Alberta Politics
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

No surprise: Alberta health minister takes the bait with belligerent response to federal minister’s rebuke

Posted on August 06, 2021, 1:56 am
5 mins

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro and other United Conservative Party officials reacted with predictable belligerence yesterday to federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu’s letter chiding them for abandoning such public health measures as COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and mandatory isolation. 

In a nine-part Tweetstorm, Mr. Shandro accused the federal Liberals of treating Alberta as their favourite punching bag – ironic for a leading light of a political party that has attacked the same Liberals day in and day out for nigh on three years.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu (Photo: Justin Trudeau/Flickr).

But there was barely a line in the minister’s cringeworthy tweeted complaints that didn’t seem ready made for a sly Liberal campaign to use Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s unpopular policies to embarrass and undermine federal Conservative leader Erin O’Toole 

“The feds’ own track record on decisive action on COVID-19 has been atrocious – from leaving borders wide open in the early days of the pandemic to failing miserably on quickly procuring vaccines,” Mr. Shandro claimed in one part of the thread. 

Well, no one can say the UCP lacks chutzpah. Ottawa’s response to the pandemic was so atrocious that Canada has now vaccinated more citizens than any other wealthy nation in the industrialized West.

“It’s beyond ironic that at the very time Min. Hajdu was sending her supposed letter of concern, her boss is preparing to crisscross the country for his opportunistic election,” Mr. Shandro huffed.

This appears to be a key UCP talking point. “You can’t claim concern about COVID today and then call a national election tomorrow,” whined Mr. Kenney’s communications director, Brock Harrison, in outraged tones. “That’s called hypocrisy.” 

Well, as the Twitterati were quick to respond, that’s hard to justify when your boss has just declared that COVID has been vanquished and we can all get back to normal. Some might even call it a trifle hypocritical. 

“I find it disheartening that Ms. Hajdu would choose to play partisan games by rejecting scientific evidence for the purpose of scoring cheap political points,” Mr. Shandro concluded his tweet stream on a similar note, also not without similar irony

Jason Kenney’s communications director, Brock Harrison (Photo: Linkedin).

After all, we still don’t really know what the scientific rationale for Alberta’s policy change is and the UCP proclivity for trying to score cheap political points on the Liberals at every turn is legendary. 

As for Mr. Shandro’s insistence that Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw’s decisions “are in line with the science,” the good doctor’s likewise qualified counterparts in other Canadian provinces appear to disagree.

“I think it’s pretty clear that it’s premature to say that the pandemic is over and we can treat COVID like it’s the same as any other respiratory virus,Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said just yesterday. “We will not be following those steps,” Robert Strang added firmly. 

Readers will note that Premier Jason Kenney and Mr. Shandro are always careful to make sure Dr. Hinshaw gets the credit for the controversial plan. You can’t be too careful when COVID counts can go up dramatically in a day, and there’s no way they want to have to wear it if things go south again. 

In the meantime, daily big-city protests against the government’s decision to abandon basic public health measures continue to draw crowds. The UCP continues to govern as if it were an opposition party, unsure whether the government it opposes is the one in Ottawa or the NDP members across the aisle in Edmonton. And the suspense continues over whether or not Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will call an election, forcing Alberta Conservatives to continue advocating laughably contradictory positions. 

In other words, the Best Summer Ever ™ continues apace. Eyerolls all ’round. 

24 Comments to: No surprise: Alberta health minister takes the bait with belligerent response to federal minister’s rebuke

  1. Bill Malcolm

    August 6th, 2021

    The complete shambles continues as usual. UCP dolts egging on the city/rural divide the Conservatives created in the first place, snapping like coyotes at flies when it comes to the feds, and from my viewpoint in NS, Hinshaw is a quack. No point beating around the bush with her “performance” as being a “professional” who is forced into her error-prone ways by rabid nutter UCP pols. Anyone with an ounce of professional integrity would have hopped off their perch long ago and left the politicians to stew in their own juices. There have been at least two prior incidents of opening too early in Alberta after a Covid wave that have been severely criticized on this blog, so she’s running true to form this time around as well. What conclusion can any reasonable observer come to, but that she believes her own nonsense and the lack of data behind it? She seems to be ideologically driven and unable or incapable of explaining herself. I’m afraid I haven’t the slightest respect for the woman.

