Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Photo: Flickr/Justin Trudeau).

We now know with reasonable certainty it’s the United Conservative Party Government that’s been responsible for blocking Albertans from having access to the federal COVID Alert smartphone app.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made it clear in a radio interview in Edmonton yesterday morning that Ottawa views Alberta’s UCP Government as the barrier to getting the COVID-19 tracking application operating in Alberta.

United Conservative Party House Leader Jason Nixon (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

The COVID Alert app “will be a lot more useful when the province decides to give people the ability to plug in the codes,” Mr. Trudeau told 630 CHED’s morning show hosts yesterday morning.

This is pretty much what most Albertans who have been paying attention had already concluded when they heard UCP House Leader Jason Nixon was dismissing the federal app, which alerts users to potential exposures to the coronavirus by other COVID Alert users, as “the Trudeau tracing app” in the Legislature on Tuesday.

Some local media, always happy to carry water for the UCP, tried to turn this into an Ottawa-says/Edmonton-says story. Postmedia’s reporter alleged that the prime minister was merely making an allegation.

But that dog won’t hunt. Mr. Trudeau, sounding remarkably like an adult compared with his Alberta counterparts, went on directly to plead with the province to do the right thing and let Albertans access the app.

He noted that he knows the provincial cabinet is looking at the possibility. “That’s all that’s missing, and we really hope that people will take on every tool we possibly can to fight COVID-19,” he said.

The app’s already useful, Mr. Trudeau noted, because of its interprovincial tracking capabilities. “It’ll just be a lot more useful” when the UCP decides to let Albertans use it in Alberta.

Regardless of Mr. Trudeau’s unpopularity among Conservative partisans in Alberta, this is not the action of a person making an unfounded allegation to score political points.

What your COVID Alert app will say when you download it in Alberta — now we know why (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Meanwhile, notwithstanding Mr. Nixon’s catcalls, the UCP is sticking with its story that what’s delaying implementation of the app is the somehow urgent need to plug the relatively small number of Albertans who signed up for the province’s flawed ABTraceTogether app, which didn’t work on Apple devices, into the federal government’s app.

As noted here on Thursday, this makes no sense because it only takes seconds to download a new smartphone app.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced on Aug. 9 that Alberta was abandoning ABTraceTogether and would sign onto the federal app. But the province has been dragging its feet ever since, presumably because powerful voices in cabinet don’t believe in giving any credit to anything associated with the Trudeau Government, even if would help.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, typically, was nowhere to be found when reporters tried to track him down to respond to Mr. Trudeau’s comment. Well, he is said to be in self-isolation after another member of his cabinet came down with coronavirus disease, but the phones still work.

For his part, Mr. Trudeau urged Albertans to sign up for the COVID Alert app “right now.”

“I encourage Albertans to download the COVID Alert app because it starts working right away,” he said. “If it comes on line in the coming weeks, you’ll have that much more protection.”

The prime minister didn’t say this as his hosts tried to hurry him off the line, if you can imagine, but Albertans should do what he suggests even though they’ll only get a message stating “no reporting yet in your area” because it will give the federal government evidence to press the UCP to start co-operating in the national effort to protect Canadians’ health.

Failing that, Ottawa should act unilaterally, activate the app, and let the province take them to court to try to deprive us of this tool for protecting ourselves from COVID-19.

Alberta reported a dramatic rise in new COVID-19 cases yesterday — 622 new cases in the previous 24 hours. This does not bode well for Albertans with our UCP Government still reluctant to consider aggressive efforts to combat the spread of the pandemic.

The new case numbers in Alberta, population 4.4 million, compared unfavourably with those in NDP-run British Columbia, population 5.1 million, where there were 272 new cases reported the same day. Ontario, with 14.6 million people, reported 896 new cases.

For what it’s worth, China (population 1.4 billion) reported 33 new cases, up from 25 the day before.

Have a safe, happy and socially isolated Halloween. It’s scary, but in Alberta it’s not the ghosts and goblins that should worry you.

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  1. Ouch! I don’t know if if Mr. Kenney saw that one coming or not. After all, in the past he dismissed Mr. Trudeau as having no depth. Although to be fair, ridiculing the PM is has been quite the cottage industry in UCP/CPC circles for a long time, so it probably wasn’t the nastiest thing ever said about Trudeau by a prominent Conservative politician.

    Federal Conservative politicians are often quite dismissive of the PM in an excessively partisan way. It might just be a bit of derangement talking, but it also seems that the American diseased approach to politics has creeped into some of what the the UCP and its big brother CPC does over the last few years. Like in the US, when politics is put ahead of country, it is usually regular citizens that suffer. What is worse in this situation is Mr. Trudeau comes across as he actually cares about people and helping them regardless, Mr. Kenney does not.

    I suppose the combination of disdain for Trudeau and not taking COVID seriously enough has put the UCP in a bad place in this situation. It will be interesting to see how the fairly reliable UCP supporting main stream media here in Alberta will try spin this one. However, it sort of seems like one of those Emperor Kenney has no clothes moments.

