Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at yesterday’s COVID-19 briefing (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

Premier Jason Kenney finally resurfaced yesterday, looking healthy enough, to respond to Alberta’s surging COVID-19 infection rate with new half-measures not all that distinguishable from the old half-measures.

Bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses will be allowed to remain open with reduced capacity, ditto for megachurches that will still be permitted to fill hundreds of their thousands of seats on a Sunday morning, plus movie theatres, galleries and, naturally, casinos.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

Indoor social gatherings, however, are banned – even in private homes. How that rule will be enforced, though, is not clear, especially since the premier disdainfully turned up his nose at what he termed a “so-called snitch line.”

Probably, it just won’t be. After all, Alberta remains as committed as ever to Premier Kenney’s notion the pandemic can be beaten by asking Albertans to behave themselves and threatening to yell at them if they don’t.

There were some tougher measures announced that could help.

“I am declaring a state of public health emergency in Alberta,” the premier said at the afternoon COVID-19 briefing in Edmonton. Additional measures will include a mandatory masks requirement in indoor workplaces in Calgary and Edmonton, and online classes for Grade 7 to Grade 12 students from next Monday until they go back to school in January.

Government employees who were needlessly dragged back to the office after proving they could efficiently do their jobs from home will be sent home again. You can read the full list of measures here.

Still, it sure looks like public health policy in Alberta is now being guided by Restaurants Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, not the chief medical officer of health.

This is likely to work as well as it already has, which is to say not very well at all, so brace yourselves for a long, difficult winter here in Wild Rose Country.

And, Mr. Kenney warned, “if we do not start to bend the curve with this latest round of measures and greater effort by Albertans, let me be blunt, we will impose stricter measures, likely in about three weeks’ time.”

Readers are entitled to feel skeptical. Mr. Kenney has said this kind of thing before and nothing much happened.

If you’re one of those frightened Albertans who think the public health experts are probably right and we need a short, sharp circuit-breaker lockdown to get the virus under control, you’re out of luck. Again.

But don’t worry, you’ll probably have plenty of reasons to plead for the same thing again in two or three weeks.

If you’re part of the nutty fringe of anti-maskers that apparently makes up a considerable portion of the United Conservative Party’s base, you probably won’t be happy either, since we haven’t yet gone full South Dakota. But at least you can take comfort from the fact Mr. Kenney appears to take you more seriously than he does the medical profession.

And if you’re an exhausted front-line health care worker praying for a circuit-breaker lockdown, you certainly won’t be pleased with the patronizing little lecture the premier directed at you yesterday. “I would ask people who have the certainty of a paycheque, particularly a government paycheque, to think for a moment about those individuals whose entire life savings are tied up in businesses …

“I would ask them to think about the data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Restaurants Canada which indicates that based on surveys as many as 40 per cent of our 13,000 restaurants and hospitality businesses might not be able to survive a second shutdown,” he continued. “So, for some, perhaps, it’s a little bit easy to say just ‘flick a switch, shut ’em down.’ …”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw apparently spent eight hours with “the COVID cabinet committee” yesterday explaining her recommendations, Mr. Kenney told a reporter in a complaining tone. Given what the government decided to do, it’s hard to believe she would have considered it time well spent.

There were 1,115 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta the day before yesterday, and 16 additional deaths.

Well, Mr. Kenney promised to restore the Alberta Advantage. We just didn’t think it would be for viruses, not their hosts.

Finance Minister Travis Toews applies a little gloss to the economic forecast

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Finance Minister Travis Toews tried to put an upbeat gloss on the other big government statement of the day, a scheduled second-quarter update on the province’s gloomy fiscal situation.

Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

“While there is a long road ahead to full recovery, Alberta’s economy is gradually emerging from the depths of the downturn,” he said, no doubt signalling one of the government’s emerging pre-election talking points.

Mr. Toews seemed to be grasping at straws, like a slight improvement over the deficit predictions in the first quarter and a slightly more hopeful GDP growth forecast, to reach this conclusion.

Of course, he wouldn’t be an Alberta Conservative if he hadn’t also trotted out one of the key shibboleths of the austerity cult, the claim the public sector “does not create jobs or generate wealth.”

