Alberta Politics
A recent photo of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

The Premier is Missing (not a novel) – will he be back today to launch a big COVID-19 lockdown, or is it something else?

Posted on November 23, 2020, 1:05 am
8 mins

Where’s Jason Kenney?

Alberta’s in the midst of a pandemic emergency that grows more frightening by the day, but it’s been days since the public’s seen or heard from the premier.

Heath Minister Tyler Shandro (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

There were 1,584 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta announced yesterday.

There were 1,534 announced in Ontario in the same 24 hours.

I don’t need to remind readers of this blog that the population of Ontario is 14.6 million, compared with only 4.4 million in Alberta.

Ontario is heading toward a near total one-month lockdown today in the Metro Toronto area (population nearly six million) and the nearby Peel Region (population 1.4 million).

Hair salons, barber shops, public dining, including outdoor dining, religious services, sports events and government services will all be shut down for a minimum of 28 days. Weddings and funerals will be limited to 10 participants, excluding the already departed, presumably.

Ontario’s Conservative Premier, Doug Ford, has been front and centre, pleading with Ontarians to obey the rules, not to panic.

But all we’ve heard from Mr. Kenney in the same time frame has been crickets. From his health minister, Tyler Shandro? Nothing much from him either.

Associate Mental Health Minister Jason Luan (Photo:, Government of Alberta).

Well, Mr. Kenney was spending a second two-week stretch in self-isolation after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 12. He’s supposed to be free to walk about today.

He hasn’t been seen by the public in any form for about 10 days now. We plebians last heard his voice when he defended his COVID-19 response on a radio show a week ago, on Nov. 15.

Well, there’s the occasional retweet on his Twitter account, mostly from the chief medical officer of health, plus one about Santas Anonymous this morning. Not very reassuring. Anyone behind the curtain can retweet stuff.

And there was talk he Zoomed into a couple of private meetings yesterday. Could be true.

Just the same, it’s been long enough now that the Internet was starting to spontaneously combust yesterday.

People kept asking, has he got COVID? I haven’t heard anyone wonder aloud if he’s dead yet, but if he doesn’t appear in the next 24 hours – which I assume he will – it’s bound to happen.

Or – another still unconfirmed rumour – he’s getting ready to announce a three-week lockdown starting Wednesday (so his government can go ahead with its scheduled fiscal update tomorrow).

Or is he just jerking our chains?

Whether Mr. Kenney is sick, prepping for a big announcement, or he’s just taken a powder, so far that’s been for him to know and us to find out.

Former Alberta premier Rachel Notley, now leader of the Opposition (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

How long should we wait before we send out a search party?

Well, we all know that when the going gets tough, this premier has a history of getting going – usually somewhere where there’s no one around to ask him tough questions.

When times are good, Mr. Kenney likes to go all Churchillian on us and talk about the challenges that await, urging us, like buffalos, to huddle together in the face of the cold wind. (Possibly not the best advice for a pandemic, but whatever.)

But at a moment that really calls for leadership, he’s been missing in action! Or perhaps absent without leave is a better military metaphor.

This is not what Winston Churchill did. “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat,” prime minister Churchill told the House of Commons at Westminster on May 13, 1940. “We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.”

Can you imagine the way Alberta’s conservatives would have reacted if Rachel Notley had turtled like this during the Fort McMurray fire? I can tell you it wouldn’t have been pretty.

Of course, Ms. Notley rose to that leadership challenge. Indeed, her performance as premier in that crisis was exemplary.

Mr. Kenney is a notorious control freak. But last week he left explaining his United Conservative Party Government’s passive and muddled response to surging COVID-19 cases to underlings like Associate Mental Health Minister Jason Luan.

Well, we all know now how that worked out.

Mr. Luan told everyone that the United Conservative Party Government’s criteria for figuring out when to bring in stricter measures to control COVID-19 “is measured against out hospital capacity to handle ICUs and hospitalizations; so we’re waiting to see where that threshold will be pushed to by our limit, then gradually reduce more activities that way.” (Emphasis added.)

After that made the rounds of social media and people started to think about what it meant – waiting until intensive care units are already in crisis to think about doing something – he recanted. Or was made to recant.

Still, one is left with the feeling that he was offering us a rare glimpse of what the UCP brain trust actually thinks.

The ensuring uproar suggests Mr. Kenney is right about one thing, anyway. If he wants anything done right, he’d better do it himself. Alas, even that’s no guarantee!

Now the NDP wants an emergency debate in the Legislature. Knowing this government’s inclinations, that seems unlikely.

Still, it might be a good time for Mr. Kenney to stand up on his hind legs and give that blood-toil-tears-and-sweat speech he’s been fantasizing about.

The UCP’s anti-masker, anti-vaxxer base wouldn’t like it if he gives in and orders a strict lockdown for a few weeks. I have a feeling, though, that most severely normal Albertans would be relieved.

