Lethbridge-East MLA and United Conservative Party Caucus Chair Nathan Neudorf (Photo: Nathan Neudorf/Facebook).

Alberta’s pandemic strategy continues to move deeply into full-blown implementation of the Great Barrington Declaration – the discredited notion the best way to respond to COVID-19 is to infect almost everyone except the vulnerable elderly and thereby achieve herd immunity. 

The latest sign that the United Conservative Party has tacitly adopted Great Barringtonism as its approach to the Delta-variant-powered fourth wave of COVID-19 was the startling commentary Friday by UCP Caucus Chair Nathan Neudorf on an online newscast produced by a Lethbridge Christian digital TV station.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, at left, as he was last seen, exiting an Edmonton brewery, stage right (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“Case numbers can sometimes be a flashy, scary number in the media to catch people’s attention, but that’s not the whole story,” the Lethbridge-East MLA told the news anchor at Bridge City News, run by the southern Alberta city’s CJIL (Christ Jesus Is Lord) UHF station. “But that’s not the whole story, and we just want to make sure that people are really following the science as we allow the economy to get back on its feet.”

“But if you watch the science around the world with this fourth wave, as it’s been called, in the U.K. we also saw a rapid rise of case numbers, but then an equally rapid decline, as it finished going through the unvaccinated population it didn’t have anywhere else to go,” he continued in response to the newscaster’s friendly prompts. 

“So I am very hopeful that we will see the same kind of trend,” he said. “Maybe a bit of an accelerated case rate, but then a very quick decline as well, allowing us to safely keep businesses open, so that we don’t have to add further restrictions.

“We will keep what we’ve got in place right now, allow the opening of schools to see what happens there, but we will continue to watch those numbers and monitor safely, but we want to keep the economy going as best we can as well.” (Emphasis added.)

Since the provincial government has never publicly indicated it intends to fully adopt what would be a highly controversial approach to COVID-19, it’s not clear if Mr. Neudorf’s commentary was intended to actually indicate official policy, if he thought no one would notice his comments on a small religious station, or if he’s expressing the hopes of a subset of the UCP Caucus in the Legislature. 

With a vacationing Premier Jason Kenney missing in action since Aug. 9 (rumors have put him in Greece, or at a religious retreat in another province), Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw also on holiday, and Health Minister Tyler Shandro issuing pronouncements only via Twitter, there’s no one to ask this question. 

But with schools set to start opening in three days and no children under 12 vaccinated against COVID-19, a very large number of Albertans are extremely anxious to get answers. 

Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s virtual minister of health, as he now appears to Albertans (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Critics on social media were quick to point out that what Mr. Neudorf described as happening in the U.K., isn’t exactly the way things played out after the arrival of the Delta variant. Cases in Britain are now surging again, although deaths from COVID are lower than in previous waves as a result of high levels of vaccination. 

As for the Great Barrington Declaration, it offered science deniers all over the world a few shreds of scientific respectability – at least until it was revealed that among the 15,000 “scientists” who supposedly signed the thing by clicking a button on a website were Dr. Johnny Fartpants, Professor Notaf Uckingclue, Dr. Person Fakename, Dr. Very Dodgy Doctor, and Mr. Banana Rama.

Nor did it help that the declaration turned out to have been sponsored by a Koch Brothers-funded libertarian “think tank” until then better known for denying that climate change is even a thing.

Premier Kenney has long seemed entranced by the Great Barrington idea, despite its sketchy reputation in scientific circles. Unfortunately, as noted, he’s not available to cast any light on his current views. 

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as she appeared when last seen on Aug. 13 (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

None other than Dr. Hinshaw assailed the Great Barrington Declaration as rife with flaws in a lengthy statement published on the Alberta Government’s website on Oct. 28, 2020 – before the hyper-aggressive Delta variant emerged to complicate responding to COVID further. 

“Herd immunity by natural infection is not a wise, or possibly even an achievable, goal to pursue,” she wrote in defence of the “balanced approach” then being taken by public health officials to “minimize both the risks of public health measures and the risks of COVID-19.”

Given recent developments, it is not at all clear if Dr. Hinshaw still holds that view. Alas, she too is not available to respond to questions.

What is clear is that no one seems to be in charge, but the UCP is just going to let ’er rip and send under-12s back to school starting on Wednesday. After that, as Mr. Neudorf said, I guess they’ll see what happens there. 

If the plan is really for Mr. Kenney not to reappear until after the federal election on Sept. 20, as some think, that could be a problem if he’s left no one in charge and infections spread rapidly in schools. 

