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

Alberta’s daily infection numbers have been over 1,000 since Nov. 24

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 — 121 of 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.”

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

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

Just Posted

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta adds 463 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

The central zone has 818 active cases

Damien Kurek
The return of parliament: ensuring you are heard

‘If you have any questions about my work for you, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office’

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta identifies 573 new COVID-19 cases, 13 deaths on Saturday

There are currently 9,727 active cases of the virus in the province

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Blackfalds RCMP investigate fatal collision

Preliminary investigation revealed a south bound pickup truck collided with an eastbound car

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Most Read