Jason Kenney celebrates the Best Summer Ever ™ at the Calgary Stampede in July (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta).

Friday’s jaw-dropping “Kenney Pennies” announcement may have included a few feeble temporary measures to slow surging COVID-19 infection rates and ease the strain on the fraying health care system, but it took less than 24 hours for word to leak the Alberta government has created special exemptions for rodeos.

So while as of yesterday restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, nightclubs and the like were required to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m., it turns out rodeo beer gardens will be allowed to go on serving till 2 a.m. 

Alberta culture, as imagined by that old Ottawa hand, Mr. Kenney (Photo: Originator not identified).

Yesterday morning, sharp-eyed Facebookers spotted Airdrie Pro Rodeo cheerfully announcing “the Provincial Government has granted us an exception for our FCA Rodeo September 4th & 5th. Therefore beer gardens will carry on as usual and will be open until 2am.”

As this is written, presumably, rodeo goers in the bedroom community of 70,000 north of Calgary, where the full vaccination rate is said to be well under 60 per cent, have lots of time to chug more beers and celebrate the infectious end of Alberta’s Best Summer Ever ™.

Similar exemptions were soon discovered at other Alberta weekend rodeos in Ponoka, Rockyford, and Benalto. This being Alberta, there are likely more. 

But that’s just the way we roll here in Wild Rose Country.

If you’re a friend of the United Conservative Party, or better yet a Friend of Kenney (FOK), you don’t have to phone up and beg for an exemption. Someone will phone you. 

And if there aren’t any exemptions, restrictions tend to be timed to take place after events the premier wants to happen – and Mr. Kenney loves rodeo. (What’s with that, anyway? Is it because he spent so many years in Ottawa he thinks that’s the real Alberta?) 

Indeed, it was Mr. Kenney’s determination to reopen in time for the Calgary Stampede in July that is credited for some of the current Delta-variant-fuelled coronavirus surge that has ICU occupancy at 95 per cent province-wide. And God forbid, as Mr. Kenney put it in Friday’s news conference at which he announced those $100 gift cards for tardy vaccine recipients, that we should ever have to re-close! 

Progress Alberta’s Jim Storrie (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

If you’re not an FOK, it can be a little harder to get permission to break the rules, but not impossible. 

CTV Calgary reporter Timm Bruch tweeted last night that Alberta Health “reached out” to Calgary Pride, which had been denied a liquor licence under the new restrictions, to advise them they too had an exemption to serve alcohol into the wee hours last night and tonight. 

Needless to say, these exemptions may make political sense, but they don’t make any sense from a public health perspective. Alas, as has become increasingly evident over the past year, the office of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health is now a political office. 

As the Progress Report’s Jim Storrie asked yesterday, “You ever hear that bit about how conservatism is all about defining one group that has to obey the law but isn’t protected by it and another group that gets protected by the law but doesn’t have to obey it?”

Well, that’s Alberta in a beer glass. 

Meanwhile, COVID infection rates and chronic understaffing has Alberta Health Services so far behind the 8-ball it’s admitted to signing deals with staffing agencies to hire contract nurses from other provinces to address staff shortages in Alberta hospitals.

The admission came in the form of an email to the labour relations director of United Nurses of Alberta, which represents more than 30,000 Alberta nurses, conceding that AHS did intend to hire contract nurses during the fourth wave of the pandemic. 

By the way, the email said, AHS will be dropping its August labour board complaint in which it accused the union of bargaining in bad faith by saying AHS was using staffing agencies to hire contract nurses and planning to pay them more than UNA members are paid now. 

In its current negotiations with UNA for a new collective agreement, AHS is demanding pay cuts of 3 per cent from every one of its RNs and RPNs! 

You’d almost think, at a time like this, it would make more sense to stop trying to cut nurses’ pay and keep making bars close early!

