Alberta Politics
The Alberta Legislature yesterday, with no protesters in evidence (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Talk of cabinet split over vaccine passports sparks buzz in Alberta government circles

Posted on September 14, 2021, 1:57 am
7 mins

Has the parlous state of Alberta’s health care system, said to be on the verge of collapse as the fourth wave of COVID-19 rampages through the province, opened a serious rift in the United Conservative Party cabinet? 

With Premier Jason Kenney missing in action for 33 of the past 35 days, Alberta intensive care units hitting record occupancy levels, and media reporting on letters from groups of physicians warning the health care system may soon fail, Alberta political circles were abuzz with unsubstantiated reports some ministers are threatening to quit if the government won’t make moves to implement vaccine passports. 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

According to the buzz, Health Minister Tyler Shandro wants the Legislature’s Priorities Implementation Committee to meet to discuss some form of vaccine certification strategy for non-essential businesses. 

So goes the story, Mr. Kenney, the committee’s chair, and Government House Leader Jason Nixon, its vice chair, refuse to consider the idea. 

The remaining members of the committee are Finance Minister Travis Toews, Energy Minister Sonya Savage, Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer, Justice Minister Kaycee Madu, Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz, and Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver. 

If there’s substance to this talk, it suggests Mr. Kenney is having increasing difficulty holding his fractious right-wing coalition in the Legislature together. 

But if cabinet health care pragmatists were to succeed and force consideration of some form of vaccine certification, that very well might drive a number of rural vaccine refuseniks out of the party’s caucus. 

Either way, it wouldn’t be good news for Mr. Kenney’s increasingly fragile looking political survival prospects. 

Meanwhile, with a record setting 209 people in Alberta’s ICUs, the Globe and Mail reported last night that a group of 65 infectious disease physicians had written a letter to the premier telling him “our health care system is truly on the precipice of collapse.”

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Also yesterday, the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association warned that the COVID crisis “is likely to overwhelm our hospitals and ICUs by the beginning of October.”

“We are very close to requiring triage to determine who gets life-saving treatment and who does not,” the EZMSA doctors wrote. “This means if you need care, the health system may not be available for you.”

The EZMSA physicians said Alberta may be forced to transfer gravely ill patients out of province to get the treatment they require, as Manitoba did during the pandemic’s third wave. 

Needless to say, this colossal failure will have to be worn by Mr. Kenney, who pushed hard to reopen the province in time for the Calgary Stampede in July and stubbornly resisted implementing measures such as requiring use of vaccine validation documents for customers to be allowed access to non-essential businesses. Instead, the UCP offered $100 gift cards to vaccine slackers who would get a shot. 

Indeed, during July the UCP used opposition to vaccine passports to fund-raise and try to drum up support. 

UCP House Leader Jason Nixon (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Nor does it help that Mr. Kenney was recorded during the Stampede telling a member of the public that COVID-19 is less dangerous to children than influenza and that “COVID is not a threat to people under 30, effectively.”

Meanwhile, the Calgary and Edmonton Chambers of Commerce joined the clamour for vaccine passports, publishing a Leger survey indicating 70 per cent of Alberta businesses and 74 per cent of Albertans support implementation of the vaccine passport idea. 

Mr. Kenney’s problem, largely of his own devising, is that so much of the UCP’s support base, not to mention a substantial portion of its Legislature caucus, is made up of the COVID vaccine skeptics, dodgers, deniers and refuseniks he used to encourage. 

On Sunday, a raucous crowd of about 1,000 COVID vaccine opponents gathered in downtown Calgary, where Mr. Kenney’s long-time political ally, lawyer John Carpay, preposterously compared the largely imagined woes of the willfully unvaxxed with the appalling treatment of Japanese Canadians in World War II.

However, anti-vaccine protests at two Alberta hospitals yesterday turned out to be duds, with only a few dozen people showing up at each.

Former PC minister Doug Horner to make senate run … as an independent

Senate nominee candidate and former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Doug Horner (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Political blogger Dave Cournoyer reported yesterday that long-time Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Doug Horner, a man who in 2011 was a credible candidate to lead the PCs, plans to run in Alberta’s Senate nominee election. 

Tellingly, the scion of the storied and mostly Conservative Horner political clan plans to run as an independent candidate. This is one more suggestion the provincial Conservative brand is turning toxic thanks to Premier Kenney’s efforts. 

