Federal Judge Damon Keith said democracy dies in the dark, but as we’ve learned over the last four years, it can also die in broad daylight if it is abused by power-mad leaders like Donald Trump and, it should be noted, equally determined leaders like Jason Kenney.
Trump tried to kill democracy with brute force. Kenney is more insidious—his actions are hidden under a veneer of legality.
Consider what Kenney has accomplished thus far.
Eroding democratic norms
It started with the ‘ha-ha’ moment when Kenney distributed earplugs to his caucus, signaling that no one needs to listen to the Opposition as they debate proposed legislation. It escalated as Kenny buried the Opposition (and the public) in a blizzard of bills and curtailed debate so no one could understand the impact of the laws his government was passing. And it continues day in and day out as his government and its employees attack Albertans in the Legislature and on social media if they dare criticize government policy.
This is not normal and yet here we are.
Eroding democratic freedoms
Authoritarians use crisis (real or imagined) to push through anti-democratic legislation. Trump’s use of the threat of foreign terrorists to impose the Muslim travel ban is a good example.
Likewise, Kenney used the Wetʼsuwetʼen railway blockades, only one of which occurred in Alberta, as an excuse to pass Bill 1 which criminalized Albertans’ right to peaceful protest.
He used Covid-19 to pass Bill 10 which gave ministers the power to create new laws and offences without allowing the Legislature to debate or vote on the matter. This was such an egregious abuse of power that one of Kenney’s major supporters, lawyer John Carpay, challenged the Bill in court calling it an affront to democracy and a violation of the rule of law.
And yet Kenney shows no signs of stepping back from his anti-democratic agenda.
Normalizing autocratic measures
In Alberta it is okay for the government to hunt its enemies. Oh sure, the hunt is camouflaged as an effort to promote the energy sector (War Room) or to protect the sector from anti-Alberta energy campaigns (Public Inquiry). These multimillion-dollar gong shows have not delivered on their stated purpose. They exist only to warn Albertans to get out of the way as Kenney fiddles around trying to bring an economic strategy rooted in fossil fuels into the 21st century.
Analysts and academics have written extensively about this abuse of power to no avail. The War Room and the Public Inquiry continue to exist, draining time and resources away from real issues like diversifying the economy, improving public education and public healthcare and addressing climate change.
MAGA Alberta Style
Kenny, like Trump, galvanized his supporters by telling them they were right to feel aggrieved. He gave them an enemy, the federal government (pretending he himself as a Conservative MP had no role in creating the “inequities” he’s now condemning). Kenney rode their anger into office with the promise of a magic bullet (“jobs, economy, pipelines”) that failed to materialize.
Never mind, he kept Albertans distracted with a traveling circus (the Fair Deal Panel) which gave Albertans a forum to air their grievances and a range of remedies that would do nothing to resolve them.
The promise of prosperity was enough to convince Albertans to look the other way while Kenney chipped away at democracy because, well, everyone knows you’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelet, right?
Trump incited his supporters to storm the Capitol with the big lie—the Dems had stolen the election. Kenney is pushing a different lie. He’s convinced Albertans they’re special. They are people of destiny. Fate (in form of the fossil fuels beneath our feet and our down-home western something or other) decreed we would be prosperous beyond our wildest dreams.
When this failed to materialize because the world won’t play its part in the lie, he pointed Albertans in the direction of Ottawa. It’s someone else’s fault. It’s always someone else’s fault.
And then something strange happened. Over the holidays Albertans discovered that members of the Kenney government and staff were globe trotters. They were just as elitist and hypocritical as those other guys they’ve been condemning for the last few years.
Trust was damaged, but not yet broken.
Where do we go from here?
If we’ve learned anything from the attack on the Capitol it’s this: When a charlatan promises something he can’t deliver in order to get elected, he may be prepared to destroy democracy to stay in power.
Kenney has created an unstable and unsustainable situation. The good old days are gone forever. Destroying our democratic institutions will not bring them back.
But allowing the Kenney government to erode democracy while promoting Albertans’ exceptionalism will end badly.
Because democracy is not a plaything to be tossed about at a politician’s whim. It is fragile and if abused will end up in pieces on the floor.
Arnold’s Schwarzenegger’s Powerful, Inspiring Speech On US Capital Building Invasion, Democracy, and Failed Leaders: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/arnold-schwarzenegger-twitter-president-donald-trump-b809079.html
Inspiring, yes, to a point, but all the flag waving and the false image of America as the beacon of hope to other nations – the shining light of democracy is, to put it bluntly, nauseating.
