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EDMONTON, Alberta, April 8, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — In an unprecedented political move, 16 United Conservative Party of Alberta (UCP) MLA’s have blasted their party leader and Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney for taking the province back into a severe COVID-19 lockdown.

“As MLAs, we are calling on our Government colleagues to recognize the plea of our constituents. After 13 painstaking months of COVID-19 public health restrictions, we do not support the additional restrictions imposed on Albertans yesterday, and we will continue advocating for a transparent path forward that provides certainty to Alberta families, communities, and businesses,” reads the letter dated April 8.

“We have heard from our constituents, and they want us to defend their livelihoods and freedoms as Albertans. For months, we have raised these concerns at the highest levels of government and unfortunately, the approach of the Government has remained the same.”

The letter is a bold move on the part of the 16 MLAs.

One of the signatories is the current speaker of the House in the Alberta Legislature, Nathan Cooper. Another is a former cabinet member and Minister of Municipal Affairs Tracy Allard, who herself last year tested positive for COVID-19 and resigned after admitting to a December 2020 trip to Hawaii.

Tuesday’s new COVID restrictions close indoor dining and libraries, as well as activities relating to sports and fitness. The rebel MLAs say in their statement that a worsening mental health crisis has been brought on by COVID-19.

“We, the undersigned United Conservative Party caucus Members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, acknowledge the physical and mental health effects that COVID-19 has taken on the vulnerable members of our population. We have always been concerned about the health and safety of our most vulnerable and are grateful that vaccinations are well underway,” reads the MLA statement.

In their letter, the MLAs also blast the Kenney government’s reopening plan, calling Tuesday’s new restrictions a step “backwards.”

“We believe that yesterday’s announcement to move our province backwards, effectively abandoning the plan that Albertans had worked diligently over the past months to follow, is the wrong decision,” reads the letter.

One of those who signed the letter is UCP MLA for Medicine Hat Drew Barnes. He recently spoke with LifeSiteNews, saying that it was a “mistake” for governments to not list religious practice as “essential” when locking the population down with COVID health orders.

Since the jailing and subsequent release of Pastor James Coates of Grace Life Church, Kenney and his UCP government have come under increased fire from many who oppose lockdowns, including Barnes.

The MLAs’ letter to Kenney was released on the same day Alberta RCMP and health officials raided and constructed a barricade around Grace Life. The church had remained open despite a local police order mandating its closure after Coates refused to comply with COVID regulations.

A recently published LifeSiteNews report details how according to a source with inside knowledge of Kenney’s UCP, the provincial leader had placed a gag order on his caucus members, preventing them from voicing their opposition to COVID lockdowns.

With a population of more than 4.3 million, Alberta has recorded roughly 160,000 positive tests for COVID-19. However, only about 2,000 cases resulted in death.