Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at yesterday’s COVID-19 briefing (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

It sort of makes sense that a fellow who gambled away $1.3 billion of other people’s money on the U.S. presidential horserace last summer would like the idea of a lottery to get vaccine skeptical Albertans to roll up their sleeves for a COVID-19 jab in sufficient numbers to justify opening the Calgary Stampede next month.

So it shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney raised the possibility at yesterday’s COVID-19 briefing of a big cash lottery for lucky Albertans who sign up to get vaccinated.

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

“I asked the Department of Health to come forward with options on incentives, including a possible lottery for people getting vaccinated, and , uh, work is ongoing with that,” said Mr. Kenney, North America’s biggest loser in the high-stakes 2020 U.S. election if you don’t count Donald Trump and a few dozen of his supporters caught fomenting an insurrection in Washington on Jan. 6.

“There’s a lot of creative suggestions,” Mr. Kenney cheerfully revealed to an inquiring reporter. “I know that when Ohio led the pack on this, about three, four weeks back, there was a lot of, um, ridicule directed towards them, but they’ve actually seen, they saw an immediate and huge uptick in vaccination rates, particularly amongst parts of the population who right across North America have shown fairly low vaccine uptake rates.

“So I’ve asked that a little bit more research be done, uhhh, on that,” he went on, saying that he expects Health Minister Tyler Shandro “will be coming back to our emergency management cabinet committee with options on that, uh, next Monday.

I don’t know about you, Dear Readers, but listening to the recording of the news conference, it’s hard to shake the feeling Mr. Kenney was just wingin’ it. 

Still, it was disconcerting to realize Mr. Kenney was using what amounts to a harm-reduction argument to justify the idea of giving citizens who don’t want to take a life-saving vaccine a chance to win a big wad of cash provided by taxpayers. Anything to get the Stampede open, I guess. 

“We just wanna make sure that the cost of that would be justified by, um, the uptake in vaccines, in part by observing how this has worked in the U.S.,” he explained. (Emphasis added.)

Remember, this is the leader of the party that’s always been opposed to harm-reduction strategies when the harm is being done by narcotic drugs, which killed more than 1,300 Albertans in 2020, compared with about 1,200 who died from COVID-19 in the same year. 

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“We see predictably low vaccine uptake amongst younger people, younger men in particular,” he told the reporter. “And I don’t think that’s necessarily because of vaccine misinformation. I think that healthy younger people just generally imagine that they’re less vulnerable to disease like this. And they’re right about that! But what we need to persuade them of is that they have a social responsibility to their parents, to the vulnerable, to the broader community.” (Emphasis added.)

“And if one way of getting their attention to make that booking, or come in for the jab at a walk-in clinic, is to enter them in some kind of an incentive draw, then maybe it’s worth doing,” he said. “So we haven’t made final decisions but we’re giving it a serious look.”

One wonders what that supposed tax watchdogs at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation would make of this? Probably nothing, given what the organization has had to say about that $1.3-billion their former CEO gambled away. 

It was at this point that Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw stepped in to say that “if there is a choice to offer that, anyone who has their first dose can enter, so please don’t wait if you’re making a firstdose appointment. You are going to be eligible if a lottery goes ahead.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, the horse on which Mr. Kenney bet and lost $1.3 billion (Photo: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons).

But … wait! Does this mean that if you’ve been a good citizen and already received or signed up for your second dose that you won’t qualify for the big cash payout? Just asking.

And what will be done to protect Albertans from the scamsters like those fleecing Californians by telling them they’ve just won the state’s vaxx lottery and if they’ll just hand over their bank account numbers and passwords the money will be deposited right away?

Even more Californians will likely get such calls next Tuesday when the state is set to hand out 10 $1.5-million prizes.

Sticking with the premier’s approach to harm reduction, perhaps we could expand this program to cut health care costs by, say, using cash prizes to encourage those who don’t particularly enjoy their annual prostate exam! 

Inevitably, I suppose, Mr. Kenney soon moved on to a stirring defence of the big risk he took last year betting on Mr. Trump’s success in November. 

