Alberta Politics
Health Minister Tyler Shandro, in reflecting sunglasses, comforting his wife and son after the Canada Day commotion (Photo: Twitter/Helen Pike, CBC).

There’s schadenfreude and irony aplenty in UCP outrage at anti-vaxxers’ Canada Day invective in Calgary

Posted on July 05, 2021, 1:21 am
9 mins

Most reasonable people would agree that getting up close and personal while shouting at a politician enjoying the sunshine with their spouse and young children on a national holiday is not an appropriate way to protest a government policy with which you disagree.

Admit it, though, there was just a just a tiny tingle of schadenfreude when you realized that the recipient of this rude treatment by a gaggle of anti-vaccine lunatics on Canada Day in Calgary was a politician who once marched down the street to a critic’s house and shouted at the man in front of his children. 

A screenshot of the video of Jason Kenney posted by Matt Wolfe, the premier’s issues manager, in which voices can be heard heckling. As the picture shows, however, no one in the video seems to hear the hecklers (Photo: Twitter/Matt Wolf).

Moreover, the holiday excursion seems not to have been a mere family outing but a political event featuring none other than the minister’s boss, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. 

Still, most of us understand that two wrongs don’t make a right, and sincerely acknowledge the wisdom of that ancient if seldom very comforting aphorism. 

Yet the Canada Day commotion during which the small group of creeps associated with jailed Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston yelled at United Conservative Party Health Minister Tyler Shandro and his family is nevertheless rich in irony.

Much was made by media and politicos of all stripes about how anti-vaxxers shouting things like “lock Shandro up” upset Mr. Shandro’s wife and frightened his young children, which is certainly a good reason for condemning this kind of behaviour.

But nothing was mentioned in media coverage of the incident about how Mr. Shandro himself, accompanied by his wife, had done something quite similar last year when they marched down the street to berate a neighbour in front of his children for re-posting a critical meme on social media about a health benefits company they partly own.

Well, in fairness, Dr. Mukarram Zaidi’s kids were older than Mr. Shandro’s and, according to the Calgary physician and former Conservative volunteer, the minister did tell the boys to go inside because “they don’t want to listen to what is going to happen.” (They watched from the window with their mom instead.)

Nor did media coverage last week mention how the premier’s issues manager once trolled a Calgary physician critical of the UCP’s health care policies by publishing a photo showing her with her children, in addition to federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. The image was grabbed from one of her social media accounts. 

Former Conservative Party of Canada leadership candidate Chris Alexander grinning while a crowd chanted “lock ’er up” about Ms. Notley in 2016 (Photo: Screenshot of video).

Back in September 2020 no one in media picked up on the fact Matt Wolf’s tactic drew Dr. Jillian Ratti’s kids into the fray, as blogger Scott Harold Payne wrote at the time. (Like a lot of physicians sick of the UCP’s War on Doctors, Dr. Ratti has since left the province.)

“With any other government, this sort of behaviour would have resulted in serious consequences,” Mr. Payne observed. “But under Jason Kenney’s UCP, the most notable outcome was a deafening silence.”

As for UCP supporters’ outrage at the calls to “lock Shandro up,” apparently their memories did not extend back to 2016 when a mob of Trump-inspired Conservative opponents of Rachel Notley’s NDP government chanted “lock ’er up” about Alberta’s previous premier. 

In the Rebel Media video accompanying the CBC’s story of that protest at the Alberta Legislature, former Harper Government minister Chris Alexander, a candidate to lead the federal Conservatives at the time, can be seen grinning and waving his finger in time with the chant. Mr. Alexander later said he felt uncomfortable with the chanting, a claim that is hard to square with what the video shows. 

Former Alberta premier Rachel Notley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Last week, like most Alberta politicians on the left and right, Ms. Notley condemned the way Mr. Shandro was heckled.

Getting back to the brouhaha in Calgary, a couple of protesters from the anti-vaxx crowd also yelled at Mr. Kenney.

This prompted Mr. Wolf to exclaim via tweet, “If you want to get an idea of what kind of people were protesting the Premier and harassing the Health Minister’s family today, here they are repeatedly shouting ‘Nuremberg.’ #loons #ableg.”

Well, gee, I wonder where those #loons got that idea? 

