Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Richmond, B.C., yesterday putting Jason Kenney’s record at the centre of the last days of the federal election campaign (Photo: Screenshot of news clip).

So it’s come to this: Jason Kenney has become an issue in the federal election. 

All that effort keeping his head down for all but a couple of days over the past five weeks while Alberta’s health care system appeared to fall apart, and here we are.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw addressing Calgary Zone physicians on Zoom (Photo: Screenshot of Zoom video).

Canadians are going to have to pay attention to that premier behind the curtain.

At a campaign stop in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pointed to federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s past enthusiasm for Alberta’s now clearly catastrophic approach to COVID-19.

“He thinks Jason Kenney is the model to follow on fighting COVID?” 

Mr. Trudeau paused disgustedly, twice, in that short rhetorical question to emphasize what he thinks of his challenger’s now-seldom-mentioned bromance with Mr. Kenney. 

“The approach in Alberta hasn’t worked for Albertans. It’s hurting the Alberta economy, and hurting the people who did the right thing in Alberta, and did get vaccinated, because they’re looking at more lockdowns, more restrictions.”

You can hear the call of a seagull as the PM pauses in a clip circulating on social media last night.

“And people think that it’d be a good idea to have Erin O’Toole sitting across from Jason Kenney when it comes to finishing this pandemic? 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney yahooing at the Calgary Stampede during Alberta’s short-lived Best Summer Ever (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

“That’d be bad not just for Albertans but for everyone in the country!”

Here in Alberta – sensing the growing panic as mobs of anti-vaccine fanatics encouraged by some UCP MLAs assail hospital workers, ICU beds fill to capacity, and no leader emerges from Mr. Kenney’s paralyzed cabinet – it’s very hard to quibble with the PM’s assessment.

Well, but for one small point. We’ve never had a lockdown in this province. 

If Mr. Kenney, his incoherently babbling health minister and his chief medical officer of health had been brave enough to impose one, chances are good we wouldn’t be where we are now in this awful fall that has followed the Best Summer Ever the premier foolishly promised us last July. 

In a virtual meeting with Alberta doctors Monday evening, Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw confessed she deeply regretted her guess that while COVID cases propelled by the Delta variant might soar, we wouldn’t see the bodies piling up. 

Within a couple of weeks, she admitted in the chilly language of bureaucracy, “we weren’t seeing the decoupling we’d expected.”

“I deeply regret how that has played out,” she went on. “I do continue to do my best every day to provide my advice to the proxy decision makers for my patients, who are the elected officials.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro announcing the start of the Best Summer Ever on July 18 (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

The proxy decision makers for my patients? Say what? 

Mount Royal University political science professor Duane Bratt, popular with Alberta media for his blunt commentary, spoke for a lot of Albertans when he suggested not just Dr. Hinshaw, but a whole herd of the feckless Conservatives she advised, including Health Minister Tyler Shandro, should hang their heads and resign.

“Alberta, based on ICU numbers, is being hit harder right now than at any time during the pandemic,” Dr. Bratt said yesterday in a tweet thread. “Where is the policy learning? Why the cherry-picking of the most optimistic data and scenario?

“Having Hinshaw apologize is a step forward. But real accountability would be the Premier appearing in public to accept responsibility (instead of hiding). And changing the people who were making these bad decisions. Decisions that are killing people.

“Why hasn’t Hinshaw resigned? Why hasn’t Shandro resigned? Why aren’t members of the cabinet … resigning on a point of principle?

“Most importantly why hasn’t Kenney resigned after bungling the second wave, the third wave, and especially the fourth wave? Who demonized critics. Who took the most optimistic path. Who blamed others.”

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Dr. Bratt concluded: “When is it enough?”

With these guys? Maybe never. Or maybe the divisions in the UCP cabinet and caucus, which met yesterday with no significant leaks, are deep enough now someone on the right side of public health will stand up on principle. 