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43 Comments

  1. The UCP continue to reach to the newest levels of absurdity – every single time. There are no level rules for Covid-19 in Alberta, and we are seeing yet again the largest per capita cases of the virus in Canada. Furthermore, the UCP are treating doctors and nurses in Alberta like garbage, just like their hero Ralph Klein has done. This is all to ensure we get private for profit healthcare in Alberta. When will Albertans wake up and realize that these pretend conservatives and Reformers are no good? Ralph Klein was terrible, and even Peter Lougheed was criticizing how he governed Alberta, but the UCP are excelling how bad Ralph Klein was, by a long shot.

  2. Nevertheless the risk of contracting COVID in open air events like rodeos are extremely low. As Mao said, in the end it’s all a question of class warfare.

    Independent journalist Michael Tracey did an analysis of the COVID violation fines handed out by Newark, NJ police between March and mid-May 2020 and found of the 2,600 summonses issued, 1,100 were COVID related. The Newark police were on a tear, issuing tickets to people for just sitting in a park without masks.

    On March 30, a man described as Black was charged with “CONGREGATING WITHOUT MAINTAINING A DISTANCE OF 6FT, AND WITHOUT A DESTINATION, IN VIOLATION OF THE GOVERNOR’S ORDER.”

    Then in late May Newark hosted mass BLM protests like so many other cities in the US, fully endorsed by city and state officials, flagrantly violating their own COVID protocols which up until that point had been vigorously enforced.

    https://mtracey.substack.com/p/new-documents-show-police-charged

    1. Ron: The rodeos are so popular that the organizers have to bring in dozens of plastic porta-potties. They are an air tight plastic cylinder with a spring-loaded door that snaps shut. I can’t think of a better way to keep Covid-laden air inside for the next user to breath. Saw you at the beer garden, see you in emergency in two weeks.

  3. it’s obvious that this is the new way to buy votes in Alberta. Treat the people like morons and waste their money at every turn. Taxpayers are on the hook for $20 million to be handed out for vaccinations and the fools we saw on the news are really exited about. You would think it was Ralph Klein all over again buying votes.

    I keep thinking about the study I saw on the internet a few years ago that proved Albertans were 42% more likely to be fooled by politicians than other Canadians and we just keep proving it. Sadly it must have been removed I can’t find it again.

    1. ALAN K SPILLER: My dad, who has been retired for many years, and is in his 90s, was telling me how smart Ralph Klein thought he was before a provincial election, 30 years ago, with buying votes. As soon as Ralph Klein got back in, he stopped giving the cheques. This was very clever. The UCP are in turmoil, and are doing Ralph Klein type policies, which are very foolish, including the vote buying.

      1. ANONYMOUS I had a letter in the Calgary Herald years ago explaining what Klein was doing to us. I received a call from a Calgary senior who thanked me for writing it. He said that him and his wife thought Klein was wonderful until their children bought them tickets to one of Klein’s $250. Fund raising dinners for their anniversary .His speech was nothing more than a pack of lies, but the other seniors at the dinner were believing every lie he was feeding them.

        After it was over he decided to go to the washroom before driving home. When he came out of the wash room here was Klein talking to one of his MLAs. He over heard Klein say “I could tell these idiots anything and they would believe me”. Him and his wife went home and cut up their PC Cards, they hadn’t voted for Klein again.

        1. ALAN K SPILLER: Just look at any Postmedia newspaper, and in the columns, and the comment sections alike, you will still see the blind support for the UCP continue. It’s a shame.

          1. ANONYMOUS The sad thing is they are our fellow seniors who should be a lot smart but aren’t. A guy asked me “If I was another one of those damn seniors who helped Jason Kenney get elected like his Grandparents did. He was furious with them for not listening to him. These seniors are giving us a bad reputation.

            I had an interesting conversation with a doctor about 20 years ago. He told me that some of his doctor friends and him were conducting a survey of their own. They were keeping a list of seniors who had admitted they were strong Klein supporters and found that a very large percentage of them ended up shortly thereafter with dementia.

