Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney engaging in some political cosplay at Calgary International Airport (Photo: Twitter).

Tire-screeching reversal on COVID-19 vaccine timing shows Canada’s Conservatives can turn on a dime!

Posted on December 16, 2020, 1:43 am
9 mins

You can hardly blame the United Conservative Party’s leaders for trying to get out there as quickly as possible to take credit for the arrival of the first planeloads of COVID-19 vaccine in Alberta. 

Premier Jason Kenney, who evidently enjoys cosplay, even got dressed up as a UPS deliveryman and ran out on the tarmac at Calgary International Airport to greet the first airliner to roll up to the gate with the stuff on board.

A typical Conservative Party meme, prematurely excoriating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the expectations Canadian vaccine shipments would be late – which, so far, they haven’t been (Image: Twitter).

The production, acquisition and delivery of the vaccine is a big story by any measure and shows signs of being a significant success. As the old saw goes, success has many parents, even if failure is supposedly an orphan.

Well, who can deny that the vaccines now arriving at airports across Canada a few days before the New Year do promise a metaphorical light at the end of the long, dark tunnel that 2020 turned into thanks to the novel coronavirus?

Not to begrudge these smiling Prairie Conservatives a legitimate reason for rejoicing, none of them seemed much inclined to acknowledge that we’re as far down the tunnel as we are in this province because of the mismanagement of the pandemic by the very same Mr. Kenney who was at the airport waving to the pilots.

Nor did they give any credit to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose Liberal federal government seems literally to be delivering the goods, whatever you may think of their policies on a broader range of issues.

In fact, the silence of Alberta’s Conservatives when it came to giving credit where credit is due was positively deafening.

That said, you can say this about the UCP and the rest of Canada’s Conservatives too, they sure can turn on a dime!

It was only days ago, after all, that they were loudly and all but unanimously predicting that the vaccine rollout was going to be a total bust – and it was all going to be Mr. Trudeau’s fault.

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

“We don’t know the first date vaccines will be received,” federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole grumbled darkly on a CBC program at the end of last month. “Most of our allies do. In fact, the U.K. and the U.S. will start receiving them in the next few days. Canadians are going to be asking questions and they deserve answers.”

“Another blunder by the Trudeau Liberals, placing Canada at the back of the line for the vaccine,” the Conservative Party of Canada tweeted portentously last fall. “All because they continue to trust China.

“Canada’s Conservatives, led by @ErinOTooleMP, will stand up to China,” the tweet added, with the faint echo of a dogwhistle lingering.

Canada is “at the back of the line,” complained Blake Richards, the frequently intemperate Conservative MP for Banff-Airdrie who is now Mr. O’Toole’s party whip, in a similar tweet, which appears to have been deleted.

A Conservative Party meme complained that “Canada no longer has any production capacity for vaccines,” omitting to mention that it was Conservative PM Brian Mulroney who privatized and sold off Crown-owned Connaught Laboratories, Canada’s storied vaccine maker. 

Loose-lipped United Conservative Party minister Jason Luan (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“Without a plan for vaccines, there can be no long-term plan for our economy,” Mr. O’Toole huffed in the CBC interview. “This is a debacle.”

Some debacle! Indeed, Canada’s vaccine rollout is starting to look quite un-debacle-like.

Arguably, in their indecent hurry to find something with which they could smear Prime Minister Trudeau, the federal Conservatives – who often seem like not much more than the UCP’s Ottawa farm team – forgot to do a little reverse expectation management to ensure their supporters knew the federal vaccine distribution plan might actually work out OK.

Now that it seems to be rolling out quite smoothly, thank you very much, they’re all jumping aboard as if it were their idea and the federal Liberals had nothing to do with it.

This is ungraceful at best, and makes them look foolish to anyone who has actually been paying attention – a group, presumably, that doesn’t include many core Conservative supporters.

Of course, it’s early days yet. Something could still go wrong. If it does, I expect we will see the Conservatives try to quickly pivot back to blaming Mr. Trudeau.

Having jumped aboard the vaccine bandwagon, though, it may not be quite as easy for them to jump off again.

Yesterday, UCP Mental Health Minister Jason Luan tweeted enthusiastically: “3 more months to go for the final push before we can return to our normal life.”

Vaccinations will be all wrapped up in Alberta and the virus eradicated by mid-March? Seriously? That seems hardly likely even if the UCP has nothing to do with the distribution.