Mr. Kenney was scheduled to travel to Fort McMurray today to address an oilsands trade show. That would have provided a public opportunity for him to respond to the prime minister’s comments with a defence of his COVID response, or to tell Albertans how his government plans lead us out of this mess it’s created. 

The premier’s travel plans have been canceled, his office said. 

Later this week you’ll be able to print out an unconvincing paper vaccination record

Much was made yesterday of Health Minister Tyler Shandro’s announcement that “Albertans can soon get their proof of vaccination on a new convenient card-sized printout through MyHealth Records.”

Still bobbing and weaving to avoid being accused of creating a vaccine passport by the UCP’s anti-vaccine base, later this week you’ll be able to print out an unconvincing looking piece of paper with your COVID vaccine record on it, the announcement said in the gee-whiz tones typical of Alberta government press releases.

That is, if you can manage to sign in to the MyHealth system, which by the sound of it was on the verge of collapse itself last night. 

The UCP, of course, plans to download the unpleasant job of enforcing sensible restrictions on unvaccinated people onto private businesses – which means there will be no restrictions at all.

“Work is also underway to make proof of vaccination available through a QR code,” the news release went on. “The QR code is expected to be available in the coming weeks.”

Does anyone remember Alberta TraceTogether, the barely functional contact-tracing app the Alberta government got someone to cobble together and released in May 2020?

No one ever fixed it. It’s now just a forgotten piece of digital history, lingering unused on a few smartphones.

As for the QR code, believe it when you see it. And don’t count on having your self-printed vaccination record taken seriously outside Alberta. 

Join the Conversation


  1. I doubt Kenney will resort to another lockdown regardless how bad things get. So Albertans with serious health conditions will probably face the frightening prospect of hospital wards clogged with COVID patients, being unable to adequately care for others.

    It is not a surprise Kenney is becoming a Federal election issue, the COVID numbers in Alberta are just so terrible now compared to most of the rest of the country. Despite O’Toole’s current calculated cool demeanor, the ties between him and Kenney and their parties are deep, regardless of the slight difference in party names. O’Toole benefited from Kenney’s endorsement in his leadership race and some local Conservative MP candidates also have close ties to Kenney. Of course, O’Toole has never actually disavowed or criticized Kenney’s approach to COVID and on many occasions, even lately, has basically said provinces are free to do what they want.

    It will be interesting to see if Kenney comes out of hiding at least briefly to respond to what Trudeau said or he just continues to hunker down in the McDougall Centre or the Sky Palace bunker. I suspect O’Toole and the Federal Conservatives very much hope for the latter.

    In any event, I suspect Trudeau will continue to hammer away at Kenney’s horrible COVID record. The lack of any defense or coherent response by Kenney will likely just serve to support Trudeau’s points.

  2. How in the hell are Albertans supposed to print their personal Government Immunization Card? Could you do it? Do you have the hardware and cards ready to do that? How about at your workplace? Got the right printer and cards?
    OMG Albertans are being soothed. I call it gaslighting!
    You can’t make this stuff up!

  3. One wonders if the mouth-breathers who rail against masking and distancing, and who by logic I cannot begin to understand, hurl insults and try to intimidate healthcare workers outside hospitals, believe that if they get Delta Covid and recover, that they have immunity to future Covid variants. They must do, but it seems quite unlikely to be the case. Original variant Covid sufferers get the newer Delta strain, as do some double-vaxxed people, due to individual lowish antibody counts.. The oncoming Mu variant seems different enough that existing antibodies or vaccines aren’t much help. So any hope of “Covid” herd immunity is likely moot. Flu vaccines have to cover multiple variants each year on a best guess scenario of which strain will dominate and there is no herd immunity to flu anywhere in the world.

