Alberta Politics
A Dominion Day parade in 1925 when a cigar was just a cigar and everything was great according to Canada’s Conservatives (Photo: City of Vancouver Public Archives).

Canada Day Mystery: What happened between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to Jason Kenney’s holiday message?

Posted on July 02, 2020, 3:19 am
6 mins

It’s a true Canada Day political mystery!

What happened between 9:03 a.m. and 1:02 p.m. that dramatically changed Jason Kenney’s holiday message?

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

At 9:03 a.m. yesterday, a minion on the Alberta premier’s staff sent the media the sort of Canada Day Message you’d expect from a Canadian premier — upbeat and anodyne.

As we recognize Canada Day this year, our festivities may not resemble the large gatherings of the past,” the morning version of Mr. Kenney’s message said. “But I believe our celebrations are more relevant than ever, because we have more reason to rejoice in what it means to be Canadians and Albertans.”

The 189-word e-missive continued in this positive vein right through to “this Canada Day, please join me in celebrating all that Albertans have done to benefit their communities and fellow Albertans during these uncertain times.”

Four hours and two minutes later, the premier’s good wishes mysteriously disappeared and were replaced by a more verbose and darker message — now almost twice as long.

“Happy Canada Day,” it began, predictably enough, before launching ponderously into a windy lecture worthy of Conrad Black at his most pompously tedious.

Did you know that 153 years ago when “our great Northern Dominion began, binding together the colonies and territories of British North America,” that “their unity was built on a shared belief in ordered liberty”? (Emphasis added.) The author of this jeremiad apparently wishes to persuade us this was so.

“On this Dominion Day, let us be grateful for their sacrifices, and for the vision of our founders, foremost amongst them Sir John A. Macdonald.” (Take that, you would-be Canadian statue topplers!) As became apparent throughout the day yesterday, wishing your neighbours a happy Dominion Day falls somewhere between indicating just how out of touch Conservatives are with contemporary Canadians to flying a Confederate Battle Flag south of the 49th Parallel.

Thomas D’Arcy McGee (Photo: William Notman, Library and Archives Canada).

The screed rambled on, equating “the path of reconciliation with Indigenous people” with Alberta’s picayune complaints about Confederation in 2020 — which largely boil down to dissatisfaction with Canadians elsewhere for voting Liberal.

The message’s peroration quotes Thomas D’Arcy McGee, “martyr of Confederation,” troweling it on about his vision of Canada, “one great nationality bound, like the shield of Achilles … together by free institutions, free intercourse, and free commerce.” (Editor’s Note: That’s enough! Stop it!)

One could pen that kind of florid prose without blushing in 1860, as D’Arcy McGee did eight years before a disgruntled Fenian who saw him as a traitor to that revolutionary Catholic cause shot him down on the steps of his Ottawa boarding house. But you couldn’t have been paying attention for the past 160 years to put those words on paper now, even with quotations marks around them.

So what happened between 9:03 and 1:05 that precipitated the swap? It’ll take a better Kremlinologist than your humble scribe to puzzle that out.

Stephen Harper in 1996 (Photo: Screenshot grabbed from Press Progress).

Duncan Kinney, executive director of Progress Alberta, speculated unkindly on Twitter that the second version read as if Mr. Kenney “got very mad at the #cancelcanadaday hashtag and did a complete rewrite of the message and inserted as many racist, colonial dogwhistles as he could.”

Maclean’s Magazine’s Western Canada correspondent Jason Markusoff thought the second message “looks much more like an essay for the If I Was Conservative Prime Minister Contest.”

I wondered if the premier got a castigating call on Someone’s private cellphone line complaining that Message No. 1 needed a sharper tone and a Dominion Day reference.

Remember that a young Stephen Harper once sponsored a private member’s bill to change the name of the national holiday back again, telling Parliament on Dec. 13, 1996, “it has been a mistake for this country to try and preserve its future by destroying its past and the name Dominion Day should be restored.”

Or perhaps it was just that Mr. Kenney, the secretly regretful college dropout with his own well-thumbed thesaurus, got up grumpy, opened Alberta.ca, and decided he could do better.

It’s a genuine Canada Day mystery!

28 Comments to: Canada Day Mystery: What happened between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. to Jason Kenney’s holiday message?

  1. Dave

    July 2nd, 2020

    Well Conservatives do have problems with change and often seem to long to be living in some rose tinged version of the past that never really was. I suppose it is one trait that social conservatives, Trump – Make America Great Again, and our bring back the Dominion Mr. Kenney all share.

    I’m not sure what exactly about Canada Day seemed to trigger our Premier to be publically even more grumpy than usual, but can speculate. I suspect the change to Canada Day in Mr. Kenney’s mind marks the point where everything started to go downhill. I also suspect it infuriates him to see the public largely embrace this holiday without his political and ideological reservations. Lastly, I suspect the display of genuine love or admiration for Canada conflicts with the type of Alberta first nationalism he has been trying to stir up over the last few years, without too much success.

