Alberta’s Premier says he will not follow the lead of other provinces, such as Quebec and Ontario, to install a vaccine passport requirement for non-essential businesses.
Premier Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party, issued the verdict to reporters at his annual Calgary Stampede Breakfast event on July 12.
Alberta is the first Province in Canada to fully release its citizens from SARS-CoV-2 pandemic restrictions. Kenney said his plan was to leave the Province “open for good” and go back to focusing on job creation, economy, and oil and gas development, “I am proud that Alberta is leading Canada out of the pandemic, and leading Canada in economic growth,” he stated.
When asked about the installation of a vaccine passport requirement, Kenney’s response was decisive, “We’ve been very clear from the beginning that we will not facilitate or accept vaccine passports.”
“I believe they would in principle contravene the Health Information Act and also possibly the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.”
The Premier also said he planned to challenge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if the ruling federal Liberal Party attempted to implement a national mandate.
Kenney pointed out his government amended the Public Health Act in April to remove a 100-year-old law that gave the government the power to forcefully inoculate citizens, “These folks who are concerned about mandatory vaccines have nothing to be concerned about,” he said.
The announcement is consistent with the Premier’s stated policy. In May, Kenney made his position known, “There is no mandatory vaccines and no vaccine passports in Alberta, and nor will there be – period, full stop.”
The Calgary Stampede is an annual 10-day carnival and exhibition that also features the world’s premiere competitive rodeo events and chuckwagon races. Cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the pandemic, the 2021 Stampede was able to relaunch on schedule and runs from July 9 to 18.
The event, originally started in Calgary in 1884 as an attempt to encourage eastern farmers and ranchers to migrate west, was unable to maintain operations as of 1895 due to crop failures, weather, and economic conditions. After multiple attempts to resurrect the Stampede, including stints in Winnipeg and New York State, the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede finally took root in 1923.
In 2013, when Calgary faced unprecedented flooding that saw the city’s NHL hockey arena, the Saddledome, submerged to its second level, the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” still went on to the best of its abilities.
In 2020, the event was completely cancelled for the first time as hysteria and panic from the apparent COVID-19 pandemic was in high gear. Estimates by the Conference Board of Canada projected Alberta’s economy lost $540 million and Canada’s economy lost $700 million due to the cancellation.
Global News calculated the 2019 Stamped brought more than $227 million to Calgary’s economy and more than $282 million to the Province in addition to more than 1,000 jobs. Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady told the outlet, “Many of the businesses make their profit during the Stampede, and so for all those small business owners and all those individuals involved in Stampede…This is a tough moment.”
All the same, the 2021 Stampede’s Nashville North country music exhibition made itself the first major event in Canada to require proof of vaccination or a rapid PCR test in order to attend. According to Globe and Mail, attendees will either have to provide proof of a single dose of injection in the last two weeks or test negative in an on-site administered rapid PCR test.
The restriction applies only at the Nashville North tent and not throughout the entire Exhibition and Stampede.
According to the Nashville North website, the event partnered with 19toZero, an advocacy group devoted to promotion of vaccination and erosion of vaccine hesitancy. One of the group’s co-founders is Jia Hu, a medical health officer at Alberta Health Services and assistant professor at the University of Calgary.
19toZero lists entities and corporations as sponsors such as Alberta Health Services, the University of Calgary, Pfizer, Moderna, Merck, and Shaw Communications.