Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at his 9.5-minute speaking appearance yesterday evening (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

Jason Kenney steps up to rostrum, announces new COVID-19 restrictions, then skedaddles

Posted on May 05, 2021, 1:34 am
8 mins

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney stepped up to the rostrum at his hastily scheduled 6:02 p.m. “news conference” yesterday, reeled off what he proposes to do about the fact Alberta now has the worst collective case of COVID-19 in North America, and skedaddled. 

The whole affair took roughly nine and a half minutes, if you don’t count the two minutes of elevator music on the government website before the picture came on. 

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, the former premier of Alberta, at her news conference last night (Photo: Screenshot of Opposition video).

Since no questions were permitted, you can’t really call it a news conference. It was more like a photo opportunity with a soundtrack. Let’s call it a live-streamed announcement. Instead of sticking around to answer journalists’ questions, Mr. Kenney hurried away to the more congenial and controlled circumstances of a Facebook Live session with his supporters. 

Trouble was, when the dust from the premier’s swift departure had dissipated like so many wisps of smoke as he dashed away, puzzled viewers were left scratching their heads about what he’d really announced. Some things were clear. Others, not so much. 

The premier seemed to have two principal messages. 

First, to the silent majority of Albertans furious about aggressive COVID deniers endangering their lives and frightened by the rapid spread of variants of concern when days ago the premier was promising us the best summer ever, that the government is taking serious measures to get this disease under control in jig time. 

Second, to his COVID-denying base and the 17 or 18 members of his United Conservative Party’s COVID Denial Caucus, don’t worry about it, you’ll have to be bad repeatedly before this affects you. 

No one will be satisfied. 

So, all post-secondary classes will move online, retail stores will be allowed to stay open, but capacity will be capped at 10 per cent of fire code, worship services will be limited to 15 people, and funerals, go figure, to 10. This begins today and will last three weeks. 

Former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

All students from kindergarten to Grade 12 will study at home until May 25. That commences Friday.

Hair salons and tattoo parlours will have to close, ditto fitness studios; restaurants and bars will be restricted to take out and delivery, and doctors, dentists, accountants and lawyers will see clients by appointment only (so what else is new?). That commences at midnight Sunday, late enough to save the Mother’s Day restaurant trade, although at what cost remains to be seen. 

The basic fine for violating public health measures will double to $2,000.

The details are found in the government’s press release. 

But what, you’re wondering, about enforcement? “We are introducing a tougher enforcement protocol for repeat offenders,” Mr. Kenney said in his announcement. (Emphasis added.) What about first time offenders? We don’t know. Remember, there were no questions. 

What’s more, there will be exceptions. “These stepped-up measures will take effect province-wide, with the exception of a few communities that have very low levels of spread,” Mr. Kenney said. 

Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“These new measures apply to all Albertans, businesses, organizations and service providers in municipalities or areas with more than 50 cases per 100,000 people and with 30 or more active cases,” the government’s news release said. 

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, the province’s former NDP premier, held her own live-streamed news conference soon after Mr. Kenney’s fleeting appearance. 

“Albertans, you’re frustrated, you’re confused, you’re angry and you’re scared, and this announcement should have helped, but I’m afraid it has mostly just created more questions,” she said.

She assailed the premier for not making the restrictions apply to the entire province. “First and foremost, do the measures that were announced … apply across the province, or are they still being applied on the regional basis that was put forward last week? If it’s the latter, it’s a profile of failure. The regions described last week were based not on evidence or science, but on the location of UCP MLAs.”

Restrictions, she added, “must apply consistently across the province to be effective.”

Moreover, Ms. Notley said, “by making false promises and creating false hopes, he’s setting up further challenges and disappointments in the weeks to come.”

Health Minister Tyler Shandro (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

As for the premier’s statement that only repeat offenders would be prosecuted, Ms. Notley called it “a declaration that invites more non-compliance. … He’s just given people permission to offend at least once.”