I hope America can honestly take stock of itself with its horrific inequities and self-deceptions and address them. Therein lies the rot that creates anger, resentment, hopelessness and a myriad of other emotions leading people to embrace the pursuit of personal empowerment through guns, consumerism, crime, aggression of every kind, etc.
America has the potential to be a great nation, but it isn’t one now and hasn’t been one for many decades.
Perhaps these terrible events can result in a great awakening and actions to redress at least some of the many social and economic problems that best the country.
Paula, I watched it as well, and there was a lot of good that he said. However, he swept all of the US’ imperial actions under the rug. There was no mention of all the governments the US has toppled to further their own interests. No mention of all the despots they installed to keep their own interests safe.
The US may think they are a shining beacon of democracy but they are far from it. I would point to a number of other nations first, most of them in Europe, even if they have a monarchy (which is pretty much for show).
Paula and Janna you make valid points. I was reading the obituary of Neil Sheehan, the NYT war correspondent who wrote A Bright Shining Lie. He served in Vietnam and witnessed first hand the war crimes and atrocities which he reports in this book and others.
As you said the US has a lot of work to do to be worthy of its reputation as a beacon for democracy–a fact not lost on China, Russia, Turkey and authoritarian countries.
Mike, thanks for this link. Arnold Schwarzenegger deserves credit for condemning the attack on the Capitol. He’s got more courage than most Replblicans who continue to hold back lest they anger Trump and his supporters and thus damage their own political careers.
Hopefully Arnie’s message will strike a chord with those who still don’t understand the gravity of what happened on Jan 6.
Susan, nicely summarized, thank you. One more point to note: Mr. Kenney’s intended reign of terror was clearly evident in the early days (Fall 2016) of the leadership race of the former PC party, when he refused to condemn the abuse and threats his supporters were heaping on more competent women candidates, causing them to withdraw from the race.
As someone who is new to your blog, I would like to add two comments:
– I appeciate the tone and intelligence of both your posts and your commentators. So refreshing after the mindless foulness that is spewed on other sites. I see this same level-headedness on David Klimenhaga’s blog, where I recognize some of the same names in comments.
– I smile when you refer to Alberta’s Pretender as Mr. Kenney. Given the antics involved in the UCP leadership race, I refuse to recognize this person as Premier. He is not even the duly elected leader of the UCP.
LAS, thank you and welcome to the Soapbox!
You make a great point about Mr Kenney’s conduct during the PC leadership race. Sandra Jansen, a seasoned politician, described the abhorrent treatment she received from Mr Kenney’s supporters which caused her to withdraw from the race. It continued even after she left the PCs. I was at an all party debate in Mr Kenney’s riding after he was elected leader. He spouted his usual UCP stuff at the front of the room while his supporters intimidated Ms Jansen who was sitting quietly at the back.
A leader has an obligation to condemn such behavior. Mr Kenney did not and it continued to escalate a la Trump.
Susan congratulations. You always write very intelligent posts but this frontal attack is what I have been waiting for a long time. Thank you.
We have to do this if we want to stop this dangerous challenge on our province and our citizens.
No more nice guys. These people do not go down on understanding and a second chance.
I wished I was smart enough to write as well as you do because I am ready to get this circus banned from here. I am done with Savages, Shandros and Jason Kenneys – these people need to go and fast. Lets not wait as long as they dis in the US because the results can be disastrous for all of us.
Enough is definitely enough.
You’re very welcome Carlos. I watched the coverage on Jan 6 with shock and disbelief. The fact that so many people stood by Trump no matter what made me think about our situation here in Alberta. So many Albertans continue to support Kenney no matter what he does. The siege of the Capitol was a perfect example of what can happen when politicians abuse their power to stay in office. We’ve seen what Kenney started here. Trump has shown us where it could end.
Right on as usual Susan. Thank you. We need to get rid of this dangerous government and it’s despicable autocrat.
Arlene, exactly! The more people understand what Kenney is doing the quicker this will come to pass.
Again a great blog as usual, however I seem to remember Kenney using a rail blockade at Acheson, just west of Edmonton as justification for Bill 1. The blockade was dismantled by a bunch of Alberta Proud Boy types.
Neil, thank you for catching that error. David Climenhaga also brought it to my attention and I fixed it.
