Alberta Premier Jason Kenney during his Facebook Live session yesterday (Photo: Screenshot of Facebook Live).

Emboldened by the success of the social conservative coup plotters who overthrew Conservative Party of Canada leader Erin O’Toole in Ottawa Wednesday, the same anti-vaccine faction of Alberta’s United Conservative Party is now eyeing Premier Jason Kenney.

Not that Mr. Kenney is a moderate. Far from it. 

United Conservative Party House Leader Jason Nixon (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But he is politically wounded, unpopular with voters, and facing a leadership review on April 9 while increasingly seen as too open to COVID-19 mitigation measures by his fractious rural caucus. 

As a result, ambitious underlings and anti-vaxx rural caucus nobodies alike are smelling blood, and growing bolder.

Kenney consigliere Jason Nixon wrote a letter positioning himself as sufficiently extreme in his opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates to suit the rural caucus members now driving demands for an immediate end to all pandemic restrictions.

“My position on vaccine mandates is that they need to end,” the Government House Leader and environment minister chirped in his message to Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre constituents. “I’ve told this to the premier, to caucus, and now to you. You’ll note the premier said they’ll be gone imminently, and I’ll hold him to it.”

He is also opposed to Alberta’s euphemistically titled Restrictions Exemption Program, so named to spare anyone from having to utter the words “vaccine passport,” Mr. Nixon said before his letter descended into pro forma vilification of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Nathan Cooper, Speaker of the Alberta Legislature, said much the same thing on social media. 

“The people of Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills are in overwhelming agreement that vaccine mandates and the Restriction Exemption Program must end, and end now,Mr. Cooper said on his official MLA Facebook account. “I agree. … I stand with you in calling for an immediate end to vaccine mandates and the Restriction Exemption Program.”

Alberta Legislature Speaker Nathan Cooper (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Whether or not the Speaker should be expressing such partisan sentiments is another matter, but who would stop him? Anyway, he is widely thought to have bigger ambitions than just remaining Speaker. 

Veteran Calgary Herald political columnist Don Braid yesterday wrote that “the large and impatient anti-passport crew” in the UCP Caucus has “reached peak anger over the program and want it to vanish immediately” – especially with more copycat convoy blockades and traffic disruptions expected in some of their ridings over the weekend.

Mr. Braid quoted Bonnyville-Cold Lake UCP MLA Dave Hanson complaining that the REP needs to go “right now. I don’t see the value of putting it off. We’ll just have more trouble with demonstrations over the coming weekend because it’s still there.”

To give Mr. Kenney his due, he is a veteran politician who undoubtedly understands that it’s dangerous to truckle to a militant minority pushing a policy bound to make the desperate state of the province’s hospitals even worse.

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

But he also understands the immediate danger he faces from his own party, so it didn’t take long for UCP issues managers to tell caucus members it’s now OK to badmouth COVID mitigation measures, and for the premier himself to pledge an end to all public health restrictions very soon. 

“Early next week, Alberta will announce a firm date to end the REP and to do so in the very near future,” Mr. Kenney said on a Facebook Live session yesterday where, unlike the gruelling news conference at which Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw squirmed to avoid answering reporters’ aggressive questions, he was safely insulated from the media. 

“We will also lay out a simple, phased plan to remove almost all public health restrictions later this month,” he added, as Alberta transitions into Florida without beaches or nice weather. 

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi begged the province not to act so quickly and hinted the city might impose restrictions of its own. His pleas will be ignored, of course, and the province can be expected to obstruct efforts by the city to act independently. 

Meanwhile, back in Ottawa, as Mr. O’Toole made a dignified exit from his job as Opposition leader, the Globe and Mail revealed that his interim replacement, Manitoba MP Candice Bergen, had advocated encouraging the lawless convoy invasion force to continue its occupation of downtown Ottawa because eventually that would put pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Conservative Party of Canada interim leader Candice Bergen (Photo: Widely distributed on social media).

“We need to turn this into the PM’s problem,” she said in an email leaked to the Globe, sent shortly before she took over as leader. 

Well, I guess you don’t even need to see Ms. Bergen in her camo MAGA cap or dining with a group of insurrectionists to understand what has become of the party of John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield and Joe Clark.

With the support of their Conservative friends and jacked up by the failure of federal, provincial and municipal authorities to restore order in the capital region, the so-called truckers – who appear to be mostly unemployed men with funds from God knows where – have been digging in and stockpiling fuel and supplies while harassing locals in downtown Ottawa.

One way or another, this can only end in tears. 

