Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at yesterday’s COVID-19 news conference (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

Jason Kenney held a news conference about nothing yesterday.

Alberta’s premier said he’s “very determined” there will be no additional delays and schools will reopen as planned on Monday, the continued rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 notwithstanding. It doesn’t sound as if much has been done to make schools safer, so teachers will just have to suck it up.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw at yesterday’s news conference (Photo: Screenshot of Alberta Government video).

Unlike other jurisdictions, no additional measures to control transmission of the virus will be implemented. So hard-pressed health care workers will have to suck it up too.

Mr. Kenney urged Albertans as he habitually does to behave responsibly, get their boosters, reduce their social contacts, and take a rapid test if they can find one. We’ll all need to suck it up.

And while he said he’ll be meeting his COVID Cabinet Committee today, there was no indication any decisions will be made or new policies implemented by the United Conservative Party Government.

So, not nothing, exactly. Just the same old, same old.

If you were thinking of a certain TV sitcom often described as a show about nothing, the effect was similar, but not identical.

No comic genius like Larry David is plotting clever dialogue behind the scenes. There is no jangly music between the premier’s meaningless responses to reporters’ non sequiturs.

The only time Mr. Kenney showed much animation yesterday was when he pivoted in response to a journalist’s question to crossly blame Calgary City Council for the breakdown in negotiations with a group of penny-pinching billionaires to build a new arena for the Calgary Flames with public money. (Ken King must be spinning like a top in the Flames section of paradise!)

American comedian, writer, actor, director, and TV producer Larry David, at right, one of the creators of the Seinfeld series (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Still, things are happening because nothing is happening.

For example, last Friday pregnancy services were temporarily shut down at the Fort Saskatchewan Community Hospital because too many staff were off sick with COVID. The facility has since reopened, but it’s probably not the last time something like that will happen at an Alberta health care facility in the near future.

But there’s nothing you can do about that either. So the effect is alarming, not amusing.

Mr. Kenney and his cabinet have taken the same approach to the pandemic, in other words, as Alberta governments have traditionally taken to low fossil fuel resource prices: they’re praying for things to improve.

They pray for higher oil prices so that they can declare their stewardship a financial success; for lower hospitalizations because of Omicron’s presumed reduced lethality so that they can declare their crisis management an epidemiological triumph.

In other words, as was once said, unfairly, of Progressive Conservative premier Ed Stelmach: No plan … no plan … 

Why schedule a news conference when there’s so little to say that the government can’t even be bothered to compose a news release? (And who ever heard of that?)

Well, I suppose Mr. Kenney needs to demonstrate to Albertans that notwithstanding his plummeting approval rate and all the talk of rebels in his caucus he’s still the premier, still in charge.

And Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw, who co-starred with him in yesterday’s unfunny episode of Kenney, is needed to read out the grim statistics.

COVID cases are breaking records again, she said. There are 34,276 known active cases in the province now, although there are probably many more. 

There were nearly 13,000 new cases reported between Dec. 31 and yesterday. As of yesterday there were 436 people in hospital with COVID. There have been 12 COVID deaths since Dec. 28, including a child under 9.

Thursday’s 4,614 new cases broke another daily record.

Even Mr. Kenney admitted that despite Omicron’s apparent less lethal nature things are likely to get worse before they get better. “We are all concerned that even a very small fraction of people being hospitalized on a huge number of people who’ve been infected can put unacceptable pressure on the health care system.” 

But maybe next summer can be the Best Summer Ever.

Join the Conversation


  1. There can be no doubt that this point that Premier Crying & Screaming Midget is demanding we all live by the Great Barrington Declaration and attain herd immunity, unbelievably high bodycount or not.

    Kenney has been criticized by his base for not being more like Gov. Abbot and just tell everyone COVID is nothing to worry about and party on. The result is a stubbornly high fatality rate, but who cares? It’s not like these people are dying for a good cause, like freeDUMB. Besides, it’s the economy, stupid. It’s time to suck it up, accept that death is normal, and rip up some more mountain sides. It’s not like anyone is going to live forever. Besides, these are the End Times, so party on.

