Alberta Politics

Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Actions

“Thoughts and Prayers” became the punchline of a very dark and twisted reality thanks to the number of times Republican representatives have offered them to families and survivors of school shootings instead of legislative action. It was only a matter of time but that callous inaction has invaded Alberta as well. 

On May 30, 2019, a day that Alberta’s Premier, Jason Kenney, had earmarked for his jubilant announcement of the repeal of the Climate Leadership Plan, the streetlights in Edmonton were alight at noon because the smoke from area wildfires was so thick that sunlight did not reach the ground.

Air quality advisories were in effect as well as numerous wildfire alerts across the province. So Kenney rescheduled. He will likely have to make his announcement after the first snowfall as Alberta summers are now filled with so much smoke that it’s difficult to find a crisp blue sky for a background until snow falls again. 

And on this day, Rajan Sawhney, the Minister of Community and Social Services, offered the same useless line that has become commonplace to those in the U.S.: thoughts and prayers. During Question Period, she offered thoughts and prayers to those who were under evacuation or threat of evacuation from Alberta wildfires.

Thoughts and prayers don’t rebuild towns. Thoughts and prayers don’t replace family photo albums. Thoughts and prayers as demonstrated by the U.S. Republican Party, especially in comparison to New Zealand, only replace action. 

And perhaps, if you’re religious enough, thoughts and prayers are a helpful replacement for your home, your community or even your government’s burgeoning fiscal responsibility for rebuilding your community. Maybe thoughts and prayers make you feel better as you return to your hotel room and wonder when you can return to work. Maybe thoughts and prayers make you sleep better at night while your seventeen year old is missing prom. But it’s better than a carbon tax, am I right? 

What likely began as Jason Kenney’s daydream of tens of Albertans crowding around a gas pump in Edmonton to loudly cheer as the price of gas went down by 6.9 cents, has turned into the reality of Alberta’s out of control wildfire season that blackens skies, forces people to remain indoors and makes us all wonder why it was that we were hoping for warmer weather in the first place. 

The reality is that spring is drier than it has been and this has a cost. Not just in homes and communities ravaged by wildfires but also a monetary cost; one that good old boy Jason Kenney says we don’t need to concern ourselves with. Unless you’re in government, of course, because then it *is* your responsibility. 

Whether you’re a denier of human-caused climate change or not, you likely have the most basic understanding that even “Acts of God” have monetary costs for us mere humans; or at least our human-led government. And if you’re a conservative, you know that any costs to government rely on revenue from the people. 

Thoughts and prayers don’t pay for houses. They don’t pay for hotels or firefighters or plane fare or food. Thoughts and prayers are not actions; they’re poor excuses for inaction. In my experience, every damned time they’re offered. 

This post contains both fact and opinion. 

Deirdre Mitchell – MacLean


Twitter: @Mitchell_AB for all of the commentary, @thisweekinAB for posts.

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