Fasten your seatbelts, Alberta!

Join the Conversation


  1. The UCP are a total embarrassment of a government. Anything they do turns into an utter failure. How many times has Alberta had the greatest number of cases of individuals with Covid-19 in Canada, and even on the continent, in the spring, and the UCP didn’t learn anything from these experiences? Again, it’s the same situation. Alberta is like a ship with no steering, or no captain. The UCP can’t see the iceberg in front of them. In Alberta, July got bad, August got even more bad, and September will prove to be worse, from the Covid-19 pandemic. From there, it will not improve. The head honcho of the UCP has been making claims and promises that had not one iota of truth in them. Covid-19 isn’t over, and it hasn’t been the best summer ever. On so many fronts, Albertans were duped by these pretend conservatives and Reformers. The head honcho of the UCP is hiding because he knows if he comes out from wherever he is, his goose is cooked. The public will come after him. It would be very surprising if he walks away from this unscathed. Dr. Deena Hinshaw will also be a liability, and a scapegoat for the UCP. It’s going to get uglier in Alberta. Had Albertans heeded the warnings from those of us who said these pretend conservatives and Reformers were no good to begin with, we wouldn’t be in this dire situation right now. It was this way when Ralph Klein was premier of Alberta, and it’s this way with the UCP. If we have four more years of the UCP in power, it’s going to be even worse. Where is the sense in any of that?

    1. ANONYMOUS I worked in Lethbridge for close to three years and I know how many nut cases live there. Every time I have anything printed in the Lethbridge herald I have these ignorant seniors hurling their sarcastic comments at me for daring to bad mouth their Reform party hero’s . They aren’t smart enough to understand what they have done to Albertans.

      What is sickening is the fact that so many newspaper editors are deliberately refusing to print anything bad said about their reform party heroes. I know people, including my son, who have stopped buying their newspapers because they don’t support their stupid desire to support these reformers and these papers wonder why they are doing so poorly. Of course they aren’t smart enough to take a neutral stance.

      The sun newspapers have constantly encouraged ignorant Albertans to hurl sarcastic comments at Notley and Trudeau, totally ignorant of what these reformers stand for. There is certainly is nothing conservative about any of them.

      1. ALAN K SPILLER: This is true. When there are rare instances of people bringing up the very pricey shenanigans of the UCP, people at the Sun, as well as others, think that it is made up, or the NDP are telling lies. This is so shameful how these pretend conservatives and Reformers brainwash people.

  2. The Alberta Newsroom photo of your premier could trigger a new fashion trend among Canada’s leaders, snazzy sport coat, white dress shirt and tie and baseball cap. Savile Row take note.

  3. This is proof that Dr. Deena Hinshaw is following a plan that she did not believe in a year ago. What a perfect example of doublethink.

    “Doublethink is crucial to the Party’s control of Oceania, because it enables the Party to alter historical records and pass off these distorted accounts as authentic. The brainwashed populace no longer recognizes contradictions.”

    From: https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/1984/study-questions/

    Hint to Dr.Hinshaw: That won’t work with Delta Covid. Children will fall ill when they go back to school this week. That won’t to work with the present reduced hospital capacity, caused by the Alberta government picking fights with doctors and nurses that led to resignations and ongoing staffing shortages in both. That won’t work if the nurses go out on strike because the UCP want to roll back their wages retroactively to the start of the pandemic. They pay us to work? Got it.

    Has it become obvious yet why our CMOH, Health Minister Shandro and Premier Kenney are absent? This fourth wave of Covid Delta is too dangerous for them to show their faces in public. They are afraid of this disease variant, very afraid, and we should be, too. So while they tell us to go out and have the “best summer ever”, they are hiding in fear until this fourth wave, as it is called, runs through the province like wildfire — until it has burned itself out and taken thousands more lives needlessly. But send those kiddies back to school! You first, Dr. Hinshaw.

    Keep wearing those earplugs, Mr. Premier. Yellow is your color.

