COVID-19: A Study in Leadership

 “The first role of government is to help people in crisis or need. That’s why we have government.”– John McCain

Crisis separates the leaders from wannabes.

We will be watching our leaders and wannabes very carefully over the next few months to see how they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, we want to see whether they adopt what Chris Hadfield calls “boldface” procedures—“boldface” is a term used by pilots to describe the procedures that could save your life in a crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic is moving very quickly and we’ve learned some boldface procedures from other jurisdictions that will help “flatten the curve”, but these procedures require governments to have the wisdom and the courage to spend the money and take the steps necessary to meet the pandemic head on, rather than hanging back until it’s too late to catch up.

How are we doing so far?

Stepping up…or not

At the federal level, Prime Minister Trudeau is taking action.

He’s committed $1 billion to fight COVID-19: $500 million is allocated to provincial and territorial governments which are responsible for health care delivery, $5 million goes toward increased Employment Insurance sickness benefits for those who need to go into self-isolation, $50 million is earmarked for protective equipment for health care workers, over $275 million is for prevention and research, and millions more will go to regional public health services.

And that’s just the beginning, Mr Trudeau promises there’s more to come next week.

The prime minister is demonstrating strong leadership in a time of crisis.  

On the provincial front, Premier Jason Kenney has been much slower to react.    

Yesterday Mr Kenney made a faith and hope speech, brimming with patriotic platitudes and warning that things would get “much worse” before they got better. Mr Kenney called for “direct and timely interventions” by governments (plural) to support workers, employers, families and businesses, so we can take care of each other, especially the vulnerable, the old, the sick, and the unemployed.

He did not offer any “direct and timely interventions” until this afternoon when he announced $500 million in funding to ensure frontline health professionals have the staffing, resources and supplies they need for testing, surveillance and treatment.

Mr Kenney, coming in on the heels of Justin Trudeau

Mr Kenney’s funding commitment is better late than never, but the fact he waited until after prime minister Trudeau made his announcement is a concern. “You first” is not a sign of good leadership, it’s a cop out.    

The frontline and Budget 2020

Now here’s where it gets tricky.

When Mr Kenney announced the $500 million commitment he said, “Alberta’s public health workers are doing an outstanding job, and we are here to support them with whatever they need.” If he really meant it, he’d take another look at Budget 2020.

Budget 2020 reflects Mr Kenney’s contention that Alberta’s healthcare professionals are overpaid and inefficient. It purports to address this by (1) significantly cutting nursing jobs and (2) materially reducing physician’s compensation.

This left Alberta’s healthcare professionals feeling demoralized and burnt out…and then COVID-19 turned up on our doorstep.   

Rachel Notley has been fighting to reverse the cuts to nurses, and has urged Mr Kenney to “pause” the implementation of changes to doctors’ compensation until the COVID-19 crisis is behind us.  Mr Kenney refuses to budge.

Why?

Mr Kenney says the budget must pass because the government needs spending authority by Mar 31.  This implies that the government will implode if the budget is not in place on April 1.  

Guess what, we’re not the US government, we don’t have to shut down and furlough staff because the government fails to pass a spending bill by a certain date. The Alberta government has the power to pass interim supply bills (which it does on a regular basis) and special warrants to pay as needed.

If Mr Kenney were inclined to address the challenges posed by the coronavirus, he could delay passing Budget 2020.  He simply chooses not to do so; likely because he’d have to revise the budget’s revenue forecasts which are wrongly based on rising oil prices. He simply doesn’t want to admit that economists like Trevor Tombe are predicting Alberta’s deficit will rise to $11-12 billion this year, $8-9 billion next year and $4 billion the year after that and our overall debt will balloon to over $100 billion.

Being afraid to admit you made a mistake is not effective leadership, it’s lunacy.

Instead of facing the music, Mr Kenney tried to fob off Alberta’s doctors and nurses with the promise that there will be no healthcare layoffs during the COVID-19 crisis. How nice, they can work until they drop and run a higher risk of being infected with COVID-19 than the general population…and get fired after the crisis has passed.  

