Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney during his re-emergence on Facebook yesterday (Photo: Screenshot of Facebook video).

No media welcome: Jason Kenney reappears, virtually, answering curated questions via Facebook Live

Posted on September 02, 2021, 1:49 am
8 mins

Having been spotted out for shawarma in Calgary Tuesday night, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney cautiously emerged back into the artificial light of political life yesterday. 

Rather than making an actual public appearance and risking having to answer rude questions by the province’s media, uncharacteristically uncooperative after Mr. Kenney’s two-week vacation ran to 23 days during which the province drifted leaderless through the fourth wave of the pandemic, Mr. Kenney settled for an hourlong Facebook Live audience with Alberta’s digitized commoners.

Please stand by, the premier of Alberta will be with you in a moment (Photo: Jason Kenney/Facebook).

Beamed from his Calgary office, the premier shrugged, grimaced and gesticulated, offering rambling, often uninformative and occasionally incoherent responses to questions typed into their devices by supposedly random Albertans.

Clearly this is a man in love with the sound of his own voice, and untroubled by the lack of anyone else’s.

The effect of the premier’s surreality TV production was mildly disconcerting and sometimes comedic in a Monty Pythonesque manner, as when he favourably compared how his United Conservative Party Government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic to the way the Alberta NDP didn’t deal with it when it wasn’t in power.

But if it had been, Mr. Kenney explained earnestly, it would have been “just massively devastating. … Misery, and depression, mental-health crisis, addictions crisis, bankruptcies, financial collapse, would be incalculable.” Plus obesity, childhood obesity, he added moments later. 

Well, nothing like that happened on his watch, did it? 

Having dispensed with what the NDP didn’t do, Mr. Kenney moved along to a variety of other topics, imparting little news. 

As for criticism he’d been unaccounted for as the province’s hospitals filled with new COVID patients, the premier intoned: “It’s important that a person in my position doesn’t burn out.

Departing Conservative MP develops independent streak

It looks as if David Yurgdiga, the Fort McMurray-Cold Lake MP who recently announced he would not be seeking re-election after running afoul of Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole’s effort to give the federal Conservatives a new moderate look, is not going quietly into that good night.

Outgoing Fort McMurray-Cold Lake MP David Yurdiga, at right, and his pal Shawn McDonald, the People’s Party of Canada candidate in the riding (David Yurdiga/Facebook).

Some of the social conservative ideas expressed by the former reeve of Athabasca County were apparently too much for Mr. O’Toole, who has spied an opportunity to get his name in the history books, and Mr. Yurdiga was accordingly given a gentle shove toward the door.

The last straw seems to have been the tarpatch MP’s too-public complaint about civil servants being required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they wanted to keep their jobs. “It is our job to stand up against this tyrannical idea that forces discrimination based on what Canadians choose to do with their bodies,” he proclaimed in an Aug. 13 new release.

That embarrassed the Conservative leader, who obviously knows it won’t take much to blow his recent stronger polling off course. 

Now that he’s not seeking re-election, though, Mr. Yurdiga seems to be developing a more independent streak. 

On Sunday, he published a Facebook post about a recent visit from his old pal Shawn McDonald. “I consider Shawn an amazing friend and businessman that always puts community first,” Mr. Yurdiga enthused. “Best wishes to Shawn McDonald in his quest to become the Member of Parliament for Fort McMurray-Cold Lake.”

Fort McMurray-Cold Lake Conservative candidate Laila Goodridge (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But isn’t loyal former United Conservative Party MLA Laila Goodridge the anointed one to replace Mr. Yurdiga on the Conservative benches of the House of Commons?

Well, yes, she is. No sooner had a Conservative spokesperson announced Mr. Yurdiga’s departure, supposedly for medical reasons, than Ms. Goodridge resigned as MLA for Fort McMurray-Lac la Biche to run for his job. 

It turns out, though, that the riding association was not pleased. Indeed, local Conservative supporters were “appalled,” according to the news release the association published on Aug. 20. “Conservatives support grass roots democracy,” their statement huffed. “We have an elected Board and a paid membership that demands the right to choose their representative and expects our conservative policies and principles be upheld at all times.”

