Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at yesterday’s public health emergency news conference (Photo: Screenshot of Government of Alberta video).

The richest, most self-righteous province in Confederation has been forced to go cap in hand to other provinces to beg for beds in which to park our sick vaccine refuseniks and health care workers to travel here and help us keep our hospitals open.

Thanks, Kenney! 

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro at yesterday’s news conference (Photo: Screenshot of Government of Alberta video).

It wasn’t Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, of course, who had to step up to the microphone and do the begging. That nasty job fell last night to Alberta Health Services CEO Verna Yiu, who sounded as if she might choke up. But the humiliation belongs entirely to Mr. Kenney.

What train wreck! The Best Summer Ever has now officially become the Worst Fall Possible. 

God only knows what the winter will bring – presumably that depends on how badly the United Conservative Party base and its rural MLAs decide to behave now that some order has been reimposed to control the COVID-19 Delta variant rampaging through the province.

It sure would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall at the nearly two days of non-stop meetings Premier Jason Kenney had with his cabinet and caucus to figure out what they were going to do about the implosion of Alberta’s health care system under the weight of a fourth wave of COVID-19 victims, almost three quarters of them Conservative-leaning vaccine dodgers. 

We found out what that was at 6 p.m. yesterday when Premier Kenney, on time for once, stepped up to the podium at a hastily organized news conference, executed a screeching smuggler’s turn on COVID policy, and declared a province-wide state of public health emergency to counteract the effects of his June 18 declaration that “the end of this terrible time is just two weeks away!”

So much for “open for summer.” So much for “open for good.”

So much for Mr. Kenney’s determination, come what may, to be open in July for the Calgary Stampede, the Conservative fund-raising high point of the year and apparently the premier’s idea of apex Cowtown culture. “I guarantee you,” he sneered to journalists that day in June, “the promoters of fear will have lots of variants to come in the future.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw (Photo: Screenshot of Government of Alberta video).

And so much for his rumoured promise to federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s campaign not to make any announcements until a day or two after Monday’s national election. (It says something about just how bad things have become in Alberta that he couldn’t wait till Tuesday to drop this bomb. The federal Cons are said to be furious.) 

The stricter new rules as explained yesterday by Health Minister Tyler Shandro are complicated and confusing. There’s bound to be plenty of analysis of their flaws in the next few days. The CBC summarized them in point form. 

Still, they’re an improvement of the frightening chaos of the previous five weeks, while Mr. Kenney hid out to avoid crashing the federal Conservative election campaign, and the provincial health care system neared meltdown.

There will even be vaccine passports, diplomatically labelled a “Restrictions Exemption Program,” something that last summer was anathema to the UCP. “We will not facilitate, or accept, vaccine passports,” Mr. Kenney said in July. The UCP used that promise to pry open supporters’ wallets.

What we don’t yet know is how the growing rift will play out between UCP MLAs from Calgary, watching their re-election prospects evaporate as their leader bungled the pandemic file with fatal consequences, and the merry band of rural COVID-deniers in the UCP caucus for whom nothing but a headlong rush for herd immunity would do.

Alberta Health Services CEO Verna Yiu (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Aftershocks over the next few days seem likely. 

When the media got to ask a few questions last night, a startling new reality of Alberta’s politics was on display. 

As CBC investigative reporter Charles Rusnell observed, the news conference may have been a watershed moment in Mr. Kenney’s political career. “Journalists have dropped any pretence of respecting or believing his various libertarian rationales for his failed leadership in this pandemic. He is being publicly flayed.”

Indeed, Alberta’s mild-mannered reporters have started hunting in packs, picking up on each other’s questions when Mr. Kenney tries to use the news conference format to avoid answering the tough ones. 

The reporters obviously thought Mr. Kenney’s one-liner apology in his opening remarks – “it is now clear that we were wrong, and for that I apologize” – wasn’t quite up to the task yesterday.

After all, the body count worked out to an Albertan dying every hour. So they gave the premier an opportunity to augment his apology for throwing the doors wide open to the coronavirus in June.

As we all observed, even Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw had expressed her regret for her lousy advice on reopening earlier in the presser. 

So, maybe he was “too enthusiastic” in June, Mr. Kenney conceded, but the evidence at the time supported his decision, he insisted. “So, no, I don’t apologize for the decision to relax public health restrictions in the summer.”

