As long threatened, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party Government yesterday announced the end of Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s tenure as the province’s chief medical officer of health through the most difficult months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Mark Joffe (Photo: Alberta Health Services).

Was Dr. Hinshaw pushed or did she jump? Was there compensation over and above the terms of her contract to get her to go quietly? Or will she have to make do with the $277,911 in “cash benefits” she took home last year for her performance during the tough months of the pandemic in addition to her $363,634 salary?

These are excellent questions that may never be answered. 

Will Dr. Hinshaw have anything to say? That remains to be seen. 

Last summer Ms. Smith called for an investigation to “get to the bottom” of Dr. Hinshaw’s bonus. That too seems unlikely, since whatever it found could now be turned against Premier Smith’s government.

The government’s news release yesterday announcing the appointment of Dr. Hinshaw’s successor had almost nothing to say about her. 

Dr. Ari Joffe (Photo: University of Alberta).

Health Minister Jason Copping thanked her “for her service and dedication through the past several years.” That was all. 

Premier Smith was not quoted. She is known to revile Alberta’s pandemic leadership. Indeed, her hostile views were at the heart of her successful campaign to capture the leadership of the UCP after her allies in the Take Back Alberta anti-vaccination-mandate PAC forced out premier Jason Kenney last spring.

Mr. Copping’s news release went on to sing the praises of Dr. Hinshaw’s replacement as CMOH, Dr. Mark Joffe, an experienced and respected medicrat with Capital Health and Alberta Health Services for a quarter of a century. 

Dr. Joffe trained in Calgary, is an infectious disease specialist, and is known to support sane public health measures such mandating the use of face masks when airborne infectious diseases are spreading. 

One would have thought he’s just the kind of person Ms. Smith would not have wanted in the job. 

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Jake Wright/Manning Centre/Creative Commons).

His appointment took effect yesterday.

End of story? Not quite. 

You see, there is another Dr. Joffe in Alberta. 

Dr. Ari Joffe is a prominent pediatric infectious disease specialist and high-profile COVID contrarian, much beloved by the right-wing press. 

In February, Dr. Ari Joffe contributed to a Postmedia op-ed claiming that “lockdowns caused severe collateral damage” and “masks may teach children to be afraid of their peers and themselves as vectors of disease, likely contributing to the mental-health crisis.” 

“Canadian expert’s research finds lockdown harms are 10 times greater than benefits,” screeched a Toronto Sun headline last summer over a lovingly transcribed interview with the other Dr. Joffe.

Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples, a leading Danielle Smith cheerleader, praised Dr. Ari Joffe for “his significant contribution.”

Mr. Staples noted approvingly in a column that Ari Joffe signed the controversial Great Barrington Declaration, which called for allowing COVID-19 to rip through the population while isolating oldsters for their own good in hopes of achieving “herd immunity.” 

Never mind that among the 15,000 experts said to have signed the declaration by clicking a button on its website were such esteemed figures as Dr. Johnny Fartpants and Professor Notaf Uckingclue. 

So, as unlikely as it seems, the question must be asked: “Is there a chance that the Alberta government appointed the wrong Dr Joffe?”

University of Alberta economics professor Dr. Andrew Leach (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

So tweeted University of Alberta economist and frequent UCP critic Andrew Leach, setting off a lively and entertaining debate on the Twitter site, which otherwise seems to be foundering thanks to billionaire mismanagement. 

“Which is more plausible?” Dr. Leach asked. “Smith wanted to appoint a covid contrarian with whom she consulted and who was cited by David Staples and others as evidence against covid restrictions. Or that she wanted to appoint an AHS exec who supported mask mandates and such measures?”

Surely the Smith government appointed the Dr. Joffe that they intended to appoint. Right? 

Join the Conversation


  1. Some very interesting questions here. I also wonder if Hinshaw got anything above her already overly generous previous payment. Maybe there is a non disclosure agreement and even if not, it might be in Hinshaw’s best interests to keep mum, lest a public uproar forces the government to reneg on what may have been recently agreed to.