Unlike the premier, Ms. Notley entertained questions from reporters, telling them it sounded as if Mr. Kenney and his advisors “are making it up on the fly.” It’s hard to dispute that assessment.

Former Wildrose Leader Brian Jean also got in brisk shot at Mr. Kenney. “When a politician rejects the people whose votes he campaigned for, it is always his fault and never theirs,” Mr. Jean said in a post on Facebook. “Albertans have lost confidence in you.

“Those who didn’t vote for you have concluded that you are even worse than they feared,” said the second-place finisher in the 2017 UCP leadership race, which was marred by accusations of cheating by Mr. Kenney’s supporters. “Those who did vote for you, know that you are not governing as they would have hoped.”

Judging from last night’s government news release, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Education Minister Adriana La Grange, and Justice Minister Kaycee Madu remain in the premier’s corner. Those three, along with Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw and the premier, will have yet another news conference this morning.

That will be the third in as many days, all on the same topic. 

24 Comments to: Jason Kenney steps up to rostrum, announces new COVID-19 restrictions, then skedaddles

  1. Anonymous

    May 5th, 2021

    The UCP have really fumbled on their handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta, big time. I don’t see things getting better in Alberta, but worse. At some point, Albertans better wake up and see how the UCP are harming Albertans with their reckless policies. It may already be too late.

    Reply
  2. Dave

    May 5th, 2021

    Its hard to believe even in the last few weeks, some in our local mainstream media were still pondering that Kenney might get through this and make a political comeback.

    I suppose one should never say its over until it actually is, but this “news conference” does little to inspire confidence in Kenney. It is probably best for him that he avoided questions to scurry back to the Sky Palace bunker where he can contemplate the political walls closing in on him.

    As the old saying sort of goes, you meet the same people on the way down as on the way up, so don’t mess them over. On that note, Brian Jean seems quite eager to share his thoughts about Kenney at this point, doesn’t he?

    Perhaps the news conference tomorrow will go better for the Kenney crew, although I doubt it. After today it seems to me our dear leader is one step closer to his political reckoning.

    Reply
  3. Chompy McGruff

    May 5th, 2021

    Kenney seemed to stumble over every sentence he uttered, I would speculate that this is because he had to speak the script and the script doesn’t reflect reality (like trying to read the word “red” written in green). It’s hard to keep your words flowing when you know that you must keep up the lies that you’ve been declaring that are completely for your political benefit and not a reflection of anything real.

    My biggest irritant, if that’s a strong enough word, is reserved for Dr. Hinshaw. She took an oath to do no harm, but she is acting as a politician, not a doctor, all the while using the letters after her name as a shield against criticism. If she is giving the government advice that has brought us to the point we are at then she is completely incompetent and should have resigned as soon as she realized that her advice was causing many extra deaths. If she is giving the government advice that they are ignoring then she should have resigned as soon as she realized that she is being used to give cover to politicians and not as a medical expert, and she should have resigned as soon as she realized that this was causing many extra deaths. Her oath was clear, as is her violations of it.

    Reply
    • Guy

      May 5th, 2021

      Thanks Chompy for stating so clearly what my own thoughts are regarding Dr. Hinshaw. At this point I don’t know what her role is anymore but she appears to me as well to be more of a politician than a doctor. I don’t know what the power dynamic is behind the scenes or how these decisions about public health restrictions are being made but I think it should be clear to all by now that they are not being made with the health and well-being of Albertans in mind.

      Reply
    • Mike J Danysh

      May 5th, 2021

      I think that, early in the pandemic, Dr. Hinshaw was ALLOWED to be effective by Kenney. After the first wave receeded, she was shoved into the background and her advice increasingly ignored. By now, she’s trying to “guide” the government but she can’t do much when they refuse to listen.

      As a doctor, she may now be torn between professional ethics (e.g. “First do no harm”) and professional loyalty to her employer–and I recall hearing that’s actually mandated by provincial labour laws, or some such.

