Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at Friday’s news conference (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

Alberta’s ‘Kenney Pennies’ scheme to motivate vaccine-hesitant holdouts earns instant, visceral, near-universal derision

Posted on September 04, 2021, 2:51 am
7 mins

Everybody hates a freeloader.

This is a universal law of human nature.

Postmedia political columnist Rick Bell and Mr. Kenney not so long ago – things seemed somewhat less amiable at Friday’s newser (Photo: Facebook).

So while it’s true evidence suggests “vaccine passports” would be more effective at getting vaccination-hesitant Albertans to do the right thing than Jason Kenney’s scheme to give $100 gift cards to dim-witted holdouts if they agree to get a jab, that’s not why the idea was instantly and universally loathed. It’s also likely not because it’ll cost about $20 million.

It’s because good citizens who did the right thing and stepped up to be vaccinated will get bupkes.

There is a fury in the land!

The premier, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw had all been harshly criticized for disappearing from view for weeks while the COVID-19 Delta variant burned its way through the province after they’d defied conventional wisdom and opened the place up in July.

So we all knew something foolish was probably coming down the pike when we got word they’d scheduled a Friday news conference, dragging Alberta Health Services CEO Verna Yiu along to lend a little credibility to their effort. (Yes, Dr. Yiu confirmed, Alberta’s ICUs are now almost at capacity.)

Mr. Kenney and his United Conservative Party Government, after all, have a track record for bad ideas.

Who would have guessed, though, they’d come up with something that provoked such atavistic revulsion?

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

One would have thought even Canada’s most tone-deaf premier would have understood this.

Apparently not. 

When Mr. Kenney dropped his big idea a few minutes into the news conference – which with characteristic contempt for his audience began about 20 minutes late – it was almost as if there was a province-wide gasp of astonishment. 

Within seconds, the Twittersphere exploded. Everybody hated it. Even Mr. Kenney’s friends. 

Worse from the premier’s perspective, it was widely and hilariously mocked. 

Brian Mason, the former Alberta NDP leader tweeting from his Okanagan retirement redoubt, dubbed it “Kenney’s Pennies” – a great take on Ralph Bucks, premier Ralph Klein’s $400 “prosperity bonus” back in 2005. This moniker will stick. 

Ralph Bucks were a bad idea too, but since we all got the money, it didn’t violate a fundamental taboo. 

Kenney Pennies seem to have offended everyone, even Mr. Kenney’s journalistic cheerleading squad at Postmedia. 

Health Minister Tyler Shandro at the same event (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

Political columnist Don Braid called it “a panicky bribe for the undeserving.” His column set the tone for what followed the initial hostile reviews. Licia Corbella called it a “vaccine bribery scheme.” A “gobsmacked” Rick Bell ripped the premier a new one during the news conference’s Q&A session for reporters: “Do you realize,” he asked the premier, “what kind of a message this is going to send to the seven out of 10 Albertans who have gone out and got fully immunized?” 

“I wish we didn’t have to do this,” a defensive Mr. Kenney retorted shoutily. “But this is not a time for moral judgment!” 

Yes it is, said an entire province. 

“I’m much more concerned about protecting our hospitals than I am about some abstract message this sends,” Mr. Kenney huffed at about 43 minutes into the hourlong news conference. 

That was the moment, I think, when he lost Alberta. 

History may well show it was the moment the United Conservative Party began to take on water. If you hear music, it’s only the orchestra playing Nearer My God, to Thee. 

“We have left no stone unturned and yet we have the lowest vaccination rate in Canada,” Mr. Kenney, having lost his audience, whinged.

Of course, he left a very large stone unturned: Vaccine passports. Most of the province wants them and most experts say they work.

CTV reporter Bill Fortier raised that point, asking Dr. Hinshaw what her professional view was about “whether or not Alberta should bring in a proof-of-vaccine program like B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba?”

Dr. Hinshaw responded: “Policy decisions always need to be made in the context of a particular population, and the reason that policy decisions are made by elected officials is because they do need to reflect the context of that population. It’s clear that in other populations when requirements have been introduced that uptake has increased and at the same time, that is not, again, without some impact.” 

Possible translation: Of course we should bring in vaccine passports. They work! But the cavemen in the UCP Caucus, steeped in culture war ideology, will not abide it. And they’re the only particular population that counts around here. 

This, Dear Readers, is why you have focus groups. 

If the UCP strategic brain trust had focus-grouped this idea, it never would have seen the light of day. 