    The brainless are everywhere legion. Besides the UCP, and Hinshaw who appeared on some video feed apologizing for her abjectly awful performance that was shown on national TV last night, doubtless to hoots of derision from most of her Public Health provincial “equals”, the country endures folk who would be right at home at the Salem witch trials. In the federal Nova Scotia riding next to mine, the Con candidate was booted by the CPC party for some sin, and there has been no time to nominate a replacement. So what do brainless Con supporters do? Assail and threaten local Elections Canada staff for the omission of a Con candidate on the ballot, which became clear at advance polling. Apparently these people don’t know what Election Canada’s function is. Functional illiteracy is evident, which caused action that required police to break up the dolt parade. The special kind of STUPID that such behaviour takes is, like the threatening of nurses, beyond my power to comprehend.

    Do the people threatening nurses expect the hospitals to discharge seriously ill Covid patients onto the sidewalk because they are suffering from an elaborately-staged fake disease and are actually perfectly healthy? What exactly IS the damnable logic of these nutters? Alberta is in a genuine healthcare crisis, yet the premier disappears and the village idiots are in charge, if indeed “in charge” is the term. I fear for my family in Calgary with the deathwish pitchfork artists abroad upon the land, and the sane residents of Alberta have my deepest sympathy and concern for their well-being. Which, unfortunately, matters not one jot.

    1. If I identified a poorly informed, easily deceived individual and convinced them to kill someone, I would have broken the law and could be deservedly prosecuted.

      If I had a talk radio show, and I identified a poorly informed, easily deceived demographic, and made many demonstrably false and absurd claims which had the effect of persuading some of my viewers to kill people, I could claim free speech and be not only protected, but permitting to continue.

      I think we need to come up with a definition of “Free Speech” that does not allow people to violate the Harm Principle (I am free to do whatever I want, provide it doesn’t harm someone else).

      1. The negative effect that some media personalities have had on the pandemic has me questioning the sanctity of free speech as well, especially when it is combined with a profit motive. The hypothetical talk show host you mentioned is primarily motivated by ratings, which translates to ad revenue, and they are best served when they can be outraged by something the government has done – whether that thing is outrageous or not.

  4. For now, Alberta is stuck with the absolute worst politician Canada has produced in Jason Kenney, worse than the nasty trio of harper, day and manning. A hangers on, a leech, devoid of any redeeming qualities, will keep showing up on the scene for years to come, he has yet to reach rock bottom. Hinshaw reminds me of Dr. Scarf in the US who took it on the chin during the infamous bleach announcement, which at the end of the day, was really no different than the stupid open for summer pathway for the delta variant to rage away. what a disgusting display, and hopefully we don’t elect this on the national level next week with the next chapter in this long line of entitled dudes getting power handed to them.

    1. I think we may now see the very tight closing of ranks in the UCP caucus. One thing all those self-styled “mavericks” have in common is the desire for political power. Kenney probably read the riot act on Tuesday and pointed out they were all dead meat unless they toughed this one out. Even though I suspect there is a good deal of tension between the rural MLAs and the Calgary crowd, they will be shtum until after Sep 20, at least. Word my have come down the mount from Harper on that.

  5. This was very predictable. Very, very predictable. The UCP orchestrated this mess through their own complacency, ignorance, and their refusal to learn from the previous waves of Covid-19 in Alberta, which were quite bad, more often than not. Alberta continues to set a record for Canada that is nothing to be proud of. The phony conservatives and Reformers simply cannot be trusted to do the right thing. This isn’t going to bode well for Erin O’Toole and the CPC in the up and coming federal election. Dr. Deena Hinshaw has been thrown under the bus, and her reputation is basically finished.

    1. Anonymous Have you noticed reformers Preston Manning and Stephen Harper seem to have also gone into hiding? People are finally learning what reformers stand for and it’s all bad. The MLAs I knew weren’t surprised that Harper, Manning, jean, Smith, Prentice and Scheer were all defeated in elections when the people realized what they stood for. They also pointed out that none of them were smart enough to suggest that they should be following what Lougheed did for us proving that there is nothing conservative about them. It has certainly taken Albertans long enough to figure it out.

