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Was Jason Kenney's southern Alberta RV tour fake news?

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at the wheel of his rented recreational vehicle from the video of his recent Southern Alberta tour. Image: Screenshot of Facebook video

"The premier of Alberta rolled into Fort Macleod last week with a message of hope," the Fort Macleod Gazette reported enthusiastically in its July 8 edition.

What's more, the Gazette went breathlessly on, "Premier Jason Kenney held court at Stronghold Brewery on June 30 during his tour of southern Alberta in a rented motorhome."

Cool! There's even a slick video put out by the premier's communications gurus showing Kenney at the wheel of the large "recreational vehicle," as these road behemoths are known hereabouts, bringing the good news of a brighter petroleum-fuelled future to the people of the land, the common clay of the new west. You know, Conservative voters!

I'm telling you, these four minutes of moving pictures are pure poetry: red ball caps, yellow canola, lots of booze a pourin', groups of well-fed men (not quite so many women), elbow bumps, factories, a goat, and, of course, lots and lots and lots of steel pipe waiting to be laid. There's also a nice shot of the premier, wind in his hair, sort of, enjoying life at the wheel of the mighty RV. I tell you, it's a work of art!

An upbeat soundtrack with a drum machine sets the pace for the premier's exciting adventures and inspiring perorations, of which there are quite a few.

Alas, skeptics have emerged, reporting on social media that the premier's Prairie peregrination on the friendly turf of Alberta's deep south wasn't all it appeared to be.

Indeed, it would appear Kenney's smile-filled RV tour was a species of what has come to be known as "fake news." Quel dommage!

Leastways, while the friendly but socially distanced events with local supporters were real enough, it would seem there was no way the premier of Alberta was about to sleep in the back of a stinky old camper van.

Indeed, on one day of the tour, Kenney was reported to have been spotted enjoying a relaxing breakfast on the patio of the Banff Springs Hotel, a pair of comfy looking hotel slippers on his feet. Well, this is the 21st century, and little sister is always watching you, her wonderful iPhone camera in hand, recording everything for posterity. (Siri, who is that familiar looking unshaven man in the house slippers over there?)

For that matter, apparently Kenney wasn't even about to take on the exhausting job of driving the beast. He was "working in the back during commutes," issues manager Matt Wolf grumpily admitted in a tweet. No admission from Mr. Wolf, however, that the premier was spending his nights between the crisp white sheets of a fine hotel.

You ask me, instead of getting crabby with the doubters, Kenney should turn his summer road trip into an entertaining roman à clef. He could lend himself a politically helpful hipster vibe by calling it, say, On the Road. Or, if he wanted to dip into what Alberta will look like after his United Conservative Party has had its way with us, just The Road.

That's all I have to say about this. Anyone who hangs out on Twitter or Facebook already knew. I'm just writing this for those oldsters in my age group who always dreamed of having a nice used class C but could never afford to fuel it up, let alone park it for the winter, and now it's too much even to think about emptying the honey wagon.

In yesterday's serious news, Alberta took a couple of steps forward, and a couple more back.

Just like U.S. President Donald Trump, who seems to have had a road to Damascus moment on COVID-19 yesterday, Kenney begged us all to mask up to prevent the coronavirus comeback that already seems to be happening in Alberta.

But at yesterday's COVID-19 briefing and UCP news conference, he also had Education Minister Adriana LaGrange on hand to announce how we'll be sending three-quarters of a million students back to "near normal" classrooms in September.

What could possibly go wrong?

In addition, Calgary city council voted 12 to three yesterday for a bylaw that will make masks mandatory at indoor public spaces in the city.

But the bylaw won't kick in for another 10 days, and councillors plan to have another vote next week on the details, thereby giving council's anti-maskers another kick at the culture-war can and Cowtown's COVID questioning more time to scream.

David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism teacher, poet and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions at The Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. This post also appears on his blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Image: Jason Kenney/Screenshot of Facebook video

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