Alberta Premier Jason Kenney will launch a new phone radio show this weekend.
The show will air in Calgary on 770 CHQR and in Edmonton on 630 CHED.
Corus Entertainment’s John Vos told CBC News that the show was a long time coming and they first approached Kenney with the idea in June 2020.
“It was about making the elements come together,” Vos said.
The show will continue to air until the next provincial election, but will not continue during the campaign period. Vos also noted that they would return to the show if Kenney loses the leadership of the United Conservative Party in a vote scheduled for April 9.
Justin Brattinga, press secretary for the Prime Minister’s Office, said there was no cost to taxpayers for the show to air, adding that it was not pay-per-view programming.
However, Brattinga said the government bought ads in the Edmonton and Calgary markets to promote the program. This cost will be absorbed by the existing advertising budget, he said.
Brattinga said the show would be called Your Province, Your Premierand that Kenney would “take calls from Albertans on a wide range of issues and topics.”
“It is important to note that the Government of Alberta has no editorial control over the content of the show and will not be involved in choosing topics or screening callers,” Brattinga said in a statement to Radio Canada.
The Government of Alberta therefore does not buy airtime from the Kenney radio show. Instead, he buys ads on the show. Not sure it’s a distinction with a difference.
Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said he was surprised to learn of the show’s launch.
“It’s quite the development.”
He questioned Kenney and Corus Entertainment’s motivation behind launching the show, and where funding for the segment will come from.
Vos, along with Corus Entertainment, told CBC News that the show was not paid programming and that no money changed hands.
Bratt said it was hard to view the premier’s new appeal program as isolated from the leadership vote just around the corner.
“Everything that’s happened over the last few weeks, you have to see it through the lens of April 9. The budget, yesterday’s gas tax announcement, the rebates, you’ll notice that everything this will come into effect on April 1.”
The decision to go ahead with the show marks a break from the prime minister’s recent means of communication, Bratt said, which typically come in the form of social media videos or live streams.
While communicating with the audience is generally a good thing, Bratt said, he expressed concerns about the show’s screening and the types of callers that would air.
“Are we talking about the premier of the province communicating with the people of the province, or is this the leader of a political party trying to defend his record ahead of a leadership review?”