Covid-19 and Jason Kenney is MIA

Remember Nov 13, 2020 when Jason Kenney said “Covid is starting to win and we cannot let that happen…This two-week push is, I believe our last chance to avoid more restrictive measures.” 

Just for context that same day Dr Rosenblum, an Edmonton ER doc, said the healthcare system was within 10 days to 14 days of collapse.

Fast forward to Sunday Nov 22 (10 days into Dr Rosenblum’s pre-collapse period). Our covid stats are through the roof. We recorded 1,584 new cases, 319 are in in hospital and 60 of these are in intensive care. This is a new record.  

Hospitals in Edmonton and Calgary are running at 120-percent capacity (hospitals are not factories, running over capacity is not a good thing). Alberta’s contact tracers are overwhelmed, 88% of cases have no known source of exposure, 73% of the 70 ICU beds earmarked for youth covid patients are in use and our $925,000 contact tracing app tracked 19 (that’s right, 19) cases.

Mr Kenney says “knock it off!”

Albertans are looking to Mr Kenney for leadership. But he’s missing in action.

Is anyone in charge?      

Given Mr Kenney’s disappearing act Albertans are turning to other cabinet ministers for answers.

On Friday the Associate Minister of Health, Juan Luan said if the number of cases doesn’t plateau cabinet will likely receive a recommendation from Dr Hinshaw to impose more restrictive measures. He said, “Our criteria is measured against our hospital capacity to handle ICUs and hospitalizations so we’re waiting to see where that threshold will be pushed to our limit and then gradually reduce more activities that way.”  

What? We will wait to see if we push the limit (which is what exactly?) and then gradually reduce activities (no circuit-breakers) in the hope that we catch up to the spike?

No, wait, scratch that.

Mr Luan just issued a retraction saying he was “incorrect in suggesting anyone is waiting until we’re pushed to the limit” and added, just so we’re clear, that he had no business speaking to the covid  issue because he’s not involved “in any decision making around introducing new restrictions or hospital capacity,”

If a cabinet minister and associate minister of health is not involved in decision making around covid restrictions or hospital capacity, then who is? 

Well, we all know it’s not Dr Hinshaw. She made it crystal clear she only provides recommendations to Mr Kenney that he chooses to follow or not, depending on, well, whatever.   

We also know it’s not the Health Minister Mr Shandro, who declared war on doctors and front-line healthcare workers in the middle of the pandemic, but is of no help whatsoever when it comes to covid-related issues. Case in point, last week Rachel Notley asked him to provide the projected covid case number and R value for Dec 1. He told her to look at the modelling information Mr Kenney had provided last April. 

The April model? The one Mr Kenney said projected covid to peak in May? The one that no one bothered to update since?

Well, what about the R value for covid for Dec 1? Mr Shandro ducked the question, sorry folks.  

So if Alberta’s covid strategy is not in the hands of the chief medical officer, the health minister and the associate health minister it must be in the hands of the premier himself.  

All eyes turn to Mr Kenney. Sorry, he’s still missing in action. (Albertans are so concerned about his nonappearance that #KenneyIsMissing is trending Canada-wide).

Recommendations

Perhaps Mr Kenney disappeared because he has no strategy.

If so, he could ask the epidemiologists, clinicians and public health officials for assistance or maybe he could consider what’s worked and what hasn’t worked in other jurisdictions. He could impose a “circuit-breaker” lockdown of eight, six, four, or two weeks or if that’s a bridge too far, he could start small by making masking mandatory and by replacing his failed contact tracing app with the federal contact tracing app.

Or he could do nothing at all because Albertans are people of destiny, stalwart souls, who would rather die than harm the economy.  

Message from the economists

Mr Kenney lives in an ideological world made up of black and white choices. His default position is: whatever it is, it better be good for the economy. 

This black and white decision-making model led Mr Kenney to present Albertans with a false dichotomy, a choice of protecting the economy or protecting people against the virus, when in fact his government can and should do both.

Economists like Aidan Hollis say the real question is not: how do we balance economic impact against excess deaths, but rather: when should politicians act to minimize deaths and morbidity and to protect the economy. The right time to act is before covid overwhelms our hospitals, politicians must get ahead of the curve and impose restrictions now when they’re in a better position to reduce harm to the economy and reduce the number of excess deaths. Economist Trevor Tombe agrees. He says, “There can be no sustained economic recovery without controlling the virus. Period.”

False dichotomies and logical fallacies

While we’re on the topic of illogical arguments, let’s consider two ridiculous arguments offered in support of Mr Kenney’s refusal to take decisive action:   

  • The number of covid deaths (451) pales in comparison to the total deaths in 2018-19 (26,037). By this logic we should stop donating to the Heart and Stroke fund because in 2018 there were only 371 deaths from congestive heart failure and we can skip Movember because there were only 398 prostate cancer deaths. Covid, unlike heart disease or prostate cancer, is a highly infectious disease, the focus on the number of covid deaths arises from a concern about the impact of deaths and illnesses that increase exponentially.  
  • The risk of death is small and if our $20 billion healthcare system can’t handle the surge without shutting down shops and restaurants, the fault lies with the healthcare system, not the premier. This misses the point that the purpose of the shutdown is to stop the exponential spread of this highly infectious disease (that’s what “flatten the curve” means) because failure to do so will create a tsunami that will overwhelm the healthcare system causing needless deaths as well as shutting down the economy because people who are afraid of dying or are at home taking care of the sick and dying are not out shopping.