Responding to a softball question from one of the far-right online publication he is not threatening to sue, Mr. Kenney argued that the big gamble on TC Energy Corp.’s ability to complete the Keystone XL Pipeline was a sensible response to those “foreign-funded green-left pressure groups.”

“Had we not stepped forward with this investment I can tell you TC Energy would have pulled the plug on its project in the fall of 2019,” he said. (If you wonder how that would have been a bad thing, I can’t offer any help.)

“We believe that at certain strategic moments it’s necessary, if we are going to have a future for our energy workers, it’s necessary that sometimes the government steps in to ‘de-risk’ projects that have become too risky in the capital markets.” (Again, one wonders what the CTF would make of this paean to governments picking winners and losers.)

“And there’s pipe in the ground,” he concluded. “And who knows what’s going to happen in three years.” (Uh-oh! Well, looking ahead, don’t say you weren’t warned!)

There’s just nothing like a Jason Kenney news conference for cognitive dissonance. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Its like Kenney can’t help himself. Just when you think he might snap back to reality, he retreats back to the Sky Palace bunker and its all spring time for Keystone XL again.

    Ok, I suppose after a long career in politics he has become quite comfortable in his self created vision of the world, but isn’t this too comfortable? Yes, a political leader needs to have a vision and things he believes in, but you can’t will the world to your fantasy just by nice sounding words. As painful as it is, one needs to be able to grasp reality and admitt when you have blown it and move on.

    This continuing bluster on Keystone XL just shows that Kenney doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get it. He seems determined to want to be a modern day version of Don Quixote.

    Yeah maybe a lottery could help encourage more vaccinations. It is a practical idea just like the harm reduction approaches the UCP generally treats with moralistic distain and yes those that have already been vaccinated should definitely qualify too. Too bad Kenney’s moments of such lucidity are brief before he slips back into the comfort of his delusions.

    1. I was about to quip that Kenney is like a cross between the movie character Gordon Gecko of “Greed is good” infamy (played by Michael Douglas in “The Firm”) and televangelist Oral Roberts—or maybe even the devil’s evil twin Kenneth Copeland…

      …until I read your comment, that is.

      Now I’m a seer of the lighter: evinced by his apparent delusion that an antiquated age still exists but seemingly unable to help himself from uttering pithy asides that in fact prove his insincerity, Kenney is obviously the illegitimate child of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

      Thank you, Master.

  2. Maybe these lotteries could be funded with the winnings from Mr. Kenney’s covid-related lawsuits.

  3. So let me get this – if you get vaccinated as everyone should you get all the condescending speeches from your highness the Knight of Odin but if you choose not too you get your name in for a lottery.
    Hmmm as usual the UCP is on the wrong side of common sense.
    Here is a suggestion – those who chose not to get vaccinated will pay for their treatment if they get COVID-19?
    Does that make more sense?

    1. Sounds fair, and if you get Covid and DID get the vaccine you pay too because you didn’t do your own due diligence and now you’ve genetically modified your physiology to further burden medical costs and taxpayer wallets from taking an experimental concoction. BUT, you got a million dollars if you won and thats some consolation.

  4. According to the USask

    in Alberta only 58.3% of all people have received a single dose of vaccine. So how kenney thinks he’s closing in on 70% is a mystery to me. Sure, you’re going strong on second doses, as people with a brain are taking advantage of getting fully vaccinated in the lull. So I can understand bribing the hesitant to come forward and getting a first dose. The people who refuse to get vaccinated in your dystopia aren’t going to come forward no matter what.

    First dose coverage
    BC 65.7%
    SK 57.6%
    MB 59.5%
    ON 62.6%
    PQ 66.4%
    NB 64.6%
    NS 63.0%
    NL 63.6%

    The only provinces below 60% are predictably, the prairie provinces. And kenney’s opening up based on nothing really tangible. As usual.

    1. Somebody must be using ‘new’ or ‘discovery’ math. The UCP can use this as evidence that the curriculum must be changed to go back to the basics.