This is, of course, balderdash. Mainstream economists wrote this off as an austerian delusion long ago. But it lives on, zombie-like in UCP Alberta.

If we only apply a little more austerity to the public sector, Mr. Toews would like us to believe, soon it will be morning again in Alberta.

No matter what you think about the public sector, COVID-19 and the continuing decline of the oil industry say it ain’t so.

Join the Conversation


  1. I suppose we will see how this goes. I hope the extra measures help some, but I have a feeling they may not be enough.

    The lockdown on in home social events may help some. I think this is a big part of the problem, more than shops and dining out. However it is probably a month or so late, the virus is way out of the gate by now, so to speak.

    I fear we might have better luck at the casino now – which I wonder why is it they are still open, than against the virus. I suppose if that sounds too depressing we can go to the bar, still open too, or if we prefer to church and pray – open ditto.

    Kenney seems to have covered his bases with key UCP constituencies here, which would be great if this were only a political problem and not a health one. Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t care about political preoccupations and will exploit whatever weakness there is.

  2. Canadian poet F.R. Scott nailed the half-measures approach in his obituary of Mackenzie King, “W.L.M.K.” which reads as follows”

    How shall we speak of Canada,
    Mackenzie King dead?
    The Mother’s boy in the lonely room
    With his dog, his medium and his ruins?

    He blunted us.

    We had no shape
    Because he never took sides,
    And no sides
    Because he never allowed them to take shape.

    He skilfully avoided what was wrong
    Without saying what was right,
    And never let his on the one hand
    Know what his on the other hand was doing.

    The height of his ambition
    Was to pile a Parliamentary Committee on a Royal Commission,
    To have “conscription if necessary
    But not necessarily conscription,”
    To let Parliament decide–

    Postpone, postpone, abstain.

    Only one thread was certain:
    After World War I
    Business as usual,
    After World War II
    Orderly decontrol.
    Always he led us back to where we were before.

    He seemed to be in the centre
    Because we had no centre,
    No vision
    To pierce the smoke-screen of his politics.

    Truly he will be remembered
    Wherever men honour ingenuity,
    Ambiguity, inactivity, and political longevity.

    Let us raise up a temple
    To the cult of mediocrity,
    Do nothing by halves
    Which can be done by quarters.

  3. Basically Albertans had the chance to behave like adults and treat the virus seriously and blew it big time. Given a second chance of sorts we will see how everyone behaves.

    Does anyone remember who the reporter was that Kenney took notes on? He made a point of grabbing a pen and clearly writing something after one question.

  4. “I would ask people who have the certainty of a paycheque, particularly a government paycheque, to think for a moment about those individuals whose entire life savings are tied up in businesses …”

    Really? Well, I would ask people who have elderly or immune-compromised family members, or family members with any of the risk factors that increase their chance of dying from Covid-19, to think for a moment about those individuals, and about the individuals who should be taken to court in a class-action lawsuit, should the worst happen.

    It looks like protests with more than 10 people have been banned now. Pleading doesn’t get through to Clem Kadiddlehopper. A lawsuit seems to be the only option. Nothing speaks the UCP language like money.

  5. This blog is so right on point. The UCP are still not addressing the Covid-19 pandemic properly, and the mare has left the barn, trotting away, and it’s hard to reign it back in. I just don’t see things improving. Not with the way the UCP are improperly dealing with this. What other half baked measures will the UCP be taking, as time goes on?

  6. …it’s hard to believe should would have considered it time well spent…

    Typo, I think. Your hawk-eyed readers never relax their vigilance.

  7. Another excellent article, Mr. Climenhaga.
    I would like to offer a suggestion.
    Have you considered creating a YouTube channel to read your daily column?
    Perhaps have an occasional guest to debate or discuss current events with?

    I love your work. You have a great speaking voice with a slight background rasp that denotes past whiskey and tobacco use, whether metaphorically or not.
    I feel your views should be shared with as many people as possible and a quick search on YouTube only presented 7 results under your name.
    I spend a lot of time at my workbench watching YouTube to enhance my various material interests like sewing and woodworking, or abstract interests from sources like Neil de Grasse Tyson, Matt Dillahunty, or Jim Jefferies because it leaves my hands free to create as I learn.
    You would become an instant subscribe, like, and bell ring for me.