At least two counter demonstrations by Ottawa residents to take back their city are expected this weekend. 

They may or may not provoke a violent response from the squatters, but the risk is real and will increase the longer the noisy mob is allowed to camp in the city centre.

The longer it takes to restore order, the greater the risk of violence will become. 

Join the Conversation


  1. This ridiculous nonsense by these truckers has to come to an end. Military intervention seems the practical solution to do this, at this point. All of these trucker blockades need to be eradicated. The UCP aren’t going to do anything about what’s happening in Coutts, Alberta, that’s for sure. More blabbering and postering is all that the UCP will do. We are already seeing the effects of what’s happening. See more price increases at the grocery stores happening. Prices will keep going up.

  2. In some ways, Kenney is like O’Toole particularly in his vacillating on important issues. With O’Toole it was carbon taxes and gun regulation, with Kenney it is with COVID restrictions. How many times have we went on the COVID restriction roller coaster ride here in Alberta, and how did that go so far?

    Much of the rural UCP despises Kenney, holds him in contempt and wants him gone, but that wlll not stop them from pressuring him to get what they want in the meantime. Kenney hopes their anger will diminish, if he gets rid of the restrictions, enough so he will get their support in the upcoming leadership review. Maybe this will work, maybe not. Remember, just days before they booted O’Toole, the Fed Cons pressured him to meet with the Ottawa protesters, when his inclination was to keep a bit of distance. Look what that giving into caucus pressure got him!

    I suppose as is said, Kenney is weak and desperate enough to go along with this. Unfortunately, appearing weak and desperate does not generally get a leader more support. It just diminishes their perceived power. Surely, Kenney knows this. Also, it is quite possible this premature easing will lead to an increase in hospitalizations, so that Kenney will face another health care crisis and may have to back track, say in about early April. If this happens, it sure would not be good news for him in his leadership review.

  3. Meter maids taking down licence plate numbers and promising $1000 one a day parking tickets mailed to the registered owners would have ended this BLOCKADE at day three.
    These are not convoys.
    A convoy moves.
    These are blockades.
    Citizens of Ottawa
    go get pics of every offending vehicles licence plate and note the location, lodge a complaint or start some kind of legal action or sue for damages.

  4. At this point, it’s interesting to see Jason Nixon reveal his own ambitions and go public on this issue. I guess that’s another knife in Kenney’s back.

    At this point, I don’t mind the lifting of restrictions and letting the Best Cull Ever get on its way.

    In the end the result will be fewer but better Albertans.

  5. A couple friends in Edmont have complained about the trucker temper tantrum. One has had no sleep in days and the other has to listen to the constant noise near Allard way. Apparently, Edmonton police are also unable to enforce the laws.

    I wonder what the right wing brain trusts think will happen in the future, now that things like three day border blocking and paralyzing entire city segments is legal and police will not act?

    1. I get that there is a difference. Just not sure about the scale of the difference. Although it is true that not all people who are opposed to Covid vaccine mandates are opposed to Covid vaccines, I think a lot of them are opposed to Covid vaccines. Do you have any statistics to show, for example, the percentage of people who are opposed to vaccine mandates who are also in favour of being vaccinated as a matter of personal responsibility and have done been fully vaccinated? I think those numbers might reveal something of interest.

      1. A CTV poll a couple days ago said 54% want the restrictions to end. Given that nearly 80% of Cdns are vaxxed so that must mean there’s a fair number who are vaxxed who think it’s time to move on. Last week someone conducted a survey on a group of Alberta truckers leaving for Ottawa and found half of them were vaxxed. Not scientific I know but I contend there’s a sizeable segment now who got double jabbed because of job requirements and are not going back to get boosted. They know you’ll never be fully vaccinated, you’ll be required to get a third booster and then a fourth. Time to pull the plug on it.

        1. Well, I “want” restrictions to end as well. Like most people, I am very tired of the restrictions. And, I have it relatively easy. I have worked from home since well before the pandemic and do not have school age children. I can’t imagine how hard these restrictions might be for people who are not able to work so easily from home or have school-aged children.

          That said, whether I believe the restrictions should end is another matter. And, I think we also need to be a bit more nuanced about what restrictions should end, whether we are talking about mask or vaccine mandates, for example.

          So, yes, the poll is not scientific.

    2. Please, they aren’t principled, unified, or even truckers, yet you want to pretend they’re united behind a single mandate? What they think about vaccines is no longer relevant to the question, they’re a lawless foreign funded mob of jackasses

    3. I believe they are largely just anti-vaxxers. They use this new turn of phrase as a tactic to deflect from their ignorant behavior.

