A photo of Jason Kenney as he signs the book of condolence at the McDougall Centre in Calgary on Sept. 8, the day of the Queen’s death.
Jason Kenney signs the book of condolence at the McDougall Centre in Calgary on Sept. 8, the day of the Queen’s death. Credit: Chris Schwarz / Alberta Newsroom Credit: Chris Schwarz / Alberta Newsroom

Canadian Conservatives have been working hard to give the impression they’re enthusiastic monarchists.

They’ve been beavering away cultivating this impression with particular energy since the death at 96 last Friday of Queen Elizabeth II – a genuinely popular figure in Canada far beyond the usual monarchist circles. 

But it’s fair to say, based on their performance here in Alberta in the past few hours, that their affection for the late monarch, and their respect for the institution of the monarchy, is a mile wide and an inch deep. (That is, as we say in Canada over the objections of many Conservatives, 1.6 kilometres wide and 2.54 centimetres deep.) 

I speak, of course, of the embarrassing decision yesterday by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney – who would have us believe he is the most monarchical monarchist of them all – to deny Albertans a one-time-only statutory holiday to honour the Queen’s career and mourn her death. 

“Albertans, Canadians and the peoples of the Commonwealth will join together on this day in sorrow to mourn the death of Her late Majesty and to commemorate her long and faithful service,” Kenney was quoted saying in a government press release yesterday. “I sincerely hope that Albertans find some time on this day to honour the remarkable life of Queen Elizabeth II …”

Some Canadians will indeed join together on this sombre and historic occasion – supposedly Kenney’s own words, although accurate enough – using time off of the kind that truly puts the statutory into a holiday, as is suitable when mourning the departure of a widely respected head of state. 

This will be thanks to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement Tuesday that in much of where the federal government’s writ extends, September 19, the day of the Queen’s funeral, will be a statutory holiday. 

Notwithstanding fatuous arguments by the usual suspects in business federations, chambers of commerce and U.S. funded think tanks that the resulting burden of overtime pay for minimum-wage workers would simply be too onerous or that hospitals would have to stop operating, Prime Minister Trudeau’s gesture was bound to be popular with normal Canadians and is an appropriate and dignified tribute to the late monarch. 

Well, we can’t have that! So Albertans (and citizens of other Conservative-run provinces) will be denied that small memorial kindness. 

After several hours of embarrassed foot shuffling yesterday while, presumably, the United Conservative Party (UCP) brain trust tried to come up with a good reason to Stop the Stat, the press release in which Kenney’s pieties were quoted appeared. Rather than paid time off (God forbid!), “workplaces, schools, offices and retail stores are encouraged to … observe the moment of silence.” (Emphasis added.) 

“As part of the day of mourning, all employers are encouraged to make accommodations for employees to either attend the ceremony at the Legislature or otherwise mark the occasion of Her late Majesty’s funeral,” the statement continues – with, presumably, the clear understanding that no one in a precarious job will be paid for time spent lollygagging while mourning the late head of state. 

“Schools will be encouraged to offer opportunities for students to take part in the day of mourning,” the news release says – no classes shall be cut. 

Kenney was featured prominently in a royalty-free photo on the government’s Alberta Newsroom Flickr page, solemnly signing the book of condolence at the McDougall Centre in Calgary on the day of the Queen’s death. His comments were lovingly recorded by the official photographer

And there you have it, folks. When you get down to where the Uniroyals hit Highway 2 – the QEII, that is – Kenney and the UCP listen to the Americanized likes of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Restaurants Canada, and the Chamber of Commerce. 

They don’t have a monarchist bone in their bodies nowadays, these Canadian Conservatives. 

They are republicans to the core to a man and woman – as is appropriate for a group that’s been taking inspiration and sustenance from Republicans in the republic to the south for decades now. 

No wonder the Alberta separatists now in the process of taking over the UCP yak constantly about setting up a Republic of Alberta! (Assuming, of course, that they even know the difference between a republic and a constitutional monarchy.)

Sure, God save the King! But God save Alberta too!

David J. Climenhaga

David J. Climenhaga

David Climenhaga is a journalist and trade union communicator who has worked in senior writing and editing positions with the Globe and Mail and the Calgary Herald. He left journalism after the strike...