    As for who the real Dr. Joffre is, that is perhaps an even more fascinating question. It is not unimaginable that someone decided to have a bit of mischief at the Premier’s expense and at the same time do a great public service. The best part is if the Premier rescinds this now, it will make her look a total fool. This may be the greatest political mix up since Giuliani went to Four Seasons Landscaping near Philadelphia.

    It will be interesting to see how Smith plays this one, particularly if someone asks her directly the question about which Dr. Joffre she really wanted to appoint. It sure would be most entertaining to hear and watch her respond to that.

  2. In any case, Danielle Smith won’t listen to reason, or logic, and this is where Albertans will be paying the price for this, in financial terms, and with a human cost. There is a major respiratory ailment that is currently hitting the public school system in Alberta. Many children are getting very sick, but Danielle Smith doesn’t care about putting measures in place to mitigate this. People are ending up being hospitalized for it. The UCP had a shoddy track record for managing the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta. Case counts often went to record levels in Canada. Dr. Deena Hinshaw was used as a scapegoat, and was thrown under the bus by the UCP. Had the UCP accepted a motion from NDP health critic, David Shepherd, to have Dr. Deena Hinshaw independent, perhaps things would have turned out differently. This is the UCP we are dealing with. They simply don’t care. When things continue to get worse in Alberta, who will Danielle Smith and the UCP try and blame next? This new chief provincial health officer for Alberta will only be dictated by the UCP as to what they can do. If the UCP’s bad policy decisions make things worse, which is still happening, Dr. Mark Joffe will likely be thrown under the bus. Albertans are going to have to smarten up, and get the UCP removed from power. If they don’t, it’s going to get even worse. The next several months with Danielle Smith as premier of Alberta will be really bad enough.

  3. From afar, I see the Danielle Smith dumbbells as fearful uncomprehending people, scared of things that go bump in the night. They relish the thoughts of happy cosy family gatherings as epitomized by the glowing memories provided by Norman Rockwell’s depiction of the 1950s, and are scared stiff by the modern world. So they refuse to face it, trying to legislate the good old days back into existence. The good old days that never really happened. Childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, diphtheria, polio, chicken pox and TB they have no memory of. So the attitude is to pretend such nasty things do not exist, that it’s full bore ahead on extracting resources, putting two cars in every garage, and singing happy songs around the campfire on warm summer evenings while roasting marshmallows.

    Why let reality intrude? Why let anyone spoil dreams of a nirvana that cannot exist in today’s world? Let’s pretend everything’s absolutely wonderful instead! And if anyone even seems to lightly attempt to bring these dreamers back down to earth, they are attacked as if they were but the inevitable vermin and scum of their make-believe world.

    Avoidance of acknowledging reality is the basis of hands-over-ears UCP dreamers, in my view. And vociferous defence of unreality is their operating stance. Covid, climate change, kids piling up in hospitals with RSV, all are but a chimera advanced by people who want to ruin Alberta’s dream of living isolated from outside events in a never-never land of wonderfulness.

    There has to be something like this retreat from reality behind people like those who run the UCP. Otherwise, they can only be regarded as complete loons. The leave-us-alone mentality also parroted by Moe, argues for an existence which can never be, because it is but a mental construct of an unreachable paradise.

    So which Joffe is actually to be the CMOH for Alberta? I’m afraid that after reading this post, I’m not sure.

  4. When an appointment as significant as this is reduced to a tale of two Dr. Joffes, you know that where the UCP government is concerned, the lights are on but no one is home.

    Of course Danielle Straitjacket’s constant playing to the Antivaxx and Anti-public health measures in her coveted portion of the UCP base leaves no doubt that she has no intention of acting like a grown up. Now that cases of respiratory illnesses are spiking high in the public schools, Smith intends to deny there is a problem and move on to the next thing to break.

    It remains to be seen if DoFo is going to buckle under the public pressure and admit that, yes, Covid is still in Ontario and running riot. Since Ford has collapsed under pressure before, because there is no hill he wants to die on, it could happen again.