  5. Ralphbucks! Ralphbucks are back!

    It’s Kenney’s way of bribing one lucky person with a lot of taxpayer money to forget about the huge wad he blew on a very foolish investment in KXL that was doomed from the start. (Perhaps throwing money to the wind spawned a mini property boom in places like Hanna, but that is of little consequence to the rest of the province.)

    Hey, Ralphbucks worked for Ralph, but that is because everyone got $400. Why bribe people who have already been more than 67 percent compliant with vaccination? Why bribe people who are eagerly stepping up to the plate for their second vaccinations, thanks to an impending super-spreader festival of sorts that has been foisted upon a city, thanks to Jason Kenney himself?

    The only thing Jason Kenney needs to do to ensure high rates of vaccination is to continue being Jason Kenney, and “managing” the pandemic the same way he has done it from the beginning. His “too little, too late” and “too soon, too much” approaches have given us wave two and wave three. Sensible Albertans see the writing on the wall for wave four. Impending hospitalization, long Covid and death seem to be incentive enough for these folks to get the jab. And they won’t forget this, or the $1.3B BB blown on pie in the sky, not even if one of them gets rich quick. Scammers gotta scam.

  6. Tell him that the NDP in Sask are doing the same lottery offer though for only $35,000 and seehow he responds to that.

    1. Dave: That just might cure him of the idea right there. To be clear, the Saskatchewan NDP is proposing the idea, as they don’t have the power to implement it, and in the account I read, the sum they suggested was $25,000. DJC

      1. You may or may not remember my admonishment directed toward Brian Mason and Rachel Notley. That’s fair play. She’s in it now and I’m buoyed by that! So for our NDP? I Have a song.. Don’t spare the horses!

        1. At Pogo beating up on the NDP when those of us from the world of finance know she was on the right track to get us out of this financial mess these phoney conservatives under Klein, Stelmach and Redford put in doesn’t make you look very smart.
          Maybe you can give a list of all the horrible things she did while she was only trying to fix the mess she inherited, liked building the 55 schools we were short of. While you are at it maybe you would like to explain why you are supporting a well know Liberal, turned Reformer in Jason Kenney who has never been a true conservative and is deliberately trying to destroy what our conservative hero Peter Lougheed created for us?

      2. Interviewed on CBC’s The House, Saskatchewan NDP leader Dr Ryan Meili — who, by the way, is also a family physician — stated he came up with the $25,000 figure because that’s the cost of one day in an ICU in Saskatchewan.

  7. More people died from the opoid crisis than covid. They shut the economy down for one and barely mention the other. It is straight out of Catch-22.

    ‘ People of means should have more votes than people without means ‘

    I never realized how deadly Fentanyl is . I saw a report that the Americans seized 1200 Kg’s of the drug at the Southern border. Enough to kill every man,woman and child in the US of A. Twice. Tell me that’s not true. It is also contaminating the regular drug supply ( cocaine,heroin,oxy,etc.)

    Also from Catch 22:

    ” Some men are born medicore, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them”

    With Jason Kenney it was all three.

    1. ” Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them”

      I have never read a better description of the Alberta population.

  8. I have wondered over the years if Premier Crying & Screaming Midget has a gambling problem?

    I mean, given recent revelations, it seems that he’s diving into his mountain of cough syrup too much. Now, he’s talking about cash-giveways for getting vaccinated. Personal issues manifest as policy, what could possibly go wrong?

    Gaslighting is quite the talent, and those who are good at it are very good at it. But then there are those who gaslight so much they, somehow, manage to gaslight themselves. There’s a word of caution that should always be heeded: drug dealers should never use their own stuff. I have a feeling that Kenney has never seen the movie Scarface (The remake) because it’s an outstanding cautionary tale about the obsessive pursuit of the American dream and the fall of a badly flawed man. You could almost call it the Jason Kenney Story, but I think Al Pacino might be the taller of the two.

