Surely it was mere coincidence that two of the principal actors in Alberta’s COVID-19 drama had soft post-pandemic landings announced yesterday.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Former Alberta premier Jason Kenney, pushed out of office by the schemes of the current premier, former talk-radio host and conspiracy theorist Danielle Smith, has found a presumably plush sinecure at Bennett Jones LLP, the law firm so big it has two head offices, one in Calgary and the other in Toronto. 

“We are delighted that Jason has joined Bennett Jones,” said Hugh MacKinnon, the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer. “He brings an extraordinary combination of leadership and public policy experience to the firm and our clients.”

Mr. Kenney will be a member of Bennett Jones’ public policy group, the firm noted in its press release, so no client need fear Mr. Kenney will have any influence over legal advice. 

It may seem odd to some readers for a politician who is not a lawyer to land a position at a well-known law firm, but in reality it’s not all that uncommon. Indeed, a prominent Toronto law firm that shall remain unnamed once found a Conservative prime minister’s former college dorm mate close enough to power to hire for such a position! 

Obviously, Bennett Jones is hiring the former premier and federal cabinet minister for his connections and influence, not for his political advice. 

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (Photo: Province of British Columbia, Creative Commons).

Meanwhile, the better deal went to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s former chief medical officer of health, who has been hired as a deputy provincial health officer by the Government of British Columbia.

It was never completely clear whether Dr. Hinshaw jumped or was pushed when she left the office in mid-November 2022, but her days were obviously numbered after Ms. Smith was sworn in as premier just over a month earlier.

The previous summer, Ms. Smith had demanded an investigation into the $277,911 bonus Dr. Hinshaw had received from the Kenney Government for her work during the pandemic, in addition to her $363,364 per annum salary. 

According to B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Dr. Hinshaw has signed on for six months in the position, but you’ve got to know that the chances are pretty good she’ll stick around in the land of plum blossoms and sea breezes. 

“Dr. Hinshaw will support the work of the office of the PHO,” Dr. Henry said in a B.C. Government news release yesterday. “I feel very fortunate to work alongside such talented and dedicated public health experts and I know their expertise will be a great assistance as we emerge from the pandemic and continue to address the many public health challenges facing the province.”

Trish Tacoma, the dress designer who owns the Smoking Lily boutique in Victoria that created Dr. Hinshaw’s famed periodic table of elements dress that sold out soon after the former CMOH showed up wearing it at a weekly COVID update in 2020, will doubtless be delighted by this development. 

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  1. It is an interesting coincidence that both Hinshaw and Kenney, the two main casualties of the anti vaxers takeover of the UCP, found new jobs on exactly the same day. It might seem hard to believe they coordinated this, but Hishaw and Kenney seemed to have a quite solid relationship despite their differing roles and positions during COVID, so who knows. Maybe they still do keep in touch and decided to coordinate this as a sort of symbolic middle finger to the current right wing fringe crowd leading the UCP.

    I thought Kenney might run back to Ottawa after his Alberta debacle, but perhaps that would have been too obvious. Working a law firm with major offices in Alberta and Ontario might allow him to more subtly geographically reposition himself and also keeps his options open depending on the upcoming Alberta election outcome.

    Yeah, I doubt the law firm is hiring him for his good political advise, given how his Alberta break went. However, at least half the UCP still seems somewhat fond of him and many of those are still in cabinet. So no doubt he still has some good connections at least for a few months more.

  2. Hinshaw may be unpopular with the crazed wild rose crowd but I’ll bet she is not a real Covid fighter … not if she is in line with our failed PHO, Bonnie Henry.

    Bonnie Henry was part of the sloppy PHO in Ontario in 2003 when the original SARs virus got loose and spread.
    BC’s efficient PHO shut-down that same 2003 outbreak before it spread.

    Alas somebody hired Henry to run the BC PHO just in time to mess-up again in 2020….
    She denies that Covid is airborne, is not a mask promoter and has let the poorly ventilated schools in BC become super-spreader locations. The school kids have higher rates of Covid than the general population.

  3. As if being a lifer in politics wasn’t enough, the feeding trough has to be even longer for the former head honcho of the UCP. I still don’t know what he’s accomplished for Alberta, when he became premier, in a controversial manner, no less. In relation to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, she’ll get better treatment in British Columbia, in comparison to what happened to her in Alberta. In Alberta, the UCP used Dr. Deena Hinshaw as their scapegoat, and threw her under the bus. That won’t happen in British Columbia, and Dr. Bonnie Henry is well esteemed. What will Danielle Smith do if the UCP gets defeated in the next provincial election in Alberta, whenever it might be held?

  4. Oh dear: you seem to be repeating yourself in the following sentence:
    “Obviously, Bennett Jones is hiring the former premier and federal cabinet minister for his connections and influence, not for his political advice.”