    Thanks for all you do,

    1. KEN DURHAM: YouTube is so inundated with trolls, it would make it a nightmare. That’s an observation.

  8. so business as usual….?
    and if covid gets worse
    it will be because the RCMP were unable to enforce the buddy laws
    which will be the reason to proceed with the new alberta police
    so that’s privatization of health care from an under-financed over whelmed system
    and the police gone
    this covid is being a ucp wetdream come true
    no matter what these guys get
    they find a way to use it against you

  9. When the virus spread is totally out of control as it seems to be in the prairie provinces, an idiotic premier like kenney can stand up and mouth inanities about minimum restrictions, because nothing the fool promulgates now short of total lockdown will make any difference in reducing new cases. Contact tracing is beyond overwhelmed, has been for quite some time, and that’s the definition for loss of control. The past non-action is catching up with kenney. To put it bluntly, Alberta is up sh!t creek because of his gross incompetence.

    Worse, kenney claimed that the spread was coming mainly from private gatherings, allowing his unctuous prickness to keep restaurants, bars and casinos open so brain-dead patrons could keep frequenting them.

    Unless the epidemiology is completely different from Nova Scotia, he’s lying. And why would it be? Here we get straight dope from our Chief PHO Dr Strang, no bullsh!t attached, and the premier backs him up. The Halifax area is under what amounts to lockdown barring a five person household visitor limit. And that’s based on a paltry by Alberta standards 37 new cases of virus, but going from a couple a day to that in a week. However, the fact that not all the new cases were contact traceable meant things were going off the rails with community spread, hence the drastic action, approved and indeed asked for by the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia. Not every businessman lives in cloud cuckoo land of ideological nonsense, apparently.

    NS has the data. The places where the virus spread are on the provincial web site. No over-limit private parties broken up by police made the grade.

    The vast majority, 80%, of new cases involve 18 to 35 year-olds who frequented bars, restaurants, gyms, casinos, anywhere there are people gathering and not really abiding by existing rules. The fitness people are predictably miffed and quite short-sighted, thinking themselves paragons of virtue, maybe the churchgoers will be too. Not much point in letting unsymptomatic carriers wander around infecting others at venues not known for spread so far, though. You’re either serious about the virus or you’re a Con premier. Over-limit private parties, of which we’ve had our share, are NOT the primary source. Take that, kenney, you dope, and stuff it in your empty brain. You need a good slap up the side of your head. If it weren’t for my older relatives suffering dystopia in Calgary, I would not be so vociferous and even avoid commenting from afar, letting Alberta stew in its own self-inflicted juices, but this is personal for me too.

    You either get serious or abandon your flock, and kenney never was much for anyone but himself and his equally crazed little cabal of cronies, all political sociopathic fools. So, along with his official uttered nonsense, you’re officially abandoned, people of Alberta, and “useless” government salaried workers have to deal with kenney’s mess even as they’re vilified as drains on the treasury, the biggest of which is kenney himself by far. Madness is what it is, let’s not pull punches.

    The first mobile quick testing lab here in Halifax tested 600 people last night, having started at bars downtown last Friday, and intrepid reporters are reporting on the huge lineup for testing today. 4,000 people got a text alert to get a quick test after having been in downtown bars and restaurants after 10 pm these past two weeks. Positives get the real Covid test swab at once and have to self-isolate. Apparently, the people in line are the opposite of complaining about it, even on a very chilly day; after the beer haze wears off, people act responsibly if given the chance. Furthermore, they can see the provincial government is serious and that it cares, and that society hasn’t abandoned people to fend for themselves in some idealized idiotic rugged individualist horsesh!t way.

    Save the great reset conspiracy theories, right wing dopes and out there “progressive”, er, “thinkers”. We’re in the here and now, not in a theoretical mind exercise. I expect provincial premiers to be adults. Plainly many are not, and all they do to excuse their incredible shortcomings is attempt to denigrate others and shift blame. Way to go.

