Why hasn’t Alberta’s COVID-19 leadership resigned?

Some political leaders fall to scandal and missteps. Tara Overholt takes a look at why some top provincial officials resign -- and others don’t -- under pressure.

CALGARY – From a cookie to a palace in the sky, Alberta has seen many reasons behind top officials resigning or being removed due to scandal. But after a year and a half of a pandemic and some major political pitfalls, top provincial politicians are still in power.

Political scientist Lori Williams says it’s a bit shocking there hasn’t been a major shakeup in leadership, given the things that have happened over the past several months.

“[Premier Jason Kenney] has made error after error, too little, too late, time and again throughout this pandemic,” Williams said. She suspects eventually someone will be sacrificed but is doubtful it would be enough to turn the ship around.

“Alison Redford resigned for far less. Other premiers resigned for much less.”

In 2014, then-Premier Redford was dealing with dissension in her caucus, but it was her questionable use of taxpayer dollars, a government plane, and the building of the Sky Palace that brought her down.


“As the expression goes, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Williams said.

The Sky Palace, a personal suite built atop the new federal building in Edmonton for nearly $3 million, was the scene for a summer scandal for Kenney.

He was photographed having dinner and some Jameson whiskey on the rooftop patio with several cabinet ministers with no one following proper COVID-19 protocols.


While there are always people on social media frustrated by the government, right now, the ire isn’t just focused on the premier.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw has been called out for her absence during this fourth wave of the pandemic. Neither she nor Kenney held COVID-19 updates as numbers soared in late August.

“There have been balanced and moderate critics who are calling for resignations of everyone involved, particularly the health minster, Deena Hinshaw, because she was allegedly behind the recommendations that led to these policies,” explained Williams.

And when she did finally appear in an address to her physician colleagues, she admitted she made some mistakes. But some found her demeanor offputting.


While some doctors lay blame for unnecessary COVID-19 deaths at her feet, Hinshaw is still the chief medical officer of health. But top health officials have been fired for less.

Back in 2010, the president and CEO of Alberta Health Services, Stephen Duckett, famously chomped on a cookie instead of answering reporter’s questions.

Less than a week later, the cookie crumbled as he was fired from his post.

“There were all kinds of issues around health care services that swirling and that criticism got magnified when someone seemed to be completely insensitive to the plight and suffering of Albertans,” said Williams.

“A serious issue was dealt with in an insensitive and cavalier way.”

While Williams thinks it’s only time until someone is sacrificed, she doesn’t expect it to be anyone at the top.

“Jason Kenney does not seem to be willing to take responsibility or respond effectively to the concerns being raised,” she said.

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