Indeed, one imagines federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has come to regret all those times he praised the Kenney Government’s response to COVID-19, now that Alberta has turned for the second time into the Canadian hotbed for COVID infections. 

Oh well, in the event he wins a Senate no-guarantee nominee endorsement and Mr. O’Toole goes down to defeat, Mr. Horner can tell Justin Trudeau his Uncle Jack used to be a cabinet minister in papa Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet. 

50 Comments to: Talk of cabinet split over vaccine passports sparks buzz in Alberta government circles

  1. Anonymous

    September 14th, 2021

    Let’s face it. The UCP are fractured as a party. I don’t think they will last much longer. This is based on what I’m seeing the UCP do. When you have pretend conservatives and Reformers running the show, you aren’t going to expect anything good to come from this. The UCP are going to make themselves extinct. If Peter Lougheed were still around, I’m sure he would take the UCP over the coals, because of their poor performance as a government. Doug Horner is another politician who is after the gravy train, it seems. I don’t know what he hopes to accomplish as a senator.

    Reply
  2. Dave

    September 14th, 2021

    Yes, Alberta’s greatest summer ever seems to have turned into a great big nightmare, as summer fades to fall.

    I suppose it would not be a big surprise if the top leadership of the UCP were greatly divided at this point. After all, there is no clear direction from the top now, so everyone will go off in whatever direction they are inclined to.

    Perhaps Kenney will reassert himself after the Federal election, but I believe his prolonged absences since his greatest summer ever started to go off the rails, is due to more than just Federal politics.

    One political commentator earlier this year said “Kenney had lost the plot”. I believe at this point Kenney really does not know how to deal with this conflict between his short term political expediency and the overall good.

    I suspect whether through action or inaction things will soon come to a conclusion. I wonder how long the UCP and Kenney will be able to keep things from falling apart. I feel it is a question of days or at most weeks at this point. The current situation seems to me clearly not sustainable.

    Reply
    • Bret Larson

      September 14th, 2021

      Sounds like situation normal to me. Every summer is the greatest one ever. Just ask those who didn’t make it.

      Reply
  3. Phlogiston

    September 14th, 2021

    Could it be that Mr. Shandro is finally coming around to believe, contrary to his shambolic and nonsensical statements regarding the difficulty of predicting Covid trends at his dumpster-fire news conference last Thursday, that it really is possible to predict with some certainty the trajectory of Covid infection rates and its impact on the health system and the wellbeing of Albertans, physically, emotionally, and financially?

    If so, that would suggest he cares and has some empathy for most Albertans. However, if the reports about the cabinet split are true, the more likely explanation is that he and his fellow cabinet ministers have moved into survival mode. When the most businesses, not to mention most Albertans, are calling for the government to step up and introduce some form of vaccine mandate that has to make portions of the UCP extremely nervous, at least those members whose wits are not stored in glass vials on the moon or wherever they happen to be.

    As for Kenney, Nixon, their cronies, and fellow travelers, you can only deny science and reality for so long before it comes to bite you. If I or someone close to me were being kicked out of hospital, especially in the form of a high-hang punt to another province, to make room for an anti-vaxxer Covid patient, I would be pretty upset. I am sure that the folks in a similar position would also be upset, likely to the point of contacting the press and complaining to the government.

    That is what is happening now in Edmonton – people are being moved out of hospitals to make room for Covid patients. As far as I know, no one has been moved out of province for care, but it looks like it is only a matter of time before this occurs.

    This urgent health care crises could have been avoided had the government not treated most authoritative experts as Cassandras. I can only hope that most people are waking up to the fact the government willfully ignored good advice from experts. As Don Braid suggested in a recent column, Alberta should have had some expert panel like Ontario does that could give transparent advice for all to see. Instead, Kenney and the government kept their modelling and decision-making processes secret, except for making sure that Dr. Hinshaw wore as much of the blame as possible.

    Anyway, in the end, voters matter to the UCP: the predictions that really matter to the UCP are those that link the effects of their wrong-headed policies on the electorate, in particular their base. They may be trying to rule with the support of a minority base and without the support of a plurality of the electorate. But, like some Republicans in the US, some member of the UCP may be slowly (too slowly for my liking) coming to the realization that the policies they are encouraging are harming their base, which could rebound back on them and erode support for them significantly, where it matters most.