18 Comments to: The Premier is Missing (not a novel) – will he be back today to launch a big COVID-19 lockdown, or is it something else?

  1. Just Me

    November 23rd, 2020

    It is already known by now that everything Jason Kenney touches dies.

    The disastrous Trump presidency and its bizarre death throes without a doubt has shaken Ken-DOH! Throwing public money around in the vain hope that a spectacular oil boom is just around the corner has revealed that the Angry Midget has become desperate, clinging to the notion that the Invisible Hand will save him. No such luck.

    Kenney, throughout his political career, has enjoyed the protection of power people. All he had to do was be loyal and obey whatever idiocy he was told to do. It was a good deal that assured his ascendancy to higher office. But he has run out of ideas and his protectors are no where to be seen. What to do?

    I suspect when the going gets tough, Kenney gets going…away. He wants to return to the federal scene ASAP, so I have no doubt he’s planning his exit. Now that Erin the Toole is in the CPC leadership, Kenney now has a place to go that is more to his liking. Returning to Ottawa and nabbing a nomination in advance of the next election is already in the works. I believe that Andrew Scheer’s Regina SK riding will soon become available for Kenney to parachute into.

    Jason Kenney’s happy days will be here again. Meanwhile, Alberta dies. Kenney may send his regards.

    Reply
    • Crisisinsk

      November 24th, 2020

      Sorry Alberta but Saskatchewan has a non-return policy on defective product.

      Reply
  2. brett

    November 23rd, 2020

    Unfortunately in Alberta we appear to have a Leader of the UCP Party, not a leader of Alberta as our Premier.

    Reply
  3. David Bridger

    November 23rd, 2020

    What? Wait until we hit the limit of our ability to handle more Covid cases. They should be making sure the system never gets to its limit. I wouldn’t want to be one of the cases when the system starts to exceed its limit.

    Reply
  4. Abs

    November 23rd, 2020

    Media have picked up on the cheeriest bit of news: 1584 new cases, but a day without a Covid death!

    Whatever has Jason Kenney been doing? We know his issues managers have been pushing the line that he is without telephone capability or a laptop, although he knows how to use both bits of technology when it suits him. Hiding in a Faraday cage? Six feet underground in a bunker? That outta please his base. Sitting with his feet up in lounge chair, wearing a shower cap and a towel, like Opus the penguin?

    One thing’s for sure. Whatever he does when he emerges from hibernation will be too little, too late. If parts of Ontario are shutting down for a month, and our situation is three times as bad, we obviously need two cycles of two weeks province-wide to contain the spread of this virus. Does Jason Kenney have a vestigial conscience? Ha!

    Someone needs to remind this government to watch old episodes of Designated Survivor. There seems to be no continuity of government plan. I would welcome Keifer Sutherland’s intervention at this point, because the good ship Alberta has no rudder and no one at the helm. We are drifting closer to that iceberg. How can it be anything but intentional when this crew is gleefully derelict in its duties? Mutineers, the lot of them! What happens to mutineers? Think about that.

    Reply
    • Just Me

      November 23rd, 2020

      At least Keifer Sutherland is a firm defender of public healthcare.

      Already more than qualified over the Angry Midget.

      Reply
  5. Athabascan

    November 23rd, 2020

    Oh, well. Remember Alberta you voted for this.

    If we’re lucky and survive the kenny-virus we may get another chance to vote in a competent and honest premier, which is what we had before.

    Reply
  6. brett

    November 23rd, 2020

    Tyler who??? Who is the Tyler person? Do we actually have a Minister of Health in Alberta? Or do we need to do an FOI request to find out?

    Reply
  7. Dave

    November 23rd, 2020

    Unfortunately, we have become a bit like North Korea, where the dear leader disappears mysteriously for a few weeks and everyone starts speculating wildly. Is he dead? Did Jason Luan, who was the only government minister to speak up, stage a secret coup and place Kenney under lockdown? Probably not. However, this situation does not say anything good about the UCP or Kenney.

    First of all, the UCP is not known for its bench strength, and even those cabinet ministers who might be more competent, tend not to speak up for fear of … Our dear leader does not seem to give his cabinet ministers much leeway and seems quite autocratic.

    Second, it doesn’t say much about Kenney, who often seems to go MIA when there is a problem he can’t or doesn’t want to deal with, or as you put it AWOL. The thought of a general going AWOL is more than a bit troubling and I suspect is part of the sense of crisis facing the Alberta government right now. It has no direction because those running it either don’t know what to do, or are keeping silent for too long for whatever reasons.

    It is never a good sign in a jurisdiction that at times has aspired to be a one party state when the omnipresent leader suddenly goes silent. Should we be getting out the black armbands and preparing for a period or mourning or start to prepare to take oaths of fealty to Jason Luan? I suspect Kenney will soon pop back up and act as if nothing has happened. Some in this province are still willing to go along with that sort of thing and will continue to overlook that this emperor has no clothes.

