Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney during his COVID-19 speech in the Legislature last week (Photo: Screenshot of Legislature video).

Jason Kenney’s bloviations about medical matters may have found a friendly audience south of the Medicine Line

Posted on June 01, 2020, 2:39 am
6 mins

Stuff UCPers Say!

Epidemiologists and other scientific types may not like it very much when Alberta Premier Jason Kenney equates COVID-19 with influenza, but at least Fox News seems to be on side.

Last Wednesday in the Legislature in a prepared speech arguing for the government’s understandable desire to get the province’s economy cranked up again, Mr. Kenney referred half a dozen times to influenza, sometimes in ways that clearly tried to blur the distinction between the two respiratory diseases.

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Calling COVID-19 “an influenza of this nature” or observing that it is “an influenza that does not generally threaten life apart from the most elderly” certainly suggests a conscious effort to leave the impression the disease is less serious than the experts think it is.

Even Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health who rarely challenges Mr. Kenney’s assertions, observed in one of her COVID-19 briefings that “while this is often compared to influenza, our current COVID-19 death toll of 142 in Alberta is one and a half times higher than the highest annual influenza death number in the last five years. And we have never taken such measures to prevent influenza from circulating.”

Worse, despite pleading he’d been misunderstood and misinterpreted, Mr. Kenney suffered a lot of slings and arrows for his observation in the same speech that “the average age of death from COVID in Alberta is 83, and I’ll remind the House the average life expectancy in the province is 82.” Most of the deaths occurred in old folks’ homes anyway, he said.

Well, hey! OK then! At least he didn’t call it a cold.

Other than the premier’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders, the usually supportive local press corps was not its normal helpful self. More than one commentator pointed out that May’s Angus Reid Institute poll of Canadian premiers’ public support showed Mr. Kenney only one point out of last place.

Ed Ammar, founding chairperson of the UCP (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

More seriously, some of those commentators pointed to the stuff Mr. Kenney says as the explanation for why he only got a 1-per-cent bump in popularity from the province’s COVID-19 response, unlike the big jumps posted by premiers like Doug Ford of Ontario and John Horgan in B.C., according to Angus Reid.

Too much of that kind of commentary and the voters might start to think there’s something to it. And this on the heels of the mocking international reaction to Energy Minister Sonya Savage’s observation that a global pandemic is a terrific time to be building a pipeline, seeing as only 15 people can protest at a time.

So Mr. Kenney must be pleased that Fox News, the Trump Republican Party’s answer to Pravda, seems to have come down onside. Perhaps the UCP can discreetly put this in a fund-raising email that, hopefully, not many of Mr. Kenney’s political foes will see.

Respectfully calling the premier “a top official in Canada” and an “Alberta lawmaker,” Fox did quote Mr. Kenney saying that “for most Albertans, the risk of death from other pathogens, accidents and traffic fatalities is actually higher than it is for COVID.” But while this may have gotten a sharp reaction at home, it sounded as if Fox agreed.

The network republished a tweet by former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson praising the premier “for being the first political leader to tell the truth about #SARSCoV2.” Mr. Berenson, who has now turned to churning out turgid espionage potboilers, believes the novel coronavirus is being used as an excuse for sinister overreach by the U.S. government.

This might not be particularly helpful in some circles, but surely it will please the UCP’s conspiracy minded base.

Meanwhile, Ed Ammar, founding chairperson of the UCP, appears to have deleted his Twitter account last night after he took a particularly intemperate shot at federal Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen for making the obvious observation that racism doesn’t stop at the Canadian border.

Alas for Mr. Ammar, tout le monde Alberta Twitter seemed to have taken a screen shot of the offending comment during the huge ratio his riposte prompted.

NOTE: While Mr. Ammar’s comment has not reappeared, his Twitter account was back this morning, with an explanation. It seems the Twittersphere misunderstood what he was trying to say, and he regrets that it did.

22 Comments to: Jason Kenney’s bloviations about medical matters may have found a friendly audience south of the Medicine Line

  1. Abs

    June 1st, 2020

    Donald Trump hid in a bunker in the basement of the White House overnight from his World on Fire. Jason Kenney is emulating the most hated man on the continent.

    Reply
    • Hana Razga

      June 1st, 2020

      My sentiments exactly! Everything Jason Kenney says sounds just like he just read it from Trump’s exhortations.

