Alberta Politics
The now-notorious photo of a trio of maskless UCP ministers with Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw at a town hall meeting a day after Premier Jason Kenney announced stricter COVID-19 masking requirements (Photo: Twitter).

When is a rule not a rule? When a maskless minister from Alberta’s United Conservative Party is breaking it

Posted on December 18, 2020, 1:38 am
7 mins

COVID-19 has now killed at least 790 Albertans. 

It fell to Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw to break the dark news yesterday that 30 COVID-19 deaths had been reported in the previous 24 hours. While not all had taken place in that time frame, it was the largest toll to be reported in a single day in Alberta since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Dr. Hinshaw during yesterday’s COVID-19 briefing (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta government video).

“If anyone still needs reminding of the seriousness of this virus, of the importance of the restrictions that are currently in place, and the importance of doing everything possible to limit our interactions and break the chains of transmission, this is it,” she said at the start of the daily COVID-19 briefing. 

“Holiday gatherings with people outside of your household are not only against the restrictions that are in place, they are also the wrong thing to do right now,” she continued. 

“These orders are not recommendations,” she added a few moments later. “They are legal restrictions. And for them to be effective, we need everyone to do their part.” (Emphasis added.)

Well, maybe she needs to remind some of her political colleagues of that fact. 

In what is fast becoming a notorious photo, on Wednesday night Justice Minister Kaycee Madu posted a photo of himself with Dr. Hinshaw, Premier Jason Kenney, and Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard in a virtual meeting with representatives of 130 community groups in Edmonton to tell them about the United Conservative Party Government’s COVID-19 programs. 

Despite the tougher restrictions announced by Premier Kenney the day before, which included mandatory indoor public masking everywhere in the province, not one of the three UCP politicians had bothered to put on a mask in the photo posted on Mr. Madu’s Twitter account. 

Dr. Hinshaw is wearing one, which is not very helpful if three potentially infectious people are ignoring the rules, presumably on the official grounds that one of them might be speaking. 

Justice Minister Kaycee Madu’s press secretary, Blaise Boehmer (Photo: Twitter).

What are we to make of this – other than the common presumption that a rule is not a really a rule in Alberta if it’s a UCP politician that’s breaking it?

Are these not orders? Are they not legal restrictions? Pfffft! 

Ms. Allard, of course, has already been infected with the virus, and has apparently recovered, so presumably she’s not likely to be infectious. Even so, the only example she is offering to Albertans is that the rules are for them, not for the fortunate few who govern over us. That would be the wrong thing to do right now. 

As for Premier Kenney and Mr. Madu, they are presumably still potential vectors for infection, and brazen lawbreakers to boot. 

Blaise Boehmer, Mr. Madu’s press secretary and a key player in the UCP’s strategic brain trust, took to social media to mock commenters like CBC investigative reporter Charles Rusnell who dared to ask why the ministers weren’t obeying the rules.

“Because it’s a town hall,” Mr. Boehmer responded sharply via tweet. “Perhaps some CBC reporters should switch to decaf rather than play face-mask hall monitor. And yes the good Doctor removed her face mask when she spoke. Good grief.”

Justice Minister Madu (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Good grief, indeed. This illustrates a certain attitude. Accordingly, it was bound to be dismissed as a tempest in a teapot by the Kenney Government’s army of issues managers, and as quickly as possible be consigned to the Memory Hole. 

Still, one has to wonder if there was more to it than just the casual arrogance and sense of entitlement associated with Alberta Conservatives for several generations, but also a sly dogwhistle to Mr. Kenney’s anti-masker, anti-vaxxer base. It certainly suggests a message to the UCP base that the premier’s still OK, the latest restrictions notwithstanding, and his supporters can all feel free to break the rules as well. 

After all, in the UCP heartland, COVID-19 is still considered just “an influenza,” as the premier once put it, even if there are nearly 800 Albertans who would tell them otherwise if they only could. 

So, just arrogance, or actual malice? It’s hard to say. 

Yesterday afternoon, CTV Edmonton reported that Premier Kenney said of the measures announced two days earlier that “it looks like we’ve flattened the curve.” Well, in fairness, some of them were implemented eight days before the interview.

