Rivers drops the hammer on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

June 4th, 2020



It’s not the first time that America has come to this point over race relations. Meanwhile Canadians are embroiled in a debate about whether there is systemic racism in this country, and asking why we still haven’t done anything about the legacy of missing and murdered indigenous women. Still the sudden prominence of racial issues almost provides a relief from COVID 19 crisis, allowing the the news media to change the channel.

sars cover newsweek

The lessons to be learned from SARS was lost

It has been about six months since we first heard about this novel coronavirus. We understand it most likely originated from an exotic animal in one of those disgusting wet markets in the heart of the Chinese city of Wuhan. Apparently we don’t learn from history so are having to relive the SARS epidemic of only a few years ago. Except that COVID 19 is far deadlier and more contagious, so perhaps we’ll get the message this time.

Six months in, and beyond the sickness and death and the economic collapse, we are witnessing changes in the mental health of our society.

The extent of protests over the George Floyd killing is perhaps a manifestation of people living on the edge, angry about all the sickness and death, out of work, tired of the isolation, and asking why.

Rivers in mask

Ray Rivers in his latest mask: He jabbered and jabbered until his message began to be heard.

Even mild mannered columnists, like me, are finding it harder to stay positive in light of all the bungling and betrayal by our federal and provincial governments.

The US is a basket case, but many other nations have safeguarded their population from the disease much better than Canada has. Some didn’t even have to lock down their economies and others are almost back to normal now.

One columnist recently complained that Mr. Ford has mismanaged the lockdown, squandering the effort without significantly lowering the infection rate. Others have contrasted how B.C., after an early long term care (LTC) home outbreak, mobilized to effectively protect its seniors, while Ontario dragged its feet while all those seniors died. And, of course, eliminating annual inspections of Ontario LTC homes didn’t help.

But it is the feds who got us here in the first place. Primarily concerned about the political optics of restricting travellers from China, they refused to close the borders until we had established our own homegrown contagion. And then the chief medical officer of health instructed Canadians not to wear protective face masks – something which might have saved thousands of lives.


Wash your hands at least eight times a day.

Research shows that physical distancing and being outdoors are the safest ways to interact with others. Research has also cast doubt on whether the virus is actually spread from contacting surfaces, and thus the high priority given to hand washing. Though hand washing is always a good idea – epidemic or not.

But since the virus is spread primarily from our mouths and noses, being in close quarters without face protection is a front seat to the virus. Seniors’ homes, hospitals, prisons, meat processing and other industrial facilities, grocery stores and schools head the list of dangerous places.

Face masks are now mandatory in over 50 countries globally. Had nursing homes insisted that guests and staff wear masks, much of the carnage could likely have been avoided. As it is, the elderly in these close-contact places have accounted for the bulk of this country’s fatalities – victims through no fault of their own.

And so it is upsetting to hear, Jason Kenney, the noisy premier from Alberta rant about why he thinks his province’s economy should be fully opened up. According to his numbers the average age of death for all people in his province is 82 and of those dying from COVID is 83. So bring it on!

There were casualties among younger folks at the Cargill meat plant and from those working the oil patch as well. But I guess those lives don’t count anymore than those parents and grandparents who might otherwise live into their nineties? Somehow it is strange to hear Mr. Kenny bang on about the immorality of a woman’s right to choose, but promote letting old folks die prematurely from COVID.

Rivers - Kenney H&S

Jason Kenny: It was a grossly irresponsible comment and demonstrates a willful misuse of statistics.

It was a grossly irresponsible comment and demonstrates a willful misuse of statistics. But that’s Mr. Kenny, and that perhaps reflects why his personal polling is near the bottom compared to the other premiers.

Renewed emphasis on racism in North America has moved the needle away from sexism and the Me Too movement, at least for now. But there is another ‘ism’ that also needs public attention. You may not see swaths of senior citizens brandishing their placards on the streets and setting police cars on fire – something they might have done in their youth. But they are still the victims of ageism, at least in Alberta.

It is said that the true measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable members – in this case our elderly. At least we know where Mr Kenny stands. He has shown his hand… and it isn’t pretty.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links

Six Months –    Squandered Time –     Canada Bungles

Early Action Mandatory Face Masks –     Doctors on Masks

More MasksNot Just Alberta Seniors Kenny –  Mental Health

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4 comments to Rivers drops the hammer on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney

  • Thanks for bringing ageism to our attention. Marco

  • Hans Jacobs

    I would add airport terminal buildings and passenger aircraft to the list of most dangerous places,

  • William Boyd

    Thanks, Ray, for calling a spade “a spade.”

    [By the way, down here we’re into our 4th day of 8 pm to 6 am curfew; and that’s OK as those early-AM hours are ideal for working the garden.]

    One oldie to another,

    Bill in Virginia

  • g.fraser

    Well, Hell has finally frozen over……………….I actually agree with most of what you have written. Not all, but the majority, which means greater than 50%.

    There needs to caveats to any political statement including that of the Premier’s of Alberta.What seems to missing is common sense in the political theatre or the ability to answer a question without an agonizing ‘pregnant pause’ that screamed for a voice of clarity or at least a ventriloquist. JT needs to check his ear microphone before addressing the Country.

    Keep things simple. All individuals older than let’s say 65yo or who have underlying respiratory issues should have been given valid NP95 masks. I would say, 14 of these masks per above individual which they would rotate daily over 14days. This simple measure, in conjunction to isolation measures, regular masks for the masses, etc, may have saved many lives and allowed the economy to open earlier in a regional & regulated manner.

    Yes, NP95 masks are needed for 1st liners of all job criteria but perhaps we have learned a lesson and Canada will produce our own, to our own standard and actually manage them instead of giving platitudes for not managing.

    But, you can’t fix stupidity as my wife says when she is looking at me. The number of individuals I have seen in stores, over the age of 65yo, without a mask is unbelievable!!! Perhaps they are making a statement or they feel entitled. I want to ask them WHY but I am worried they will look at me the way my wife does and I will feel stupid again.