Too late now. Always the smartest man in the room, Mr. Kenney knew better.

43 Comments to: Alberta’s ‘Kenney Pennies’ scheme to motivate vaccine-hesitant holdouts earns instant, visceral, near-universal derision

  1. Abs

    September 4th, 2021

    What do Jason Kenney and phone scammers have in common? Gift cards.

    He was so concerned about hospitals that he disappeared for 23 days.

    He was so concerned that he did ignored the anti-everything protestors at the Foothills Hospital on Wednesday.

    He is so concerned now that he’s throwing unvaccinated children under the school bus, allowing every school board in the province to do their own thing about masks and other public health measures.

    Remind me, when’s the general strike?

    Reply
  2. Dave

    September 4th, 2021

    Whatever he did on that strange extended vacation, in the midst of increasing COVID cases, it does not seem it has helped Kenney to return with clear thinking and a sound plan.

    I don’t know if this is the dumbest idea ever, but it sure is up there. It is quite the accomplishment to come up with an idea universally despised, even by many previously fairly stalwart supporters.

    One can only keep shooting themselves in the foot and elsewhere so many times, before it eventually becomes fatal. I think this latest bad idea may be the one that helps end Kenney’s political career, unless he does some very fast and skillful backtracking, which is something Kenney is not generally known for.

    Reply
  3. Bill Malcolm

    September 4th, 2021

    We now know for certain what kenney values most and what he assumes must drive everyone else – money. Not his, everyone else’s. A personal lifetime of not doing a day’s honest work, padding the old expense acoount, buttering up petro companies and living the wealthy life, has been accomplished entirely from the trough of public funds which he regards as his own to dish out as he sees fit. A mere amoral right wing gun for hire.

    Also did not realize you had sickos blockading hospitals just like those idiots in Vancouver. Cannot understand why we haven’t heard about that on the national news. We did hear kenney’s debit card idiocy yesterday on the six o’clock news on all three major TV networks here in the Maritimes, but that had all mysteriously disappeared by late night. Perhaps deemed not newsworthy enough compared to Hurricane Ida’s effects, or the maundering over Afghanistan.

    I had always “worried” that Alberta vax hesitancy/rejection might be driven by ex-Atlantic Region people who had gone to Alberta to work in the oilfields, either permanently or on rotation. However, Newfoundland has rocketed into the lead on vaccine doses per capita of the eligible 12+, with 89 % having a first dose and 79 % fully vaxxed, and the remainder of the far east provinceas are not very far behind. So ex-pats aren’t likely the cause of the execrably bad social behaviour of people dissing health workers in your province or wandering around with complete jello for brains. They’re honest home grown fruitcakes.

    What the hell hold has kenney on Henshaw and now Liu to drag them into the fray as “prestige” backdrops for his deathless utterances? Beyond my ken. Perhaps professionalism has a different definition in Alberta, and of course, Saskatchewan, where a man who cannot even express himself aloud in complete sentences runs the place. Will we see Old Toole utter a word about what’s happening on the Prairies while he campaigns federally? Not a chance. The Con Bozo Brigade proceeds apace, lying or prevaricating as it advances. Christ, to think we might have nutbars running the country in three weeks is enough to make a thinking person contemplate offing themselves. The loonie bin escapees could soon be running the place.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      September 5th, 2021

      Bill, that’s what honestly boggles my mind. How can the people of Canada see all the BS that’s happening in the conservative run provinces think to themselves, “yeah, I’d like the country to be run like that.” It makes no sense. What is happening to our country?

      Reply
      • Scotty on Denman

        September 6th, 2021

        I think a lot of Canadians see what you mean—including Erin O’Toole: he’s been using the provCon governments as a foil to suggest his fedCon party is different—that is, better. That’s why he’s been avoiding the heartland of the CPC’s Western caucus from which he hopes his Eastern caucus, presumably the more traditionally Tory half of the national caucus, can be psepho-cognitively separated in the electorate’s mind. That four thousand-pound buffalo in the room? So far, it seems content enough to strike the menacingly aloof pose of its capo’s made man.

        Already next day, JT is out of the blocks to warn voters what that ominously anomalous silence from far-right (Western) CPC faction, normally the Old Faithful of bozo eruptions, really portends—in a tone perhaps a tad too admonishing and reedy, but projecting well the image of an affable Mr Potato Head ordering supplicants to “never mind that hulking silhouette behind the curtain” while pulling out every stop to keep the steam-whistles from waking up every coyote on the Prairies.

