Resistance is futile…


The smartest guy in the UCP room still doesn’t get it.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro thinks it’s about him, his wife, his interests outside of public life. He’s wrong. And Alberta’s rural physicians just reminded him who’s the boss in a pandemic.  

The doctors have it exactly right. Resistance to their reasonable complaints is futile. And the so-called ‘walk back’ by Minister Shandro, a short while ago, is half-hearted and not at all reassuring (we bet he’s getting another ear-full from backbench MLAs worried about pissing off their non-urban constituents even more than they already are). 


God help us all if Minister Shandro still believes he’s on the right track. As for the ‘left’ and the Opposition New Democrats, in particular, the doctors haven’t been exactly cozy or keen either (more on this in a moment).

Raising hell to protest ‘command & control’ political decisions is something Albertans are noted for and good at. And there’s a lot of political history to fall back on. Recent in-your-face examples include (and are not limited to):

#WEXITERS reaction to a heavy-handed Ottawa;

Wildrosers (particularly in rural Alberta) heading for the exits — objecting to the PC government’s fiscal conservative DNA diluted by all that latte-sipping urban-condo-living, well… you get the general idea. 

And now the province’s doctors… 


On social & mainstream media (and as we learned, should anyone bring it up in a treatment room), doctors spoke honestly & candidly as individual care-providers.  

As a rapid-fire movement, the doctors shrugged off Opposition entreaties to have the ND carry their flag—setting aside partisan notions of any sort—the doctors made it plain they were not going to being co-opted as a left ‘thing’. As for the right, Minister Shandro’s political triage—call it a band-aid solution to a self-inflicted wound—the boo-boo continues to fester. 


What makes the doctors mad-as-hell-and-we’re-not-taking-it-anymore movement different is best illustrated by Donna’s recent experience with the Fair Deal Panel. It was an instructive listening tour.

Teachers across the province sang with one voice—talking points courtesy of the Alberta Teachers Association. In one city, after spouting off their mantra “Don’t let AIMco touch my pension!”, a claque of button-wearing unionists, having said their say, abruptly got up & left the hall without so much as bothering to listen to what the rest of the room was thinking.

It’s not that the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) has been sitting on the sidelines. The AMA’s launch of a $25-million lawsuit against the Kenney government earlier this month is a tactical maneuver.

Now this is where it gets tricky.

The AMA has an activist role in the mind of the public. Politically, they’re a force to be reckoned with.  However, Health Minister Shandro has been waging war against individual doctors. Doctors in small town clinics. Doctors in independent practices. Their fight is personal.


Donna understands implicitly there’s been much to not like about Alberta Health Services (AHS), our province-wide, fully-integrated health “system”. Local healthcare providers complained bitterly to Donna when she was a PC MLA. Brain dead micro-management stuff: paint colours for hospital waiting rooms had to be approved by a committee in Edmonton (yes!); protocols for seniors in care homes allowed little room for discretion. And for patients, the AHS system can be a maze of less-than-obvious connections requiring patience beyond reason to navigate. AHS has even been pressured to provide roadmaps for patients and a patient-first strategy.  

It would have been easy for the UCP government to hide behind the AHS curtain; to pit doctors against one another and against other healthcare providers; to shame physicians as those greedy bastards trying to sponge up more than their fair share of healthcare dollars at a time of great economic woe in Alberta. 

In the good old days before the pandemic, divide & conquer was an affective political strategy. But it’s a strategy that constitutes a BIG FAIL for the UCP government. And it’s insane for the Health Minister and his minions to think otherwise.


Who in their right mind would choose NOW to distract doctors from their handling of the COVID crisis? The logic—if there is any—would be like Winston Churchill rationing ammunition to the military at the onset of World War II.

So—poor Tyler. He doesn’t get it.

Don does.

He had a health scare last week. He called 811. The nurse on the line recommended he go “immediately to emergency.”  He walked into the ICU at Edmonton’s Misericordia Hospital: a chest Xray, CT scan, bloodwork, ultrasound, ECG monitoring, the works, all offered up by a compassionate, efficient and qualified healthcare team in less than four hours.

Don left the ICU with a clean bill of health and renewed confidence in Alberta’s healthcare system. It’s not broken, he said. Please don’t fix it.