Albertans are bound to be unhappy if they’re still waiting for vaccine come next fall, which is probably why Mr. Luan tried to walk back his tweet a few hours later. 

Surely this indicates that Alberta’s Conservatives aren’t any better at expectation management than their federal brethren.

Erin O’Toole busted misrepresenting the past 

Conservative Party of Canada Leader Erin O’Toole as he appears in the soon-to-be-notorious Ryerson University Conservative Club video (Photo: Screenshot of video).

Speaking of not knowing when to keep their lips zipped, Mr. O’Toole has been busted defending the intentions of the founders of the residential school system as honourable, saying they meant merely to “provide education” to Indigenous students. 

“When Egerton Ryerson was called in … it was meant to try and provide education,” he said in a Zoom talk to the Conservative Club at Toronto’s Ryerson University, whose 19th Century namesake has been criticized for his role in creating the residential school system. 

“It became a horrible program that really harmed people and we have to learn from that and I wear orange. But we’re not helping anyone by misrepresenting the past.”

“Most of the lefty radicals are also the dumbest people at your university,” Mr. O’Toole also told the campus Cons.

His remarks were posted by Conservative Club members in a video noticed by Press Progress, suggesting that the Opposition leader might not have got that last observation quite right.

CORRECTION: Mr. Kenney dressed up as a UPS delivery man for a visit to Calgary International Airport, not Edmonton International Airport as incorrectly stated in an earlier version of this story.

22 Comments to: Tire-screeching reversal on COVID-19 vaccine timing shows Canada’s Conservatives can turn on a dime!

  1. Dave

    December 16th, 2020

    Yes, the UCP seem to be becoming quite the political contortionists lately. From Kenney first talking about us having to take personal responsibility, to him then avoiding it for the growing number of COVID cases here, to now taking unearned credit for vaccines arranged by the Feds. I suppose Kenney is much better at taking credit than responsibility.

    We have sure come a long way, but no one really likes a credit hog who jumps into the spotlight at the last minute after someone else’s hard fought but derided efforts. The Federal Conservatives have also seemed to quickly pivoted from talk of vaccine disaster to thoughts on truth and reconciliation. Any distraction will do at this point, I suppose.

    Mr. O’Toole may wear orange, but it seems to have blown up in his face a bit, hasn’t it? Unfortunately for him, orange face is going out of fashion now, even in the US. Perhaps next time he will not be so quick to pounce at the Federal Liberals or defend residential school founders.

    Politics is partly about managing expectations, which Mr. Luan also doesn’t seem to get. I wonder if the Federal Liberals are just playing with O’Toole, like a cat plays with a mouse. I suppose at least O’Toole is lowering expectations for himself in the meantime. Federal Conservatives better hope that is just a ruse too, or they may be in real trouble soon.

    Reply
  2. Bill Malcolm

    December 16th, 2020

    Couldn’t have said any of this better myself. What is it with kenney and airports, anyway? Ooh look, a shiny jet airplane delivering my salvation this time, the federal government better shut the borders down last time.

    As for the Conservative Club at Ryerson, and O’Toole advising their members that leftists are the dumbest people at their university, its mere presence amazes me. Arriving here in Canada as an eleven year-old with UK Tory-voting parents, they told me that young folk tended to be more socialistic, but as they grew older conservative tendencies would eventually surface. I went the other way after seeing the nudge, nudge, wink, wink lip service towards privilege the better off Canadians evinced as I worked through life. Looking back to 1968 when we somehow got universal health care, it all seems like an anomalous miracle now, and quite out of the Canadian persona. Just as Tommy Douglas somehow managed to thrive in conservative Saskatchewan and bring that miracle to us. Of course, there’s been high pressure to privatize since, but Canadians as a whole are not completely irrational.

    I don’t see how there can be much difference in average IQ between conservatives and progressives, we’re all humans after all. So one can only presume being a young Conservative happily listening to dog-whistle racial bigotry and intellectual big-headedness from an extremely doltish CPC leader makes you wonder about their reasoning power and general societal awareness instead. Ryerson isn’t exactly an institution for the privileged offspring of wealthy GTA residents, after all:

    “Ryerson University conducts surveys where respondents may provide information about their background. Recent surveys indicate that about half of respondents are members of a visible minority.’

    https://www.ryerson.ca/university-planning/about/faq/

    So what have we here, then? Is it O’Toole dissing black, brown, east Asian and First Nations people on the QT? Of course it is. You have to be white in the Con world, otherwise you’re dumb and left-leaning.

