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The premier speaks

… and speaks, and speaks, on his new radio show,
which is something of a cure for insomnia

(630 CHED)

Radio review
By Gina Bennett

THE NEW POLITICAL radio show, Your Province, Your Premier, airs every Saturday on 630 CHED from 10 to 11 a.m. It’s hosted by Wayne Nelson and stars the premier, with supporting cast of concerned and sometimes irate voters.

Nelson has said that he decides what will be on the show, and not the government or the premier. So, the show plays as if it was set up as a way to praise or criticize the premier and the job he’s doing.

At first, I was intrigued, but I didn’t really have high hopes. After listening to a couple of episodes, I’m not sure my mind has changed.

During the first episode, Kenney tried to seize on every question as a chance to spin answers in the best way that he could, on the spot – mostly pro-oil and pro-Alberta.

Let’s looks at a few of the points that came up during the first episode.

The first thing that caught my attention was how Kenney talked about how much he loved being premier of Alberta, and then moved on to say: “The last two years have been brutally tough for everybody … During Covid, we only had terribly bad choices to make with real consequences: life-and-death consequences at times.”

That’s not entirely inaccurate, but Kenney was actually given better options to deal with the pandemic than the ones he actually chose. For example, declaring the pandemic over just before Delta arrived and shut us down again.

To quote one of my favourite TV shows, it’s as if he walked into this program and said: “I’ve tried absolutely nothing, and I’m all out of ideas, man.”

The highlights

¤ Kenney mentions having gone through the biggest global economic collapse during Covid. He talks about how we inherited an $8 billion deficit. He fails to mention, though, that he is responsible for investing $1.3 Billion in the failed Keystone XL pipeline, despite having more than enough evidence to suggest that the project wasn’t going to go through).

¤ He also brings up the creation of the $30-million so-called “Energy War Room” that no one appears to have actually wanted.

¤ Kenney likes to talk about the debt he inherited from Rachel Notley’s NDP government, but fails to mention that under his leadership, that debt load has almost doubled. In 2018, the year after Kenney was elected, Alberta’s debt was sitting at $54.2 billion. In 2019, this spiked to $85.9 billion. In 2020, it was $100 billion, and in 2021, this number was $98 billion.

¤ He talks about how we have a government in Ottawa that is often hostile to Alberta, despite the numerous times Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tried to help the province, only to have Kenney launch attacks on him. Look at the help the federal government tried to give with childcare subsidies, the willingness to help Alberta during lockdowns, and the province’s refusal to accept financial assistance in implementing a vaccine passport system.

¤ Nelson asks Kenney whether he is using the radio show as an opportunity to increase his popularity, which makes a lot of sense, considering Kenney’s current favourability ratings.

¤ Kenney mentions that journalists get access to decision-makers and lawmakers that average citizens don’t normally get, and he comments that he hears them asking questions he doesn’t normally hear from normal Albertans, but he doesn’t elaborate or give examples.

¤ Nelson brings up Kenney’s defamation lawsuit against environmentalists. The premier defends his decision by saying there has been a campaign to landlock Alberta energy. He blames lobbyists and foreign-funded activists for lobbying to get foreign governments to veto the pipelines. He also claims that this lobbying is responsible for the violent attacks and destruction in Wet’suwet’en territory, which he claims were perpetrated by “radical environmental groups,” despite the territory being on unceded Wet’suwet’en lands. He also fails to mention that the oil firms refused to work with the Wet’suwet’en people, who laid out routes the companies could use while building their pipelines.

The lowlights

This is where the show got interesting. A caller named Ashley blasted the premier for wasting money in office, and playing with people’s pensions. She asked if he would promise to leave the pension funds alone. Kenney responded that no one was playing with the pensions. Then, he referenced changes to the Alberta Teachers’ retirement fund and sidestepped the question. However, he did say that, whatever happened, the government was on the hook for the pensions.

He was also slammed for his draft education curriculum which has been called whitewashed and racist. He argued that the government was trying to provide a curriculum that is solid and balanced. Then, he accused the left of wanting to take the opportunity to “inject political ideology” into the curriculum.

The caller replied that Kenney was injecting his political ideology into the curriculum.

On the topic of government overreach, in regards to municipal masking bylaws, Kenney argues that he thinks the provincial government has shown great flexibility in how it has dealt with masking requirements. He points out that public health is a provincial responsibility, and once again makes the claim that municipal bylaws for masking are clearly “performative politics.”

Over the first three episodes (Yes, I listened to them all), Kenney seemed to be repeating the mantra of “Alberta Oil Good, Federal government and foreign interests bad” that brought him to power, while dancing around  questions that may not paint him in the best light.

As Kenney drones on, you may find your mind wandering, as his monotone voice lulls you to submission. Over all, Your Province, Your Premier is worth listening to, mainly because of the points raised by callers.

When it comes down to it, I wouldn’t call the show propaganda, but it’s not exactly balanced. And I may come back – if I’m having trouble falling asleep.

At the writing of this, there are three episodes at roughly 45 minutes each, and a 30-second preview reel. You can find the show on the Global News website, or on Podcast Addict.

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