  6. This is a very sad state of affairs, indeed. A vocal minority emboldened by their current successes in holding governments hostage and in fund raising are about to turn up the volume to 11. They make demands that are either impossible to meet or are reckless of the public good. Right-leaning politicians, fearful of the erosion of their base, are showing more than sympathy and are complicit with the anti-democratic mob that increasingly shows violent and extreme right-right tendencies. Because of the weakness of our leaders and their unprincipled greed for power, they are going to provide this mob with more success and more oxygen by carelessly acceding to much of the ignorant mob’s demands.

    One can only hope that most of the public is watching, paying attention, and is appalled by this as well, with the effect that moderate voters most likely to vote conservative will be repelled from doing so. If so, the conservative movement might well be digging its own grave. I am not sure what the conservative brain trust is thinking by alienating moderate voters. That does not seem to be a good strategy for advancing the conservative movement.

  7. Their main target is Trudeau. You can tell that by the “Fuck Trudeau” signs on their vehicle. And he should be, its straight out of the horses ass that he thinks votes for the Liberal party trump minority rights:

    “That is the decision Canadians took in the last election, by voting for parties that were supporting those mandates,” he told a virtual news conference Thursday.

    “So having a group of people who disagree with the outcome of an election, who want to go a different way and bring in an alternative government, is a non-starter in a responsible democracy.”

    So vaccine mandates are in because of voters wanting them to be. No science involved.

    And you can see it here where the union backed politicians are for lockdowns and mandates.

    1. Disagreeing with the results of an election and attempting to overturn it with violence is an insurrection, its fundamentally undemocratic, and you sound like a lunatic. You might want to pretend that this represents a majority of Canadians but it doesn’t even represent a PLURALITY. Give me a break guy.

    2. Hey Bret: I would sooner have lock downs and vaccine passports than have sex with Trudeau as the thugs are offering with their stickers. Come to think of it, the other interpretation of those stickers indicates a rather unhealthy attitude to a pleasant and common-place activity. Or could they really be meaning rape Trudeau? That would certainly show their clueless thinking and a pathological side to their personalities. Might be worth taking a DNA sample for the sex-offenders registry when they are arrested.

  8. Has anyone seen the covid mitigation procedures at the Bejing Olympics. The authorities there take the threat seriously and you definitly won’t see any anti mask Karens or Kevins having public meltdowns.
    I googled Tamara Lich the so called “organizer” of the seditious ” FreeDumb Convoy” after her statement to the press, and her Maverick Party Biography came up first.Here we have a Political Party operative being funded by a multi million dollar slush fund organizing an assault on our Capital to overturn the law of the land and displace the elected government. A spontaneous protest of concerned citizens this is not. This is anarchy. Amongst the upside down Canadian flags, the hated Fuc$ Trudeau flags, I noticed quite a few PPC flags. I think the PPC and the Maverick Party are joined at the hip. I also have noticed Maxime Bernier is conspicuously absent from this whole sordid affair. Is he the Puppet Master?
    Good on PMJT for not acknowledging this mob. I guess, like the poor citizens of Ottawa he’s waiting for the Malcontent’s to lose interest, but if they are subsidized they may be in for a long wait.
    Recall the Police presence at the 2010 G7 in Toronto. The Chief of the Toronto Police in 2010 was Bill Blair.He is now the Minister of Emergency Preparedness i.e. Public Safety. Where is he?
    Jason Nixon, Nathan Cooper. What can you say. These people are elected officials in Alberta. God help us.

    1. I agree, what would China do is gold standard, for totalitarian states.

      In Canada we have a constitution, which limits the power of the state.

      So I guess reading the comments around here, the narratives being pushed by the media, and certain blogs, it pretty obvious why they are there.

      Their constitutional rights are being ignored by regressive parties in a bid to make the regressive voter happy and comfortable.

      1. Bret: there have been many court cases establishing that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms can be limited for purposes in the public interest. Having vaccine mandates (if you want to come up against vaccine mandates, try visiting Africa some time) is certainly within the public interest. So are lock downs, quarantines, and masking mandates.

        You know this, so stop spamming.

        1. “Public interest” not politically narrow interest.

          The mandates are only as legal as they are effective. And any effectiveness has been hard to confirm. Especially when you consider the effect of the mandates and lockdowns on other areas of public health.

          Its very doubtful there is a measurable beneficial affect beyond buying a little time, which long since should have been unnecessary.

