“In queue for Queen, Premier Kenney signs order banning remote work option for civil servants.”

University of Alberta political scientist Jared Wesley (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

In fact, there was nothing for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to sign. Alberta’s civil servants were ordered back to their offices months ago, on April 4

But that little social media quip Friday by University of Alberta political scientist Jared Wesley was so on brand for Alberta’s premier – who at the time was ostentatiously tweeting away while waiting in line to pay his respects to Queen Elizabeth as she lay in state at the Palace of Westminster in London – that plenty of folks swallowed it hook, line and sinker. 

This was probably the tweet from Mr. Kenney that inspired Dr. Wesley’s sly sense of humour: “N.B.” (the premier meant nota bene, folks, not New Brunswick) “I’m doing briefings & work calls from the queue, and will be back in Edmonton on Monday for Alberta’s memorial service for our late Queen… .”

Well, presumably that raises the question of who’s paying for Mr. Kenney’s cellular calls, if not for the trip, which the premier stated in an adjacent tweet was “entirely at personal expense.” 

Apparently having seen the same tweet, former Progressive Conservative deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk sarcastically warned Mr. Kenney, “Watch that cell phone bill”!

Progressive Conservative deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk in 2014 (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Alert readers will recall that Mr. Lukaszuk was excoriated by his political enemies in 2014 for running up a $20,000 cellular telephone bill after being asked by the office of premier Alison Redford to deal with a distraught cabinet member while the deputy premier was on vacation in Poland (also entirely at personal expense).

A summary of the “tawdry” circumstances that led to the leak of Mr. Lukaszuk’s phone bill by someone in Ms. Redford’s office was provided by Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid back in 2016. Presumably since then someone in the Premier’s Office has thought to purchase a roaming plan for for roaming officials’ phones.

Now look, I’m not going to criticize the premier if he’d always promised himself he’d be on hand for Her Majesty’s death.

“I don’t apologize for having been an avid monarchist my whole life and admirer of the Queen,” Mr. Kenney told the Calgary Herald. “I thought it was especially important in my role to represent Alberta, at pure personal expense, and it’s just a very quick 36-hour trip, but for me, it was just necessary. I mean, this is a woman who gave her life in service, in part to Canada. And the least I can do is stand in a queue for 15 hours to say thank you.”

The Herald’s reporter went on to explain: “He said when he was 14, he woke up in the early hours of the morning during a trip to Victoria to make sure he had a spot to see the Queen and Prince Philip. After that, he had promised himself he would be in attendance for the Queen’s funeral.” (Emphasis added.)

Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, a real weirdo, in 1945 (Photo: Public Domain).

Verily, dear readers, I cut and pasted that right out of the Calgary Herald. I didn’t make up a word! 

I have to tell you, though, that from my perspective, and apparently that of many others, this seems more than a little weird. 

But then, given his many obsessions and hobbyhorses, Alberta’s soon-to-depart premier can be fairly described as a weirdo almost on a par with William Lyon Mackenzie King.

And, anyway, the guy’s about to be put out to pasture by his own party, so why the heck wouldn’t he just take a couple of days off? 

Indeed, if it’d been me in his shoes – which I hope for Mr. Kenney’s sake were more comfortable than that suit he was wearing looked – I’d have taken a couple of extra days to sample the bright spots of the former imperial capital and maybe buy a cheerful necktie or two on Carnaby Street, if indeed that place is still a going concern.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and King Charles yesterday (Photo: Globe and Mail/Twitter).

Had Mr. Kenney taken such a side trip, perhaps he could also have purchased some colourful socks to counter his reputation as a pedantic bore. You know, like the blue and black stripey ones Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wore to his tête-à-tête with the new king.

It must have royally griped Mr. Kenney to learn that while he had to wait in line for 14 or 15 hours without a government of Alberta flunky to hold his bag and carry his water, the prime minister got to slip into the line through the foreign-dignitaries side-door and meet King Charles.

But that’s what happens when you’re a lame duck premier, without a home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone.

It’s not explained how Mr. Kenney sustained or relieved himself during those interminable hours as he inched along the chilly Thames Embankment, nor do I think we Albertans really require that information unless there was some cost to the taxpayer. 

Speaking personally, I would like to know if the mystery man with the shoulder bag and pony tail recorded by the BBC in the lineup immediately behind the premier was just a random mourner or someone working with the premier in some capacity. 