        With just a fortnight to go, and the O’TooleCons edging the Liberals in the polls (although not near majority territory), count on progressives to floodlight the CPC’s Trojan Buffalo in high chiaroscuro—with slow, nauseatingly terrifying double-bass shredding over rumbling kettle drums.

        Reply
  4. Anonymous

    September 4th, 2021

    The UCP reach the newest depths of absurdity every time. What this is is a Ralph Klein like voter bribery ploy, plain and simple. This money, and the other very grand amounts of it, which the UCP are wasting, could help the healthcare system in Alberta, which the UCP is intent on giving more cuts to, and privatizing, which is what Ralph Klein was doing in the cuts department, to veer us in the direction of getting private for profit healthcare. The money Ralph Klein bribed Albertans off with, was supposed to be saved, like Peter Lougheed did, because it is with certainty that oil prices can come crashing down at any time. What else can you expect from pretend conservatives and Reformers? Had Albertans heeded the warnings about the UCP being bad to begin with, we certainly wouldn’t be in this horrific mess.

    Reply
  5. Expat Albertan

    September 4th, 2021

    At least here in Ontario, our Barney Rubble-like premier is finally doing them right thing after exhausting all other options. For Alberta, all I can say is, I’m appalled.

    Reply
  6. Ben

    September 4th, 2021

    I’ve always voted NDP, loathed the UCP, and read your blog. But now I’m done. I truly thought I could count on the left being pro-choice and preserving body autonomy (like with abortions, and yes pregnancy is contagious, just ask any woman infected with a fetus by a man’s dirty load), but I was wrong. Body autonomy means nothing to the left if it doesn’t piss off the right, right? Why not TEST the unvaxxed (and everyone else) to see if they have NATURAL antibodies from being infected with COVID to see if they even need the vaccine? Why not test people for susceptibility to the “rare” blood clots that have KILLED PEOPLE who took the vaccine???? No, you just want to FORCE people who are AFRAID to think exactly like you. Fuck you. Fuck the NDP. Fuck your illegal passports. Im never voting in this broken Country again. Turns out the left is just as extremist and vile as the right.

    Reply
    • A little bird

      September 4th, 2021

      Yeah they have been testing unvaccinated folks, there is no natural immunity to a mutating coronavirus, this is why we have the common cold. Vaccines are absolutely necessary, and you are infringing on everyone else’s bodily autonomy.

      It’s crucial to learn what you’re talking about before foaming at the mouth, especially when it comes to politics.

      Reply
      • A little bird

        September 4th, 2021

        Also if you think the NDP represents “the left” hoo boy, I really don’t know what to tell you.

        Reply
    • Anne Wilson

      September 4th, 2021

      I think the point is people don’t have to think the same way, Ben. They can continue to choose not to be vaccinated, and the goal of public protection can be met, with a vaccine passport. Not going to a gym or a bar or restaurant is no biggie compared to a person’s duty to society not to spread the virus. That may seem unfair, but no-one is forced. I have both vaccines, and while I wouldn’t hyperbolize and say I’m hostage to the whims of the hesitant, it has meant that our hospital can’t get to needed surgeries and procedures. This is better.

      Reply
    • ayeamayeatched a you tube

      September 4th, 2021

      Watched a you tube video the other day of a Doctor describing the death spiral of a covid patient including a fair amount of autopsy data and other details. The take away is that to die from covid is without a doubt a very nasty way to go. Now picture health care professionals dealing with that everyday for the last year and a half. Now we are heading into a fourth ( probably the worst ) wave and the hospitals are filling up with unvaccinated patients. While the virus is rampaging through the unvaccinated population it can mutate into more lethal forms. The virus doesn’t differentiate between ” left ” or ” right “,NDP,UCP, democrat or republican. It kills all. You don’t want to carry your weight, you don’t want to be ” forced” to do the right thing by your neighbours that’s fine. You get covid unvaccinated there is no hospital bed for you, my tax dollars aren’t going to pay for your care. Go home and DIE ALONE. While you are dying alone grab your laptop and spout more anti-vax nonsense and wail about the ” Left ” doing you wrong. Buy some of that animal medicine the ” right” is pushing. I’m sick and tired of listening to all this anti-vax, anti-mask bullshit. It’s time the rest of us started standing up to the crybaby anti-vaxxers No Jab, no treatment.

