracted by the so-called free speech within his caucus, which is all about rejecting and undermining public health rules," said Notley. "Albertans deserve a government that respects science, that respects the law, that supports public health. Instead, they have been fighting among themselves, and they haven't been doing the work that Albertans expect."
Kenney said freedom of speech is a constitutional right that is alive and well in the UCP caucus and questioned if that is the case in the NDP caucus.