  4. Interesting that Denmark is removing restrictions on September 10th not exactly a bastion of extreme right wing political thought. One of the restrictions being lifted is the requirement to show a coronapas to enter indoor facilities. I wonder if Trudeau’s vaccine passport comes with an expiry date, after the 5th or 6th booster those still compliant should go down dramatically.
    Your characterization of the Barrington declaration as a Koch funded campaign should be balanced by saying that the WHO is largely funded by billionaire Bill Gates. With two extremes it would be safe to assume that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Both it would appear have a financial interest in pushing their narrative.
    As we seem to be going with the narrative that artificial immunity is the only thing out there the shots will be pushed on our children. It is hard to argue that a government pushing a potentially unsafe medical treatment on our children is anything but a violent act. As Trudeau and others double down their violence will unfortunately be met with violence. I think the people running Trudeau understand this and will push things so Trudeau can claim victim status. I guess we will see on the 20th if this is a winning strategy.

    1. You know you’ve pushed a button when Cons accuse nonCons of doing what Cons have been doing all along—like playing the “victim card” or affecting a grand conspiracy theory.

      It’s the same hypocrisy that accuses a rival of starting a war by claiming some supposedly justifiable reason for revenge.

      …like sacrificing babies to, or poisoning wells with vaccines .

      Like most Canadians, I was worried when the CPC leadership was virtually split between two kinds of extremists. But at least the party didn’t resort to desperate measures like Harper’s ‘niqab ploy’—or at least not before losing in 2019 and the CPC leader frolicked with Trudeau haters and Wexiteers raged in their pathetic fifteen minutes of infamy.

      I’m hoping similar resort this time will produce similar results.

    2. Jim judging that Denmark is opening without even explaining or knowing what the real situation is on the ground is just meaningless. I am not sure where you are trying to go with this post but it seems that reality and factual examples is not your forte.
      It is clear that you just meant to say that Denmark is not a right wing country but it is also opening in September. So what? Do you know why they are opening? Do you know what their situation is? Just pointing to a country that is usual social democratic and making assumptions based on dates is ludicrous to say the least.

      1. Carlos you seem to have a lot of questions, which is good, at this point I would assume that you have discovered the answers as Denmark’s numbers are freely available on the Internet. The main point being that part of the re-opening is removing the vaccine pass, I found that interesting as it doesn’t seem to be part of the discussion in Canada. Sometime back Dave had made a note about the length of comments, he is the blogger we make comments they shouldn’t be longer than the blog post was the point I think. Not to make this too lengthy but I find this blog and the comments very interesting and a great spring board to investigate topics on your own that you may not have thought of or agree with. Not everyone is going to agree on everything and some of the comments are really out there, I often wonder about the ones Dave has held back.
        Finally stay curious if you disagree with something don’t just dismiss it as ludicrous investigate it for yourself have a look at the numbers. Then come back and explain why it is ludicrous the odd time you may be surprised that it wasn’t as ludicrous as you first thought…. Or you can prove that I am ludicrous which is fine as well, openly supporting the NDP in Alberta has given me a pretty thick skin.

  5. Oh, there’s something in charge of Alberta right now.

    It’s Darwin. You know, the guy behind that “Evolution Theory” that no one in an Alberta school is allowed to talk about anymore?

    NATHAN NEUDORF is expressing the hope that as the infections rise among the unvaccinated, at some point, presumably when the numbers of unvaccinated to infect runs out, so will the number of infections. I mean, that’s what happened in the UK and COVID died out. Now, there’s no more COVID and the pandemic is over.

    Well, that’s not what’s happening in the UK, really. Actually, infections are rising — rapidly. Deaths are down, but fatalities are a lagging indicator, so just you wait for the carnage to come.

    Besides, in many parts of Alberta, the pandemic is God’s Judgement upon the ungodly. The deceivers, the liars, the adulters, and the perverts will be swept from God’s earthly creation and only the pure souls will remain. Except the problem is that it’s the congregants of the mega-churches, where all the COVID conspiracies are propagated, who are getting infected. Since they were all told that the vaccines are satanic and the inventions of secular-humanists, they rejected the jabs and are now among those rising infection rates.

    And there’s the not so small matter of, what Bill Burr calls, the ‘Fonzies’, the constant rebels who don’t listen to authority, even if it’s credible because it just ain’t cool. Too cool to be vaccinated; only the squares get the jab.

    So, Darwin is smiling at this grand experiment in natural selection in Alberta, where all the stupid people are wiped out and only the smart and rational people remain. AKA. Kenney’s new UCP base.

  6. Yeah, truly no one is in charge now. Usually when the boss goes on vacation, someone stays around to deal with things and take charge. So it is very odd that Shandro and Hinshaw also seem to be so silent. Perhaps it is an indication of how little trust Kenney places in them, or maybe almost anyone else in his UCP government. With all the rumours of discontent in the UCP caucus earlier in the year, perhaps Kenney has become a bit to paranoid to give anyone else much power, lest they use it to try stage some sort of coup. So a big power vacuum has arisen and the UCP government has become rudderless. With current rising COVID cases, this is really not a good time to have no one in charge.