And so we come to assessing the political health of this government in the legislature.


EVNBSFqUMAEFVloIf the pandemic has taught us anything, thus far, it’s that we’re all in this together.

We’re a herd—perhaps a herd of bison as the Premier is fond of pointing out—the well-being of one citizen can compromise the well-being of us all.

Herd immunity and a COVID vaccine may convince us to see things differently, but until then, attempts to pit Albertans against one another will backfire.  And any politician stupid enough to play that game risks permanent censure. 


Pity poor Tyler—not.

Politics is not a prophylactic. A University of Calgary law degree doesn’t hold a candle to the will of pregnant women in rural Alberta. 

Is the Health Minister clever enough to discern between essential & non-essential? 

And if not, well… then what?

This column is the consensus opinion of the writers Donna Kennedy-Glans & Don Hill. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to BEYOND POLARITY — scroll down on your phone or tablet, or look to the right in the panel beside this post. Enter your email to FOLLOW, a wheel spins, hamsters get fed. 

18 thoughts on “Resistance is futile…


  2. “The smartest guy in the UCP room still doesn’t get it”

    That’s a particularly low bar you set right off the bat.

  3. It’s quite contradictory that on one hand the authors malign teachers as “a claque of button-wearing unionists” for their legitimate concerns over their pensions being railroaded into AIMCo that just lost $4 billion (which Donna thinks should be trusted to manage an Alberta Pension Plan as part of the “Fair Deal” panel), but on the other hand praises another group of unionized public servants as “a compassionate, efficient and qualified healthcare team.” News flash: teachers are also a compassionate, efficient, and qualified team that we trust with our children’s futures and we ought to thank them and take their concerns seriously. Donna will vividly recall the last time she tried to tinker with public sector pensions.

    How do the authors pick and choose which union members to praise or admonish? That unionized “efficient and qualified healthcare team” has had their pensions unilaterally tinkered with too, and they are mad as heck. Do the authors realize that those healthcare workers also wear “hands off my pension” buttons and oppose preposterous suggestions of the Fair Deal panel such as opting out of a national pharmacare program?

    The authors can’t have it both ways. They can’t demonize one set of union members and then praise another. They can’t dismiss the concerns of teachers about their pensions, and then claim to support healthcare workers. That’s not a pat on the back they feel, it’s a knife in the back as Donna works to undermine their retirement security and pit public sector workers against each other.

    If the authors truly want to thank healthcare workers they should support their call for the government to give them back control of their pension plans and oppose the thousands of layoffs and contract rollbacks being planned by the UCP.

    All public servants dedicate their lives to serving Albertans, and they all deserve our respect.

    1. Cam, seriously? The unionist claque came to the meeting with one intent. Cheering their ATA team. Shortly after making their bullet points — the same points made over and over and over elsewhere — they left the building en masse. The meeting, meantime, continued for an hour. So, what exactly, Cam is _your_ point? Do you have one that’s not informed by what-to-say-when-asked-about-this-or-that? Your rant (and I’m speaking here as a seasoned journalist) reeks of ‘talking points’. As for the doctors, well… maybe the ATA and its fellow travellers could learn a few things from the medical professionals in this province about engaging the public.

    2. Cam, politicians above all, even past ones, should understand the essential value of open and honest discussion from various perspectives. Discussion though, requires listening as well as speaking. To syncophantically present a viewpoint without listening is to behave as the paid clappers and cheerers of a Parisian claque. You can choose to pre-judge the panels report on pharmacare or other issues if you choose but it degrades any value your comment and analysis may have after the report is released. Fyi I strongly support Ms Rachel Notley but not blind unionism.

  4. I agree with Cam Westhead’s analysis; I too was bothered by the apparent blindness to the hypocrisy in the article’s treatment of teachers vs. doctors. There was no mention of ripping up the master agreement, no mention of ripping up their own newly made contract with respiratory specialists, etc. etc.
    The Bison also stands for Respect. This is one of the seven teachings my Cree neighbours live by. When you give yourself legislative authority to rip up previously legal contracts and impose new ones without any consultation or negotiation, then you show no respect. When you give yourself authority to create any new law or revise any standing legislature, then you show no respect for those you ‘govern’/dictate.
    When you sell prairie lands held by the province in trust after publicly stating you would not do so, period, then you show no respect.
    Mr. Shandro is not the only embarrassment and injustice that Alberta must suffer.