What people should note in the link you provided is that the Court granted CN an injunction to remove the protesters, so it wasn’t necessary for the Proud Boy types or whoever they were to take the law into their own hands. A legal remedy already exists which is why Kenney’s Bill 1 is not necessary. Kenney used the Wetʼsuwetʼen blockade as an excuse to expand his government’s ability to stop protests anywhere by anyone. Interestingly, he had the opportunity to stop the anti-mask protests in Edmonton and Calgary with Bill 1, but didn’t use it. That tells you something doesn’t it.
Susan: Thanks for another great blog. It’s very apparent that democracy hasn’t been in Alberta under the UCP, like it hasn’t been under the Alberta PCs for a very long time either, (starting with Ralph Klein). Let’s start with the Alberta PCs. There was an issue in 1993 about busses full of people going to polling stations in the Alberta provincial election, that took place in June. It was suspect. Albertans also never were asked about controversial and very costly things, (both financially and in human terms, due to the harm caused on people). Ralph Klein never asked Albertans if they wanted privatization of driver training (which had some link to the Humboldt Broncos bus crash tragedy), road maintenance, the flat tax, (a very costly mistake that made provincial revenues drop), deregulation of utilities, and so on. Ralph Klein behaved like a bully. Ralph Klein also got one of the biggest majorities his government ever had, 20 years ago, when Albertans got 2 cheques totalling $320, before a provincial election. The UCP clearly cheated to be in power. Why would the premier of Alberta get the Alberta Elections Commissioner dumped, when the premier was out of the province? UCP members were given fines totalling $200,000, for election related shenanigans. It’s doubtful that the premier of Alberta is a legitimate premier. Don’t forget that the premier of Alberta was in the CPC and was responsible for the robocalls affair. Those on AISH had their payment date set to the first of every month, and they have to do with less, (due to de-indexing to the rate of inflation). Teachers in Alberta had their pensions grabbed away from them by the UCP, and they were put into AIMCo, which has a poor track record of managing people’s money. The UCP has done many undemocratic things. Alberta has been a one party province for decades, and Albertans complain about a lack of democracy in Ottawa. Also, where is the recall legislation the UCP were promising? I have ancestors (3 grandparents, and 2 great grandparents), and other relatives who came from Eastern Europe, where democracy was weak. It is this way with the UCP in Alberta. It’s very sad to see.
Dwayne, excellent examples of the abuse of power dating back to the PC days.
One of the things people say about Trump is that he’s defiled the reputation of the GOP. This made me wonder whether Kenney has defiled the reputation of the PCs. He’s certainly violated the reputation of the Lougheed PCs. Lougheed always said Albertans should consider themselves the owners of their resources and get a good price for them. He was also against the rapid development of the oilsands.
But Kenney has done one better. He’s even managed to defile the reputation of the Klein PCs who you’re right, did many horrible things, but were not as fiscally irresponsible as Kenney is. Not even Klein had the arrogance or stupidity to bet billions of dollars on the US election, but that’s what Kenney did when he bought a $1.5 Billion equity interest and signed up for $6 B in loan guarantees on KXL in the expectation that Trump would win and Biden would lose. Either Kenney was ignorant of the political risk or he dismissed the risk because it was inconceivable to him that Trump would lose.
Susan: Ralph Klein also did very costly mistakes himself. Lots of them, that were even billions of dollars themselves. It wasn’t good.
I agree Dwayne. Klein made a number of costly mistakes. My point was that Kenney’s mistakes are even worse.
“where is the recall legislation”
In Limbo, along with:
a) conduct genuine consultations with stakeholders and the public before enacting significant legislation.
b) ban government ministries and departments from conducting political advertising.
(Actually they do the “stakeholders” part, as long as they get to say who is a “stakeholder”.)
Good for you. I don’t believe you overstate this. And it started at the beginning with his leadership race.
John McWilliams QC
Thank you John. You’re a QC lawyer who worked in the energy sector for a long time. I appreciate your support.
I appreciate your contribution to the political discussion. I will post an idea that perhaps may get some of the non-accessible MLA who can not bring themselves to return phone calls when asked. People should step forward in communities that have UCP members and begin to door knock and drop leaflets putting their names and ideas forward that (you, me, I and we) are considering running to be the MLA in the upcoming election in Alberta. We are doing this as we need to be prepared. Asking voters of their concerns in dialogue to build trust and knowledge and build relationships in the community. When we identify issues we could act as “solicitors to assist the citizens to get action” from their MLA. Using local press and other forms of staying in touch and having discussions we would have a real agenda and platform for the election when it comes. This would give us a chance to develop a real platform to counter one generated by the Fraser institutes and some elusive tax payer federation. Use the crisis and the deep hole as an opportunity to work with our neighbours and community to build and order our economy and polis as it could be. This would draw out the vile, stinking rats that are invading Alberta and creating havoc because we could meet in virtual town hall sessions poll by poll gatherings. I know it is late on a Sunday night but I thought I would throw it out there. Maybe Carlos will come and play music??
we would be able to get out in front of an election call and take leadership of our government back into the hearts and heads of the people.