Leadership?

Mr Kenney has been quick to respond to a failing economy by implementing a $4.7 billion corporate tax cut (which failed to create jobs) and a $30 million/year war room (which failed to improve the energy sector’s reputation).

He’s been slow to respond to a pandemic that threatens to upend Alberta’s healthcare systems and he continues to exacerbate the chaos and uncertainty by refusing to “pause” his government unilateral imposition of pay cuts on Alberta’s physicians.    

Thankfully our healthcare professionals will honour their commitment to care for us and our families.

They will lead us through this crisis while Mr Kenney huffs and puffs on the sidelines.  

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59 Responses to COVID-19: A Study in Leadership

  1. “LOCKDOWN” by Richard Hendrick ||| Yes, there is fear. Yes, there is isolation. Yes, there is panic buying. Yes, there is sickness. Yes, there is even death. But, They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise You can hear the birds again. They say that after just a few weeks of quiet The sky is no longer thick with fumes But blue and grey and clear. They say that in the streets of Assisi People are singing to each other across the empty squares, keeping their windows open so that those who are alone may hear the sounds of the family around them. They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound. Today a young woman I know is busy spreading fliers with her number through the neighborhood So that the elders may have someone to call on. Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples are preparing to welcome and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary. All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting; All over the world people are looking at their neighbors in a new way; All over the world, people are waking up to a new reality. To how big we really are. To how little control we really have. To what really matters. To Love. So we pray and we remember that Yes, there is fear. But there does not have to be hate. Yes, there is isolation. But there does not have to be loneliness. Yes, there is panic buying. But there does not have to be meanness. Yes, there is sickness. But there does not have to be the disease of the soul. Yes, there is even death. But there can always be a rebirth of love. Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now. Today, breathe. Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic. The birds are singing again. The sky is clearing, Spring is coming, And we are always encompassed by Love. Open the windows of your soul And though you may not be able to touch across the empty square, Sing.

    © Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM
    Mindfulness Ireland, March 13th 2020

    • Leo, this is a beautiful piece. Thank you!
      Part of me wonders whether COVID-19 coming when it did to Alberta will have a lasting impact on what we expect from our government and corporations. I note the Flames organization was publicly shamed into providing some compensation to part timers who lost their shifts when the Flames suspended the season. Support for doctors and nurses was strong before COVID-19 and has become even stronger. Surely the government is beginning to understand that it needs to revisit the budget and properly fund health and education , etc. .
      So perhaps some good will come of this yet.

      • Judy J. Johnson says:

        Ah, the unintended consequence of this rampaging virus is humanity’s latent goodness–so easy to overlook in these perilous times. It’s doing something to our hearts!
        Thanks Leo and Susan for your thoughtful posts!

      • Judy, what a lovely comment. Thank you.

  2. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. It is very evident that Jason Kenney and the UCP were not properly prepared to handle this situation. Their lack of planning, and their poorly constructed budget will only make matters worse. It clearly shows the immense ineptitude of the UCP. I saw a news report that a major recession is going to happen again, and it will effect Alberta very badly. Very high oil prices that we saw prior to 2014, are not the reality anymore. What else will the UCP be able to do?

    • Dwayne, what troubles me as much as the UCP’s deliberate attempt to undermine our public services is their utter lack of vision and flexibility in times of crisis. If the UCP government wants pointers on how a government should handle a crisis they should look at how the Notley government handled the Fort Mac fires. Notley appointed MLA Danielle Larivee to act as point person, Larivee liaised with all the impacted departments, the municipalities, and the feds. She gave status updates every day the Legislature was in session, she updated the public every single day. After grousing about Notley’s response even Brian Jean, the WR opposition leader, admitted Notley had done a good job.
      COVID-19 is much bigger than the Fort Mac fire, but Kenney has not yet appointed an MLA to act as crisis manager (standard procedure in corporations). If he doesn’t trust one or more of his MLAs to lead the government’s mitigation efforts, then we’re in big trouble because Kenney can’t do it alone, notwithstanding his belief that he’s the smartest person in the room. You can see this from his behavior to date. Rather than pulling the province together in this crisis, he’s still sniping at Trudeau. He’s hopeless.