There you have it. Jason Kenney in a nutshell. Sorry. Not sorry. 

It’s hard to see how a politician as badly damaged as Alberta’s premier now is can survive. But never say never. A week is a long time in politics. 

As for Mr. O’Toole, he now has less than a week to put Mr. Kenney’s disastrous news behind him. We’ll see on Monday how that worked out. 

Join the Conversation


  1. It’s time for O Toole to recalibrate his attacks that he has been misdirecting at Trudeau and the claim that with Trudeau it’s all about him, he comes first, yatta, yatta, yatta. Trudeau was not for himself when he navigating the entire country through the pandemic, brought programs to supprt those families that required them, , scrambled to obtain enough vaccines for every Canadian (for the entire country) twice over. Turns out that Jason was all for himself, and let’s face it, his resposibility to serve his consitituents was but a fraction of the mandate of the PM and how well did he do? O’Toole , if you recall,l extolled the virtues of his friend, Jason, when he opened the flood gates last July 1st. Time for O’Toole to fess up that his decsion making skills and his weak judgement may not be up to the standard required for a PM.

  2. Premier Stumble N’ Bumble has been found. May the lord have pity on Alberta. I find it strange given that Jason claims to be be a a good Catholic that he cannot show any sorrow for the lives lost, nor any humility to offer an apology for his part in an eminently preventable uptick in illness and death. I can only hope he might consider an act of contrition to resign and take up a career better suited to his demonstrated talents. Although I am not certain what career that could be.

    Pride comes before the fall; this I have heard. Have we now seen his fall?

  3. Well it is official, the greatest summer ever experiment is over and has ended in total disaster, universally acknowledged even by Kenney.

    Of course, we couldn’t expect him to do more than equivocate his apology, any more than we could expect him to stop repeating his past mistakes. He is just not capable of better.

    For a while Kenney was the golden boy of the Conservative Party and for even longer some in Alberta still held him in awe and suspended all critical thinking. I believe that time has now ended. We will see what the future holds for him politically. It may not be very promising.

    Yes, it was a probably a question of days before something melted down in Alberta. So, regardless of the Federal Conservatives strong desire for Kenney to do nothing to rock the boat, he had to act now. It is not the Alberta success type of story narrative that the Federal Conservatives wanted just days before the election. I don’t know what all the fallout from this will be for them, but I doubt it will be very helpful.

  4. The UCP have basically botched things up very badly in Alberta, and the proof is there for all to see. Damage control mode is now underway, but it’s far too late. These pretend Conservatives and Reformers have been a disaster for Alberta. Albertans were given ample warning about how bad the UCP were going to be, but alas, they didn’t listen. What we have now is the worst government in the history of Alberta. It was the same way with Ralph Klein, where people were warned about how bad he was, and they never listened. Where is the sense in any of this?

  5. Kenney has a pretty shaky grasp of cause and effect—or, more likely, thinks we do—if he’s sorry for the results of his decision last spring, but not for the decision.

  6. Go to the polls early. Wait in line, if needed. Do not give up on this opportunity to send a clear message to Jason Kenney that conservatives are not welcome here in any of their disguises — not the federal ones, and not Erin O’Toole, who thinks Kenney has done a fine job killing off one Albertan every hour. Insert coffee mug slogan here.

    In case you think it’s a coincidence that some of the new pandemic rules are kicking in on federal election day, think harder. The career politicians who tells us to keep the politics out of politics has played politics throughout this entire pandemic. He thinks the new rules will prevent you from voting against Erin O’Toole on Monday, September 20 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Show him that you will not let Erin O’Toole And the Conservative Party of Canada win on Monday, September 20, 2021 from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. No one waiting in line when the polls close will be turned away.

    1. A friend found it curious that Jason Kenney declared these new restrictions after the advanced polls closed. Also suggested a new slogan for them:
      UCP – Uncontrolled Covid Party

  7. Captain Kenny graced us with his return from a curious exile or perhaps a slow walk down the plank. There will be no righting of the good ship Alberta, which has been run aground by his band of privateers on the perilous COVID-19 shoals, on his watch. Prepare for stormy seas, mutiny and resignation.

  8. I can’t stress enough how important it is to kick Conservatives to the curb on Monday.

    This just in: both NAIT and U. of A. have cancelled classes. No doubt students at campuses across the province will be getting similar notices in their inboxes this morning. Presumably classes will resume once the restriction-exemption non-vaccine passport program kicks in on Monday, but who knows anything any more?