    Then again, never underestimate the power of cognitive dissonance to entrench people in their dogmatic and increasingly insane counter-factual beliefs in the face of unambiguous evidence and reliable authority. No one wants to believe that they have been conned by a bunch of snake-oil scammers. They would rather find some way to hold on to their beliefs, no matter how crazy the rationale to justify the belief.

    In the words of Bertrand Russell, “Some people would rather die than think — in fact, they do”. I wish this quote were not so apropos. I do not wish ill to even the most rabid anti-vaxxers. But I certainly blame the UCP and other conservative, right-wing forces for giving oxygen to beliefs that will ultimately harm all of us. These UCP dimwits need to go post-haste.

    Reply
  4. Alan K. Spiller

    September 14th, 2021

    Horner was one of our MLAS in St. Albert and like all of these phony conservatives was one of the worse liars we have ever seen. Like all these other Reformers , never once did he suggest we should be following in Peter Lougheed’s footsteps of collecting proper Royalties, Taxes and health care premiums and run this province properly , like Lougheed did and Alaska and Norway are doing. Looking after his rich friends was far more important. He called bribes they were taking gifts and there was nothing wrong with it.

    Don’t forget he was one the gang who helped dump the Orphan Wells mess onto our backs, and helped Klein destroy our health care and education systems.
    My Conservative friends and I know him as just another Reform Party loser who like so many others, just won’t go away. Their thirst for power and their desire to destroy our Public Health care System is just too strong.

    Reply
    • Bret Larson

      September 14th, 2021

      Man I take it back. I guess some are still living in the golden age of laugheed. If only we could go back there when royalties were fair and governance was just. I’m assuming your were there when the ndp announced that the current royalty regime was fair? No? It was pretty funny, trash canning the Alberta advantage for a few weeks if progressive hope.

      Reply
      • Death and Gravity

        September 15th, 2021

        Your tears of despair are delicious and sweet.

        Reply
      • Alan K Spiller

        September 15th, 2021

        Bret Larson If you had been involved with the oil industry , like some of us were you would know that what Notley did was proved that the oil royalty and tax structures that Lougheed had put in place was good and fair to both sides , however unlike Alaska and Norway these phoney conservatives , under Klein, Stelmach and Redford weren’t following it, resulting in the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars to taxpayers, as the studies prove.

        Knowing the mess the oil industry was in , because of the large surpluses and low prices, she was planning to gradually increase corporate taxes and royalties back up to the Lougheed levels over a period of time and the former MLAs , lawyers, accountants, oilmen , and bankers greed with her. She started by increasing the corporate taxes by 2% which was a good start and I believe it was 2021 when she was planning to start increasing royalties and of course ignorant Albertans elected this fool Jason Kenney and he deliberately destroyed all her plans.

        If you had been listening Albertans have made it clear that they want Kenney kicked out and Notley reinstated , so your bashing of her doesn’t make you look very smart. We know her plans are they only way to fix the mess we are in, so why don’t you?

        Reply
        • Bret Larson

          September 15th, 2021

          Maybe they were, at the time. The worlds moved on. Globalization has dropped the price of everything, including royalties.

          Reply
        • Anonymous

          September 16th, 2021

          ALAN K SPILLER: You certainly have it right. For those of us who are from agricultural backgrounds, we know bull when we see it. These pretend conservatives and Reformers sure manage to fool many people with their flattery and platitudes. The results show something else.

          Reply
      • Anonymous

        September 16th, 2021

        BRET LARSON: Do you honestly believe that losing $575 billion due to the Alberta PCs changing the royalty rate regime of Peter Lougheed is fair? Do you also think that Ralph Klein’s negligence from not ensuring that oil companies in Alberta cleaned up after themselves, and giving Albertans a very hefty bill of $260 billion to take care of this matter is fair? That’s a very large amount of money we don’t have now. The foolish tax policies of Ralph Klein left Alberta with another $150 billion less. Furthermore, the Alberta PCs kept on being involved with very pricey shenanigans for decades. Here we see the UCP doing very pricey shenanigans too. These pretend conservatives and Reformers certainly don’t help Alberta.

