An apt visual metaphor for how Alberta’s UCP Government is dealing with the surging COVID-19 pandemic (Photo: Fabrice Florin, Creative Commons).

Faced with a real crisis — a deadly pandemic that won’t quit when you yell at it to knock it off — Alberta’s United Conservative Party Government apparently has no idea what to do.

COVID-19 is out of control. Alberta hospitals and care facilities are in near chaos.

Alberta’s premier, Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

And the UCP Government is paralyzed, afraid to speak the word “lockdown” out loud, let alone impose one.

Half hearted, voluntary measures are all the UCP dares to take.

A couple of weeks ago UCP MLAs were mocking Ottawa’s COVID Alert app as the “Trudeau tracing app.” Last week they were telling Albertans they were going to have to do their own contract tracing. This week they just look like a deer in the headlights.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, the Restoration Conservative who was supposed to make Alberta Great Again, is in COVID Isolation Again. All you get is a confident sounding but factually impaired voice, disembodied by a telephone line.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Mr. Kenney was terrific at dealing with fake emergencies like that conspiracy by the Rockefellers to ruin the Athabasca Oilsands.

It worked superbly.

In 2019 it overcame the desperate final dash by former NDP Premier Rachel Notley, who now bravely soldiers on as the leader of the Opposition.

Alberta’s former premier, now Opposition leader, Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But a real crisis? Mr. Kenney turns out to be no good at all dealing with the real thing.

He ticked all the boxes for a lot of voters. He said all the right things. But he had only one plan, and it’s basically irrelevant to the COVID crisis.

The man’s simply not up to the task. He’s even making Ontario Premier Doug Ford look good! And there’s no one in his caucus able, capable or brave enough to take over until the crisis passes.

How’s that contract tracing piece working out?

As of yesterday, we don’t have a clue about the source of 65 per cent of the cases in Alberta!

Meanwhile, Mr. Laser-Focused-on-the-Economy — who hasn’t performed too well on that file either, come to think of it — can’t seem to get his mind off the problem he’s interested in to focus on the one that’s killed almost 400 Albertans and sickened nearly 40,000.

Metaphors like “fiddling while Rome burns” and “shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic” were made for this guy.

How bad is it?

The UCP kept on stirring up the staffing crisis in Alberta hospitals while the pandemic grew worse. It’s now so bad Alberta Health is giving up the single-site order for workers it implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among nursing homes.

AUPE Vice-President Susan Slade (Photo: Twitter).

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees got its hands on an Alberta Health document that shows nine continuing care sites were given exemptions in a single week to the rule that requires health care employees to work at a single location to prevent transmission of the coronavirus to vulnerable residents at other sites.

“Continuing-care operators are abandoning this rule because they cannot find enough workers to care for the residents,” said AUPE Vice-President Susan Slade. “Employers are begging our members to work at second sites to relieve the staffing crisis created by so many workers getting infected or having to isolate.

“They are being told they can move between sites with outbreaks and without outbreaks if they are not symptomatic, even though we know that the virus can be spread by people without symptoms,” she said.

How bad is that?

At least five COVID-19 outbreaks that have killed more than five people appear to be underway in Alberta right now: Revera’s Mount Royal Care Centre in Calgary (98 cases, six deaths), Covenant Health’s Edmonton General continuing care (131 cases, 18 deaths), Millwoods Shepherd’s Care in Edmonton (110 cases, 12 deaths), Extendicare in Mayerthorpe (45 cases, five deaths), and South Terrace Continuing Care in Edmonton (146 cases, 11 deaths).

Will we now have more?

Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, with a promotion for the Canadian government COVID-19 tracing app that Albertans aren’t allowed to use, thanks to Premier Kenney (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Flickr).

Meanwhile, Alberta hospitals are reported to be at 130 per cent capacity and doctors are warning that every hospital in the province could be out of ICU space within two weeks.

Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw shortened the quarantine time for health care workers who test positive for the virus from 14 days to 10 — the reason, again, is obviously the need to alleviate staff shortages.

The premier — ever focussed on the need to keeps the bars open — assures Albertans there are plenty of beds in the system if we need them.

He must have forgotten that you need doctors, nurses and other health care workers to treat people in those beds.

