Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at yesterday’s news conference (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

It’s almost magical the way something can be true one day in Alberta and the complete opposite is true the next.

Readers need not be particularly well informed to recall Premier Jason Kenney’s confident pronouncement that a constitutional principle prevents MLAs from being held to the same standard as Alberta civil servants when it comes to having to be vaccinated to go to work.

Government House Leader Jason Nixon faces the media, although not necessarily the media he faced yesterday (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

After all, the premier explained this to us with his usual easy certainty only last Thursday. 

That was at the news conference he called to announce there was a new vaccine requirement for direct government employees who want to get paid. 

Braced by a reporter who boldly asked if the rule was good enough for the unelected geese, would it also apply to the elected ganders, Mr. Kenney adopted a pedagogical tone to explain to us Parliamentary dummies that there’s a constitutional principle elected members can’t be kept out of the Legislative chamber. 

“We are trying to sort out how you apply a policy like this while recognizing that longstanding constitutional principle,” he intoned. (Emphasis added.)

Yesterday, however, Government House Leader Jason Nixon blithely told reporters that all politicians and political staffers would be required to be fully vaccinated or provide a negative COVID-19 test every 72 hours if they want to sit in the House.

After all, he explained, accurately enough, the House gets to set its own rules and “ultimately answers to the 87 members of the Legislature.” 

So much for that Parliamentary convention that Mr. Kenney so confidently referenced. 

The new rule will include two MLAs kicked out of the United Conservative Party Caucus for criticizing Premier Kenney for not letting Alberta open wide, the pandemic be damned, Mr. Nixon noted. 

Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping, one of a large cast of supporting actors at Premier Kenney’s news conference yesterday (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

So it will be no problem to prevent rebel MLAs Drew Barnes from Cypress-Medicine Hat and Todd Loewen from Central Peace-Notley from entering the Legislative Chamber if they won’t vaxx up. 

Anyway, according to several news reports Mr. Nixon said that “all of the government caucus has received one vaccination except one individual who is working through a medical process with their doctors.”

This represents a significant change from last May, when 18 or 19 members of the UCP Caucus, depending on whether you count Lesser Slave Lake member Pat Rehn, who was temporarily expelled from the caucus at the time, were refusing to say if they’d had a vaccine. 

NDP MLAs revealed last week that all of the Opposition caucus and all New Democrat political staffers were fully vaccinated and demanded the same from the government.

Meanwhile, at yet another COVID-19 news conference yesterday, Mr. Kenney glibly brought back a few measures to control the rapid spread of COVID-19 in schools, which until a few days ago the government had insisted wasn’t a problem at all. 

“To protect our children and school communities, Alberta’s government is taking action to give schools the supports they need,” the premier said in a news release as if the government were right on top of the situation.

This doubtless caused hundreds of Alberta schoolteachers to give their heads a shake and wonder where the heck Mr. Kenney was when school reopened last month.

Public reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools will also resume today, Mr. Kenney said, never mind why it was stopped.

Accompanied by Health Minister Jason Copping, Education Minister Adriana Lagrange, Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw, and Alberta Health Services CEO Verna Yiu – a large enough retinue to lend some credibility, I guess – the premier also revealed some slightly revised rules for gatherings during the next likely province-wide super-spreader event, Monday’s Thanksgiving holiday. 

Many of us may find it disheartening to hear the premier constantly gaslighting us like this, day after day. 

Still, I suppose we can take some comfort, to borrow a phrase from comedian Billy Connolly, from the thought that if we just stay alert and pay attention, everything will change again tomorrow. 

Join the Conversation


  1. It seems these constitutional laws protecting politicians need to be updated. They are being abused in my pinion.

  2. The constant incompetent and deliberate negligence of Bumbles and crew, followed by gaslighting is growing very tiresome. Many alarmed parents and educators, not to mention others, were calling for more transparent Covid data as it relates to schools relatively long time ago, certainly before school started this September.

    In desperation, a volunteer group set up its own source of school-related Covid data submitted by parents: As far as I know, this is still the only place where you can find anything resembling accurate data, as incomplete as it is, on Covid incidents within schools.

    Bumbles was apparently trying to take a page from Harpo’s playbook: the one where you fire all the scientists and suppress data so you can make whatever assertions you want because they can’t be proven or rebutted with hard, empirically verifiable data. Although Kenney has not yet fired any scientists or professionals (although I think he would probably like to fire some who have been his own personal gadflies), he could until now assert, “look, ma, the data doesn’t support schools and young folks as being a major vector for transmission or as a cause for concern for parents” (sotto voce: “because there is no data”).