    To add to the general air of Con crap, beyond Ford having a fit for being called out by his auditor general, I see O’Foole apparently doesn’t understand “bizness”. Cons claim they’re whizzes at business if tax cuts for the wealthy and denigration of government employees as drains on the public purse are the criteria, not to mention having brain dead MLAs and MPs standing up and sitting down like loyal trained seals in legislatures. Waxing lyrical like the great oaf he is, The Toole can’t work out why vaccine producing countries would serve their own countries first! “What about Canadians?!” cries the dumb man of federal politics, having failed to take any notice of the world as it exists, or having heard the PM months ago. No doubt that little arfer Rempel will add shrill yips of annoyance from the depths of the Con brain trust basement. Cons? You can keep ’em. They promote the breakdown of society by sowing discord any way they can, not the pulling together of decent people in a common societal cause.

    But you already knew that.

    1. Can I save your comment and use it as an excellent “obituary” not if, but WHEN the Reform-Con party dies?

      Thank you for that!!!

  10. Rejoice fellow Albertans. In time, COVID will absolutely destroy kenny’s political career. That means he won’t be Prime Minister – ever.

    Unfortunately, until that happens, many Albertans will die.

    Next time, vote for a real Albertan who doesn’t want to kill us. That would be Rachel Notley, in case you didn’t know.

  11. When AHS starts using the less sensitive Rapid Test for symptomatic cases only, the number of cases reported should drop when compared to previous testing methods. This will be evidence that Kenney’s. restrictions have worked and we can have a normal Christmas. Numbers don’t lie if you believe in decision based evidence.

  12. There’s no doubt that this COVID thing has a severe impact on older people and that it is extremely contagious. However, I cannot agree with your view of mask edicts. The only proper study on mask efficacy (random, controlled trial) for Covid virus protection was published two weeks ago. It demonstrated that the use of N98 medical-grade masks for self-protection is of no use whatsoever. This result is of no surprise as there is a wide body of evidence that masks are of minimal to no use in preventing viral infections such as influenza. Furthermore, there is a growing sense that widespread and continuous use of masks by the public is risky for a variety of health hazards such as bacterial pneumonia and CO2 overdose.

    The contrary use, that masks prevent transmission to others is merely wishful thinking. In fact, the cities of Edmonton and Calgary may provide the strongest evidence that masks are useless. Both cities introduced the mandates at the beginning of August and have seen nothing but strong increases in case rates since. Further proof is that most of the runaways are in health and elder care settings where the strictest protocols and best trained users cannot claim credit for prevention of infection spread. It might be easy to say that without masks things could even be worse, but worldwide there is no evidence that I can see that would suggest such speculation is supported by fact.

    My final comment is an observation that mask wearing, when established by edict results in people reducing their social distancing. Most people feel a sense of protection that allows them to avoid complying with health recommendations that actually make some sense. This false sense of security is probably doing more harm than good.

    1. Another example of a medical expert springing fully formed and informed from the social petri dish of this covid epidemic.
      Having never expressed a fulsome analysis of a medical circumstance previously, nor seemingly, having studied for an hour biology, epidemiology, logic or history, this one seems fully capable of announcing all the errors of a whole medical community.

      Ain’t life grand!

    2. Your comments seem to be based on a single study out of Denmark. Let me quote the limitations listed in that study:
      “Limitation: Inconclusive results, missing data, variable adherence, patient-reported findings on home tests, no blinding, and no assessment of whether masks could decrease disease transmission from mask wearers to others.”

      The study also set a very high standard for reduction of infection TO mask users of 50%. This is an example of the truth of the old aphorism that we should not allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.

      Mask use in Asia, along with the basic application of public health measures (test, trace, enforced isolation) have in fact worked very well with most of Asia now more or less open. Even in the 1960s that was done with TB in Alberta.

      Unfortunately, the public has little trust in our so-called leadership, largely because Alberta is a democracy in name only.

    3. Have a look around “bud”..Chestermere and Airdrie both without a mandatory mask policy and both in close proximity to Calgary had more than double the infection rates that Calgary had…Drumheller just made masks mandatory…Innisfail with the clown they have for a mayor will prove the awful truth before too long…Banff was too late instituting a mask bylaw and now has many cases… numerous other places if not careful have and will be affected…so open your eyes..have a look around..inform yourself..then make your assertions…

    4. Way to deliberately miss the point.
      Masks are not for your personal protection. They are to prevent allready infected from infecting others by showering them with virus-bearing droplets. Your claim that they do not act this way can only be considered a malicious lie.

