Alberta Premier Jason Kenney – walking into the sunset, or what? (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

Now and again, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un or some other foreign dictator disappears for a spell and international media spins up a whirlwind of wild speculation. 

Academic experts think the leader’s dead, or maybe just in “a vegetative state.” Experts theorize he’s hiding out from a coup attempt, or has been arrested by coup plotters.

North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un (Photo: Driver Photographer, Creative Commons).

Foreign leaders may step in and comment, reports from their national intelligence services in their shaking hands. 

Here in Alberta, meanwhile, we’re dealing with the disappearance of provincial leaders in the middle of a serious public health crisis and a national election campaign with considerably more aplomb. 

Our provincial strongman, Jason Kenney, fell off the radar three weeks ago. His office said at the time he was on a two-week vacation and where was none of our business.

We’re now in the fourth week since he was last seen. As of yesterday, there was still no sign of him.

The premier doesn’t seem to have left anyone in charge as the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus charges through the population. The province’s chief medical officer of health is also on vacation, we’re told, and the health minister is communicating only by tweet.

Mr. Kenney is tweeting, too, but unlike Health Minister Tyler Shandro, his are obviously composed by a tone-deaf flunky. “Alberta is a great place to live, and we are working to make it even better,” someone purporting to be the premier tweeted unhelpfully yesterday. 

In a Parliamentary democracy, this is unusual, perhaps unprecedented. Mr. Kenney’s disappearance is a potentially significant development in the political history of Alberta.

Premier William William Aberhart (Photo: Provincial Archives of Alberta).

As on those occasions when Mr. Kim has vanished in North Korea, Mr. Kenney’s disappearance has prompted many rumours – he’s in France, he’s in Greece, he’s in London, he’s praying a Benedictine retreat in British Columbia, he’s about to quit, Erin O’Toole will name him Ambassador to Washington, he’s keeping his head down till the federal election is over so as not to remind voters what Conservatives do in power, and so on. 

The last time something like this happened in Alberta was in 1943, when Social Credit premier William Aberhart went to Vancouver for a short springtime visit with his adult daughters. He never returned – although he had an excellent excuse. Mr. Aberhart dropped dead on May 23 that year. He has resided in a Burnaby graveyard ever since. 

Ernest Manning became premier of Alberta, and the Social Credit dynasty Mr. Aberhart founded lasted 36 years, until this very day in 1971. 

Little is known about Mr. Kenney’s personal life. In some ways he is a man of mystery. So you’d think his dereliction of duty at a moment of genuine crisis in the province’s history – especially since he seems to have left no one in charge – would be a matter of journalistic inquiry. 

This is Alberta, though. So apparently not.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Peter Lougheed’s victory

Peter Lougheed in 1971 (Photo: Glenbow Archives).

As noted, on this day in 1971 Peter Lougheed’s Progressive Conservatives knocked off the by-then sclerotic Social Credit Government founded by Mr. Aberhart in 1935 and changed over the years by Mr. Manning from a radical economic reform movement to a stodgy conservative party. 

The last Social Credit Premier, Harry Strom, was no match for Mr. Lougheed’s youthful vigour, political blogger Dave Cournoyer observed today. “Lougheed was a builder,” Mr. Cournoyer wrote. “Oil money sure helped, but so did having a vision for making this province a better place.”

Still, 36 years is not a bad run for any party, even if the dynasty founded by Mr. Lougheed broke that record by a few years, lasting more than four decades until the NDP Victory in May 2015. 

No COVID news conferences? No problem? Rebel docs will hold their own

Calgary physician Joe Vipond (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

With Mr. Kenney missing in action along with Chief Medical Office of Health Deena Hinshaw, and Health Minister Tyler Shandro communicating Oz-like from behind a tweet curtain, a group of Alberta physicians has resolved to fix the information gap by providing their own regular COVID-19 updates. 

If they succeed at attracting media attention, this may not please the Kenney Government. Calling their group “Protect Our Province,” the doctors are unlikely to be very sympathetic to the government’s passive approach to coronavirus disease. 

At the centre of the plan is Calgary Emergency Room physician Joe Vipond, who has been a thorn in the UCP’s side since the start of the pandemic a year and a half ago.

