After making a list and checking it twice, some Edmonton demontrators decided Premier Jason Kenney wasn’t so nice this year.
About 100 people attended a playful protest with a serious message on Saturday at the Alberta legislature. They delivered papier-mâché coal, inscribed with messages about negative impacts of the provincial budget, to the front steps of the legislature.
Stephen Buhler, an organizer with Climate Justice Edmonton, said the tongue-in-cheek protest was meant to add “some humour to these really, really dark times.”
“[Kenney’s] been a bad boy this year, and we think he deserves coal for Christmas,” Buhler told CBC News.
The protest was meant to build solidarity among people who have been negatively affected by recent budget cuts, he said. Protesters spoke about their reasons for putting the premier on the naughty list, from cuts to public sector jobs to the de-indexing of disability payments.
“The best thing [Kenney] could do is stop the austerity, stop the cuts,” Buhler said. “Not cutting these vital services that we all rely on, I think, is super, super important.”
Charmaine Mayes works temp jobs for the Government of Alberta, but hasn’t had a shift since July. She said she worries about whether she’ll be able to help put her daughter through university.
“He’s putting his boot heel on the necks of young people,” she said.
“The best case scenario for this province is to have an … educated youth workforce who are going to be able to push them forward.”
Her 17-year-old daughter, Madeline Mayes, said she has been working part-time to help pay the bills. She said she worries hikes to tuition and increasing interest on student loans could put university out of reach.
“The idea that I’m going to be in debt and homeless, it’s going to come after me for the rest of my life,” she said. “That’s what scares me.”