  3. Keith McClary says:

    “Thankfully our healthcare professionals will honour their commitment to care for us and our families.”

    Do you mean “hopefully”? I would not blame them if they moved to where they are appreciated and valued.

    • Keith, fair point, I too wouldn’t blame our healthcare professionals if they decided they’d had enough and moved on. The temerity of Kenney and Shandro bashing doctors and nurses nonstop for months only to turn around when there’s a health crisis and pat them on the head is astounding. If they really mean it they can “pause” the doctor’s contract and negotiate with them in good faith. And they can boost the health budget to get the nurses back, but they won’t because Kenney refuses to back down.
      A good leader shifts his position as the facts change, a poor leader refuses to budge even if it kills him and everyone around him.

  4. Doug Hart says:

    Thanks again Susan, for another cogent critique.

  5. Bill Malcolm says:

    Leadership is not one of kenney’s qualities, it appears. He has a ruthless ideological plan to glorify himself and to dun folks who don’t think like those most stuffy of thinkers, rural Albertans and himself. Which is the belief in the myth of the wonderfulness of hard-working rugged individualism taking precedence over community, ignoring the course of human social history. The plan permits of no disturbances, external or otherwise, that would deflect it from its course. In other words, harperism but worse.

    The plan seems to have consisted of:

    1. Pump up the oil industry on behalf of the petro-wealthy companies and establish a propaganda outlet to actively repel real or imagined “attacks” on it. All to the exclusion of diversification of the economy, which even Saudi Arabia’s nutcase leader has been hard at putting into place.

    2. Attack Canada by threatening to take all his toys and go home unless the country handed even more free money over to the province besides continuous oil subsidies and depreciation allowances and a free pipeline, on the basis that Alberta despite being a complete spendthrift for decades, is owed, “owed” mind you!, extra money – we’ve had the privilege of having had Alberta as a province in Confederation, after all. The attitude is an extension of how wealthy people regard themselves as superior to the hoi polloi for no discernible intellectual reason and deserve extra tax breaks for being wonderful. It’s also a continuation of the tired old line that “the superior West” doesn’t get appreciated enough in Ottawa. We had harper for a decade of “Western” (Albertan) rule and it was a complete disaster of biased narrow-mindedness and adherence to the party line over government scientists who sported “minders” on international conferences in the grand old Stalin tradition, a man about as communist as a block of cheese.

    3. Bring back the old rubric that government is inefficient, thus justifying attacks on employees of same – this being extremely enjoyable for his lunatic mind because most of “those people” didn’t vote for his rule and deserve a kick in the rear for not bowing down to him. Government people are lazy people, and lazy people don’t want to work – every old maundering social tenet is exhumed in the pursuit of personal glory and to bolster existing close-minded prejudice.

    Missing from all this? Any sense of local community, merely the divide and conquer tactics of a sociopathic person interested only in himself and personal glorification. He saw the way to use the capitalism nonsense of the US, believed by selfish fools after decades of propaganda spread around the world, to accomplish his own ends. It admits of no need to unite a community and charity for the less fortunate, merely to set its factions at each others’ throats for personal gain. Flexibilty to address a crisis? Not there. Leadership? None whatsoever.

    The “appeal” to Notley to pass the budget unchanged is merely an extension of kenney’s being unable to think outside the box he has created in his mind. He cannot bear to contemplate that his plan is being derailed on so many fronts. He is inflexible. And pettily incapable of doing anything that might be described as change from his march to glory. Admit a mistake? No, people can die instead – he couldn’t care less about “people”. So you get only grudging acceptance of public health’s professional advice, and no sign of imagination to counteract the virus whatsoever. It’s all so highly inconvenient for an ideologue to be deflected from his cunning pre-planned course, so will be resisted and blame laid elsewhere when things inevitably go south. If that’s not sociopathic then tell me why not.