      1. In a previous article you said something to the effect that freeloaders are universally despised. I beg to differ. Freeloading is the cowboy way. Historically the cowboy era lasted less than 15 years. It consisted of driving herds of cattle and sheep north from Texas while fattening them on the savanna grasslands of New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and north into the rail head at Calgary for live export to Great Britain and Europe during the 1890s. It was financed by speculative money from the rail way boom. In that short period of time, they created the deserts now typical of those states. As one historian wrote: “far from loving the land, the cowboys used it to death.” Of course, the speculation finally collapsed, but not before it bankrupted many of the settler and first nations ranchers who actually lived in Alberta.

        So freeloading is really the Alberta way in everything from stealing land from natives to stealing farm and ranch land for oil and gas development, to stealing the environment from the future, leaving oil field waste, excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and forest devastation for the children yet to come.
        With a nod to Pogo the great Joni Mitchel said it best: https://youtu.be/4RH7m3ssPlo

  4. Surely we will learn about more special exemptions for other FOK soon. What about those churches?

    Experts elsewhere are predicting the pandemic could last well into 2022, if not 2023. Maybe this is the plan: stretch it out until the next election, because everyone else will still have it by then, too. Plan A was the same as plan B but with even more holes: give up. Plan B has slightly smaller, slightly less obvious holes. We’re taking on water, the ship is still sinking, but it will take a bit longer. I’m putting in another order for respirators as we speak. Onward to oblivion!

  5. “YAA-HOOO!” is what the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” said when they stormed into the Calgary Stampede.

    Well, it’s good to see that rodeos and Pride events all have the same exemption, though both should have been denied. Considering the UCP’s obsession with optics, pandering to one base while trying to not offend another, it’s pretty clear that they are trying to get everyone killed.

    Meanwhile, today in Vancouver, Erin the Tool is trying desperately to calm fears that he is in the pockets of FIRE and the NRA (Canada). Based on what he said during the CPC leadership campaign, one would think that The Tool was a big Second Amendment guy. Well, not so fast. The Tool just held up the latest edition of “Men’s Health” which proves, categorically, that he is VERY MUCH pro-gun control, anti-assault style weapon, uber pro-cop, and anti-rural vs urban divide.

    I’m wondering if The Tool will have that well-thumbed copy of Men’s Health at his podium during the upcoming debates. I can see someone using an awesome punch-line about The Tool sucking in his gut for the cover photo. It will be at that point The Tool will declare PMJT as “Canada’s Donald Trump” and challenge him to a push-up challenge and Jagmeet Singh to a Bhangra dance-off.

    The crazy is just getting started.

    1. “…and challenge him to a push-up challenge…”
      Erin might challenge Trudeau to push-ups but not likely a boxing match. Recall when Justin was a freshly elected MP, he and Senator Patrick Brazeau squared off in a three round bout for charity. In the first round Trudeau took Brazeau’s best shot but survived. By the third round he was pummelling the hell out of Brazeau before the referee stopped the fight. The Sun News commentators were almost crying. Never underestimate Trudeau, he’s a tough dude.

      1. At Tom In Ontario What are you hearing in Ontario? Reformer Doug Ford has been a disaster from what we hear.

        I’m betting ignorant Albertans will once again vote Conservative ignoring the fact that O’Toole is not a Conservative . He is a Reformer and nothing like the Conservatives we proudly supported under Peter Lougheed and Don Getty. While my conservative friends and I aren’t fans of Trudeau but we certainly trust him a lot more than O’Toole the fool., his buddy Jason Kenney has certainly proven why we shouldn’t.

        While O’Toole whines about what Trudeau has spent on helping the provinces survive this pandemic, and our latest Oil Industry crash, young Albertans feel blessed that he was in power and not O’Toole. The oil executives not only wanted the Carbon Tax implemented, that these Reformers tried to destroy, they are thankful for the $4 billion pipeline Trudeau bought for them.