Consequences

Mr Kenney has jammed Albertans between a rock and a hard place.

He won’t fund the additional resources required to protect our healthcare workers, teachers and long-term care workers.  He won’t provide additional financial support to Albertans working in essential services or unable to work because they’re ill or caring for someone who is ill (Finance Minister Toews blithely tells such Albertans to access federal programs because it’s their equalization money).

Notwithstanding Mr Kenney’s promise to give Albertans a “hand up” in hard times, he won’t give them a hand up when they need it most.

Fine, Albertans aren’t idiots. They’ll remember who was in charge when the second and third wave hit and Mr Kenney will pay the political price because to paraphrase economist Aidan Hollis, no one is going to worry that the government acted too aggressively to protect its population, but they won’t look kindly on a government that let its citizens die.

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85 Responses to Covid-19 and Jason Kenney is MIA

  1. Elaine Fleming says:

    The pandemic is becoming very close and personal for most Albertans now. I feel so much for the doctors and nurses in the hospitals who are dealing with the horror show of the daily intake of victims of the virus- more severely ill people by the day, all ages, and people who are “crashing” right before their eyes. Photo images from Alberta Health Services of doctors in Covid units on their knees at the telephone at the nursing station giving the dreadful news to peoples’ families that their loved ones have died. Alone, gasping for air in their Covid pneumonia. Good God- who can deal with that day after day? And then they go home, and have to come back to a worse situation? All the while knowing their government leaders don’t have their backs, or are even are around to care. This is truly the opposite of how things should be, and all of us are in trouble.

    • Elaine, well said. I can’t imagine how our healthcare professionals and support staff go into work every day to this and knowing it will continue to get worse the longer Kenney dithers.
      Albertans are beyond frustrated. I saw a tweet by one of my law profs in response to a recent Kenney tweet about the growth of the Edmonton housing market being a hopeful sign. My prof responded “Rome and fiddling; the Titanic and deck chairs. What’s this about “hopeful signs”?
      This is a colossal failure of leadership!

  2. Mary Axworthy says:

    Right on Susan! To me, the absolutely shame was minimizing the deaths by Covid as compared to other diseases, as you have pointed out. The Herald editorials by Corbella and Smith praising him for leading the most “free” approach to COVID should be called out. The most “free” and the most infected! I really feel for small businesses. They are not responsible for this. Government must provide support, as costly as it is. Plus, healthcare workers. What can I say. Thanks so much fir your words. Mary

    On Sun, Nov 22, 2020, 7:35 PM Susan on the Soapbox, wrote:

    > susanonthesoapbox posted: ” Remember Nov 13, 2020 when Jason Kenney said > “Covid is starting to win and we cannot let that happen…This two-week > push is, I believe our last chance to avoid more restrictive measures.” > Just for context that same day Dr Rosenblum, an Edmonton” >

    • I agree Mary. These editorials feed into the fears of the uneducated. I received a comment that started with “covid is just a cold” and ended with “this is communism”. I won’t publish the comment. People who hold these beliefs can post them on the conspiracy website of their choice.
      And in case the person who sent in the comment is reading this, no this is not me violating your freedom of speech. Read the Charter.

  3. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. I see that the premier of Alberta is pulling Ralph Klein style antics, including laying off workers in the education and healthcare sector of Alberta, (hundreds of registered nurses will be laid off next), denying there is a bad situation, (leaving the problems to someone else to fix), blame shifting, and skipping his legislative duties as premier. Ralph Klein had also missed numerous legislative sessions too. It was his cabinet minister, Stockwell Day, (we footed his expensive lawsuit fees), who reduced legislative sittings, thinking it would save Alberta money. Cases of covid in Alberta are going up at a rapid rate, and the premier of Alberta isn’t helping make things more bearable. The proverbial icing on the cake is UCP MLA, for Banff-Kananaskis, Miranda Rosin, who sent out pamphlets to her constituents that the worst of covid is behind us. They give Juno awards for the best female vocalist, the best guitarist, the song of the year, and so on. There should be an award for the most misinformed MLA. Miranda Rosin would get it. The residents of Banff-Kananaskis had a good MLA, a registered nurse, by the name of Cam Westhead, who was in the NDP. Look who they elected now. Cam Westhead at least has many years of experience as a registered nurse. Miranda Rosin hasn’t even got a clue. I think the UCP have already reached their best before date, quite a while ago. The damage they are doing to Alberta, financially, and with the improper handling of the covid pandemic in Alberta isn’t helping anyone. Alberta’s debt is going to hit the $100 billion mark, very soon. This isn’t going to be good. If 2020 was bad, 2021 will likely be far worse.