    Reply
  8. Just Me

    November 23rd, 2020

    Someone, the other day, pointed out an interesting detail about Kenney’s appearance: his eyes are damp and bloodshot.

    Given his frequent and lengthy absences, I suspect he’s been hitting the cough syrup pretty hard.

    Reply
  9. Bruce Turton

    November 23rd, 2020

    As always, the feds, those disgusting, cloying bunch from too far away, have come up with some $$$ just in time for JK and friends to begin a long-overdue lockdown – bucks for business and commercial rent. Not something the “government” of the people of Alberta could be bothered to consider of course. And as for all the addelpated punctures out there not wearing masks since their “freedom” is at stake, all of those who do know the benefit of such attire should be going to the rallies with signs that proclaim “No more seat belts”, or maybe, “Drive in the left lanes”.

    Reply
  10. Alan Spiller

    November 23rd, 2020

    Maybe he’s golfing with Trump he seems to like to follow what he does. Or maybe he’s just hiding from his supporters who are calling him a liar just like Ralph Klein did years ago. We had coffee with a few of our senior friends this morning and the ones in their late 80s are certainly taking this a lot more serious than he is.

    Reply
  11. Kingsley

    November 23rd, 2020

    Heenshaw will present alternatives to the covid committee tomorrow in the same manner as Alice, in the Wonderland, talked with Tweedle dumb and Teeedle dee (AKA Kenney and Shandro). What will they decide, and how will Tweedle dumb blame the NDP or Trudeau for our situation? Madness!

    Reply
  12. Scotty on Denman

    November 23rd, 2020

    “It was a dark and stormy…and severely normal night…” Nope, as an opening line, it sorta half sucks.

    How’s about: “Where’s Jason Kenney?” Now, there’s a great opener for a novel titled: The Premier Is Missing.

    Bestseller?—maybe, if it can beat the pending avalanche of tRumpology tomes about to hit bookstores, January 20th at the latest. Might be a good idea because many of the tropes are so similar they risk becoming tedious, especially if the second fiddle doesn’t squeak first: in either case, start with an electoral victory disturbingly attributed to demagoguery, followed by a spate of absurd policies swaddled in preposterous rhetoric then, finally, to the one policy virtually everybody else is adopting right around the dark and stormy Covid world—the one neither the K-Boy nor the Flossy-Toppered-Cheater-Stopper has ever espoused fully. tRump’s version would easily dwarf Kenney’s, so the Premier better use his quarantine time well to get his own tome out first—maybe even make it for the Christmas rush, especially since, by all official accounts, Alberta might be the only place in the country which even has a Christmas this year.

    And what about that Harlequin Bromance with Ontario’s D’ohFo—you know: “finishing each other’s sentences…”? Typical of the genre, there’s been some kind of misunderstanding, a break-up, perhaps. However, one gets the impression the popularly recuperated Dime-bag Doug is way too busy authorizing Covid shutdowns to be authoring any kind of book. Luckily, though, there’s going to be a lot of ghost writers available pretty soon for such undertakings, just like there’s going to be a lot of ghosts of every occupation in jurisdictions which haven’t taken Covid quite seriously enough, be they World Hegemon or aspiring Energy Superpower.

    Movie pitch, maybe? “Now that everybody’s happy about D’ohFo and JT kissing and making up, Jason has gotten himself into everybody’s bad books and is in such a snit he hasn’t shown his face for weeks…” Nope: too late to get it in the can by Super Saturday. (Although, it’s gotta be a great time to release a Christmastime teen-targeted blockbuster.)

    But if I start attacking the keyboard now, maybe, just maybe enough time left to finish The Premier Is Missing (no copyright on titles, right?)…okay, then, back to the Bulwer-Lytton drawing board—book signings await: “It was a dark and stormy night…”

    Reply
  13. Firth of Fifth

    November 23rd, 2020

    I think it should be obvious at this point that Premier Randy Bobandy’s (yes the thought of him with his shirt off will make all but the most ardent UCP supporter violently ill) true reason for disappearing is to try forcing the Feds to step in and do what is right (and what I suspect Premier Bobandy also knows to be right but cannot/will not do because he needs to pander to his hillbilly gullible base) and implement a lock down. A true win-win for him: Alberta gets saved (by the Liberals) while Randy saves face and blames Trudeau for taking away “freedoms” from the hicks. Very cunning, yet very sad at the same time as he pits Albertans and Canadians against each other for personal gain.

    While I can’t say I have any love for Trudeau or Ford I can say that they at least project a sense of leadership compared to the pathetic lot we have at the helm, and for that they should be granted some respect. As for Randy and the UCP, 2020 seems to be the high water mark to be ashamed of being an Albertan and that is saying a lot considering the embarrassment of the Klein years. Shame on the UCP and shame on the knuckle dragging deplorables that continue to blindly support them!

    Reply
  14. Covkid

    November 24th, 2020

    Please: no more pictures of the porcine premier promoting procedures providing progressive pandemic putrefaction.

    Reply

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