    Is this just malice, stupidity, or some combination of both? Do Bumbles and others in his orbit not know this basic, first principal: if you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it? Never mind that parents want to protect their children and themselves (and probably in that order) from the effects both short and long term of Covid. Does he not have any empathy for the plight of these families and others in the province. Must he always be dragged kicking and screaming to the right decision because he fears the loss of his job and agenda more than he cares for the people of this province?

    We really need to have transparent, accurate, and timely data. The more, the better. That the Bumbles government deliberately stopped collecting some Covid data and stopped tracking and tracing during the when the 4th wave was about to crash into us is an act of malicious incomptentence. Heads should roll.

  3. I love that old Billy Connolly bit. I have it somewhere as a voiceover to a generic/motivational PowerPoint. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  4. You just cannot expect these pretend conservatives and Reformers to do the right things. The UCP’s full display of double standards is contributing to the horrific mess we have now. Covid-19 cases in Alberta are at record highs, and we exceed any other province and territory in Canada at this moment. The unfortunate thing is that there are Albertans who are still dumb enough to support them, like they did with Ralph Klein. Where is the sense in that?

  5. Stepping anywhere near Jason Kenney’s ‘reality-distortion field’ can be a mind-blowing experience. What was cheese one day will be chocolate pudding the next.

    As for the apparent Nixon-Kenney disagreement over how and who working in the public service will be vaccinated, it’s apparent that Nixon doesn’t care a hoot about what the UCP MLAs think, because he’s not beholden to them. As for Kenney, a palace another revolt can come at anytime, so he needs to tread carefully.

    The dark comedy that is Alberta continues.

  6. On COVID, Kenney flip-flops like a salmon out of water. I was going to say “sucker” (Catostomus commersonii), but that’s us.
    To keep track of Kenney’s flip-flops*, I started a new MS Word file yesterday: “COVID: Govt of AB Response” to track Kenney’s failures and reversals. Better late than never.
    I am pleased to add a few choice excerpts from today’s AB Politics column to my file.

    How does the man sleep at night? With so many deaths weighing on his conscience.
    Well, I guess we all know the answer to that one.

    One of the best summaries I have come across so far:
    “What Jason Kenney’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment has reaped for Alberta’ (Macleans, Sept 15, 2021)

    Sadly, Kenney’s COVID exploits could fill a book.
    Books on COVID in Alberta in the age of Kenney are being written as we speak. Books of condolences.

    * I don’t mean the Imelda Marcos-approved collection of beach sandals he keeps in his closet. What we used to call “thongs” before an unfortunate lexical shift.

    1. Pretty rich there Geoffrey coming from a guy who worked his butt off to get Jason Kenney and the UCP elected in Alta. How do you reconcile this?

      It should have been clear that electing Kenney and the UCP was going to be bad for the people of Alberta but you decided to help make it happen. Will you be doing the same in the next election? And I don’t think you even live in Alta. Albertans had to live with their choice but at least will have a chance to fix it.

      1. It is no secret that I have often disagreed with Mr Pounder on many things, including — even especially — the quality of the government operated by Rachel Notley from 2015 to 2019. But even I would never accuse him of working to get the UCP elected. It’s absurd and frankly insulting.

  7. I had relatives who lived in (former) East Germany. It was the same. Constant lies upon lies and contradictions of the previous lies. Soon you just tune it out. Dark humour helps. That the people here voted for these obvious criminals and incompetents is telling. Demand more of your MLA’s than this gang of under-educated ideologues. That Alberta can’t even elect a local premiere is ridiculous. Can you imagine Quebec or Ontario with a Western premiere? Albertans need to become less politically naive and ideological. The other provinces vote in and out parties on a regular basis. Forty years of one party rule is pathetic. No one party deserves your allegiance. No one party should form your identity. Be pragmatic and demand the same of your politicians, they are only civil servants. Keep them guessing and vote them out regularly. See how Quebec does it. Bring in recall legislation so idiocy like this doesn’t happen again.

  8. These are weasels not politicians. We need a complete clean up of our political system if we have hopes of continuing to be prosperous and respected as a country. We have not only a Covid-19 pandemic but we are infused with a degrading infection of money and interests in our political system. If we do not manage to change this we will be toast.

