By Trevor Busch
Westwind Weekly News
Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter is under fire from members of the opposition and some within the ranks of his own party after he participated in the border blockade protest at Coutts over the weekend.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Hunter posed with his family in front of a lineup of big rigs and included the statement, “I brought the grandkids down to the Coutts border today to show them the importance of standing up for freedom and liberty.”
In a press conference on Monday, NDP health critic David Shepherd and transportation critic Lorne Dach called on Premier Jason Kenney to remove Hunter from caucus along with MLA Shayne Getson, who has made a series of recent anti-vaccine social media posts.
“I’m extremely concerned about this illegal blockade of the Coutts – U.S. border crossing, and I unequivocally condemn it,” said Dach. “This illegal blockade has completely halted traffic through an international trade corridor and prevented emergency vehicles from accessing an Alberta community. It is inconceivable that an elected official felt it was appropriate to participate in this illegal action as UCP MLA Grant Hunter did.”
Dach went on to suggest Kenney needs to conduct a purge of extremist elements within the ranks of the ruling UCP.
“I can’t believe I have to say this, but an elected member of the legislative assembly must not prevent essential goods from entering our province and block emergency vehicles from attending to Albertans in need. Both the premier and the RCMP have declared this blockade illegal. It is completely untenable for Grant Hunter to continue as a member of the government caucus. Jason Kenney must put his personal political agenda aside and remove this dangerous extremist element from his government today.”
Also on Monday, UCP minister of jobs, economy and innovation, Doug Schweitzer, expressed disappointment over Hunter’s actions and stated the UCP caucus would be addressing his participation and requesting an explanation.
“This blockade is unlawful, but it is still continuing right now and Alberta’s NDP unequivocally condemn it,” said NDP health critic David Shepherd. “Across the country, we have seen the display of Confederate flags, Nazi flags, upside-down Canadian flags with swastikas drawn. We have seen the vandalism of the National War Memorial and the Terry Fox statue in Ottawa. These scenes are utterly disgusting. At Coutts, the blockade is preventing emergency vehicles from reaching Albertans in need. It’s dangerous and it continues to disrupt the vital flow of goods through Alberta’s major transportation corridor.”
Hunter has served in more than a backbench role for the UCP government, having spent most of the present mandate as associate minister of Red Tape Reduction before a cabinet shuffle in mid-2021.
Hunter responded earlier in the week to the backlash with a release sent to media outlets.
“A peaceful protest is not a blockade that stops people from moving freely, and so I ask those who are blocking the Coutts border crossing to let people through,” reads the statement from Jan. 31.