Alberta Premier Jason Kenney answers questions at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Premier Jason Kenney is rejecting criticism he waited too long to bring in sweeping lockdown anti-COVID measures, labelling such talk “Alberta bashing.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney answers questions at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Premier Jason Kenney is rejecting criticism he waited too long to bring in sweeping lockdown anti-COVID measures, labelling such talk “Alberta bashing.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol

‘Alberta bashing:’ Kenney rejects criticism he waited too long on COVID rules

The premier said not all people who make up Alberta’s high COVID-19 case counts end up getting sick

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is rejecting criticism he waited too long to bring in tighter COVID-19 measures as “Alberta bashing.”

The comment came in a radio interview Wednesday with Edmonton’s CHED radio station. Kenney lauded Alberta’s pandemic response in the spring, including when Edmonton held the National Hockey League playoffs in an isolation “bubble.”

That prompted host Shaye Ganam to interject: “Premier Kenney, with all due respect, you’re talking about things that happened several months ago, and we’re in a drastically different situation now.

“Things are far, far worse when you talk about our record in terms of pandemic response. It’s among the worst, especially in Canada.”

Kenney countered: “I don’t accept the Alberta bashing that is going on here.”

The premier said not all people who make up Alberta’s high COVID-19 case counts end up getting sick. He said comparable jurisdictions are facing similar rates and the key metric is death rates.

“The truth is Alberta’s fatality rate of COVID cases, which is the most important statistic, is … significantly below that of Ontario, of Quebec, of Manitoba and only slightly ahead of British Columbia,” Kenney said.

On Tuesday, the premier refused to take responsibility for the growing caseload at a news conference where he announced stricter public-health measures.

“From a health perspective, it’s clear your approach hasn’t worked to date and has arguably even cost people their lives. Do you acknowledge any responsibility and apologize for the way you’ve handled the second wave of the pandemic?” asked Postmedia reporter Sammy Hudes.

“That sounds a lot more like an NDP speech than a media question, Sammy,” replied the United Conservative premier. “I reject the entire premise of your question.

“You have just joined folks who are doing drive-by smears on Alberta.”

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley called Kenney’s behaviour “so thin-skinned and so sensitive” and said it speaks to a fundamental leadership flaw.

“(Kenney) cannot take responsibility for mistakes, and he must deflect and blame and then attack people who raise them,” she said.

“Crises test leaders,” said Notley, who added that Albertans need to trust their leader, which requires frank and respectful dialogue.

“He needs to change direction very quickly, because quite frankly that trust issue itself is going to become one of the challenges that we’re facing as we try to get through this pandemic.”

Alberta reported 20,199 active cases Wednesday with 685 people in hospital — 121of them receiving intensive care. There have been 653 deaths.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced that inoculations using the Pfizer vaccine are to begin next Wedneday. The 3,900 doses are to go to priority medical and long-term care workers.

Alberta’s daily infection numbers have been over 1,000 since Nov. 24 and more than 1,600 a day for a week. On some days, Alberta has led the country in total new cases.

Hospitals have been reassigning patients, staff, wards and spaces to free up more intensive care beds and is negotiating to bring in hospital field tents.

The NDP and hundreds of doctors had for weeks been calling for a lockdown, because case rates were projecting a dire situation.

In response, Kenney banned extended indoor private gatherings two weeks ago and put further limits on customers in stores and businesses. He said it was critical to keep shops, casinos, waterparks, and other businesses open as much as possible to prevent further damage to the economy, community well-being and mental health.

The latest restrictions, in place for at least four weeks, shutter almost all public activities while keeping retail businesses open at sharply reduced capacity.

The NDP said 317 Albertans died of COVID-19 in the four weeks Kenney refused strict lockdown measures.

“Yesterday we watched the premier introduce the very same measures he spent the month of November mocking and labelling as partisan, socialist attacks on the economy,” said Notley.

“COVID is not the premier’s fault, of course. But Alberta’s inability to contain it, particularly over the last five weeks, absolutely is.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version said Alberta has had 685 deaths.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 456 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Alberta RCMP urge rural residents to use online crime reporting

‘Crimes reported online will be taken just as seriously as crime reported in any other way’

county
County of Paintearth highlights from Jan. 12th

County graders have been out blading ice at intersections where ice buildup has been bad

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19.  (File photo)
750 new COVID-19 cases identified in Alberta Sunday

Central zone currently has 1,182 active cases of the virus

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. Public opposition to the Alberta government’s plans to expand coal mining in the Rocky Mountains appears to be growing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File
Alberta cancels coal leases, pauses future sales, as opposition increases

New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt welcomed the suspension

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File)
First Nations seek to intervene in court challenge of coal policy removal

Bearspaw, Ermineskin and Whitefish First Nations are among those looking to intervene

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Central Alberta’s Catherine Hayreceived a letter from the Government of Canada recently stating she had to repay the government. Photo submitted
Central Albertan asked to repay CERB amount

Catherine Hay says she received a letter in November saying she had to completely repay the benefit

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Most Read