EDMONTON — Wednesday marked the fifth day Alberta’s premier did not publicly speak or face the widespread criticism over his government members travelling internationally against pandemic advisories.
During a New Year’s Day news conference, Jason Kenney said he would not be disciplining his government and staff who acted against public health advice.
When he backtracked to announce the resignation of Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard and his chief of staff Jamie Huckabay three days later, he did so in a short statement to Facebook and Twitter.
A communications expert at MacEwan University believes the strategy was to circumvent the lens of critical journalism – but ultimately, a bad public relations move.
“He should have come out right away and just announced that he was going to do what he wound up doing anyways,” Ian MacPherson told CTV News Edmonton.
“He would have done himself a great service.”
A political scientist at Mount Royal University agrees.
“The fact that the premier is avoiding questions from the media on a continuing basis is, I think, a problem,” Lori Williams commented.
She and a peer at the University of Alberta say the premier needs to answer questions from journalists on his travelling MLAs and the sanctions against them.
“It just doesn’t look like he’s being particularly effective or decisive. He doesn’t look like he’s taking responsibility. In fact, it looks quite evasive,” Wililams said.
“The question is,” added the U of A’s Jared Wesley, “When is the premier going to appear in front of a camera again?”
While the premier has not taken any questions, his communications staff have been in regular contact with media.
On Wednesday, CTV News Edmonton asked director of government communications Christine Myatt when the premier will hold his next availability.
Alberta’s chief medial officer of health is slated to give an in-person pandemic update on Thursday, which Kenney has previously sometimes joined.
Myatt responded, “When we have something scheduled, we’ll issue a media notice. Stay tuned.”