    My opinionated thoughts.

    • Bill, this is a wonderful overview of Jason Kenney and the predicament Albertans have put themselves in (it’s nobody’s fault but our own). I agree 100% that Kenney is rigid and narrow, that’s obvious from the way he responded to this crisis. He was in Ottawa for the Premier’s meeting when the pandemic blew up, rather than changing gears he continued to rattle on about the need for Trudeau to bail out our economy (we broke it, but it’s the rest of Canada’s job to fix it).
      I can’t wait to see the recommendations from the Jack Mintz committee. They’ll be obsolete before they hit the table, but Kenney will push them anyway because all he knows is cut taxes for corporations so they’ll create jobs, repeat, repeat, repeat.
      I suppose I should be glad he’s not trying to muzzle our Chief Medical Officer. Thank god for small mercies.

  6. ET says:

    Time for everyone to work together.

  7. J.E. Molnar says:

    The ride to “hell in a hand-basket” just got a little more precarious.

    The first thing Jason Kenney should do—but won’t—is rescind the ham-fisted corporate tax cut that siphons $4.7 billion from the public treasury. Stuffing the pockets of shareholders and CEOs (with bonus cash) is utterly obtuse and half-baked. There has been no tangible or appreciable uptick in job creation as a result of his hare-brained corporate welfare scheme, and there likely won’t be for the foreseeable future. Now is not the time —during a nosedive in oil prices with Alberta staring down a COVID-19 pandemic—to play economic Russian roulette and gamble with taxpayer dollars. This province needs better leadership.

    • jerrymacgp says:

      I don’t disagree, but … based on his appointment of U of C economics professor Jack Mintz to head yet another “panel” on the economy, I think we can all expect the Kenney Government to double down on its failing “trickle-down” neo-Reaganomics. We’re in for challenging times.

      Three years to the next election … *sigh*.

      • carlos beca says:

        I fully agree – he will continue his march to his Ayn Rand/Harper/Society does not exist paradise. We cannot forget that this mentality has been on for 30 years. These people are like a cult. Until they are sure they will not be the next Jeff Bezos they will push hard as billionaires in waiting. Jason Kenney is one of the most addicted members of the cult I have ever seen so we will not have any breaks. He will not change the budget and he will not deviate from his objective, which is not at all concerned with society. We are individuals in a permanent survival of the fittest battle with each other. This explains the constant bullying, arrogance and picking fights with everyone.
        He will use the nurses, teachers and doctors while we are in this crisis and will bully them again right after if not even while in it. He has already said that doctors will not move anywhere because they have it too good here. A continuation of the great Klein times where the public servants were called cheque grabbers.

      • Carlos, sometimes I wonder if this is as much about power as it is about money. The thing about politics is it gives someone like Kenney as much power as the Jeff Bezos without forcing him take any of the risks Bezos took early on in his career.
        For a politician it’s simpler. Other peoples’ money supports their election campaigns and gets them elected. Once they’re in office they can use other peoples’ money to do whatever they want, bestow whatever favours they’d like, and once they’re pushed out of power they land on their feet in the business community, sitting on boards and becoming highly paid lobbyists. It’s wonderful and we foot the bill.
        Now having said all that I don’t believe Rachel Notley or her team fits this characterization. They truly believe it’s their job to make life better for everyone.

      • Dwayne says:

        jerrymacgp: I have a feeling that Jason Kenney and the UCP will do whatever it takes to be in power for longer than just a 4 year term. He is that power driven. I know from being in Alberta all my life, that Alberta has a virtual one party state in politics. It was well known with the Alberta PCs, and with the Social Credit Party.

      • Fair point Dwayne. When I attended the UofC policy school panel on the budget last week, one of the panelists said Albertans like to see themselves as mavericks and risk takers, but they went nuts when Notley was elected because all they’d ever known was decades of PC rule and they were afraid of change. That is a really sad statement, don’t you think.

