“Alberta restaurants to stay open, barring ‘catastrophe,’ premier says,” the CBC’s online headline writer summarized yesterday.
Here, as they say on social media, let me fix your headline: “Alberta restaurants to stay open, sparking ‘catastrophe,’ premier says.”
Well, maybe that’s a misrepresentation — I’m accused of that from time to time, especially when my commentary draws blood — but it’s gotta be more accurate than the national broadcaster’s effort.
Mr. Kenney made the comment to the United Conservative Party’s virtually faithful during the final day of the party’s on-line annual general meeting, held this year in cyberspace because of the resurgent global pandemic.
But if COVID-19 could get the UCP off the streets and out of the party suites, Premier Kenney made it clear there’s no damn way it’s going to close down any restaurants or bars, no matter how many infection records we break out here in Wild Rose Country. Not as long as his enthusiastic supporters at Restaurants Canada are watching, anyway.
“I give my absolute commitment to that sector that is struggling, that, barring some absolute catastrophe, which we do not see, there is no likelihood of restrictions on their ability to operate like we had in the spring, and I do not see any data to support that,” the premier told the faithful from a book-lined study where he’s self-isolating after potentially having been exposed to the virus.
For their part, elderly Albertans are advised to stay out of restaurants if they want to survive long enough to make their next regular donation to the UCP.
How to separate oldsters from their cash: Con fund-raising explained
How do we know UCP donors are elderly? Well consider the slide show on fund-raising that had political Alberta abuzz yesterday as everyone nervously awaited the results of the general election on the other side of the Rockies.
According to a slide shown at the virtual AGM yesterday morning, the average UCP donor is over 70 years of age.
That’s not all that surprising, of course. The shocker was the glib and cynical way this was illustrated on the slide — which appears to have been captured in screenshots by several viewers.
Well, with the UCP planning to charge for some drugs that are now covered by medicare and Mr. Kenney’s famous observation that we don’t really need to worry about COVID-19 anyway because the average age of the people it kills is 83, “and I’ll remind the house that the average life expectancy in the province is 82,” they could be risking killing the goose that’s laying the golden egg.
Of course, there’s a slide for that: Send them a letter, another slide advises. “Use simple language and emotion (i.e., fear, anger, greed, guilt).”
You really can’t make this stuff up.
Low-performing energy inquiry gets another delay, this time to 2021
And speaking of stuff you couldn’t make up, Premier Kenney also told his supporters that the $2.5-million “Alberta Inquiry into anti-Alberta energy campaigns,” alternatively and even more tendentiously known as “anti-energy campaigns, will be delayed again, because … well, that part’s not clear.
The effort by Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan, announced in July 2019 and supposed to be completed by July 2020, sought and got a four-month extension and an additional $1 million cash infusion in June.
In September, Mr. Allan begged for even more time, because, erm, something-something. Plus, he won’t be trying to figure out whether any of the campaigns he’s looking into spread any false information. Which, some of us rather thought, was supposed to be the point of the whole thing. This rather suggests that he’s been unable to find anything, even with the extra time and money.
Anyway, Mr. Kenney revealed, we will now have to wait for 2021 for the results of the inquiry to be announced, probably late on a Friday afternoon before a long weekend. And, if that doesn’t happen, maybe the inquiry will eventually just die of embarrassment.
John Horgan’s Dippers coasting to majority victory in B.C.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Cordillera, British Columbia Premier John Horgan appeared last night to be leading his B.C. New Democratic Party Government to a huge majority. I say appeared, because B.C.’s voting set-up won’t see all the votes counted for several more days, and some ridings are bound to be pretty close.
Still, as this story was being wrapped up last night, Mr. Horgan’s NDP was leading or elected in 55 ridings, the B.C. Liberals in 29, and the Greens in three. B.C. TV networks were declaring the Dippers the winners.
Breaking a long curse, Mr. Horgan will become the first B.C. New Democrat Premier to be elected to two consecutive terms.
This is certainly good news for the Vancouver area’s Denning Health Group, which has been advertising to Alberta physicians feeling beleaguered by the UCP’s War on Doctors to “escape the politics” and “come practice in beautiful B.C.”
As for the B.C. Liberals (who are really conservatives), the inheritors of the mantle of the B.C. Social Credit coalition of old appear to have been using the same PowerPoint pointers as the UCP.
Just yesterday, before the polls closed, they were emailing supporters seeking contributions to help fund a last-ditch Republican-style effort to disqualify non-Liberal ballots in tight races.
Most of the key points of the BC. fund-raising letter were there: Simple language and emotion (check), focus on costs and goals (check), sense of urgency (check), large type (check), and a post-script (check).
My suspicion is restaurants are not the biggest part of the problem in spreading COVID. I have gone to a few over the last few months and noticed the tables were spaced out as required, they really weren’t very busy (at least when I went), generally people followed mask rules and there seems to be appropriate extra cleaning. I believe the biggest problem is large gatherings at people’s homes or too much socializing outside of one’s cohort and I am a bit concerned about bars too. I think it would have been helpful to have stricter rules on social gatherings rather than the voluntary “don’t have a big thanksgiving gathering” public service announcements, that I suspect many people just ignored. I think BC’s approach on restrictions for bars starting in September has been better and we should probably should have followed that.
