Jason Kenney announces the “Best Summer Ever” on June 18, 2021 (Photo: Chris Schwarz, Government of Alberta.)

With less than 48 hours to go until Christmas Day, I predicted on Dec. 23 that the UCP’s Edmonton pandemic party at the Parlour Restaurant two and a half hours after Premier Jason Kenney instructed Albertans to cut their social contacts in half to slow the spread of the Omicron variant would be his party’s last political scandal of 2021.

Never mind the seemingly accelerating rate of outrageous behaviour under the leadership of his disunited United Conservative Party, it just didn’t seem like a particularly bold prediction to reckon Parlourgate would be the last scandal worthy of the name given the proximity of the last day of 2021. 

One of the mystery photographer’s shots of the notorious Sky Palace Pandemic Patio Party (Photo: Twitter).

Silly me. 

Since then, Mr. Kenney has been caught blurting out his now notorious “bat soup” slur about the origins of the pandemic, widely condemned as anti-Asian racism. Notwithstanding the lame “science” defence offered by the premier’s communications director, this one has already made the grade as a scandal.

In addition, Mr. Kenney’s government ordered Alberta Health Services to end its sensible policy of requiring unvaccinated employees to go on unpaid leave. This should be a scandal if it isn’t. 

The premier also published a tone-deaf panegyric about far-right journalist Ted Byfield and the man’s divisive and offensive screeds after his death on the 23rd, then took his time publishing a lukewarm tweet acknowledging the death on Boxing Day of Bishop Desmond Tutu, the South African Apartheid foe and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Arguably this doesn’t quite make the cut for scandalous behaviour in the 21st Century, but it’s close. 

As for Mr. Kenney’s tweet advising his supporters to listen to typically unhinged remarks by Donald Trump, in which the former U.S. president takes personal credit for the swift development of vaccines against COVID, that barely raises eyebrows in the current frenetic state of politics here in Wild Rose Country.

But as AlbertaPolitics.ca commences its 15th year of publication today, there’s still a week to go for Mr. Kenney to blunder into new scandals. 

It just goes to show that you can never go wrong predicting more daily outrages by Mr. Kenney and his gang.

Mr. Kenney as he may have looked on his mysterious 2021 pandemic holiday – although this shot is from a different holiday (Photo: Twitter).

Over the past year, it’s been almost impossible to keep track of them all – even if a blogger tries to restrict himself to scandals worthy of the name, as opposed to the kind of stuff Mr. Kenney and company used to portray as scandalous about the previous government. 

Dredging up a photo of a youthful MLA posing tastelessly for the cover of a punk rock poster, for example, hardly seems like the stuff of scandal any more, does it? By comparison to recent UCP scandals, it’s positively quaint!

And so, to mark the 14th anniversary today of AlbertaPolitics.ca, I have decided to mention only the Top Ten UCP Scandals of 2021, presented in reverse order, as is the tradition. 

The Top Ten UCP Scandals of 2021

10. AIMCo Follies – Not only did the Alberta government’s pension management Crown corporation lose $2.1 billion gambling on market volatility, but it’s grabbing the retirement savings of Alberta’s teachers, nurses and other public employees while the premier schemes to hijack all Albertans’ Canada Pension Plan savings for its use. 

9. Animal House on the Prairie – That is, the former minister of agriculture’s office, where day drinking, sexual harassment, and generally disreputable behaviour were all routine once the doors were locked and a cry of “shields up” uttered. Were it not for a wrongful dismissal suit by a political staffer who objected to harassment of her colleague, we might never have known a thing.

8. Mountaintop Removal – The government’s scheme to sell off huge swaths of the southern Alberta foothills for a pittance to Australian coal-mining companies to build giant open-pit mines and pollute rivers all the way to the Hudson Bay is this low on the list only because a huge uproar has temporarily stopped it. Count on it to be back again in 2022. 

7. Sky Palace Patio Party – When Mr. Kenney was busted by a mystery photographer with a long lens breaking his own pandemic rules with a group of UCP cabinet heavyweights and advisors during a boozy rooftop dinner at the notorious Sky Palace in Edmonton, a huge uproar ensued. Does anyone even remember now? 

6. The Alberta (Non) Inquiry – Conceived as a way to harass foes of oilsands development into silence, the “Public Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns” soon descended into farce. Delayed multiple times, it cost $3.5 million, never met in public, and ultimately delivered no evidence of wrongdoing. It may have cost less than the War Room, but it looked sillier. 

MLA Pat Rehn in Mexico during the pandemic – he spent some time sitting as an Independent in the Legislature as a result, but has since been welcomed back to the bosom of the UCP (Photo: Facebook).

5. Alohagate – The first scandal of 2021 if you go by the calendar, Alohagate, also known as Hawaiigate, saw at least eight UCP MLAs and staffers caught taking mid-pandemic holidays in the sun while the rest of us were instructed to hunker down at home and avoid COVID. The public, even die-hard UCP supporters, was outraged. That didn’t seem to influence UCP behaviour much, though. 