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        September 4th, 2021

        I’ve been a little indulgent and allowed the F-bomb to be dropped in these pages a couple of times in the past 24 hours. My bad. I shouldn’t have done that. I’m afraid that’s going to have to stop, though, before it goes mainstream. DJC

        Reply
    • Elizabeth Hagell

      September 4th, 2021

      Whoa. Ben. You had just settle right down. Do NOT compare a woman’s right to abortion to choice about getting a COVID vaccine. You need a bit of a lesson in biology. Wanker.

      Reply
  7. Lorne

    September 4th, 2021

    Yet again Kenny is offering a carrot. I want to know where’s the stick.

    Reply
    • tom in ontario

      September 4th, 2021

      The stick is being used on Alberta’s nurses. Kenney’s stated threat to slash their salaries by 3-5% should more than cover the cost of his insane $100 vaccine bribe.

      Reply
    • Bret Larson

      September 4th, 2021

      The stick? Ever heard of COVID-19? That is the stick.

      Reply
  8. Bob Raynard

    September 4th, 2021

    A point that hasn’t been made yet, is that since Covid isn’t really a problem in Atlantic Canada, every province in Canada where Covid is a problem has vaccine passports, except Alberta and Saskatchewan, which along with NWT have the highest Covid rates in the country.

    Reply
  9. Bob Raynard

    September 4th, 2021

    I wonder if another translation of Dr. Hinshaw’s answer could be ‘Alberta has so many nut jobs we are afraid of the rioting that vaccine passports would cause.’

    This whole thing should serve as notice about how badly an Alberta curriculum needs to include a comprehensive study of media literacy. Unfortunately, Kenney needs a base with no BS detection skills in order for him to succeed politically.

    Reply
  10. orion_yyc

    September 4th, 2021

    Wow. Words spoken were never more true. Love your opinion pieces, but this, DJC, is a masterpiece. You have outdone yourself. Thank you. I only wish Kenney & Co were capable of being humble enough to read & heed the opinions the majority of Albertans hold which you have captured & articulated so pointedly and eloquently. You are a beacon of truth and light in this dark world called ‘Berta. Majority rules? Nope. The FreeDumb Base rules.
    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  11. Mike J Danysh

    September 4th, 2021

    This might turn out to be the 2×4 that breaks the camel’s back. (Relax, PETA cranks–I mean this stupid mistake is way too big to call it a “straw.”) Up to now, Kenney has irritated every adult in Oilberduh, left, centre AND right. But this isn’t irrititating. It’s infuriating. I confess, when I saw the headlines, I was numb. Kenney’s decisions have been so bad, my reaction was, “That figures.” The million-dollar prizes in the vaccine lottery were just as dumb, but at least they were open to everyone.

    The surprising reaction was from the Postmedia cheerleaders, especially Licia Corbella and Rick Bell, the #1A and 1B members of the squad. Kenney has completely blown his chance of re-election. I doubt (I hope and pray) he can recover from this one.

    Reply
  12. Athabascan

    September 4th, 2021

    Ha, ha. LMAO because you used the word “brain” and “UCP” in the same sentence.

    When do I get $100 to voluntarily drive at the posted speed limit, so I don’t endanger others? This is so f’ed up I hardly know where to begin.

    The fact that kenney doesn’t see this latest policy as f’d up should concern all Albertans. What other stunt does he plan on implementing? Brains, that’s funny!

    Reply
  13. Ben

    September 4th, 2021

    I swore in my last email. I apologize for that, it wasn’t called for. I’m just sick of how my fellow Canadians are talking about the vaccine-HESITANT crowd like they’re filthy beasts. I’ve always been a meet-in-the-middle kind of guy. Thats why I think pre-testing people who are afraid to get vaccinated to reassure them that they wont DIE from the vaccine (as some have) is a good compromise. Passports are also fine, IF there are medical and religious exemptions, because that’s the Canadian way (full disclosure: I’m an atheist). I just want the conversation to be less vile. And OF COURSE I’m not an anti-vaxxer. Vaccines save lives. But we can’t turn the unvaxxed into COVID scapegoats when we’re passing laws protecting long-term care home providers from accountablitity. Sorry for the ranting, and sorry for swearing last time. I’ll likely still vote NDP because Kenney frickin’ sucks!

    Reply
    • Anne Wilson

      September 4th, 2021

      Sweet answer, thanks Ben, that was thoughtful of you.