  9. What a sad state Canada is in when people are protesting to get sick just to have the ability to work. Too bad they have been tricked into this instead of wanting paid sick days or better unemployment insurance.

  10. Where in the world would an unruly mob of occupiers be allowed to stockpile fuel and propane cannisters blocks from parliament in the nation’s capital? And why are they allowed to build wooden shacks in a park, where it appears they will settle into their shanty encampment for the long run, despite claims they will leave once all of their spurious demands are met?

    Who are these people, whose demands have shifted from wanting a return to exemptions from vaccines for cross-border truckers, to the removal of all public health measures against Covid, federally and provincially, plus a faction who want to overthrow government? Unemployed men, yes, with a smattering of truckers, and quite a number of flag-carrying racists. At last word, a burn barrel tipped over next to a pile of wood and straw. Think about that. The parliament buildings have burned down before.

    We know that the Ottawa leader and holder of $10M is affiliated with the Maverick Party.

    In Alberta at Coutts, the ragtag group consists of an evangelical preacher and small business owner organizing deep-fat fried chicken wings and toilet bowl cleaner for the rebels who hole up in the town’s pub. The de facto organizer and spokesperson is a business owner, Chamber of Commerce member and town councillor in Fort Macleod. The “truckers” shifted to calling the themselves freedom farmers. They want the removal of all public health measures against Covid, in alignment with the Ottawa group now. They say they answer only to God.

    One has to ask if these groups used the cover of “truckers” to promote their religious agenda, and in Alberta one would not be wrong. Street preacher Artur Pawlowski reportedly turned up yesterday to provide prayers. There is a certain aura of the religious right throwing a temper tantrum and holding highways hostage amongst the Alberta mob. Since when is it okay to blockade school buses carrying indigenous children? Is this really about racism? Rural folks forcing their will upon urban, the religious right vs. secular Canadians, and minority rule. Just wait until Kenney removes power from the municipalities, as he promised to do in his Facebook Live session.

    The majority no longer have a voice in Alberta. We have slid out of democracy into dangerous new territory. The premier and MLAs are not listening to the urban, secular majority, not even the ones who represent city dwellers. Alberta has a failed government. There’s more than a year of this left to go.

  11. When this sort of violent “freedom” thuggery happens in other countries, the Liberals cheer it on and sometimes actively support it (other parties not much different). Karma. They should put Chrystia in charge , since she knows exactly how these things work.

    1. … what the heck are you talking about?

      Look, we can criticize the liberals all day long without needing to make up crazy bs.

    2. Have you seen how it works out in other places ? Ukraine ? Syria ? You want that here ? Karma !? Sure.

  12. “They may or may not provoke a violent response from the squatters, but the risk is real and will increase the longer the noisy mob is allowed to camp in the city centre.

    The longer it takes to restore order, the greater the risk of violence will become”

    Sadly, I believe that is what the powers that be (RCMP, Ottawa Police, Federal Government) are waiting for. If they act now, they will be accused of being fascist anti-freedom bullies and inciting violence against a bunch of peaceful protestors exercising their lawful right (ahem). Once the situation descends into violence (which is inevitable IMO), then the optics look much better – they are the ones restoring law and order and saving the capital from a bunch of violent bullies.

    As stated many times by other posters, I’m sure the situation would be much different if the protestors were indigenous, black, Muslim, or supporting environmental causes.

    1. Anon: I agree with this analysis. I would say, additionally to my commentary in the post, that the longer it takes before the violence takes place in a situation like this, the worse the violence is likely to be. This is the “Munich” conundrum. The British Government wanted to avoid war with Hitler. By delaying and striving to strike a deal with a leader who had no intention of keeping his word or sacrificing his ambitions, the war with Hitler was made worse. I believe we face the same dynamic in Ottawa: Violence is inevitable; the longer we wait, the worse the violence will be; the worse the violence is, the more people will be hurt; ergo, the kindest response it to go hard and fast and restore order now, remove the trucks, and arrest the insurgents. They should receive a fair trial in accordance with the rule of law. DJC

  13. Et tu, Brute. Does someone have bigger ambitions than just remaining House Leader?

    Kenney’s announcement on lifting restrictions will be likely be accompanied with another half hearted apology intended to appease those offended by them. I’m not anticipating a totally personal mea culpa and expect the word ‘we’ to feature.

  14. ABS makes some excellent points and observations. Events such as those unfolding in Ottawa and Alberta could have been anticipated to occur a few years into the future related to the gradual demise of fossil based energy and associated income losses. Covid has accelerated the onset of mass unrest. The ride could be a hard one.