Here’s Danielle Smith, former Wildrose Party leader, former broadcaster, and apparently still one of Premier Kenney’s favourite people, in the Calgary Herald last March: “We are now even having a national discussion of whether people should be forced to take one of the new mRNA vaccines, as if the Nuremberg trials never happened.” (Emphasis added.)

Two voices in the video linked to Mr. Wolf’s tweet can be heard shouting “Nuremberg,” “Kenney is a war criminal,” and “Kenney, nobody believes your shit.” While the voices are loud in the recording, no one in the video acts as if they heard them, including police officers providing security.

Former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith, an ally of Premier Kenney and apparently an inspiration to his anti-vaxx opponents (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

In another video of the same event published on Mr. Kenney’s Facebook account, the premier’s voice is clearly audible, but no heckling can be heard. That campaign-style video appears to have been professionally produced with taxpayer money by the government of Alberta, not by the UCP as one would have thought was appropriate. 

A video published the next day on Mr. Kenney’s Facebook stream shows the premier cheerfully on stage before a business group with none other than Danielle Smith.

Well, as I’ve said in this space before, this is the kind of thing that happens when a political party gets too close to its extremist fringe. 

Politicians like Mr. Kenney may start out imagining they own the fringe, but as we have seen frequently throughout history, including recently in the United States, sometimes the fringe ends up owning them.

Anyway, as Mr. Kenney himself once said of a controversial event to which he was more favourably disposed, “like any large public protest, there was likely a range of perspectives and motivations amongst those who attended.”

24 Comments to: There’s schadenfreude and irony aplenty in UCP outrage at anti-vaxxers’ Canada Day invective in Calgary

  1. Anonymous

    July 5th, 2021

    There is plenty of irony here and it shows. Tyler Shandro doesn’t like what happens to him and his wife and family, yet he did it himself to another family. In addition to this, Tyler Shandro was expecting Albertans to abide by the Covid-19 guidelines, and wasn’t doing it himself, on the Sky Palace, while pretending to be working. In any case, Tyler Shandro and the UCP want to delve further into the dark ways of private for profit healthcare in Alberta, which was instigated by their idol, Ralph Klein, and Albertans won’t be better off because of it. Why did Albertans fall for the UCP’s lies, just like they fell for the lies of Ralph Klein? No one is better off because of this.

    Reply
  2. Dave

    July 5th, 2021

    Yeah, this is what happens when a career politician tries to pretend to be a populist and stirs up all sort of anger and resentments, but those being stirred up realize the politician is a fake and is just using them.

    It doesn’t help that Kenney also has a bad case of do as I say, not as I do and often comes across as a lecturing, condescending professor who really believes he is smarter than everyone else.

    I suppose Kenney’s hope was that easing restrictions would appease the COVID denying crowd, but if anything it seems to have emboldened them. Kenney who on occasion has fancied himself to be a later day Churchill, might take a moment to remember what happened after that war was won – the voters booted him out! Of course, Kenney is neither as successful or popular as Churchill. As the immediate crisis passes, perhaps there will be more critical evaluation of the actions and missteps of Kenney and crew by those on all sides.

    In any event, when you constantly play nasty politics, sometimes it bites back and you get a taste of your own medicine.

    Reply
  3. Doug Hart

    July 5th, 2021

    Well said , Sir.

    Reply
  4. Bob Raynard

    July 5th, 2021

    “Back in September 2000 no one in media picked up on the fact Matt Wolf’s tactic drew Dr. Jillian Ratti’s kids into…”

    Did you mean 2020?

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      July 5th, 2021

      I did mean 2020. Thanks. DJC

      Reply
  5. tom in ontario

    July 5th, 2021

    A reprise of the old Bing Crosby tune “McNamara’s Band.” The no-vaxx mob may use these updated lyrics at their next anti-government get together.
    Call me anti-vaxxer I’m the leader of the band
    Goose steppin’ down the avenue delighting our loony fans
    Profanities ring out loud and clear, our chanting is simply grand
    Lock him up, lock him up, throw Kenney in the slam!

    Reply
  6. jerrymacgp

    July 5th, 2021

    “My readers are my editors” … OK, mission accepted: is this a typo? “Back in September 2000 no one in media picked up on the fact Matt Wolf’s tactic drew Dr. Jillian Ratti’s kids into the fray”.