And it doesn’t seem to have occurred to him that if we completely lose control of the virus, that bodes no good for the economy.

He was warned, many times, that voluntary measures wouldn’t work. He ignored that advice, which has now proved right. He continues to ignore it.

All the misleading tweets from all of the UCP issues managers in all of the world aren’t going to fix this mess.

Ms. Notley might have stood a chance, but she’s only the leader of the Opposition – a reassuring anachronism in an era when watches and politicians are usually disposed of as soon as they falter, but no position from which to pitch in and get things working again.

It sure looks as if it will take an intervention by the federal government to fix this.

Then we’ll have to listen to the UCP blaming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the mess Mr. Kenney has created.

But that’s still better than what we’ll have to deal with if Ottawa doesn’t step in!

Join the Conversation


  1. How does that old saying go again? Nero is fiddling while Rome is burning. This would describe the premier of Alberta, and the UCP perfectly. If anyone thinks things are going to get better with the UCP at the helm, they are very, very mistaken. The UCP sold Albertans a false sense of hope, and Albertans were gullible enough to buy it. Unfortunately, Albertans can’t get their money back on what they were sold by the UCP, because the UCP finished the job that that Alberta PCs started, since the mid 1980s, and left Alberta flat broke. Under the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta, the UCP are compounding problems. Albertans better brace themselves. If they thought 2020 was bad, 2021 is going to be even worse. By the time the UCP are done in 2023, they will have done so much damage, that it will take a very long time to fix. The UCP and their loyal fan base will try to blame someone else, but it simply will not pan out.

    1. Bell Media and their 200 newspaper (post-media) moved them into winning positions. Scheer would make a nonsense question in the house and wouldn’t receive a reply. Then, the Globe would pick up the question and print it as fact, not allowing any comment. Next, we would see it as fact quoting the globe and mail on our 6 PM TV news. In the course of a day, BS was converted to fact. If you depend on the Globe for your financial well being you are being shorted.

    2. Live on a new street in Nanaimo, B.C. and four of the houses are occupied by newly arrived Albertans. They’re all working. Didn’t take them long. They’re hiring Education Assistants, teachers, trades, doctors–read 42% want to leave Alberta. Nanaimo is a lovely place. Not as expensive to purchase a home as Greater Vancouver, lots of golf, skiing in the comox valley, and sailing year round. oh, and an NDP government with a Premier who listens to his Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry.

  2. We are in dire circumstances. If you’ve read Alberta’s emergency response plan, you already know that reefers are part of it. What happened in New York this spring will be happening here soon: reefers outside hospitals, filling up with the deceased. Hockey rinks will be storage spaces. But how to we prepare for the personal loss and devastation that so many of us will face this dark winter?

    Doing next to nothing is a choice. Choices have consequences.

  3. I think re-examining Jason Kenney’s approach to climate change is instructive for a better understanding of his approach to the Covid crisis.

    Jason Kenney has spent most of his career successfully (in his mind) dealing with climate change by denying it is a problem, or distracting from the problem with economic concerns. From his mentor he also learned the effectiveness of muzzling scientists.

    This is the training Kenney has fallen back on to deal with the Covid crisis. The same way he denied climate change, we have heard him refer to Covid as ‘flu-like’, and just recently he pointed out that Covid is only the 11th leading cause of death in Alberta. He has talked about his ‘twin goals*’ of protecting lives and livelihoods, then ignored the protection of lives and discussed protecting livelihoods. Finally, I would really love to know what recommendations Dr. Hinshaw has made to him that he has refused to implement.

    *A Quebecois acquaintance of mine once told me a French saying that translates to ‘Chase two rabbits, catch none’.

  4. How long will it take for Albertans to give up on Kenney?

    After 60 or more years of good times under Conservative governments they may still believe oil will recover, but the chances of that are slim and getting slimmer. Alberta missed it’s chances by not diversifying more when there were good times in the past. They bet on big on oil and are losing big on it now.

    Covid-19 is throwing it for future losses. And while the cons did not cause the pandemic they certainly don’t want to deal with it in an effective manner.

    They can’t hate Trudeau and get out of it either. Trudeau ,though certainly ethetically challenged is at least trying to deal effectively with the pandemic.