      • Jerry, apparently the Mintz committee is supposed deliver an economic stimulus package. Kenney is talking with Mintz about it today and it is scheduled to be released on Friday. I can’t wait to see it.
        Shall we place bets on how much of our tax dollars will be siphoned off to corporations and how much will make its way down to waitresses trying to feed themselves and their families?

    • JE, I couldn’t agree with you more. The amount of dollars wasted on corporate welfare and propaganda is mind boggling. The Friends of Medicare issued a letter this morning that said “pausing” healthcare cuts is not the way to go (I agree). They itemized the damage coming from Budget. 2020 This includes the following reductions:
      • $117 M less in acute care funding
      • $12 M less for population and public health
      • $46 M less to in diagnostic, therapeutic and other patient services
      • $34 M less for drugs and supplemental health benefits
      That’s a $200 million shortfall in healthcare alone. And yet we still run around boasting that we’re the best and the brightest because we have the lowest taxes and no PST. Duh!

    • Ronmac, it’s funny you mentioned patriotic memes. Kenney’s “faith and hope” speech started with the statement that “Canadians including Albertans soldiered through the twin catastrophes of war and disease and then got on with building our country into the most durably peaceful and prosperous place on earth throughout the 20th century.” From there he went on about “our free and democratic society, our free-market economy, our prudent stewardship of our natural resources and our civic virtue as a welcoming and pluralistic society” and closed with a call for government(s) to intervene to support “families and businesses across all of the little platoons of our society.” Platoons of our society?
      He worked really hard to get the war imagery in there, but it sounded silly.
      Maybe he was going for a Churchillesque “we shall fight on the beaches” thing, but he was talking about a pandemic, not a world war.

  8. Jim Cameron says:

    Is Jason Kenney and his war room attacking dissenting opinions of the UCP government? That’s the first thing that should be cut from his budget.

    • Good question Jim. Given all the UCP MLAs who’ve anonymously voiced concern over cuts in the health budget (especially those in rural areas who are hearing loud and clear their constituents are not happy about losing their doctors) you have to wonder why the public hasn’t heard more about this.

  9. CallmeHal2000 says:

    The biggest deficit in Alberta is a leadership deficit.

    Politicking at Edmonton’s airport yesterday, complaining that Trudeau should be doing a better job about coronavirus screening? He reminded me of a man on a box at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, rambling on. What has Kenney done? Nothing, a big zero, until today. Sure, he’s throwing money at it as of now, but he has also promised to pass the budget no matter what. And that budget still provides for nurses and other healthcare workers to be laid off.

    It’s almost as if Kenney has never experienced hardship of any kind personally, so great is his inability to deal with it. The man lacks humanity. Human experience is out of his realm. You can’t get blood from a stone, and you can’t expect human empathy and compassion from someone who is incapable of such things. At this point, he should get out of the way. He is a disgrace.

    • carlos beca says:

      DISGRACE – yes I cannot agree more – it is embarrassing to see this man on television and when he talks I feel nausea. He apparently hates communists but that is only because he acts like the old Stalinist in Russia. No wonder Stalin had no problem causing 20 million deaths as a consequence of his policies. No empathy and no social skills of any kind. Apparently it is a characteristic of the UCP government. The women behave like witches and the men like full blown post graduate idiots.
      Where are the old conservatives in that party? People that had their ideology but were regular human beings. All I can see is horrible robots with the worse possible Artificial Intelligence. Jason Kenney yesterday looked like data with a faulty battery.

      • Dwayne says:

        carlos beca: I have two great grandparents, three grandparants, and other relatives who came from Eastern Europe. They left places like Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Galicia (the Polish/Ukrainian border area), in the early 1900s, and after that, because it was so bad there. I am aware of the history of the different Slavic countries in my background, and know it was not pretty under Joseph Stalin, and under other bad dictators. The UCP seem to have a disdain for democracy, because they have done things, without asking Albertans about them. Their policies are certainly not helping anyone. If you have a lot of money, you won’t feel the effects of what the UCP are doing.