    • Dwayne, your comment about Ralph Klein was bang on the money for two reasons, the ones you give above and the fact that our healthcare system barely recovered from the Klein cuts before it was hit again with the Kenney budget cuts (the healthcare budget did not stay the same no matter what Kenney says because it failed to account for population growth and inflation) and his egregious treatment of doctors, nurses and front line workers in the middle of a pandemic.
      And Miranda Rosin’s stunt where she sent out a flyer to her constituents saying the worst of the covid pandemic was “behind us” was appalling. She said this mistake was the result of printing and mailing delays which caused the flyer to land in mail boxes just as the covid numbers were spiking. That tells me she had no clue we were heading into the second wave. She’s a member of Kenney’s government. The Kenney government has daily access to Dr Hinshaw who has been warning about this for weeks. Miranda Rosen has no excuse.
      As you point out, this government’s handling of covid on top of its other blunders shows Albertans just how incompetent this government is.

  4. Dawn Friesen says:

    Outstanding. You nailed it. After a pretty restless thinking day – now I can settle in to bed and know that you captured the issue and many people are reading it. We are not alone. Thank you Dawn

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Thanks Dawn. I was talking to Scott Schmidt of the Medicine Hat News the other day. He said something to the effect that when we raise our voices we help bring about change. I believe him.
      The Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid tweeted that Kenney’s cabinet is meeting today to settle on new covid measures and will announce them on Tuesday.
      I think Juan Luan’s comments forced Kenney’s hand. We’ll see whether Kenney’s measures have teeth or will be another example of “too little, too late”.

  5. Ted Woynillowicz says:

    Well written, Susan.Just wondering if Tyler Shandro, Alberta’s intrepid health minister, is hiding out under his bed waiting for the pandemic to be over? His pathetic and dystopian non leadership skills are so hostile to the public good.

    • GoinFawr says:

      It seems to me Tyler Shandro, and ‘Dr.’ Hodkinson, along with the rest of the UCP health’care’ privatization team are saying to Albertans,

      “That’s a nice public healthcare system you have going there, it sure would be a shame if something was to come along and overwhelm it….”

      Right out the “Disaster Capitalism” playbook.

      ps

      Susan, FTR and FWIW to your right wing loony readers:

      Actual capitalism is not only awesome, but absolutely necessary for a fair and functioning society. It is a critically important tool for amassing wealth for any individual (or even collective), but like any tool it is wholly amoral, so its righteousness lies completely in the hand wielding it. In other words: it wants mitigating.

      Because, as ‘Laissez-faire’ has proven over the last 40 years, unmitigated capitalism opens the doors wide to “Disaster Capitalism”, which is NOT righteous.

      • GoinFawr: I love the way you phrase things.
        Although on a serious note I suspect the UCP government is busy prettying up many medical facilities (it’s all part of their relaunch strategy) so they’ll be more attractive to private buyers.
        Thank you for the lesson in capitalism. I’m slowing plowing through Jim Stanford’s book on economics. He makes the observation that Homo sapiens existed for 100,000 years and capitalism existed for 250 years and if you put the entire existence of Homo sapiens into a 24 hour day then capitalism will have existed for three and a half minutes. His point is there are many ways to manage the economy and just because certain ways of managing the economy exist doesn’t mean they should continue to exist unchanged.
        Hopefully we’re at an inflection point and unmitigated capitalism will become a thing of the past.

    • Ted, one place Shandro has not been is his constituency office. Four hours ago someone posted a photo on Twitter showing the front door of his office which is plastered with signs saying “471 dead and counting” “Tyler is a failure”, “Resign” and “The UCP’s negligence is killing Albertans”
      Yup, that about sums it up.

  6. Jac says:

    Great piece. Just a comment that it’s prostate cancer not prostrate cancer.

    • Thanks Jac, I fixed it.
      My mind must have short circuited to prostrate — lying flat on the ground in humility, submission, adoration. or helpless. A word that would describe how we feel in the face of Kenney’s lack of leadership, but not appropriate in the context of cancer.
      Much appreciated.

  7. Valerie Jobson says:

    Kenney is a coward and tries to avoid situations where he might be blamed or held to account or even asked difficult questions. What is Shandro’s excuse? Maybe Kenney is sick this time.

    A few things I’ve been wondering about – there was a report that Ford was sitting on the money given by the federal gov’t for covid-19 measures in Ontario. What about the money given to Alberta? Has Kenney spent it and upon what?

    Do the premiers from that infamous Maclean’s cover keep in close touch and coordinate their covid-19 policies and strategies and non-action? Who dominates their conversations? One of them? Harper? Other?

    Did Kenney and the UCP think they could use their app for contact tracing and thus avoid having to hire actual real people to do it? Did they think at all over the summer?

    It will all come out in the history books, but I don’t really want to wait that long.

    • Great questions Valerie. Ones to which I have no answers.
      However the question about why Kenney wanted to his own app and steadfastly refuses to use the federal app (one of his MLAs calls “the Trudeau app”) makes me wonder whether the app is part of Kenney’s ongoing effort to one-up Trudeau.
      I’m reminded of a mantra we used to use in business: sometimes it’s better to be the fast follower of something that works, than the first mover to announce a dud.

      • Valerie Jobson says:

        It probably is his way to one-up Trudeau, but I wonder if it also gave him an excuse to avoid hiring more contact tracers over the summer.

    • jerrymacgp says:

      Ms Jobson: Speaking of the Maclean’s cover buddies … did you see that story out of Saskatchewan about recent tentative settlements between the Saskatchewan health care system & its unions? Four years of labour peace & stability, and modest wage increases totalling — reportedly — 7% over the life of the agreement. Here in Alberta, United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) proposed a very similar Memorandum of Settlement to Alberta Health Services (AHS), but it was immediately rejected out of hand by AHS’ brain[less] trust. (Full disclosure: I’m a UNA member and Local Executive Officer).