  2. The smoke of muddled thinking is pretty thick around the UCP. Minister Nixon’s befuddled grammar is a case in point. The app is not “the Trudeau tracing app.” It does not track Trudeau, nor was the PM its author. It traces covid-19 contacts which should allow the tracing and quarantine needed to limit the spread of the virus. Given their inability to speak coherently, I suppose it is too much to expect them to understand geometric growth and the folly of delay.

    Speaking of quarantine, where is Jason Kenney? Is he consulting with two divines, as Richard the Third did while his minions sowed chaos?

  3. For someone who likes to shoot his mouth off at every opportunity, every day, you have to wonder at the stone cold silence from the Kenney isolation basement now. Perhaps he’s licking his wounds from the narcissistic injury inflicted by the lowly hospital workers. Perhaps he is beginning to realize that the Tidewater has turned when it comes to truth-speaking ordinary Albertans. Covid is real, the hospital workers do have front-line contact with patients, and play vital roles for which they are respected by common, everyday Albertans.

    Maybe it’s finally sinking in that Alberta CERB recipients have more respect for the federal government and Justin Trudeau, who stepped in to help them, than for the UCP and Jason Kenney, who accused them of being Cheezie-eating drug addicts.

    Maybe Jason Kenney is too busy making backroom deals with the Saudis (stepping on federal turf, much?), and has no time for the virus that has knocked on the door, walked in and is sitting on the La-Z-Boy, holding the remote.

    Travis Toews is now the mouthpiece for the threat machine. Soon enough, a rage addict’s gotta rage. Giving us the federal Covid app would be admitting he was wrong, and it’s too late now to say sorry. Backing other people into a corner is fun. Being backed into a corner is not. He’ll come out swinging, probably on or about November 3.

    Of course, that will trigger a series of unfortunate events for 4.4 million of us, for whom he has no apparent regard. One Jason Kenney against the world. Oh, what a lonely boy.

  4. As a college faculty member who is forced to teach out of my basement and a father of two primary school children I am absolutely befuddled why we are not doing more to head off the surge in Covid cases. Hinshaw looks burnt out and is just spewing out UCP talking points. As a regular everyday Albertan I want to go back to normal but how can we when we are so regressive in our actions. We should be using every tool available to fight this scourge. If he is denying us the tracing app because of politics, it is both immoral and highly unethical. I look to my government to show us the way but I hear crickets. I have been told that not to expect to be back to campus until September, in August they will probably tell us January. On a further note, I want everyone to know how hard the teachers and support staff are working at my child’s school. The pressure put on the teachers is huge and the respect they get from the general public is nice, but they never get any kudos from the government. I am wondering how many red Tories that voted for the UCP got what they wanted. I await the next election and pray that saner voices will prevail.

  5. Here’s how the app works:

    What’s not said is whether, if you self-identify as positive on your phone app and get your random code uploaded, how long does the central app filing system back at HQ keep you marked as Covid positive? The uploads seem to be only every two weeks, which is when you presumably are no longer a transmission threat. If it keeps the self-identifier positive for months, well, it’s all just plain silly. It’s hard to get the virus today from someone who tested positive in May, for example.

    I have no concerns about privacy, that’s been addressed. People honest enough to check off that they have tested positive are also presumably self-isolating. Can someone on God’s green earth tell me how a random someone else wandering about the neighbourhood outside is supposed to get close enough to someone self-isolating to get their app sound the “alarm” on your phone’s copy of the app after central number-crunching gets the signal that a close approach has occurred? The only case where I see this app being any good is if a positive activates their code, and then decides that wandering the streets, visiting the grand kids or pals, or going shopping is better than self-isolation, and flouts their isolation order. How likely is that? Liars are going to lie and not check they’re positive in the first place, surely?

    Forget the damn stupid politicos of any stripe, but especially the narrow minds of any Con or UCP bullsh!t artist looking for a sleazy edge, and tell me why this app is any good in the first place? I see very little logic in it at all. In a time where we should be serious, the app is subject to the vagaries of the common sly, felt-put-upon dunce. If we want to go authoritarian, then all positives must have a non-removable app and code put on their phones whether they like it or not — even then, they can leave the phone at home if they opt to be irresponsible and go to a party or a bar.

    I don’t get it. To me, it’s as if everyone lost their collective minds.

    1. As noted in the story, you can, but it only provides a screen saying it doesn’t work in your province. That’s why I say the feds need to launch it unilaterally here, since there is no alternative operating app, as in B.C. reportedly, you can cheat it a bit by registering as a resident of another province, but that will only help if you’re travelling outside Alberta. I haven’t tried this myself. DJC

  6. It’s already known that the UCP want TOTAL control over any and all information about Covid 19 in Alberta, that was the point largely behind the Alberta app. That app never worked properly, so the only effective and universally available app is the federal app, which has been widely accepted. The UCP, in an obvious Kenney-inspired tantrum, declared that the app was some kind of a threat…but no one can say how or why.

    This is typical of the UCP and clearly bears the stamp of the Angry Midget’s dementia, as though it came straight of out Alex Jones’ Infowars conspiracy mayhem.

    PMJT called out Kenney and the UCP for their nonsense; will Erin O’Toole continue Kenney’s nonsense? Kenney bought his leadership, so you can count on it that he will amplify the Angry Midget’s tantrums.

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