      • Carlos and Dwayne, your discussion about the UCP’s ideology and how they call anyone who disagrees with them socialists or communists is interesting. As you say, their ideology bears little resemblance to the conservative ideology of yore. The other day I was talking to a retired Conservative senator who said politics today has become very polarized and antagonistic. When I asked him how that happened he said the caliber of people in politics nowadays leaves a lot to be desired. Incidentally this man was was an old style conservative and no fan of Jason Kenney.

      • carlos beca says:

        I think that we have an obligation here to clarify what our daily newspapers no longer do.
        Example – we continue to call China a communist country – can anyone explain to me what is communist in China? They have an active market. They do not have social programs worth mentioning, and they have private companies everywhere. China is a capitalism dictatorship period.
        Jason Kenney is not a conservative, he is an unprincipled extreme right winger, better known as fascists. The media tries to confuse us but we should stand up to it.

    • CallmeHal, Kenney’s trip to the airport was bizarre. I get that it’s part of his modus operandi intended to deflect attention from his failed economic strategy (corporate tax cuts do not create jobs, and putting all your eggs in one basket can lead to disaster) by going after Trudeau again. But if he’s truly concerned about infected travelers getting into the province why didn’t he close Alberta’s borders under the province’s emergency act powers? Instead we got photos of the back of Kenney’s head while he looks at someone walking by. That’s pathetic.

    • Dwayne says:

      CallmeHal2000: This is the only way I can respond to a post of yours below. Casinos will not close because VLT’s are a major source of revenue for Alberta. They came into Alberta under either Don Getty, or Ralph Klein. (I think Ralph Klein got them put in.) Looking at the current price of oil, the Alberta government needs another source of revenue. Sadly, VLTs are the source.

      • Arne Johre says:

        I guess that this is the other arm of our diverse economy in this province, oil and casinos, What a sad reflection on 45 years of Conservative management. BROKE BROKE BROKE without one cent contributed to the HERITAGE TRUST FUND since 1986 …. Where has all the money gone? !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Also the privatization of our profitable Crown Corporations that use to generate revenues to support our Healthcare, Schools, Parks and many other public venues ….GONE. And not a cent to the Heritage Trust Fund (the public savings Account). But Oh Yes those with money to invest did very well on these privatizations getting shares at rock bottom prices. Properties sold for fire sale prices. I guess working people were to busy trying to make day to day livings to notice the Conservative thieves in the AB gov’t Bank Vaults. The Cormies and Pocklington relations with ATB and other favoured status with Conservative influentials and insiders …. will the Alberta Public ever learn. Sadly I doubt it ….

      • Arne, you’ve asked the $64 million question: Where has all the money gone? As you point out many “friends of the government” found themselves richly rewarded with privatization opportunities and board appointments, particularly in the field of healthcare. The entire experience was a fiasco. And now Jason Kenney intends to do it again. We need to fight this tooth and nail. I suggest we start by reminding the government that the healthcare professionals stood by us, even when the government was attacking their compensation and job security, and now we’ll stand by them. We will need to take to the streets when the pandemic runs its course to protect our publicly funded and publicly delivered healthcare system.

  10. prhumphreys says:

    Is Kenney’s $500 million the one we’re receiving from the Federal government?

  11. Allie says:

    When Mr Kenney announced the $500 million commitment he said, “Alberta’s public health workers are doing an outstanding job, and we are here to support them with whatever they need.” If he really meant it, he’d *take* another look at Budget 2020.

    Noticed an omitted word. *take*

  12. carlos beca says:

    I thought Alison Redford’s record could not be beaten – Was I ever wrong
    With each day the premier gets worse and worse – this is like having a double corona virus
    Now they terminated the radiologists. Is this a joke in the middle of the most difficult crisis since the second world war? is this man actually sane? Was this Health Minister released by mistake from the Alberta Hospital?