  9. Given the demonstrated track record of the UCP government, we should expect the latest attempt to “help” schools to be obviously too little, much too late and more-or-less useless.

    With respect, DJC, I doubt the size of Kenney’s retinue at the presser will “lend credibility” so much as spread the inevitable blame.

  10. Remember when the newly minted idealogical Jason Kenney’s UCP took over the reins of power. How brashly they went about redressing the wrongs of the dreaded socialists. As I recall they rescinded the NDP movie production credit. It just so happens they are filming in my sleepy little Alberta town right now. I never realized what a big operation it is. Sets,actors, workers of every stripe,drivers,caterers and on and on. I think alot of this business belongs to a strong , dare I say it… Union. i.e. good pay and benefits. The town is a beehive of activity which is a good thing for the town and Alberta.
    Remember when Teck Resources were waiting for the Fed’s to give the thumbs up for the Frontier oil sands mine, and that swaggering dolt of an ” Environment” Minister Jason Nixon was pre-emptively making empty threats and throwing his weight around, and in my humble opinion,was the last straw for a shaky multi-billion dollar project.
    I could keep going, as I think we all could, of the disgraceful incompetence of these UCP grifters…but I won’t. What a great province Alberta is , we don’t deserve the ” leadership ” we’re getting. Jason Kenney needs to call an election right now. It’s not enough for him to just step away, they all need to go.

    1. I’d almost forgotten the UCP axing the movie incentive. I know they axed incentives and support for tech companies. Looks like they reinstated both.

      How many other programs, often started by the Old Tories (research & development incentives for Alberta businesses go way back) have the UCP destroyed and then restarted? As if we needed more reasons to despise the Unhinged Contrarian Party.

  11. I guess allowing 200 people to gather outdoors for Thanksgiving was a little OTT, even for Jason Kenney. Superspreader events sure aren’t what they used to be. (Whatever happened to those Uncle Covid commercials anyways?)

    It wasn’t so long ago that Jason Kenney, Patron Saint of Turkeys, was ruffling feathers to protect our superspreader events, although they weren’t called that yet. How can we forget his war on “anti-farming militants”? This was before his war on Bigfoot and the “foreign-funded” anti-Alberta oil activists.

    I was driving by this turkey barn as events were unfolding quietly on the side of the road. The farmer had reached a resolution with the protestors and both sides were willing to let bygones be bygones, until Big Jason stepped in.
    Lest we forget.

    Once a turkey, always a turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  12. Further to the hilarity in the ranks of the CONs, yesterday the CPC caucus voted overwhelmingly to placing their leader on notice that he can and will be removed at any time. While O’Toole’s to move the CPC to the normal-centre of rational moderation, a horde of MPs from rural Alberta and Saskatchewan voted to have a condition to remove him because – wait for it – he’s too left-wing.

    Alberta CPC MP Shannon Stubbs came out and said just that. She shrieked that the party lost on every metric, with every group, and it’s all O’Toole’s fault.

    While it’s clear that the CPC shot themselves in the face more than once in the last campaign, it remains that O’Toole cannot, like Andrew Scheer before him, beat a “former part-time drama teacher”. So toss him to the curb and hire a true CON, like Maxime Bernier to lead the CPC.

    Bernier was the leader the West really wanted anyway.

  13. Further to the hilarity in the ranks of the CONs, yesterday the CPC caucus voted overwhelmingly to placing their leader on notice that he can and will be removed at any time. While O’Toole’s effort to move the CPC to the normal-centre was considered a sound and rational move, a horde of MPs from rural Alberta and Saskatchewan voted to have a condition to remove him because – wait for it – he’s too left-wing.

    Alberta CPC MP Shannon Stubbs came out and said just that. She shrieked that the party lost on every metric, with every group, and it’s all O’Toole’s fault.

    While it’s clear that the CPC shot themselves in the face more than once in the last campaign, it remains that O’Toole cannot, like Andrew Scheer before him, beat a “former part-time drama teacher”. So toss him to the curb and hire a true CON, like Maxime Bernier to lead the CPC.

    Bernier was the leader the West really wanted anyway.

  14. It seems we need more nurses and doctors to serve in new and unusual covid challenges created by the UCP. We now require their assistance with burping and chin diapering, at least for ‘one individual who is working through a medical process with their doctors’. Who knows what else will pop up.

