Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at yesterday’s not-very-informative news conference (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

Alberta premier’s rambling, uninformative news conference fails to live up to billing

Posted on October 01, 2021, 1:35 am
8 mins

All direct employees of the Alberta Government will now be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide regular negative test results, Premier Jason Kenney announced yesterday.

Umm… That’s it. 

Alberta Public Service Commissioner Tim Grant (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

Of course, that’s not just it.

As the fourth wave of COVID-19 has grown more severe in Alberta, with startling daily death tolls and a growing sense of profound public unease, and as the United Conservative Party grows more obviously disunited over what approach should be taken to getting the situation under control, a troubling pattern has emerged with Premier Kenney’s increasingly incoherent, ill-prepared and rambling news conferences. 

First, in the morning, rumours begin to circulate on social media that a major announcement will be made by the government that afternoon. Seemingly well informed individuals confidently predict what will be discussed. 

Yesterday, it was rumoured Premier Kenney would announce tough restrictions on social and business interactions to finally get the crisis under control, to take effect on Monday. 

Then we hear that the Cabinet, the UCP Caucus, or the Cabinet COVID Committee – which for some reason the premier insists on calling the COVID Cabinet Committee – is meeting. The meeting goes on and on.

Yesterday it was a meeting of the C3 Committee.

With bated breath, we sit down at our computers at 3:30 p.m. and await the news with hope or despair, depending on which side of the culture war wracking Alberta we occupy. 

Alberta NDP Health Critic David Shepherd (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Then comes the announcement, and it is something completely different from what had been anticipated. The premier’s delivery seems shifty. There’s a lot of gaslighting, and many defensive statements in response to journalists’ questions. 

Yesterday the topic of the news conference was that the 25,000 members of the civil service would have to get their vaccinations if they wanted to come to work. Either that, or they could take a COVID test and pay for it themselves. None of this will be required until Nov. 30. 

In other words: Pfffffft! The crisis continues. The bodies, presumably, will continue to pile up. 

Some of the military, Red Cross and Newfoundland volunteers Mr. Kenney had just finished telling us wouldn’t be needed will be flying in after all. 

Queried by a reporter who seemed to think there really ought to be something more important, a cranky Mr. Kenney responded: “There are no other measures that are currently under consideration.”

Fatuous statements were made by the premier: “We value our public servants and the important work that they do. That’s why we want to ensure that they’re operating in safe workplaces and that we’re doing everything we can to protect the millions of Albertans to whom they provide services.” (So why not let them work from home, where they’ve already proved they can do their jobs?)

There are moments of unintended hilarity. “I’m not interested in the blame game,” says the premier, a man whose entire provincial career is based on blaming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for everything that goes wrong. Except when he’s blaming “anti-Alberta energy campaigns,” that is.

Government employees who refuse to get vaccinated or produce up-to-date COVID tests will be put on unpaid leave, explains Public Service Commissioner Tim Grant. No one will be fired, the former major general promises.

Some reporter asks the premier if politicians should have to play by the same rules. This is a clever question, because who in Alberta doesn’t know about the large covid-denial caucus among the ranks of the government’s MLAs? Last spring, 19 MLAs refused to say if they’d had their shots, or would ever get them. Of those, 18 were members of the UCP. The other was an Independent, who has since been readmitted to the UCP. 

These MLAs include some of the same people who if they’re kicked out just might form a new separatist party with UCP exiles Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen. They’d only need two more! (Angela Pitt, Jason Stephan, c’mon down!)

There’s a constitutional principle that elected members can’t be kept out of the Legislative Chamber, Mr. Kenney responds in his explaining voice. “We are trying to sort out how you apply a policy like this while recognizing that longstanding constitutional principle,” he lectures.

Say what? Yet the Speaker can bar any member from the House if they’re not wearing nice shoes or, if they’re a fellow, a necktie?

The NDP Opposition puts out a press release. “If Jason Kenney wanted to send a message, he would apply this mandate to his own MLAs and political staff,” it quotes Health Critic David Shepherd.

He challenges the UCP “to immediately bring forward a requirement to the Member Services Committee that all MLAs and political staff be double vaccinated against COVID-19.”

All 24 NDP MLAs and all 30 NDP staffers are fully vaccinated, the NDP release noted. 