        It’s a well known fact that Reformers are hell bent on forcing Canadians into a privatized health care and education system while they help their rich friends steal our wealth. Looking after their rich friends is how they buy votes, was what former MLAs from the Lougheed era taught me.

        1. To answer your question about Ontario, Doug Ford came to power the easy way. After three straight Liberal majority governments, people wanted change, no matter who was leading the PC party. One of his first acts was to cancel a scheduled dollar an hour raise to bring the minimum to $15. Like most right wing governments, he’s enraged health care and education professionals. To his credit he’s dealt with the pandemic better than right wing premiers west of Ontario, locking down when needed and for the most part listening to public health officials. He’s even ordered vaccine certificates for the main Covid spreading culprits, weddings, indoor restaurants, bars and gasp, strip clubs! The next provincial election is due in June 2022. My painful voice in the wilderness predicts he’ll likely be re-elected.

          1. Thanks for the reply. I certainly agree that Ford has handled the pandemic a lot smarter than his friend Jason Kenney has. His $20 million handout is nothing more than a bribe to buy votes. People are saying that instead of paying people to get vaccinated he should be fining them for not. It would be a lot smarter.

      2. The charity boxing match between Brazeau and Trudeau is the stuff of famous and infamous legend.

        The boxing match itself was a horrible mismatch. Brazeau is about 5’7″ and Trudeau is about 6’3″. Clearly, the tall, lean, and muscular Trudeau was more than trouble for the flabby Brazeau.

        Brazeau came out hot and heavy in the early going, but tired. Trudeau, playing a “rope-a-dope” strategy, started pummeling the weakened Brazeau mercilessly. The contest was called and Trudeau declared the winner. Years later, during an interview, PMJT recalled the boxing match as a “perfect” contest for himself, against an “antagonist” who personified much of what he was against. It was a thoughtless remark on Trudeau’s part, because it seemed to ring like Trudeau will beat up bad Indians for money. He quickly apologized for the remark, but it was a “Trudeau Apology” after all.

        1. Media commentators, who were mostly political commentators and knew little of the martial arts, favoured Mr. Brazeau heavily because he looked tough and had a karate black belt. They completely missed the fact Mr. Trudeau had been training with a boxing coach. Speaking as a fourth-degree black belt in Uechi-ryu karate, black belts can enjoy a mystique that is not necessarily deserved. Let’s just say, not all black belts are created equal. I have always said that in a match between a karate black belt and an experienced boxer, you should always bet on the boxer. You might not win every time, but you’ll make money over the long haul. Notwithstanding things that came out about his personal life, Mr. Brazeau conducted himself after his loss with dignity and what we used to call good sportsmanship. DJC

          1. I felt it was regrettable that Brazeau received such shabby treatment after the boxing match and his involvement in the Senate expenses scandals that followed. Brazeau had been a long time advocate and councillor for First Nations youth and, honestly, was Harpo’s only worthy Senate appointment. The ridicule he received in his post-Senate career for taking a job as a doorman at a strip club was really below the barre.

      3. remember that “fight” well. Changed my mind about Trudeau after that. Realized he was way tougher than most people gave him credit for. Getting in the ring and going 3 rounds is not for the faint of heart. just to be able to take the punches ……………..never underestimate that kid. O.K. he’s the P.M. but still tend to think of him as a kid.

  6. YIPPEE-KI-YAY INCOMPETENCE
    100 dollars for his supporters is what this is all about. He does not miss an opportunity to
    gift his true supporters.

  7. the imbecilic and damaging misrule of Kenney/UCP clown show and the continued support from still too many kool-aid drinking, better dead than red Albertans beggars belief

    Dunning–Kruger effect, full throttle

  8. Why would Kenney (with AHS as a front, and why not the Liquor Board or whatever?) give the Pride Parade and exemption? The small-town rodeos I can understand; that’s where Kenney’s base lives. But I would have expected Kenney & the Klowns to loathe the whole LGBTQ+ movement.