    I’m glad I live in Saskatchewan where Moe is listening to the health professionals, even if reluctantly.

    We all would like to open the economy again but not at the risk of our lives.

  5. uh – yup!
    Yer a brilliant and capable manager of provincial economies and politics when all you have to do is wipe the drool off yer chin and bend down to scoop up a pail of crude fer yer daily bread.

    But when the free flow stops and real world problems abound, competence matters. And conservatives have none.
    These mouthy, know-it-all goof-offs have nothing to offer; they’ll just make things worse.

  6. We’re doing a bad job in Ontario, but yes, you’re doing worse. It’s sad and worrying.

    (You have “contract” in two places, and both should be “contact”.)

  7. Thanks! A thought that might be worth discussing is how JK campaigned and promised “jobs, jobs, jobs” and then promptly set about a strategy of distraction with cuts, cuts, cuts.

    I did a caricature of JK’s face on Kenny McCormick’s (South Park) body as JK keeps making decisions that kill his popularity. After reading up (notice how I avoided the word researched) on KM, I realised I was doing his character a disservice. I edited my Facebook post retracting….explaining my original comment.

    Keep up the good work

    1. HA, the war room was not meant to help with Covid19, though the money for it would be better used elsewhere….

  8. The dumpster fire of history is where the UCP and its leader belong after all this, for all they have done and not done, in the face of this pandemic.

    “What we were showing [to political leaders] was, ‘if you make these decisions, you’re going to find yourself in a third wave in December, and essentially, your career is going to be over,” Dr. Thompson said.

  9. kenneys incompetence is second only to the inability of arranging a quick replacement for him in our antiquated political system.
    only in “representative democracy” is a manager that is totally incompetent and at odds, time after time, with the welfare of the organization he represents tolerated.
    but hey
    i’m from shakey derrick alberta
    where slandering the CBC, quoting trump and yelling *&#@ trudeau
    is an intellectual conversation

  10. I think the fact that Notley is capable of having human emotions may have helped. Sending workers to multiple care facilities where the most vulnerable population is will not end well. Will Albertans have Kenney killed my grandma or grandpa protests like there where in New York? Governor Cuomo can’t shake the grandma killer label will Kenney?
    Perhaps a site similar to support our students needs to be setup for care facilities.

  11. Campaigning is easier than governing and I will concede Kenney is fairly skilled at the former. When he was under somewhat adult supervision as a Federal Cabinet minister, he couldn’t screw up too much. They mostly told him to go off to various banquets and schmooze ethnic voters and leave the more important political debates to the PM. Now he is unrestrained and we get to see the real depth of Kenney and it is not as much as he tries to project.

    I suppose to be fair, this actually a real dilemma for Kenney. Does he govern well, by again putting in necessary restrictions due to COVID without delay, or does he choose politics and try not to antagonize what he believes is his freedom loving base of support? I suppose it should be no surprise that so far he seems to be choosing the later.

    Alberta seems to be having some of the worst COVID numbers on a per capita basis now in the country. I have to wonder if Trudeau is getting very tired by the lackadaisical approach here in Alberta and will act, if Kenney will not. I suppose it would be a stinging rebuke to Kenney, but perhaps a bit of adult Federal supervision is what he again needs.

  12. If Rachel Notley was premier of Alberta, we would not be recording 1029 new cases of Covid today.

    If Rachel Notley was our premier, she would not be trying to kill Albertans through inaction, incompetence and corruption.

    Next time we have a competent caring intelligent woman as premier don’t kick her out and replace her with an uneducated sociopath intent on emptying our treasury and using COVID to kill us.

    This is all karma on a provincial scale. I fear that many more Albertans will suffer and die before this karma is exhausted. I expect Albertans will experience more avoidable suffering in the next 6-12 months- all because of kenny.

  13. We now have the highest per capita infection rate in all of Canada..other than Manitoba which has gone into total lock-down…Thank God for mayors.. Iveson in Edmonton and Nenshi in Calgary for masking by-laws being instituted early or we would be in the same position as Winnipeg..Jason Kenney and the UCP are doing all the wrong things to try and get this infection under control..All they have to do is look at what is happening in the is time to listen to the medical experts…

  14. Sitting here on Vancouver Island, I’m feeling fairly good. Dr. Henry and Health Minister Dix have the Vancouver Lower Mainland, in what I refer to as “semi lock down”. Vancouver island, on Friday had a little over 20 COVID cases.

