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Politics threatens to outshine pageantry as Israel stages Miss Universe contest – CNN

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The sparkling Red Sea has some competition this weekend.

A sea of 80 women, competing for the glittering Miss Universe crown, has taken over the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat with all of their stilettos and sequins.

Miss Universe pageant set to start amid controversy

O
n arrival, the venue — Eilat’s port — doesn’t seem nearly as glamorous as the women inside. But walk inside the 4,000-seat, specially built tented stage imported from Portugal, and the atmosphere quickly changes.

On the Friday before the Sunday night competition, the contestants were starting the day with dress rehearsals, first in their sequined opening outfits, then in their swimsuits and, finally, in their evening gowns. They dash between the figure-eight stage and the empty seats strewn with blankets to keep them warm in between rehearsals, many holding platform shoes in one hand and a mask in the other.

Later on in the evening, they’ll compete in the preliminary “National Costume” event, with costumes ranging from a shiny Canadian Mountie with black lace pants and knee-high boots (“she’ll be sure to keep us secure,” the host croons) to a lunar dragon, replete with two dragon heads.

But while the women try to capture the spotlight of the pageant’s stage during the preliminaries ahead of Sunday’s main event, politics and coronavirus are pushing them into a different kind of spotlight.

A Covid-era crown

Sunday’s competition will be the second Covid-era Miss Universe. Initially Israel’s borders were set to be open to immunized tourists ahead of the main event, meaning thousands of superfans around the world would have the opportunity to attend.
But as news of the Omicron variant emerged, the Israeli government swiftly shut its borders to foreign nationals two weeks before the competition, adding extra complications.

Miss Universe contestants arrive at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in Lod, east of Tel Aviv, on November 28, 2021. Credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

One contestant, Miss France, Clemence Botino, tested positive for Covid-19 when she landed in the country and was sent to a hotel quarantine — threatening her participation. Luckily, she got out just in time for the preliminary competition on Friday.

“This year being in Israel added new challenges as we had to stay up to date on which vaccines would be accepted, the travel and quarantine days,” said Meg Omecene, Miss Universe’s Director of Communications.

All staff and contestants had to be fully vaccinated within six months in order to come. They are also being tested on site every 48 hours in a special tent and must wear masks at all times when not on stage.

“It’s been a pretty rigorous Covid production but we’re all here and getting excited for Sunday,” Omecene added.

Miss USA, Elle Smith, told CNN she’s found Israel’s Covid measures to be much “stricter here than in the States in regards to protocol so I feel like we’re taking any necessary precaution to hold an event like this.”
The United States' Elle Smith takes part in the National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant, in Eilat, Israel, on Friday.

The United States’ Elle Smith takes part in the National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant, in Eilat, Israel, on Friday. Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP

Politics threatens to outshine the pageantry

As with previous international events hosted in Israel, like 2019’s Eurovision Song Contest, just the fact such a major media event is taking place in the country has drawn criticism and calls for boycotts.

The South African government withdrew its support and called on Miss South Africa, Lelela Mswane to drop out, citing Israeli treatment of Palestinians, calling it “apartheid,” a charge Israel has vehemently denied.

“If anything, by withdrawing, Miss South Africa’s reputation and overall standing will be far more advanced in South Africa and internationally in comparison to a once-off event that can prove disastrous to her future and public standing as a young, black woman,” South Africa’s minister of sports, art and culture Nathi Mthethwa said in a statement last month.

People protest outside Miss South Africa's Head Office on November 19, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

People protest outside Miss South Africa’s Head Office on November 19, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Credit: Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images/Getty Images

But Mswane — with the backing of the Miss South Africa organization — did not bend to the pressure, choosing to travel to Israel and compete.

“If I had not come to Israel to compete in the Miss Universe pageant, I think I would have regretted it for the rest of my life,” she told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “Certain people have put me through hell and back. It has not been the easiest thing to deal with … But I choose to be optimistic.”
South Africa's Lalela Mswane performs as she takes part in the National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant, in Eilat, Israel, Friday, December 10, 2021.