    • Carlos, you’re absolutely right about the heartlessness of this government. We need our healthcare professionals now more than ever and the UCP continues to kick them in the teeth.
      I heard a CBC interview with a community care nurse who works for a private company contracted by the Ont government to provide community care. She says she may have to quit because she doesn’t have the right personal protective equipment and as such is putting her own health and the health of all her patients at risk. I was struck by the fact the company could have purchased PPE when this mess started in January, but didn’t because, well you know, stockpiling inventories cuts into profits, right? This is another example of what happens when public services are privatized: profit first, people second.

  13. GoinFawr says:

    For anyone who isn’t taking this seriously I have a analogous game they can play: put 25 slips of paper labelled 1-25 into a hat, and then pick a number between 1 and 25. Mix up the slips and take one out of the hat, If you drew the number you chose you die.

    Nobody wants to play that game.

    • Agreed, GoinFawr. So how do we explain those idiotic university students who insisted on going to Florida for March break because (1) “corona” is overblown, (2) if I die, I die, and (3) I worked hard and deserve a break.
      In my opinion if you want to run the risk of killing yourself, fine, but don’t take others down with you. Unbelievably selfish.

      • GoinFawr says:

        ‘Selfish’, or ‘payback’?
        Either are at least a bit reprehensible I suppose.
        https://images.dailykos.com/images/778991/story_image/rebuttal.png?1584475882

      • carlos beca says:

        Yes Selfish or payback ?

        The US Mafia continues pocketing every penny they can while others watch without any power to change it and those without money to pay for insurance have to pay for their tests. Seriously? What a great nation. I think payback and social crisis is more like it. Russia fell in 1989 and so did the US. One was immediately visible the other is slowly getting rot.

        Selfish or Hopeless?

  14. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Did you see the current price of oil today? It is now below $22 per barrel. Scary stuff indeed. WCS is also very low in price. I read that the low oil prices will remain for quite a while. I would not be surprised if oil goes below $20 per barrel. What will Jason Kenney do then?

    • Dwayne, yes, oil prices are tanking. The only positive thing that can come from this is Albertans may finally realize they’re insane to put all their eggs in one basket. Our only hope now is a federal bailout. Kenney keeps saying oil and gas provides 20% of Canada’s GDP. He’s wrong, it’s closer to 11%. We’re not special but we continue to act like we are. I wish we’d grow up and start taking responsibility for the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Meanwhile our fate is in the hands of our fellow Canadians. I wonder how the Wexiteers feel about that.

      • carlos beca says:

        Susan you are absolutely right – I am sure everyone has noticed that the threats to separate somehow disappeared – is this me?
        Are the Wexiteers so darn soft? They were screaming murder just a week ago
        They are no freedom fighters after all unless there is money to be made.
        The premier for the first time is behaving regular – no swagger, no threats, no bullying unless of course it is off camera, when they can stab under the table while the NDP is distracted. They approved their own completely useless budget but it had to be approved so that it remains in history as the toughest budget ever by the courageous Wexiteers.

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I was right. I saw the price of oil today. It was $19.84 per barrel. This is really crazy. I recall hearing that for every dollar that the price of oil drops, it is a major loss of revenue for Alberta. I remember hearing that oil prices need to be at around $80.00 per barrel, to help Alberta’s economy function properly. That was over 10 years ago now. I think it’s at least $100 per barrel now. Triple digit oil prices are not coming back. I just can’t fathom that.

  15. Keith McClary says:

    As part of the CO-19 package the federal government is bailing out the Alberta oil industry’s Orphan Well Fund. I don’t think Alberta has yet passed regulations to prevent orphaning, so I expect there will be a rush to do so while the free money flows.