    So as if it wasn’t enough to have to evacuate my student from campus on Irish Kenney’s St. Patrick’s Day in 2020, and if it wasn’t enough to take away my father’s last Christmas due to Kenney pandemic bungling, and if it wasn’t enough to have his funeral service restricted during the Fall of Kenney, now we have this. Conservatives can crawl back to the overheated, subterranean hole from whence they came. I have had enough. My family has had enough. Coffee mug you, Erin O’Foole. Coffee mug you, local candidate. Coffee mug you all!

  9. If Jason kenney could be compared to any historical figure it would be Count Helmuth Von Moltke ( not the elder ). A vacillating oppurtunist. How can you effectively lead a province of more than 4 million when EVERY consideration is about how to advance one’s political fortunes.
    In my spare time years ago I used to peruse The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics. They always depicted the politicians (especially the crooked ones) with the most outlandish toothy phoney smiles, and it was so true. Whenever a politician poses for a photo op they have that same phoney smile.
    Why? That is the question. Why do these inept people run for public office.Why can’t the people of the world have true leaders? Why can’t true leaders emerge and lead the people. Why can’t the people of Alberta go in the direction they want to go? As the saying goes ” lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way”

    1. Ayeamaye: The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers! And don’t forget Fat Freddy’s Cat. Talk about a blast from my past. I asked my 30-something colleague just now if he knew who R. Crumb was, and the response was … “I’m not getting anything. No idea.” Thanks for the memories! Oh, and Mr. Crumb, God bless him, is still alive and working. DJC

      1. My father always grabbed the comic strip page of the newspaper before me, but one of our favourites was
        the character “Senator Phogbound” (I think he was part of Al Kap’s L’il Abner comic strip} who sure bears a startling resemblance to some of our current politicians.

        Sure wish I could say something (anything) positive about your current situation in Alberta. None of this needed to happen, except you have a massive ego operating in that little sawed off runt who calls himself a “leader”.

  10. One of the larger cohorts of the Covid infected are children aged 9 to 11 years. When they start suffering from long-term disabilities, as around 15% of them will, or dying, as a few certainly will, what will their parents, family, and clan do?

    1. They’ll send them to school, of course, because Kenney is keeping the schools open! Universities and colleges, even the ones with 90 percent of the students fully vaccinated, and with testing on site, are far too dangerous. Unvaccinated children under 12 with no testing available on site are good to go!

      The CBE website for notifications had crashed when I checked this morning, so maybe some parents are having slight misgivings about all this.

  11. I am with Mayor Nenshi – I have never seen incompetence like this
    Jason Kenney should join Bolsonaro in Brazil, the only politician I know even more incompetent

  12. A few observations on the BEST! SUMMER! EVER! and its consequences: a Province wide public health emergency, and 24 COVID 19 deaths in 24 hours, and more. Once upon a time, it was said that, “I know Justin. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing.” Clueless now defines the political leadership in Alberta, along with demonstrated incompetence. Further, the causal chain that has resulted in the current situation has its origins in the applied decisions and calculated Machiavellianism of Jason Kenny, Tyler Shandro, and Deena Hinshaw. Therefore:

    Operating under the assumption that the House of Commons and the Alberta Legislature are bound by the same legal rules and definitions; whereby,: “Members cannot claim freedom from arrest or imprisonment on a criminal charge. A Member of the House of Commons is in exactly the same position as any other citizen if he or she is suspected of, charged with, or found guilty of a crime, provided that it is unrelated to proceedings in Parliament.”

    And, 219 (1) Every one is criminally negligent who

    (a) in doing anything, or

    (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do,

    shows wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.

    So, it is alleged that Jason Kenney, Tyler Shandro, and Deen Hinshaw have all demonstrated a “wanton or reckless disregard for the lives or safety of other persons.” and are therefore criminally negligent by not properly placing the public interest before their own partisan, personal, self interest(s).

  13. ‘A day late and a dollar short Kenney’ be a be a big shot in the arm for Bernier’s PPC Party. I can well imagine indignant socons in Alberta who are whining about vaccine passports will be moving their votes over. Might make a difference in the four of five tighter races in the Province.

  14. And this just in …

    It seems that Elections Canada has begun a investigation into the partisan antics of the CEC.

    So much is falling out of the “Horn O’plenty” today.