South Africa’s Lalela Mswane performs as she takes part in the National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant, in Eilat, Israel, Friday, December 10, 2021. Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP

Others appeared to utilize the event for political purposes. Rafaela Plastira, a Greek model and former beauty pageant winner had posted on Instagram that she was “withdrawing” from Miss Universe because she couldn’t “go on that stage and act like nothing is happening,” adding in a later post, “I may not live in Palestine but Palestine lives in my heart forever.” Her statement drew praise from pro-Palestinian activists.
But the official Miss Greece organization quickly clarified that Plastira was not even Greece’s official Miss Universe candidate, saying in a statement the actual Miss Greece is Sofia Arapogianni, who later posed for photos holding both Greek and Israeli flags.

Clad in a sparkly white dress between dress rehearsals on Friday, Miss Israel, Noa Cochva, echoed a common refrain heard from Miss Universe organizers and contestants: Miss Universe should not be about politics.

“It’s about us as humans, as strong women,” Cochva told CNN in between rehearsals.

Regardless of that desire, Cochva acknowledged she faces the double pressure of competing in her home country, while also needing essentially to be Israel’s ambassador — and defender — to the 79 other contestants.

Joking that her roommate, Miss USA, called her the “best tour guide,” Cochva said she has sought to show her fellow contestants a different image of Israel “than what you see on social media.”

On the other end of the spectrum is the new political reality of contestants from countries like Bahrain and Morocco strutting across an Israeli stage, something that might have been unimaginable just a few years ago. The two countries were among four Arab nations to sign historic normalization agreements with Israel last year, paving the way for a flurry of diplomatic, business and cultural activity.
Greece's Sofia Arapogianni performs as she takes part in the National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant, in Eilat, Israel, on Friday.

Greece’s Sofia Arapogianni performs as she takes part in the National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant, in Eilat, Israel, on Friday. Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP

Hoping for a tourism boost

With 80 contestants bringing legions of social media followers along with them as they tour the country ahead of the competition on Sunday, Israeli tourism officials are hoping such publicity will help provide a much needed boost for when the country reopens.

Sara Salansky, a spokeswoman for Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, told CNN they were approached in May about hosting the December competition. The request came as Israel had reached a high vaccination rate and seemed close to reopening, rolling out vaccines faster than most other countries.

“It’s a very good return of investment for the Ministry of Tourism,” Salansky said. “It’s not something that happens every day; when you get an opportunity you have to take it and this is what we did.”

Contestants take part in the National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant on Friday in Eilat, Israel.

Contestants take part in the National Costume portion of the Miss Universe pageant on Friday in Eilat, Israel. Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP

Contributing about 3% annually to Israel’s GDP, tourist numbers before the pandemic were hitting record levels, Salansky said. About 5 million visitors were expected in 2020 before the pandemic hit, she added.

And even though the Israel’s borders are still temporarily closed to foreign nationals over fears of the Omicron coronavirus variant, Salansky said the opportunity to present Israel as a tourist destination to the expected 600 million broadcast viewers around the world will have a long-term impact.

“A lot of people are skeptical about this type of event but when we are looking at it there’s a lot of media and people are talking about it,” Salansky said. “So we’re looking at the positive, to use this event to showcase the positive about Israel.”

That has involved shepherding the 80 contestants up and down the country, from touring Jerusalem’s Old City to riding ATVs in the desert. Some activities, like a “Bedouin experience” day, were slammed by Palestinian activists.

“They don’t boycott apartheid, participate in the competition and then shamelessly appropriate Palestinian culture and symbols of resistance. This is despicable,” tweeted campaigner Salem Barahmeh in response to Miss Philippines’ photos of herself and other contestants in traditional Bedouin garb.
Despite the complications created by Covid-19, the pressures of politics, and of course the questions around the validity of such pageants in the present day, both Smith, the US contestant, and Cochva were adamant Miss Universe has a positive role to play.

“We’re here to empower each other as women,” Smith said. “We’re just enjoying our time together and I think it’s really showing the power of women as a whole and that’s what we’re trying to show on December 12.”

