rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Where is Jason Kenney? Alberta premier unseen since August 9 as COVID cases rise

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Jason Kenney hoists a glass of something with Labatt's CEO Kyle Norrington at the brewer's Edmonton facility on Aug. 9, that last time anyone saw the Alberta premier in person (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

With COVID-19 case counts in Alberta marching higher by the day, now closing in on 8,000 active cases, the chorus of grumbles about what's become of Premier Jason Kenney is increasing in volume.

Kenney was last seen on Aug. 9 at a press conference called to announce expansion of an Edmonton brewery that promised to create 25 jobs. That may not sound like a lot, but you crow about what good news you're handed in times like these. At least Labatt's gave the premier a free beer, or something, to drink.

Since then, though, with the Delta variant of the coronavirus cutting a swath through Alberta, Kenney's been nowhere to be seen.

We haven't gotten quite to the point where they're putting the premier's portrait on milk cartons, but the internet memes have been getting funnier, media reporters have been getting crankier, and the premier's staff have been nervously insisting he's on holiday, he's fine and he's in charge, albeit remotely.

"The alarm bells are ringing, yet the lights are off in the premier's office," NDP health critic David Shepherd said in a news release. "Albertans deserve more than Jason Kenney's out-of-office replies."

In truth, I imagine that the Opposition isn't all that unhappy the premier's gone missing. It gives them the opportunity to make the point, in Shepherd's words again, that Albertans "deserve a strategy for finishing the fight against COVID-19 so we keep businesses open, protect our kids in school and keep the economy going. It’s time for the UCP to show up for work."

Theories, many of them insulting, abound. The simplest explanation, it seems to me, is that Kenney's hiding out in the Conservative Party of Canada war room, plotting strategy for federal Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole for the rest of the fall campaign that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may or may not be regretting, depending on how you interpret the still murky returns from recent polls.

Occasionally Kenney appears up in a social media video published by his staff -- but so far they haven't resorted to showing him holding up a copy of the day's newspaper to prove he's still alive.

Nevertheless, Kenney will need to resurface soon, or darker theories will begin to circulate.

I can't help but recall the time in late 1988 The Globe and Mail decided to send me to Finland to fill the pages of a business section on that country's industries and I got the OK for an interview with Kari Kairamo, Nokia's high-profile chief executive.

But when I got there, "the Lee Iacocca of Finland" was nowhere to be found. Two exceedingly nervous Nokia PR flacks summoned me to a very nice restaurant on Helsinki Harbour and informed me regretfully and uncomfortably that Kairamo was indisposed.

I feigned outrage and said I was returning to my hotel room to call the editor who had sent me all the way to Finland for the interview -- which was not strictly accurate, but readers will understand the bargaining tactic.

They handed me a cellular phone the size of the Yellow Pages (for those of who still remember that bulky document) and I made the first cellular telephone call of my life to a puzzled early morning copy editor who wasn't in on my bluff.

Long story short, by the time I'd arrived in Finland, Kairamo had committed suicide. The problem was, the company hadn't yet informed its shareholders while the board figured out what the hell to do about it.

I sincerely hope it wasn't the prospect of an interview with a Canadian reporter that drove the poor man to despair. He had nothing to fear. The story was broken by someone else long after I'd left Finland.

Readers are expected to know who Lee Iacocca was. If you don't, you can look him up yourself.

I'm not suggesting, of course, that Kenney is anything but hale, hearty and full of beans. I expect the premier will resurface shortly, if only to tell to the good doctors of the Alberta Medical Association why they are wrong to plead for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations of health care workers.

As Kenney is sure to explain when he emerges from his vacation, refreshed and well rested, we don't do that in Alberta, especially when it risks splitting the United Conservative Party caucus asunder.

Alberta reported 629 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, raising the total of active cases to 7,931. Seven more people died from the disease. Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw hasn't been heard from since Aug. 13 and Health Minister Tyler Shandro since July 28.

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.

Image: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.