      Reply
  14. Hammer

    September 4th, 2021

    And he will pay for it with the cutbacks he is proposing on the public Sector. We have reached the bottom of the septic tank with the UCP.

    Reply
    • Expat Albertan

      September 4th, 2021

      What was that Margaret Thatcher said about socialism…something something…other people’s money?

      Reply
  15. Keith McClary

    September 4th, 2021

    A teacher likened it to giving 100 gold stars to the student who turned in their homework late.

    Reply
  16. DugSlug

    September 4th, 2021

    This quote from yesterday’s news conference tells me everything I need to know about where Dear Leader’s priorities are: “If the choice is between a sustained crisis in our hospitals or, God forbid, widespread restrictions, which I want to avoid at all costs…”

    Shouldn’t he be invoking God’s name in the context of the sustained crisis in our hospitals? Why do widespread restrictions seem more severe to Dear Leader? Surely God isn’t too bothered about wearing masks and taking actions that will protect the lives, and ultimately, livelihoods of the majority of Albertans.

    For someone that is considered (by some) a shrewd politician, Dear Leader’s strategy of continually pandering to his base is a losing proposition. Not only will it, I hope, cost him in Alberta, but his aspirations of riding back to Ottawa to save the rest of Canada from the perils of socialism are dead. We couldn’t give him away if we offered everyone in Ontario $100 to vote for him (“not a time for moral judgment”)!

    I believe the clock is running on Dear Leader’s tenure and I think that clock started after the marathon caucus meeting in the spring where they turfed Barnes et al. He must have been begging for his political life – and the deal he struck was that he would not run again. As his popularity continues to plummet and his “united” party continues to fracture, the question now is whether or not he’ll make it all the way to spring 2023. I had hoped that his recent absence was tied to some early exit strategy but I guess we’re stuck with him for now.

    Reply
  17. Just Me

    September 4th, 2021

    Kenney rolls out Dr Yiu because nobody believes a word Dr Hinshaw says anymore. It’s come to this.

    At this point, Kenney will do anything to avoid vaccine passports. He will throw money at any problem to make it go away. He will reward his base of Antivaxxers, AntiMaskers, and FreeDUMB lovers to make nice with them. He’s reached the level of one of those people who fall for telephone scammers and hand over their entire bank accounts to them.

    The fear in Kenney’s eyes every time he appears in public is evident and hilarious. He is a pompous arse, a completely unmade man, with little to show of any life experience, apart from believing that he can buy his way out of any crisis. And if that doesn’t work, pay more. He lives in a transactional fantasy world, where everyone has their price and he’s ready to meet it. No wonder car salespersons love this guy.

    So, what has Kenney invited in this latest act of stupidity?

    For one thing, there’s going to be another caucus revolt that’s going to boil over. The next caucus meeting is going to be a ruckus affair. There will be news of hatred in the land, angry directed at the premier, and demands that he GTFO out of Alberta.

    But Kenney can’t leave until after the federal election. Then, PM Erin O’Toole can hand him a plum appointment and he can pad himself for the rest of his days. It’s only three weeks; how much damage can Kenney over that time?

    Meanwhile, O’Toole suddenly realizes he has to return to Alberta because CPC support is dying among the true blue voters. SoCONs will be filled with rage that there’s a hated Red Tory at the helm. Maxime Bernier has likely decided to campaign exclusively in Alberta in the coming weeks because it’s fertile land for his PPC anger-fest. There’s a lot of votes to be swiped from O’Toole there. The Maverick Party can call itself true Alberta blue will also be pushing hard, using O’Toole and Kenney as proof that they are no more than a pair of CINOs.

    As for PMJT, he can’t believe his luck. The English-language debate will be like throwing sticks of dynamite in a fish barrel. While O’Toole will cling to his glossy-covered party platform, Trudeau will get him on abortion, guns, and the pandemic response. He will bring up Jason Kenney’s Alberta and ask O’Toole, “Is this what Canadians can expect from Premier Kenney’s man? More confusion, idiocy, and indecision on a Canada-wide scale?” Watching O’Toole stammer in English will be hilarious.

    According to B.C.’s modelling of Alberta’s pandemic situation (They have to watch Alberta because they share a border with it, and they act like adults.), it will reach 4,000 daily infections by October. Once the hospital tents start appearing, you know Alberta will never see Jason Kenney again.