The association complained it was “completely blindsided” by Ms. Goodridge’s appointment.

“There was no discussion or consultation from the Party with our Board on any level,” the release said. “The Federal Party has failed to not only consult its conservative membership and the Board, but has also grossly failed its conservative values and principles.”

As for Mr. McDonald, he is the candidate for the People’s Party of Canada. 

Former Brooks mayor Barry Morishita acclaimed Alberta Party leader

Meanwhile, it looks like former Fort Mac area MP Brian Jean, later leader of Alberta’s Wildrose Party, must not have been successful in his rumoured effort to get the nod to seek the leadership of the Alberta Party despite having been a member for an insufficient period of time. 

New Alberta Party Leader Barry Morishita (Photo: City of Brooks).

At any rate, former Brooks mayor Barry Morishita was acclaimed Alberta Party leader Tuesday when, the party said, no one else put their name forward. 

Mr. Morishita is also former president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.

“The Alberta Party is committed to solutions and changes that are practical, affordable and rooted in local communities,” the new leader said in a soporific news release.

Mr. Morishita will be the Alberta Party’s fifth leader in its current iteration as a centrist party supposedly committed new ways of doing politics, and its 13th if you count its pre-history as a right-wing fringe party before the name ended up in slightly more progressive hands. 

Despite its promising name, a success getting an MP elected under its own banner (Greg Clark), and a high-profile leader (former Edmonton mayor and Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Stephen Mandel) it has never really managed to get on the radar with Alberta voters.

Well, once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

20 Comments to: No media welcome: Jason Kenney reappears, virtually, answering curated questions via Facebook Live

  1. John P Bowerman

    September 2nd, 2021

    Shawarma is rich in kilojoules, calories, carbohydrates, salt and have a poor nutritious value (e.g. vitamins, minerals, and fibre). … Shawarma will inhibit your growth and leave your brain tired and non-functional for the long term.

    Reply
    • Sandro Laudadio

      September 2nd, 2021

      Sounds like just the kind of food that could make a guy “burn out”…

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    September 2nd, 2021

    The head honcho of the UCP just can’t face the public, because of his dismal leadership in every manner, including looking after the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta. So, he has to resort to Facebook, and a screened question and answer session. What is he so burned out from? You cannot expect good leadership from these pretend conservatives and Reformers. Albertans should have listened to us who knew better to begin with, when we said the UCP weren’t good. If they had done so, we wouldn’t be in this horrible mess. It was the exact same way with Ralph Klein. When Albertans didn’t heed the warnings that Ralph Klein wasn’t good, look at the damage that was done. Where is the sense in that?

    Reply
    • Alan K Spiller

      September 2nd, 2021

      Anonymous. While we have watched how ignorant Albertans are at listening I heard the same story from an 86 year old former university professor from Germany in 2000 who told me that if his Germany friends and relatives had listened to what people were saying there would never have been a Second World War.

      Unfortunately, as he pointed out, “it’s a well known fact that the majority of every population anywhere in the world is made up of mainly easy to fool, easy to trick ignorant people and guys like you and me can’t stop them. They out number us two to one. It’s how dictators become so powerful and how Jimmy Jones got 918 to commit suicide.”

      After listening to him I realized how true it was. Those us who were trying to kick out Klein were outnumbered two to one and that’s how it was with Kenney.

      I had coffee this morning with some of my senior conservative friends and we think Albertans will once again ignore what these Reformers , including Stephen Harper, Klein, Stelmach and Redford have done to Alberta and Canada and try to help O’Toole get elected. They just aren’t smart enough not to. Then we will hear their whining and crying about how they wished they hadn’t elected him just like we are hearing from the ignorant Kenney supporters. What are you hearing?