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Politics Briefing: Fate of 24 Sussex subject to consultations between PM, National Capital Commission – The Globe and Mail

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Hello,

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says conversations are continuing with the National Capital Commission about the fate of 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of the prime minister.

The commission, a federal Crown corporation whose responsibilities include managing official residences, has raised concerns about the state of the property initially built in 1868, and refurbished as an official residence for the prime minister in 1950. There is a history of the residence here.

“We are in consultations. We are assessing our options. And when we will arrive at a decision, we will share it with you,” Mr. Trudeau told a news conference on Friday.

Mr. Trudeau said the government is engaging with the capital commission and other experts to ensure there is a safe and stable environment for “prime ministers current and future” as well as the interests of Canadians.

Mr. Trudeau and his family have been living in Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall instead of 24 Sussex Drive since he led the Liberals to power in 2015.

“We know that 24 Sussex has been neglected by many generations of politicians and prime ministers over the years,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“Unfortunately, it is in a terrible condition.”

The Prime Minister said the property is an important, historic building but there are concerns about safety.

Asked if he would take a decision during this mandate, and whether he was concerned about criticism of renovating the prime minister’s residence and how much it might cost, Mr. Trudeau said he has no intention in living in 24 Sussex Drive regardless of how long he is Prime Minister.

This week, the CEO of the capital commission said, according to The Ottawa Citizen, that he has been stressing the need for repairs at Canada’s official residences, including 24 Sussex Drive, with federal officials.

The residence was listed as being in “critical” condition in a commission report last year, and requiring $36.6-million in work. The Citizen story is here.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter sign-up page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

CANADIAN LOAN FOR UKRAINE – Canada will lend Ukraine up to $120-million as Kyiv readies for possible war with Russia, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday. Story here.

TRUDEAU VOWS ACTION ON PEOPLE SMUGGLING – Canada is doing all it can stop people smuggling across the U.S. border after a family of four froze to death in a “mind-blowing’ tragedy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday. Story here.

CHAMPAGNE TO EXPLAIN MINE ACQUISITION – François-Philippe Champagne, the federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, will go before a federal committee as early as next week and answer questions about why Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is allowing the acquisition of Canadian lithium firm Neo Lithium Corp. by a state-owned Chinese mining company without conducting a formal security review.

EXPLANATION FOR CONFUSED STATEMENT – Turmoil and confusion over whether truckers would remain exempt from the vaccine mandate last week stemmed from bureaucrats misinterpreting policy in more than one federal agency – including the one that co-ordinates Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Story here.

HAITI MEETING ON FRIDAY – The U.S. State Department says it is looking forward to a productive meeting today when Central American leaders gather online with Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly to talk about the future of Haiti. Story here. Meanwhile, Canada’s ambassador to Haiti is calling for a politically “inclusive accord” to address a deepening constitutional crisis following the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Story here.

SASKATCHEWAN TO REDEPLOY GOVERNMENT WORKERS – The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it is looking at redeploying government employees from other departments to help the health-care system. Story here.

FUNDING FOR FIRST NATIONS OMICRON RESPONSE – Indigenous Services Canada says it will provide $125-million in public-health funding for First Nations to bolster their responses to the Omicron variant. Story here.

THIS AND THAT

The House of Commons has adjourned until Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. ET.

CANADA’S FINANCE MINISTERS TALK – Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, also the Finance Minister, is hosting a virtual meeting on Friday with provincial and territorial finance ministers.

THE DECIBEL – . In Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Future of Work reporter Vanmala Subramaniam tells us why the trend of hot-desking is gaining traction now. This is the idea that there are no assigned seats in an office. Instead, an employee books their spot through an app before coming in. Ms. Subramaniam also talks about what workers told her about their experience with hot-desking and how hot-desking will transform post-pandemic office life. The Decibel is here.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Private meetings. The Prime Minister made a virtual announcement along with Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen, and then held a media availability. The Prime Minister delivered remarks at the opening of a foreign ministers’ meeting on Haiti, hosted by Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly. And he participated in a virtual celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Lincoln Alexander, Canada’s first black MP.