4. Home Alone – When the fourth wave of COVID hit Alberta, Premier Kenney got going. To this day, no one knows where. The prevailing theory is that he was enjoying more vitamin showers in Europe. Wherever he went, though, no one was left in charge, and for 23 days Albertans were on their own at home as the pandemic raged and the ship of state drifted. 

3. Curriculum Catastrophe – Premier Kenney thinks students are being “hard-wired with collectivist ideas” by a school system run by liberals. His solution is the worst curriculum imaginable, panned by teachers, reviled by curriculum experts, and mocked internationally as age-inappropriate, outdated, Eurocentric, jargon-riddled, inaccurate, unconcerned with developing critical thinking skills, and rife with plagiarism.

2. Here Today, Gone Forever – Mr. Kenney forked over $1.3 billion of our money to TC Energy Corp. to complete the KXL Pipeline once Donald Trump won the 2020 U.S. election. It was a terrible bet. Literally the first thing President Joe Biden did once he was sworn into office in January was pull the plug on the project. Our money disappeared into thin air that instant – possibly with a few billion more in loan guarantees – never to be seen again.

And the No. 1 UCP scandal of 2021 is …

1. The Best Summer Ever! – Despite warnings not to do it from just about everyone except the UCP’s informal anti-vaccine caucus and the party’s anti-vaxxer base, Mr. Kenney declared the province Open for Summer on June 18 and promised us the Best Summer Ever. We all know how that turned out.

Readers, of course, may disagree with this list, either its order or its contents. They are, of course, welcome to submit their own. 

Join the Conversation

31 Comments

  1. “…pollute revers all the way to the Hudson Bay…”
    A topy, I think.
    Merry Christmas, David, and thanks for all of the trenchant commentary over the past year. In today’s Alberta, that’s hard to come by.

  2. Ah, heck. With so much time left in office before May 2023, bigger and more scandalous scandals are yet to come.

    So let’s talk about sandals, or hotel slippers, as the case may be. Aside from the obvious need for a pedicure, our premier’s left ankle and foot seem to be purple. I can’t be sure, because I am not a doctor, not do I play one on TV. However, my lack of expertise does not prevent me from suggesting compression hosiery for daily wear. You’re welcome. This one is gratis.

  3. Wow. The next election is in 2023 — what other shenanigans can Kenney and the United Clown Party come up with before then?

    It’s not so much that this is garden variety incompetence that is driving this crusade of stupidity. It’s more like the UCP are trying to make a live-action version of South Party, complete with Kenney (Cartman) yelling at everyone to “Respect My Authoritah!”

    Now that Brian Jean is surely getting annoyed that he has not received his nomination signature only means that the nonsense will go on even longer. Image Kenney becoming so obsessed over protecting his leadership from Jean, he decides to do nothing that has anything to do with being a premier? (Oh wait…)

    I suspect that Kenney is trying to find something to pin on Jean that will damage him enough to deny him the nomination. An act so scandalous, so egregious it will mean Kenney will have to step in and protect the office of MLA. But if nothing is found, Kenney will just cite “Westminister Rules” and declare no enemies of this premier will darken his right to the Sky Palace.

    It will only get worse before it becomes a complete disaster.

    1. Ian: I gave some thought to including that and rejected it for a couple of reasons, one of them I admit because it has gained no public traction, a self-imposed rule I may have applied inconsistently. In addition, though, it seems to me that it has been legislated normally without the shenanigans normally associated with the UCP and therefore, while outrageous and almost certainly not constitutional, it is not scandalous. Governments do have the right to pass and enact ideological legislation, even if it is bad for the country or province. It will be a scandal if they casually use the Notwithstanding Clause, as conservative governments are increasingly doing as they attempt to marginalize the Charter, to keep its most offensive features once the courts have ruled it to be unconstitutional. DJC

  4. Congratulations! Your blog is great, humorous and to the point holding truth to power: great investigative journalism. Largely because of you I’m informed about Alberta: if you have any blogs for BC you’d like to recommend I’d be delighted.

  5. HI dave
    re:#8 and ” low on the list only because a huge uproar has temporarily stopped it”
    I read this from
    https://susanonthesoapbox.com/2021/11/21/jason-kenneys-last-agm/
    “They also rejected a moratorium on new coal exploration and development on the eastern slopes of the Rockies.”
    which i read to mean that it is back on again … the exploration … rejecting the existing moratorium

    I have spent some time chasing what they resolved at UPC CONVENTION
    the total list
    but it seems to be hidden to a non-believer by a $999 paywall
    https://www.unitedconservative.ca/petitions/agm-2021-observer-pass/
    Was it true only kenney could present resolutions?
    If these last two facts are true; one man rule and by approved decree
    and hidden from the general population
    then alberta has a real creep show for a government beyond our imaginations.
    Now i want the complete scandal edition … all 103 listings.

  6. Not to say I told you so, Dave, but just to quote a comment I made re: an earlier post (Dec. 23): “Ten days is a long time in Jason Kenney’s Alberta, Dave. Happy Holidays!” Make that four days now.