      Reply
      • Neil Lore

        September 3rd, 2021

        Very interesting point. FWIW I don’t think Albertans are stupid, I think the problem is caused by epistemic injustice – that’s when relevant information is intentionally withheld from individuals or groups in order to limit their choices. All people suffer from it in different ways at different times. As an example, I was “educated” on unceded land. My elementary school was all white, and every year we studied the local natives. We learned about their art, culture, gathering habits, architecture… but we did not learn about residential schools, Indian hospitals, the Indian act, or that, according to Canadian law, the land my school was on is not legally part of Canada, and the trees my dad was getting paid to help fell were, according to Canadian law, stolen goods. When I went to high school in a half native school I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why so many native kids acted as though I was their enemy, or had wronged them somehow. With the benefit of accurate knowledge of canada’s history I not only understand perfectly, I think they were kinder and more understanding than could reasonably be expected.

        I think Albertans are more than smart enough, but I think our schools, like every other institution in Canada, serve the needs of the property owning class, and so we aren’t taught things they don’t want us to know.

        Reply
      • Anonymous

        September 7th, 2021

        ALAN K SPILLER: I’m still hearing defenders of the UCP, which is very unfortunate. They refuse to see what is actually happening.

        Reply
  3. Dave

    September 2nd, 2021

    Well it is official, Kenney is back, sort of. For someone who in the past tried to portray an image of boldness and decisiveness, it sure was a cautious, hesitant reappearance. A fleeting sighting at a restaurant, then a very controlled, on line appearance.

    At least we know he is still alive and not currently in a hospital bed in a coma. However, we’re still not sure where he went, or why his two week vacation ended up being 23 days. Burned out? Well maybe they did not want him to leave the Benedictine retreat, rehab, or whatever it was, early, for the sake of his own mental well being. Sometimes they can have you stay longer, even if you check in voluntarily.

    In any event, I doubt we will see much of Kenney for the next while, after this perfunctory, perhaps mandatory reappearance. Even if we do, I expect it will be fleeting sightings with the large security detail, or in a similar heavily moderated/controlled forum. I wonder if he will make it back to the Sky Palace bunker, or if he has now retreated to his southern lair for some extended period of time.

    The Fort McMurray disaster illustrates the dilemma facing O’Toole to silence all his more extreme MP’s and try to appear more moderate. It is possible this will work, but I noticed quite a surprising number of PPC signs in a recent trip in rural Alberta and they also seem to be polling much better than in the last election.

    Just one badly timed bozo eruption or revelation of some past problem with a Conservative candidate could easily scare off those moderate voters O’Toole seems to be desperately trying to attract. If so, I don’t think he can pivot back to being a true blue Conservative fast enough to get the ones recently lost to the PPC back.

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      September 5th, 2021

      Speaking of signs, up here in Grande Prairie, the only [federal] election signs I’ve seen this far have been for incumbent CPC candidate Chris Warkentin — clearly recycled from past campaigns, as evidenced by their lack of O’Toole’s current “Securing the Future” tag line — and the Maverick Party candidate, Ambrose Ralph. Mr Ralph has also been behind the only radio ads I’ve heard to date.

      I understand signs for the NDP candidate in Grande Prairie-Mackenzie, Jennifer Villebrun, who has run before, are on order; don’t know about the Liberal or PPC candidates.

      Reply
  4. Just Me

    September 2nd, 2021

    Regarding Premier Crying & Screaming Midget’s Facebook Live presentation, wow, it’s a good thing everyone tells the honest truth on Facebook.

    Reply
  5. Carlos

    September 2nd, 2021

    “It’s important that a person in my position doesn’t burn out.”

    Not so sure

    Reply
    • Neil Lore

      September 2nd, 2021

      “Conservatives” speaking to or about the poor: “If you worked hard and took personal responsibility, like *I* do, you wouldn’t be in such a mess. I can’t change your circumstances sir, only you can.”

      “Conservatives” speaking about themselves: “I should be allowed to just not do my job for 3 weeks during a generational crisis because it would be bad if I burned out, but I should still get paid for doing my job and not face any consequences for my dereliction of duty. You can’t make me take a vaccine, I have RIGHTS!!!!1!!! This is just like the Holocaust, or slavery, except worse, because it’s happening to white people!”

      Those of us watching conservative voters: “Uh…. don’t you know that the willful delinquency of these idiots is not only killing people, but making it obvious that, as a society, we have to choose between “having rights” and “not dying of COVID and/or continuing to endure COVID shutdowns?” Do you seriously not see how they are discrediting your ideology, or do you just not care? Also, COVID is predominantly killing unvaccinated white people now, so it’s okay to care about it.”

