Has the Kenney Government been sitting on the “Fair Deal” Panel’s report since Easter, wondering what the heck to do with it?
Sounds like it.
In an annoyed Twitter exchange yesterday prompted by the suggestion in this blog the panel was late with its homework, panel member Donna Kennedy-Glans disputed that timing and told one interlocutor, “the report was submitted to government by our panel weeks ago.”
Later, responding sharply to an acerbic tweet by Progress Alberta Executive Director Duncan Kinney, Ms. Kennedy-Glans said that “the report was finalized at Easter.”
If by “finalized” the former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister means it was sent to the government, then it was in the government’s hands for well over a month before the Premier’s Office issued a press release on the Saturday of a long weekend that said, well, they’d be taking a look at it after the COVID-19 crisis had passed.
Saturday’s government news release implies the report had only recently been submitted to the government — although on a careful re-reading, there is no mention at all of when the report was received.
By omitting the time element, the release seems to have been drafted to give the deceptive impression the government hadn’t had time to consider the contents of the report in the midst of a pandemic.
Ms. Kennedy-Glans’s statement makes it clear United Conservative Party political strategists had plenty of time to ponder voters’ likely reactions to the report’s recommendations while Ottawa was doing the heavy lifting in the response to COVID-19 and decided that dog won’t hunt.
The report and town halls and public engagement associated with it that have had a strongly pro-autonomy tone now seem to have happened in a different age, although the panel was only struck six months ago. Alberta separation chatter has noticeably quieted, presumably at the same time as Albertans cash their federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit cheques.
Recent news reports suggest journalists have been trying for weeks to find out if the report had been submitted and got only vague answers from the premier’s staff for their efforts.
Ms. Kennedy-Glans’s tweeted revelation points to a likely reason for the mystification about the timing of the report.
The actual date on which the report was submitted remains a mystery.
Ms. Kennedy-Glans has not responded to my requests yesterday and today for the specific date, and nor has the premier’s press secretary, Christine Myatt, answered an email this morning. In fairness, it’s a statutory holiday today, so perhaps the premier’s staff is taking a rare break from politics.
Happy Victoria Day!