  15. Kenney is hardwired never to recognize the need to apologize for his actions or faults. Say what you will about Ralph Klein (I am certainly no fan), but he at least was able to apologize when he messed up. He got a lot of mileage from that, and it probably helped to keep him in power past his due date.

    When Kenney does apologize, he minimizes his fault as much as possible, to wit, apologizing for switching from pandemic management to endemic management too soon, and not for lifting restrictions too soon in anticipation of the Calgary stampede. In effect, he is apologizing for making a bureaucratic mistake, analogous to filing papers in the wrong folder, not for making decisions that caused suffering and death. This is the banality of incompetence.

    As if this lack of ownership for his own mistakes is not enough to make you wonder about his moral and ethical compass, consider that he now views the protection of life as being more important than the right to privacy. It is hard to believe that he did not start from the premise, but instead had to be forced to it in the face of significant suffering and death that he caused, not to mention the implosion of his credibility and political future. Not all rights are equal, and some are pre-conditions to others: you can’t have the right to freedom or privacy if you are dead. It beggars belief that he only recently came to this conclusion.

    I never bought the privacy argument in any event – generally, the only people who assert this right are people who don’t want to disclose that they have not been vaccinated. As for disclosing vaccination status, this is not on the same level as disclosing that you have an STD, an auto-immune condition, or other health condition. I am sure these anti-vaxxers would be happy to disclose they have “natural immunity” from having acquired Covid-19 and have been lucky enough to regain their health without lingering and long-lasting consequences. But, if they are being asked admit to not having been vaccinated, they want to assert they have a right to privacy.

    When Kenney elevated the right to privacy as an argument against vaccine passports, he did a lot of damage. He needs to apologize for that as well as many other mistakes. It is time for him to put on his big-boy pants and accept responsibility.

  16. Seems to me that when conservatives talk about “personal responsibility”, they’re just punching down at the poor and disadvantaged. I can’t think of the last time I saw a conservative take responsibility for anything. Seems to me that when conservatives talk about “hard work” they mean that “we work hard to avoid taking responsibility”. I would sure like to see some people being forced to take “legal responsibility” for the corpses they’ve helped create.

  17. How soon before the UCP throw the Fat Controller under Bertie? (apologies to Rev W Audry)

    When is the recall legislation being enacted?

    How many rightwing parties will line up for the Ft McMurray byelection?

    Will we soon see Senator Kenney tripping off to Ottawa for the next 20 years if the Tories win Monday?

  18. I can almost see that people who will abide these new restrictions will be the people who did the right thing from the start. The anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers will continue to protest.

  19. That Horn O’Plenty just keeps on giving.

    Today, scions of leadership past appeared to sing the praises of their respective champions.

    Jean Chrétien, the other grande chef, appeared to declare PMJT an extraordinary champion of … whatever Chrétien was going on about. It should also be noted the other Liberal PM, Paul Martin, was also present. Martin and Chrétien likely used separate entrances and exits, lest another hellish civil war breaks out.

    As for the CPC, the chin that walks like a man, Brian Mulroney appeared to offer his heart-felt, impassioned, hyperbolic endorsement of Erin O’Toole. It’s questionable if Stephen Harpo will make an appearance, because the bad old days of the Harpo years could sink the CPC further than Kenney ever could. The story is Harpo’s people are plenty angered by Muldoon’s appearance, but what can they do?

  20. Some things can’t be left to individuals, because individuals vary wildly in their understanding of global issues.

    I’m not sure the individuals would have stood up to the axis in ww2 very well. The allies did.

    Global issues like tax shelters for rich people can only be solved by government.

    Global warming and climate change as well, we don’t want regular people to have the means of pollution (cars) and we want these focused in the fewest highly regulated hands as possible.

    And for a pandemic where the way out individually would be a moral choice that puts the health of all above perceived freedoms – well – this has been the greatest case study in the moral deficiency of western conservative thinking and we see plainly, painfully that such choices absolutely can’t be left to the members of the hoi poloi.
    We elect leaders not to pander to the stupidest of all possible voter bases – but to lead and do the right thing based on sound reasoning regardless of party politics.