    O fu*king Toole. Just another Con racist driving a hate wedge into the Canadian diaspora in an attempt to gain power under false public pretences. A complete deplorable in my view.

    Reply
  3. Public Servant

    December 16th, 2020

    The picture of Jason Kenney standing in the way with his hands in his pockets watching others work says it all.

    Reply
    • tom in Ontario

      December 16th, 2020

      To update Sir Winston Churchill, “Jason loves the working classes. He loves to watch them work.”

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        December 16th, 2020

        The UCP has nothing to brag about whatsoever. They are failing in so many ways. 2023 cannot come soon enough!

        Reply
    • Hana Razga

      December 16th, 2020

      Somebody somewhere in the internet universe made a joke that Jason Kenney quit as a premier and got himself a job as UPS baggage handler……
      He totally looks the part, ha ha

      Reply
  4. brett

    December 16th, 2020

    The only thing that Kenney has ‘delivered’ to our collective doors is more covid cases, more covid deaths, and the number one spot in Canada for covid.

    Reply
    • Mike in Edmonton

      December 16th, 2020

      Well, Brett, no. Jason has delivered lots of other stuff to the Kingdom of Oilberduh. A short list:
      – the war on doctors (later, nurses were added)
      – $4.7 billion corporate tax cut “to create jobs.” (Maybe on Montana, certainly not here.)
      – Bill 1, to protect infrastructure from protestors. It’s unconstitutional, and being challenged in court.
      – Cuts to government services more brutally abrupt than even Ralph Klein (20% slashed off government staffing in 6 months. Ralph took 3 years.)
      – Parks delisted and put up for sale (they promised not to)
      – Cancel environmental protection for the foothills–and Calgary’s water supply–to allow coal mines, complete with guv’mint subsidies

      That’s just off the top of my head.

      Reply
  5. Abs

    December 16th, 2020

    Cosplay is all these Cons have left. First, Kenney dressing up to look like Santy Paws at the fireside Christmas chat. Kenney saves, and simultaneously ruins, Christmas! Now pretending to have worked a day in his life, in a UPS costume. Kenney brings us the light at the end of the tunnel (never mind about the dozen-plus Albertans every day going toward the light, thanks to his incompetence). I’d started to think it was Kenney in the Mr. Covidhead commercial, except it involved merry-making with children and adults, which is inconceivable.

    As for Egerton Ryerson, it’s only a matter of time before his head rolls at Ryerson University. Langevin Bridge in Calgary is Reconcilation Bridge now. We’re way ahead (see how I did that) of Hogtown on that one. The Beaverton nailed it again.

    https://www.thebeaverton.com/2020/12/erin-otoole-claims-residential-schools-were-just-hogwarts-for-indigenous-kids/

    Reply
  6. Albertan

    December 16th, 2020

    Isn’t it something? Right wing bumblebus fodder every day. And poor Premier Kenney…between red sweaters and UPS vests, just like a flag on a shitship.

    Reply
  7. Bob Raynard

    December 16th, 2020

    Another mini-bozo eruption from Jason Luan has me thinking about the UCP cabinet as a whole. We have speculated about why Jason Kenney has kept Tyler Shandro on as Minister of Health given how poorly he has managed his portfolio, and generally agreed that if Kenney were to replace Shandro and the problems persisted, people would realize that the problem wasn’t the minister, and look higher up the chain for the source of the problem.

    Jason Luan is another matter, however. With a portfolio like Mental Health and Addictions, Luan should really disappear into the woodwork, much like Ric McIver at Transportation & Leela Ahern in Culture, Multiculture and Status of Women. Instead, he keeps sticking up his head and embarrassing the government. This begs the question, why has Jason Kenney not replaced him? I suppose Kenney may like the idea of a multi-cultural looking cabinet in a party of white guys, but one also has to wonder if there simply isn’t anyone better in the caucus that could step up. Kenney obviously chose his UCP candidates based on their willingness to blindly obey their leader, but the downside is they aren’t smart enough to take on a cabinet position without embarrassing the party.

    Reply
    • lungta

      December 16th, 2020

      Replace them with what? Those are the peak of the UCP braintrust. That is UCP at their very best.

      Reply
  8. David

    December 16th, 2020

    Interesting that Kenney is wearing an American company’s uniform (UPS) instead of a Purolator uniform. But then Purolator is owned by a federal crown corporation called Canada Post. The conservatives are all in favour of privatising anything publicly owned.