However, I agree that an ironic side effect of the UCP’s decidedly laissez-faire approach to COVID is they are putting a lot their target market donors of the over 70 crowd at increased risk, which doesn’t seem so bright on their part. The political donations are not likely to keep flowing so well in if the donors are ill, not around any more or catch on that the UCP is not being as concerned about COVID as many seniors are. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens to some extent.
The inquiry into all things un Albertan seems to be moving along slowly. I agree the UCP is probably tying itself in knots a bit trying to figure out how to bury or end it, without then having it seem to be pointless or a waste of money. I suspect the fellow leading the inquiry was chosen mostly on the basis of being counted on to not say anything controversial and toeing the party line, rather than being a great legal mind.
Yes, the BC election is interesting. It is particularly interesting how the popularity of the current Alberta and the BC governments has diverged over the last year. Horgan’s NDP was elected with a minority and he increased his support to majority levels and Kenney, well he got a big majority and seems to be squandering whatever political capital he had. At first I was skeptical that Horgan’s minority government would survive with such a slim margin, but he did and I think his stable, pleasant not too much drama approach was much appreciated by the voters. On the other hand, here in Alberta we have Kenney, who is the meaner, less charming version of Ralph Klein. As they say, the sequel is seldom as good as the original. We have had a spate of nasty politicians over the last couple decades, but I feel perhaps we are at a point where the public is really tiring of that for a number of reasons. There is a lot to be said for pleasant and competent.
Our restaurants in NS are staying open as well, and we just had Burger Week, where a couple hundred of them in the Halifax area compete each year for most indulgent sandwich. It was put off for six months this year. The reason restaurants are staying open is because there’s no reason not to. With three Covid-19 cases in the last week, all from people who travelled outside the Atlantic Bubble but had the common sense to self-isolate for 14 days upon return as regulations demand anyway, there is no crazy increase in virus cases like in Alberta or even BC for that matter. Frankly, with all due respect, I cannot see why Dr Henry in BC is feted far and wide compared to our Dr Strang, a BC native himself, other than being far more telegenic. Strang proportionately has well-outdone Henry. And our housing is being snapped up by scared Ontarians — there’s a real estate boom here, with houses selling at well over the asking price. Morning and afternoon traffic jams are pretty much the same as pre-pandemic levels these days. Nobody much wanders around complaining about masks, we just get on with it. Because short term pain for long term gain works if you don’t raise ideological barriers to it based on the brainpower of crickets, and if society pulls together instead of government divisively blathering, whining, and labelling critics as “enemies”.
As for kenney, well, I guess in Alberta it’s every person for themselves as recommended in Biblical tract interpretations by word-parsers of the socially regressive neoliberal persuasion, and the oldsters will have to barricade their doors to avoid the virus and send out for sustenance, while getting the volunteers and family who selflessly sustain them to also mail in their weekly UCP donation cheques .
Praise the Lord and pass the Dystopia, and remember, doctors and nurses are overpaid and underworked, while dark forces seek to undermine godly Alberta — goodness gracious, the UCP don’t even recognize themselves. Even pigs recognize themselves in mirrors.
Pretty soon Jason Kenney is going to run out of elderly donors and Friday afternoons.
Ding, dong, The anti-Alberta witch hunt is dead. Will we see more ramping down of rhetoric after November 3?
P.S. The problem is not that we are in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, it’s that’s Jason Kenney can’t see it.
Not dead yet, but moving into the Intensive Care ward. Hopefully there are some alcohol wipes handy, since the support staff are on strike….
It should come as no surprise that Kenney is prioritizing current economic activity over scientific knowledge and public health. It was the Harper and Kenney Administration that ordered the destruction of all the Federal Agricultural Research libraries across Canada.
The Cons/UCP have no understanding those “gray matter” scientific papers contained raw data on Canada’s soils, crops, and agro-ecology dating back to 1860 which is the raw material for evaluating new research results, techniques, and products. They did the same with the giant Health Canada library as well.
Harper, Kenney, and company have a religious mind-set that prioritizes prejudices, and emotions – sometimes tarted up as “values” over evidence. As you point out, it works for fund raising, so what a pity it does not work in public finance, science, agriculture, and medicine.
P.P.S. Could it be that the boycott of UCP donors, including a certain restaurant chain, is having an effect? I think so. Sorry, not sorry. How are the four UCP pillars of fear, anger, greed and guilt working out for you so far, friends?
Considering that Kenney has a penchant for food and drink on the public dime, he will be the first and last to defend keeping the hospitality industry open, no matter the cost. Judging by the Angry Midget’s girth, one can presume that his love of all things delicious and intoxicating is not bounded by personal responsibility. However, while the rate of infection grows, and the UCP’s determination to poo-poo its effects is inexhaustible, one hopes the public remembers that bars are the flashpoints for many of the super-spreader events. Taking a page from Florida governor Desantis’ book, I suspect that if things get really out of hand, the premier’s office will just fudge the numbers. Considering the UCP’s Ouija board approach to math and science, they are comfortable with this fallback position.
