Alberta Politics

The first week of January is usually a sleepy time in Alberta politics – not this year!

The first week of January is typically a sleepy time in Alberta politics, but 2021 is an incredible exception.

They found Tany Yao! And he’s staying in Mexico

Tany Yao UCP MLA Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo
Tany Yao

MLA Tany Yao has re-emerged in Mexico and appears to be defying Premier Jason Kenney’s directive to MLAs to immediately return home after “disconnecting” following a stressful year of passing a one-page private members’ bill that easily passed through the Legislative Assembly on November 16, 2020.

The United Conservative Party MLA for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo apparently turned his cell phone off after he arrived in Mexico on Dec. 26, avoiding news of the hot holiday scandal that started to envelope his government last Friday. He will return to Alberta on Jan. 9, according to media reports.

Kenney goes into hiding after firing cabinet minister 

Kenney was nowhere to be seen the day after he announced on Facebook that he was asking for the resignations of Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard and his Chief of Staff Jamie Huckabay and demoting the handful of UCP MLAs who ignored advice to stay home and jetted off to hot destinations over the Christmas break.

Leger Poll Disapprove Kenney COVID-19 Alberta
A recent Leger poll showing that 69% of Albertans disapprove of how the Kenney government is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, Health Minister Tyler Shandro and new Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver took point at the COVID-19 press conference yesterday, thanking Albertans for being angry at the government over the MLAs ignoring the recommendations to stay home and avoid non-essential international travel, claiming the government feels the same way.

Kenney’s last public appearance was on last Friday, when he took to the podium to defend Allard’s Hawaiian vacation and claim that he has been encouraging international, despite 9-months of telling Albertans to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19.

On top of the troubles in his sun-seeking Caucus, a recent Leger poll showed that 69 per cent of Albertans disapprove of how the Kenney government is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Slave Lake Town Council calls for Pat Rehn to resign

Pat Rehn

The biggest political news of the day came from up north.

With his Mexican vacation cut short by public outrage, Pat Rehn will have returned home to face a letter signed by the entire Slave Lake Town Council calling for his resignation as the MLA for Lesser Slave Lake. But the letter isn’t about his hot holiday.

“We have lost faith that you have the ability and the desire to undertake the work which is required of an MLA. On behalf of the Town of Slave Lake and those we represent, we are asking for your resignation as MLA for the Lesser Slave Lake constituency,” the letter, signed by Mayor Tyler Warman and all the town Councillors said. 

Warman used to be a supporter of Rehn’s and donated $500 to the Lesser Slave Lake UCP association in 2019, according to Elections Alberta records.

Tyler Warman

The letter accuses the first-term backbench MLA of consistently missing meetings with local officials, not living in the constituency and spending “more physical time managing his business in Texas” than being physically present in the constituency.

In all my years writing about Alberta politics, I cannot recall a municipal council being forced to take this sort of drastic action against a local MLA. The town council must have felt they had exhausted all other options in trying to work with Rehn, who was first elected in 2019 after unseating NDP cabinet minister Danielle Larivee in the UCP sweep of rural Alberta.

Rehn responded on Facebook with a statement that does more to spin the issue than address the concerns raised by Slave Lake town council.

His response does not deny missing meetings with local officials or refute the allegations that he spends more time in Texas than in his constituency by saying he “doesn’t own property in Texas.”

But perhaps the most tone deaf part of Rehn’s response is when he accused Slave Lake Town Council of trying to “sow political division.”

Rehn, who just returned from a hot holiday in Mexico after his government asked every Albertan to cancel their own Christmas gatherings and holiday trips, has no moral authority to accuse anybody in Alberta of “sowing disunity.” He has done that himself.

Here is the letter:

6 replies on “The first week of January is usually a sleepy time in Alberta politics – not this year!”

I suppose Mr. Yao has decided not to rush home for his punishment. I don’t know if that is very helpful for him or Kenney, who no doubt wants to bring this issue quickly to an end.

Also not a good sign is the letter from the Slave Lake town council. It is not common that town councils turn on their MLA’s like this, especially when they are in government. Now if we only had that recall legislation that Kenney promised in happier times for him, in what was it called – his grassroots guarantee. With his government in such choppy waters now, don’t hold your breath of it ever happening.