    Also, the Cons are demanding an end to the carbon tax.
    ————————————
    “Trump’s Coronavirus Calendar” – 1 minute video:
    https://climatecrocks.com/2020/03/18/republican-consultant-we-built-this-moment/

  16. Keith, the article you attached to your comment clearly demonstrate the damage an idiotic leader of an ideologically warped party can wreck on a country. It looks like Trump’s about face (COVID-19 is real) is too little, too late. The article states a new poll from NPR, PBS NewsHour and Marist shows the number of Republicans who believe the virus is a real threat has fallen over the past month, from 72% in Feb to just 40% now, and a majority of Republicans now say the threat has been blown out of proportion — more than double the 23 percent who said so last month. If this continues many Americans will die.

    Thank god Trudeau managed to close the Can/US border. I know people complained he took too long but Bruce Heyman, US ambassador to Canada under Obama, said Trudeau had to achieve three things in order to make this work. He needed to (1) protect all Canadians, (2) keep the flow of goods and services going and (3) not “ruffle” Trump.

    That’s why it took a while.

  17. janewestman says:

    Susan, my dear dependable advocate for social justice, you have hit it out of the park with this blog. Thank you!
    I am hoping that somehow this crisis is identified as the worst sort of karma to send a message to Kenney that he simply must reverse his position on the cutbacks in our public sector services, programs, and personnel. We Albertans need to devise a way to demand that the UCP advocate FOR us … we need accountability and productivity in that direction.
    My friend, Verna, advocates tirelessly and has recently been heard to advise that the $120M budgeted for the War Room over this four years should be diverted to fight the REAL war … to fight the war on this virus! …. Maybe Verna should be premier!
    Thank you, Susan, for your wise and tireless blogging … that brings us to attention!

  18. CallmeHal2000 says:

    Why do I have a growing sense of unease today? Because Jason Kenney has appointed Stephen Harper and AIMCo to his economic recovery panel, among others. I seem to recall that Stephen Harper was voted out of office because the people of Canada did not want him running the country. Right? And now here he is, unelected, and interfering in the affairs of Alberta. This pretty much confirms what I’ve believed all along. Stephen Harper is the puppet master.

    This comes on the same day Jason Kenney announced that we are about to enter 1930s austerity. This is not a coincidence. Stephen Harper will see to it. Double down on those corporate tax cuts. The trickle-down effect of zero is zero. “Mom and pop” landlords, go ahead and evict jobless Albertans before they can collect benefits. Kenney has no plans to stop you.

    AIMCo is moving on from teachers’ pensions. They’re about to make the play for our Canada Pension Plan. Mark my words, it’s on. Stephen Harper will see to it.

    We have learned, too, that private healthcare will be 190 percent more expensive than public medicine. Dial-a-docs in a call centre somewhere get $38 per phone call from our government on Babylon to talk to random Albertans. Real doctors in real Alberta offices get $20 for phone consultations, and they actually know their clients. Doctors may have won the battle with the UCP, but they have lost the war. Patients are too afraid to visit their offices during this pandemic, and $20 calls won’t pay overhead. We are about to lose our doctors in the midst of this pandemic. Machiavelli would be so proud.

    Just for fun, I looked up Babylon on Wikipedia.
    “…in Jewish tradition, Babylon symbolizes an oppressor against which righteous believers must struggle. In Christianity, Babylon symbolizes worldliness and evil. Prophecies sometimes symbolically link the kings of Babylon with Lucifer.” It goes on about a
    “scarlet beast with seven heads and ten horns, and drunk on the blood of the righteous.” And there’s that tower, too. What were they thinking when they called it Babylon? These guys know what it means. Darkness.

    • carlos beca says:

      I could not agree more.
      Jason Kenney just like with the running to the top UCP post is creating his network for the next phase of his paradise building. He got his prophet Harper. They will save the province and transform it into a non-regulated market fundamentalist no questions asked black hole.
      Another war room to push his agenda.

    • Thanks for the link Ted. I note the article says part of being a good leader is the ability to persuade many to act in the collective good. I don’t think Kenney understands the meaning of the “collective good” and has no real interest in going there.
      Stay healthy.

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