    It’s a tale of two premiers. On one hand, there’s Doug Ford getting hammered for waiting too long to make his decision to lockdown Ontario; when he did make his decision, it seemed off the cuff and without warning. In Kenney’s case, it’s more about what do you expect the government to do? Wash yer are for you? Get on, yer dumb buffaloes.

    It’s already beginning to look like Dr. Hinshaw (It seems that calling her “doctor” is a kind of punchline.) is more a hostage than a credible advisor. One suspects whenever Hinshaw advises on any aspect of public health policy, Kenney just tells her to shut her cookie hole.

    Alberta is about ten days from where Ontario is right now, so it’s going to get very interesting, very fast.

  2. Yeah, a news conference about nothing. Kenney can sure talk, talk and make nothing go a very long way. Meanwhile, behind the scenes he is probably planning something far more interesting and perhaps sinister. Graham Thomson did not call Kenney the Great Distracto for nothing.

    I do suppose getting infront of the camera also does convey he is still in charge, even if he does not have anything useful to say. As for plans, he will continue to wing it as he often does.

    Sometimes that supposed praying works out. Energy prices have recovered dramatically and have now given the Alberta government some budget breathing room. It may not still be enough to save him at this point, but I think if this hadn’t happened Kenney would have probably called it quits some time ago.

    So Kenney will continue to try to hang on until things improve with COVID too. Yes, there is no plan, maybe a wing and a prayer, or if you prefer he will continue to try to fake it until he makes it.

  3. Maybe we have to just come to the realization there is a limit to what governments, left, right and center, can do to stop the spread of the virus. More vaccines? Vaccines don’t stop the spread. Omicron is hitting the jabbed and unjabbed alike. More lockdowns? That hasn’t stopped the spread anywhere in the world. Maybe we all should just take some Tylenol and go to bed and forget about it since it looks like we are entering the endemic phase of Covid.

    1. While I’m sure no one is listening to you by this point, no one should listen to you. We’ve had 6x the deaths in Canada, a country of 30 million people, than China, a country of one Billion. Canada, one of the sparsest populated and richest countries in the world. If this isn’t a failure of the hollowed out neoliberal state, nothing is.

      I wonder what’s more damaging ? actually dealing with the problem effectively, preserving large swaths of the population from death, or pretending that at some point it’s just going to go away? Eventually there will be a world where this pandemic is “over”, but there’s really no reason we need to make sure as many people as possible die from it. That’s not a plan, that’s nothing, that’s ridiculous.

      1. Little Bird, yes failure of the hollowed out neoliberal state is certainly correct. And no evident plan – indeed it seems so. But what is your plan then? Or even a suggestion? Two points to note; We are way past any possibility of zero-Covid, and AB case figures are pretty comparable to BC.

        How do we go about “preserving large swaths of the population from death”? “Large swaths” seems a bit hyperbolic seeing as 129 people have died in Canada with Covid in the last 7 days but the vast majority of cases and severe outcomes are non-vaxxed so lock down the unvaxxed and the rest of us can go to work/school etc.

        1. I should really just start copy pasting on this blog.

          A few things we haven’t tried,

          Actual lockdowns,
          Actual funding for folks forced to lock down
          Vaccine patent waivers*
          (This is kind of a big one)
          Public works projects building out filtration and air purifying
          Mandating large employers (like Cargill, Walmart, McDonald’s be responsible for their employees safety and have their be consequences when they are not)

          We haven’t done ANY of these things. Cuba is going to vaccinate the third world and western pundits will all say Bill Gates saved the day.

          Y’all can to quietly back to work if you want, I happen to think this is a genocide of the poor, elderly, and working class folks, and that makes me quite angry. I don’t think I’ll shut up about it anytime soon.

          And no, I don’t think that just giving up is any kind of solution.

          30,000 deaths in a country of 30 million people, 45k Canadians died in WW2, when we hit that threshold can It be called “large swathes”?