    Just watch the Liberal party. They are really good at strategies to suck the cons into a trap.

    Reply
  9. Neil Lore

    December 16th, 2020

    Is it just me, or is there a lot suggested by the fact that Mr Kenney wore a UPS logo? Could it be argued that, in his capacity as Premier of Alberta, he is providing free advertising to a privately owned corporation that is in direct competition with a crown corporation? Would it be worth investigating whether he did that for ideological reasons (which, to be fair, he totally would) or whether he or a loved one is invested in that company? Do you think I’m reading too much into it? It seems to create the appearance of impropriety. If he had to wear a logo, I think a Canada Post one would have been more appropriate.

    Your article reminded me of this fun little story – a few months before COVID, I was talking to my brother about the WE scandal, and he sincerely did not understand why it was a big deal. As I tried to fill him in on it, he made an interesting point:

    “The Conservatives would be calling Uncle Justin (our tongue-in-cheek name for him) a crook and a bastard no matter what he did.”

    This thought has resurfaced many times in my mind ever since. Now, I totally get that rank-and-file Conservatives love to fondle their Trudeau-hateboner, and they are never going to respond to any criticism of the guy by saying, “Now hold on a sec, I get that he’s kind of a fart-sniffing know-nothing nancy-boy, but he made the rest of the country buy us a pipeline and deployed the RCMP with orders to kill Indigenous protesters if necessary to get it built. Harper never did those things for us, but Harper did put in place the equalization formula that we all hate so much. I don’t like the guy either, but maybe we should keep our criticisms reasonable?”

    To me, this is problematic because when JT does something that *is* legitimately worth objecting to, some people will just hear “Bla bla bla there go the Conservatives again.” Ironically, the Cons could end up *decreasing* our ability to hold JT and the Liberals to account for their misdeeds.

    (Full disclosure – I could criticize JT for an hour without repeating myself… but I can also talk about things he’s done that I agree with. The world needs grown-ups and the cavalry isn’t coming)

    Reply
    • Alan K Spiller

      December 16th, 2020

      In my true conservative world as much as we don’t like Trudeau we trust him a lot more than we do these damn reformers. Who do you think created this “Horrific Mess” as Peter Lougheed called it? It certainly wasn’t Notley of Trudeau.

      As economist Trevor Tombe from the U of C pointed out had our previous governments , starting with Ralph Klein of course, continued to collect oil royalties at the Lougheed levels Albertans would have received an additional $575 billion. Add that to the $150 billion in lost taxes that Klein’s daughter Angie was so upset with her father about and the $260 billion we are warned that it could cost us to clean up the orphan well mess that I was involved with prior to Klein changing the regulations to benefit his rich friends and these phoney conservatives have destroyed our children’s future.
      Now while this fool Jason Kenney deliberately makes things worse by destroying what Notley was trying to create by gradually increasing taxes and oil royalties back up to the Lougheed Levels he slashes taxes to benefit his rich friends and destroyed the carbon tax that the oil executives wanted put in place and Albertans lost the revenues it was bringing in. Now Ottawa is reaping the benefits.

      Reply
  10. Mike in Edmonton

    December 16th, 2020

    Oh, how I wish I could say I was surprised. Cognitive dissonance must be #1 on the “required traits” for Con politicians.

    Reply
  11. Scotty on Denman

    December 16th, 2020

    One can’t not notice certain parallels like Make-Alberta-More-American and, for sure, botched Covid responses —proof, once again, that good Covid politics can’t spring from bad Covid policy, no matter what team you’re on. At least the premier didn’t call it the “Kenney Vaccine” like Kayleigh MagaKenney calls it the “tRump Vaccine” down south. But a masked UCP leader labeled UPS comes pretty darn close.

    Or maybe it’s just a disguise: as much as the K-Boy deserves a big hunk of blame on a number of other fronts, one can’t really blame him for that bit of “cosplay”. He does like to remind Albertans he’s in charge during tangled chinooks of lame disingenuousness and windy mendacity with frequent gusts of implacable enmity towards our Prime Minister (how, Kenney implies, could a hand so savagely bitten possibly have anything worth feeding the bit-champion of freedom?) —and he also likes to run around back of Shamd’oh when the four strong winds blow Covid way out there—which is prob’ly why his minister of pandemicry is still hanging on to his post.