The government is “allowing this disease to run unmitigated through our unvaccinated population,” Dr. Vipond said at the group’s first briefing yesterday. While the physicians hope to inform Albertans about the spread of COVID and answer questions, he said, “maybe we’ll also be successful in flushing the government out.”

The first of the on-line news conferences, which the docs plan to hold on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, gently mocked the government by playing the same annoying royalty-free music as at official newsers. 

Controversial lawyer who hired PI to follow judge is back on job

Controversial lawyer John Carpay (Photo: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms).

The controversial lawyer who hired a private gumshoe to follow a Manitoba judge is back on the job as president of the so-called Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms after less than two months on leave. 

John Carpay, a long-time friend of Premier Kenney and founder of the legal advocacy group associated with right-wing causes, was welcomed back, the JCCF’s board insisted in an otherwise rather uninformative statement yesterday. His return “recognizes that the organization needs to end the uncertainty that comes with temporary leadership,” it said.

The statement thanked lawyer Lisa Bildy, who was the group’s interim president for seven weeks, for her service. While she has left, she may still be involved with some cases, a JCCF board member told me yesterday. 

The Toronto Star, however, reported there was a shakeup on the group’s board, described the changes as a purge, and quoted a former board member who called Mr. Carpay’s return “kind of a putsch.”

The Winnipeg Police are said to be investigating the effort to follow Chief Justice Glenn Joyal, who was presiding over a case in which the JCCF was representing a group of churches challenging public health restrictions when the PI’s investigations were discovered. 

New party seeks signatures to form Alberta Buffalo wing

Frederick Haultain in 1914, as portrayed by Victor Albert Long (Image: Public Domain).

The Buffalo Party is trying to round up enough signatures to become a legal provincial party in Alberta. 

The former Wexit Saskatchewan Party successfully rebranded itself as that province’s Buffalo Party in the fall of 2020, and supporters on this side of the Al-Sask frontier have been struggling to get enough signatures form an Alberta Buffalo wing as well. 

Many of the party’s principles wouldn’t be out of place in better known political groups, but it is distinguished by the view the Buffalo Region – Alberta, Saskatchewan and parts of the Northwest Territories that territorial premier Frederick Haultain hoped would become a single province in the early 20th Century – are “a culturally distinct region of North America.” 

They need 8,473 eligible signatures – 0.3 per cent of the total number of electors in the 2019 general election – by Jan. 31, 2022. And while they’ve managed to get 9,600 on paper, they’re worried plenty won’t be found acceptable by Elections Alberta, said St. Paul resident David Inscho. 

Whatever happens to the Buffalo Party, there’s plenty of enthusiasm in Wild Rose Country for new fringe parties. Elections Alberta’s website indicates that in addition to the Buffalonians, the Alberta Unity Party, Alberta Patriot Party, Tax Revolt Party of Alberta, Alberta National Party, Alberta Statehood Party, Blue Collar Movement of Alberta, and Unlock Party of Alberta are all gathering signatures. 

Join the Conversation


  1. There is a really big contrast between Peter Lougheed and these pretend conservatives and Reformers that we have had the likes of, with Ralph Klein, and currently under the UCP. It’s a disgrace how the UCP are looking after things, financially, with Covid-19, and with all other matters. The UCP will stop at nothing to try and further Ralph Klein’s twisted agenda, to have very bad corporate tax rates, continue with extremely poor oil royalty rates, do the most pricey shenanigans, and gut out essential services, to force more privatization upon Albertans. Where is the sense in this? These pretend conservatives and Reformers will then look for someone else to blame, when things go wrong. Alberta is in this horrific mess because of these pretend conservatives and Reformers, and even the media, such as the Sun, is letting them get a free ride, while supporting them.

  2. Yes, Kenney’s mysterious disappearance keeps on getting more mysterious. First of all, that two week vacation has now stretched well past that deadline. Not that there are no shortage of problems requiring more visible leadership. I don’t know if it is a coup at this point, so much as an abdication of responsibility, as his greatest summer ever turns into our greatest nightmare – another bad COVID wave.