    The economy is always nice to save, but having studied history and being old, I’ve noticed one thing. You can get through a bad economy but you can’t’ get past death… Its just so final and there isn’t in my opinion any after life. You’re finished. Also Jason might want to understand, a lot of deaths are never good for an economy. If a company was looking at B.C., Ontario, Maritines, or Alberta, they would select any one of the 3 but not Alberta.

    Ford up until now has been doing a decent job of COVID control.

    Premiers ought to remember back in the 1970s, B.C. had an official unemployment rate of 15% in some areas while it was more like 30%. By the 1980s Kelowna’s biggest payrolll was the U.I.C. cheques. The first food bank in Canada was opened on Vancouver island when the lumber industry took a nose dive. We got through it all. We didn’t die. O.K. some people committed suicide, but on the whole, we got through it and today, we’re doing fine.

    I’ve walked through old cemeteries in B.C. and wondered why there were so many graves of little kids and young people, then later remembering those were the years of the Spanish flu. we got through the depression better. it may come as a shock to jason, but if you give people enough money to get through an economic downturn, you can re build. Once they’re dead, the chance is gone. Several months ago I read that 10k American health care workers (EMTS, dr., nurses, etc.) had died because of the virus. Once that starts to happen its really hard to get people to recover. Your economy really tanks.

    Notely would have done a better job. Recall her handling of the Fort McMurray fires and you knew some one was in control of things. Not getting that feeling now. Notley would most likely would have listened more to her Chief Medical Officer.

    As I say, Albertans voted for jason. Now they can learn to live with it or die because of it.

    if I had some one in a care home in Alberta, I’d take them out and bring them home, unless I wanted to collect my inheritance sooner than later. it may take time to train new care workers for care homes, but with rising unemployment amongst the service industry workers. some might be interested in re training on the job. Solves a lot of problems. Jason might also want to increase salaries and make working conditions a tad better. Jason could even ask the feds for a little help with the care homes.

    That deer in the head lights still looks more mentally alert than Jason and his team, well in my humble opinion.

  15. Short of tax cuts and making war on the health care system, the Angry Midget and his UCP don’t seem to know what to do outside of the playbook they were handed by the US paleoconservatives. Public health emergencies and advancing social-justice just don’t seem to excite their lower brain stems very much.

    Kenney promised Alberta and immediate oil boom and money from conservative heaven forever. SoCONs would get everything they ever wanted and those filthy liberals will die off, because Violent Jesus, the form of Ted Nugent, will machine-gun them all, NRA style.

    President Barak Obama declared that “the presidency amplifies the personality of the person who holds that office.” What is being witnessed in Alberta is the CON mindset at work: die if you want to; we don’t care. Jason Kenney exemplifies that mindset perfectly.

  16. good ole stumpy mcClueLess and his cabinet of sock puppets are out of their depth no matter what aspect of governing we’re talking about

    hope a bunch of habitual cOnservative voting Albertans get their eyes opened

    not holding my breath
    siGh !

  17. Quebec has a population of 8.57 million and so far 6626 people have died due to covid 19. Ontario has a population of 14.745 million and so far 3408 people have died due to covid 19. Alberta has a population of 4.422 million and so far 407 people have died due to covid 19. Quebec has just under twice the population of Alberta but over 16 times as many deaths. Ontario has 3.3 times the population of Alberta and 8.37 times the deaths. From this comparison it appears Alberta is doing better than the other two provinces.

    As far as the effectiveness of masks aren’t Edmonton and Calgary the 2 regions in Alberta with the highest infection rate? Personally I think mask usage is a good thing but they are not a cure all. Personal responsibility still enters the equation, if you feel sick it is best to stay home.

    1. Manitoba also has a low death rate, but it is looking scary – is this Alberta’s (near) future?:
      I just heard on the radio they need to fill out a form to get a N95 mask to see a contagious patient, and they don’t have time to fill out forms.

      “if you feel sick it is best to stay home”
      Easy to say if you’re a farmer in November. What about people in healthcare, education, retail or hospitality industries who know they were exposed at work but have no symptoms yet?

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