        Reply
  5. Abs

    September 14th, 2021

    CBC interviewed an anti-vaxxer at Foothills Hospital yesterday and learned that she erroneously thought the unvaccinated would be cut off from buying groceries if vaccine passports for non-essential services went into effect. It’s apparent that this supposed group of nurses and frontline workers protesting at hospitals are nothing of the sort.

    Unfortunately, if the UCP do not act quickly about the growing crisis of Covid in Alberta hospitals, the collapse will happen. It might already be too late. The premier doesn’t seem to care. In the meantime, Shane Getson made a statement that seems to affirm what Nathan Neudorf said earlier: herd immunity by culling the herd. Either Alberta is being run by a bunch of madmen, or we’re not being run at all.

    Reply
    • Former Albertan

      September 14th, 2021

      I’d say not being led or managed at all. Anyone for Kenney the Alberta Anarchist?

      Reply
  6. Bob Raynard

    September 14th, 2021

    I have wondered for a few weeks now if there was much dissent in the UCP cabinet or caucus. They can’t all be nut jobs – can they? Leela Aheer is someone who strikes me as a reasonable thinker – which might explain why Kenney removed her from cabinet.

    It makes sense that Tyler Shandro would be pushing for vaccine passports. As Health Minister what happens during this wave will become his legacy. As well, since he is a lawyer I would expect he has some critical thinking skills to filter out the BS some of colleagues are lapping up.

    What about the rest of the UCP caucus? So many of the other MLAs are a mystery. We hear/read so often that ‘so and so has declined comment’ that I suspect Jason Kenney has placed almost all of them under a gag order. I suspect that Mr. Kenney knows they would embarrass him if they chose to speak to the media. I do wonder what criteria Kenney was looking for when he chose the candidates during the formation of the party.

    Reply
  7. lungta

    September 14th, 2021

    Think i just saw Denna Henshaw on TV take 110% the blame for dropping all medical precautions for “the best summer ever” absolving the midget.
    Will she disappear into an extravagant UCP paid early retirement?
    Or will she become the go to whipping girl and ride to the rescue over and over?
    Stay tuned for these and other answers.

    Reply
    • Chompy McGruff

      September 15th, 2021

      I’ve made this comment many times before, but… Deena Hinshaw is every bit the politician that Jason Kenney is.

      When she has appeared to answer questions as the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta she has not acted as a physician at all. She has made recommendations completely in line with Kenney’s “positions” and has not once made a recommendation aligned with the science, a science that she is duty bound to familiarize herself with (on the off chance that someone feels that she is somehow genuine in her pronouncements). She knows and should understand the science, yet she keeps advocating for policies that ignore that science but align with the ideology of Kenney.

      How this “absolves” Kenney I have no idea. He has complete control over the government of this province and Dr. Hinshaw mirrors him, not the other way around.

      Reply
      • jerrymacgp

        September 17th, 2021

        Silly, naive me … somehow I’d thought Dr Hinshaw was a physician with special qualifications in epidemiology & public health. Turns out, she was a primary care physician who practised in “care of the elderly” prior to her current gig. How do I know this? She said so herself, in her remarks to the PCN conference the other day that was posted to YouTube.

        I don’t know how long she’s been in that role, her profile having been very low prior to March 2020. But she was clearly underqualified for it. We have been far better off with either a physician with the appropriate credentials, or a doctorally-prepared RN with comparable credentials. (Dr Claire Betker, past-President of the Canadian Nurses Association, comes to mind as one such person).

        Reply
  8. Dave in Sask

    September 14th, 2021

    It just proves that the Liberal and conservatives are two branches of the same politics and the Hornets are good at choosing a party that will get them elected without any ‘regard to beliefs or principles.

    Reply
    • Bedoich

      September 15th, 2021

      Yup. You’re going to see the sinking ship syndrome from them. Yet again!

      Reply
  9. Tenet

    September 14th, 2021

    Daffy duck leading his flock across Queen E!

    Reply
  10. Hammer

    September 14th, 2021

    What Kenney is facing now is akin to him having one foot on either side of the San Andreas fault during a tremor. The only question is what side will he jump to.

    Reply
  11. Roberta Coulter

    September 14th, 2021

    Should parlous be perilous?

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      September 14th, 2021

      Roberta: Perilous and parlous have the same meaning, although parlous has an additional meaning – shrewd. The latter is archaic and is nowadays normally used only with humourous intent. Therefore, I can’t resist it. DJC

      Reply
      • Scotty on Denman

        September 15th, 2021

        Woah yeah!