LEADERS

No schedules provided for party leaders.

OPINION

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how the new-era Senate won’t face its real test until we get our next Conservative government: “The real test of the Senate will come when there’s a change in government, when it’s not necessarily a government with whom the appointees agree, ” said Kathy Brock, a political scientist at Queen’s University who has long taken an interest in the Senate. Until we learn how the Red Chamber performs under those conditions, we won’t really know whether it works at all. In 2014, in the midst of the Senate expenses scandal, Mr. Trudeau expelled all Liberal senators from caucus. After he became Prime Minister, he appointed only independent senators, albeit ones who mostly shared a progressive outlook.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Alberta Premier Jason Kenney as the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics:So while some will say Mr. Madu’s intentions weren’t malicious or corrupt, it doesn’t matter. He violated a sacred tenet of government. He may have found other means, or avenues, to have this issue addressed that didn’t involve him picking up the phone and calling the city’s top cop. There is, however, another disturbing aspect to this whole affair: The question of what Mr. Kenney knew, and when he knew it. As mentioned, the incident and phone call happened 10 months ago. According to veteran Alberta columnist Don Braid, it was widely known among members of cabinet and discussed in “jocular” terms. It seems inconceivable that if members of cabinet knew about this, Mr. Kenney didn’t also.”

Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on why real men take paternity leave: “You may have seen a recent picture of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh in a classic new-parent pose, holding his infant daughter while also trying to sneak a peek at his laptop. Unfortunately, this nice moment of paternal devotion has been upstaged by a rocking chair. The $1,895 rocking chair was a gift to Mr. Singh’s wife, and he landed in hot water when he tagged the chair-maker in an Instagram post. He’s now said the couple is repaying the cost of the chair, and the NDP is working with the ethics commissioner on a disclosure. The photo has caused quite a flap. If you travel down the devil’s highway that is Twitter, you’ll see a certain amount of fury directed at Mr. Singh and his fancy rocker. I understand the anger: It was a dumb and possibly unethical move. But really I’m just sad, because this was an opportunity for a progressive politician to take a stand on something that is hugely important, which is the need for new dads to loudly and proudly take advantage of paid parental leave.”

Tanya Talaga (The Globe and Mail) on how a fire has killed Indigenous children again – because poverty burns through the generations: “Let this sobering truth sink in: First Nations children under the age of 10 are 86 times more likely to die in a fire than non-Indigenous children, according to the Ontario Chief Coroner’s Table on Understanding Fire Deaths in First Nations, which released a damning report last year after studying 56 fire deaths in 29 fires across 20 First Nations over the course of 10 years. How many times must we read about government reports, parliamentary committee hearings or new programs that are needed to fund basic fire safety and infrastructure in First Nations communities? How many times must the Assembly of First Nations and territorial political organizations yell from the rooftops about the need to adequately fund fire safety?”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how taming inflation will be much trickier than stimulating the economy: “If you’ve been in the market for a new refrigerator in recent weeks, you’re likely still suffering from sticker shock. Fridge prices were up almost 14 per cent in December, as Canada’s overall inflation rate hit a 30-year high of 4.8 per cent. Everything is suddenly costing more, from that fridge and the groceries you put in it (up 5.7 per cent) to a new car (7.2 per cent more) and the gas (33 per cent) it likely runs on. From home insurance (9.3 per cent) to shelter costs (5.4 per cent), Canadians are forking out more and more of their income just to cover the basics. Some very smart folks insist this nasty spike in prices is a nice problem to have.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com. Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

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Stewart Muir: How eco-advocates worked B.C. politics – Financial Post

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You can choose ancient trees or you can choose jobs, but only bad people opt for jobs — is the preferred mental construct of anti-forestry campaigners

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Last year noisy blockaders descended on Fairy Creek on the south coast of Vancouver Island to stop loggers they claimed were laying waste to irreplaceable old growth forests. What the public did not see behind all the fireworks was a carefully laid advocacy strategy to burrow into the heart of government decision-making and bring about policies, not based on sound science, that will hurt working British Columbians. Forestry accounts for a third of British Columbia’s exports – triple both the tourism sector and also tech and film combined — and benefits at least 130 First Nations.