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      July 5th, 2021

      Should be 2020. Thanks. DJC

      Reply
  7. Jim

    July 5th, 2021

    To fully understand this incident you have to look into the view of the people you label as anti-vaxxers. To hold this view you would have to buy into the notion that a large percentage of the population has been given, without proper informed consent, an experimental drug. You would then have to believe children are being targeted with said drug. Further you would have to believe that some are pushing for the ability for children to give consent. That’s just crazy everyone knows that mRNA technology has been around for years and the government can point to numerous long term safety studies. To think that the large for profit pharmaceutical companies don’t have our best interests in mind is nuts, corporations would never put profits over safety what if they get sued? I mean really only 9 people have entered the billionaire class as a result of the mass vaccination programs.

    Reply
    • Kang

      July 5th, 2021

      Jim: a fine example of irony. But remember that government is not monolithic. Sure the regulatory system is now almost entirely industry captured as is most of the scientific community. All you need do is look at the over 1,000 independent research positions the UCP has cut from the University of Alberta to see the truth of the latter. Welcome to fascist Alberta and soon to be fascist Canada. No army tanks in the street, just a steady erosion of independent and impartial publicly-funded institutions leaving a vacuum for the corporate sector to fill. You have every reason to be distrustful and I suspect the vile behavior of Kenney and Co further serves the corporate privatization agenda. After all if people like that can get elected, what does that say about the legitimacy of democracy and all it is dependent on?

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        July 6th, 2021

        KANG: You know it! I think you are right.

        Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      July 6th, 2021

      Mr Jim: I’m not smart enough to parse your comment to determine whether you’re a genuine anti-vax se, or just being sarcastic — after all, my Master’s degree is in Nursing, not logic, rhetoric, philosophy or English. So, let me make some points on science, vaccines, & “Big Pharma”.

      Firstly, mRNA vaccines aren’t truly new. They’ve been a focus of bench research since at least the 2003 SARS crisis, which was also a coronavirus — in fact, such a close relative of the COVID bug that its technical name is SARS-CoV-2. What was new was sequencing the genome of SARS-CoV-2 and using mRNA technology to trigger antibody production targeting the virus’s spike proteins. Once the manufacturers had vaccine candidates, they put them out for clinical trials, first Phase I — testing for safety; then Phase II, pilot-scale trials to test dosing & efficacy; then, finally, Phase III, the largest trials, giving either the vaccine or a placebo injection to thousands of volunteers in high-COVID prevalence areas of the works and seeing who got sick & who didn’t. Once the number of people getting sick reached a certain statistical threshold, they then unblinded their trial to see whether the people who got the placebo got sick at a significantly higher rate then those who got the vaccine, to less than a 5% probability that the result was by random chance.

      The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, while a viral vector agent rather than an mRNA one, went through a similar process, and viral vectors are an older, more established technology than mRNA.

      As for “Big Pharma” & drug company malfeasance, yes, this does happen from time to time. However when that does, it does not invalidate the science, because it is corrupting or co-opting the science, or obscuring negative or unfavourable results, that is at the root of the malfeasance, not the science itself. In other words, scientific misconduct does not mean the science is not valid, it only means the person or entity conducting it misbehaved.

      However, we have seen no evidence whatsoever that any such misconduct occurred during the development of the current COVID vaccine armamentarium. Given the amount of international scrutiny over this whole process, I sincerely doubt that this would have happened.

      Reply
      • Kang

        July 8th, 2021

        Jerry while I agree with your more informed assessment of the mRNA vaccines, (I’ve had both jabs long ago). That does not change the fact our regulatory system is unreliable because of private capture of the system to a greater or lessor degree. The UCP types see this as a feature, not a bug to push further privatization.
        They are a lot further down this road in the US and Oxycontin is yet another glaring example illustrating the truism that “a bought mind is a spoiled mind.”

        https://youtu.be/SkU75sBdjdU

        The same problems of industry capture of the regulatory system start at the universities and infect the regulation of almost everything from designing the electrical grid to consumer and agricultural chemicals, nutrition standards to building standards. In my view it will not end until the revolving door between government, academia, and business is firmly closed.

        Reply
  8. Abs

    July 5th, 2021

    Fortunately, Mr. Kenney himself was never in any danger. A video from Global Calgary showed him running away with his security team. It’s a shame that official political rallies like this don’t provide security for all politicians present, but I guess that’s only for el Jefe. Each for himself in the political world, isn’t that how it goes? Wives, children and cabinet ministers? Que sera, sera.