    Now Kenney’s communications people insist he is regularly participating in meetings, but if this were really the case the government should not be so directionless. Perhaps while he is at this alleged out of province religious retreat he has taken a vow of silence, at least until September 20. However, he should be careful about what he wishes for. If the Conservatives succeed nationally, Kenney will lose one of his biggest go to distraction tactics – picking fights with Ottawa. It will also probably put the final nail in Kenney’s dream of going back to Ottawa taking over the Federal Conservative Party and becoming PM. If O’Toole is actually successful in September, there will probably not be any possible job opening for Kenney for some time.

  7. UCP/AHS Vacation Co-ordinator here.

    My apologies for being under the influence when I received requests for vacation dates from senior members of AHS as well as various scurrilous representatives of the Government of Alberta who, knowing my issues, decided that they should all vacate the premises at the same time to avoid anyone having to explain developments. Being an obliging member of the team, of course, I was not expected to present any protestations that there would be no-one available to answer the media’s and others’ questions.

    I have a feeling that, somehow, this may affect my presence on the Sunshine List.

  8. In an interview on the CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener this morning the incoming head of the Canadian Medical Association said his four children (ages 7 to 13) are being home-schooled. Actions speak louder than words.

    Turns out protection from getting vaccinated declines over time. That is why Israel is now giving a third shot as a booster.

    It also appears that immunity generated by a natural Covid 19 infection also declines over the following year. The current data from Manaus, Brazil, where over 70% of the population was infected in the first wave is indicating so-called natural immunity also declines and is not useful against the new Covid Delta variant (B.1.1.7).

    The intelligent and the wealthy are protecting themselves and their families, while our political elite fail to enact basic public health measures that would protect the rest of us.

    1. The hellish reality in Brazil cannot be bellied, no matter what kind of alt-reality Bolsonaro can create. He has already admitted that three fates await him as he approaches election: re-election, prison, or death.

  9. Even with Emperor Kenney back in the province, he still won’t offer any “answers” or “solutions” to these problems.

    He’ll just say, “Look, let me be clear, we have vaccines. That’ll get us through this.”

    He’ll offer no restrictions, no funding or suggestions for schools, no real policy.

    Delta will continue, unabated.

  10. It appears that health care workers, nurses, doctors, science researchers are stepping up to offer policy alternatives to the UCP’s policy of absence and denial.

    They plan to use Twitter to analyse the deliberately cryptic daily reports for public consumption. While it’s very likely that UCP issues managers will be working overtime to denounce this action as the work of amatuers and an outrage against the government. We’ll have to see what consequences, if any, are applied by this easily embarassed government.

    All things considered, no government wants to face citizens’ action as an alternative to their policies. It just proves that they were never into the game to begin with.

  11. So keyboard warriers, what would you rather see?

    Extensive data points that people under 18 rarely experience extreme covid symptoms. The timeline on approval to vaccinate under 12’s is uncertain. Given that so few people under 12 experience extreme covid symptoms, that approval may never occur as the bar is set high (i.e. only a fraction of a percentage of under 12’s experience extreme symptoms so data would need to show that the probably of extreme side effects from vaccination would need to be even lower). “Won’t somebody please think of the children” is a red herring.

    What would another lock down accomplish beyond temporarily driving down cases? Vaccincation rates, which have plateaued in the 70 some percent range in almost all developed contries, are unlikely to increase signficantly during a lock down period. Nothing else is on the horizon that would change covid risk over a lock down period.

    Masking mandates could help, but like the lock down option are only temporary solutions. The big city school boards have already implemented mask mandates and any Alberta municipality is free to do so.

    Given the target audience of this forum, the real motivations are:
    1) play up the covid crisis to improve UNA’s bargaining position
    2) bate Kenney, Shandro, Lagrange and other unsympathetic figures into the limelight in hope they make controversial statements to improve UNA’s bargaining position
    3) play up the covid crisis to improve the chance of Alberta becoming election fodder to increase the chances of a Liberal government
    4) paint Kenney, Shandro, Lagrange and other unsympathetic figures into the limelight in hope of them becoming election fodder to increase the chances of a Liberal government
    5) play up the covid crisis to motivate the school boards into hiring more staff or increasing online learning so that ATA members can do even less work

    1. Whew! … what a maroon!

      First point wrong, second point right. And from there it’s completely down the rabbit hole.
      Alberta has at best a 59% vax rate. Good but not good enough to push the virus outta the driver’s seat.