    Alberta is dead last with vaccinations, although it’s a close-run thing with the armpit-scratchers running Saskatchewan. In school it was the dummies who found it a giggle when they got the worst marks, like a badge of honour for being a dolt. That’s how I view the UCP and Sask Party leaders. Morons with ghastly grins as they ruin society, because they somehow got to be in charge.

    Yesterday Dr Strang gave us an update in Nova Scotia, where we’re going through a provincial election nobody cares about. New Brunswick has lifted all restrictions including masks as of July 31, and has had 31 Covid cases since, when there were essentially zero for a month before. Strang raised the possibility of keeping NS border restrictions on NB, where, guess what?, a Con governement is in power. At least they have done a good job on vaccinations compared to the Western prairie nutbars. Manitoba seems to want to commit early suicide as well — Pallister has gotten over his ashen-grey face we-need-help mode of a mere two months ago and is now a perky Con twit again, opening things up when it’s not justified. What is it with these Conservatives? Delta variant? What’s that?

    Halifax has the Dalhousie University medical school, and a slew of medical researchers as well, who have criticized the twits running NB in the last few weeks, expressing amazement at their dropping all restrictions so soon. But then, they probably have little firsthand knowledge of the province – it’s a very backward place run by the Irvings as a feudal state.

    Meanwhile, Strang didn’t crow about it, but https://covid19tracker.ca/vaccinationtracker.html shows Nova Scotia well in the lead among all provinces in vaccination uptake. Nevertheless, Strang said that until 75% of the ENTIRE NS population is vaccinated, then Phase 5 of re-opening will not come to pass — he exhorted the 36,000 Nova Scotians who have a second dose booked but way out into September and October, to get cracking and reschedule their second shots. With current bookings and those lazy 36,000 getting on board, the 75% of the entire population mark would be reached by Labour Day. Alberta will NEVER get there and has dropped testing and tracing, a betrayal of public health if ever there was one. Henshaw thinks THIS is all right? Give me a break. It’s off to improve the syphilis stats she is, chasing dust motes in the wind and whistling Dixie.

    Reply
  2. Dave

    August 6th, 2021

    I had wondered whether the UCP might show a bit of restraint here, in consideration of the political difficulties they might cause their Federal Conservative brethren in a soon expected Federal election. I guess the answer to that is a resounding no.

    I believe this is also a sign how detached Kenney and his UCP crew have become from reality and out of step with much of the rest of the country. Perhaps it is also a sign that Kenney’s ambitions to get back to Federal politics again are now mired in the quagmire of Alberta politics, a quagmire that was largely self created. Perhaps he just doesn’t care anymore about the national impact of his actions and words.

    So O’Toole now faces a dilemma – how to get his provincial colleagues, who owe him nothing and have probably already concluded he can’t win a soon to be held Federal election, to just shut up.

    The Federal Liberals have figured out a great strategy – Kenney may not be in national politics anymore, but make him the defacto spokesman for Federal Conservatives anyways. Kenney should have figured out in the last Federal election when the Conservatives lost most of the Ontario seats he campaigned in, better to just stay at home and stay quiet.

    As many Albertans have already figured out, our current Premier is quite stubborn and does not seem to learn from his mistakes, but repeats them again and again.

    Reply
  3. Mike J Danysh

    August 6th, 2021

    What’s ol’ Tyler’s “evidence and rationale”? Heck, when did Kenney and the Klowns need evidence for anything? Actual, solid facts would cramp their style, not to mention their brains. Tyler’s yammering about “science” when he has none is too much like an amateur gambler going all-in on a busted flush. And his whine about Hajdu didn’t target Scott Moe? Jeez, that’s because Moe tags along behind Kenney like a puppy. This is Kenney’s plan, and Shandro signed off on it. (“Hinshaw?” See below.)

    “Rationale” is too much of a stretch for the Unhinged Contrarian Party. “Rationalization,” now, that’s more their forte. Jason Kenney wants what he wants, when he wants it—and thinks that constitutes a natural law. It’s hard to spin “Because I want it NOW!” as anything more than a tantrum by a spoiled child.