    O’Toole, on the other hand, had potential —if only he’d stop disappointing so much. Once sufficiently bland under the last three CPC leaders, he looked like a hopeful prospect of Eastern Torydom, now half the CPC caucus; but in case anybody mistook his resort to Prairie SoCons for shrewd leadership campaigning, his snarling mien now reminds of another parallel punch below the 49th: like the tRumpublicans, O’Toole looks afraid to disappoint the Western farm team: maybe ordinary Canadians can’t tell them much apart, but it’s an existential problem for the neo-right on both sides of the Jackie Mason Line.

    Anybody thinks Covid’s gonna be gone by March is either dreaming or already a bad dream. There’s only ever been one, workable Covid policy and, even adopting it fully, the politics of getting it done must anticipate the most difficult chapters of the pandemic which will be written well into warm weather yet (the best case for climate warming there is!)—especially now featuring vaccinations, noncooperation, and complacency.

    But, as sure as you’re born, things will be looking up by late summer and Canadians will know why. Still, prob’ly gonna be an irregular ball season again, with players getting called up from farm teams at a moment’s notice. The way it’s going in Alberta, the UPS leader’d be well advised to pitch the federal minority team an intentional walk else they hit a grand slam outta the pandemic in snap innings: O’Toole looks up from far-right field and cries: “Oh them selly Uniforms!” (Apologies to the Irish Rovers.)

    Reply
    • Neil Lore

      December 17th, 2020

      Interesting points about O’Toole. It occurs to me that in Canada, politicians who aren’t right wingers have to try to convince us they really will do things – electoral reform, child care, education, etc etc. Politicians who are right wingers have to convince us they won’t really do things – abortions, racism, taxpayer funded welfare for their rich friends, etc etc.

      I also think the Cons have created a situation where anything they say to please the 30% of Canadians who will vote for them no matter what will upset the other 70%, and vice versa. This goes at least back to Harper (ptui) campaigning against Dion’s “green shift” and taking the position that carbon taxes are the devil and will ruin everything. They don’t have a prairie fortress, they have a prairie prison.

      Reply
  12. lungta

    December 16th, 2020

    Come on
    If you can pretend to be a leader, you can pretend to be a UPS delivery guy.
    Neither actually interest him as he dismantles Alberta.
    Defund, distance, demoralize, degrade
    The pudgy poster child of predatory disaster capitalism needs these distractions to relax
    WHEEEEEE ………a trip to the airport

    Reply
  13. Just Me

    December 16th, 2020

    It appears that if the Angry Midget ever had to credit anything to PMJT, he would break out in hives and his head will explode. Watching CONs falling over themselves trying to take credit for something they were criticizing no more than thirty days ago just points out the precarious position they find themselves in.

    Erin the Toole’s recent assertion that the Residential Schools served a worthy purpose, in that they sought to provide an “education” to FN children, just points out that for every step forward the CONs make, they are determined to shoot themselves in the face. I suspect that O’Toole must be trying to out-conspiracy monger Pierre Poilievre and Derek Sloan, because their people don’t have the Dear Leader Cheeto to fawn over anymore.

    All things considered, not only is O’Toole reminding Canadians how bad Andrew Scheer was, he’s clearly trying to outdo him in the demented crazy department.

    I can’t wait for it to be revealed that O’Toole has a dual US citizenship he forgot to mention.

    Reply
  14. brett

    December 17th, 2020

    All this business about Ryerson with O’Toole will only shift eyes away from the growing rift within the Federal Conservative Party. Many members are fed up to the teeth with the social conservatives who seem determined to ensure that the Party remains in Opposition as a western rump.

    I thought that O’Toole would have brought in his own political advices. Based on this Ryerson business it seems to me that he must have inherited a bunch of Scheer’s clowns and perhaps one or two Sloan advisors.

    The gang that could not shoot straight!

    Reply
  15. Jim

    December 17th, 2020

    You are ignoring the good news story that despite the differences between the left and right nothing unites everyone like a good science experiment, or mass vaccine rollout one in the same I guess. The left gets to ignore their empty arguments against corporations, most of the funding comes from taxpayers but the profits are strictly private. The right ignores their empty claims to be champions for individual liberties by forcing the population to be medical test subjects. Anyone that questions the safety is mocked and shamed by both sides, don’t believe me Facebook told me by blocking any safety questions and of course their leader is a champion of the left right now. Of course you have to ignore that he is currently colonizing a Hawaiian island but whatever he is on our side and helped greatly getting rid of orange man bad. Warp speed into the great unknown together I guess.

    Reply

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