          1. Good point about Cuba Little Bird. No one seems to acknowledge that this so-called third world country developed and produced two effective Covid 19 vaccines on it’s own, vaccinated more of its citizens with them than any other major country (90%), and has the situation under control. They’re currently running at 550 new Covid cases/day in a population of over 11M, AND as you point out they are going to vaccinate the third world. Imagine what Canada could do if we had that kind of organization.

            I don’t want to draw this out into a long back and forth, but when I asked about a plan I meant provincially and going fwd from here. Some valid points in your post but what happens after Alta locks down hard? The problem every jurisdiction has is that Omicron is all over the world and it’s so contagious that it’s going to seep in. I feel that once any country gets to the highest vaccination rate possible then it’s a matter of balancing restrictions against society actually functioning. Masking, distancing, ventilation, etc are part of this. Unfortunately the vaccines we have apparently don’t totally stop transmission. Maybe some things we used to do just won’t be possible any more but we can’t keep kids out of school forever.

            China went at this very hard and very successfully and I don’t know what their plan is but it seems to me that they’re going to have to face this eventually. It doesn’t look like Covid 19 is going to be isolated to extinction like SARS was. Fortunate we were then, as SARS was less contagious but very lethal.

    2. Once again, vaccines prevent serious illness and hospitalization of those fully vaccinated which prevents our health care system from crashing. Still, precautions need to be taken. Everyone in our immediate family are fully vaccinated and wear masks when we go out and none of us have come down with any variant of COVID-19. This virus isn’t going to get me since my octogenarian parents live with us and I will not pass on COVID-19 to my 88 year old father with comorbidities. I will not be the death of my father. Isn’t that what it should be all about, RonMac? Since you’re recommending more treatment solutions once again, may I ask you RonMac, what medical training do you have and from what University/Medical School?

    3. I hate to bring up history since for the typical UCP type, history is bunk. Like most emotional adolescents, they believe the world has changed because they are in it. However, the 1918 Spanish flu did not “peter out.” It was snuffed out by the basic public health measures of compulsory masking and compulsory quarantines – no vaccines necessary. These compulsory measures meant that each wave of infection was smaller than the last one until the chain of transmission was broken. The UCP loons and their gutless civil service are producing greater waves of infection. Inevitably this will lead to new mutations and even more deaths. China has it right.

  4. “Alberta’s premier said he’s “very determined” there will be no additional delays and schools will reopen as planned on Monday”

    And thus the battle lines are drawn: Little Bumbles’ determination vs a virus that has taken over the world. Watch for the steely eye of our powerful premier staring down the virus as it attempts to close the schools. This time it will be different now that Jason is ‘very determined’. If only he had thought to be very determined when he opened up everything last summer.

    So instead of announcing a school closure now so parents can make plans, schools will open, teachers will get sick and, when school boards run out of subs, parents will start getting random phone calls telling them to keep their kids home for a couple of weeks, starting tomorrow.

    Bob (very determined) Raynard

  5. You would think Albertans have seen enough of these lying Reform Party bastards but we still have ignorant seniors , believing every lie they feed them, hurling sarcastic comments at those of us who aren’t as stupid as them. The big question is are Albertans going to be willing to let Notley fix this “Horrific Mess” as Lougheed called it or are they going to expect her to fix it in only 4 years like they did last time, ignoring the fact that these fake conservatives took 25 years to create it?

    1. ALAN K. SPILLER: You certainly have it right. These pretend conservatives and Reformers in the UCP are certainly following what their hero Ralph Klein was doing. The UCP wants to finish off with Ralph Klein’s goal of having private for profit healthcare in Alberta. Covid-19 cases in Alberta are on the way up, and when hospitals get overwhelmed, and the UCP’s Ralph Klein like cuts to healthcare add to the mix, the UCP will claim the healthcare system in Alberta is dysfunctional, and that they must privatize it. The sad thing is that these seniors are brainwashing the younger generations to blindly support these pretend conservatives and Reformers in the UCP. They did the same thing with Ralph Klein. The younger generations are following along, without questioning anything. Where’s the sense in that?

  6. Last week the government announced that, in cases involving essential workers, Covid positive people could be called to work without isolating. The details were supposed to be announced Monday, but I still haven’t seen any news reports outlining the details.