      Reply
  6. Abs

    September 2nd, 2021

    The premier has taken on a certain Max Headroom cast in that Facebook Live, and other Max Headroom qualities, too.

    Let me be clear, dark clouds are on the horizon for Alberta. The B.C. COVID-19 Modelling Group is forecasting 6000 new cases of Covid a day by the beginning of October, and 1500 hospitalizations with 500 in ICU. October comes after September 20, for anyone unaware of such things.

    Dear Leader’s need to relax and frolic on vacay comes before the pandemic. Some of you may die — eight deaths reported yesterday alone — but please remember the poor, pitiful premier. The needs of the many are hardly a concern to “the leader God raised up for these times”. This is a price he is willing to pay. Carry on.

    Reply
  7. Bruce Turton

    September 2nd, 2021

    I guess my hope that Rodney Dangerfield’s old “joke”, slightly altered, will not come true!! [‘Take my premier, Please’!] Luckily, there are those in this bedevilled province who are actually coming forward with statements and measures that might just alleviate the worst of Kenney and Kompany’s dive into our 4th wave.

    Reply
  8. Carlos

    September 2nd, 2021

    From what I read about his First Contact with the ‘People’ he is in serious need of mental treatment. The burnout has happened when he was born.
    He is now playing a dangerous game.

    Reply
  9. A little bird

    September 2nd, 2021

    These extremely reactionary anti choice
    Conservatives all using the same phrasing about Canadians having the “choice of what happens to their body” without a hint of irony continues to blow my mind.

    These people cannot see or hear themselves.

    Reply
  10. Scotty on Denman

    September 2nd, 2021

    The K-Boy’s FB movie features faux-smugness to the point of sheepishness. In his carefully choreographed litany of greying UCP tropes, Kenney even avoids wearing stock Tory blue lest it remind federal voters that campaigning Erin O’Toole once kissed the K-ring in order to secure the CPC leadership, that both had been cabinet ministers in the ill-fated HarperCon government, both are currently struggling with restless tension building in their respective pseudoCon parties, and both understand that any hint of a Conbromance between them would risk mortally wounding the CPC’s slim chance of winning power on September 20.

    Certainly the comparators are there: while K-Boy ruminates on what his UCP rival NDP didn’t do about Covid whilst his own party was in power, O’Toole book matches with what his CPC would have done differently had it been in power. Just as O’Toole hoped to quietly snuff his Fort Mac candidate’s extreme views, a UCP MLA hoped she could avail the opportunity to lengthen her political career by replacing him in quiet appointment. However, the fact that she couldn’t have made quicker tracks away from the toxifying Kenney government couldn’t help but rankle joint members of each party’s riding associations—and thence reveal the general malaise afflicting pseudoCon parties everywhere.

    Jason can run—but he just can’t hide from photoshopping where the 400-pound gorilla in the political room sports two heads: one named, of all things, Jason, and the other, believe it or not, Erin. There was once a time when that would be a logo too low—like ribbing Chrétien’s palsy—but in the post-tRump world, it’s likely tempting anti-CPC campaign managers right at this very minute. And the longer K-Boy shuns the spotlight, the more likely the monster with two brains will wave at commuters from bumpers right across the country—excepting, perhaps, certain regions of Alberta.

    Covid notwithstanding, Kenney’s stuck in his crib’s stink hole for another fortnight and a half when, just a day and a half later, the days will have become shorter than the nights. What prospects has he for the remainder of the darkening year? How much might it contrast with “the best summer ever” in Alberta?

    Well, it appears he’s prepared to forge ahead with the ‘poof!-no-more-Covid!’ narrative, suitably timed, he hopes, to turn his war-room cannons and church pew canon toward what he does best: fight election campaigns as dirty as he needs to. Hence the Alberta NDP will fill his sights for the next year and a half—and, again, we’ll be treated to yet another page from that ever-so-winning tRump playbook. For this, Kenney’s not about to let Covid get in the way.

