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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to debut in new call-in radio talk show

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney . Global News

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will soon be getting his own call-in talk radio show.

Your Province. Your Premier will feature Kenney spending an hour taking calls from listeners with no subject “off limits,” according to a press release from Corus Entertainment.

The show will be broadcast on 770 CHQR in Calgary and 630 CHED in Edmonton every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. local time and hosted by former 770 CHQR anchor Wayne Nelson. Calls and topics will be chosen by a team of radio producers and listeners will be able to dial into the show to speak directly with the premier.

“That’s what this show is going to be about,” said John Vos, Corus Radio’s regional program director. “Having the premier on to talk about interesting topics, topics that impact Albertans day in, day out. I think that is fundamental, that is a central piece to what democracy should be. It should be a chance for everybody to speak directly to their government leaders, and why not that opportunity to speak to somebody at the very top.”

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Vos points out this idea was first pitched two years ago and isn’t the first time an Alberta premier has had a radio show.

He says Your Province. Your Premier will air weekly in Alberta. It won’t run during the upcoming election campaign in 2023, he said. Vos acknowledged that with the upcoming leadership review the timing could be considered controversial by some but he believes that won’t detract from the conversation.

“Isn’t this an ideal point for our audience and the radio station to hold him to account as he goes into this leadership [review]?” he asked.

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The timing of the announcement for the new show prompted swift opposition from the NDP which criticized Kenney’s decision to agree to participate so close to the review.

“It smacks of desperation. The premier is deeply unpopular and deeply embattled within his own party and the vast majority of Albertans are very dissatisfied with his leadership, his incompetent management and their rising cost of living,” said Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips at an unrelated press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

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“I do not think a call-in show will solve Jason Kenney’s problems because they are so incredibly profound and he has broken trust with so many Albertans… He will be better off spending Saturday mornings talking about the people whose bills are mounting up on the kitchen table.”

Kenney’s leadership review is set to be held on April 9 in Red Deer, Alta. He has been criticized by members of his party, including some UCP MLAs, over decisions his government has made to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. His approval rating is one of the lowest amongst the premiers, sitting at 26 per cent according to a January study by the Angus Reid Institute.

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The government regularly purchases advertising with media outlets including Corus Radio but confirms the airtime for the show is not being paid for by taxpayers and the province will not have any editorial control over the program.

“It is important to note that the Government of Alberta does not have editorial control over the content of the program,” said Justin Brattinga, Kenney’s press secretary. “And [it] will not be involved in choosing topics or screening callers.”

Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt says every move the premier makes will face intense scrutiny over the next month.

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“Everything that has been going on in Alberta politics in the last few weeks all has to be viewed with a lens towards April 9,” said Bratt. “Access to the Premier is always a good thing but choosing a specific outlet to do this on raises questions about screening.”

Bratt said past premiers have been given talk shows before but said this show is “fundamentally different.”

Corus Entertainment is the parent company of 630 CHED, 770 CHQR and Global News.

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