A vocal critic of Alberta's COVID response is broadening his advocacy to include climate change as he prepares for a trip to COVID hotspot Glasgow for COP26 alongside his daughter. Calgary emergency physician Dr. Joe Vipond tweeted Sunday he is attending this year's United Nations climate change conference with his daughter, despite reports of COVID infections surging in the area.
The planned two-week trip comes amid the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area at the end of October, recording the highest number of COVID cases in the country. Despite significantly lower infection rates around the country, Glasgow recorded 507 cases Sunday. Several neighbourhoods in the area observed a weekly positivity rate of more than 400 per 100,000 population.
Many comments posted on Vipond's Twitter thread accuse him of hypocrisy for travelling to the climate conference during the pandemic. An estimated 30,000 delegates worldwide are expected to attend COP26 in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12, including thousands of official negotiators representing 197 different countries.
"You mean flying on a jet plane around the world leaving a massive footprint?" said one user. "Yes, her dad is teaching her what every climate change person knows. Their own carbon footprint doesn't matter."
"Non-essential jet travel in a pandemic…hypocrisy is thy name," commented another.
"The hypocrisy of the people flying to a climate change meeting is mind-boggling. Wonder what the total carbon footprint of all those jets will be?"
Another user, infuriated by Vipond's decision to attend, said, "So let me get this straight, you gonna fly across the world to talk about how other people shouldn't be allowed to fly across the world?"
"Earlier this weekend, I put out a call for help in finding accommodation in Glasgow for the upcoming climate summit that I am chaperoning my activist daughter at," tweeted Vipond. Accommodations are tight, and [I] was hoping to find a spot (I think we're set, or close)."
In an October 12 tweet, he writes, "So I do as much of the individual stuff that I can: solar panels on house and garage, electric car, minimizing flights for vacations, biking everywhere. But sometimes you have to burn some carbon to save some carbon."
Vipond added: "But the hypocrisy argument is old and tired. I learned very early in climate advocacy that systemic change was the only way to win while individual choices are important. Systemic change is much harder than buying solar panels: it takes meetings, relationships, advocacy."
The emergency physician previously came under hot water for making significant donations to Alberta's Official Opposition despite claims of no political affiliation. He donated nearly $20,000 to the NDP since 2014.
In an early-August interview with CTV News, Vipond dismissed allegations of his "partisan affiliations," stating: "There is a record of me donating to one political party. I want to say that's a normal part of our electoral process, and it's a normal part of our democracy."
Amid pushback for the hypocrisy of his making, Vipond deflected to Premier Jason Kenney's summer vacation to Europe, asking whether the trip is considered "essential travel." He tweets, "I want to touch on the hypocrisy element."
In an August tweet, Vipond urged Albertans to "take to the streets" to resist the province's lifting of public health measures. He called for a "general strike" and claimed the province became a "failed state" because of its 'Open for Summer' plan. In August, Vipond also leaked an Alberta Health memo to paramedics stating they no longer needed to screen callers for COVID.
In an October interview with CTV News, Vipond egregiously claimed the Alberta government "intentionally want children to get sick" from COVID in schools "for aiming for herd immunity." He claimed the province has "zero protection for kids" and said this wasn't solely "incompetence."
In a July interview with Global News, Vipond said tearily that he doesn't want to take this on. "I just want to love my kids … I don't want to take on this government."
"I just want to be safe, right. That's the only reason I've ever fought is so that my kids are safe."
Vipond said in June that children are relying on adults to protect them. "Our kids don't have as much of a voice. And I think some of our public-health leaders believe that because they are less likely to get severe illness and that the mortality is close to zero that it's okay for COVID just to rip through this population," he said.
In an August 21 tweet, he claimed, "There is no evidence that vaccines will be enough even with boosters and vaccinating kids." Vipond said the province needs vaccines and transmission mitigation and not solely vaccines to reduce the spread of COVID.
"The simple act of wearing a mask protects our children who literally cannot get the vaccines that are protecting the rest of us." He advised parents to maintain social distancing, limit gatherings outside, and ensure children wear a mask that fits.
The ER physician spearheaded protests against the Alberta government's 'Open for Summer' plan that one commentator called "political theatre." Despite talking two feet from a person, Vipond was caught without a mask during extensive periods at an August 5 protest in Calgary.
"He's very flexible with that mask — when he's going to wear it and when he's not going to," observed the commentator. "The general strike doesn't seem to be coming along. It just seems to be more of a general gong show."