    What I cannot understand is why Deena Hinshaw, who seemed competent, intelligent and caring at the start, should throw her lot in with Kenney so completely. Is this an example of Stockholm syndrome? Could Hinshaw have simply given up? Her prattling about vaccination sounds like a UCP talking point. The noise about getting ready for other diseases to reappear sounds like (wait for it) total UCP rationalization. If we need to divert resources (pitifully thin ones, for track-and-trace) from Covid-19, surely that’s because the UCP have been trying to slash health-care spending by slashing AHS budgets.

    Kenney has tried to implement the Trump pandemic management plan from Day 1. Now he’s trying the famous “Case counts too high? Stop counting!” stratagem. What’s next, mainlining bleach? Hinshaw must know there’s no science behind this decision; just Jason, wishing away the problem he’s too incompetent to manage. Why is she fronting for these guys?

    Reply
    • Bob Raynard

      August 8th, 2021

      I too have wondered about Dr. Hinshaw’s abandonment of best practices. You are exactly right about the excellent impression she made at the start. I am sure the UCP quickly realized what a political asset she was and leaned on her accordingly. It was easy; Dr. Hinshaw could make say 10 recommendations, the government could pick the 3 they found palatable, implement them and truthfully (but deviously) say they came from our CMOH. Dr. Hinshaw then stuck to what was her talking point at the time – her job was as an advisor only, and we the public were never privy to exactly what she had advised.

      For the latest deterioration, however, I think the UCP brain trust realized they needed more than Dr. Hinshaw’s ‘I only advise’ line and decided the initiative had to come exclusively from our CMOH. After a year and a half of fighting both the pandemic and the politicians, the woman has to be exhausted, so yeah, I think she did just capitulate.

      Meanwhile, if nobody wants to buy my T-shirt, I may take a red felt pen and draw a circle with a bar across the front of it.

      Reply
  4. brett

    August 6th, 2021

    Why does he not simply answer the question.

    How hard can that be?

    Reply
  5. Abs

    August 6th, 2021

    Did some of the top UCP catch Covid already? I understand it can drop one’s IQ by the same amount as lead poisoning, which should not be taken lightly, especially when planning to infect all children under age 12 for the sake of “herd immunity”. That’s one way to turn them into an actual herd.

    All that’s needed to finish them off is a sub-par, underfunded public school education with a bent
    curriculum, and presto! — a generation of youth brainwashed into voting UCP for the next 40 years, as Mart Kenney tunes drone on in the background.

    Will the rest of Canada get on board and intentionally infect their children, too? I think not. Look out, Alberta. We won’t be welcome across interprovincial borders soon, let alone international ones. Forget a vaccine passport, which Jason Kenney has already declared verboten. The federal government won’t provide them in provinces that won’t cooperate. So we’re all going to be stuck here in Kenneyland until we vote Kenney out. Will that be in two years or two decades? Depends on how long we want to be trapped, I guess.

    This is madness!

    Reply
  6. Scotty on Denman

    August 6th, 2021

    Shandro’s not likely to be laughing at political and epidemiological complexities well beyond his ken. There are a lot of driveways he could rant in during the next election; the question is, of course, ken he?

    Reply
  7. Abs

    August 6th, 2021

    Today the bright lights at the UCP brain trust have taken to calling those who support masking “COVID Karens”, quoting a columnist and known friend of Jason Kenney.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/UniteAlberta

    The columnist compares Covid-19 to the risk of car accidents,. Presumably car accidents are now as contagious as the Delta variant, spread in outdated school ventilation systems amongst unvaccinated children.

    That’s some wild Magic School Bus ride they’re on. I’m sure Ms. Frizzle would not choose this moment to say, “It’s time to take chances, make mistakes and get messy!”

    Reply
  8. Just Me

    August 6th, 2021

    Wow.

    Thin-skinned. Goes off on a raging Twitter storm. Says the Liberals hate Alberta. All Shandro didn’t say was, “That’s insane! You’re insane!!”

    For Shandro, screaming rage tweeting is the equivalent of screaming in Hajdu’s driveway, so he’ll take it. She must be laughing up a storm right now.