  7. If the pandemic was hurting Big Oil CEO’s, Kenney would move mountains to battle it.

    Conveniently for Kenney, it hurts those he despises most: teachers and health care workers.

  8. I believe you meant to say, “penny-pinching billionaires, one of whom lives in Switzerland to avoid paying taxes in Canada”. For some reason a K.D. Lang song comes to mind (all of them).

    Never mind the active Covid cases. They’ll go down in five days, see, because everyone goes back to work in five days.

    It’s no wonder Twitter turned its attention to the latest episode of “The Fugitive” yesterday. Who wouldn’t want to know why Kevin J. Johnston decided to go all Fargo in perma-winter and walk across a 24-hour border crossing into the U.S. near an entry that’s part of the “Ports to Plains” trade corridor from Sinaloa to Two Hills? Did a friendly trucker drop him there, or did he drive a white Corvette/blue pickup truck? Does the jail in Plentywood, Montana look like a film set from a spaghetti western? Perhaps KJJ didn’t know that the Raymond-Regway border crossing is in a heightened state of awareness since the disappearance of a North Dakota assistant state prosecutor’s daughter in December? So many questions. You can’t make this stuff up.

  9. The head honcho of the UCP, and the UCP clearly do not know what they are doing, and it shows. We now have the Best Winter Ever. What about youngsters who can pass on Covid-19 to their senior grandparents and other elderly relatives, putting them at risk? The UCP hasn’t thought about that. The head honcho of the UCP would just love to throw money at the new hockey arena in Calgary. One of his overpaid and under worked party members, Bill Smith, a former Alberta PC, or Wildrose candidate, who was trying to become Calgary’s new mayor, wanted to get the new hockey arena going, but he would not say how this would happen. Clearly, taxpayer’s money would be involved. The head honcho of the UCP, a Liberal turned Reformer, would waste money on the new hockey arena, like he and the UCP has thrown away money on the most priciest shenanigans. The UCP head honchos hero, another Liberal turned Reformer, Ralph Klein, did similar things, throwing away extremely large sums of money on very pricey shenanigans. Albertans saw no benefit. There are more important priorities than a new hockey arena. Ironically, the UCP balks about wasting money, yet they do it so often.

  10. I agree that Kenney is demonstrating he’s still premier, but an ostentatiously show-off demonstration (would it also be overly redundant to unnecessarily repeat ‘grandstanding’ again, too?) to the Alberta citizenry with nothing more than a big fat nothing-burger and a lame ‘oh, gosh!—look at the time!— almost forgot to mention those cheapskate Calgary City councillors, eh!’— suggesting his targeted audience is really caucus who are only united in being divided as to when their founding leader needs to be turfed: soon’s they find a new one —or sooner.

    Albertans aren’t likely to be impressed that K-Boy’s “very determined” to continue his odd-man-out Covid policy that’s largely responsible for Alberta’s pathetic pandemic performance and, thence, his and his party’s perilously low popularity. Indeed, this snoozer of a nothing-newser is likely to continue eroding their popularity. So, if not the citizenry, who else would he be trying to impress besides his own caucus?—Justin Trudeau? Donald tRump?

    For bachelor Kenney, who as far as we know has no significant other, his political career is everything. True, polls suggest voters threaten to defeat the UCP in just thirteen months or so, but the risk of a caucus revolt is building right now: Kenney’s instinct is to deal with this, the more immediate threat. Anyhow, do voters anywhere need to be reminded that politicians are ‘very determined’ to win? I rather read that K-Boy’s very determined to remind rebels he intends to remain the boss, which is the next best thing if, as seems likely, the the NDP will hand the ‘one-term-wonder’ mantle over to the UCP in 2023—sure a lot better than being turfed as leader or, I suppose possible, remaining the leader of a bifurcated rump that might not even make loyal opposition.