This is exactly the work that the NDP is doing, which is a very good thing, since the NDP is the only agent capable of defeating the UCP in an election. Because it’s not a matter of getting UCP MLA’s to answer the phone. It’s a matter of getting them out of the way altogether.
Papajaxn, I see where you’re going with this and I like your idea, however I agree with Alfredo that the only real alternative to the UCP in 2023 is the NDP. Rachel Notley has mounted a detailed outreach campaign. Given the covid restrictions, most of their activity is taking place on line in the form of zoom town halls and information meetings. This would be a good place to start for people who want to see a change in government.
Great piece as always Susan. Duff Conacher has a submission in the latest Alberta Views magazine that supports so much of what you state, https://albertaviews.ca/abuse-of-power/
Thanks Ted. the Conacher piece is very instructive, particularly since it includes other undemocratic actions like removing 7 of the 8 members of the Provincial Court Nominating Committee before the ends of their terms and replacing them with “almost exclusively” UCP supporters, many of whom were recruited in secret. Conacher says this will undermine the independence of the provincial court judges. Feels a lot like Trump and the GOP rushing through Supreme Court appointments, doesn’t it.
.. I see Alberta as ‘litmus test.. I have ‘standing’ & hard earned opinion
& all of Canada can stare at Alberta & consider reality and future
To see Alberta become the most backward Province of the Confederation
is pathetic, astonishing and disheartening..
But hey !! Strip mine, remove Foothills mountain tops
to service Australian Interests.. while assuming
Its OK with British Columbia to churn the Salish Sea
sailing back n forth out of Vancouver
It reminds of John Prine..
‘Oh daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County’
The Alberta Advantage.. a la Jason Kenney / Stephen Harper
Invading Healthcare, Education & Environment
.. they call it ‘Nation Building’ eh
Diamondwalker, I’ve often said Alberta is taking a bullet for the rest of Canada. Kenney came here to demonstrate his political acumen, to showcase his leadership skills in the most conservative jurisdiction in the country. If he can’t do it here, he can’t do it anywhere.
By Mar 2020 the debt was $86 billion which is $5.2 billion higher than the NDP projected debt and that was BEFORE we felt the impact of covid and falling oil prices. So much for being prudent managers of the taxpayers’ money.
Doug Ford has a better chance of becoming prime minister one day than Jason Kenney.
Usually when a sitting US president incites mob violence to storm legislative buildings its in another country with the full support of both parties in the Congress. The fact is the US has been subverting democratic institutions around the world forever so it’s nice to see them getting a little taste of their own medicine.
Particularly delightful were the images of the protestors occupying Nancy Pelosi’s office. When protesters in Hong Kong went on a rampage Pelosi said “it was a beautiful site to behold.” No matter what you think of Donald Trump sometimes you just gotta love him.
Well said ronmac – they deserve the medicine they so freely dispense to the rest of the world
When thy invade countries and kill thousands and displace millions it seems to be so easy to accept and enjoy.
What we witnessed was nothing compared to what they do around the world but for them it was a catastrophe. Too bad.
ronmac and Carlos: the part that absolutely floors me is that unlike those other countries where one political faction attempts to depose another political faction, the attack on the Capitol was staged by the likes of the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and the Boogaloo Bois, groups researchers describe as “almost all are white men, often poor and badly educated,” a bunch of racists and misogynists.
Sadly we are not immune to this kind of thinking. The RCMP are investigating a case where a guy entered the post office wearing what appears to be a KKK hood. The woman who took the picture is facing backlash from people who said it’s not a “real” KKK hood, just a replica, she’s just a snowflake, etc. The fact anyone is making excuses for this guy is incredible. Here’s the link: https://everythinggp.com/2021/01/11/grimshaw-woman-who-posted-picture-of-man-in-apparent-kkk-hood-facing-public-backlash/
Here in the Mac our dutiful Tany Yao took a trip to Mexico, because, poor thing was so stressed out over the bills he was pushing to get past the legislature and badly needed a little R& R. Not so the rest of us working schmucks who feel no stress at all with a pandemic hanging over our heads, the local economy drying up faster that a cup of water in the dessert, and a UCP premier who is still following Harper’s roadmap. It’s all good, Tany, you go put your feet up and enjoy the rays. We’re fine, really. We’re not the least concerned about all the travesties your team is unleashing on the province. Have a margarita, friend, and don’t give your constituents a thought. I mean, why would you, you haven’t as yet, have you?
