On Nov 13, 2020 when:
- The number of confirmed covid cases in Alberta smashed through the 1000 cases a day threshold and covid threatens to swamp Alberta’s healthcare system, and
- 430 doctors and three healthcare unions are desperately calling for a targeted “circuit breaker” lockdown, and
- Albertans are (still) waiting for an explanation of how the “fiscally conservative” UCP government managed to screw up its books to the tune of $1.6 billion (billion!), and
- Mr Kenney said betting $1.5 billion (billion!) on Donald Trump winning the presidential election was “an essential hedge against [the] political risk” that Mr Trudeau would not complete the TMX pipeline…
…on this day the Kenney government issued a press release headlined: Premier’s use of RV drives down tour costs.
I beg your pardon?
It turns out Mr Kenney went on a 5-day road trip from June 29 to July 3 to visit twelve southern Alberta municipalities. He had 24 stops (defined as “announcements, events, private meetings, and media interviews”) along the way.
And here’s the good news, he saved Albertans billions, nope make that millions, sorry thousands, nope hundreds (hundreds!) of dollars by sharing a rented RV with three of his staff instead of spending 5 nights in a hotel.
Wait! There’s more!
Total expenses for the premier and the 3 staff traveling with him totaled $2866. Of this amount Mr Kenney’s personal share was a mere $103. That’s $20.60 per day. Which means the average personal expense claim for each of Mr Kenney’s staff was $184.20 per day. (I can just picture Mr Kenney sitting in the corner like Oliver Twist begging his staff for one more spoonful of gruel).
Oh and in case you’re wondering, the RV rental cost was $1500 and fuel was $268.
To say the least, this is a bizarre announcement.
Why this? Why now?
The purpose of a government media release is to get the government’s message out to the public. The message should be about something important that the government wants the public to be aware of and to support.
Okay, what is this media release about and why was it issued on Nov 13?
Well, maybe it’s easier to figure out what it’s not about.
It’s not about ensuring Albertans are aware the government has made a number of “job-creating” investments because those investments were announced separately between June 29 and July 3.
It’s not about advising Albertans that since the July 1 long weekend the number of covid cases has risen alarmingly (as of today the total case number is 38,338 with 401 deaths) and that the only way to flatten the curve is to trigger a lockdown if certain clear metrics are not met. Of course, that would require Mr Kenney to admit his admonition to “knock it off” isn’t working.
It’s certainly not about the importance of masking and social distancing. When Mr Kenney and his staff weren’t hobnobbing with local dignitaries they were jammed cheek by jowl in a rented RV. Did they wear masks when they slept, did they sanitize the RV after returning from a hard day of glad handing? Does Mr Kenney snore? (sorry, that just slipped out, I really don’t want to know).
It appears that the purpose of this media release is to inform Albertans facing an uncertain financial future and struggling with a healthcare system in danger of collapse that Mr Kenney is doing his part: he saved Albertans hundreds (hundreds!) of dollars on the July 1 weekend by sharing a rented RV with 3 of his employees instead of staying at a Motel 6. Oh and let’s not forget he ate and drank sparingly as his personal expense account will attest.
On Friday Nov 13, the Energy Minister, Sonya Savage also issued a media release. She expressed her displeasure with Michigan’s decision to file a legal challenge that could force the closure of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline.
Unlike her boss, Ms Savage did not suggest Michigan’s governor, Ms Whitmer and its Attorney-General, Ms Nessel were “brain dead.”
All this is to say things are well and truly bonkers out here in the land of the people of destiny, the proud people of the buffalo, or whatever it is Jason Kenney is calling his loyal subjects nowadays.