  5. Sounds like an episode from the last season of Atlanta (spoiler) where the wrong man was appointed head of Disney back in the nineties.

  6. Typo watch: in the second paragraph, you have “make due” for “make do”, and “here” for “her”. (You so seldom get things wrong that I went and looked up “make do” in the ODE to see if I’d been wrong myself all these years.)

  7. I find myself saying this way to often for it to be true but you can’t make this stuff up, people would say you’re being too farcical.

  8. Isn’t this Dr. Joffe an interim appointment, Dave? If so, it’s possible, and quite plausible under the governance of this confederacy of dunces known as the UCP, that they’re hoping to quietly slip in the other Dr. Joffe as Dr. Hinshaw’s permanent replacement hoping nobody will notice.

    1. Jim: Yes, it is an interim appointment, although I suspect it is not a true interim appointment. That is, all appointments are interim, just as in the long run, we’re all dead. But all cabinet ministers, I reckon, are full cabinet ministers, whether or not their title carries the tag “associate.” And all health care positions, in Danielle Smith’s Alberta, come with an interim tag. DJC

  9. I was struggling to decipher your title. After reading the article it makes much more sense. This is hilarious! The only thing that would make it better is if they announced it in front of Four Seasons Landscaping Co.

  10. Good gosh!

    But if Dr Hinshaw wants to practice on a bucolic Gulf Island in BC, I know just the clinic which could really use another doctor. Hey, there’s lots of Albertans out here already. Maybe she knows one she can contact. As they find, so might she: socialist government ain’t all that bad. Plus she can wear shades, a top-knot, and tie-dye and not look out of place. And be semi-retired, too—not to mention, Doctors just got a big fat raise.

    Just a thought…


    1. Scotty,

      If you want a self-serving unscrupulous sycophant that failed the people she was tasked with protecting and who should have been stripped of her “doctor” title, by all means she is yours!

  11. And, of course, David Staples had to get his name in there. I mean didn’t Danielle Smith declare that David Staples was one of the people she consulted on health care policy and other things? Wow. Staples is an expert on everything. It’s a shame that his Cult of Hockey is such a disaster, with the continuing trials of the Oilers and all. I mean if Staples lived in Boston, for example, he could be a fan of a truly great hockey team, that will continue to survive in Boston and flourish, long after the Oilers have been sold, pulled up stakes, and moved to Portland, Oregon, where they will be renamed the the Winter Hawks, or Osprey, or something something to do with Portland.

  12. Or maybe she did appoint the wrong Dr. Joffe, in the same vein as she campaigned in the wrong riding during the by election – Cypress-Medicine Hat, instead of Brooks-Medicine Hat?

    Also, Dr. Hinshaw’s contract was supposed to expire in 2024. Wonder how much it will cost to pay her out. On top of her bonus earlier this year of over $200,000.

    1. Hana: Rumours are beginning to circulate. One figure I saw on social media (completely unverified) was $180,000. This seems low. My guess is there will be an NDA. DJC

  13. You have to admit… there’s a certain political brilliance in managing to find a real doctor with both the credentials to do the work and the same name as a COVID denier…

    You’ll know we’re really on top of our game when we nominate Wadine Nellwood to run as the candidate in Livingstone-Macleod.

  14. The most decent thing done so far by Dozies UPC so far is a communication error? Something something …a blind squirrel …something.. nut. Who said “something something squirrel fart”?
    I’m getting a theme.
    Alberta isn’t rat free…they just have bushy tails.

  15. Hahaha, I guarantee this is a major faux pas. Smith wanted to appoint her anti-mandate loser MD, and someone in the PS said “hey, this is the wrong guy, oh well, he’s more qualified anyways, let’s just keep hush hush.”.


  16. Mr. Staples IMO should have stuck to sports – his political takes are so awful that I just refuse to support any of his endeavors. Used to be a regular viewer of the Cult of Hockey podcast, but eventually I hit a point where I just don’t want to hear what he thinks about anything, and I’m unwilling to support someone who does so much harm in their professional endeavors.