    1. Kindly read my rejoinder to Cam; it’s instructive about how the ATA claque needs to learn _courtesy_ for other-points-of-view. The art of distraction is a common tactic of unionist propaganda…

      1. Don, it would be refreshing to see you rebut the central points being made by those who disagree with you on the merits of the objection they’ve raised, rather than responding with stale strawman arguments and logical fallacies. You can do better than that, please try a little harder.

  5. I’m confused. You belittle the teachers for making their point at repeated town halls and then leaving. If they’d only shown up to a few you would be admonishing them for not showing broad support. As for them leaving before these orchestrated gatherings were finished, what would be the reason for staying if, say, they had taken time out from other obligations? What does it matter, whatever the reason? It was the panel’s job to listen to everyone who had the chance to speak, not the teachers.

    1. Linda, belittle not — KNOW that the ATA claque was NOT at all interested in what anyone else had to say in the room. Had they been concerned (other than their narrow ‘special interest’) they would have at the very least had the courtesy to remain for the hour or so left in the town hall. It was a _claque_ — not just a guy or gal running between duties to the kids at the rink or soccer pitch. What part of this do you not get?? Advocacy and tone-deaf brain-dead politics is not at all useful during a pandemic…

  6. Don are you saying that their legitimate concerns should be dismissed because they didn’t stay at the meeting? Do you keep track of how long everyone stays at the meeting and weight their contributions accordingly? Do you think it was good governance on the part of the UCP to make sweeping changes to public sector pensions without talking to the workers or employers at all and in record time through the legislature with time allocation? I thought Conservatives valued democracy, local decision making, and consultation.

    My point is that it is pretty rich for you to praise healthcare workers yet demonize teachers. Teachers deserve our respect too. And you disrespect them and discount their opinion because … they don’t have time to stay at a meeting? It’s nice that you have acknowledged the care given to you by healthcare workers, but those words ring hollow when you insult our public service colleagues for standing up for their retirement security, and when you stay silent when the UCP tries to lay off thousands of healthcare workers. When you insult teachers for standing up for their retirement savings, you insult nurses and other healthcare workers by association. I’m glad you’re healthy and that you got good care. Everyone deserves the same high level of care and nurses are committed to providing that care to everyone no matter what. Teachers also provide excellent care to our kids, and they deserve our respect too. Is that too much to ask?

    If you dismiss my message as simply “talking points” I think you ought to pay closer attention to what’s happening in politics these days. It’s not just the usual suspects who are upset. The UCP voter’s remorse is off the charts.

    I could just as easily accuse you of making a rant full of “talking points,” but instead of using ad hominem and strawman arguments as you have done, I’ve challenged your central assumption – the dismissal of teacher’s concerns because they left a meeting and were wearing buttons has got to be the weakest rebuttal I’ve yet heard, and your praise for healthcare workers rings hollow when you remain silent when they need you to speak up for them and their retirement security. I would invite you to debate the merits of my observations rather than pretending they’re illegitimate because you’ve heard them repeated frequently by those who are upset at being disrespected by the UCP.

  7. Poor Cam — he doesn’t ‘get it’… And perhaps never will? There is no debate, Cameron. It’s called a pandemic. The doctors as a collective — smartly have resisted being co-opted by, ummm, what did you call it? straw man arguments — represent the beginnings of politics _beyond polarity_. Now, smarten up. Sit straight. And pay attention.

    1. Taking the easy way out, eh Don? Sorry to see that you can’t defend your limp, preposterous assertions or engage in meaningful conversation, and instead act with incivility and hide behind your ideological talking points and personal insults – the lowest form of discourse. I hope you’re proud of yourself.

      1. Yes, Cam. Look in the mirror. Repeat like a mantra over and over and over: Advocacy in a pandemic is a DISTRACTION.

  8. Hey guys, you may have noticed that things didn’t turn out well for the bison. So, yeah, Albertans are like them, I guess. We have a habit of following short-sighted leaders off of cliffs. Jason Kempey is just the latest one we’re blindly following to our demise. As for Mr. Shandro, he just doing what Jason tells him to. If he weren’t, he wouldn’t still be health minister.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.