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Thanks to freedom of information (FOI) requests, I have been able to piece together the story behind the story.

Responding to incidents such as Fairy Creek, B.C.’s NDP government commissioned a review. The first step was a report calling for a “paradigm shift” to protect old growth forests. Next came a deeper dive by an expert panel that resulted in some shocking news for the forest industry: timber access restrictions that could shutter as many as 20 sawmills and two pulp and paper mills, with up to 18,000 jobs being lost. Industry, First Nations and labour unions were furious. Last week, a financial markets analyst told an industry conference that British Columbia forestry is now seen as “uninvestable” due to the uncertainty.

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Hundreds of pages of documents released under FOI reveal that the supposedly impartial expert panel was, in fact, constituted to exclude nearly all viewpoints except those closely aligned to a single organization, the Sierra Club, which has a longstanding axe to grind with the forest industry. The “Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel” was a joint project of environment minister George Heyman and forest minister Katrine Conroy. Correspondence reveals that it was mostly designed and managed by Heyman, who before becoming an MLA was executive director of Sierra Club BC.

Remarkably, four of the five appointees had strong, unmistakeable connections to the Sierra Club. A government official noted that the panel “does not include the full range of views that would be needed for decision making.” It was known that the panel would deliberately ignore “implications for industry; local community interest; First Nations interests and Indigenous knowledge.”

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When the panel’s makeup was announced, a senior forestry official warned: “At a minimum, to be most effective, this Panel should have been comprised of ministry and external experts, in an equal and balanced collaboration that would most effectively deploy the depth of knowledge possessed by the government’s own staff.” Such advice was not heeded, and the appointees insisted their professional opinions not be questioned. Where the panel did seek outside views, only pressure groups aligned with the Sierra Club were invited.

  1. A forest protector walks up to the trees near Port Renfrew, British Columbia, Canada, on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

    Terence Corcoran: How greens are killing the B.C. forest sector

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    Opinion: Stakeholder capitalism and ESG’s road to socialism

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    William Watson: The new, new, new interventionism

It’s not difficult to imagine what the reaction would have been if members of this advisory group had previously volunteered their time to write a paper on the very same topic as the panel’s business, as three members of this panel had done, but for a forest industry association rather than the Sierra Club, and that association had then built an elaborate PR campaign around the work.

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The individual who emerged as the group’s chief liaison with government, Lisa Matthaus, was not a technical expert at all but rather a former Sierra Club campaigns director now in a senior political operative job with Organizing for Change, an offshoot of MakeWay, the new name of Tides Canada, a longtime advocacy group, which rebranded itself in 2020 after complaining its anti-everything goals had been misunderstood.

Given all this, it was hardly surprising when the panel came back with recommendations that threaten to gut an entire industry. But if the scientific case for radically reducing access to forestry lands was so strong, why rely on such a cooked process? Founding the heralded paradigm shift on fragile legitimacy only risks hardening existing social polarization.

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A zero-sum framing — you can choose ancient trees or you can choose jobs, but only bad people opt for jobs — is the preferred mental construct of anti-forestry campaigners. The enormous conservation strides B.C. has made since the 1990s “war in the woods” are ignored, confirming again that no amount of give and take is ever enough. It’s as if the culture wars raging in university humanities departments had shifted over to the science faculties, with ecologists who believe trees are altruistic beings who talk to each other clashing for supremacy over forestry scientists and professionals who must weigh many factors.

In the end, the insider moves of a narrow interest group snookered the provincial cabinet, MLAs, citizens, and the broader forestry community. Any hope for a balanced outcome now rests with Indigenous leaders, the only group with the political clout to go up against the environmental lobby.

Stewart Muir is a journalist and founder of Vancouver-based Resource Works Society. The full version of this article appears in the latest issue of The Forestry Chronicle, a publication of the Canadian Institute of Forestry.

