Jason Kenney’s poll numbers are in the tank thanks to his handling of the coronavirus crisis, and he’s reacting by getting more and more belligerent.
On Monday the Premier did a bizarre interview on CBC’s Power and Politics, attacking Dr. Theresa Tam (the federal equivalent to our local chief public health officer Dr. Hinshaw.) Echoing the anti-China rhetoric of Donald Trump and the American Republicans, Kenney accused Dr. Tam of “repeating Chinese talking points,” railed against open borders, and suggested that Dr. Tam and Health Canada were holding back potential treatments for the virus.
It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to conclude the treatment in question is chloroquine, an anti-malaria drug touted by Donald Trump and, more locally, Danielle Smith. There’s little evidence to support the use of the drug --and in the trials where it is being used, people are dropping dead. But in the interview Mr. Kenney asserted that he intended to circumvent Health Canada’s approval process and follow the American lead. “We’re not going to wait for Health Canada to play catch-up with, for example, the European Union’s drug regulator or the Food and Drug Administration in the United States,” said the Premier.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Trudeau responded that “People can get anxious and impatient about things. But as a government we are going to remain grounded in science. We are going to remain grounded in our experts.”
Back at home, Kenney is in the thick of a pitched battle with Alberta’s doctors. The Alberta Medical Association sued the provincial government on Thursday for $255 million in damages, arguing that the UCP administration violated their charter right to arbitration. Beating on Alberta’s doctors in the midst of a global pandemic is so shameful that even Licia Corbella, typically a proxy voice for Kenney, called foul in the conservative-aligned Calgary Herald.
But none of this is stopping Kenney from indulging in a little classic petro-politics. Despite AHS telling local nurses that they can’t use N95 masks when administering coronavirus tests, and despite local doctors having to go to the open market to buy personal protective equipment (PPE), Jason Kenney sent big PPE care packages to BC, Ontario, and Quebec, arguing that Alberta had more than enough supplies already. Never one to miss an opportunity, Kenney said of the gift “we’re all in this together, not only when it comes to a health emergency, but also when it comes to generating wealth through the responsible development of resources.”
Friend of the show James Wilt has a new book on public transit out this month, Do Androids Dream of Electric Cars?, and if you’re into the idea of robust, freely-accessible transit you might want to pick up a copy. James was also recently involved in a land defense action in Winnipeg, and subsequently the aggrieved developer took James and the other activists to court for an unpleasantly large amount of money. If you’re looking for a worthy cause to support this week, you could do worse than to throw a few bills into their GoFundMe.
UFCW 401 is urging the Minnesotan operators of the Cargill meat packing plant near High River to put its workers on paid leave after an outbreak of coronavirus at the plant. So far 38 workers have confirmed cases, and the plant is massive, with a staff of about 2000. Cargill has modestly reduced shifts but refuses to stop operations at the plant.
David Climenhaga articulates well the need to dramatically improve the working conditions at senior long-term-care facilities here in the province in his latest column. But we’d suggest a step even further: bring all LTC under public control, and vastly increase the number of available beds, too. Our elders deserve better than the horror stories we’re hearing out of corner-cutting private facilities.
- Jason Kenney is pleading with Justin Trudeau to use federal money to top up the ailing Orphan Well Agency, but as Regan Boychuk warns, “politicization of the OWA could turn federal bailout dollars into a slush fund for the premier to reward allies and punish opponents with public dollars.”
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