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‘Enough is enough’: Calgarians protest everything UCP

Calgarians gathered outside of Calgary city hall Saturday for a general protest against Premier Smith and the UCP. As Jillian Code reports, protestors say they’ve had enough.

Enough is enough. That’s the message to Danielle Smith and the United Conservative Party from the hundreds of Albertans who showed up outside Calgary’s city hall Saturday afternoon.

The protest at City Hall was just one of many that happened across the province, including in Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Sylvan Lake.

Signs in the crowd called out the province’s proposed legislation restricting gender-affirming care for trans youth; others criticized the province for exploring an Alberta Pension Plan. Some even said there were just too many issues for one sign.

Volunteers were also on hand collecting signatures for a petition to keep Alberta in the Canada Pension Plan.

Jenny Yeremiy, a public advocate and podcast host of Gravity Well, spoke at the protest. She says continuing frustrations with government policies led to somebody suggesting: “we just need a general protest.”

“Everything’s getting worse year over year … so it doesn’t matter what your issue is, it’s not getting better, it’s getting worse,” Yeremiy told CityNews.

“So I think it’s the opportunity to recognize that we’re not alone in this feeling of things are getting worse, and the only way we’re going to change this is if we come together like this.”

Yeremiy, who also comes from the oil and gas industry, says she has wanted to see responsible development and has tried to advocate and make change from within, but says she was stonewalled because she was told change comes from government policy and regulation of the industries.

“We need our premier to be a leader, and to say ‘enough is enough’ with us,” she said.

Jenny Yeremiy speaks at the Municipal Plaza in Calgary at a protest against the United Conservative government's policies and Premier Danielle Smith
Jenny Yeremiy speaks at a protest against the United Conservative government’s policies and Premier Danielle Smith at the Municipal Plaza in Calgary on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (Alejandro Melgar, CityNews).

More than 500 people showed up, including tenant advocacy groups, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and everyone in between showed up to speak out against a laundry list of issues they have with the UCP.

Protest organizer Rebecca Brown says this came together in five weeks due to various decisions that include coal mining, Bill 20, and health care, saying all those decisions were not consensual, heightening frustrations.

“They think about lining their pockets, they think about their donors and their cronies, their friends, and they really don’t give a damn about Albertans. And they don’t give a damn about Alberta,” she told CityNews.

The province tabled Bill 20 last month, which would grant the government sweeping powers over municipalities, including the right to fire councillors, overturn bylaws and postpone elections.

Also last month, the UCP introduced Bill 18, which would give it the power to veto any deal between the federal government and provincial entities, including municipalities and post-secondary schools.

When asked what kind of response she would like from the UCP, Brown said “it would be nice if they blinked a little.”

“If we’re getting annoyed as Albertans, you should probably think about not annoying them.”

Mount Royal University of Calgary political science professor Duane Bratt says the protests now aren’t unique as there is an epicentre of protests, however, he says for a protest to be effective, in some cases, “you have to be disruptive to get action.”

“There’s always questions about ‘does protest work?’ I think there’s clear evidence that it worked in Coutts,” he told CityNews. “It drove out a provincial premier, and it hastened the end of COVID restrictions.”

“I don’t think Danielle Smith is going to wake up … after this, even if it’s large scale protests, and say, ‘well, we’re just going to have to reverse ourselves on Bill 20 around Municipal Affairs, and we’re going to shelve everything around restrictions around trans youth.’ I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The UCP responded to the protest saying: “We always support Albertans’ right to protest peacefully and lawfully. If anyone has any concerns about government policy, they’re free to reach out to any of our MLAs through their constituency offices. Recent polls show, however, that Albertans largely support our government’s efforts.”

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