  13. The event would have been more effective had there been an announcement that Tim Horton’s will be distributing free body bags at their drive ups, as well as hockey rinks being commandeered as morgues.

    Kenney-DOH! seems to have managed to turn his base and the opposition against him at the same time. Tik Tok Alberta users have already put out the warning that household gatherings of any size will continue regardless of the Angry Midget’s edict. And the word is also out that snitches will get stitches, so clam up.

    This is what Kenney and his UCP culture of deception has wrought, a society bent of widespread disregard for others, as well as a sociopathic fetish to protect one’s self interest no matter the cost.

    Alberta is no longer a peaceable kingdom.

    It’s more like an “American Psycho” theme park.

  14. Did anyone read that recent MacLeans’s article on various provincial CMO’s? It happened to reveal the true power that that position holds, far more than the simple “advisor” job that Hinshaw keeps insisting is really her role. Watching her today, ducking questions about her recommendations prior to yesterday’s “big” announcement, was truly disgusting. It was as if she has been groomed to be a career UPC politician….

    I originally believed she should resign and save whatever may be left of her dignity and self respect but now I’ll go one step further and say she should flat-out lose her medical license on the basis of gross negligence and abdication of duty. Albertans deserve better.

    1. I agree – blaming the victim whilst there were 30 covid-19 cases at the Cargill plant would have been the time to expose this charade. Since when does the farming community look after migrants wrt to proper housing or transport. They are just as niggardly as the fast-food franchises that used migrants over Canadians and treated them just as badly.

  15. It’s winter and flu season. Are we surprised that cases are going up? The Corona virus is flu related and is a type of flu.

    Likely we could have minimised the numbers with earlier strict measures but the numbers were going up because this is the weather that brings on flu in some people at least and July and August weather doesn’t cause people to get flu or runny noses.

    Being an octogenarian to top it off, Maybe I am lucky to have avoided the flu without a flu shot for 16 years of maybe It’s because I take high doses of vitamin C.

    1. Oh, thank you Doctor David.

      Now, go away and take your medical BS with you. Vitamin C indeed! Why not eye of newt as well?

  16. Dithering is a good descriptor; these clowns dither at so many levels.

    Conservatives defend and promote the ‘old ways’. When social changes takes place at the scale of centuries and millennia knowing, and importantly, utilizing the old ways is a guarantor of competence.
    When social change takes place on a scale of decades and years conservatism guarantees incompetence.
    There is no place in today’s modern world for conservatism. Of any kind.

    Kkkenney has always been a lieutenant, never been a leader. Still is not a leader.
    I don’t know how many readers are familiar with our Deputy Premier, another Jason; Jason Nixon. Loud, obnoxious, rude and slow-witted; a poster boy for the UCP far-right. I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that Nixon is Deputy Premier and I don’t think there’s any coincidence that much of what kkkenney says sounds like it’s straight outta the mouth of Nixon.

    Not only is the UCP (lack of) covid policy killing people in this province but allowing someone to act in the role of Premier in a surreptitious manner is fundamentally anti-democratic.
    Let’s hear what these high priced Ministers of the Crown have to say about events in this province. Right now they are quiet as a country mouse. If these are the people who are spending a so-called 8 hour day consulting with the Premier, let’s hear what they have to say!

  17. It appears to be time forDr.Deena Hinshaw to grow a back-bone and to quit enabling and acting as a shill for the “con-man” and the “bird-brains…does anyone know if she works with medical people to help with advice or is she alone against the UCP “bully-boy” clowns??

  18. It was appalling to witness the UCP premier affect a policy sales-job so disingenuously: wouldn’t a real market fundamentalist expound the benefits of the product he’s charged to sell? Kenney’s Alberta’s top elected politician, after all—that is, indeed, his job. But, as premier for Alberta citizens at large without all of whom any epidemiological measure is blunted, nullified, or reversed, Kenney did protest too much to a closely targeted ‘niche market’ to which he’s been peddling a competitor to what most other jurisdictions in the world concur is the standard Covid pandemic policy.