    This pandemic has shown that the UCP has a blanket policy of pandering to its base at the expense of all Albertans well being – no matter what. That’s bloody dangerous and i hope moderate conservatives and fiscal conservatives like me in particular can see the NDP represent an Alberta that may be slightly more fair for all and a million times safer in terms of wasted resources. They never pissed money away the way the UCP have done so spectacularly by focusing so completely on the worst among us: the stupid, the uneducated, the conspiracy loving voter base that still remains.

  21. Well, David Staples has done it again.

    He has written another article that is an apology-piece/distraction for Kenney and all his nonsense.

    Staple goes on about how Kenney’s motives were grounded in the best science at the time and, at the heart of it, came from a good place, not personal political gain for himself or the CPC. Then, Kenney goes on about the experience of other jurisdictions in their respective handling of the pandemic. Sweden had no lockdowns, and they are a “success”. Australia has had endless lockdowns and there’s no hope in sight.

    Yeah, well hold on there, Bucky.

    Sweden has since admitted their policies were misplaced, and they are enforcing mandatory vaccinations and passports. Australia is a mess because they can’t get their vaccination program to spread far enough. Of course, Kenney and Staples failed to mention places like New Zealand and Finland, which had restrictions, circuit-breakers in response to outbreaks, travel-restrictions, and extensive vaccination compliance in their populations. But these places are run by uppity wymmuns, so they don’t count.

  22. I find it hilarious watching these reformers commercials whining about Trudeau calling a $610 million election while their buddy Jason Kenney cuts $9 billion off taxpayers revenues to benefit his rich friends and screws Albertans out of $1.3 billion gambling that Donald Trump would get elected. They make Trudeau look really cheap.

    Of course they would never mention the billions Trudeau has poured into Alberta to support our oil industry and support our young Albertans during this pandemic , including the $25 million for our international airport. He is a hero to a lot of young Albertans. Let’s hope they show him they appreciate it.

  23. Although I am not a Health Care Expert it appears to me:
    – Alberta’s Hospital system is currently failing, new Cases of Covid-19 are doubling in about 2 weeks (exponential growth), and in 2 weeks the number of hospital and ICU patients could double.
    – It requires about 6 weeks for unvaccinated people to gain full immunity.
    – Over the next 4 months, additional protective measures will be required to prevent the spread of Covid -19, while we wait for vaccines to be approved for those under 12, and the unvaccinated to gain immunity.
    – Although new measures will help slow the growth, there are too many exemptions, and there is no contract tracing, thus people will unknowingly get infected.
    – New measures do not address the requirements for booster shots for “Emergency Nurses, Emergency Doctors” and others Emergency health care professionals and paramedics who received their second dose more than 6 months ago, and might get sick unless their health care needs are met.
    – The letter also notes that earlier this year, military medical units were deployed to hospitals in Ontario as they grappled to keep up with patients during the pandemic’s third wave.

    “The hour is late and the situation is grim,” the union leaders’ letter reads. “By itself, federal deployment of resources will not be enough to see us through. But it will help. “The bottom line is that we need more aggressive action from your government to reduce the viral transmission that is driving this crisis.

  24. Although I am not a Health Care Expert, however it appears to me that:
    – The Alberta’s Hospital system is current strained/failing. Further the number of new Cases of Covid-19 patients might double within in the next two weeks, and there is an insufficient number of appropriately trained doctors, nurses, respiratory therapist, to manage the current patients and the potential onslaught of new patients.
    – It will require at least 6 weeks for eligible unvaccinated people to gain full immunity.
    – Over the next 4 months, additional protective measures will be required to reduce the spread of Covid-19, while we wait for vaccines to be approved for those under 12, and for the unvaccinated to gain immunity.
    – Although new measures will help slow the growth, there are too many exemptions, no contract tracing, and many people will unknowingly get infected and require hospitalization
    – The new measures do not address requirements for booster shots for Emergency Nurses, Emergency Doctors, and paramedics who received their second dose more than 6 months ago and will be at a higher risk of getting Covid-19.

    – I agree with a letter jointly penned today from several Alberta union leaders’ that requested that our Premier request assistance from the Red Cross and/or the Military to address the current health care crises. The letter notes that earlier this year, military medical units were deployed to hospitals in Ontario as they grappled to keep up with patients during the pandemic’s third wave. The following quotes are from this letter: :

    – “The hour is late and the situation is grim,”
    – “By itself, federal deployment of resources will not be enough to see us through. But it will help.
    “The bottom line is that we need more aggressive action from your government to reduce the viral transmission that is driving this crisis.

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