“Don’t test too much because things start to look bad,” thus spake the funny Orange Man’s voice inside Kenney’s tiny brain.
P.P.P.S. I assume the UCP was as careful as always, and ran their four pillars through the acronym machine. Fear, Anger, Greed and Guilt = FAGG. Sounds like something they’d do.
P.P.P.P.S. I hope I have met regulation number of postscripts. This is exhausting.
Is that a postcard from a catacomb in the premier’s study? A halloween decoration?
Large open area under vaulted ceilings, arched doorways, sandstone-coloured (if not sandstone) walls–could it be a cathedral in, say, Europe?
I still think the UCP has not thought out things carefully. Nero is fiddling while Rome is burning. What is it going to take to see that the UCP is going in the wrong direction? I think things will have to change, as things get worse, (and it is getting worse in Alberta), but by then it might be too late.
Thinking isn’t among the RepubliCons’ strengths. They’re the kind of people who put “reaction” in “reactionary.”
While often I am on the side of the left-leaning people, I find myself in agreement with conservatives when it comes to feasibility of lockdowns. Lockdowns are to be used very sparingly as they were used in March. The problem with locking people down is that there are a lot of people who are out of work and on CERB. There are also a lot of other social problems to contend with and we need to keep as much of the economy open in order to pay for the health care system to take care of the people with. We need to implement measures that are realistic with the way human nature is. We need to have a mandatory province wide mask law, increase and improve contact tracing, and we need to target those most vulnerable. While I do go out more than most people I do wear a mask and I wash more hands more than I would. While I am always as observant of social distancing I do my best. The other thing we need to do ensure that we get through COVID is to support the public service workers in health care in fighting the austerity measures that the government wants to hand down.
Fair points Mr. Grant: there is a public health formula for containing disease which has worked for at least 160 years: trace and isolate. Now that we have effective testing, if done well, general lock-downs need not last long. However, the first thing the UCP did was scrap, at great tax payer expense, the super lab in Edmonton. Tracing? Alberta public health was so understaffed before the Covid pandemic that they were having trouble containing a syphilis outbreak in Edmonton. How many AHS jobs have they cut in the last month? Isolate? They can’t even bring themselves to order people to wear masks in public. In any event, you can not isolate without effective tracing and testing. Let’s not forget the UCP’s failure to condemn conspiracy theories that make contact tracing difficult. The UCP’s Emergency Management Cabinet Committee has bungled everything about this pandemic and undermined the credibility of public health measures. Quite a contrast with British Columbia, or even many third world countries.
Thank you for taking precautions. I’m feeling a little Covid fatigue myself, and have to be more careful about masks and hand sanitizer.
People seem to forget, the early restrictions (“lockdown” has become a dirty word in some circles) were intended to buy time for hospitals to prepare for a possible tsunami of early cases. In Canada, we were generally able to avoid that fate. I’m not trying to downplay the severity–Quebec got hit hard, and Ontario’s death toll in elder-care homes was shamefully tragic. We were spared the overcrowded hospitals that led to disastrous death tolls in parts of Europe. The early lockdown accomplished that much.
But you’re right, there were other problems. (Lately, a few reports of substance abuse and domestic violence have appeared.) One of the biggest was the effect on people in low-paying jobs. Programs like CERB (and its successors) will hopefully cover the worst of the wage gaps–and continue until there’s an effective vaccine.
I’m very much afraid that Alberta won’t have a province wide “mask up” law until the hospitals are overloaded and about to collapse. If it does get that bad, mandatory masks will be too little, too late. Then we’ll REALLY need to support hospital workers.
Kenney seems to have just one principle–government is evil, and must be stopped. (So why does he want to BE the government?) His tactics are: 1) if it’s bad, make it worse. 2) If it breaks, privatize it. What possible benefit there could be from a war on doctors and nurses, during a pandemic, is too much for me to understand.
We’re going to see a lot more protest before this is finished. It’s gonna get really ugly if Kenney tries to arrest people in bunches with his “no-protesting-here” legislation a.k.a. the “Critical Infrastructure Defence Act.” The hospital workers’ strike may be the opening round of a general strike.
I’m not sure restaurants that follow the rules are the issue… my wife & I still do eat out from time to time, & every establishment we have patronized since the relaunch has: provided ample supplies of hand sanitizer … limited seating capacity to 50% & widely-separated seating for patrons not related to each other … & all staff have been wearing masks at all times. Maybe there are establishments not following those rules, & those need to be addressed, but I’m not sure shutting down responsible businesses is appropriate.
Now bars & lounges, where more copious consumption of beverages containing ethanol may lead to a lowering of behavioural inhibitions & more violations of physical distancing & other pandemic precautions, are a different matter. Maybe we need public health inspectors going out & doing unannounced “patrols” of high-risk establishments such as bars — with police escorting them as needed to keep them safe. Ditto non-public gatherings such as weddings, funerals, etc.
Wow. Did Jason get a fresh campaign contribution from Restaurants Canada? Not likely, he’d have to report that to Elections Alberta. Maybe they threw some money (more money?) at one of Jason & Co.’s PACs….
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