Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has emerged from a weeks-long public hiatus.
Kenney, who had been on vacation, appeared in a Facebook Live video on Wednesday night where he answered select questions. The social media event was not an official media event and there has been no comment from his office on how questions were selected.
Kenney’s last public event was on Aug. 9 at a brewery in Edmonton. Since then, the number of COVID-19 cases in the province has risen dramatically and hospitalizations from the disease have increased as well. Health professionals and the Opposition have called on his government to do something to address the worsening health crisis.
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Kenney explained his decision to go on vacation and to not speak publicly as the health crisis intensified.
“August is typically a quieter time in politics and government,” he said. “I think most governments have been trying to catch a breather after the last 18 brutally tough months. But also we’re respectful of the fact there’s a federal campaign going on.”
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Kenney added that normally he only holds news conferences when he has a significant announcement to make and noted “that can be seen as interference in the federal election with public resources.”
Lori Williams, an associate professor of policy studies at Mount Royal University, said she believes “this isn’t an ordinary August or an ordinary election period.”
“This is the fourth wave of the pandemic where Alberta has the highest case count and the lowest… (vaccination) rate (in Canada),” she said.
“If he could not be available to answer questions and reassure Albertans in this very difficult time then he should have made his minister of health or the chief medical officer of health available.”
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The premier was also asked about the whereabouts of Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Kenney said he was briefed by Hinshaw shortly before he went live on Facebook.
Because the premier has yet to host an official media availability, Global News has not been able to independently question the premier.
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