        Reply
  12. Bret Larson

    September 14th, 2021

    Ever heard the term, healthy wealthy and wise? Well helicopter government is trying to take the wise out of it, which of course is not possible unless you take the freedom out of being a citizen.

    In the case of the pandemic, people not getting vaccinated set the trajectory. The end result, that everyone is going to get this disease, was set in stone when it flew into our airports.

    Everyone who wants a vaccine has one. The question remains why aren’t they getting vaccinated?

    A part of the answer is free ICU visits. There is probably a good percentage who would think twice about a trade-off of a $50 vaccination versus a $50,000 ICU visit.

    Sometimes you meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it.

    That said, I don’t think that fate is bad. We are merely progressing faster to herd immunity. And, seeing as we are in a pandemic, it’s definitely a case of “unsafe at any speed”.

    Welcome to life. Smell the roses because they are nice, not because the bureaucrat tells you to.

    Reply
    • Kang

      September 14th, 2021

      Brett: you do understand that the US has a low vaccination rate and ICU “visits” there are not free? Your assumption our public health care gives people an incentive to ignore vaccines is unfounded.

      Given the nature of the Covid virus, it is highly unlikely that herd immunity is even possible simply because it mutates so easily. Both Trudeau and Kenney have been criminally negligent in their handing of this plague. Speaking of criminal negligence, the UCP has chosen to no longer test for variants of interest, but that will not change the way evolutionary biology works. Columbia is already largely infected with a new variant known as Mu as are at least 5 US states. It appears to be just a lethal as the Delta variant (you have to be a classical scholar to keep track of the various names these things have) and more vaccine resistant.

      Reply
      • Bret Larson

        September 15th, 2021

        So people are dying in the streets in the us because they can’t get an icu bed? I’m pretty sure that would be front page news. But it isn’t. Maybe if you find out about the us system before you pop off with bubble gas.

        Reply
        • Kang

          September 16th, 2021

          Thanks, Bret, nice example of sophistry, but a poor effort at deflection from your absurd claim that public health care gives an incentive to people to avoid vaccinations because an ICU visit is free.

          Reply
  13. Just Me

    September 14th, 2021

    So…

    Premier Crying & Screaming Midget is bunkered down in, either, the McDougal Building, in Calgary, or the ‘Sky Palace’, in Edmonton. Now that he can hear the sounds of the ensuing election drawing closer, he is hoping that providence blesses his bold gamble with the relief of a PM Erin O’Toole, riding in to save his hide.

    Maybe a plum ambassadorial appointment? I mean it’s not like Kenney wants to hang out anonymously in Ottawa until he gets his crack at becoming prime minister. Does Canada has an embassy in Miami? That would be great. The weather is nice, thanks to Climate Change being a hoax, and COVID 19 has been revealed to be a falsehood, thanks to the brilliance of Gov. DeSantis. (DeSantis 2024 or Trump 2024)

    Alberta was never that good to Kenney. Sure, it allowed him to hold easy elected office, and the rubes there will vote for anything that’s painted blue and yells “Pro-Life!” every ten seconds. But it’s still better in Ontario.

    Allison Redford is believed to have received $2.4 M for her transition allowance when she left the Premier’s Office. Kenney reasons he should be worth the same for less effort. After all, he is a pious, virginal, single, middle-aged man, not some uppity wymmins, who doesn’t know her place. Uterus bad; unpackaged boy-parts good.

    Meanwhile, as the carnage rages through Alberta’s COVID bulging ICUs, with protestors outside its hospitals demanding proof that there is such a thing as COVID, and harried heath care staff are seriously thinking about blowing off Alberta’s failed state. Or, as President Trump once said, some “sh*t hole country”. The UCP caucus sees another civil war brewing. Maybe Kenney will start doling out more cabinet appointments to quiet the ranks? Can the whole UCP caucus fit into the Cabinet Room? We’ll soon find out.

    Reply
  14. A little bird

    September 14th, 2021

    This bird was told multiple times by legislature sheriffs, during multiple protests, that the order to not enforce provincial covid requirements came from “above them”

    This can ONLY be the premiers office.

    This crisis is entirely of Jason Kenneys creation, and now that the province is burning down, where is he?

    These people are scum. I am continually disgusted by their actions.