    Conspiracy Theory #N (where N is very large): somebody pointed out Kenney could achieve herd immunity by thinning out the herd. What groups could be more deserving of Kenney’s wrath than the fickle, disloyal Base and a bunch of “queers”?

    1. Very easy and rational decision….When Alberta changed restrictions in the past, it did so with several days notice so that, restaurants, for example, would be less caught with perishable inventory on hand. The restictions announced last Friday provided less that 24 hours notice which would have unduely punished event organizers, so granting exemptions for a few days is fair.

      Interesting that rodeos were highlighted by Kenney opponents when many types of events received exemptions. Guess there weren’t any gun shows or healthcare privatization events taking place over the weekend that would even better fit the narrative being pushed by the public sector union disinformation squads.

  9. This ineptitude is just the tip of the iceberg. I am counting the days to the next election and my local UCP MLA coming to my door hustling my vote as I have a few things i want to say.

  10. Both the Daines and Ponoka rodeos posted that attendees will not be expected to bring masks. Both have indoor spaces. It seems that following provincial rules on wearing masks when inside indoor spaces seems optional in Alberta depending on who attends what. Sho’nuff seems there’s rules for some folks and none for others. The Members of Parliament of both constituencies in which these events occur remain silent, just as they did during the cynical and dangerous episodes of rule flouting at Mirror’s Whistle Stop Cafe and Bowden’s anti lockdown rodeo. Their combined years of parliamentary attendance is twenty eight years and four months, mostly spent warming seats on the back benches although both have migrated from the rear to the third of six rows. Thinking of them as underachievers would be acts of generosity.

  11. I honestly wish we could see the end of this man sooner,
    I live here in lower coastal BC, we worked hard to get the Covid situation under control and many paid for it too with their lively hood.
    How come one bad apple has the right to spoil more in the other barrels?

    When I see Alberta plates I can’t help but wonder – are they playing in the right team and did they vote for the fool?

    Money does things to some people …..

    I feel sad and discouraged.

  12. Yihaw! The Labour Day Classic football game did not require proof of vaccination status. As previously stated by the owners, that corporate rule has not kicked in yet. Masks were optional in the stands, due to this being an outdoor event.

  13. Kenney just can’t seem to help himself, can he? Either he is really not too bright or he has a subconscious self destructive wish.

    Restrictions with Swiss cheese like holes in them are not going to be that effective. I doubt that he really likes Rodeo that much, more likely it is a political calculation, like his many past half measures have been.

    Beer gardens until 2 am – totally unnecessary and particularly not a good idea at this time!

    So, the UCP seems to be doing its best to repeat the bad decisions and driftless style of the later days of the PC regime. They also sure seem to learn nothing.

  14. Jason Kenney is always babbling about foreign environmentalists trying to land lock Alberta’s resources. By not instituting some form of vaccine passport/record he literally land locks Albertans in Alberta.

  15. It wasn’t surprising that he made the annoucement, as stupid as it was. Most likely pandering to his base, but then given the unemployment rate in Alberta, perhaps it will be lowered if a lot of people die of COVID.

    don’t know how the fool thinks reducing nurses salaries by 3% is going to reduce the debt in Alberta and then have to pay other nurses almost double what the Alberta nurses were being paid. Do wonder though what the free trade agreement says about American health care companies moving into Canada…..

  16. You could do an Afghanistan post. The timeline of Aghan immigration juxtaposed against our involvement there might be a nice bit of recent history, vis who was in charge. 1812. Harper. He was there when we burnt the Whitehouse! Wasn’t he? I thought was an invisible inhabitant of Bladenburg! https://youtu.be/ma0OIdTtXno

  17. Is the Commons seating arrangement counted from front to back or back to front of the House? When counting from the front seats, the members alluded to sit in the fourth row. Counting from the back, as in a previous comment, makes them appear to be sitting the third row, marginally higher in the CPC parliamentary pecking order. Both positions provide excellent viewpoints to observe the national affairs of state in progress.

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