Alberta set a record 1,584 new coronavirus cases Sunday – and #WhereisKenney trended on Twitter – as critics accused Alberta’s Premier of failing to show leadership – or even speak to Albertans about the crisis.
Jason Kenney was still self-isolating after a close contact tested positive for the virus – but many wondered why he hadn’t remotely addressed the province at a coronavirus briefing since Nov. 12.
“This is a time for leadership. Premiers across the (country) are addressing the public, some on a daily basis. There is a need for accountability for the decisions being made – or not being made for that matter,” Opposition Leader Rachel Notley tweeted.
Notley and the NDP called for an emergency debate on the coronavirus to be held on Monday.
Alberta reported more new cases Sunday (1,584) than Ontario (1,534) and Quebec (1,154) – provinces that both have much higher populations.
Kenney did not make a statement about the coronavirus spike Sunday, but he did share an update from Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
The Premier last appeared at a briefing ten days ago when he announced new restrictions in an effort to curb the coronavirus spread. He has rejected calls from doctors for more restrictive measures.
A spokesperson for the premier did not directly answer a question about why Kenney has not appeared remotely at briefings – and she wouldn’t say if he’d be at Monday’s scheduled address with Dr. Hinshaw.
“During this time, he has been working from home, constantly being updated on the evolving situation by Alberta public health officials,” Press Secretary Christine Myatt wrote Sunday.
“We will continue to communicate regularly with Albertans on the COVID-19 situation, as we have been since the pandemic began,” she added.
‘LACK OF LEADERSHIP’: POLITICAL SCIENTIST
“He’s (Kenney) been absent on this issue. He’s okay to have a zoom call to a UCP AGM, but seemingly not okay to speak to Albertans about a growing health crisis,” Political Science Professor Duane Bratt said in an interview with CTV News Edmonton Sunday.
Bratt believes many in the UCP have done a poor job of handling the coronavirus crisis, pointing to rare appearances from Health Minister Tyler Shandro and recent controversies involving MLAs Miranda Rosin and Jason Luan.
“What hurts is in that vacuum, we listen to people like Miranda Rosin or Jason Luan, who are UCP MLAs saying some pretty atrocious things,” Bratt said.
“There’s been a lack of leadership from the Premier and Health Minister and others are picking up that void and sending some really bad messages,” he added.
Bratt said opinion polls also reflect Albertans displeasure with the governments handling of the coronavirus issue.
Here is some of the reaction from Albertans Sunday as #WhereisKenney trended on Twitter:
Hinshaw’s next live update was scheduled for Monday and will be available at CTVNewsEdmonton.ca