    Clearly Mr. Kenney wasn’t ruffled by any of this, as he went on to celebrate Canada Day at the Horton Road Legion. Then it was on to Okotoks for a Dawgs game, followed by a grass fire-setting event, or fireworks as we call them in this part of the drought zone.

    Maybe “setting the province on fire, metaphorically and otherwise” should be the new UCP motto.

    Reply
    • Athabascan

      July 7th, 2021

      Hey ABS,

      What do you mean by “fortunate”?

      Reply
  9. Carlos

    July 5th, 2021

    They are just getting back what they constantly inflict on others. No big deal really, just a question of getting used to it.
    I believe they have not seen the worse yet to come, after all they have done way worse.

    Reply
  10. Athabascan

    July 5th, 2021

    I’ve got one word for Shandro: Karma.

    Sympathy, has nothing to do with it.

    Reply
  11. Scotty on Denman

    July 5th, 2021

    Or, put another way regarding le fringe: lie with dogs, expect to get flies.

    Reply
    • Scotty on Denman

      July 5th, 2021

      …or, lie with cow patties, expect to get fleas…

      Reply
  12. Kang

    July 5th, 2021

    It’s the UCP’s base at work. Same thing happened to the female candidates to the UCP leadership. Lie down with (fascist) dogs, and you are going to get fleas. It is a downward political and social spiral and the UCP types have zero idea of the social and political forces they have used and where that leads. I suspect the UCP brain trust understands exactly what they have created, but like the legendary sorcerer’s apprentice, do not have the power to stop the process. There is a reason the educated and intelligent are leaving the Province.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sorcerer's_Apprentice

    Reply
  13. Just Me

    July 5th, 2021

    Since Shandro has no problem standing and screaming in another’s driveway, I believed he would be onside with this form of protest. Since the UCP’s endless coddling of Anti-vaxxers and conspiracy loons has confused the more adult messaging during this pandemic, I for one see nothing wrong with a troublesome minister getting the gears from the base of crazies…move along.

    This what happens when populists come into government: they choose to never govern like adults because of the extreme elements in their base (their most committed voters, btw) lose their cool and go all Qanon.

    Watching Kenney getting heckled during the opening event for the “Greatest Summer Of Them All” brought joy to my heart and giggles to my lips. More comical, the produced video of the event muted all the heckling, leaving me to believe that Kenney’s own mic feed was able to isolate his voice from all the background noise. The comedy just never stops with the UCP.

    Now, with the news that the Calgary Stampede will be a lot lesser event than usual, it kind of blows all the wind out of this summer to remember.

    Kenney can’t wait to get out of Alberta, and it shows.

    Reply
  14. Brett

    July 5th, 2021

    There is little doubt in my mind that Jason Kenney has little interest in Alberta. It is a stepping stone to the next Conservative leadership race in Ottawa.

    His big challenge is that in order to do so he needs a win in Alberta. And he needs to be viewed nationally as a winner. No such luck so far. Quite the opposite. He is in a rush. This seems to be causing him to make poor poor and hasty decisions. With voters, with supporters, with Cabinet choices, with Party members…with everyone.

    Shandro, based on his performance, should have been long gone from Cabinet by now. I can only assume Kenney needs him for internal Party political purposes. There are one or two others like this. Kenney seems stuck with these few. They will continue to cause issues for him…with the voters, the caucus, or both.

    So far, Kenney is far from being a winner with voters, supporters, or caucus. Federal Conservative Party members are no doubt watching this mess. Does not bode well for Jason Kenney. They have had two losers in a row since the glory Harper days. Will they want a third?

    Reply
  15. pogo

    July 6th, 2021

    Back in the day, our Danielle had a poodle that just loved humping Rob Anders. What happened? Did the SPCA step in and deny freedom? Is there a conspiracy here there and everywhere now? https://youtu.be/ZbkypX1OhZ0?t=3

    Reply
  16. July 11th, 2021

    You mean to tell me that Shit-Show scrubs his media releases, press conferences and avoids all real scrutiny from the public all the time and the one time he goes out in public and gets harassed it’s offside because of his kids? GTFOH!
    It’s obvious his kids are the duck blind and I don’t feel sorry for him or his ugly kids!
    GTFO of politics or resign!
    All in due course…

    Reply

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