    Back to the where in the world is Kenney speculation – I bet BC or London. Being out of the province is the most likely explanation for no public appearance, being incapacitated is the next most likely. Hopefully, Kenney who reminds me of Aberhart in temperament and aptitude, is avoiding the Vancouver area in particular, mindful of that historical precident. However, who knows, maybe Mr. Toews will be soon set to try become the UCP’s version of EC Manning.

    I suspect one place Kenney is not – campaigning in the GTA for the Federal Conservatives. If O’Toole is smart he has also banned Kenney from any behind the scenes campaign work, as such things tend to not stay secret for long.

    With the ongoing lack of leadership, many are now trying to fill the vacuum, including a some who would like things to go in a different direction. So, I suspect Kenney will very soon pop up here, at least briefly, to assure us he has not permanently relocated to Burnaby and to try reassert whatever remains of his authority. If he does not, then it is a sign there is a much bigger problem.

  3. The idiots in charge in Alberta are impervious to factual criticism of any kind. Hey ho, it’s time to bugger off for a spot of vacay and to hell with their responsibilities after the best summer ever. And tell me Carpay is any different from the greaseballs showing up to yell obscenities at Trudeau rallies about vaccinations and their “rights”. Oafs to the core, the lot of ’em.

    You cannot fix stupid. That much has been clear for millennia. The question is, why are so many of the terminally stupid in our country concentrated in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and what is it about reality that eludes their tiny malformed minds?

    I see the great Con wazzoo Old Toole is promising if elected to build the Northern Gateway pipeline, and reduce Canada’s GHG reduction promises from 45 to 30% by 2035. Let us step off the cliff together as Canadians, is the mantra of the Man from Glad, whose best feature is his superb shaving ability. So far Canada is the only G7 country to have increased CO2 emissions rather than reduced them! Way to delusionally go! Trudeau, for all his fine words, is as full of his usual bullsh!t as ever. And for the cherry on top as we thumb our collective nose at the world, BC is exporting extra megatons of CO2 from wildfires to a world already too full of it. About time to rub all our “leaders” noses in the dogshite they spout to see if they come up for air and smell the roses.

    A nationwide housing crisis and all I see is extra refugees and hundreds of thousands of new immigrants who arrive with nowhere to go. Brainpower? There isn’t any at our country’s highest echelons, merely greed, when even the NDP is effectively run by the petro dopes in Alberta and BC. Five more years of politico blandishments and worse weather and food shortages, and you wonder what our leaders will offer up as excuses then.

    Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. We’re living in a Monty Python skit. Tell me we’re not.

    1. Well, most North Americans refer to North American bison as buffalos, or maybe the plural is buffalo, but either way I think that lexicographically speaking, it’s quite reasonable to describe the North American species as buffalo. The red panda isn’t really a panda, I’m told, and the serpent in the Garden of Eden that tempted Eve and caused all that trouble had feet, but I’m OK with calling them buffalos, pandas and snakes. As for calling aquatic mammals fish, or spiders insects, well, one has to draw the line somewhere. DJC

  4. Ambassador to Washington???? No thanks, it would ruin our reputation.

    I would suggest Ambassador to Afghanistan or perhaps to the Vatican. Just as long as he leaves Alberta.

  5. If Alberta were a ship, would she be subject to maritime salvage laws?

    Doug Ford has apparently explained his disappearance as a trip to northern Ontario. Obviously no one goes to northern Ontario, so that is why no one saw him. He was working! Look, he has photos to prove that he was somewhere doing something sometime.

    What kind of phantasmagorical, hyperbolic explanation will his Alberta counterpart proffer? Touring budget whiskey distilleries around the world, to encourage economic diversification, and lead the world to the bottom of the barrel? Sitting in bed atop the Sky Palace, binge-watching Judy Garland movies and eating double-buttered popcorn?

    Surely one as politically canny as Dear Leader should know that nature abhors a vacuum.

  6. Jason Kenney is a man of mystery? More like he’s the sort of person who when put in charge of something, tends to become disinterested in his role once things go sideways.