  7. I so appreciate your very insightful and in-depth commentaries on the so called government(s) we have been forced to endure (with the welcome exception of Rachel and her intelligent MLAs) Congratulations and thank you for fifteen years of providing politically astute commentary for those of us who appreciate the truth.

  8. Congrats on your superb blog’s anniversary.

    Your excellent coverage of the decline, fall, and zombification of the Alberta political right is the perfect antidote to the UCP’s appalling performance (or, hell, it’s whole existence) and recommended preventative so The Galling doesn’t become The Gulling, at least to readers smart enough—and lucky enough—to subscribe.

    So far, K-Boy’s astounding consistency in running circles around real, serious issues so fast he’s shiting in his own face gets almost daily renewed. What’s needed is a surprise—but I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen until, surprise-surprise!—the next election when I won’t be surprised if there’s no surprise.

    Again, congrats and keep up the great work!

    Meantime—yada-yada—be well, stay warm, keep cool, stay safe, and have fun!

  9. This blog is CLEARLY an echo chamber for NDP trolls. As I’ve said before, the UCP is trash, BUT SO IS THE NDP. This province is going full blown right wing next election thanks to Kenney’s evil and Notley’s idiocy. MAYBE Notley wins Edmonton, but Edmonton isn’t Alberta so who cares.

    PS die from Omicron yet? No? Good thing you called for more lockdowns. Troll

  10. Dave, I think it’s time to predict next year’s scandals. I predict that just as the RCMP completes its long, and apparently extremely careful, investigation into Jason Kenney’s leadership campaign, the government will announce an end to all policing in Alberta, urging all Albertans to exercise personal responsibility.

    Happy New Year to you and to the comments section.

  11. I wonder if, in retrospective, Alberta’s change in testing procedures will morph into a major scandal.

    As outlined in the CBC article linked below, Albertans are now supposed to use the rapid test kits supplied to us to test for Covid, rather than have an official test. The very reasonable explanation for the change is to prevent the testing system from being overwhelmed by requests for tests.

    A (possibly) unintended consequence is that the new procedure will remove the accurate case counts we have been looking at for the past 22 months. These numbers, when they have been accelerating at the beginning of a wave, have resulted in political pressure pushing the UCP government to take actions they really have not wanted to do. I am bringing up a mental image of Alberta case counts skyrocketing, and the government not taking action because the numbers don’t suggest it is necessary, because there aren’t any. Remember, our premier learned from his mentor, whose solution to climate change was to muzzle scientists.

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/covid-alberta-hinshaw-1.6296570

  12. I’d like to present the first UCP scandal of 2022: the effort to coverup the spread of the Omicron variant by limiting or denying testing.

    When you test, cases of infection are found. If you don’t test, there are no infections. And the pandemic is over.

    Matt Wolf (or even Harpo the Younger) couldn’t have said it better.

  13. It must have been quite a challenge to stop at 10! Of course, at some point, I suppose a line has to be drawn between routine bungling and the things that are more noteworthy. This list seems quite good. I notice the War Room didn’t even make the top 10 this year. Perhaps that shows how big a scandal has to be to make it into the top 10 now.

    Of course, there are also other odd things the UCP is doing right now that might become bigger scandals in the upcoming year. One that comes to mind is their changes to political rules. For instance, allowing people to buy party memberships for other people. Not sure where that will lead in the future, but it is probably not good. On a similar note, basically ignoring the resolution of their own party members to move up the date for Kenney’s leadership review yet again is another that comes to mind. However, the latter mostly affects party members, rather than all Albertans so perhaps the damage is not broad enough.

    With their recent COVID Christmas Party in Edmonton it seems like the UCP hasn’t lost its touch for missteps, so I suspect there will be many other scandals to choose from in the upcoming year as well.

  14. I’m sure there are a lot of politicians around the country who are looking so much better when compared to Jason.

    OMG, the scandals and the inability to govern. But the people of Alberta voted him into office and now they can live with it or die because of it. Of course Jason’s policies have had an adverse effect on children and they don’t have the right to vote.

    There are still a few days in this year for something to add to the list.

  15. Congrats on marking the 15th year of Albertapolitics.ca! I have sent in a donation to support your insightful, topical, and most entertaining commentary. Thank you for doing what you do so well. I look forward to your insights in 2022.

  16. Number 2 – Says Trump won the 2020 election which he didn’t (unless you believe him). If you meant 2016 that was before the UCP won in 2019 so I don’t think it would be correct to just change the year either. It was nevertheless a reckless waste of taxpayers money. We’ll be lucky to get much of it back through litigation which is also going to cost taxpayers millions.

  17. Congratulations on starting your 15th year of your erudite, insightful & always well-sourced writing on Alberta, Canadian & occasionally international politics. In a medium as transitory as the Internet, you have become a virtual fixture. Yes, from time to time we disagree — most often on matters of geopolitics, rather than more local issues — but your consistently polite and respectful commentary makes even those disagreements more than tolerable.

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