      Sadly for all, Dr. Hinshaw has been trapped–possibly by herself–into a no-win situation. She can’t criticize The Boss in public, and he won’t listen in private. Maybe she feels her only choice left is to hang on and keep trying to influence Kenney and his cabinet.

      My own feeling: “Good luck with that.” She’d be better off publicly and noisily resigning.

      Reply
      • Chompy McGruff

        May 8th, 2021

        I appreciate that you wish to give her some consideration that she may find herself in a “rock and a hard place” situation, but you cannot be compelled to be employed at any specific occupation in Alberta, it’s completely voluntary, and there is no legislation that compels her to maintain employment that has already cost many lives with no indication that this will change. Anyone who continues in that employment, voluntarily, is as guilty as the premier, especially if they had already taken an oath not to engage in a deadly activity.

        There have been several MLA’s that have made their opposition to the premier well known and the only result has been that their priorities have been made policy. The supposed “decent” politicians who say nothing accomplish nothing. There are provincial politicians who are screaming about the priorities of a small minority of people, not about their rights and freedoms but about their priorities, and they have commanded the direction of the provincial response to covid 19 since the first wave.

        Dr. Hinshaw is either agreeable to the policies and directions of the provincial government or she is not, but there are no indications that she doesn’t fully support the approach taken by Jason Kenney. It is amazing to me how often the perpetrators of disaster are given deference if there is a figurehead to act as the lightning bolt.

        Reply
  4. pogo

    May 5th, 2021

    ..”and funerals, go figure, to 10″ Well I died laughing, so please cut Premier “_________” and his dwindling imperial guard a break eh!

    Reply
  5. Bob Raynard

    May 5th, 2021

    My wife and I are two of the many people David alluded to that are very frustrated by the lack of enforcement that has been happening, or, more precisely, not happening. I found the following paragraphs, copied from a CBC story yesterday, especially discouraging:

    Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi criticised the premier for the conflicting messages on Monday, as well as saying he’s finding it “incredibly frustrating” that tickets being given to people for breaching COVID-19 public health orders are being thrown out in the courts. Calgary police Chief Mark Neufeld confirmed Monday that the province had asked the police to not clog the already overburdened courts by writing too many tickets for COVID-19 violators.
    According to the province, from March 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, there were 576 tickets filed in provincial court under the Public Health Act. Of those, 38 per cent are still before the court, 12 per cent resulted in conviction or were paid before reaching court, and 10 per cent were quashed or otherwise resolved.

    Is ‘overburden the courts’ a dog whistle for don’t ticket our base? That case can certainly be made.

    The court statistics, which unfortunately only add up to 60%, are concerning as well. With only 12% convicted, it appears that organizations like Rebel Media* and Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, who actively encourage fighting pubic health charges (and are able to offer tax receipts to their donors) are having a serious effect on our attempts to enforce public health laws. The charitable status of these organizations really needs to be reviewed.

    *Donations to Rebel Media are not tax deductible, but our friend Ezra has set up a charitable organization called The Democracy Fund that apparently provides lawyers to fight public health law violations.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-covid-coronavirus-may-4-1.6012977

    Reply
  6. Carlos

    May 5th, 2021

    The circus continues and it seems there is no end to this charade. In the meantime people die of covid and hospitals are overwhelmed with patients.
    For the UCP that does not matter after all they are just paid labour and should take the load, that is what they are there for but in the meantime he closes the legislature because it is too dangerous for his kind. Monkey.
    The end of this will be agonizing and I do hope it will be eye for an eye for this idiot.

    Reply
  7. Abs

    May 5th, 2021

    Unlike the Brits, we don’t have to travel to Wales for a haircut during Covid restrictions. We can just drive to Drumheller and a multitude of other communities, where Step Zero level restrictions will be in effect, whatever that means.
    The fly in the ointment is that travel outside of one’s own community was not restricted or discouraged in any way. So barbers and hair salons outside restricted zones had better get ready to extend their hours and bring on full staffing levels as of the weekend.

    And go try out a restaurant in these communities at Step Zero, too, if you want. It’s perfectly legal, although you might want to ask if it is wise.