Meanwhile, in spite of yesterday’s non-news event, there were another 20 new deaths from COVID-19 reported. There have been more than 200 in the past two weeks. Unlike the early days of the pandemic before there were safe and effective vaccines, many of the victims are young people. 

So what’s really going on? 

It’s difficult to know for sure, but the circumstances suggest the premier, who has obviously lost control of his caucus (last week members were seriously debating voting non-confidence in his leadership), is being whipsawed between two groups: an urban faction that wants tougher measures so members can stay elected, and a rural faction that wants no measures at all so they can remain in office. 

Agreements are made and news conferences scheduled. 

Agreements are broken and insignificant developments rolled out as big policy announcements.

There’s no time for preparation, and it shows. The premier defaults to gaslighting. 

The population grows increasingly frightened and divided.

Mr. Kenney prays the situation will fix itself. 

This is speculation, of course. Convince me I’m wrong. 

32 Comments to: Alberta premier’s rambling, uninformative news conference fails to live up to billing

  1. Former Albertan

    October 1st, 2021

    Alas, I cannot gainsay you as I believe you are correct. Towards the end of the presser Kenney began to waffle and make little sense. Too much pressure? He also denied entirely what he said about assistance from the Newfs, at the last news conference. The Ultimately Collapsed Party it truly would seem.

    This has entered a time beyond tragedy, with leadership from this government paralyzed in what? A Darwinian medical experiment perhaps? Or do they await the second coming?

    Reply
  2. Dave

    October 1st, 2021

    I believe its a show, put on to convey the message Kenney is in charge, still. I am not sure if it is very convincing, though.

    Perhaps there is more to it behind the scenes, it would not be surprising. There could have been some fragile agreement reached, or that Kenney and his crew thought was reached, but that fell apart or never really was. It is true that the political ground Kenney walks on right now is not very solid. One mis-step and it could easily give away and swallow him up.

    I don’t think UCP MLA’s are suddenly becoming separatists other than the ones playing footsie with it all along. However, any other Conservative party might look more attractive now, compared to the UCP being dragged down by Kenney and his long series of bad and dumb moves. So the rats naturally start to think of fleeing the ship and what else might make a viable political life boat.

    There is an air of madness and desperation about the UCP now. It all seems a bit surreal and I don’t feel it can last too long. Something will happen sooner or later to end this.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    October 1st, 2021

    The UCP’s Best Summer Ever, sure didn’t live up to the hype. Sadly, people in Alberta have suffered the consequences from the UCP’s bungling of their handling the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta. The head honcho of the UCP also is giving double speak, by wearing an orange shirt. Christian Champion was on the UCP’s school curriculum revamping panel. His comments on residential schools in Canada were appalling. It’s now fall, and things aren’t good in Alberta, with Covid-19. These pretend conservatives and Reformers sure know how to make a mess of things. I don’t think things will improve. The UCP has made so much damage, that it will be very difficult to rectify it. It will take a long time to do it.

    Reply
  4. tom

    October 1st, 2021

    Remember when everyone thought he was going to resign? While the province stares into the abyss of a pandemic, Jason Kenney faces the unthinkable spectre of his own political extinction.

    Reply
  5. BP

    October 1st, 2021

    I miss when you reported on notable things, instead of using every oppourtunity you have to just bitch and moan about Kenney. At this point, it seems like you might have a crush on the guy. Anyway, NDP might as well split up and rebrand and such, because Not-our-premier-ly has ramped up her violent rhetoric so hard she’s chased all the moderates away. She, and you, have shown your extremist hands. It sickens me. Turns out it’s CONSERVATIVES that actually represent the middle ground. PPC = far right EXTREMISTS, NDP = far left EXTREMISTS. Fart-noise, Dave. Your words are just fart-noises to real Canadians who still respect other real Canadians.

    Reply
    • Abs

      October 1st, 2021

      Are “real Canadians” an offshoot of “REAL Women of Canada”? Asking for a friend.

      Reply
    • John T

      October 1st, 2021

      Nice try.

      Reply
    • Hana Razga

      October 1st, 2021

      Pffft!

      Reply
    • Mike J Danysh

      October 1st, 2021

      You’re lucky our host gives you any space at all.

      Reply
    • Albertan

      October 1st, 2021

      Nonsense.

