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

Just Posted

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Sabrina Wilde in front of a recently purchased monster truck. Submitted.
Thorsby business women a finalist for 2021 Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurship Award

Sabrina Wilde with Lone Wolf Mechanical is a finalist for the entrepreneurial award.

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

The arrest south of Winnipeg occurred before Bernier was to arrive at a protest in the city. (Twitter/Maxime Bernier)
Maxime Bernier arrested following anti-rules rallies in Manitoba: RCMP

He’s been charged with exceeding public gathering limits and violating Manitoba’s requirement to self-isolate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for the G7 Summit, at the airport in Newquay, United Kingdom, Thursday, June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Details on Canada’s vaccine sharing plan coming Sunday, up to 100 million doses

Canada’s high commissioner to the UK says details will come after the G7 summit

Most Read