    Maybe someone should remind Kenney that his relentless downplaying of the pandemic for months emboldened certain social elements (wingnuts) to live out their Qanon fantasies in real life. Apparently, Kenney thinks this group of the “vaccine-hesistant” can be easily dealt by offering them lotteries and prizes in exchange for getting their first jab. Those of the conspiratorial mindset would be inclined to believe that Kenney is bribing them, c/o the New World Order to take their Nanotech vaccine.

    Yeah, Kenney is truly a man without a clue, as though he just fell out of the cocoon into a world that doesn’t work the way Newt Gingrich said it would. He’s truly a babe in the woods.

  9. How about a lottery for Albertans that promises Kenney will resign if we vaccinate 100,000 in 2 weeks. The line ups would be a mile (1.6 Kms) long for the next 14 days.

  10. I wonder if the government proposes to announce the names of the winners, the Western Canada Lottery Corporation does, to assure us everything is on the up and up? If so, will those who want to play have to sign a consent form, as Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max winners must do to get their money? Will children be allowed to sign? And what about those who have already had their second shot? Can they go down to the drugstore with proof of vaccination and apply to be entered in the draw? Or will it all be a secret to protect the “privacy” of the winners? In which case it would be an excellent way to launder provincial tax money into UCP donations.

  11. A cash reward for submitting to a prostate exam sounds like a great idea to me. Having survived a prostate biopsy I would have eagerly accepted enough cash to purchase a 40 of Jameson to help ease the lingering discomfort.

  12. Premier Kenney (quoted in the article): “If we are going to have a future for our energy workers, it’s necessary that sometimes the government steps in to de-risk projects that have become too risky in the capital markets.”

    If the rest of us are going to have a future, we need to stop building pipelines, stop subsidizing them, stop de-risking them, and stop investing in them. Plan a just transition for our fossil fuel workers and a sustainable future for all of us.
    Invest in the solution, not the problem.

    Kenney underlines the case for pipeline opponents: New export pipelines that enable oilsands expansion are incompatible with climate action. New fossil fuel infrastructure locks us into a fossil fuel future.
    Is the oil industry’s future more important than ours?

  13. “One wonders what that supposed tax watchdogs at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation would make of this?”
    Watchdog singular? Or those in exchange for that?

  14. “Had we not stepped forward with this investment I can tell you TC Energy would have pulled the plug on its project in the fall of 2019,”

    And we would still have our $1.3 billion. When do we find out how much of the $7 billion loan guarantee we are stuck for?

    1. AbVax Lotto is Kenney-Klein’s version of pelting the homeless at a shelter with pocket change. Soon he’ll be yelling at us to get jobs and — a 2021 update — stop drinking cheap whisky! Don’t worry about the loan guarantees. He could take a page from the great Soupy Sales by telling the kiddies to mail the green pieces of paper from their parents’ wallets to #ableg. Except wallets contain cards nowadays, and what is “mail?

      1. Abs: I haven’t thought about Soupy Sales for years. Thanks for the memory. Where’s Fang when you need him? DJC

  15. So after much deliberation and the breakage of many scales meant to balance a description, I have arrived upon a song so perfectly suited to Premier Jason Kenney that his suits will fail to make him look swollen and filled to the brim!

  16. The UCP are becoming more and more desperate, and want to do anything to hold onto their grasp of power. Really pathetic.

  17. Rather than a silly lottery just come clean on what the plan is for the so called vaccine passports? I think it is pretty obvious this is where we are heading. There is going to be a portion of the population that will never take it and a portion that take whatever you tell them to, convincing the rest should be the focus. The condescending letters from on high with phrases like vaccines are safe and effective are unhelpful, what is being pushed is very different from normal vaccines.
    If they just state what rights will be taken away from those who refuse then it would give everyone a clearer picture. The trust level is so low right now with public health and politicians largely because they keep moving the goal posts. Give us a straight answer and quite feeding us a line of BS.
    Maybe the 9 new pharma billionaires that were created from the mass vaccination programs could help, one could always ask I suppose.

  18. Wow.

    $3 million dollars available for three vaccination lotteries, as other prizes.

    Beaverton headline …

    Jason Kenney begins new career as a game show host.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.