    Reply
    • Bret Larson

      September 14th, 2021

      Maybe they are talking about god? Histrionics sounds good for dippers. You can flip back and forth from, defund the police and hire a gestapo.

      Reply
      • Chompy McGruff

        September 15th, 2021

        Sometimes it seems like you may have a considered point, and sometimes it seems like you’re a poorly programmed bot, but I think this comment disqualifies you from the benefit of the doubt. “Defund the police and hire a gestapo”? I don’t recall this being in any NDP platform, but it sounds suspiciously like the “fire the RCMP and create a political police force” policy advocated by our premier. Histrionics…

        Reply
        • Bret Larson

          September 15th, 2021

          Who do you think is going to enforce your covid passports?

          Reply
          • Chompy McGruff

            September 16th, 2021

            “Enforce”, as a word, is doing some heavy lifting here because enforcement is incumbent on as many of us as is possible. There’ s a reason the Gestapo enlisted the population to spy on each other – it works with minimal input.

            As far as a covid “passport” is concerned, it is enforced by gatekeepers, front-line workers, neighbours, enemies and friends or it is worthless. It’s analogous to our extant situation of requiring a lot extra of the front-line workers in our health care system after decades of starving them for funding. They didn’t create the problem and they didn’t sign up for this, but they do their best, just like Bouncers, Hosts, Greeters, Wait staff, Receptionists, the people you actually encounter in your life and hopefully you and me. Law enforcement is certainly a major cudgel but most cases of enforcement will come nowhere near to needing the intervention of law enforcement.

            Or am I all confused on this and, instead of suggesting that the Kenney Provincial Police Force is going to enforce your covid passports (I hope that they would), you were trying to continue your initial point and claim that the NDP will be the group that enforces covid passports? If this is the case, my original comment stands.

      • A little bird

        September 15th, 2021

        Ah yes the gestapo, famous proponents of due process.

        As we are discussing the UCP government, their minute restrictions, and their refusal to enforce them, I’m not sure why you’re even mentioning dippers. What you do with your time is your business, I guess.

        Reply
      • Anonymous

        September 16th, 2021

        BRET LARSON: Who cut funding to the police in Alberta? Why, the UCP did!

        Reply
  15. Jim

    September 14th, 2021

    If Alberta implements a vaccine passport for the next 2 years or longer Kenney and Shandro will be deciding what you must be injected with to access non-essential services. Regardless of your views on the current mRNA shots do you want those two clowns making healthcare decisions for you and your children?

    Reply
  16. Neil Lore

    September 14th, 2021

    I think Alberta’s entire elected government should face criminal charges for criminal negligence causing death. Why do we let the wealthy violate the Harm Principle? Kenney will never see the inside of a prison cell no matter how many people die as the result of his actions. Like the Sacklers. Some people benefit from the law but don’t have to obey it, the rest of us have to obey the law but don’t benefit from it. Is it time for the revolution yet?

    Reply
    • Chompy McGruff

      September 15th, 2021

      “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” – Frank Wilhoit

      “The law cannot protect anyone unless it binds everyone; and it cannot bind anyone unless it protects everyone.” – Frank Wilhoit

      Reply
  17. Mike J Danysh

    September 14th, 2021

    Sorry to disappoint you, friends, but I think this will turn out to be a teapot-sized tempest. Sooner rather than later, someone will paraphrase the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

    Reply
    • Scotty on Denman

      September 15th, 2021

      May I suggest a paraphrase of James Boswell which might apply:

      When a party knows they are to be hung in a fortnight, it concentrates their minds wonderfully.

      Anyhow, a cabinet split, though embarrassing, is easier for a premier to fix than a caucus split: Kenney could easily find some alternative caucus member to replace any cabinet dissenter—heck, for the perks and pay increase, he could replace the lot with other UCP MLAs, willing, if not exactly competent for cabinet responsibility. Could it be any worse than it is now?