    It’s more than just talk that there are rebels in the UCP caucus. Kenney started excommunicating some of them until he realized there are so many that if he booted them all he’d create yet another new party of the right—only on the wrong side. He shuffled incompetents out of cabinet, but that hardly wins voters’ affection since he appointed them in the first place and together they did such a terrible job —and as many were shuffled in. Anyways, it didn’t cow rebels, now numerous enough to stick-handle clean around his attempt to raise the party’s leader-ship review threshold. Might find a loyalist in Sonya Savage, but it couldn’t have been pleasant (sure didn’t look it) releasing that embarrassing Report on the Inquiry into Anti-Alberta Energy Campaigns. Kenney’s ideological school curriculum and pathological coal mining policies seem to have been reeled in by somebody. Then there’s Brian Jean, gunnin’ for UCP leadership with a vengeance and blowing tumble weeds at K-Boy’s Okay Corral, Ennio Morricone music rising like a baleful sun over a deserted, dusty street as the high-noon of this verrrrrrrrry interesting by-election nears.

    What premier has to resort to conspicuous tactics unless the leadership he hopes to demonstrate isn’t already jeopardized and very likely reaching a critically desperate juncture? For all his demonstration, he looks less like a leader now, and even less like a prospective one.

  11. There is an interesting comment that circulating around social media concerning why there is such a rush to get everyone back into the workplace, regardless of the obvious public health impacts.

    Middle managers need to justify their positions and roles by having the bodies of their underlings nearby. Like a mother goose, the managers want to be following and see evidence of their importance, because of the ego boost and the need to look productive. If the employees are capable of working and being productive while unmanaged, do you really need the middle manager on the payroll if they are apparently redundant.

    This is the dilemma Kenney finds himself in. The perception is he’s a glad-handing goofball who would rather play Daddy Warbucks than do any real work. He has already been seen justifying day drinking in the workplace, ignoring bad behavior, bunkering himself up in the Sky Palace, while the rest of Alberta must suffer his excesses.

    Worse, he makes an occasional public appearance, for no apparently good reason, to talk and say nothing substantive about pretty much anything. Kenney now has the appearance of a pretend premier: he doesn’t understand what he has to do, he doesn’t like the job, he doesn’t know why he’s there, but he must stay because he needs to be the premier.

    Without anything resembling an adult relationship, apart from his drinking buddies, he is living the life of a perpetual adolescent frat boy on the public purse. He gets to travel around in his own security motorcade, with an entourage of guards, all the while pretending that he is a person of some kind of importance. He is the classic definition of the ‘unmade man’: someone who has come by his extravagant means, by hook or crook, yet appears clearly unsuited for the position, no matter how hard he tries to convince everyone he was born into it.

    It’s said every political career ends in tragedy. In Kenney’s case, it will be an ignominious fall like no other and he is terrified of that prospect.

  12. Kenney’s jumping into the Calgary arena issue is also interesting. Perhaps he is now considering leaving Provincial politics and going into municipal politics instead. After how his move from Federal to Provincial politics went … he can leave even more carnage in his wake.

    I suppose it is easier for him to criticize than to try govern. Perhaps it will also add to the distraction he would like to create.

  13. Superlab, xgames, xgames, superlab. A superlab to super test super Albertans to see if they have a super global virus would be a super stupid idea. Super Albertan contractors who had super contracts with the government to build said superlab were obviously un-albertan radicals. And that ain’t super.

  14. No plan. No plan, shouts Premier Stumble n Bumble. Must put on the cloak of distraction and obfuscation. Must buffalo Al and Berta. Standby to deploy the nothing charm offensive deflection shield. Never mind healthcare is about to implode. More greasiness!

  15. A lotof disgruntled comments about the Fighting’ Premier. He wants to fight everything. Would it not be better to have someone who will WORK WITH you than it would be to have someone FIGHT. In fights and wars, there are not winners. Despite all the comments, and as much as I despise the Premier and his actions, in a wagger, I would put my money onto another UCP victory. The UCP and their followers are very dedicated to their cause and to the Conservative Agenda. Those people will vote. Next in lane are the “silent majority”. Many of those people will opt-out of the game and they will JUST NOT VOTE. Many of them, who believe in the spoon-fed Conservative propaganda, feel that they cannot vote Liberal (remember the NEP over 40 years ago?) and they cannot vote NDP (those socialist hoards) and they too will withdraw and JUST WILL NOT VOTE. Then there are the rest – basically small in number, and many believe that their one vote will not count – so why bother. With a small number of the eligible electorate who will actually vote – it will be a shoe in for the UCP and the radical and righteous Right Wing. Kenney, like Trump and old Steve Harper, will not quit. Do you want to make a wagger? In the name of money, I predict that the next Alberta election will be another majority government under Jason Kenney. Please, Alberta, tell me and show me that I am all wrong. Conservative regimes around the world are winners when people chose not to vote rather than when they exercise their democratic right to vote.