    I would think “political advice” is really a high class dog whistle for “connections and influence.”

  5. When I read the CBC story yesterday, my thought was that, with a six month appointment in BC, Dr. Hinshaw could be available to return here if we are fortunate to get rid of our current clown show in May.

    Perhaps the bigger question is, would she want to? Yes, an NDP government that appreciates science and respects her expertise would have appeal, but she would return knowing that she could be an election away from being turfed again. That said, it might depend on whether she intends to uproot her family and move to BC for a 6 month contract. (Is her husband able to up and move like that?)

    This leads to an even bigger question: given how the conservative fringe treated Dr. Hinshaw, how hard will it be for Alberta to attract a competent chief medical officer of health? I really can’t see an already certified doctor taking more training to get a master’s degree in public health (currently required in the Alberta job description I understand) then coming here and risking all the abuse Dr. Hinshaw endured.

  6. We West Coasters have been welcoming refugees from Alberta for years, now. While some take an election or two to realize that voting for socialists and growing a ponytail in the land of budding mushrooms and mushrooming buds, with their new, bong-buzzed neighbours ain’t so bad after all. So welcome Dr Deena! Check out the Orange Cush!

    I expect you’ll find the BC vibe a lot better ‘n’ being tuned-out, turned-on, and dropped-out in psycheDaniellic Alberta.

    Dr Bonnie will doubtlessly recommend you to one of her many fond haberdashers for your new tie-dye cape and customized crocs. Health Minister Dix will astound you with his astral empathy, kool kindness and bilingualism (woah, dude!—never seen that one comin’!)

    And it’s great to know, isn’t it?—that you’ll probably be relieved of Covid duties—not for anything you did or didn’t do, but because the new file is fentanyl overdose prevention. (I just found out that limiting one’s alcohol intake to two drinks a week has been decriminalized! You’re gonna love it here, Deena!)

    All the best, good Doctor (and I really, really mean that).

    PS: if my Alberta friends are concerned about the exodus of your healthcare professionals to BC—where they are immediately put to work under the new, streamlined transfer procedure and improved wage package (increased to $385K from $250K), then vote the disastrous UCP out…

    …but we’ll take whomever makes it across the border —uh—I mean, “boundary”—in the meanwhile.

  7. The lines between holding public office and the corporate sector have become so blurred that it’s hard to tell who is running the government. It’s a quid pro quo agreement of public corruption that is so prevalent, yet the public press is so blind to, at both the provincial and federal governments that it’s an anomaly not to see it happen. But this is what happens in a corporatocracy when pubic information is largely controlled by the corporate class. The only system that would rid us of this rot is democratic socialism.

  8. So, Jason Kenney has joined a law firm without actually being a lawyer. Another interesting revelation in this appointment is that Kenney will not be lobbying the Alberta government in his new role and law firm trophy. I guess this means that Kenney will be returning to whence he came — Ottawa, Ontario. He’s always liked it better in Ontario, because it’s better in Ontario. And it’s next to Quebec, which also makes it better in Ontario.

    And Dr. Deena Hinshaw has also flown Alberta for another place that better than Alberta — British Columbia. Lotus Land. I suspect she was just giddy by the prospect of actually living in a province run by adults. And the BC provincial government got their hands in this by chiding Alberta about losing all their doctors.

    The spin from the UCP is good riddance to Kenney and Hinshaw because they were bad people and Danielle Smith will make everything alright by buying votes and establishing the largest cabinet of modern times on any planet.

    Now is the time to hit Smith up for the fat cabinet goodies.

  9. Kennney “brings an extraordinary combination of leadership and public policy experience to the firm and our clients.” Best summed up as, “See what he did? Don’t do that.”

  10. I didn’t think either soft landing was a great look. I would have liked Dr. Hinshaw to be more willing to speak truth to power and to have used the authority her office had to tell the politicians to get stuffed when they told her to implement policies that would kill Albertans. On the one hand, they would have fired her, but on the other, it would have raised the political cost they paid and she would have been paid a pretty sweet severance and then her soft landing would, to my mind, be much more justifiable.

    Jason Kenney going from one feeding trough to another is just business as usual. Canada is owned and operated by lawful neutral business criminals. I would love to see something put in place to prevent public “servants” from leaving their cushy government gigs for even cushier gigs helping business criminals lobby our government to subvert our democracy and get away with ignoring our laws. Maybe tell people “you get a pension OR a job, and as soon as you accept the job you forfeit the pension?” I don’t know how to make the change I want without causing several unrelated problems. Same deal with Supreme Court judges btw, incredibly bad look for them to be taking their institutional knowledge to the private sector. Or to Hong Kong. Who the heck ever signed off on that?

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