    Reply
  18. Carlos

    September 4th, 2021

    My goodness everything they touch instantly turns into crap.
    It is the absolute Manure Dream Team
    You are right, now they are definitely taking in water and the sinking is now inevitable.
    Jason Kenney will be remembered forever as the worst disaster Alberta has ever experienced.
    Another 2 years of this and we will never recover.

    Reply
  19. Northern Loon

    September 4th, 2021

    Did anyone else find it strange that Mr Kenney refused to say he was on vacation for 23 days, but instead characterized it as taking ‘personal time’? Does JK really think that taking personal time in the middle of a pandemic sounds better than vacation?

    If JK was really in constant touch with his office then why did he wait until yesterday to do something?

    Why is JK leaving the offer of a portion of a billion $’s on the table to set up the vaccine passport system that 8 out of 10 provinces have taken up?

    Why do the JK and the UCP seem unable to relate to the electorates hatred of Jason’s Pennies as being a ‘solution’?

    There are so many questions. JK and the UCP are not willing to be receptive to the electorate.

    Reply
  20. Kingsley

    September 4th, 2021

    Well, the ucp shitshow has morphed into a cluster fuck.We new it was coming. Please check definitions of my crude words to see what the next stage might be. General Strike?

    Reply
  21. Misc.

    September 4th, 2021

    Best summer ever, over before the last long weekend of summer, surprised Kenney did not wait until Tuesday to come out of hiding. Other than the bribes being offered was the announcement that once again bars and restaurants will have restrictions, alcohol sales stop at 10 pm. I am sure many of these businesses would have preferred a vaccine passport to keep people in their establishment a bit longer. But I wonder if ideology played a part in this decision, this weekend is Calgary pride festival, a busy time for many bars, maybe Kenney could not fathom the pride fest and that is the reason for alcohol sales stopping at 10pm. Once again business that have taken the brunt of Covid restriction are forced to sacrifice some more due to selfish and entitled anti-vaxxers.

    Reply
  22. Hana Razga

    September 4th, 2021

    Kenney Pennies, love that. The rest makes me really really angry.

    From Alberta at Noon Friday with Judy Aldous: https://twitter.com/AlbertaatNoon/status/1433883124103057428

    Look! The $100 plan is working its magic.
    Quote Tweet
    Never Getting Vaccinations
    @NotVaccinated3
    · 22h
    Replying to @AlbertaatNoon and @CBCEdmonton
    Not gonna happen take your death jab and shove it where the sun don’t shine princess

    Reply
  23. Alan K Spiller

    September 4th, 2021

    I think those of us who followed the rules and got vaccinated should ban together and sue Kenney personally for $200. each, what do you think?

    The guy just keeps on proving how ignorant he is, and we thought Ralph Klein was a fool. This guy has him beat.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      September 5th, 2021

      ALAN K SPILLER: That certainty is true.

      Reply
  24. Scotty on Denman

    September 4th, 2021

    “Nearer My God, to Thee”—wasn’t that the theme music to the movie Jaws? Kenney certainly hit the podium in a Great White ejector seat. Of course the age old question is provoked: can a shark be jumped more than once? Insofar as the K-Boy’s stage career is but a series of arcs within a larger epic of neo-right decline and fall, yes, apparently it can. Anyhow, Jason definitely earned his boos with this last showing. Lucky he never got egged.

    But it’s also asked if this chapter of Covid’s Bitumiad has just passed a plot-point located somewheres about the beginning of Act III where the main character’s fortunes turn, flag and limp toward the tragic finale, where every partisanship in the audience already knows that each feat of cynical bribery, red-faced rationalization, and sheepish pseudo-shamanism is peddled like scratchy 45s, muffled VCR re-runs and burned-out lightbulbs at a post-Soviet flea market. The more Mr K acts like he doesn’t know better than to continuously underscore his failures, the more critics pan his slapstick as nothing more than tawdry knock-offs indicating terminal diagnoses.

    In my view, the turning point was passed several years ago: born on a river—in a little tent—and, just like that river, KeKangaroo Kenney’s been jumpin’ ever since. It’s been a long time comin’ but I know a change gonna come—Oh, yes it is.