      Recall loyal opposition leader Stockwell Day’s Alliance whose caucus split, the smaller part sitting as an “independent conservative caucus”—not a full split since this faction did not style itself nor was recognized by the Speaker as an official party and, as I recall, always voted with Day’s benighted faction (it was meant to protest Day’s poor leadership and force him to resign the position). But it was ultimately fatal for both factions because Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien requested a snap election by, I suspect, reasoning that Day’s “government-in-waiting” was obviously unprepared to take the reins if the Liberal party was for some reason unable to continue governing, a contingency the loyal opposition is required to be ready for at a moment’s notice and at all times. The governor granted the early election and the Chrétien Liberals went on to win a third mandate while, from the shards of orphaned conservatism, a new, darker day dawned in the ominous Cheshire Cat form of Harper smiling at Stockwell’s plight with Schadenfreude: “you night the right…”

      Our Sovereign guarantees we have governments that can act at all times to pass bills in a timely fashion, the essence of the Westminster system. Confidence tests a government’s capacity to meet the guarantee: if it loses confidence, it is immediately replaced by an alternative group in the existing parliament or by electing a new one. In the unlikely event the government is incapacitated for some reason and can’t physically participate in, say, a confidence vote, the “government-in-waiting” is temporary insurance that interruption of legislation and administration is, as always, minimized. Day’s opposition party could not provide that insurance; I’m not sure any Opposition party has ever had to, but that’s something Albertans needn’t worry about (the NDP Opposition is currently considered, with the benefit of hindsight, the better government, even in-waiting).

      Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberal government, the first in Canada to impose fixed-election dates, gamed the spirit of Westminster’s timeliness by also drastically reducing the number of days the Assembly sat. While not technically breaking the letter of the law and initially unfamiliar to BC citizens, it was never very popular; as we eventually found out, it made for a lazy opposition and secretive government, both of which polished policy apples for the next election day with great affectation, allowed little parliamentary opportunity to hold each other’s proposals to account for the benefit of all MLAs’ riding constituents —but plenty of opportunity for both parties to get themselves into trouble. (And they both did.)

      If the loyal opposition is for some reason also incapacitated, our sovereign, the Queen—in practice, represented by her governors— becomes a rainy-day government and reigns by taking the reins while a new government is elected — she (or he) would appoint a temporary cabinet of advisors until one is elected by citizens which, of course, is done as quickly as possible. It’s one of the only times, along with recognizing a government in a parliament elected hung or looking for an alternative when a government has lost confidence, that our head of state is in any way politically involved; in any case, it’s as temporary as possible; otherwise and usually, our head of state is totally apolitical, impartial and nonpartisan—the way we like it: an ideal that’s most often realized in practice.

      Since the head of state is selected by the rules of royal succession which is instantaneous and failsafe (there are more than enough potential successors), it is theoretically impossible that we don’t have a government of some kind, not even for an instant, and interruption of legislation is minimized. We know by experience that closing parliament and governing by cabinet fiat is politically—and sometimes epidemiologically— unhealthy.

      We don’t really know the reasoning Chrétien used to persuade the governor to grant such an early election, nor is the governor, as representative of the Queen, ever compelled to explain how she arrives at her decisions, but I do suspect that, as arcane as the unreadiness argument is, it was probably the default for lack of any other pressing reason to have a snap election at the time.

      Theoretically—and as it appears—a UCP caucus split seems more likely than a cabinet split which, unless more talking-out-of-school contradicted him, K-Boy—backed by remaining loyal ministers, naturally— could simply call a “mini-shuffle” entirely of his own inspiration and chosen time.

      Albertans really need a major UCP shuffle, but since that’d likely be straight out of power right now, Kenney would have to be in extreme trouble to call a snap election just to get his party reunified; but it’d be the only time and way he could cull trouble makers by using his prerogative to approve or reject UCP riding nominations. Naturally, once an MLA is elected, he or she cannot be kicked out of the Assembly and, as long’s the Assembly is sitting, might become a vocal thorn in the UCP’s side if kicked out of its caucus. For Kenney to call a snap election would be doubly arcane as Chrétien’s ploy was— but not totally out of the question, certainly not as a threat to cow his rebelliousness MLAs, considering many of them know they’d be thrashed if an election was held soon. The governor would almost certainly approve—of the early election, I mean…

      Anyhow, it wouldn’t be inconsistent with UCP craziness—or Kenney’s who, knowing somebody’s gonna be hung in a fortnight, might wonderingly concentrate his mind to use that rope and swing right back to Ottawa. I mean, I’m not crazy for wondering that, am I?…