    Just like O’Toole’s not about to let Kenney get in the way. These could be the longest three weeks in K-Boy’s entire political career.

    Reply
  11. Just Me

    September 2nd, 2021

    It’s vital that a person in Jason Kenney’s position doesn’t burn out.

    Those insanely bad ideas are not going to make themselves.

    Reply
  12. e.a.f.

    September 2nd, 2021

    omg that is funny, “important that he not burn out”. Can’t imagine what he was doing which would cause “burn out”. Its not like he’s provided much leadership or acted on the challenges facing Alberta. O.K. perhaps that “war room” gave him PTSD and attacking nurses was very wearying. If Jason is such a fragile flower perhaps he might want to pursue other interests and leave government to the really “tough” people like Rachel Notley.

    It would be interesting to know if Jason left the country during this time. the face book picture does make him look a tad slimmer. perhaps he went to the fat farm to slim down. Certainly while he was a federal Cabinet Minister he didn’t pull any disappearing acts, of course he had a boss……No other provincial premier seems to be complaining about burn out and we in B.C. could understand if some of our politicians suffered burn out given large parts of the province are on fire, no pun intended. Quebec and Ontario, burn out for the premiers, could given how large their provinces are, approx. 14M each and there is Jason with 5M and change people. The boy needs to take a permanent rest and leave politics. I’m sure his pensions are large enough and there must be some oil company who would hire him

    Reply
  13. Mike J Danysh

    September 2nd, 2021

    I never watch live coverage of politicians speaking; I prefer to wait and read what the analysts have to say the next day. It’s easier on the digestive tract. Thank you, DJC, for submitting yourself to the ordeal on our behalf.

    If Kenney’s performance was even half as bad as you suggest, it should count as a textbook example of “failure to communicate.” Drew Anderson, on the CBC web site, listed the principles of communicating in a crisis: “Get out front, be clear, calm people down, empathize, never leave a vacuum.” Since 9 August, Kenney, Shandro and Hinshaw have violated all of them. There’s lots more to consider, here:

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/alberta-premier-kenney-vacation-pandemic-1.6160176

    Notice this tidbit, from none other than Travis Toews, in an interview about Alberta’s finances. “Look, we’re in the fourth wave at this point in time. The delta variant is very contagious. Cases are going up. That wasn’t unexpected at this point in time.” Not unexpected? Since when? Kenney said it wouldn’t happen, back in early June. When did Kenney—or maybe just Toews—change his mind? Why didn’t they TELL THE REST OF US?

    The most interesting speculation, though, is near the bottom of Anderson’s article, under the heading “Why?” i.e. why did Kenney keep his lip zipped for so long? David Taras, of Mount Royal University in Calgary, may have the answer. The UCP have become paralyzed by the mess they’ve made. They haven’t done anything right since Kenney et al stopped listening to Hinshaw after the first wave—“ripple,” really, compared to what came after. Now, even Kenney is afraid to double down again, but he’s equally afraid of admitting he was wrong. So much for the “strong man” façade.

    This is why municipalities, even individual companies, are taking action on their own. Remember, AHS has mandated vaccination for all employees and contractors—a slap in the face for Kenney and Shandro, even Hinshaw. Kenney’s “you don’t have to get the jab” messaging has been bluntly rejected by Verna Yiu—“Yes you DO have to be vaccinated! We need you on the job, not self-isolating at home.” I paraphrase, of course.

    Kenney has proven that he can’t govern. He can’t reason. Now he can’t back down, and he can’t see a way forward. Kenney owns this mess, but he dares not pay the bill. No wonder he was hiding.

    Reply
  14. jerrymacgp

    September 3rd, 2021

    Interesting that the Alberta Party once again finds itself with a small-town Mayor as its Leader? Anyone remember Glenn Taylor, former Mayor of Hinton, who lead the AP for a brief spell? May 2011-Sep 2012. Taylor ran for the provincial NDP in 1997, was elected to Town Council in 2001 & was elected Mayor in 2004. He was re-elected Mayor in 2007 & 2010, then ran for the AP leadership in 2011, winning on 1st ballot.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glenn_Taylor_(politician)

    Reply

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