We all understand that the premier wants us all to get back to dining out and shopping as soon as possible, but anyone who has been paying attention to how COVID-19 spreads understands that the benefits of the tighter restrictions announced Tuesday won’t show up for about two weeks, if they show up at all.

And they won’t show up if Albertans are sent the message by their premier and his ministers that the rules Dr. Hinshaw calls legal restrictions are just unenforced window dressing to keep city liberals quiet as the holidays approach. 

Two consecutive days of slightly lower, if still very high, numbers of reported new cases may be a vaguely promising sign, but for Mr. Kenney to jump to the conclusion that measures implemented a few days earlier are the reason suggests at best a serious lack of judgment.

But then we already knew that much. It’s part of why things are now as bad as they are. 

24 Comments to: When is a rule not a rule? When a maskless minister from Alberta’s United Conservative Party is breaking it

  1. Dave

    December 18th, 2020

    So all three of the UCP ministers removed their masks to speak? It must have been quite the cacaophony with all three speaking at once!

    I thought Mr. Kenney was more disciplined in his communications. Perhaps this explains why the UCP hasn’t been very successful in getting its message across lately.

    Whether it is a cacophony or just a discordance between say and do, it seems something is wrong here. Mr. Kenney’s PR flacks must be getting tired of having to come in again and again to try spin and clean up these situations. These UCP ministers seem to be like a bunch of horses that can’t be housebroken. Buckets and mops can only do so much, so fast, the mess and smell persists and accumulates.

    Reply
  2. Bill Malcolm

    December 18th, 2020

    Well, we hear and see every day now even on the conservative MSM like CTV and Global what an absolute shambles Alberta is in with regard to the plague. I suppose bad news is what’s newsworthy. This morning, after a three hour stint shovelling off 20 cm of snow on my 150 foot driveway, I come in to hear that Henshaw has invited the Red Cross in to set up a field hospital in Edmonton, “just as a precaution”! A precaution? An abundance of precaution? Or an over-abundance of precaution? Or spin on ABJECT FAILURE?

    Hows about the latter? The strutting little self-important peacock kenney looks to be holding a “high level” maskless strategy meeting just for the political big boys (and not physically distanced either) and what expert help he can line up that doesn’t barf at the mere sight of him. What a farce! It’s small minds at work pretending to be intelligent. A complete shit show. One can only think kenney imagines he’s a serious leader existing on a planet in another dimension. How he can hold his head up high after proving to be such a failure on so many fronts, on the other hand, is one of the miracles of self-hypnosis and ego of this world. Too bad it so negatively affects his subjects.

    Reply
    • Keith McClary

      December 18th, 2020

      Kenney made a big show of the arrival of the vaccine, as if it was his doing. I wonder if he will stage a grand opening for the field hospital – he can legitimately claim responsibility for that, we should name it after him. And then there’s the reefer trucks – more photo ops!

      Reply
  3. Public Servant

    December 18th, 2020

    On the same day that 30 Albertans die from Covid-19, Jason Kenney whines that the federal government won’t increase his allowance. Not one word about the all the families and friends who are grieving, because that would contradict his lie that “it’s only influenza.”

    Reply
  4. tom in Ontario

    December 18th, 2020

    “With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think.”
    Edgar Allan Poe, The Masque of the Red Death

    Reply
  5. Abs

    December 18th, 2020

    On Sunday, the more restrictive rules went into place. A few days later, we’ve flattened the curve. What do we expect from a person who crawled out of the Dark Ages on Sunday?

    The French have a history of deposing arrogant monarchs. Let-them-eat-cake-ism isn’t a good look, even when it’s let-them-eat-Christmas-cake-ism.

    Reply
  6. Political Ranger

    December 18th, 2020

    Incompetence, serious, unimpeded, free-ranging incompetence!
    These clowns are killing people. They are charged with the protection of people. They have been given the legal and social power and they swagger around as if they understand that they have this power – but they don’t use it!
    They are simply doing what every other untrained, uneducated, self-involved, belligerent, mean-spirited blowhard, namely ‘yer average Albaturdan, would do. There is not the slightest effort to be consistent in one’s blatherings today with one’s bleatings of yesterday. Stupid really.