At the very least, though, now that such revelations are an established practice, surely we are entitled to the grand total of Mr. Kenney’s phone bill and any other incidental expenses of state whilst he sojourned in London.

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37 Comments

  1. Well, I suppose this may be a foretaste of life for Kenney, going from a position of some political power to having to wait in a long line with every one else. If it is any consolation, David Beckham was also in line and I heard he got treats for those around him. However, I don’t see him anywhere around in that picture of the glum looking premier, so I suspect Kenney was not fortunate enough to be close enough for that.

    Perhaps Kenney has learned the lesson of Lukaszuk and he will not be submitting an exorbitant phone bill as part of one of his last reclaiming of expenses. However, Kenney is going anyways, so maybe he will just as a way to stick it to his successor and the taxpayers one last time. If so, he needs to get it in quickly so he can cash the cheque before new management takes over.

    I suppose it would be have been less expensive, although even quirkier to take Mackenzie King’s approach to connecting with those who have passed on – seances. This way Kenney could have had his pledged last meeting with the Queen from the comfort of home, without all the time and expense of travelling and waiting in line, although there is no guarantee the Queen would take his call and due to a bad connection he might get Mackenzie King’s mother instead. Of course, at this point Kenney probably doesn’t have anything much important to do in Edmonton any more, other than to pack boxes, so off to London it is.

    I suppose while he is in line he could call up his former boss Stephen Harper, who I understand is also in London now too – small world. Of course as a former Prime Minister, Harper will probably be having a more VIP experience than Kenney waiting in line. Oh the humanity!

  2. Very interesting ad on today’s post. Sent me down a rabbit hole with Dr. Dan’s Freedom Forum. Of course, this isn’t your fault David since you didn’t actually pick the ads the algorithm displays, but it’s a bit of a mixed message having ads for right-wing crazy podcasts on your very left-wing blog. You may want to check into your advertising settings before ads for My Pillow start showing up.

  3. Presumably, JK was still earning his daily salary while he stayed in line so, yes, he was indeed there at the taxpayers’ expense (unless he took official vacation days – which I kind of doubt he cares about at this point). Still, even in today’s hyper-self-promotion era, it feels icky that anyone would be giving a play-by-play of their time in a funeral line – sure we can expect most people to do that, but a statesman doing it, even a lame duck one, seems crass. We all know how the conservative rage-farmers would react if it was Trudeau doing the tweeting.

  4. Canadians saw the footage of sincere “God save the King” at their Alberta ceremony, and now Kenney’s queue trip’ attests to the real grief of our Queens passing. I Hope the new King pays Albertans a visit very soon!

  5. The glare that could sink a thousand ships, from a leader of a not-yet sovereign state, a man in a suit in a sea of casual commoners, displeased to be caught with another man in a suit. In other news, today is Sunday.

  6. “Indeed, if it’d been me in his shoes–which I hope for Mr. Kenney’s sake were more comfortable than that suit he was wearing looked–”
    No doubt JK is outfitted in the finest suits Calgary haberdashery has to offer. Are you suggesting Mr. Blogger that instead of sporting such high falutin duds he’d be more comfortable and even look better in cheap clothes?

    1. The backwards baseball cap and white hotel slippers for breakfast in an exclusive resort hotel was not his finest fashion hour (tsk, tsk, calloused heels being symbolic of the UCP reign) , so maybe something moderate, like business casual? Silly me, moderation is unknown to the once and future king of the Republic of Alber-balogna or whatever the UCP will call it when the more radical right wing takes charge. My opinion, as always, is worth what you pay for it.

      1. Clearly Kenney should have been dressed in the Western shirt, cowboy boots, jeans and Stetson that reflect his authentic Albertitude. A pity that he couldn’t have driven the blue Dodge RAM in the queue – that would have established his bona fides beyond all possible doubt.

  7. Of course Kenney, like ER II, gave his life for public service. There is no question Kenney gave up the bountiful life of marriage and family to serve Alberta and, maybe yet again, Canada. Certainly this is the story Kenney keeps telling himself every time there’s some rumour about his state of weirdness. The comparison to William Lyon MacKenzie King is particularly apt, in that both were terminal bachelors and had obsessive natures concerning their respective mothers. Though King was known to have held seances for his departed mother, as well as consulting his dog Pat on matters of state. Kenney has a long way to go before he becomes famously looney, but he’s nearly there.