    So I suspect it was not an entirely happy Canada Day for Premier Kenney and we should refrain from wishing him one, lest this infuriate him further.

    Reply
  2. tom

    July 2nd, 2020

    I think the real puzzle was that reference to “free intercourse.” In turning the clock back, is the Kenney government contemplating a return to the days of Woodstock and free love? Maybe Alberta is on the verge of a new Age of Aquarius.

    Reply
  3. Expat Albertan

    July 2nd, 2020

    “Free intercourse”? Well, looks like Jason Kenney ignored that one when he lowered the flag before then end of Pride Month.

    Btw, the thing walking next to the cigar in the 1925 photo looks suspiciously like Justin Trudeau.

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      July 2nd, 2020

      Funny, I was just thinking the same thing … when this picture was taken, ca. 1925, the father of our current Prime Minister was only five years old (having been born in October 1919), and yet they appear to have an effigy of Justin Trudeau?!? Time travel? The Twilight Zone? doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo … Neat trick.

      Reply
    • Jspam

      July 3rd, 2020

      Some times a marionette is just a marionette.

      Reply
  4. Scotty on Denman

    July 2nd, 2020

    Hmmm…my Dominion Day message wasn’t near so verbose, only reminding that anybody like me who used to sing “The Maple Leaf Forever” every morning at our two-room, grades one-to-eight schoolhouse would be labelled —ahem!—“privileged” at very least for using the old name (and worse for singing the old, racist anthem).

    But wasn’t it the same omnibus Bill of Westminster (UK parliament), effectively sealing the legal transition from Dominion to independent Canada, as it was allowed Alberta and Saskatchewan full sovereignty over their natural resources some quarter-century after they confederated? This was also when the Arctic Archipelago was transferred to Canada (the only bit missing was Newfoundland, confederated almost two decades later—when a big chunk of eastern Quebec went missing).

    Verbosity is my Achilles heel, but with all the sharp-eyed journalists out to Alberta, the K-Boy had better watch his.

    Enjoy your summer holidays, everybody!

    Reply
  5. Ron

    July 2nd, 2020

    How I prefer to remember D’arcy Mcgee…

    “I left two loves on a distant strand,
    One young, and fonds and fair, and bland;
    One fair, and old, and sadly grand –
    My wedded wife and my native land.”

    Reply
  6. John T

    July 2nd, 2020

    It doesn’t surprise me that what passes for conservatives today in Canada would try to dog whistle Canada day in this manner. It’s a tactic that has worked for Trump and there are other examples of the CPP and UCP using similar tactics here at home. It appeals to those who dream of “simpler times” where women and minorities knew their place or weren’t so populous. Harper tried this same kind of crap when he renamed the Canadian navy and air force to “Royal”.

    What is this focus on being under the umbrella of the British empire?

    The bigger question is why was their a float of Justin Trudeau in a parade from 1925? 🙂

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      July 2nd, 2020

      Gets around that lad, doesn’t he? I’m glad we’re all in agreement about the resemblance of that figure to Justin Trudeau. Another commenter said the same thing, and I thought it last night myself but decided to leave the observation out of the caption so as not to lead the witnesses. Personally, I think Mr. Trudeau has been time travelling, an opportunity most of us might not get, but that might, just might, be available to the son of a prime minister and well off individual in his own right. As further evidence I offer the picture that illustrates this post, which seems to show the prime minister (at right) and his brother Sacha (third from left) landing on Juno Beach on D-Day. Maybe that’s why Mr. Trudeau had the foresight not to be home today. You ask me, it’s kinda scary. DJC

      Reply
  7. Abs

    July 2nd, 2020

    Perhaps it is time to stop whistling the dogs. As we have learned today, an armed intruder breached the gates at Rideau Hall. It’s a dangerous game Kenney and his ilk are playing.

    Reply
  8. Janice Williamson

    July 2nd, 2020

    Thank you for your ongoing work. I’ve more to say about what you’ve written about above, but one of your comments intrigued me.

    Joking aside, why do we still pretend Jason Kenney was a “dropout” when his partner in crime at university was, he readily admits, kicked out of San Francisco University at the same time. Jason Kenney has never acknowledged how he ended up without a university degree. Why do we fill in the blanks his silence creates with an explanation that appears to be erroneous.

    Why did he never go back to university to finish a degree? His lack of education and critical thinking as Prime Minister makes him vulnerable to quackery and cultish ideas.

    Why does he hate universities so? And excellence at universities (thinking about his extra slashes of the UofA’s budget)? His attacks on post-secondary (except Christian schools) are due in part to his resentment, perhaps? As well as his sense of education as wrong-headed unless it is written by traditionalists. Forget the last 45 years of study that has uncovered and explored the brilliant work by women or racialized people who live here in Canada and around the world.

