“Panel Chair Encourages Politicians to Use Covid-19 Response Report in Federal Election”
Former Reform Party Leader Preston Manning’s $2-million report on Alberta’s Covid-19 response was recently released, providing over 90 recommendations to improve the government’s reaction to public emergencies. However, Manning’s email to 20 Alberta MPs, urging them to use the report as leverage in the upcoming federal election, has stirred controversy.
Manning’s email informed Conservative MPs of the potential to capitalize on the report’s findings to critique the Liberal/NDP coalition’s handling of the Covid crisis. He suggested that some of the report’s content could be beneficial in calling attention to the government’s shortcomings in this area. In addition, Manning encouraged Alberta MLAs to seek support from their federal counterparts to promote and implement the report’s recommendations.
When questioned about Manning’s actions, a spokesperson for him confirmed the email, stating that after completing the panel’s work, Manning reached out to politicians from his personal email account to encourage a review of their recommendations. Notably, Manning was paid $253,000 by the Alberta government for his role as the panel’s chair.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith believes that there was nothing wrong with Manning sharing the report’s findings with like-minded contacts from his personal email. Further, she expressed her understanding of why Manning would want to distribute the report to decision-makers at other levels of government, emphasizing the valuable information the report contains to be useful in various contexts.
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley criticized Manning’s email, suggesting that the panel’s review of Alberta legislation was never intended for the public interest but was rather a measure of partisan political campaigning. Notley raised concerns about the potential risk to Albertans’ safety if the report’s recommendations were to be adopted.
Despite the controversy, the panel’s report contains pivotal recommendations that potentially impact public health emergencies, like amending the Alberta Bill of Rights to strengthen individual freedoms and recommending the Alberta Emergency Management Agency to lead the government’s response to public emergencies. The government is still reviewing the report and its recommendations, leaving scope for changes in the future.
Manning’s actions have stirred a debate, raising questions about whether the report’s findings should be exploited for political gains in the next federal election. It is crucial to consider different viewpoints and analyze the potential repercussions of such actions. The report was created to offer valuable solutions, and while political advocacy can be constructive, it is equally important to ensure that the focus remains on the public good. Rather than using the report as a political cudgel, the focus should be on collaborative efforts to improve Covid-19 response and emergency management for the benefit of all.