    Criminally irresponsible and negligent. They have to be held to account for such a level of wanton incompetence.

    Reply
    • Alan K Spiller

      December 19th, 2020

      I still haven’t forgotten how Klein almost killed my father with his health care cuts after our family had spent countless hours volunteering for the Lougheed and Getty governments and dad had donated around $30,000. to their party. Ironically we had known the Klein family since the early 1960 s and knew what a jerk Ralph was.
      When he began closing hospitals , closing hospital beds, and cutting 5,000 nursing positions his father Phil said to me “Al what in the hell is the matter with that son of mine. While he gives away billions in royalties he is forcing us to try to live without a proper health care system . This could cost some people their lives. Phil was right that’s what it did and the lawsuits prove it.
      One guy told me that his uncle was one of the guys Klein killed with his health care cuts. His family sued and it was settled the Ralph Klein way out of court, behind closed doors, under a gag order so taxpayers weren’t allowed to know what it cost them.
      He said they weren’t allowed to tell him what they got but he knew it was huge because they went from being dirt poor farmers to Beverly Hillbilly types. He figured they got $5 million each.

      Reply
  7. Bob Raynard

    December 18th, 2020

    “…meeting representatives of 130 community groups…”

    The CBC story about this issue says it was a virtual townhall, but didn’t say if it was video and audio, or just audio.

    If it was both video and audio, you really have to wonder what the politicians were thinking appearing in front of over 100 people maskless, and thinking that none of the 130 people would leak the photo.

    If it was just audio, I can see how the three stooges would think they could get away with it, but Kaycee Madu just embarrassed his government, again.

    Reply
  8. Neil Lore

    December 18th, 2020

    ANGRY SELF-RIGHTEOUS WEALTHY WHITE MAN: Why should I have to pay through the nose to educate other people’s kids??? Their parents should have made virtuous decisions, like *I* did! They need to take some Personal Responsibility, and Make Something Of Themselves!

    REASONABLE ADULT: Because children given propaganda instead of education may grow up and vote for Jason Kenney.

    ASRWWM: Joke’s on you, Jason Kenney’s going to mostly kill poor and/or non-white people. You think I give a @$#$ about them? Nits make lice! They need to hurry and grow up stupid so we can elect BIGGER assholes who will kill even MORE people I don’t like. Don’t you know the planet is overpopulated? We need to kill off some of these undesirables! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to rig the tax system so that I get a tax credit for putting my kids in private school!

    ….oops did I just say the quiet part out loud? I think I said the quiet part out loud. Good thing the voter somehow became too stupid to tell their ass from a hole in the ground! Hahahahaha! *waddles off to complain about the amount of taxes he has to pay on money he got from extracting rent from poor and/or non-white people*

    Reply
  9. Albertan

    December 18th, 2020

    So it’s: Do as I say, don’t do as I do. UCP clowns.
    I just spoke to a friend last evening who now lives in Victoria, B.C. after moving there from Alberta recently, along with their whole family who will be sharing a ‘big’ house with their three children with two spouses and three grandchildren. Apparently, this is not uncommon there. They got together and sold 3 properties to manage the significant, and expensive, investment there. There are sure glad that they’re out of Alberta and are shaking their heads at the Kenney UCP mess here.

    Reply
  10. Bruce Turton

    December 18th, 2020

    So, with that many people in a closed space not wearing masks, one might consider there was a lot of the ‘Gish Gallop’ going on, since, according to the spin flack, they were unmasked when speaking!!!
    Most disheartening to hear, if only for a few seconds before the MUTE button is pressed, the premier and health minister coming up with such magnanimous verbiage directed toward those who toil in health care. How in any way can they square this with the continuing explosion of the systems within which those courageous people work (including their despair that is never acknowledged by these same politicos).

    Reply
  11. Janna

    December 18th, 2020

    Interestingly, sound waves travel through masks. They don’t need to be removed to make it possible to speak.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    December 18th, 2020

    The UCP sure doesn’t follow their own advice very well, do they? No wonder why things are as bad as they are with Covid-19 in Alberta. Since vaccines won’t be available to the general public in Alberta for months, I suspect things will get worse. I don’t think the UCP will have any excuses by then. What weak talk will the UCP give when another anti mask rally happens in Calgary, this weekend?

