The science was different for an American reality TV show about casual dating, meaningless sex and superficial relationships than it was for the things Albertans have deep meaningful connections to: our churches, communities, businesses and families.
News first broke in late January 2021 about the potential for The Bachelorette, a show where several men vie for the hand of single women through a bizarre TV courtship ritual of dates and challenges to film at a well-known Alberta mountain resort town.
But the Alberta government began working on behalf of Hollywood at least a month prior.
On December 16, 2020, three days after the Alberta government cancelled Christmas gatherings, closed gyms and dining rooms and limited funerals to just 10 people, several ministries, including Culture, Health and Jobs, Economy and Innovation, went on an intense lobbying effort to get the American reality TV production into Alberta to film on location in Jasper.
Five days post the imposition of the pre-Christmas lockdown, Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw sent a letter on behalf of NZK Productions, the American company creating The Bachelorette, to the federal government, lobbying for special permissions for the crew to enter Alberta, citing the mental health benefits to Albertans from seeing Alberta featured in the TV show.
A portion of that letter reads:
In addition, shows like Bachelorette offer, not only Albertans but viewers across Canada and around the world, a safe outlet for entertainment, allowing them to take their minds off the pandemic for a short time. These mental breaks for what is an anxious and difficult time for many Canadians are important for maintaining positive mental health and overall well-being during a long, challenging pandemic.
Bureaucrats were interceding with the CBSA on behalf of the American crew and offering what can be described as concierge service through the border. A government staffer sent a frustrated email because the production team didn't rely on her when facing scrutiny at the border:
Despite us repeatedly telling the production crew that if there is an issue they are to call me and I'll connect with the CBSA. They did not call me about these two travellers. There are nine travellers coming in tonight. CBSA has their names and flight info and we have made it clear again that they should call me if there is an issue over entrance to the border pilot.
Health bureaucrats from the Northern Health Zone raised concerns about being able to accommodate this production, due to a lack of staffing in Jasper.
I believe during the NHL playoffs AHS asked us for volunteer nurses to do swabbing in [sic] the NHL reimbursed us. Just wondering if there are similar plans in the works for Jasper. I'm hoping not due to the small registered nurse base we have in that community but I thought I should check.
In another email, government staffers supported The Bachelorette production crew's request for an exemption to quarantine as essential workers:
Jobs, economy and innovation or culture will be sending a letter advising that The Bachelorette production crew fits under this exemption and requesting a letter from you to provide to them for border crossing.
After all this lobbying, advocating, searching for loopholes, favouritism and hypocrisy, The Bachelorette never did end up filming in Alberta, opting instead for a New Mexico location, because the science was different in New Mexico.
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