      Apparently, Jason & Scott don’t always walk in lockstep …

      https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/saskatchewan-government-cba-health-care-unions-1.5812855

      https://www.una.ca/1181/alberta-health-services-swiftly-rejects-una-proposal-to-achieve-labour-peace-and-focus-on-the-pandemic

      • carlosbeca says:

        Jerry I think Scott is a conservative with a brain so comparing it to someone with a lobotomy is a difficult project.

      • Jerrymacgp. Tyler Shandro made a big deal about the UNA’s wage demands but failed to mention that other thing the UNA asked for. They wanted an end to the practice of not replacing nurses who retired or left during the covid-19 pandemic. Seemed like a reasonable request to me, but apparently it was a bridge too far for Shandro.
        Is it too much to ask for ideologically driven politicians to use some common sense when we’re fighting the biggest public health crisis of our time?

      • Valerie Jobson says:

        Jerrymacgp, thanks for the information. It would be nice if the elected officials would show bit of gratitude to Alberta’s health care workers, but maybe their dropping popularity in the polls will persuade them to change their attitude.

  8. Jaundiced Eye says:

    I believe we can find Boss Kenney down at the Chamber of Commerce awaiting instructions. The sad fact is that Albertans know what they have to do to stop the spread of the virus and have made a conscious decision not to bother.

    • Jaundiced Eye: I hear a lot about covid fatigue, the sense that we’ve been hunkering down for 8 months, the numbers are rising so what the heck, let’s party. This frustrates me to no end. Just imagine if Britain went into WW2 fatigue 8 months into the war and decided it’s hopeless, let’s surrender to Hitler. Instead they fought on. 70,000 civilians died in the Blitz, 40,000 of them in the 7 months between Sept 1940 and May 1941, almost half of them in London.
      So while I strongly support government assistance at the federal and provincial level for those who risk losing everything as a result of a shut down, I’m getting pretty tired of the whiners who demand the restaurants and pubs stay open so they can hang out with their friends.

      • Jaundiced Eye says:

        Restaurants and pubs stay open, children’s sports are locked down. Goes to show which group Kenney is beholden to. Too true about the British during WWII. Could you imagine if the Brits had the same sense of entitlement that Albertans presently have?

  9. Arlene Holberton says:

    Thank you Susan for another great blog. My family and I are only going out for necessities. We do not even visit each other now. We wear our masks, social distance, and wash our hands. Because so many are not doing these things, we will all be hunkered down for a very long time. So many people in Alberta are not doing the right thing which is very frustrating. The very worst is that Kenney and the UCP do not appear to care about the citizens of Alberta. It appears that they are willing to let the health care workers keep going until they drop. They do not care if more and more people die. We must find a way to stop the ability of a sociopath to be in any political position. We are living in madness.

    • You’re right Arlene. Many Albertans are making tremendous sacrifices. A friend told about a trip to the grocery store and seeing 3 men wandering around not wearing masks or wearing them improperly. She’d had enough and asked the manager to do something about it. As she was leaving a cashier thanked her for having the courage to speak up. It’s bad enough for us when we run into these idiots in the store but the poor staff are stuck with them all day long.
      My friend hasn’t seen her grandchildren for quite a while. Her 6 year old grandson asked his mom if he could go over to his gran’s place for a sleepover when he was 10.
      We understand we need to make sacrifices so others won’t get sick or die. Everyone has to do their part.

  10. Valerie Jobson says:

    Here’s something disturbing: Shandro may be taking advice from a non-expert who appears to be a quack with stupid ideas about covid-19, masks etc. I knew Kenney was a gullible fool, but hoped Shandro had a little more sense. I guess not.:

  11. jerrymacgp says:

    I’ve seen a lot of commenters — including Mr Kenney himself — that have said, callously IMHO, that we shouldn’t do any further lockdowns because the vast majority of COVID19 fatalities are in the very old — 80+ — who had very low life expectancy anyway. This is appalling. Imagine if a nursing home had a fire. Would we be telling firefighters to skip rescuing the frailest, least mobile residents because they’re not going to live much longer regardless of whether they get out or not? Of course not. But failing to act to protect vulnerable seniors in continuing care from this virus is just a slower, less smoke-filled version of the same heartless & criminal inaction.

    • GoinFawr says:

      Rather than placing the blame squarely where it belongs (on the current gov’t that is actively working to undermine Albertan’s public healthcare services during a pandemic) I’ve seen a lot of UCP supporters attempting to blame the public healthcare system itself for ‘allowing itself to be overwhelmed’, or some other such nonsense.

      The stage for healthcare privatization is being set, no matter how many have to die to make that happen.

      It’s quite disgusting.

      • GoinFawr, this is an excellent point. Blaming the public healthcare system for ‘allowing itself to be overwhelmed’ is ridiculous. And yet that seemed to be the thrust of the Daniel Smith article (link in the blog) where she said if AHS which employs more than 100,000 people can’t manage 217 people in ICU without shutting down shops then something is seriously wrong. What Smith didn’t say was of these 100,000 employees only 11,152 are doctors and only 26,000 are nurses and not all 37,152 are trained in ICU procedures which address the effects of diseases like covid. Or to put it another way, which one of us is okay with the intake clerk at reception shoving a ventilator tube down their throat?