I loved your comment Carol. This globe trotting boondoggle is not going to go away soon. More and more UCP MLAs are going public with their disgust at how Kenney handled it. Nathan Cooper, who apparently lobbied to be appointed the Speaker of the House because it would give him some independence from Kenney, sent his constituents a letter saying Kenney’s handling of the traveling scandal was a “great embarrassment to the government” and that the hypocrisy of the scandal undermined the government’s moral authority, and the government now faces an uphill battle to rebuild the public trust.
Those are strong words which indicate the MLAs are feeling the heat from their constituents. Hopefully these MLAs and the party will give serious thought to a leadership review. It would be nice to send Kenney packing sooner rather than later.
Here’s the link: https://calgaryherald.com/news/politics/great-embarrassment-to-the-government-anger-over-travel-within-ucp-caucus-sign-of-fissure
His whole handling of this pandemic his war on doctors and health care professionals, his attitudes toward unions and labourers in general is a complete and utter disservice to Albertans. I could go on with the lengthy list of how Kenny has failed this province. Thank you for the service your blog provides in creating more awareness. And thank you for the link. I will be sure to read it.
Mr.Kenney, Insurrection inciting US pols and their insurrectionists, take note:
Responsibility is not the bane of freedom, it is a fixed cost in the price.
And your bill is long since due.
Well said GoinFawr. Given how difficult it is for Mr Kenney to understand this concept we could try restating it as the Peter Parker principle (“with great power comes great responsibility”) which was popularized in the Spider Man comics.
Reply to Susan’s Post
Great post Susan! Thank you for again alerting us to the dangers of the UCP agenda, propped up by acolytes who close their minds and rigidly refuse to see things any other way but the Kenney way—MAGA north, as you cleverly pointed out. Some day they might want to ask themselves what they’re so afraid of.
I suggest that Kenney and his followers are largely, but not exclusively, driven by dogmatism, a personality trait that’s universally recognized but poorly understood. I’ve been studying the causal influences that presumably shape its thirteen composite features for thirty years, but like all personality traits, grasping the essence of dogmatism is a bit like trying to lasso the clouds. Defined the trait as, “a personality trait that combines cognitive, emotional, and behavioural features to personify rigid, closed-minded belief systems that are often pronounced with arrogant certainty,” dogmatism is a bottleneck on freedom’s horn of plenty.
In America, guns bolster the dogmatic, blustering bravado of Trump’s disciples who desperately need to convince themselves, as much as others, that they really know what they’re talking about. Is it any wonder that MAGA north wants to undo the current gun laws?
I’d love to see your blog post printed by a major media outlet so that Canadians will awaken to the assault on democracy in their own country. If any of your followers are interested in glimpsing the main features of dogmatism, my recent op-ed is printed in “The Toronto Star,” (now called “The Star”), at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/12/26/the-perils-of-dogmatic-certainty-in-uncertain-times.html. My website is: https://www.dogmatism.ca.
Judy, thanks so much for the link to your excellent op-ed and website.
It’s extremely important we understand what underlies the behavior we’re seeing. When Trump was first elected the explanation for his success was that he spoke to poorer folk who were left behind by globalization and technological advancement; but this failed to address the fact that many middle and upper class Americans supported Trump as well.
I’ve seen more articles lately like the one by history prof Andrew Preston who said the attack on the Capitol was in keeping with the populist political tradition that a large cohort of Americans, “remarkably consistent in their social and ethnic makeup” will take matters into their own hands whenever they see the future of “their country” in peril. He said they define “their country” as one in which they are at the top of the hierarchy and they want to keep it that way. Preston references a number of examples starting with the American Civil War right up to the Proud Boys.
It’s interesting to finally see white supremacy identified as a major factor in Trump’s success. Add that to the dogmatic faith that whatever Trump and Fox News spew is fact and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen.
I think you are right, Kenney planned to undermine democracy by stealth here in Alberta, as opposed the more out in the open ways Trump leaned towards.