    Reply
  13. jerrymacgp

    December 18th, 2020

    “Ms. Allard, of course, has already been infected with the virus, and has apparently recovered, so presumably she’s not likely to be infectious.”. In fact, the jury appears to be still out on this point: every communicable disease or public health expert I’ve heard or read has stated there is insufficient evidence that clinical infection with SARS-CoV-2 confers lasting immunity. So, Ms Allard — whose constituency is the new urban Grande Prairie riding immediately adjacent to the one in which I live — may very well have been infectious and spreading virus to those around her.

    As for “just an influenza“, COVID-19 has now killed more Albertans than the past 10 years of flu put together.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      December 19th, 2020

      JERRYMACGP: It has been noted in media outlets that Covid-19 has mutated. Earlier this year, it was reported this year that Covid-19 has mutated. Recently, it was reported that it has happened again, right after a vaccine for Covid-19 was found. What do you think will happen because of this?

      Reply
      • jerrymacgp

        December 22nd, 2020

        @ANONYMOUS: viruses mutate, and the more they spread, the faster this happens; viral mutations happen with reproduction, and the more a virus spreads, the more reproduction happens to enable mutation. But whether those mutations are clinically significant varies widely. Let’s look at vaccines, for example. The influenza vaccine has to be rejigged every year due to viral mutations and multiple strains of the influenza virus that mix & match every year, rendering each season’s flu shot at least partially ineffective for the following season. However, many other viral vaccines — the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, to name one — remain effective over the long haul with minimal adjustment.

        How all of this will transpire with the SARS-CoV-2 virus — the causative agent behind COVID-19 — is as yet unknown. The virus itself is new, so we don’t have the years or decades of data to draw on that we do with most other viral illnesses. For example, we don’t, we can’t, know if the new UK-centred variant of the novel coronavirus will be covered by the new vaccines currently being rushed out the door. Maybe it will … maybe it won’t. It’s genuinely too soon to know. (There’s a media report that the CEO of BioNTech, partner with Pfizer, thinks their product will work on the new variant, but I think that’s baseless speculation in the absence of data).

        Reply
  14. All..in

    December 18th, 2020

    A perfect example of the lack of respect ..Jason ‘the Con Man’ Kenney and the ‘bird brains’ have for Dr. Hinshaw in particular,and the rest of our medical people in this province

    Reply
  15. Caron

    December 18th, 2020

    My dear old grandmother used to say the fascists were so arrogant you could crack lice on their chests.

    Reply
  16. Keith McClary

    December 18th, 2020

    “25 charges under the Public Health Act have been handed out since Nov. 25 after a provincial state of emergency was declared.

    A handful of $50 and $1,200 tickets have been issued to organizers of demonstrations protesting COVID-19 restrictions, including three since last weekend’s events with two more to come from those, say city officials.”

    Will it help them to take that photo to court?

    Reply
  17. Just Me

    December 19th, 2020

    This is one leaky government.

    First, leaked audio recordings reveal a complete disregard for Dr. Hinshaw’s advice. (This could have been guessed, however.)

    Then, some information about the UCP government’s accounting for COVID cases. (Still waiting on that R-Value. But I guess the one on Twitter will have to do.)

    Now, cabinet ministers are posting damning information on their Twitter feeds about Kenney’s own questionable conduct.

    I believe this has all the makings of a palace revolt.

    The Angry Midget has managed to completely alienate his core voters and everyone else who is gunning for him. At a time when Kenney needs all the friends he can find, he’s making a bumper crop of enemies. Even John “the other Rosa Parks” Carpay has turned on him and, rumour has it, wants his head on a platter. And to make things even worse, Rebelmedia’s own Shelia Gunn-Reid, who it is rumoured is not be a real person, has started to do a series of reports of Albertans who are defying the Kenny’s restrictions and keeping their businesses open. When Ezra Levant has decided that Kenny is bad for Alberta, you know things have changed.

    Get popcorn; it’s getting good.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      December 19th, 2020

      SGR is a real person. I have met her. DJC

      Reply
      • Athabascan

        December 20th, 2020

        My condolences for the horrible experience that must have been.

        Reply

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