    • Jerrymacgp: excellent point. While it’s true we don’t do as much for the elderly as we should, this is the first time I’ve heard a politician brazenly state these people would have died soon anyway, implicit in that statement is we don’t need to fuss over their deaths. (The numbers aren’t so bad if they’re mostly old people, right?)
      The same premise underlies the reporting of deaths in people with comorbidities. It’s a way to discount deaths in younger people. This leads to the misunderstanding that if you’re young and healthy you’ll be fine.
      It also creates two classes of people, the elderly and those with comorbidities who must be corralled somewhere for their own protection and the young and healthy who can go about their regular business.
      The snag is we don’t know enough about this virus or the medical conditions of people who appear to be healthy but are not. But most importantly it’s inhumane.

  12. Helen Thomson says:

    We are ordinary Albertans and we are appalled that no provincial action has been taken. Absolutely appalled.
    We know Dr Hinshaw and her team of medical team are making recommendations that would keep us all safer from Covid. But she is continually stymied, blocked, denied by politicians. What do they know apart from their self serving need for re election? Our medical experts’ medical advice, based on science, is being ignored time and again by political hacks.
    We ordinary Albertans are angry, very angry and those of us still alive at the end of this pandemic will move heaven and earth to get rid of these fools in political office. We will remember.

    • Helen, I agree with you. Seems to me the UCP’s belief that it’s the economy first and society second blinded them to the impact of their so-called strategy, especially here in Alberta where the economy was faltering even before covid hit in March.
      Add to this what health writer Andre Picard refers to as “pseudo-libertarian nonsense” (ie the belief that the government can rely on individuals exercising personal responsibility) and you get the gong show that unfolded on Sunday where Alberta recorded 1584 cases, and Ontario and Quebec which are significantly larger than we are recorded 1534 and 1154 respectively.

  13. Ian Patton says:

    Right on the money. Thanks Susan.

  14. Betty Matwichuk says:

    Excellent article. Your analysis and comprehensive detailing of all aspects of the topic clearly articulate what I have been thinking and feeling. The lack of compassion and understanding that Jason Kenney and his UCP government display show that rather than being in touch with what’s happening in this province to real live working and tax paying Albertans they are living in an ill conceived ideological alternate reality. Unfortunately all Albertans are paying the price!

    • Thanks Betty.. It seems to me this is just the latest example of just how disconnected the Kenney government is from the people. Just a quick example, Albertans of all political stripes are furious about the Kenney government’s plan to sell off our parks (I know they say they’re not selling them, they’re simply moving them out of the “parks” bucket, into the “crown land” bucket, and “dispose” of them from there) that the Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society says we can expect a 2 week wait for a Defend Alberta Parks sign.
      The parks fiasco is bad, this is worse.

  15. Dave says:

    To answer your question, is anyone in charge? Sadly, no.

    One unfortunate result of Kenney’s autocratic ways is that he has tended to select yes men and yes women to surround himself with in the UCP cabinet. There was some commentary after the last election about people with not much experience being put into senior positions. Our UCP government is pretty much a one man show, so when that guy catches “a cold” (like Pravda used to call it in the early 1980’s?), or possibly COVID, the government becomes paralyzed. This sort of leadership vacuum is a drawback of places that aspire to be authoritarian or one party states.

    However, I would like to be optimistic that our Premier is not currently so seriously physically ill right now. I think what he is actually suffering from is an acute and ongoing case of lack of vision. It seems quite clear to me that more action is needed to deal with the alarming spread of COVID in Alberta. Even Doug Ford in Ontario gets that and the numbers here have already surpassed those in Ontario.

    Yes, the number of deaths has not increased as much yet, but it is a mathematical function that a certain percentage of those infected later get seriously ill and or die. So, with increased infections, there will also be a big increase in that in a week or two. We are like the Titanic headed towards the iceberg. The time to stop is not when it is right in front of you, but well before that.

    I suspect Kenney will reappear soon, but the delay in dealing with this has already done a lot of damage.

    • Dave, I agree. The reason we’re all concerned about the rising number of cases is because more cases mean more people in the hospital and in ICU. Hospitals have finite capacity. Too many people in hospital will overwhelm our healthcare system. The end result is even those without covid (eg people who’ve had car accidents or heart attacks) won’t get the same quality of care as they would have had if the covid numbers were kept low. It’s this last piece that people don’t seem to understand.
      Then when you add in the impact of covid on schools, the business sector, etc you’ve got one heck of a mess.
      According to Don Braid there will be a cabinet meeting today to address the issue of restrictions and an announcement tomorrow. Should be very interesting!

  16. Elegant Sledgehammer says:

    The cruelty is the point: allowing the public system to become overwhelmed and then crash neatly opens the door to privatization without having to make more visible cuts and layoffs. Then there’s the added bonus of the constant chaos: no one can get organized if they’re constantly having to re-trench with school, childcare, employment, access to food, income, etc. This pandemic is “Killer Kuts” Kenney’s disaster capitalism wet dream, and he’s allowing it to further his goals without shame. He’s counting on people dying because it suits his ideology: get rid of the non-exploitable members of society while also ensuring that the systems formerly supporting many folks also collapse – and then they can be sold off for parts b/c most of the people who needed them are either dead or incapacitated re: self-advocacy. He’s not incompetent, or he would have done something right by how just through pure coincidence. This is deliberate and we forget or ignore that to our peril, IMHO.