One has to begin wondering if Kenney is moving into Redford territory with his 27% COVID fighting approval rating. However, I think he will tough it out for now and not quit or be forced out. The UCP is mostly Kenney at this point and there really is no one else in a senior position capable enough to replace him. However, I can’t see his party being eager to face the next election with the current leadership unless they can manage to turn things around dramatically fairly soon. Unfortunately for them, its not just the travel issue, but the whole COVID situation hasn’t been handled well for several months and the economy was big mess too, even before COVID.

So Mr. Kenney says he’s going to continue to violate our rights to make a living and gather peaceably, for even longer. Won’t ever see a vote of mine again. I’ll throw my vote to the Separatists before the UCP ever gets another. What good are these restrictions doing? It’s as if no one thinks of the people who lose their jobs and fall into addiction and lose everything or commit suicide or have surgeries postponed and die and what not. For every “point” increase in Unemployment there is a corresponding increase in loss of life, I guess they don’t matter. I guess science doesn’t matter to Kenney either, as mask mandates have been shown in almost every place they’ve been implemented, to be useless (see for mask mandate vs cases charts). Look at Florida, with no lock down or mask mandates and they’re doing better than New York. What gives?

As I keep saying, we have the rights to peaceable assembly guaranteed by the Charter. And in order to suspend that right, they must invoke the Notwithstanding clause along with all its political consequences, and since Kenney doesn’t have the balls to, he feels like he can just take the middle ground and violate our rights counter to the Charter.

All for a disease with a survival rate of 99.98 percent for most people. Never before in history have we isolated the healthy and the sick. Also, the models that led to the lock down ( by a certain Neil Ferguson in the UK) were complete nonsense.

Look folks, the virus isn’t contained by these unconstitutional, half assed measures. All’s happening is more people are congregating in fewer places and since nobody seems to follow proper mask usage guidelines, they’re wearing filthy fabric multiple times and catching pneumonia probably from that. And people are losing their houses, their businesses (I know the leftists here don’t like business owners, used to be a leftist myself, but I’d rather work for Bob from my ‘hood than Jeff Bezos, or whoever the dick that owns Walmart is)

I finally agree with those who can’t stand Kenney. I can’t stand someone who ignores scientific evidence that their policies are failing (if the charts say lockdowns and masks don’t work……. LISTEN) and who feels like they can just break the law (yes, the charter is THE LAW, and pass unconstitutional laws without invoking the measure that would have to be debated on and which would bring political scorn from his base) .

But I also can’t stand people who act like covid requires the complete shutdown and suspension of rights of movement, to make a living, et c, and who harp on about every 80 year old who dies of covid, but to whom the suicide of a 30 year old due to no income or drug abuse is chopped liver, nothing to even blink at.

The world’s gone mad.

For those who haven’t read the letter penned by the Slave Lake council, I would encourage them to do so. The part I found most interesting was when the council made reference to the fact that the UCP was already aware of the problem, and had asked MLAs from neighbouring ridings to pick up some of the slack.

It will be interesting how the UCP handles this. As Dave pointed out, this riding went NDP in 2015, so it is hardly a safe seat. Personally I think Jason Kenney should kick him out of caucus, unless Mr. Rehn knows some really embarrassing secrets. I had thought Kenney’s reluctance to do so might stem from the worry that Rehn could become a Wildrose Independent member, but given his track record in Slave Lake, I think Mr. Rehn would be more of a liability than an asset to any new party.

I would love to be a fly on the wall of the riding association’s meetings.

This basically reeks of how bad the Alberta PCs were for decades. The Alberta PCs thought they could get away with anything for decades, and they did from the mid 1980s to 2015. The UCP are identical, and in no way is this good. The UCP do not belong in power.

This basically reeks of how bad the Alberta PCs were for decades. The Alberta PCs thought they could get away with anything for decades, and they did from the mid 1980s to 2015. The UCP are identical, and in no way is this good. The UCP do not belong in power. Not at all.

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