    If that’s the niche which needs coaxing to cooperate with prudent epidemiological holism, especially if it’s the ‘last-of-their-kind’ maverick faction, wild and free in their fanciful, high prairie, never-been-roped, never-been-ridden redoubt, then I suppose corralling their attention is good reckoning, even though, bucking and snorting as if about to feel searing, white-hot irons, they already bear the cattle ranch brands of K-BOY, UCP, and WXT. That re-branding gonna make the herd look like it go hit by motorboat propellers while crossing the Big Muddy, but at least it might get done.

    Leaving no doubt that they’re only being rustled and hustled by unfortunate circumstance, Kenney stumped upon the rough-hewn palisade of rugged individualism. ‘It ain’t us,’ he assures cowed stampeders, ‘our policy has always been the best,’ as if to say, ‘Three percent of doctors agree: Kenney Brand Patented Snake-Oil—made with real bitumen distillates!—is still the best; accept no imitation!’ With gore-splattered bandage tied akimbo around his head, carbine belts crossed over his breasts, and red-hot barrels blazing, he intones the cult of Custer and Crocket: ‘Hey, Santa Ana! On behalf of suicidally bankrupted freedom-enterprisers, morbidly unemployed pipe-liner blanketstiffs, and dejected home-schooled creationists, we killin’ yer soldiers below!’ So the rest of Texas will know, naturally.

    In his best last-stand paean, rockets flaring red and bombs bursting in air for a certain effect, Kenney performs his Roy Rodger’s Trigger-riding loop-de-loop trick around the inconvenience that, had his government been more prophylactic sooner, the rubber might not have had to hit the road quite so hard nine months later—nor necessitated so much rectitude to yield tangible results, some point in the future. Well, d’uh, Jason: you can run, but inevitably you can’t hide by meeting your Little Big Horn.

    But it ain’t you or your government or your posse of True-Grit Believers’ made this happen, no way, we get what you’re saying: ain’t no Covid the reason for this here semi-non-lockdown, nope. Y’see, it’s on account a all them heart surgeries n hip replacements n other stuff doctors ain’t got time to do right now: thet’s the only reason we’s a moving on this here “balanced-like approach”. I suppose it puts too fine a point on it for lazy cowpokes to grasp that these often life-threatening delays in medical attention are being caused by Covid overloading hospitals and by imprudent delays in getting it under control—not something that just happened by mere coincidence when Covid just happened by. But that kind of confession’ the Blues is way too black, so Kenney “The Kid”, red-faced with piss and vinegar, will have to do.

    Anyway, as Kenney blithely quipped: no need to worry, these new emergency measures— now, at last, more necessary than ever— aren’t any kind of precedent, no siree! Well, yes, K-Roy, that is true—in a ‘lead-us-down-the-Covid-trail’ kinda way. But it’s really: better late than never, not: better never than late. We should take some solace in that, I guess. Just quit it with the loop-de-loops, Jason, and your head’ll stop spinning sooner than later, too.

  19. I found Kenney’s comments about Rural Albertans extremely insulting! He claims that mandating mask wearing would cause a revolution or some such thing among Rural Albertans.

    Let me tell you, without a mask mandate, I see many, many Rural Albertans wearing a mask indoors in public. Here only Extra Foods has a “mask required” policy posted at the entrance. Yet many people – before the pandemic hit this area- wore masks in places like the Post Office, Sobeys, Co-op, and Canadian Tire, etc.

    Now, today, at the local Farmers’ Market, every customer I saw sanitized their hands on entering and every customer I saw wore a mask. Our sign says: “masks encouraged”. I did not hear one single complaint.

    The only troublesome thing I saw was some customers needed a lesson on how to properly wear a mask. Wearing it over your mouth and chin… hmmm. Covering the chin only …. now that one was strange!

    In any case, I have to agree with my seven year old grandson when he says: “Town kids are dumb! They don’t even know the names of all those farm machines!”

    By the same token, we could say the same about Jason Kenney: “That city slicker is dumb! He doesn’t know a darned thing about rural people! He only knows about those redneck friends of his!

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