    The usual refrain when things go bad is “I didn’t sign on for this.” In Kenney’s case, in his mind he expected a considerably more manageable career as Alberta’s premier while he plots his return to Ottawa. It’s likely he expected an oil price boom, the destruction of PMJT in the 2019 election, and President Trump winning a second term. (Or at least being able to overturn the 2020 Election result by coup d’etat.) The gambler is always an eternal optimist, and Kenney is of that mindset.

    Of course, there has always been someone of influence to clean up his mess, which may explain Kenney’s state of arrested development. The man is a terminal adolescent. Everything from his creative interpretations of reality, to inventing realities, to demanding totally obedience and constant fluffing of his ego by needy underlings, to acting with complete total disregard for others are the hallmarks of Jason Kenney’s character.

    It has been said that powerful positions amplify the strength and flaws of one’s character. Barack Obama tossed this thoughtful nugget out as he approached the end of his second term. When reflecting on his years on office, Obama admitted to failures, because successes cannot exist without significant failures at some point. Obama’s maturity was an harbinger of the Trump era’s indecision, ineptitude, and insanity.

    Alberta is witnessing something similar, as the unmade man in Kenney tries to think of an exit from his predicament. Is his policy inaction and failure the result of just Kenney wanting Alberta to go away and leave him be? Very likely. Without a doubt, this is the end of something, but perhaps the beginning of something better or something more dangerous.

    Popcorn. Good.

    1. Jason Kenney is a man of mystery in the sense that we know very little about his private life, his likes and dislikes, his friends and so on. Mostly we speculate and come to believe our speculations. I think of him more like a few characters I met along the way in my newspaper career who were always neglecting the job they’d just got and scheming about how to get the next one. But that may just be me. What we can say with absolute and objective confidence is that he’s a really terrible premier. DJC

  7. “obviously composed by a tone-deaf flunky”

    Is this a tip of the hat from one tone-deaf flunky to another?

    I noticed that Notley isnt much in the press right now either. I see she is abrogating her job to her running dogs.

  8. Where Kenney is concerned, he is a textbook example of a sociopath: emotionally unavailable and only considers a situation based on its political utility and not for its impact on others. In a very strong sense, he minded me of the main character in the Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. However, unlike Kravitz, Kenney has not received his comeuppance, yet. He’s very adept at failing upwards and has great admiration for those who are skilled at that art. Just look at his cabinet, indeed everyone in Harpo’s cabinet, everyone of them advanced because of their unwavering loyalty to the leader and knowing when to get out of town.

    It’s very likely that with a CPC victory and Erin O’Toole becoming PM, Kenney will have his exit strategy accomplished. That is unless there’s a surprise end to the current election campaign. Considering Kenney’s stellar track record of failure and bumbles, O’Toole should, unlike Andrew Scheer, wait for the ballots. And then be very careful about what he says afterwards.

  9. The difference in leadership of Rachel Notley during the Fort McMurray wildfire in 2016 and Jason Kenney’s during the Covid19 pandemic is truly astounding.

    1. At some point, even in Canada, there will be relentless scapegoating and bullshitery over who’s screwing up the pandemic response. (Best)

      PMJT and the Liberals, at the very least, got things right with the vaccine roll-out. What they screwed up was getting the next 25% of the vaccine-hesitant to STFU and take the jab. Admittedly, there was no resistance to the Polio vaccine because humanity had endured the debilitating effects of that illness for generations — the Polio Vaccine was a welcome relief.

      Thanks to vaccines, hundreds of diseases have disappeared. But people (the idiots anyway) forgot about the efficacy of vaccines and believe, weirdly, that these diseases never existed. And everything is a plot by Big Pharma.

      More often than not, it’s the pious and religious who cause most of the problems. Or, as I noted during an interview with the extremely insane, Ted Byfield, regardless of all the insulting things he says about so many, he is forgiven every Sunday. I presume so he can start up his bullshite mill again Monday morning.

      That’s is why, for every election, when a candidate comes to my door and, regardless of their party, I welcome them and ask them the same question: do they attend church or temple? If they response in the affirmative, I tell them to “Get F*cked” and slam the door in their faces.