      Reply
    • Crisisinsk

      October 1st, 2021

      The NDP are not “far left EXTREMISTS” as all of the major parties in Canada are Capitalist. We are like the US where there is a one-party two faction system except our one-party system has three factions. The role of the NDP is similar to Bernie Sanders and to the DSA, to soak up any tepid left leaning voters so they do not vote for a socialist candidate (if one is available) or ballot a non-vote (in a true democracy there should be a none of the above box). In the full political spectrum the NDP are just right of center. So no need to worry about about far left extremists, the system is working and Capitalism will prevail, and likely become more fascist to keep capital flowing to those that deserve it. This system is well tested and you will find it operating in all Western European colonial countries.

      Reply
    • Death and Gravity

      October 2nd, 2021

      You seem very upset. Are the checks still clearing?

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      October 2nd, 2021

      BP: You clearly don’t know what you are talking about.

      Reply
    • tom in ontario

      October 2nd, 2021

      Make a donation?

      Reply
  6. Abs

    October 1st, 2021

    These news conferences are become increasingly unhinged and pointless.

    The only other thing I can add is the use of “lest we forget” by the Jasons. Remembrance Day is when the phrase is commonly used, in reference to soldiers who gave their lives fighting in wars in service to their country. It’s highly inappropriate and offensive to use this term on the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation in reference to young children taken with force from their families and abused in residential schools, then cast aside in unmarked graves. But then again, what do we expect from a government led by a man who refuses to acknowledge this federal statutory holiday? We get hollow words, presented mechanically, by a man who attended a private Catholic residential school for the children of colonists.

    Reply
  7. Phlogiston

    October 1st, 2021

    Far be it from me to prove you wrong on this matter. Our dear leader and his incompetent minions have clearly lost control of the pandemic. So, here we still are. A Humboldt busload or more of Albertans are dying every day from Covid; many are infected; flu and cold season is coming; hospitals and medical staff are overwhelmed; citizens can’t get the life-altering medical treatments they need because (mainly) a bunch of know-nothing anti-vaxxers are getting sick from Covid and occupying beds that would otherwise be used for these necessary treatments; the livelihoods of many is still needlessly in jeopardy; parents of school-aged children are fearful. The list of woe seems an endless epic catalogue, mostly caused by incompetence and malfeasance informed by blind ideology.

    Now, to make matters worse, it appears that Kenney has lost control of a sizable portion of his caucus. So, given that he is constitutionally incapable of taking responsibility and admitting to error, we now must add another selfish motive to his faults: the need to placate a sizable ignorant rump in his caucus to keep his job, which he is quite frankly terrible at.

    Even to Kenney it must now be apparent that the centre cannot hold. If he can’t do the right thing, what is left to him but the insane hope that, without any positive and strong action on his part, eventually enough Albertans will be vaccinated so that we can get back to normal and the floundering ship will miraculously right itself. So, instead of news conferences where we might, I don’t know, learn that the government was going to roll out vaccine passports that provide a high degree of assurance that the person who possesses the passport is who they purport to be and that vaccine record is accurate, that the government was going to bring in and enforce vaccine and mask mandates, remove the onus from businesses and school boards, that we would have a fire-break lockdown, etc.

    Instead, we get nothing burger press conferences, full of sound and nonsense, signifying less than nothing.

    Reply
  8. Keith McClary

    October 1st, 2021

    I hear that Cuba has offered to send doctors.

    Reply
    • GregH

      October 1st, 2021

      Good one.

      Reply
  9. Alan K Spiller

    October 1st, 2021

    I wish my father and the former MLAs I had known from the Lougheed era had lived long enough to see how stupid these Reformers are. Can’t you imagine what Lougheed would be saying about them slashing his taxes and royalties to benefit their rich friends while they whine about how Ottawa is cheating us out of equalization payments? How stupid do they think we are? Well they know it, they got elected didn’t they?
    Thank god that the eastern Canadians aren’t as dumb as the ones on the prairies or we would have an American style health care system by now.
    It’s no secret that the social credit party disappeared in Alberta because they agreed with what Lougheed was doing for us and these reformers have destroyed everything Lougheed stood for and stupid Albertans let them do it.

    We still hear stupid seniors believing every lie they are fed by these fools , but then as our retired RCMP friends point out seniors have a terrible reputation for being easy to fool, con-artists have made a career of it.