With his long career in politics, I am sure Kenney gave a lot of thought to what approach would be most successful and at times even talked publicly a bit about his strategy. In fact, he said it was his plan to bring in a lot of changes all at once, so opponents would have difficulty in reacting to and opposing them. This approach works for a few reasons. First, of all the general public does generally not pay much attention to what happens in the Legislature. Second, unless there is a specific piece of legislation that the opposition, the media and the public can focus on, it is hard to get adequate scrutiny and publicity for complex legislation. So, by doing many things at the same time or in quick succession, Kenney minimizes the ability of everyone to adequately scrutinize them individually.
Of course, unfortunately for him, Kenney did not count on a pandemic upending what was probably years of careful planning and his rigid approach to things also does not lend itself well to making adjustments quickly as needed. However, the things the public often does react to quickly are more symbolic, hence Jason Kenney’s Flying Circus with cabinet ministers, senior advisors and MLA’s travelling despite what the Alberta and Federal governments said has quickly touched a raw nerve. Perhaps he should have spent more time focusing on where his MLA’s were than trying to stealthily put through more legislation to erode rights. There was already considerable unease about Kenney in Alberta, but this flying circus took it to a much higher level.
I think it will be harder for Kenney to continue to undermine democracy going forward. Now, even those who trusted and supported him before are going to scrutinize and question what he does more carefully. I suspect he will try some populist distractions, but there are problems with that too. For instance, I don’t think he is a very convincing populist and certainly less so after the flying circus debacle. In any event, I expect he will try it and we can expect old worn out ideas from the fair deal panel (or as I would like to call it the Antique Road Show) to pop up soon as he tries to change the channel.
Dave, I agree with your conclusion that it will be harder for Kenney to continue to undermine democracy going forward given how betrayed all Albertans including many of his MLAs felt by the Flying Circus (love that name).
Kenney’s next big tests will be how well he manages (1) containing covid until enough people are vaccinated, (2) the covid vaccination roll out and (3) getting the economy back on an even keel when we’re on the other side of this thing.
This time he won’t be able to blame any shortfalls on Trudeau because we’ll be comparing how well he performs against how well 9 other provincial premiers, 3 territorial governments and the First Nations perform on these three issues.
It interesting that Ft. McMurray MLA Tany Yao’s name came up in the responses to your blog post, Susan. We watched the Ryan Jespersen Show this a.m. where Jespersen was interviewing Kat Lanteigne, executive director of “Bloodwatch”, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for “a safe, voluntary, public blood system in Canada”.
Jespersen asked Ms. Lanteigne about the Private Member’s Bill 204 that Tany Yao introduced last fall that repealed Bill 3, the Voluntary Blood Donations Act. Sarah Hoffman, as Health Minister in the Notley government, introduced Bill 3 in March 2017. Bloodwatch, as well as Alberta’s own health care advocacy group Friends of Medicare, were very supportive of Hoffman’s bill that would keep for-profit blood brokers out of Alberta, similar to legislation passed in Ontario and Quebec. Hoffman’s words, “”Donating blood should not be viewed as a business venture, but as a public resource that saves lives every day.”
Ms. Lanteigne was very knowledgeable and articulate, and distressed about the implications of the repeal of Bill 3. She also pointed out the impropriety of this Bill coming from a Private member, a back-bencher, rather than the Health Minister himself, Tyler Shandro, which would have been more appropriate and would have had debate in the Leg. Jespersen picked up on a note in Ms. Lanteigne’s voice, probed further and she revealed that the UCP, rather than consider the legislation in an honest, responsible manner also ended up attacking her personally.
But not just Ms. Lanteigne was attacked. The “Ft. McMurray Today” newspaper back in November, 2020 quoted Mr. Yao, “Yao wondered if Friends of Medicare’s use of the slogan ‘blood is a public resource’ hinted that a sinister agenda was at hand. He said the NDP is aligned with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and pointed out that in 2013, Trudeau said he had ‘a level of admiration’ for China’s ‘basic dictatorship.’ Trudeau later said he was talking about China’s economy. Yao also pointed out China has forcefully harvested organs from prisoners against their will.”
So, maybe Mr. Yao REALLY needed that Mexican holiday after getting his brain all wrapped up in this fantastical pretzel.
Bill 3, again the Voluntary Blood Donations Act, was brought into existence by the NDP government in 2017 to prevent for-profit blood brokers from setting up clinics in Alberta, where they pay donors for their plasma and then sell it to the highest bidder in the international marketplace. Naturally there is concern about diverting scarce donors from our voluntary blood collection system run by Canadian Blood Services.
There are also risks regarding blood safety when the profit-motive is introduced- as was addressed by Justice Horace Krever in the “Tainted Blood Inquiry” following the public health disaster of the 1980-90’s where thousands of Canadians died after receiving transfusions contaminated with HIV and Hepatitis .