    1. Just: To be clear, if King consulted his deceased dogs (all apparently named Pat) on matters of state and politics, they must have given him reasonably sound advice. I know that my dogs, living and dead, are unanimous in the view that if we’d just give everyone a bickie the world would be a better place. Many thanks to Rebel, Scamp, Sarah, George, Rory, Riley, Charlie and Rosie for this information, which required no seance to access. DJC

      Arf! Arf!

      DJC

  8. Taxpayers are still paying for this trip by the head honcho of the UCP to go to England. In that image (screenshot), he doesn’t have a good look on his face. It’s like his unhappy with something.

    1. Anonymous: If you watch the clip, you can see that as he enters the room where the Queen was lying in state he glanced around and noticed the BBC’s camera recording the faces of mourners. That look was the moment he spotted the lens pointing in his direction. DJC

      1. All this means in that Jason Kenney was caught in another awkward moment doing whatever he wants. From flouting public health restrictions at a Sky Palace barbecue to his weird and still unexplained 30+ day absence during the “Greatest Summer Ever”, the presence of any camera has not been welcomed. I suspect Kenney may just decide to play hooky for the rest of his tenure as premier. I mean, by his own claim, it’s not like he ever wanted the job. Really. In a recent interview in a local publication, Kenney claimed he never wanted to be premier, but he couldn’t help himself.

        These weird impulsive type of guys will soon be the death of us all.

          1. That was just plain stupid.

            PMJT could have easily scheduled the event at the University of Vancouver Island, which also happens to be a notable post-secondary institute for the benefit of First Nations peoples. They have an abundance of programs and services where PMJT could have appeared and promoted, in an extraordinary demonstration of the value of Reconciliation. And it’s not far from the surfing at Tofino. See, clearly not the sharpest minds were at work on this file.

            Maybe Trudeau should have me as his second brain? No question he would benefit tremendously from my extraordinary brilliance.

  9. This was a mean and nasty blog. Why? What did you hope to accomplish by being so negative and sarcastic? The man was trying to pay his respects, and not trying to jump the queue, which he likely could have done with the privilege of his office. And he chose not to. You, DC, should take a moment and reflect on this very sarcastic and mean blog. Is that how you want to be remembered? You have a high profile in this province. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of your privilege and spread a more positive message? Try it. You might like the rewards it brings.

    Respectfully,
    Barbara Winterhalt

    1. Barbara Winterhalt: Look at what the head honcho of the UCP has done to Albertans, which isn’t good. Very poor Covid-19 pandemic responses, which cost people their lives, and breaking his own Covid-19 social distancing rules. Treating doctors in Alberta shamefully. Making it harder for the teachers in the public education system to deal with things in the classroom. Kicking down those on AISH, who are already struggling as it is. I could go on. How any of this deserves respect, is beyond me. When these things are happening, this isn’t something we should be proud of.

    2. @Barbara. Personally I found this article absolutely correct in tone and content given the subject under discussion. Congrat’s, DJC on another well written, appropriate look at the worst Premier the Province of Alberta has ever had.

    3. DJC has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune throughout his professional career. By not kow-towing to the people that promote the likes of Jason Kenney, David has charted his own course. He could have had a long career in sycophantic journalism as per the likes of the crew at Postmedia and other right wing publications but he followed his conscience and paid a heavy price. As a result of the Conrad Black inspired Calgary Herald strike years ago, he and like minded colleagues stuck to their principles and lost their jobs. Not easy to find work after that. An anti-establishment blog is an answer but that has challenges and doesn’t pay very well if at all.
      So he jabs at Jason Kenney. Don’t shed a tear for that guy. As a professional politician who flatters the right people he’ll land on his feet after his tenure as Alberta premier. Not only that, he needs a new tailor.

      1. Tom: In fairness, after the strike at the Calgary Herald, I left journalism willingly enough, although it seemed like a disaster at the time. The subsequent collapse of legacy media proved that it was less of a disaster than I’d imagined it would be. I’m grateful to you and Rogera2 for keeping the tone of your responses to Ms. Winterhalt civil. One of the principles of this blog is that while we dish it out, we can also take it, and therefore allow critical responses without whining. I should note that I don’t hesitate to delete comments that are off topic, obscene, profane or in my judgment defamatory of anybody but me. DJC

  10. Can’t come up with something better than potential mobile roaming charges? Avoiding roaming charges is even easier than 10 years ago, and even if one does not, the cost is now a fraction. Off course union propogandists are technology illiterate because technology poses a threat to public sector unions’ intense sense of entitlement, as it actually promotes productivity and measuring outcomes.