      I know a cat named Boswell…a real cat…

      Reply
      • David Climenhaga

        September 15th, 2021

        Our Sovereign Lady, the Queen, “… reigns by taking the reins while a new government is elected…” As neat an explanation of how to use these two homophones correctly – an exercise apparently lost on many social media users and even commenters on this blog, which attracts a better class of commentary – as I have ever seen. As for the merits of removing cabinet ministers or leaving them in place, I imagine Calgary-Acadia has been burned to the ground for the UCP by its current MLA anyway, so Mr. Kenney would probably prefer leave Mr. Shandro in place and in cabinet as long as he can. I mean, seriously, why finish off two MLAs when one is already done for. DJC

        Reply
  18. Just Me

    September 14th, 2021

    Looks like there’s a special cabinet meeting called for today concerning the COVID response.

    I suspect this maybe in response to Dr Hinshaw’s mea culpas that popped up on her video address to health care workers. I wouldn’t be surprised that this will be considered a betrayal and Hinshaw is removed. Her replacement will be the next UCP hack who declares Kenney another Jesus, and perhaps better than the last Jesus.

    And it was posted on Twitter that PMJT has used Jason Kenney and Erin O’Toole in the same sentence, as if to say, “Do you really want O’Toole saying to Kenney?” I’m waiting for O’Toole’s response, but I have a feeling it’s not going to be forthcoming.

    On the matter of O’Toole’s claim that Trudeau’s unnecessary election will cost Canadians $600 M, it seems that people have noted that the CPC will make bank on a percentage of that sum in reimbursements for their candidates election expenses, etc. O’Toole may regret kicking a gift horse in the mouth.

    Reply
  19. Just Me

    September 14th, 2021

    Looks like there’s a special cabinet meeting called for today concerning the COVID response.

    I suspect this maybe in response to Dr Hinshaw’s mea culpas that popped up on her video address to health care workers. I wouldn’t be surprised that this will be considered a betrayal and Hinshaw is removed. Her replacement will be the next UCP hack who declares Kenney another Jesus, and perhaps better than the last Jesus.

    And it was posted on Twitter that PMJT has used Jason Kenney and Erin O’Toole in the same sentence, as if to say, “Do you really want O’Toole listening to Kenney?” I’m waiting for O’Toole’s response, but I have a feeling it’s not going to be forthcoming.

    On the matter of O’Toole’s claim that Trudeau’s unnecessary election will cost Canadians $600 M, it seems that people have noted that the CPC will make bank on a percentage of that sum in reimbursements for their candidates election expenses, etc. O’Toole may regret kicking a gift horse in the mouth.

    Reply
  20. Alan Spiller

    September 14th, 2021

    Apparently Doug Horner is gambling on the fact that Erin O’Toole will get elected and Albertans have forgotten what he stood for. The ones in my world haven’t. Wouldn’t you like to know what freebies he is expecting to receive as a senator.

    I think all Albertans, especially our young ones, should google these before they vote for any senators . This guy treated us all like morons and wants to do it again.

    “Tory MALs defend taking freebies”

    ” Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner asked to resign over report he took wife on 23 government flights ”

    Like all of these phony conservatives, Reformers, they have no respect for doctors, nurses, and teachers or ordinary Albertans and are only interested in looking after themselves and their rich friends. Wasting our money is no concern of theirs. The MLAs I knew were right they are the enemies of the people. They refuse to follow regulations.

    They can’t even get along with themselves

    Reply
  21. brett

    September 14th, 2021

    Have to wonder if Kenney made an agreement of some sort, or quid pro quo, with O’Toole to stay out of the media until after the federal election.

    O’Toole’s team are probably concerned that anti Kenney sentiment will drive some support to the PPC.

    Let’s face it, Kenney is hardly the man of the hour in Alberta these days. The less we see of him the better for his popularity ratings. Sad but true.

    Whatever did Albertans do to deserve this scourge. And I am not referring to covid!

    Reply
  22. Scotty on Denman

    September 15th, 2021

    Anywhere else, such a perfect storm of political toxicity would have spun a party to pieces, well before this governing party —which tracked, killed and sewed its very own skunk-skin cap— has been found fixing up rabies in a dead-end alley, cornered by its supporters and rivals as they both hurl curses with clenched fists under lighted brands.

    If rumours are true that health minister, Tyler Shandro, in whose bailiwick Covid missiles principally land, is beginning to crack, it’d be the only thing about the UCP pandemic policy that makes sense.

    Reply

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