    • lungta mtn says:

      kenney is not going to like that you are on to him Elegant Sledgehammer
      it is his faith that allows death by god thru non action for the unworthy
      looting the corpses just is natural for him
      ask any first nation how pandemics work

  17. judith mirus says:

    Your podcast commentary addresses the political mismanagement of COVID by Premier Kenny and his government but it is counterproductive to demonize the part of the population who support Kenny; the UCP plays on their fear and enables too many to see it as a situation for political management and the pandemic as an enemy particularly of their social orientation toward individual rights and freedoms. Counter their misunderstanding with cogent argument and example, as the podcast largely does. Too many of the support comments are just snarky.

    • Judith, when I started this blog I took the time to explain to UCP supporters who wrote in to tell me I was a misguided socialist why I took a certain position. The discussion never went anywhere and I stopped trying to engage with them. That’s not to say I don’t have conversations with my conservative friends, I just do it in person, not on the blog.
      But back to why I’ve adopted this approach. I agree with the lawyer Marie Henein who wrote an interesting op ed after Hillary Clinton was defeated by Donald Trump. She said “Going high when they go low means you speak only to people who were listening in the first place. It’s like bringing thank-you cards to a knife fight. You’re going to get hurt or worse, lose.” In my experience, she’s right.
      Here’s the link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/thank-you-hillary-women-now-know-retreat-is-not-an-option/article32803341/

    • GoinFawr says:

      Am I snarky? Do I come off as snarky?

      I feel like I could be tarred with that epithet, since whenever I consider some of the things this gov’t has done it makes me Angry, if that is what you mean Ms.mirus. And perhaps I am guilty of letting my temper temper my comments at times but I find some behaviours inexcusable, so I make no apologies for it.

      You cite one factual error contained in any comment I have ever made and I will own up to it.

      My father always told me,

      “Son, if you can’t think of anything nice to say, come up with something clever, but devastating.”

  18. Douglas Meggison says:

    My first ever comment to Susan: article is resoundingly excellent and should be read by all Albertans. I am going to forward it to my not-on-soapbox yet friends.

  19. alco430 says:

    Thank you for another blog; again spot on. I, too, agree that a change in government is absolutely required. However being a cynical soul, I am reminded of much earlier times when the illustrious leaders were seeking another mandate and strolled amongst the peasants sprinkling shiny baubles and spouting forth heady promises of forthcoming prosperous times if they were given another mandate. The human beast, being what he((she))is has problems with memory lapses. especially when shiny items and warm fuzzy words are scattered among them. The next election would be one I would simply love to be wrong about what I see as return to power by the UPC

    • alco430: fair point. It is truly remarkable how baubles in year 4 erase all memory of pain and suffering in years 1, 2, and 3. When Kenney was first elected I fully expected him to impose harsh cuts (which he did) at the beginning of his term and finish off with a cut to personal income tax in year 4, however now that the economy is shot I don’t know what he will do. I almost fell out of my chair when his finance minister said he’s considering bringing in the dreaded PST. Who knows maybe our end of term bauble will be a PST off-set by a modest cut in person income taxes. Time will tell.

  20. anonymous says:

    Jason Kenney is doing exactly what he promised. Creating jobs. Undertakers, funeral parlours, crematoriums are thriving and it looks as if that will continue.

  21. janice williamson says:

    Here’s hoping the f’n UCP is shut out next election. But will the unfortunate cultists who love the JKenney sadopopulist treatment fall into line begging for more punishment from the UCP’s degrading politics of cruelty? Alberta UCP attacks on COVID protocols, on education from elementary schools to our universities, on climate science, and on doctors’ medical expertise reminds me of the dangerous folly described by Issac Asimov who once wrote: “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

    • Mike in Edmonton says:

      Too right, Janice. I’ve thought for years that Albertans–too many Albertans–seem to feel they should be punished for something, so they vote for governments that will hurt them. But the Kenney Klowns have reached a shockingly low level of both competence and responsibility.

      Ignorance really must be bliss–especially when the Leader tells you it’s someone else’s fault.

    • Political Ranger says:

      And not to put too fine a point on it Janice, that cult of ignorance in America, and thriving for generations in Albaturda, is the base of conservatives or republicans.

      • Janice, Mike and Political Ranger, the three of you touched on a point that’s mystified me for a long time. Given the wreckage that follows the election of politicians like Kenney and Trump, why do people continue to electing them?
        There were countless articles after Trump was elected saying his election was caused by the fact the country was divided and people were frustrated at being left behind (losing their jobs to globalization or technology, whatever). Some articles talked about the impact of deep-seated racism and sexism as well as the impact of growing economic inequity. So yes, that might explain why Trump was elected the first time, but why after 4 years of Trump failing to deliver his supporters to nirvana did they vote for him again. I hate to think people are that dense.

  22. Davidswann says:

    Wilful blindness AND denial of our epidemiology science. Kenney rivals Trump for incompetence on Covid!