    And I noticed in his tweet, Shandro drove the bus over Dr. Hinshaw three — THREE TIMES. That’s 3!!!!!! Times!!!!! I hope Hinshaw’s pension is worth this.

    And the news is from a VC consultation with medical advisors in Alberta, Hinshaw’s Q&A didn’t go well, where one attendee described Hinshaw’s answers as “vague”.

    Now that the leaks are beginning to describe the Calgary Stampede, thus far, as a medium super-spreader event, one wonders how much further Kenney and the UCP are willing to take their war on information?

    Testing has already been severely curtailed, but if it’s banned, well, you can arrest those who ask for testing.

    And I suspect that the War Room has nothing to do, so maybe they will be dragooned into this mess.

    Reply
  9. Jimmy

    August 6th, 2021

    It would be appropriate for the provincial government to provide fact based evidence for its decisions. If it exists share it. Adults prefer information, not petulance.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    August 6th, 2021

    The UCP are successfully making Alberta the joke of Canada, once again. The UCP’s horrible Covid-19 responses haven’t improved anything, as we witness cases of Covid-19 in Alberta rise up faster and faster. The UCP are making Alberta the embarrassment of Canada.

    Reply
  11. Just Me

    August 6th, 2021

    Well, just when I run out of popcorn, I need more popcorn.

    According to a local/nation news outlet, Minister Hajdu has sent a “stern” warning to Shandro in regard to his present policy course. I guess that Shady & Screaming Shandro’s twitter rage got the attention of Hajdu, who then fired off a stern letter to Shandro, effectively warning Alberta about their public situation.

    It’s one thing for Shandro to denounce the Liberal health minister for partisanship, but to also say that she’s using a public health crisis for partisan gain is going to draw angry fire from Hajdu. Sometimes, things are not partisan, including Hajdu asking Shandro if he knows what the hell he’s doing. (?) Shandro is a nasty piece of work, anyway, so he’s going to take every question and/or criticism as an insult.

    Hajdu has every reason to ask Shandro what’s going on, because a worsened public health crisis in Alberta will affect other provinces. I’m sure every provincial health minister has their eyes on Alberta’s shite show and don’t want it in their yards.

    Personally, I would be very pleased if B.C. closed its borders to Alberta. Once one province does it, all will follow suit in short order. It’s interesting to note, but Kelowna’s airport was very busy over the weekend. Could be because there are a lot of Albertans hiding out in Kelowna and they have to escape back to Calgary before it’s too late? Maybe there are Albertans in B.C. who are ready to seek asylum from the UCP’s asylum?

    Reply
    • Mickey Rat

      August 7th, 2021

      Hi JM,

      Not partisan? As our host pointed out in his last post, Ms. Hajdu’s letter to Mr. Shandro was absolutely a partisan political move, and a very crafty one indeed as it put Erin O’Toole in a no-win situation. If Ms. Hajdu had just wanted some info she could have asked Dr. Hinshaw – federal health dept to provincial health dept. As DJC pointed out it was even leaked to the press. I thought at the time that the best thing for the UCP would have been to slow-walk this but no, they took the bait big time (although Mr. Kenney seems to be quiet).

      I expect Patty & Justin are smiling to themselves.

      Some great comments on here alluding to Tyler Shandro yelling at Patty in her driveway – pretty funny.

      Reply
      • Abs

        August 7th, 2021

        It’s called projection: accusing others of what does one’s self, aka the pot calling the kettle black. I counter with nine random things every Albertan needs to know:

        https://www.emedicinehealth.com/what_are_the_nine_traits_of_a_narcissist/article_em.htm

        The daily rallies by #PoPAB add up to thousands of people with driveways. On Wednesday, nurses will hold information pickets throughout the province. Tens of thousands of driveways! So little time.

        Reply
      • Just me

        August 8th, 2021

        Seems that last fall, Tailgunner-J went off about public health restrictions being attacks of “economic freedoms” and “liberty”. And he also alluded to some weird claim that Alberta’s population was too young to be impacted by the pandemic, so why worry? Funny that partisan hat fits some better than others, eh?

        If Hajdu is being partisan, she’s speaking for the party of reason, good sense, and stop your CON b.s.