  6. It should be obvious by now that the CPC’s election strategy is causing needless suffering and death. The CPC is so fearful of the surge in popularity of the looney tune PPC and the effect this might have on its potential seat count, that the government of Alberta, Jason Kenney, Tyler Shandro and Erin O’Toole are reluctant to say or do anything that might drive CPC voters to the PPC. This includes putting in place vaccine mandates and other measures to slow the rates of transmission and keep people out of the hospital.

    Whether the CPC wins or loses the upcoming election, an unfortunate consequence of this mess is that CPC might be driven further to the right to prevent the bleed from their diminishing base. We saw this happen in the US with the Republican Party, which is now almost completely captured by the extreme right.

    1. The CPC and vaccine mandates, Sept. 4, 2021
      “Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole today pledged to increase Canada’s vaccination rate beyond 90 per cent within two months as he unveiled his party’s strategy to combat the fourth wave of COVID-19.”
      Besides chasing followers to the PPC, he could raise Ralph Klein from the dead.

  7. The only thing that is certain is that if Jason Kenney emerges from hiding some day, he’ll have his fickle finger of blame pointed at everyone else. He’ll blame each and every one of us for not having enough personal responsibility over the behavior of others, while he takes no personal responsibility at all for his massive failures. Don’t count on him doing anything until fall, which is next Wednesday, safely after the federal election, and the “best summer ever”. Rick Bell seems to think he’s hiding under his bed clutching a Winston Churchill doll. Are we sure that wasn’t a buzzard circling overhead?

    1. Do people not see what Kenney is doing here??? The collapse of the public health care system in this pandemic is playing into the Conservative mandate to destroy that public health care system and bring in the privatized version all ready and waiting in the wings. Can’t you just hear it already? “Look how badly the public system failed us?”

      Maybe that’s wrong. Maybe Kenney just never got the playbook of what being Leader means. (Sadly he has never shown any natural aptitude.) Maybe this premier, this health minister, and this chief medical officer, who seems to have forgotten what her role actually is, are just allowing themselves to be controlled by a small vocal voter base which has been playing the pipes in a wild irrational tune. That would explain why Kenney was completely out of the picture during his summer vacation while the Alberta-covid-response ship sailed out of control: he must be exhausted by how hard he’s had to dance to keep that very vocal minority at least somewhat mollified. Too bad he didn’t have access to some international news sources which might have expanded his perspective on what model to follow, and how to step forward as a leader to address the problem when it was in the early stages. Maybe he hasn’t thought of checking to see Italy’s current success in dealing effectively with this disease, or New Zealand’s? Maybe he should at least check in with the ICU health care workers to learn how to develop some stamina?

      What can the Albertans who are appalled by the progression of events do? Is there anything? Seems like the majority, who were immune to the conspiracy theory infections, who followed the earlier restrictions, wore the masks and showed up for the vaccination, are now hostages. Worse, we have to watch this irrational segment of the population jeer at the nurses and other healthcare staff who keep showing up to care for so many unvaccinated people, knowing people with other serious health conditions are dying because they won’t come to a hospital overflowing with covid-infected patients.

  8. Better late than never.

    Premier Crying & Screaming Midget has been made an election issue by PMJT, and in BC, no less.

    O’Toole’s response to this attack is crickets. He can’t defend Kenney the way he did last year, lest the video record of that nutjobbery starts making the rounds on Twitter. Oh, wait. It already has.

    O’Toole has enough bozo blowups to deal with while he’s got the biggest bozo of them all, desperately trying to hide, while killing off everyone in Alberta.

    I expect Dr Hinshaw to be forced out and thrown under the bus one last time. But Shandro resign? Never.

  9. Well Jason Kenney is lucky because after the way he has insulted Justin Trudeau I would have no respect left for him
    He does not deserve any respect and by the way when is he going to come out of the bathroom?
    It has been long enough

  10. Where is our premier? We don’t know. What we know is that he’s in prolonged hiding. The act of a true coward.

    If the Liberal Party form the next Canadian government we should not be surprised to witness violent, anger and hate driven, anti science, anti Ottawa, sometime tiki torch carriers and yellow vest wearers assail government offices and institutions a la Washington earlier his year. Hospital protests may be just a prelude.