    Until we get rid of all these Reformers this problem is not going away, and as a retired lawyer friend would say to seniors before he passed away “ If you don’t want to be called stupid, stop acting that way”.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      October 2nd, 2021

      ALAN K SPILLER: Great points. Well said.

      Reply
  10. JS bow valley

    October 1st, 2021

    Moved to Alberta over twenty years ago and very quickly got the impression that if the conservatives were to kill Albertans right in front of them, they would retain the support of those very same people. With ucp support in the toilet, thankfully I pulled a kenney and was mostly wrong.

    Reply
  11. Just Me

    October 1st, 2021

    Ha! Watching the news this morning and the reader referred to Premier Kenney as “Premier Penney”. I’m sure it was a Freudian Slip, for certain. Really.

    After all the gaslighting, doubling-down, threats, screaming, tantrums, and everything else we’ve seen from Kenney over the course of his career, this is the most cranky and disheveled he’s ever appeared. I guess this is what happens when the protection of Stockwell Day is no longer available.

    So, it looks like Newfoundland and Ottawa have to come in and save Alberta’s hide from Kenney and the UCP.

    Wasn’t Kenney supposed to be some kind of a genius and master of the universe?

    Reply
  12. John T

    October 1st, 2021

    I am have no hope that this government will do what is the right thing, at the right time. I have never witnessed such incompetence and chaos.

    Reply
  13. Judylou

    October 1st, 2021

    Well we’re saving tourism advertising dollars- if there’s a province left to see. Our Open For Summer made the US networks and The Late Show hosted by Stephen Colbert.
    Now Worldwide news outlets are reporting on our Closed for Fall and sick unvaccinated falling all over and crashing the health system. The fallout also is hugely raising health care costs and in the future will require more $$ for Covid long haulers, many who will be Chico really long haulers.
    Hey Newfoundland has found a new source of income other than the Oilsands—sending their medical staff- because it won’t be free.
    I wonder if there is an idea to the UPC madness— a reason to have to use private providers to catch up surgical backlog and support their privatization of public health. Hee hee hee.
    How can this madness be stopped as Kenney and Co fiddle while Alberta burns!,

    Reply
  14. Hana Razga

    October 1st, 2021

    Jason Kenney always waves the constitution and constitutional principles, when he does not want to do something…..

    Reply
  15. Fritz K

    October 1st, 2021

    The death throes of a dinosaur are uncomfortable to watch. It is somewhat reassuring that Jason has no progeny (or, likely, ever will have) to witness and be mortified by his witless incompetence.

    Reply
  16. Gerald

    October 1st, 2021

    Kenney’s riding is Calgary-Lougheed. If some who lives in this riding reads this post, please start the recall petition. Thank you.

    Reply
  17. Jay-El

    October 1st, 2021

    If I understand the Premier’s message correctly, Public Service employees must provide proof of vaccination or risk being denied the opportunity to work…. but, they will not be fired.

    If an organized labour group wished to send a message to the Alberta Government, what would happen if a considerable number of them were just a little slow in submitting their credentials?

    Asking for a friend.

    Reply
  18. Guest99

    October 2nd, 2021

    Why did Timmy look so scared up there?

    Reply
  19. e.a.f.

    October 2nd, 2021

    Kenny does appear to be a tad “out of it” these days. One day he doesn’t want medical assistance for the citizens of Alberta, the next he does. His appearance at the mike left me wondering if he is starting with the early signs of dementia. He seems confused, unsure also a little unkept. Oh, well how would we know the difference?

    wonder what will happen if the medical staff didn’t show up for work one day?

    If Kenny and his gang don’t know what to do when there is a pandemic, all they have to do is check with the other provinces who are doing better with this. Its not like he has to invent a wheel or a government, just check what the other boys are doing. Its really easy. However, perhaps this is all too much for the boys who follow Kenny. Perhaps its time to turn things over to some one who knows what to do, Notley. Back in the day, like the 1970s we had a sweat shirt that said, “if you need something done properly, get a woman to do it”. Some resented the comment, but with Kenny and his gang, it really is time to get another Premier. For all the negative things said about Allison Redford, she’d certainly do a better job than Kenny and his gang.

    Reply

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