    1. Doug: The Alberta PCs have done many very pricey shenanigans, from over the years, that even surpass the cellphone roaming charges by Thomas Lukaszuk. Alberta doesn’t have $575 billion, because the oil royalty rates of Peter Lougheed weren’t collected anymore. There were a lot more than this. The UCP have also done very costly shenanigans too, and someone else mentioned that.

    2. “Union propagandists are technologically illiterate”, eh? Really? Our host’s day job is as an employee of one of Alberta’s most technologically invested labour unions, one which computerized its entire network of Locals way back in the mid-1990s, offers an internal confidential members-only e-mail system & member discussion forum — open to all card-carrying members, not just executive officers (although many of us now carry their cards on our smartphones instead of our wallets) — and continues to raise the bar of its digital environment, with interactive mobile apps for iOS & Android platforms.

      “Technologically illiterate”, in a pig’s eye. Oh, and not a propagandist either.

  11. Gee Barbara haven’t you been listening how this fool cut $9.4 billion off our corporate taxes for his rich friends, putting mayors in a horrific mess, trying to find money to fix roads and provide proper snow removal. To make up for the revenue lost he promised to cut 11,000 health care jobs and provide Albertans with a lot more privatization, and has treated our doctors, nurses, teachers and students like third class citizens and doctors, nurses and teachers are leaving because of the way they have been treat, creating a nightmare for people needing medical help. He refused to listen to our doctors and created one of the worse covid messes in North America and it cost a lot more deaths than what it should have. Have you noticed how he wasted $3.5 million of tax payers money on trying to prove foreign corporations were attacking our oil industry, yet not one single oil executives agreed, they knew it was a pack of lies. Wasted more money on trying to stop the Carbon Tax that our oil executives wanted put in place because they know it works. The list goes on and on and the true conservatives in my world don’t share your concerns for this fake conservative who like the rest starting with Ralph Klein put this province in financial ruin by destroying what Peter Lougheed created for us. It didn’t happen in Norway and Alaska , did it?

  12. Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been?

    Kenney’s sojourn to visit the Queen would appear too late—but as far as too little goes, one does get the feeling that the K-Boy is not done with politics just yet, despite his ouster from the party he created—only three-quarters through his maiden mandate. Lo, despite the apparent unofficial nature of standing in the pleb-section of the long queue to view Her Majesty’s casket while looking longingly at the tighter culs of official invitees, the monarchist K-Boy styles himself representative of all Albertans.

    As many have observed, there’s a regal mien about Kenney, what with a single career that definitely doesn’t require learning to pump one’s own gasoline.

    We’d probably be more thankful if Kenney restricted his public-service aspiration to Royal mouser.

    One can’t help but be reminded of K-colleague and then-leader of the federal conservative party, Andrew Sheer, who also went to London, that time to visit Prime Minister Theresa May who diplomatically shooed away the urchin security noted hanging around Downing Street with a cup of tea and digestive biscuit, even though realizing she was being dragged into a partisan stunt of Canadian politics by surprise and, as it looked, with some embarrassment.

    One hopes—I should think most Canadians—that the Royal Family won’t have to endure such unseemly ostentation in the pomp and moment of mourning their matriarch, but with regard Mr K, we trust the Queen will remain resolutely yet graciously aloof. Unlike a prime minister, she would not have begrudged the sentimentality, no matter if ulteriorly motivated or genuine, of any of her subjects—she, at least, the epitome of class.

    I’m waiting to see if, on his way home, K-Boy will pop in, just to to say hi to his buddies at the tRumpvangelical caucuses of the US federal Congress—they being so tight, no appointment’s necessary—before being sent off with a resounding “fare well” from a Capitol munchkin: “Follow. The Yellow Cab home! Follow the Yellow Cab home!”

  13. Mean & nasty ?? “Is that how you want to be remembered ?”
    “Take advantage of your “priviledge ” …” you might like the “rewards” it brings “….
    Okay, I admit I’ve gotten somewhat more cynical in my retirement years, but why do I get a sense of words being left unsaid ??
    I could be wrong, this could just be from some kind nursing type or then again it could just be a ghost of July…very curious wording indeed.

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