      Reply
  2. Rocky

    June 1st, 2020

    Is it just me, or does Ed Ammar more than slightly resemble the late Che Guevera?

    Reply
  3. Hana Razga

    June 1st, 2020

    Interesting, every time Jason Kenney and his UCP minions say something that gets a rebuffed on twitter or other media, they claim they were misunderstood or misinterpreted or misquoted.

    I am wondering if Jason Kenney will soon start recommending people to drink chlorine bleach to disinfect themselves or start taking hydroxychloroquine, he follows in so much of Donald Trump’s steps.

    Reply
  4. Dave

    June 1st, 2020

    Going around and calling COVID-19 influenza is probably one of the clever ideas Mr. Kenney, the career politician, or one of his advisors came up with to dog whistle to those on the right are virus deniers. It’s not quite as obviously stupid as the leader of Brazil who called it a little flu, so it allows Kenney a bit of wiggle room when questioned. Our slippery Mr. Kenney is all about plausible deniability and thinks very carefully about what he says and how he says it.

    Of course, the first problem with what Mr. Kenney said is COVID-19 is not influenza, which at times can be serious enough, but has been around a long time so most of us are used to it and perhaps have some degree of tolerance to it. The second problem is that governments that try to downplay or dismiss it, do so to their own and our own peril. The places that did not take it seriously enough have often been the ones hardest hit and unfortunately it is not over yet.

    It is too soon to roll out the mission accomplished banners and go back to bashing doctors and Federal Liberals, as much as Mr. Kenney would like to go back to what seem his favorite and sometimes politically successful past times.

    Reply
  5. Abs

    June 1st, 2020

    Today Ammar non-apologized for calling a federal cabunet minister a f***** loser. He’s sorry if people took offence. He did not in any way apologize for making the comment. So in other words, he’s sorry that Canadians are sensitive snowflakes, but not sorry for being a UCP guttersnipe fanning the flames of racism. Does the Alberta legislature have an underground bunker? If elected UCP members continue to allow their party to behave this way, they might just need one.

    Reply
  6. Simon Renouf

    June 1st, 2020

    Mr Kenney might do well to reflect that Canada’s 7325 COVID-19 fatalities could equate to some 50 Boeing 737 passenger jets crashing and killing all on board. His comment then could be re-worked to state: it is “an influenza [series of plane crashes] that does not generally threaten life apart from the most elderly [those who choose to fly]”

    Reply
    • Murphy

      June 1st, 2020

      Somewhere around 50 000 Canadians could be expected to die over the eighty-odd days of Covidmania, based on mortality rates in the last five years. How many of the 7325 Covid deaths would have been in that number regardless of the plague? How many are in that number now because of the panic?
      Since 90% of people who succumb with a positive test for the Chupacabra are over the age of seventy in Alberta, and suffering from significant co-morbidity, perhaps the better metaphor would be a 737 loaded with very ill elderly people who are very likely to die within any given month, sitting on the tarmac while the passengers do actually die because they are very ill and weak.

      Reply
      • Murphy

        June 1st, 2020

        Unlike 128 very sick elderly people dying over a ten week period, a period in which their already inadequate care deteriorates significantly due to a panic, a series of 737 crashes would be a most extraordinary occurence and as such would merit an equally extraordinary response.

        Reply
        • Athabascan

          June 2nd, 2020

          Dear Murphy,

          The pandemic is real, and it’s a present danger. It won’t let up for another 12-18 months.

          By contrast the Kenney-UPC plague won’t let up for another 36 months.

          The numbers you use to minimize COVID-19’s dangers are based on lies from right-wing politicians and profiteers. We are not being told the truth about mortality, or infection rates – especially not by the Kenney government. Just a few days ago her referred to it as an influenza, which it certainly isn’t.

          But, if you want to form a nonsensical argument based on invalid Kenney-UPC numbers be my guest. You are likely the only person left in Alberta who believes anything Kenney says.