  23. Thanks for another thoughtful commentary.

    While I find the failure of responsible leadership in our government more than disappointing, I see far more to the story than the personal failings of Premier Kenney and his Ministers.

    As with Trump, these failings are a symptom of a deeper condition we are ignoring, namely, a pandemic failure of socially and democratically responsible citizenship.

    Bluntly speaking, we Albertans have the political leadership we deserve from our Premier and his Cabinet.

    Americans have the political leadership they deserve from their current President, whom they just voted for in greater strength than when he was first elected – this time knowing exactly what they were voting for.

    It is now clear that far too many citizens fail to recognize social responsibility as the principal guarantor of their personal freedoms, and that exercising personal freedoms at the expense of one’s community and broader society is the best way to undermine everyone’s freedoms.

    Whenever protecting personal freedom becomes the rallying cry for such citizens, it invites the rest of us to challenge them on the extent of personal freedom – theirs AND ours.

    How many would agree that my freedom to swing my fist ends at the tip of their nose?

  24. Mike in Edmonton says:

    Lack of imagination, lack of education, lack of moral courage. Meet Jason Kenney.

    Sadly, both Janice Williamson and Jason van Leeuwen make a critically important point. Albertans have a pronounced tendency to vote against their own best interests. Is it because of pro-business, anti-government propaganda? Or do some Albertans just like to be told they’re worthless? Or that everyone ELSE is worthless, and it’s all THEIR fault?

    Kenney himself uses every dirty trick the US Republicans and their Libertarian backers have devised. I’m frightened by the willingness of the Kenney’s ministers to follow along–they MUST agree with the program, otherwise they’d have no choice but to resign.

    This leaves an academic question: is Kenney acting on a premeditated plan, or is he just fumbling in a political fog? Rephrased, how much of the damage Kenney does is deliberate (mostly the cuts to government revenue and services) and how much to ham-fisted, thumb-fingered incompetence? I’d guess Kenney and his Klowns are utterly overwhelmed by the suddenly-ballistic Covid numbers–and they’re gonna get much, much worse. We’ll have even more chances to see (more likely, NOT see) Jason hiding from responsibility and failing to act.

    We have to get rid of these incompetents. Even Ralph Klein, stubborn, vindictive and ignorant as he was, never sank this low.

    MEMO to Rachel Notley: for God’s sake, publish an economic plan that shows how to start recovering from the Covid crisis!

    • Mike, you asked whether Kenney was acting according to a premeditated plan or is just fumbling around in a political fog. Seems to me it’s a bit of both. As you point out his cuts to revenue and services are consistent with typical conservative/free market thinking, but his response to covid is that of a man completely overwhelmed by a problem that doesn’t fit nicely into his ideological approach to economy/social issues.
      Consequently we’re in a frightening situation where our premier, he with greatest access to those who could help him flatten the curve and put in place the foundation to resurrect the economy is hopelessly out of his depth. This does not bode well for any of us.

  25. Chris says:

    I think you’re giving Albertans more credit than we’re due when you say Kenney will pay a political price for this. His base is much the same as the Trump supporters… They pick their politics like they pick their hockey teams: For life.

      • GoinFawr says:

        C and c

        It’s like imprinting on baby ducks: at the first sight of Kenney roaming in that glorious leased blue pick-me-up truck, frowning ever eastward, the desire of his base to follow and wallow in their misguided sense of victimhood instantly became effectively autonomic.
        Now, like you say, they will never waddle after anyone else, regardless of what Kenney actually does (or fails to do), just so long as he makes the quacking sounds they like to hear.

      • Chris, Carlos and GoinFawr, yikes! As much as I hate to admit it you might be right. Personally I’m hanging in until 2023. If Albertans re-elect this man I’ve put my husband on notice that we’re selling the house (at a loss, no doubt) and moving to BC. It’s a pretty place, its residents are okay with changing their government every so often, I have family there. Might be nice.

      • GoinFawr says:

        You know what, that was cynical of me… I take it back.

        The FUBARs got it right once before, they could do it again. Apparently Ms.Notley can speak to them, the one’s left that can still listen, anyway.

        OT, yet remotely related:

        Hey FUBARs: worried about the outrage of some ghastly public ‘commie’ ordinance expecting you to wear a mask for awhile in an effort to protect your own safety and the safety of others? Awwww. Well get ready for some REAL 24/7/365 surveillance courtesy of your friendly neighbourhood Used Car Partier:

        Bill 41…

        It is my understanding that from now on as direct result of this legislation PRIVATE insurance companies, who sell products you Must buy in Alberta if you, say, wish to own and register a vehicle to use on public roads, can demand GPS phone data be tied to the sale of these insurance products. I know, I know,
        “If you have nothing to hide…”
        https://abstrusegoose.com/433
        Amirite?

        FUBAR’s don’t get it, but they are going to. Oh my.

  26. Carlos says:

    I am very concerned with our premier so here it is – it is very well described

    https://www.thebeaverton.com/2020/11/amber-alert-issued-for-52-year-old-premier/

    • Carlos as I was reading this piece from the Beaverton I received an Emergency Alert from the government. It directed me to the government website which said the government declared a state of public health emergency on Nov 24. I received the alert today, Nov 26. Thank god the alert wasn’t for an incoming tornado or I’d be dead.