        Reply
  12. brett

    August 6th, 2021

    Apparently Kenney does not want lectures from Ottawa.

    Must be because Alberta has done such a stellar job of combatting covid and getting our citizens vaccinated.

    The 350 or so cases yesterday, and todays number of 370 is a blip.

    Kenney and Shandro have it all under control. Trust them. Or not.

    Reply
  13. brett

    August 6th, 2021

    Great picture of Tyler Shandro.

    It captures his typical ‘deer in the headlights’ look.

    Reply
  14. Alan K Spiller

    August 7th, 2021

    I think it’s wonderful that Albertans and Canadians are finally waking up to the fact that Reformers are certainly nothing like the true conservatives that we proudly supported under Peter Lougheed and Don Getty, and all their pretending won’t make it so. They can’t be trusted.

    People , especially the young, are seeing through their lies. Those of us who had ties to the oil industry certainly know our “Horrific Mess” as Lougheed called it had nothing to do with Ottawa or Notley. She has been the only one smart enough to suggest that we have got to get back to collecting proper royalties and taxes at the Lougheed levels if we are ever going to get out of this mess. Norway and Alaska are certainly doing it.

    What does Kenney do? He cuts $9.4 billion off corporate taxes for his rich friends and then thinks he can cut the wages of doctors , nurses and teachers, after what they have been through , proving how stupid he is. He is finding that Albertans aren’t nearly as stupid as he wants them to be. Of course all he is interested in is buying votes, just like Klein did.

    My only regret is the fact that the MLAs from the Lougheed era that I got to know aren’t alive today to see it. Everything they taught me about these fools , reformers, has come true.

    Reply
    • Just Me

      August 8th, 2021

      From what I remember from my days among the Reformers/CRAP/CA is that those who had a tendency for graft and stupidity seemed to rise to the top of the heap. Oh, and they had no problem kissing the arses of those who were the pitbull aggressive personalities, like Kenney, Ezra Levant, John Baird et al. That’s not to say there were not decent people among the rank and file, but these people were usually destroyed by the wannabe-GOP hacks among them. Even Presto Manning became annoyed by their likes, until they ousted him for not being insane enough.

      What you’re left with is the single, angry, males who are inclined to misbehave during their drunken stupors. (Stockwell Day clean up after them, because he’s going to be the next PM. Really!)

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      August 8th, 2021

      ALAN K. SPILLER: You are right. Just wait until things get worse with the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta. It will definitely come to pass before August is done. The UCP will not be able to blame Ottawa for this at all. Another true Conservative politician, Bill Davis, the former premier of Ontario, has passed away, at age 92. Canada lacks conservatives like these. Mike Harris was a carbon copy of Ralph Klein. When you look at newspapers, such as The Sun, it still is baffling how they defend the premier of Alberta, (does he even qualify for that title?), no matter how much his mistakes cost us, from a financial or a human standpoint. Just like Ralph Klein was sued for putting people’s lives at risk, it will happen, under the UCP.

      Reply
      • Alan K Spiller

        August 9th, 2021

        Anonymous You and I certainly think alike. We have these phoney conservatives pegged. I just watched Jason Kenney on global news trying to pretend that he cares about air pollution. This coming from the guy who tried to destroy the carbon tax that oil executives wanted put in place and deliberately eliminated the monitoring of pollution in the oil industry. He is as two faced as he can possibly be. It isn’t surprising that even Ralph Klein accused him of spreading lies and stealing from seniors years ago. His massive tax cuts will push property taxes for seniors up like it did when Klein did it, it has to.

        He was also grandstanding at the $100 million expansion announced at Labbatts and was trying to take credit for it by bragging about his massive tax cuts. I laughed when they announced it was going to create a whole 25 new jobs.

        Reply
  15. David Grant

    August 8th, 2021

    While there are plenty of mistakes and errors that the federal government made during COVID they still seem to be far more willing to deal with COVID than Jason was. It took until December 2020 for them issue a provincial mask mandate and their inability to discipline their cabinet ministers are two examples. Their stubbornness when it comes to cutting public sector jobs also compounds the issue as well as there decision to life the mask mandates.

    Reply

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