I was a young community health nurse in Edmonton at this time and we would see at our clinic information about the fall-out from this disaster. One of the worst to me, was a victim from Calgary, a young mother who had hemorrhaged after giving birth to her third child and received transfusions, and later died of AIDS.
I myself, a mother of 2 small children had surgery in 1987, required transfusions and had to wait a long 6 weeks before I knew if I had gotten HIV from the packed cells I received. One of the startling findings that came out of Justice Krever’s inquiry was the Canadian Red Cross that was responsible for blood acquisition at that time had been buying blood from the U.S.- that came from Arkansas prisoners, and without adequate testing distributed it to Canadian hospitals. There was a documentary made about it, “Factor 8”, if you want to know the horrifying details. One of the key recommendations of Judge Krever was to “. . . ensure that blood components and blood products used in Canada are made from the blood and plasma collected from unpaid donors.”
Aside from the science, and Canada’s past horror of the “Tainted Blood Scandal”, what of the moral and ethical issues involved with taking advantage of down-and-out people, coaxing them to sell their plasma for a few lousy bucks? When a private blood broker set up in Saskatoon, Dr. Ryan Meili who was an inner city doctor at the time and totally opposed to them, was dismayed to see them setting up “a few blocks from payday loan shops and pawn-brokers”.
Presenters to the Standing Committee hearing Tany Yao’s proposed legislation last November included Dr. Graham Sher, Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Blood Services, and Kat Lanteigne from Bloodwatch, who spoke against the repeal of the Voluntary Blood Donations Act. But to no avail. Their testimonies were ignored, the UCP- dominated Standing Committee recommended passing Yao’s bill, and this ugly, disingenuous piece of legislation wasn’t debated in our Legislative Assembly. A done deal.
But to me, the sickest part of all this is the corruption of our democracy, and who is whose pockets in our province. From Alana Cattapan’s article in Policy Options August 14, 2020, “It was lobbyists from an industry group, the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association, who brought forward the new bill in Alberta, trying to move quickly under a government that has proven time and again that it will plunder every public resource it can.”
Albertans had an ethical government under Rachel Notley, one that strived to act in the public interest, and they were thrown under the bus. It is stunning to see how easily some people are conned, and led down the garden path by ambitious, narcissistic politicians. You are right, Susan, what happened in Washington should be a wake-up call to all of us here in Alberta. The parallels are getting too close for comfort.
Elaine, thank you for this eloquent description of what the UCP is doing with respect to private blood collection. It’s interesting when you read all the comments from those who say such a move is perfectly safe as long as there’s adequate governmental oversight. They said the same thing about privatizing long term care and we’ve seen how poorly the for-profit LTC facilities have coped with covid compared to the public LTC facilities.
For whatever reason the mantra “the private sector does it better” is firmly entrenched in the conservative mind regardless of how many times that has been proven not to be the case. Sadly, the government says it will regulate for-profit companies providing public services but then turns around and refuses to regulate because that conflicts with it’s promise to eliminate red tape.
The other rationale I’ve heard in support of the private collection of plasma is that it will ease plasma shortages in Alberta. Then we find out the government will not require plasma collected in Alberta to be used here, it can be shipped all over the place.
Bottom line, someone, somewhere is going to profit from this, at the expense of Albertans.
Capital —> Capitol.
Yes, thanks Keith. I caught that in the revisions but not before I’d hit ‘publish’. Sigh.
“Kenney has created an unstable and unsustainable situation.”
Indeed, economically, fiscally, socially, and medically.
But don’t worry folks, the speaker of the house is on it, giving everyone a right proper chiding:
Yes yes Mr;Speaker,
I’m embarrassed by UCP hypocrisy, you and yours should be particularly embarrassed by UCP hypocrisy, simply everyone is so very sick and tired of being embarrassed by UCP hypocrisy, tell us something we don’t know,
like when the ten recall elections will be; 11 if you include Calgary-Lougheed, for good measure.
GoinFawr: you raise an interesting point. How much hypocrisy is necessary before the UCP implements its recall legislation.
This week we learned the UCP’s promise that Alberta teachers would retain control of their pensions was bogus.