      This guy is so wrapped up in his own little fantasy of uneducated, ignorant, free-dumb lovin supremacy that he can’t see anything else.

    2. Doug: children get infected with Covid and regardless of their personal health status, are effectively little freight-trains of Covid to both the vaccinated and the un-vaccinated whether they are symptomatic or not.

      You also do not understand the point of lock downs. Lock downs lower the rate of infections so the basic public health care measures of testing, tracing and compulsory quarantine can catch up and work to snuff out the virus in a population. Of course, the UCP and the Ottawa Liberals, respectively, have sabotaged and failed to implement those basic public health defense measures.

      Like defense, all public health measures are temporary, but if kept up they work very well. That is why Ebola is not a problem in North America or the EU. Watch what happens if the morons get the public health measures on Ebola and the other hemorrhagic fevers endemic in Africa relaxed. If you have ever traveled to the tropics you have been forced to take all sorts of vaccinations to prevent you bringing back various infections and parasites home to the rest of us.

  12. I was curious to know why the current variant of covid19 is called “delta” so I did a Google search for the Latin words for one, two, three and four only to learn that delta is not a Latin word but is the Greek word for four. I don’t recall that covid19 was previously called anything other than covid19.

    In fact if they had called it anything else it would have suggested that there were more variants planned. But “delta” is a sexy variant so it is being used. Apparently to scare anti vaxxed into getting vaccinated to protect themselves and their health.

    1. Dave: It is evolution that is “planning” more Covid variants. It is inherent in the nature and structure of evolutionary biology.

    2. The COVID-19 variants that started emerging last year as mutations of the original SARS-CoV-2 virus that first exploded on the global scene in January 2020, were initially given complicated scientific names like B.1.1.7 (first identified in the UK, so often nicknamed the UK variant) & B.1.351 (first identified in Brazil, so nicknamed the Brazil variant). These names also carried the risk of stigmatizing the geographic areas where these variants were first identified, as well as people from those areas. So the World Health Organization (WHO) decided to assign them simpler names, using the Greek alphabet for each one. So B.1.1.7 became Alpha, and B.1.351 became Beta.

      The Delta variant is B.1.617.2, and was first identified in India. The latest variant to generate headlines is called Mu, but has only been labelled a variant of interest, not yet a variant of concern. It is B.1.621.


  13. The UCP and its fans are undoubtedly correct when they argue that the natural process of herd immunity will eventually end the pandemic. After all, the pandemic known as the Black Death eventually disappeared from Europe after, of course, killing between thirty and sixty percent of the population.

    Covid, to be sure, produces nothing like that mortality rate, which allows people who should know better to argue that “it’s just a flu”. This series of weaselling arguments (First, it’s just a flu, then vaccines are unproven and, in some weirdly hypothetical way, could even be harmful, then catching and surviving Covid will make us immune) are trotted out one after another. It seems unlikely that all of the people saying this stuff really believe any of it.

    On the other hand, it’s kind of nice to see Danielle Smith, who for years tried to present herself as the “respectable” face of the far right, come out endorsing first hydroxychloroquine and now ivermectin. Talk about pushing dangerous street drugs!

    I think the real lesson to be learned is this: when these bozos talk about “herd immunity”, what they aren’t telling you is that the herd in question is the bison herd at Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump.

    1. “Covid, to be sure, produces nothing like that mortality rate”. You know, I had that same thought the other night. The 2011 movie ‘Contagion’, with Matt Damon, Lawrence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, & Gwyneth Paltrow — by the way, probably one of the most ironic casting choices in recent years given her views on health — was almost prophetic in its eerie parallel with the way COVID-19 spread around the world before we even knew it was there. But the disease in the movie — ‘MEV-1’ — had a far higher mortality rate than COVID-19, and a quicker clinical course from exposure to symptoms to death.

      While the movie — *spoiler alert* — even had its own Ivermectin in ‘Forsythia’, what it didn’t have was widespread vaccine resistance. In fact, there was even a kidnapping to extort access to the vaccine — which was nasally instilled, nor injected.

      So, you have to wonder, if COVID-19 were even more virulent, would vaccine hesitance & resistance evaporate? Is the real issue simply that it isn’t killing enough people fast enough to drive the hesitant to get the jab?

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