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Opinion: Jason Kenney has become the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics – The Globe and Mail

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill on Dec. 10, 2019.BLAIR GABLE/Reuters

In March of last year, Alberta Justice Minister Kaycee Madu was pulled over in the province’s capital and issued a ticket for distracted driving in a school zone.

A couple of days later, he phoned Edmonton’s chief of police, Dale McFee, to discuss the $300 ticket, which he eventually paid.

The ticket, and the phone call, only recently came to light thanks to the CBC. Things moved quickly after that; Mr. Madu defended himself by saying he didn’t phone Mr. McFee to protest the ticket, but rather to discuss the issue of racial profiling. Mr. Madu is Black. He also wanted to be assured he wasn’t being “unlawfully surveilled,” which some police in the province have been accused of doing.

This week, Premier Jason Kenney expressed “profound disappointment” in Mr. Madu for making the phone call, and asked him to “step back from his ministerial duties” while an independent investigation into the matter is carried out.

Mr. Kenney should have fired Mr. Madu on the spot.

There is almost no circumstance in which Mr. Madu, who is also solicitor-general and responsible for law enforcement in Alberta, could be returned to his cabinet duties, such is the iron-clad rule in politics that elected officials (particularly cabinet ministers) don’t interfere in the administration of justice at any level. It’s an automatic termination offence.

Mr. McFee, for what it’s worth, has corroborated the justice minister’s version of events; that he wasn’t calling to get out of the ticket but to discuss carding, an issue he has championed. And while I may have some sympathy for Mr. Madu on this matter, you do not pick up the phone and call the chief of police to have a conversation about it after getting a ticket.

In a different scenario, maybe the police chief interprets the call as subtle pressure and gets the violation ripped up. The fact that didn’t happen in this case is irrelevant. Cabinet ministers can’t appear to be using their office to exert influence or put their finger on the scales of justice in any way. Especially if you are the justice minister.

So while some will say Mr. Madu’s intentions weren’t malicious or corrupt, it doesn’t matter. He violated a sacred tenet of government. He may have found other means, or avenues, to have this issue addressed that didn’t involve him picking up the phone and calling the city’s top cop.

There is, however, another disturbing aspect to this whole affair: The question of what Mr. Kenney knew, and when he knew it.

As mentioned, the incident and phone call happened 10 months ago. According to veteran Alberta columnist Don Braid, it was widely known among members of cabinet and discussed in “jocular” terms. It seems inconceivable that if members of cabinet knew about this, Mr. Kenney didn’t also.

The Premier should make clear when he found out about the matter; was it only when the CBC story made it public? If Mr. Madu discussed the issue with colleagues, would he not also have notified the Premier’s office of what happened? I would think that most justice ministers in this country would notify their bosses when they have a run-in with police, regardless of how insignificant it was.

At the very least, it’s inconceivable that Mr. Madu’s own chief of staff wouldn’t have been told about it and then passed it along to the Premier’s office. No head of government likes nasty surprises. That’s one of the core rules of being in government, and especially cabinet. If there is a potential for some damaging information to come to light, you alert the top person.

That is why I am highly skeptical that Mr. Kenney only found out about this recently. He’s renowned for his micromanaging tendencies and his insistence that he not be the victim of any unpleasant surprises. It’s virtually impossible to believe he wasn’t aware of this story long before now.

This is, of course, just another illustration of the shockingly poor judgment that members of Mr. Kenney’s cabinet – and the Premier himself – have demonstrated over the past couple of years. Mr. Kenney’s nearly three-year reign of error has been enveloped by melodrama and controversy. At various times his response to the pandemic was atrocious. His response to most internal problems has been to deny and delay until he’s boxed into a corner and is forced to do something. There have been calls for his resignation both inside and outside his party.

Mr. Kenney has become the Boris Johnson of Canadian politics. Like the British Prime Minister, he seems to have put a foot wrong at almost every turn, and come to be seen as a bumbling, incompetent leader. And his handling of this latest imbroglio will do nothing to diminish that image.

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