    That river is the mighty Ottawa where Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence pitched a tipi on a small island in which to protest the HarperCon government’s singling out of her small First Nation in northern Ontario, an audit of her impoverished community’s books in order to smear it with charges of misappropriating federal parsimony, an hypocrisy that could have been as easily inflicted on almost any of the hundreds of northern “Indian Reserves” emaciated by Crown neglect right across the country, but that Attawapiskat has a diamond mine airstrip nearby which handily accommodated phalanxes of news media which tried their best to outrage Southerners by sensationalizing how squalidly Aboriginals ‘mis-spend’ their starvation stipends, to imply Aboriginals’ alleged ‘thanklessness’ for Southerners’ supposed ‘generosity’, to refocus some of that hoped-for white resentment upon the FNs of British Columbia which were, conspicuously at the very same time, using every legal means, including the court of public opinion, to block Harper’s centrepiece project, the Northern Gateway pipeline from the the Albetarian Bitumen Mines to an inland port at the head of a long, treacherous fjord on the West Coast, the priority objective he’d been working on for several years but had been delayed by an unexpected second minority term, blown back by a series of rash tactics attempted to ram it through before voters got a say about it, and derailed completely by electoral defeat when they finally did have their say.

    Idle-No-More, inspired by the political assault on Attawapiskat, was the real turning point— not only for the HarperCon government, but also for the party and, not least, for one its founding cabinet ministers who would, soon after the CPC defeat, flee to the circus of the Western Reformer Redoubt in Alberta, regroup, recuperate, intensify behind a firewall HarperCon principles provincially and, it’s been speculated, return someday to the mighty Ottawa to re-impose another insufferable Golden Age upon Canada.

    Considerably more weighty than a straw, Idle-No-More broke the HarperCamel’s back nonetheless. While the CPC had been playing a lively game of whack-a-mole, dodging (temporarily) numerous charges of electoral cheating, Harper’s first, blatant, undeniable shark-jump was performed at the end of the party’s sole majority when he played the xenophobic race-card, the ‘niqab’ campaign stage-prop which, IMHO, finally convinced Canadians—if Idle-No-More hadn’t already—that the neo-right usurpers of the conservative brand had, as Wiki defines the fine art of shark-jumping, inadvertently highlighted their irrelevance by way of the very device they tried to promote themselves with. (The CPC’s Ottawa punch bowl from which Erin O’Toole now invites voters to sip had become infested with Great Whites and Hammerheads ever since the 2015 election.)

    The continuation of HarperCondom on the small stage—also of its moral decline—was conveniently obscured by the tumult of the times when the K-capsule splashed down: the province’s customary four-decadal change of political diapers still wafted in the air, the collapse of the bitumen mining industry and city-eating wildfires was still being denied, and renegade herds of hoof-stomping, right-wing chimeras roamed snorting across the high prairie. If not for the surprise NDP government’s steady hand on the tiller which made straight for calm waters, K-Boy’s tinkle-down might have been drowned out by the sound of bigger breakers. But there he was, all freshly scrubbed, hailing something like ‘it’s morning again in Alberta’ or ‘make Alberta great again’—the as-yet pre-nauseam slogans of tRump’s 2016 presidential campaign— a new dawn, a recalibration to Genesis, the abysmal HarperCon record voided. The shark-jumping continued apace with hardly a break anyway—which nearly everybody noticed except, naturally, the jumpers themselves.

    The list is too long; items like the ‘war room’, SoCon-inspired attacks on gender rights, and picking chauvinistic fights with public sector unions—all gimmicky and unnecessary enough to qualify as shark-jumps —are mostly overshadowed by the UCP’s more recent mishandling of Covid, but the partisan philosophy is as unmistakably HarperConical as their performances decorate an unbroken line from 2006 (the first CPC minority) to now, just over halfway through the UCP’s maiden term. However, one item which sets Kenney apart from Harper, albeit circumstantially, is that he’s stuck so faithfully to the Donald tRump playbook (which hadn’t yet become widely infamous by the time voters terminated the HarperCon regime). Kenney’s resort to tRump’s playbook may be taken as either a series of little shark-jumping performances or one, big whale of a single bound. The most curious distinction between The Jason and The Donald is that tRump dismissed Covid because he thought it would help him in an election year—faulty thinking that at least had one point of reference to reality; K-Boy, on the other hand, was years away from own his date with the electorate when Covid hit and, also unlike tRump, he was still riding high in the polls, meaning there was even less reason for him to make a partisan culture war out of Covid—but he did anyway, and now he’ll find it hard to back away —certainly as long’s Covid’s around.