  11. On today’s briefing from the Dumpling that walks like a man, he claimed Alberta had a lower per-capita death rate than other places. This is misleading nonsense. Alberta also has a much younger population than other places as well, which would tend to lower the death rate of this perfectly predictable and needless catastrophe compared to other places with an older population base. The dumpling did not apologize and the the Chief Medical Officer fell back on the Cabinet Confidentiality argument – another bogus rationalization. She is not part of Cabinet and is not bound by that particular oath.

  12. I continue to be amazed at how Dr. Hinshaw continues to be allowed to re-define the scope, role, and responsibilities of the CMOH, as she does here, “I do continue to do my best every day to provide my advice to the proxy decision makers for my patients, who are the elected officials,” telling us that the elected officials are the decision makers for restrictions and not the CMOH. I’m not a lawyer, but I thought the question of Hinshaw’s powers was made clear in the Alberta Court of Queens Bench December 2020 rejection of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms’ emergency application seeking a stay of Alberta’s public health restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, including bans on gatherings and mandatory masks.

  13. This point had to come; it was as inevitable as a house burning down while firemen stand by and do nothing and their auxiliaries harass frantic volunteer bucket brigades.

    The most important Covid metric has always been ICU capacity and, while UCP obstinance focused instead on economic fantasy in the most partisan way it possibly could—including not-so-veiled threats of separation, whole or in chunks— that ICU capacity is now almost certain to be filled to overflowing very soon when, as everybody should have realized by now, the metric morphs not simply by addition to Covid hospitalizations, but by a compounding of all kinds of healthcare needs, with exponential dividends increasingly cached in the boneyard.

    It is realization of the hellish scenario warned about since late March, 2020, eighteen months ago. Covid 19 becomes 18, the adolescent with the monster-truck driver’s licence now permitted to participate in the UCP culture-war with drunken abandon. We watched it come. Now it’s here.

    How is it, then, that we still have to ask: where are we? It’s because we’re still not sure where we’re going. We can’t know very much very clearly as long as Covid marauds the globe, politicians struggle, and misguided partisanship spoils focus that might be applied more efficiently. But, in Alberta—which by political osmosis affects the entire country, critically for at least the next few weeks as the federal election results digest—this is a turning point. It’s no surprise —I’ve read the later news of this day—that a major shift has been precipitated: it was inevitable.

    One is tempted to say “phew!” But that would be too much like presuming the pandemic will be over by some kind of calendrical magic needed to plan that wedding or freshman semester. We’ve all done that. Most of us have had to learn and have done our best. We should never forget that we certainly wouldn’t be in better shape, even as bad as it is now, if we hadn’t. Workers know: when the job’s not done, you take your breaks when you can, then get back to work, like that, until it’s done; if a scaffold collapses, you put it back up and keep going. Even if contrition is suspect, we forgive and are glad for the extra hands on deck. This is no time for recrimination: there’s a flaring pandemic needs fixing out there.

    But, still, even with a much overdue Covid policy reversal to what should have been done a long time ago, finally!— even knowing the task ahead is daunting in spite of this correction (and that’s even true for jurisdictions much more responsible than the UCP’s), the almost uncanny confluence of crises, perhaps no more so than in the great province of Alberta, takes on the spectre of an Hieronymus Bosch tragi-triptych. Alone, one recoils; together we get to work.

    What federal CPC leader Erin O’Toole has to say about that is too cagey by half. Odd that, as an aspiring federal leader, he would encourage provinces to develop Covid polices as idiosyncratically as they might want when a viral pandemic respects no jurisdictional boundaries and should be, one would think, a matter better done with federal coordination. Has he had his triple-shot against this glaring vulnerability to political stinging? He mighta kicked a hornets’ nest yesterday.