We also learned the government paid almost twice as much for school masks made by IFR Workwear (owned by a UCP supporter who made a large donation to the Education Minister’s campaign) than it did for the order that went to Old Navy. The hypocrisy here is (1) the UCP say they’re better money managers than anyone else and (2) they say doctors and other healthcare workers need to get a pay cut or be fired because they make 20% more (supposedly) than their counterparts in other parts of the country. Perhaps the rationale for paying 180% more for masks is the company reaping the benefit of the government’s largess is owned by a UCP supporter. https://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/documents-show-alberta-government-likely-overpaid-for-masks-destined-for-schools-1.5264339
Susan: I have heard that Danielle Smith has left Corus. I wonder what is going on with this? What political aspirations are forthcoming? There are many concerns.
Danielle Smith future is to create a new group ‘Proud Girls’ to the right of the ‘Proud Boys’ because obviously not even a right wing radio station is enough for her views.
According to her she lost the ability to talk about issues without the interference of politically correct people. Well anything right of her current views has to be fascist dictatorship propaganda.
Wow she just cannot get enough attention for her fundamentalist views.
Lobotomy is the only way to deal with this form of obsession.
Grow Up is another alternative.
Dwayne and Carlos, I had heard that Danielle Smith left Corus. The rumour mill says she wants to run for mayor in Calgary. Smith says she’s happy to stay in High River but hinted she might return to politics. I sincerely hope she doesn’t make a run for mayor here because there are a number of right wing conservatives who would welcome her. I can’t think of a worse choice.
As I understand it Smith got into hot water when she was on the Calgary School Board (things got so bad the PC government disbanded the CSB), then she took over as leader of the Wildrose and led them to cross the floor to join with Prentice’s PCs which resulted in the WR/PC party being kicked out by the NDP in 2015. Not exactly a brilliant track record.
Carlos mentioned Smith’s concern that if she stayed on the air she’d be the victim of the so-called cancel culture. It’s a strange comment given Smith’s belief in “freedom.” If a large segment of the population sends feedback to a company about the inappropriate (in their opinion) behavior of one of its employees, and the employer decides to fire that employee because keeping them on will hurt their profits, isn’t that the perfect example of two freedoms working in unison: freedom of expression and the free market?
Susan your comment about Smith’s concern is of course correct. I just cannot understand that fairly educated people and with exposure to other political views as she is, fail so miserably in common sense and critical thinking. What is so difficult to understand in what you explained about freedom of expression and the free market.
The problem is the cult issue that so many of them seem to suffer from in the new Conservatism these days. It is actually dangerous and we have seen it again in the US impeachment process where after all that has been happening only 5% of republicans voted to impeach Trump in the House. It is mind boggling.
Interesting Danielle Smith has a new article saying that she is leaving radio and tweeter because of the MOB
Well Danielle you are the MOB as far as many people are concerned
OMG Jason Kenney has empathy! but I can bet it is just to regain our trust so do not be fooled again. If he has no empathy for doctors, nurses and teachers forget having it for inmates.
Carlos, what I found interesting about this article (aside from Kenney breaking with O’Toole, the candidate he endorsed in the CPC leadership race) was Kenney’s comment that he’d “go to the wall to oppose any effort to redirect vaccines from frontline workers, the elderly and the frail, to healthy younger prisoners.” No one is suggesting that vaccines should be redirected from frontline workers et al to “healthy younger prisoners” but Kenney is using strong language about a nonexistent issue to sound tough because his hard right base won’t like his position and will see it as a sign of weakness.
Frankly I think Kenney is scrambling to repair the damage from Hawaiigate, the incompetent UCP MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, and the order for school masks going at almost double the price to a donor for a UCP Cabinet minister.
Wow, what a train wreck!
I absolutely agree with you and I cannot believe how word and propaganda crafty Jason Kenney is. His supporters just fall for all of this without questioning at all. So now he is the great defender of the elderly, the frail and even inmates.
An excellent mini Trump
I can see all of this as the preparation for the private health insurance bombshell coming soon as shock and awe in the middle of the pandemic.
He fired Pat Rehn as a way to get ammunition.
He is not scrambling at all, he is just turning it around while everyone is waiting for his fall. He is never in trouble, he does not even fear the RCMP investigation.
Just wait, he has no shame. None of this affects him, that is why he is still there.
Get ready friends for another few billion down the drain on Wednesday when Biden kills the pipeline
Not sure when news like this are going to stop because it seems Jason Kenney is good at creating rivers of bad news. Rivers of bad decisions and passing bad legislation through the back door or in omnibus bills so that we have no choice.
Interesting that his cousin Erin O’Toole says that the Conservative party is no place for the far right. I wonder what he thinks Jason Kenney his biggest supporter is? Moderate? really? well if it is then we know what Erin is hiding.