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Please Advise! Hogtie the Stampede?

Wondering how Alberta will lasso the virus by riding a lottery to its rodeo? Gitty up Dr. Steve!

Steve Burgess 16 Jun 2021 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

[Editor’s note: Steve Burgess is an accredited spin doctor with a PhD in Centrifugal Rhetoric from the University of SASE, situated on the lovely campus of PO Box 7650, Cayman Islands. In this space he dispenses PR advice to politicians, the rich and famous, the troubled and well-heeled, the wealthy and gullible.]

Dear Dr. Steve,

While most summer fairs are cancelled, the Calgary Stampede is set to go ahead in July. Do you foresee problems?


Boot Scooter

Dear BS,

Come! Step into the booth of Dr. Steve, Fortune Teller, located just beside the ring toss. Dr. Steve will predict the things that are yet to be... [insert echo effect here].

First of all, the crystal ball reveals: the Toronto Maple Leafs will disappoint!

That happened already? Apologies. Dr. Steve spends so much time gazing into the future he sometimes forgets to check the sports section. Anyway, save that prediction for next year. It’ll keep.

As for the Calgary Stampede, Dr. Steve sees vigorous conflict — takedowns, dustups, hogtying. And that’s just at the concert stage. With most summer fairs cancelled or postponed there is only so much space for all the ’80s/’90s acts that are still touring. The competition for scarce fair gigs like this one will be bitter and unrelenting. Pat Benatar battling Hall & Oates! Bon Jovi wrestling Duran Duran! The Stampede ought to consider replacing calf-roping with gladiatorial events — nostalgia acts with swords and tridents, fighting for a showcase. Winner gets to take fans for a stroll down memory lane, past the defeated, prostrate forms of Whitesnake and the New Kids on the Block.

The Stampede will certainly be a nice summer break for Albertans, although with the history of that province’s COVID regulations over the past year it’s hard to believe anyone will be in the mood for a roller coaster. Maybe they’ll unveil a new ride patterned on Premier Kenney’s alternating pattern of denial and concern. They’ll call it the Whipsaw, and all customers will be made to sign waivers lest their neck bones dislocate.

But oh the thrill of the summer fair! Everyone loves the mini-doughnuts. This year at the Stampede they’ll be even smaller — Invisible-to-the-Naked-Eye Doughnuts. Wear a mask lest you ingest them unwittingly, or something invisible anyway. Mmmmm... aerosol transmission doughnuts. And of course the foot-long hot dogs will now be six feet. Safety first, even in Alberta.

Games of chance are another fairground tradition. Again, it’s hard to imagine people will be in the mood for risk this summer. But the Alberta government is already diving in with its own vaccine lottery. The really exciting thing for Albertans is that Premier Kenney seems to be debuting a new way of running these things. Kenney’s news conference contained the fascinating revelation that in this particular lottery, it might be possible for a person to win first and then, suitably induced by the guaranteed million dollars, accede to being vaccinated. When asked what would stop someone from signing up for the draw, winning, then getting vaccinated afterward, Kenney replied, “I think we’re going to allow that.”

This seems problematic if the point of the lottery is to encourage vaccination. But if the point of the lottery is to randomly give away money, it’s brilliant. And just think what Stampede fairground games of chance will be like. “Place your bets and spin the wheel” is so 2019. In Alberta nowadays they do it the other way around. Vegas will be dark and shuttered within months.

Giving away money is kind of a Kenney trademark though. For example the $1.5 billion spent on the Keystone XL pipeline, sections of which will now be used to make Costco-sized packages of Charmin, or perhaps to serve up the new Big Gulp Super-Size Frappuccino. So with the vaccination lottery it makes sense that Kenney would set up a huge giveaway that ultimately accomplishes nothing. It’s kind of his thing.

As for the Stampede, Dr. Steve sincerely hopes rising rates of vaccination will make it feasible for patrons to safely enjoy themselves, while the unvaccinated exercise caution and stay home. Dr. Steve is not willing to bet on that last part though. Unless of course you let him know the outcome first. Dr. Baby needs new shoes!  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics, Coronavirus

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