    My prayer is that the UCP government has an adjustment of attitude, as well as Covid policy. To achieve the latter, the former has to cooperate with, instead of antagonizing our federation which, as basically and simply as my grandmother recommended ordinary politeness, was created and is still maintained to help all its citizens. Accept our help when offered, premier Jason Kenney, and say “thank you” instead of punching a gift horse in the pipeline and attacking the person of our Prime Minister; heel your dogs. And not just because or for as long as you need it—because Alberta and Albertans are going to need it. We all are. Please and thank you. It’s a long, long road ahead—longer than the remainder of your rookie mandate, and, most likely, your entire career, however long that might be. That goes for you, too, Mr O’Toole.

    Still, it’s very hard to turn the other cheek—there’s so much to be atoned for and it can’t happen in a snap. Where are we? We’re at the point of waiting to see how sincere the UCP will be, and not least to see if there’s civility, compromise and cooperation. That might be expecting a lot more from the daughter-of-darkness parties, politics and personalities descended from the targeted hit on moderate Toryism than we can expect in our fight against Covid. At least, in a lot of ways, the two problems are conveniently duplicated, viral-like, and might, with requisite cooperation, be remedied together twice as efficiently. But pride is hard to swallow when disproved: cooperation might be expecting too much from the UCP: being politic as a matter of survival hasn’t been very apparent—at least not so far. It’s bricked in its cell and, if it keeps at it, soon its squint, too.

    We just don’t want to be called “traitors” or “communists” for extolling that many hands make little work, or for assigning individuals to tasks within, not above, the community.

    The first test will be next week: the reaction to whatever the federal election result is— because we know it has affected a lot of what’s been happening in Alberta thus far. Then, whatever it is, on to probably one of the toughest winters since 1918. Together. Please.

    Be strong, my friends!

  14. A few comments:

    “my advice to the proxy decision makers for my patients, who are the elected officials.”
    Hinshaw practiced as a doctor for seniors in the past, so maybe that has coloured her behaviour in public health, understanding the problems with seniors and covid-19, while ignoring the risks to children.

    My late mother was in long-term care and it was normal to plan for things like one of her children being a proxy decision maker if necessary, and also for her to sign a “do not resuscitate” request to avoid extreme measures which can cause suffering to a dying person.

    However, apparently for Hinshaw, Kenney and Shandro also make decisions as proxy parents for Alberta children as well as for the rest of us. Not a great idea. I wonder if Hinshaw has a pediatrician on her team.

    I wonder who else Hinshaw consults and if her modellers know what they are doing. I don’t know if she consults Dr. Saxinger, who has worked for AHS at times. Recently Saxinger made a racially biased assumption on twitter about the Florida population, and what bothers me even more than that bias is that she supported it by using numbers stupidly. I don’t think she was being deliberately dishonest because she provided her source which did not back up her claim, but was too biased and too lazy to think about the numbers carefully. She does not understand statistics and I would not trust her to competently produce or interpret models for the pandemic in Alberta.

    Finally, about that Alberta contact-tracing app: I think O’Toole’s recent video praising Kenney’s handling of the pandemic specifically mentioned contact tracing. Maybe Kenney bragged to him about how wonderful the Alberta app was, and he was gullible enough to believe Kenney, not knowing that it was a miserable failure. Or not caring that it was.

  15. So, are Canadian voters in the rest of Canada going to look at Mr O’Toole’s endorsement of Mr Kenney’s pandemic management, then see the fecal exhibition that is Alberta now, and say to themselves when they enter the ballot box on Monday, “hey, I think I want me some of that” … ?

    If they do, they’re even dumber than I thought.

  16. I am not an Albertan here,but from what I have heard,this guy hasn’t exactly done a very good job with fixing things in Alberta,but I sure as hell don’t think that Albertans should be listening to the likes of Deena Hinshaw or her cronies on the problems over there because they are just making things worse by pushing a Garbage narrative that needs to be crushed and her kind being run out of Alberta for good

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