    These kinds of things are incredibly complicated and time consuming, like pounding endlessly on the proverbial dead horse, or the fitting of a square peg in a round hole, or getting themselves to water let alone drinking (poison I tell you) – every penny of their remuneration and/or pension sorely earned.

    One has to wonder, in the absence of the only goal worth living for – privatization for the sake of O&G, with so much magic and metaphor guiding them, which plums should they choose. And what exactly do they act on when there’s no breeze to speak of.

    No wonder the UCP can’t find the time to logicize and reason.

  15. This shilly-shal-lying is symptomatic of expedited schizophrenia. K-Boy has lowered his sights to salvage , at least, his maiden mandate, but a deal with his caucus was hammered out, as these daily contradictions show, that he may be frontman —with a big ‘but’: having traded it for his power to punish, he will thenceforth be embarrassed with typically feigned obliviousness by a cleanup crew coming up behind at each sunrise. A premier on such tenterhooks is a rare and disturbing sight: he’s been given his head to tilt at windmills while caucus guards his shambling rear. He’s always acted like only he can see the totem in the mist. The woodpeckers are humouring him. For now, Jean d‘arc of Quixote, for now…

  16. Well by now Kenney must be getting used to the climb down, maybe not good at it, but at least more comfortable with it.

    However, he is still the don’t apologize and don’t admit a mistake type of guy. So, he goes through great verbal semantics to avoid admitting or even avoid the appearance of admitting a mistake. Vaccine passports are not called that after Kenney said he would never have them and contact tracing which was abolished for the greatest summer ever, is back in schools now, but under a slightly different name.

    A smarter person would have hedged his bets better. For instance, the premise of the greatest summer ever was everyone was getting vaccinated, so COVID was no longer a problem. However, of course that took unfortunately took the pressure off the vaccine hesitant to do anything – why bother if the government was saying COVID as over. Also, vaccination did not and still does not apply to most younger school children. So rather than abolish all the school COVID restrictions, like vandals who mindlessly destroy anything they encounter, Kenney and the UCP should have at least left those restrictions in place. However, l suppose logic is not Kenney’s strong point so here he is a month after school has started trying to repair the damage he needlessly inflicted.

    I suspect part of the reason for Kenney to finally to introduce vaccination requirements for MLA’s is to make like difficult for the two independent MLA’s and anyone in his caucus who was thinking of not getting vaccinated. I am sure there are a few MLA’s Kenney from his own party he probably wouldn’t mind keeping out of the legislature and as far away as possible. It took him a while, but he has finally figured out how to use this to political advantage. Ok, he’s not the swiftest, but we already knew that. Unfortunately, for Kenney, it looks like most if not all of his own MLA’s will comply with this. Although I suspect they may not be so compliant in other ways.

  17. I would say try 1984, as in George Orwell. Under the party history is what they say it to be. We also know Kenney is firmly cemented to the past. This therefore suits him well. My question is when will he recommend home blood letting kits for COVID? Or faith healing – like a miracle it will disappear!


    Don Braid writes on Oct 4th, “As of last Friday, 10 riding associations had agreed to a motion calling for a leadership vote before March 1st. Twenty-two must sign on to force the timeline on the party executive, which is famously, although perhaps not permanently, loyal to Kenney.”

    Now isn’t that an interesting piece of news that really hasn’t been talked about.

  19. Our current ‘government’ has fired or at least demoted scientists; didn’t we used to have a Climate Change or Carbon Reduction department and wasn’t the chief scientist let go? You remember when carbon emissions were considered in AB, before we had a Minister of Red Tape Reduction. Also following Harper’s mentorship, our provincial legislative library was also killed to save one third of the cost of the Anti-AB “Public” Inquiry.
    Ignorance is Bliss and many are Blissed Out here in my rural community. Consider the regressive and inappropriate curriculum being piloted by only a handful of schools, rejected by most teachers and school authorities but still being pushed through. Consider how disproportionately we fund private schools when compared to other provinces and how tax refunds for tuition fees to these schools are generous but non-existent for families with children or adults in university. Not long until our world renown universities revert into Advanced Training Institutes.
    Managed Ignorance doesn’t feel to blissful to me.

  20. Kenney channelling his inner Lewis Carroll?

    Alice represents Albertans

    (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 5)

    Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

    “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

  21. If one wants to maintain a majority in a legislature sometimes you have to have every one show up.

    Keeping track of Jason’s flip flops will be fun come the next election campaign.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.