          Reply
      • Simon Renouf

        June 2nd, 2020

        Unfortunately you are wrong. That’s why statisticians are tracking “excess mortality”: the number of deaths this year compared with earlier years for the same time period. This is from a Statistics Canada publication looking at the period January 1 to March 31, 2020:

        For the period from January 1, 2020, to March 31, 2020, Alberta was the only jurisdiction among those included in the dataset where there were excess deaths in over three-quarters of the weeks in the period. Over this 13-week period, Alberta was also the province with the highest number of deaths in excess of those reported for the same period in 2019. Six reporting provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia) had a net decrease in deaths for this period, while Prince Edward Island and the Northwest Territories had a small number of excess deaths.

        Reply
  7. Athabascan

    June 1st, 2020

    Kenney commenting on COVID-19 – a medical issue.

    Just wait until offers us medical advice on lady-parts. That’s another topic he knows know nothing about.

    He and his entourage (UPC MLAs) are in way over their heads, proving once again Albertans will vote for anyone as long as they are conservatives (sorry I mean Republicans).

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      June 2nd, 2020

      Hilarious, Athabaskan, but based on his history, his lack of personal experience with “lady parts” doesn’t stop him or his minions from having strong opinions on what ladies can do with their parts — specifically with respect to decisions around bearing children. There is a strong streak of forced-birthism in both the Alberta UCP & the federal Conservative Party of Canada. The women of Canada have good reason to fear a CPC government.

      Reply
      • jerrymacgp

        June 2nd, 2020

        P.S. Sorry, Athabascan, for misspelling your handle …

        Reply
  8. Murphy

    June 1st, 2020

    I don’t perceive a counterpoint to Tailgunner Jay and his assertions about Chupacabra. Chupacabra is no influenza, to be sure! Case rate for hospitalization with flu in 2017-18 was 34, Chupacabra is 4.4. 2017-18 case rate for ICU with flu was 2.7. 3.0 last year and 5.2 in 2015-16. Chupacabra ICU case rate is 0.8. The case rate for mortality of influenza was 3.1 in 2010-11, 3.0 the next year and 2.3 in 2014-15. The mortality case rate for Chupacabra is 2.

    Dr. Hinshaw’s claim that we’ve never undertaken such measures for flu certainly bears out the totally bizarro nature of Covidmania, given that the severe outcomes, excepting, of course, in the care homes, are significantly less frequent for Chupacabra.

    But of course, with Chupacabra, and the severe outcomesbeing almost entirely in the population trapped in care homes, we quarantined the whole population. 76% of deaths in fact, in the care home population, and 90% of mortality is in people over the age of 70. Which then begs the question as to whether or not Chupacbra caused any excess mortality, other than via the panic and resultant chaos in the homes.

    Nobody in the “progressive” camp seems all that interested in facts. It’s a uniquely entertaining phenomenon now that standard con used by the empire has been flipped on it’s head and the progressives are the ones falling all over themselves to push white feathers at people who don’t buy the con-job. (wearing masks and gloves of course)

    Good times!

    Reply
    • Magda

      June 2nd, 2020

      You know, Murphy, you might make more sense if you’d get over this idea that you’re articulate. Most of your sentences make little sense on first read and don’t repay the effort on the second. I suppose what you’re saying is “hey most of those people would probably have died anyway so no biggie”. But you’re not taking account of the people who get the virus and recover, only to find that they have health care issues, like damage to internal organs and a series of strokes, that they didn’t have before. Recovering doesn’t mean back to normal health-wise. That’s going to put a big dent in provincial healthcare expenditure in the coming years and we should be reading up on public health and scientific analysis as the virus progresses.

      It’s really not necessary to post several times on the same point on one thread. And the possessive “its” doesn’t take an apostrophe.

      Reply
      • Murphy

        June 2nd, 2020

        Why you chose to re-read anything I wrote is beyond me, but I respect your right to do so. And thanks for the writing critique. I’ll pass your comments on to my editor. Where is the evidence to back up your assertion that there is a significant occurrence in Alberta of long-term health issues caused by Chupacabra? Of course, don’t let the absence of evidence stand in the way of your support for a good old fashioned scare. I do admire your prognosticating, principally because there is no evidence to support it, and it takes some kind of something to do highwire work without a net.

        Reply
  9. Just Me

    June 2nd, 2020

    At least Trump_45 has a fortress bunker and a garrison of Secret Service agents and National Guards to defend. Kenney-DOH! has his mother’s basement.

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      June 2nd, 2020

      His mom’s place does not have a basement. However, that didn’t stop him from inventing one so he could claim expenses.

      Reply

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