  15. If PMJT steps aside as a result of this manufactured “crisis” and Freeland becomes PM we know the fix is in. I’d be watching my deputy PM real closely if I was him. Et Tu, Frida ?

    1. Very perceptive. Her grandfather was a Nazi newspaper editor. The CDN military is supporting Nazi-heritage military forces in the Ukraine and the country itself was an especially enthusiastic participant in the holocaust, even compared to places like Poland. Some of the current protestors come from families who were friends and supporters of Jim Keegstra – united they roll.

  16. The freedom farmers at the Coutts border crossing have taken a lesson from their local MLA, Grant Hunter. They’re now boasting on Facebook channels that they’ve brought their kids to join in the fun. They’re walking around with food and playing street hockey, like a regular street festival.

    It’s time to pack up the human shields and go home.

  17. Well, well, well. The Maverick Party has accepted the resignation of Tamara Lich. The GoFu**Me money pot is shrinking, mysteriously. The plaid shirts holed up in the bar at Coutts have asked all rural UCP MLAs to quit the UCP and stand as independents. Mayors of Alberta’s two big cities have spoken out, one calling the group at Coutts “ultra right wing”. It’s not even 5 p.m. on a Friday. Enjoy the weekend.

  18. From what I have been able to glean from Zello’s trucker channels is that there is a very present and vocal evangelical component to what is driving these protests. On the face of it, it appears that these various Convoys have one thing in comment: they are guided by Premillennialist thinking. This is the part are a bunch of uber-Christians are convinced we are living in the End Times and the must war with the government that denies them their freeDUMBs. Then, Jesus will return and take all the righteous true believers into his heavenly kingdom. Those who do not ascend will be left behind in the kingdom of the Antichrist, or Justin Trudeau, whichever comes first.

    It should come as no surprise that the protests in Canada, like those in the US, are driven by the religiously insane. They are demanding their so-called ‘God-given’ freedoms, which usually means denying those freedoms to those who are not in their mega-church. It’s a highly tribalized view of the world that is nihilistic in the extreme.

    So it looks like these protests could go on until the Rapture happens. Since there’s no reason to wait that long, may as well push them off.

    1. Evangelicalism is a fascist adjacent movement at BEST. It comes from dominionism, which itself evolved from the Christian identity movement, which was explicitly fascist, and allied itself with groups like the silver shirts. These folks worship capitalism even more than Jesus.

      It has often been said when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and draped with the cross, I can’t imagine we would be so far behind.

  19. GoFundMe just halted donations and will be returning the current funds. The oxygen hose has been stepped on, DNR expected for the Truckerists. 😉

  20. As for Candice Bergen’s bizarre leaked email, she’s seeking to politicize and weaponize the acts of domestic terrorism in Ottawa. This and this alone should be sufficient enough for CSIS to begin a sniffing campaign around her activities.

    Bergen’s activities alone could reveal a criminal underworld with the CPC, an underworld that seeks to perpetuate ongoing political violence against Canada.

    1. Not sure I want to live in a country where csis is monitoring communications of our elected political leaders, we may live in that country already but it’s probably worth discussion

  21. So: I find myself watching all of this from Halifax, where I am on a pressing family health matter. While I have had a fairly limited radius of action, mostly centred on my hotel and the hospice care site where my family member is in the final days of their life (not due to COVID, BTW), I will say that I have noted that — unlike Grande Prairie — I have yet to see a single unmasked adult in any public place. In fact, many locals even wear masks outdoors, where risk is far lower; I don’t because my glasses fog up & I can’t see where I’m going, not a good scenario in a major city lol.

    Now, I’m sure that Nova Scotia has its share of yahoos, although I haven’t seen any during my time here so far. But I would argue that, by & large, Nova Scotians are more inclined than Albertans to go along with and adhere to the kind of public health measures needed to get the pandemic under control.

    Disease stats would seem to bear that out. Total case rate per 100,000 population — Alberta, 11,284 (highest provincial rate in the country); Nova Scotia, 3,944. Total deaths per 100,000 — Alberta, 81; Nova Scotia, 16. Deaths in last 14 days, per 100,000 — Alberta, 4.2; Nova Scotia, 2.9 (tied with Nfld & Lab for lowest provincial mortality rate). Remember, too, when looking at mortality, that demographically Alberta is one of the youngest provinces, while Nova Scotia is one of the oldest. As such, given the virus’s predilection for killing seniors, if all else were equal you’d expect much higher mortality out here than back in AB.

    1. Jerry: I’m very sorry to hear about your family situation. I wish the best for you. DJC

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