Fly away on WestJet

Written by Brenda Schimke

Now we know for sure what many of us suspected all along, Premier Kenney cares more about WestJet profits than people’s health or lives. Throughout the pandemic, Kenney’s mantra has been ‘livelihood and life’, but his actions could be more accurately described as ‘livelihood before life’.

At a news conference in early November, Kenney said he didn’t believe tighter lockdowns were necessary—in fact, he continued to point to Alberta’s low death rates when compared to other jurisdictions in Canada. 

Doc Kenney’s denial of expert advice worked well in a province with the youngest population in Canada, until it didn’t. 

The first 500 COVID deaths took nine months, the next 500 just 34 days. Unfortunately, Doc Kenney’s pseudoscience caught up to him by the end of November and since then Alberta has the dubious honour of having the highest death rates per capita in Canada.

But Kenney’s press conference on New Year’s Day, where he took the blame for Cabinet Minister Tracy Allard’s personal decision to vacation in Hawaii, sank to new lows.

Father Jason was disappointed in his adult child, Tracy, but was not about to discipline her by asking for her resignation. Father Jason is just like that parent at school where his ‘little Tracy” can do no wrong.  

All, father Kenney asked of ‘Hawaii-mama Allard’ was to show appropriate contrition on her return and sincerely apologize to the millions of Albertans—you know, all those who followed the Alberta government’s clear guidelines and didn’t make any unnecessary foreign trips!

But father Jason went further, he accepted personal blame for all and any inappropriate COVID travel made by his 63 UCP MLAs and his non-elected leadership team. It’s like a pardon before the public knows who’s all guilty. 

Father Jason said he hadn’t given a clear directive to his ‘children’—and so they couldn’t be expected to understand that unnecessary travel actually included vacations to the United States and Great Britain—the world’s COVID hotspots!

For snowbirds and thousands who normally travel out of the country in the winter, but instead followed guidelines and hunkered down to brave Alberta’s winter, there is righteous outrage.

Many people believe politicians check their brains and ethics at the door as soon as they enter politics. 

Kenney’s New Year’s Day press conference gives strong support to that belief. In his rebuttal, he applied his standard political formula—deflect, rationalize, blame Trudeau, point out it wasn’t illegal, apologize and promise it won’t happen again. 

Politicians seem unable to grasp the concept that ‘doing what they say, not what they do’ breeds distrust and contempt.

The essence of Kenney’s New Year’s Day news conference was that ‘livelihood’ is more important than ‘life’. 

Kenney’s recurring message was ‘fly away on WestJet’. He applauded the thousands of Canadians who have continued flying domestically and overseas through COVID and actually said air travel is safer than going to a grocery store.

Critical thinkers may ask, “if the highly transmissible new COVID variant from Britain didn’t come on a plane with a human carrier, how did it get to Canada—the jet stream? A bird? An alien, perhaps?

No, it’s people like Kenney’s Chief of Staff, Jamie Huckabay, who vacationed in Britain, then snuck home via the US, who are the potential spreaders of the new COVID variant. World travel is the reason we have a pandemic.

Kenney’s unwavering strategy throughout the pandemic of ‘livelihood before life’, and his frequent moral lapses, reveals a man that cannot be trusted.


Brenda Schimke

ECA Review

About the author

Brenda Schimke

Schimke is a Graduate with Distinction from the University of Alberta with a BCom degree. She has lived and worked in Alberta, BC and Ontario.