    Policy suggestion – when someone calling themselves a “journalist,” and/or an organization calling itself “news,” makes a demonstrably false claim, or platforms “experts” doing the same, there ought to be repercussions. Perhaps something like first three fines per year are escalating amounts, each fine beyond that during the same time frame is a fine of the *percentage of the offending invidivual/organizations net worth.*

    I don’t know if this is the best way to do it, but IMO we need to find a way to disincentive “news” organizations that make a ton of money by platforming harmful misinformation. If nothing else it would prevent organizations committed to the business model of “pouring poison into our viewers’ ears for fun and profit” would stop referring to themselves as “news.”

    If a lawyer engages in egregious misconduct, they can be disbarred by their peers. Perhaps journalists could do something similar?

    Often my half-baked policy ideas turn out to have problems I didn’t foresee. The biggest problem I see with the first idea is “who gets to say what is and isn’t misinformation?” My preferred solution would be to put together something like the senate for journalists, but there would be so many details to hammer out, I’m not sure if the policy would do enough good to warrant the effort. I’d welcome anyone’s thoughts.

  17. To Dr. Johnny Fartpants and Professor Notaf Uckingclue could be added Covid deniers and presidential hopefuls Ron DeSanctimonious and Trumpty Dumpty.

  18. Batshit crazy lady wanted to hire Dr Ari Joffe, a COVID contrarian. Instead, she hired Dr. Mark Joffe, who supports mask mandates and other COVID mitigation measures.

    This is how incompetent she and her government is. This is the same government that wants to take our CPP and replace it with an Alberta pension plan?

    We are definitely in crazy town now. Vote NDP and restore some sanity.

    1. My theory was that she told some senior bureaucrat, “hey, hire that Joffe dude, I like the cut of his jib”, and they hired the credible Dr Joffe, rather than the whacko “Dr” Joffe, because competence.

  19. Those of us from the world of finance have said from day one . Bit coin was nothing more than a elaborate pyramid scheme and would fail, well it has. I wonder if Dr. Hinshaw is considering a wrongful dismissal lawsuit. We hope she sues Smith instead of the provincial government, that would effect us. Now smith is wanting a high speed train to Banff , apparently not smart enough to realize that people need a vehicle when they get there, or the fact that we don’t need to see a lot more big game animals , and people, killed like we saw with the Day Liner from Edmonton to Calgary. There is a very good reason why such trains in Europe are built above ground level, and are extremely costly to build. You can bet her government can’t afford it, cutting $9.4 billion off corporate taxes to benefit the rich was far more important, it helps buy votes. I bet they would expect Trudeau to pay for it.

  20. I smell an early end to Smith’s run as Alberta’s Premier. I can’t help but think of Britain’s Liz Truss and her 44-day run.

  21. Even if Daffy Danielle and her cadre of quacks did appoint the Dr. Joffe they wanted to appoint, it doesn’t take too much imagination to see how they could have screwed up. In fact, I lean to the opinion that they did screw up. (It would be so like them.) If so, you can be sure they are now in full coverup mode so that the truth will never, ever come out. The revelation that they did appoint the wrong guy would be a stain on their credibility so great that they likely could never recover. If indeed they had meant to appoint Dr. Ari Joffre and their plans went awry, the only way that will ever become public is if some brave and impeccable source does come forward with the truth. Even then, the UCP will deny it to the highest heaven.

    I suspect we will forever have to live with the uncertainty.

  22. Alan ….Smith wants a high speed train to Banff…..I think you might have answered a question in relation to the CBC , and no those initials have nothing to do with TV**, about the group going to Texas “meeting Railway officials “, my first reaction was, wait, what?? did I miss something? Darned, more homework,

    **so, if I was on social media, I’d probably get booted right quick, because I would dearly love to take on Pierre with his defund the CBC, except make it the “not for profit “,( oh paleese! ) Canadian Bitcoin Consortium…. if ever there was an entity that needs to be DEFUNDED….. but that’s just my cynical opinion…

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