    Political hamhandedness results when policy proposals are not developed, debated and vetted by a party of like-minded citizens so’s to more easily sell them to voters. To be fair, K-Boy might not be situationally favoured since the relatively fresh sutures between the restless factions he stitched together have been too vigorously rent from within the UCP for it to provide anything like the wisdom of consensus. The $100 dollar bribe to persuade reluctant citizens to get vaccinated is dressed up like responsible Covid policy, but it’s so impolitic on other levels as to question whether it actually comes from cogent policy-making at all or if it’s really a lame attempt (as it looks) to defend the party and its dominating personality, not public health. But is this bit of shark-jumpery really the ‘it’ point for Jason Kenney’s political arc?

    It’s safe to say the most consequential turn of K-UCP fortunes is somewhere among the series of shark-jumps festooned along the entire Covid narrative and political arc. Take your pick.

    K-Boy’s propensity to double down the wrong path just as Covid is doubling down on ICU beds does not bode well for him or his party (even the CPC is entangled). As it appears Covid will still be a big issue in two years (the reason JT called an early election is to reset the governing term-clock to safely beyond 2023), just when the UCP will be getting appraised by voters with ballots in their sanitized hands, it would seem anytime along this term’s remainder could provide other, possibly even bigger signals that the K-UCP is done for. All will be contextualized eventually—which seems almost all there’s left to do with the UCP: ride it out and hope it never comes back.

    Or maybe this most recent gaff alone will be deemed, in general retrospect we hope to have one day, the plot-point from which Kenney and his party never recovered.

    Be safe, my Alberta friends, and we shall see.

    Reply
  25. Doug

    September 4th, 2021

    1) Kenney is laying low to avoid distracting from the Federal election. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. I suspect he was in Calgary for most of August

    2) The Province has nothing to lose in offering $100 incentives to get vaccinated. Are people upset because they feel entitled to $100?

    3) Vaccine passports won’t happen anywhere in Canada. It is all talk. I’ll believe otherwise when the first unionized government employee is fired for cause for refusing vaccination

    Reply
  26. Mike J Danysh

    September 4th, 2021

    Hey, how about this scenario? Kenney adamantly refuses to (further) enrage the Base by making them show an “I’m vaccinated” paper or whatever–until the Feds finalize the INTERNATIONAL vaccine passport! There’s no reason we can’t use it within Canada, too. And then Kenney can blame Trudeau! (Or whoever is PM.) A single system, instead of 13 sorta-similar ones. Everybody wins!

    Yes, yes, yes–there are “privacy issues.” This is already understood, for example:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/privacy-commissioners-vaccine-passports-1.6033078

    And for the “I don’t have to!” crowd, here’s the comments of a guy who actually thinks about these questions:
    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/opinion-national-covid-19-vaccine-passports-arthur-schafer-1.6122386

    so the Twitter version is:
    – if you CHOOSE not to get the jab, the rest of us can CHOOSE to protect ourselves from you and your virus
    – no, you don’t have a “right,” legal, ethical, or moral, to spread your diseases to the rest of us–including your family.
    – courts call this “individual liberties vs. the collective good,” and during the pandemic, they’ve generally ruled against Libertarians and in favour of public-health restrictions. There’s a long list of tests: appropriate action, proportional to the threat, reasonable restrictions on personal freedom with a view to removing the restrictions as conditions change.

    So if he can just hang on to power a little longer, Kenney will have a ready-made scapegoat for a not-made-in-Oilberduh vaccine passport. Two cheers for the passport, none for Kenney.

    Reply
  27. brett

    September 5th, 2021

    What is another $80 million down the tubes to encourage vaccinations when compared with the $1.3 Billion of Alberta taxpayer money than the Kenney Gov’t flushed down the proverbial toilet.

    Chicken feed in UCP eyes. Not so in taxpayers eyes though….especially to those of us who have been part of the solution and are vaccinated.

    So I guess people in Alberta do get rewarded for bad behavior.

    Reply
  28. Mary Thygesen

    September 5th, 2021

    I think there’s ample evidence that those who are very familiar with tea partiers, libertarians, religious zealots and their warlord pastors are in the UCP caucus. I can’t think of many policies promoted or legislated by the UCP which prioritize anything contributing to the public good. Their goal is to transfer from the public not to support it. The UCP approach to covid is, if nothing else, consistent with its ideology. Some viruses destroy the host but I mean, a virus just does what it does with no ability to reflect. Maybe I expect too much from this administration which, like the virus, is incapable of reflection?

    Reply
  29. Bret Larson

    September 5th, 2021

    You want to get vaccine rates up? Charge for icu visits.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (not be published)