      1. If you liked that Australian commentary on their fundamentalist PM, you might also enjoy this Australian commentary on Hydrogen, Carbon Capture and Storage – another government subsidy to green wash and prolong the fossil fuel era at public expense. The Aussies even have a Canadian reference in this one. (not for sensitive woke libs)

  10. Re: the photo above “Walking into the sunset or what?” Maybe going into the truck stop restaurant to have bacon, eggs, and breakfast potatoes with Stephen Harper…..really great for one’s cardiovascular status. Frequent indulgence can lead to myocardial infarction or some other thing like needing a stent procedure. Speculation could include a 4 week + recovery.

      1. If J-Kenney is going to head over to that trucker’s diner, he’s going to have to walk on water.

        Given Kenney’s delusional state of mind, he probably thinks he can walk on water.

        Maybe he met his untimely end when someone told him to take a long walk off a short pier?

      2. Another variant of the joke. If Justin Trudeau was seen walking on water the Conservatives would issue a press release claiming “Trudeau too lazy to swim”.

  11. Recent Jason Kenney sightings:
    – in Vegas buying tickets to a Cher concert
    – in San Francisco hanging out with old college buddies
    – in Alabama checking out places more conservative than Alberta

  12. The conservatives in my family find it hard to believe that anyone would be dumb enough to want to elect another Reformer in Erin O’Toole after what they have done to Alberta and Canada. But we still see ignorant fellow seniors hurling their sarcastic comments at those of us who are a lot smarter than them.

    Every time we turn around we are having pay for their stupidity. Klein’s Orphan Wells mess and now Stephen Harper. Farmers have been given permission to sue the federal government, it’s our money, for what they lost when Harper went behind their backs and privatized their Canadian Wheat Board.

    It’s too bad we didn’t sue Klein for privatizing our power and natural gas industries. Everything my dad, a Power Plant Engineer, said would happen has happen. It has cost Albertans billions of dollars. A friend lost his 75 year old family business when his power bills increased by $82,000. a year.

    We aren’t fans of Trudeau but certainly trust him more that O’Toole. We know our young Albertans wouldn’t have received the handouts to get them through this pandemic if the Reformers had been in power. Edmonton Airport is getting $25 million they desperately need, thanks to Trudeau.

    Kenney can’t even help them with the $10 a day day care fees, while other provinces are jumping on board. My son has been paying $1,800. per month for hist wo boys, so why wouldn’t he want help? Looking after his rich friends is far more important to Kenney , while making doctors, nurses, teachers and University Students pay for his revenue cutting stupidity, corporate tax cuts. How stupid does he think we are? He knows after all he got ignorant Albertans to elect him, didn’t he?

    1. ALAN K SPILLER: You know, as well as I do, that these pretend conservatives and Reformers simply do not know what they are doing, and they are making Albertans pay for their very pricey shenanigans. When it all goes wrong, all they know how to do is point their fingers at someone else. We know how Peter Lougheed was, and it is far different with these people in charge. The head honcho of Alberta got into his position by deceitful ways, as likely did Ralph Klein. The R.C.M.P have been looking into the UCP leadership race. I was also told that in June of 1993, busloads of people showed up at polling stations in Alberta to vote for the Alberta PCs. It’s sad that the older generations of Albertans have brainwashed the younger generation to support these pretend conservatives and Reformers, regardless of how they misappropriated Alberta’s revenue, do harmful cuts, which affect the less fortunate, our teachers, our health care employees, our elderly, youngsters, and our infrastructure. There is no sense in this.

  13. What I find completely baffling is that in 2021, with the multitude of smart phone cameras and social media accounts out there, that no one has captured even a distant blurry photo (Sasquatch-style?) of a bloated middle-aged man resembling Randy from the Trailer Park Boys cruising the streets (pun intended) of some Canadian or international city in a “gotcha” moment. Ditto for outings (pun also intended) in his personal life. Very perplexing, indeed.

    As for his current whereabouts, has anyone considered looked for him at a Lady Gaga concert?

  14. Kenney wistfully surveys the environs of the Blackfoot Diner, a frequent host of his bloviating pronouncements, wondering where his next feed is coming from and who will be paying for it.

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