      • Carlos says:

        I thought it was ridiculous to use the emergency system to announce gatherings illegal – I thought the finally the Russians were coming 🙂
        I think it was a bit of show off as usual

  27. GoinFawr says:

    Where Alberta is headed:

    “COVID is way worse, even than the summer surge we had here- and no signs of slowing down. We had to intubate a college kid in their mid-twenties; we had been doing really good at not having to ventilate patients, using high flow oxygen and proning (tummy time), but now we’re starting the bad stuff again… patient was on day 9-10 of their symptoms, which is classic for the danger window. Another person, under fifty, we had to intubate- and then they threw a clot….”

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/11/24/1997980/-The-election-might-be-over-but-the-trouble-is-just-beginning?utm_campaign=recent

    When was the last time Alberta ‘doctors’ representing PRIVATE medical services clinics operating (in my opinion) contrary to the Canada Health Act and downplaying the dangers of this virus have worked at an ICU treating this disease?

    If they simply haven’t, please consider taking their advice for what it is actually worth Alberta, rather than taking it for what we all WISH it was worth.

    • GoinFawr: I was listening to an ICU doctor on CBC today. He said it’s nice to get more ICU beds, but what about more ICU doctors and nurses. The nurse to patient ratio in ICU is one-to-one. That’s because any little change in the patient’s condition can be fatal. Pulling in doctors and nurses from other wards is a desperate last ditch effort to avoid disaster.
      It didn’t have to come to this, but Kenney refused to listen to the doctors when hundreds of them were pleading with him to implement a circuit breaker.
      And after Tuesday’s gong show press announcement, we know he’s not going to even consider doing a lock down until Dec 15, by which time it will be much too late.

  28. GoinFawr says:

    Today Mr.Kenney served up a whole heap of false dichotomies in order to split labour into two camps, with private labour pointing the finger at public, as is his wont.

    Mr.Kenney, the poor don’t have to be the ones to suffer the most in order to survive this State of Emergency, regardless of the measures required, but then we all know that just as well as you do.

  29. Carlos says:

    I cannot keep up with the news coming out everyday about this government – this morning is Rachael Harder and recordings about covid-19 – a daily bombardment of stuff that indicates brain compromised people running the show. It is sick a real sick combative and bully government that is destroying this province and its future. Just quit and let healthy smart people pick up the pieces.
    Enough is Enough

  30. GoinFawr says:

    “The source said Hinshaw suggested politicians “have tended to basically go with the minimal acceptable recommendation from public health, because I actually think if they went below — if they pushed too far — that she probably would step down.””

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/alberta-covid-19-response-tension-recordings-1.5814877

    Please don’t step down Dr.Hinshaw, regardless of their terrible choices, right now more than ever Albertans need an adult in that room. But keep watching your back, Used Car Party hearts are colder than a January morning in Ft.Mac, and twice as ruthless.

    They’ve already been trying to push you out in front of a couple of buses, so beware.

    • carlosbeca says:

      I wished Jason Kenney would step down. It is about time.
      He has been waiting for Jesus to come help but unfortunately that will not happen and we all have to put up with this gong show. Trust in the government is just falling precipitously and even trust in Deena Hinshaw because many people think that she does not have to take a stand to Jason Kenney but at least she could clarify what her suggestions to the government were so we know who is playing Russian roulette.
      Unfortunately leadership was never a strong in Alberta and it is getting worse as years go by.
      GoinFawr i agree with you that they have already pushed her under the bus but she has enough power not to allow that. It is a choice and she is not making the right one as far as I am concerned. She has a responsibility to the citizens of this province. She is our top doctor. If she is not able to do that then stepping down would not be a bad idea.

      • GoinFawr says:

        Fair points, all.

        And where IS that recall legislation Mr.Kenney Promised? He’s passed a litany of odious, onerous, and obtuse legislation that he Promised NOT to (eg. Healthcare), so why not this simple piece of law, a keystone campaign commitment, that in all likelihood the overwhelming majority of Albertans currently wish was put into place?

        I mean, as it was an election promise you’d think he’d have had the bill in hand, ready to be read at the leg’.

      • carlosbeca says:

        Could not agree more

      • carlosbeca says:

        The problem is that Jason Kenney does not govern or lead – he just does whatever is convenient to his egomaniac objectives

    • GoinFawr and Carlos: the CBC news story is devastating. Tim Caulfield, the expert in health law, nailed it when he said there needs to be evidence based decision making, a recognition that the economy is not separate from the pandemic and transparency with respect the decisions being made and why. As he said, right now we’re in chaos.

  31. Mike in Edmonton says:

    You know, I think this was easier to take when Jason Kenney was AWOL….

    His “apology” to Restaurants Canada and the CFIB showed everything that’s wrong with his mindset. It amounted to, “I’m sorry I cost you money. It’ll never happen again. I promise.” I wonder if Jason will apologize to the families of people who die if Covid-19 because he doesn’t have the moral courage to order a lockdown? Not holding my breath….

  32. Valerie Jobson says:

    It sounds like the restrictions on restaurants are causing them problems, and I think just closing them to indoor dining for a few weeks would not do much more harm.
    A lot of people shopping at Chinook mall today.

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