When it comes to policy and politics, Jason Kenney only plays for one team, and that’s Team Kenney.
Two particular cases have highlighted this characteristic during the pandemic response.
Mere weeks ago, the Premier and Health Minister were claiming there was only about a month’s supply of PPE left in Alberta before we would run out. Yet this week, Premier Kenney was out offering up a transfer of supplies to other jurisdictions that were short of PPE.
While it’s admirable that Alberta would help the rest of Canada out in a situation where they had the resources to, and a surplus of supplies, this didn’t quite jive with the previous alarmist messaging. Reports from front line health care workers stated they were having problems accessing PPE, and it was reported that Alberta Health Services was asking workers to save used and potentially contaminated PPE to be sterilized for re-use. It becomes hard to circle the square on the change in position.
That is until listening to Premier Kenney answer questions at the announcement to share resources with other provinces. It became clear this move wasn’t entirely altruistic.
Never one to miss a chance to capitalize on a political opportunity, the premier lapsed into his oft repeated trope that the rest of Canada hasn’t had Alberta’s back the same way Alberta has had theirs.
“Are you expecting payback for this gesture in the future?” asked Rob Drinkwater from the Canadian Press.
“I obviously hope that our fellow Canadians will recognize in this contribution the generous role that Albertans have always played across the country. This is one practical expression of that at a time of need, but we Albertans contribute $20 billion more to the rest of Canada than we get back in benefits every year… I hope there will be a renewed sense of national solidarity and I think part of that should mean that 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,” said the premier in his response.
TLDR; “Yes, I am.”
Normally one would call this a quid-pro-quo, but that would insinuate that terms of the deal were known and agreed to up front. This sounds more similar to extortion or bribery than Alberta altruism. (Read Mark Taylor’s op-ed on Alberta Altruism).
To risk the health and welfare of Alberta’s frontline pandemic fighters to use as leverage for a future infrastructure debate is reprehensible.
The second incident that demonstrates how Kenney doesn’t play for any team but his own was an interview with Power and Politics host Vassy Kapelos.
“We’re not going to wait for Health Canada to play catchup with for example the European Union’s drug regulator or the Food and Drug Administration in the United States,” Kenney said in the interview on the flagship CBC program.
Kenney went on to criticize the speed of the decision to close Canada’s borders, and the relaying of information at the onset of the virus when it first started in China, which at the time, as was best understood, there was no human to human infection.
While there may be issues with the initial response to the pandemic, now is not the time for that assessment. Premier Kenney’s words only serve to undermine the Public Health directions that will be given as we navigate this crisis. It is merely red meat for his base that is anti-Ottawa, in spite of soaring approval ratings for the Trudeau government’s handling of this crisis.
Another issue that Kenney’s bluster raises is that we are a nation of laws. Constitutionally, the federal government bears responsibility for regulation and safety of Canada’s drugs and healthcare system. As one of the most vocal defenders of Constitutional authority (when it suits his agenda) this position is rife with hypocrisy.
Listen to this brief interview on 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen show this morning with University of Calgary Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Law, Dr. Lorian Hardcastle – whose research includes regulation and governance of the healthcare system, hospital and government liability and patient safety.
Forgetting the lack of constitutional authority and experience required to adequately approve drugs and testing for Albertans, one has to wonder what liability the Government of Alberta might be taking on in circumventing the regulatory regime established by the federal government and Canada’s Constitution should they get it wrong.
We’ve already seen at least one clinical trial of Hydroxychloroquine be discontinued due to the cardiac complications that have been observed in patients.
The thing that those who have observed Jason Kenney’s political career know is that every single thing he does is political and calculated. The only best interests he operates on and looks out for are his own.