Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday May 5, 2021
Being Jason Kenney is the worst job in politics today
As former Alberta premier Ralph Klein used to say, the secret to being a successful politician is to figure out which way the parade is going and jump in front of it.
So spare some pity for current Premier Jason Kenney as he tries to straddle two marching bands of public opinion, which are on a nasty collision course over his handling of the pandemic.
In short, Kenney is failing spectacularly in every direction he’s turned – and the result has been the fastest infection surge anywhere in North America coupled with Canada’s loudest public revolt against overdue restrictions to curb the outbreak.
It’s a uniquely tricky business bordering on mission impossible to govern Alberta even in good times, where voters are happiest with the least amount of government in their lives.
As one rural MLA noted many years ago, “My folks think that painting a yellow stripe down the middle of the highway is too much government interference.”
But mix an oil industry meltdown with enterprise-killing lockdowns and hospitals near the breaking point and you create the perfect storm of angry opposition.
Closing down businesses, schools and rodeos has sparked outrage and defiance in rural areas, where COVID-19 is not spreading as quickly.
But by heeding the cries of the United Conservative Party’s rural base to go slow on restrictions, the Kenney government has infuriated cities where soaring third-wave infection rates are swamping intensive care units.
Kenney’s challenge has been complicated by an internal revolt of his own MLAs, some still smarting from the absorption of the Wild Rose Party to create the United Progress Conservatives, who have taken a very public stand against restrictions they deem excessive.
During a long news conference on Wednesday, a weary-eyed Kenney shrugged off the internal dissent as merely a welcome exercise in democratic debate.
Sorry, but attacking public health measures designed to save lives is not up for debate and Kenney really needs to send a no-nonsense signal this is not tolerated with a mutineer expulsion or two. (CTV)