After Camrose MLA Jackie Lovely wrote an open letter addressing the group of protesters who have been picketing outside her constituency office on Fridays, one of the organizers of the demonstrations is responding.
In her letter, published in the Jan. 13, 2021 print edition of the Bashaw Star, Lovely stated that many of the protesters are board members of the local NDP chapter.
“Because you hold socialist views and I, as a UCP representative, hold a free enterprise approach to life, we simply have different views of how things should be done,” said Lovely in the letter.
Joy-Anne Murphy of Camrose, one of the originators of the protest, says generalizing the demonstrators as socialist was lazy.
“These non-partisan demonstrations were attended by upwards of 35 individuals over the weeks, who simply wanted to express their frustration with the current government,” said Murphy, adding that calling them socialist is just a way of dismissing their concerns.
Murphy says she joined the demonstrations because she felt unheard by the UCP.
“I found myself (back in October) wishing the government’s decision-making processes were more transparent, and decided that I might not be the only one feeling that way,” she said.
Murphy says she has many concerns with the way the UCP is governing the province, including “the lack of consultation, the lack of consideration of expertise and evidence, and the pushing of an agenda that seems to heavily favour those already in a position to help themselves while leaving behind everyone else.”
She further cites her views of the lack of public consultation regarding health care, supports for children and adults, education funding cuts, and the de-listing of Alberta parks that the UCP have since walked back on, and the focus on oil and gas to the exclusion of other sectors.
“It snowballed into every Friday for six weeks in part because we all talked with each other and realized many, if not all of us, were being either ignored or brushed off with part responses that didn’t necessarily address our specific concerns.”
In her letter, Lovely says some people have come into her office and used foul language. She added, “If you wish to have a civil and constructive conversation about your concerns, I welcome the opportunity.”
Murphy says as it’s stated in the letter, it makes it sound like it was the demonstrators who were using foul language.
“Stated as it is … it may lead to an assumption that those people are one and the same. Please be assured that this is not the case.”
Murphy says that during the six weeks of protesting, she reached out multiple times to MLA Lovely, indicating her interest in meeting or otherwise communicating about her concerns, with no response.
More recently, Murphy says she has received timely responses from Lovely.
Lovely stated in an interview on Jan. 21, that she fully supports free speech and the right to demonstrate and she’s happy to receive the feedback of constituents.
“Their thoughts and opinions are certainly important to me,” said Lovely, adding when people bring their concerns to her, that gives her the opportunity to bring those concerns up at caucus meetings.