    While I understand he follows a particularly brutal neo-liberal economic model, I don’t know how to explain his inhumanity, his idealization of the most powerful who need tax cuts while he attacks the most vulnerable Albertans, our children, the poor, the sick, the queer, the disabled, etc. Not to mention Indigenous people and others. Far right White supremacists are among those who support him and a reputed racist writes his speeches.

    All of this appears to indicate, among other things, that his psyche is twisted by secretive self-loathing into sadistic resentment.

    Pardon me, I’m rambling – but I’m just so distressed by what is happening here in Alberta. So many good people are leaving the province. Young people without hope. Doctors and others whose expertise is scorned by Kenney but desperately needed by Albertans. His UCP government has harmed so many: we may never recover from his ongoing destruction of healthcare, education, etc. Under Kenney’s regime, billions are given away to the wealthy while everyday Albertans suffer.

    Note I can’t seem to enter my blog site, but it is nogatenolock.com

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      July 2nd, 2020

      Janice: For good or ill, WordPress allows the site administrator to embed links, but apparently not commenters. I have provided a link to make it a little easier for readers to go to your blog. DJC

      Reply
      • July 5th, 2020

        Cancel culture is up to our ears these days, the moderation or should I say censorship is really heavy. The Communists seemed to have imported their morals. Now political parties infect newspapers and they overstep the freedoms with impunity. Likely you will not even see this post.

        Reply
    • Athabascan

      July 3rd, 2020

      Janice you mention, “twisted by secretive self-loathing.”

      Does that relate to a closet? Let’s ask K.D. Lang what she thinks.

      Reply
  9. tom in ontario

    July 2nd, 2020

    Free intercourse. Is that what happens on customer appreciation night?

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      July 2nd, 2020

      You’d have to speak with the premier about that. It’s not one of the services offered by this blog. DJC

      Reply
  10. menno klassen

    July 2nd, 2020

    I guess Kenny thinks he could walk down Jasper Avenue ,shoot someone and No one would object! He`s shooting us in the Back with his Hidden agenda ! The Progressive Cons have been silenced ! Albertans are expected to follow his agenda , Cuts to the public services and Handouts to O+G . The Alt- Right Kenny and his mentors are having their way with the Trickle-Down implementation and austerity for the rest of Albertans . A General Strike , could be organized and would be effective ! Or are Albertans so divided that doing the right thing and opposing the shove it down our throats,current Con policy ,feels good !

    Reply
  11. Just Me

    July 2nd, 2020

    Everything Ken-DOH! does is a mystery. What does he do when he goes on vacation to this so called monastery in California. How far is it from the Bohemian Grove? The conspiracy minded want to know.

    I find it interesting that Kenney turns what should have been a brief Canada Day message into a really long and rambling rant about why he’s such an angry little man. But when Peter Mackay refers to Kenney as “an angry little man” during the CPC leadership debate, during his verbal assault on the Kenney endorsed candidate, Erin O’Toole, he reveals exactly what he thinks of Alberta’s glorious Poobah.

    So, Kenney seeks any opportunity to vent his relentless anger to anyone who is within earshot of his venomous spew.

    Good times.

    Reply
  12. Jspam

    July 3rd, 2020

    Was he triggered by the NDP requesting MLAs reject separation? It seems odd he replaced the word Canada on Canada Day. Maybe he’s trying to pander to the Wexit base, or maybe just strengthen them up to shock the left. This definitely feels like it had to do with the separation narrative.

    Reply
  13. !?

    July 3rd, 2020

    Jason – the guy who denies and loathes his own sexuality – speaks for “free intercourse”?

    Reply
    • !?

      July 4th, 2020

      Or… a cynic might suggest that the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the pipeline appeal leaked, and Kenney knows the only horse he has left to ride is Wexit.

      Reply
  14. Bob Bott

    July 3rd, 2020

    The article and comments “made my day.”

    Reply
  15. Keith McClary

    July 3rd, 2020

    We do have the “Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory”, noted for the detection of “repeating fast radio bursts” by its CHIME telescope.

    Reply
  16. Dfjo

    July 3rd, 2020

    I would nominate the first P.M. as the figurine.

    Reply
  17. Dave in Sask

    July 3rd, 2020

    Alberta has been governed by American oil company interests ever since American expertise was brought in to tame oil gushers at Turner Valley when oil was first discovered in the 1940s. And possibly Albertans have been dummed down like the US public. Keep em in the dark and feed em bullshit. And they swallow it hook, line and sinker. Keep them uneducated while screwing them. By the time they start to think it’s too late. The intelligent people will be gone for more intelligent government policies elsewhere.

    Reply
  18. CovKid

    July 4th, 2020

    All those phallic symbols surrounding a Trudeau (Sr. or Jr.) must drive the male, heterosexual Reformacons nuts.

    The rest of them, however, are probably suitably intrigued …

    Reply
  19. July 5th, 2020

    Canadian History and American History went down two different roads. You cannot compare the two. Our separation from Britain was far less violent. No Delaware in our Canadian history.

    Reply

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