    1. Hi Robert,

      It’s probably to early to be calling this election as a lot will probably happen before then, maybe a new premier, maybe the election gets called off (postponed). But if this is a challenge then I’m in. If it’s an AB majority govt under Jason Kenney I’ll donate $50 to this blog site, if not then you do the same. Unlike some commenters on here I have respect for Albertans and they have now seen the options by way of the last three governments. I don’t see it being a cakewalk for the NDP and you may have an advantage because I don’t live in Alta but looking at the odds from here I think my bet is a bit more than 50/50 which is enough for me…

  16. Two children under the age of ten are listed as Covid “deaths” in Alberta, the sum total in that age group in almost two years of the most dangerous medical scourge ever to strike us. Two children died of influenza in the first two weeks alone of 2016. How do the two Covid deaths constitute evidence of a categorically more dangerous infectious respiratory disease circulating in Alberta?
    As of yesterday 81.36% of active Covid “cases” in Alberta were “completely” vaccinated. Only 73% of the population is “completely” vaccinated. Is this fact another crazy conspiracy theory? 27% of the population remain unvaccinated in this province and yet this group accounts for only 17.5% of active cases.

    Is anybody ever going to ask the health authorities about the effects of the relentless fear campaign, a fear campaign dilligently promoted on this site, on people’s health?
    Prior to the end of science in early 2020, it was well-established that psychological stress was the most significant factor determining risk from infectious respiratory disease in the industrialized world. Apparently implementing disruptions and dislocations to virtually every aspect of people’s lives isn’t considered a significant risk factor anymore. Who knew?
    When the greatest impact of Covidmania in Calgary began to manifest in the Northeast, nobody seemed able to recognize the fact that the most economically precarious were subject to the highest levels of economic stress and dislocation. Instead, the absurd claim was made that these folks were just more exposed to the miasma.
    One hundred years of science related to the effects of privation on the psychological and physical well-being of people just went up in smoke.
    Who will be held responsible for inducing the panic in Ontario and Quebec care homes that resulted in a few thousand deaths of the frail, sick and elderly who were locked in their rooms and abandoned by the staff who were terrified by the groundless fear campaign?
    Meanwhile the relentless push for online schooling, schooling that comes from abominable private corporations that are, without any question, linked directly to the US military industrial complex, continues unabated.

    Early on in this ridiculous debacle somebody posted on this site the assertion that it was okay for governments to accumulate massive debt to deal with the deliberate economic destruction, because it was done during WW2. There is not going to be anything resembling the general improvement in living standards seen in Canada after WW2. Universal Basic Income is coming, not to help people to live better lives, but to keep society from collapse when the corporate elite, an elite that has ripped off the world since Covidmania started to a degree never before seen in history, pulls out the last thread of the industrial-consumer capitalist world, and fires up the post-work fully digital economy.
    Keep terrifying the kids and killing the old people! It’s the only way we can flatten that curve!

    1. Hi Murphy,

      Interesting point about “psychological stress was the most significant factor determining risk from infectious respiratory disease in the industrialized world”, although “most significatnt” is highly debatable and I understand why you need to use that wording.

      This makes me wonder why right wing politicians need their voters to be in a perpetual state of stress and fear.

      Any idea Murphy?

  17. Most of the comments here are nonsensical. Almost every province now is following policies Alberta adopted 3 weeks ago, such as allowing 3rd dose boosters for 18+. AB policy will prove to be amongst the best of all Canadian provinces in handling COVID-19.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

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