    Good news for the anti-mask protestors planning to take over a downtown grocery store in Calgary tomorrow, too. It looks like you might have a “get one free” protest card with this announcement, but of course no one knows for sure, so take that under advisement.

    Looks like well be riding this wave for a long, long time. Hang ten, dudes!

    Reply
  8. Abs

    May 5th, 2021

    Any medical experts here? Wondering if Ontario’s sudden spike in Covid deaths can be attributed to enactment of triage protocols in hospitals there. TIA.

    Reply
  9. Just Me

    May 5th, 2021

    Dr. Hinshaw got her bangs trimmed, so I guess Kenney’s serious this time?

    Looks like there is a the faint hope that, after three weeks, there will be a decline in cases and fatalities, leading to Kenney to declare victory, announce that he is the greatest leader ever, push for Stage Three opening, and demand that PMJT resign immediately.

    Kenney’s World. A theme park like no other.

    Reply
  10. brett

    May 5th, 2021

    The very last thing that Kenney wants to do is answer questions from reporters. He has no credible answers. He is running out of people to blame.

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      May 5th, 2021

      “I reject the premise of your question.”

      There, Brett, is how Mr. Kenney would have answered every question. Time saved for everyone.

      Reply
  11. Just Me

    May 5th, 2021

    “Jason Kenney steps up to rostrum…”

    You mean steps onto the step platform behind the rostrum?

    The Crying & Angry Midget needs his embellishment…and gaslighting.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      May 5th, 2021

      Correct. That’s what I mean. DJC

      Reply
      • Just Me

        May 5th, 2021

        Then I take it you are familiar with the “stool guy” and the “tickle trunk”?

        During Kenney’s tenure in the federal cabinet, he employed a special assistant to *manage* his platform and place it at the podiums for events.

        As for the tickle trunk, one of Kenney’s stranger accessories during his tenure as Immigration Minister, it was a roadcase that contained an assortment of ethnic costumes, from Mandarin robes to Nehru jackets, and maybe a Sombarro and a poncho as well. (Nothing says racist like assuming cultural fashion stereotypes are normal clothing.) Think of Kenney as a weirder version of “Mr. Dressup”.

        Reply
  12. tom

    May 5th, 2021

    “I reject the entire premise of questions.”

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      May 6th, 2021

      I reject the question of rejecting the entire premise of the questions.

      Reply
  13. Keith McClary

    May 5th, 2021

    He’s back this morning. Everybody is now eligible (to make an appointment), except younger people will have to wait longer.

    As for enforcement, he is forming a committee to develop protocols. Not a “blue ribbon panel”, though.

    Reply
  14. ema

    May 5th, 2021

    “SKEDADDLES”…what a fabulous word to describe our weak and cowardly premier departing!! Personally, I refused to tune in both last night and this morning, as he attempts to bring his harem and cadre of inept ministers to the fore again and in front of media.

    Most Albertans have finally seen through his false blaming of PM Trudeau and the vaccine availability. The relevant question now is, what will Jason do? The trial for Coates is on hold for a few weeks, so he can’t keep avoiding the fact that he failed to shut down Grace Life and the Calgary police have this gem as reported on CBC “However, Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld told committee members that public protests are not prohibited by the province’s restrictions on outdoor gatherings. And he said the province has asked the police to not clog the courts by writing too many tickets.” Wow!

    So Jason needs to skedaddle from Alberta, where he and his supporting ideologues have created a total shambles, in their abject failure to govern during a major pandemic. Instead Jason chose to appease his base and now we have the resulting dire consequences.

    Reply
  15. Scotty on Denman

    May 5th, 2021

    Scoring the Kenneydemic for Little Red Riding Hoods and Big Blue Riding Hoods:

    Flight of the Mumble Bee

    Might of the Fumble Bee

    Bite of the Bumble Flea

    Reply
  16. Mickey Rat

    May 6th, 2021

    It looks like Ms. Notley has let her hair grow a bit longer during the pandemic…

    Reply

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