Alberta premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Tanya Fir when she was sworn in as Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, a portfolio she held until August 2020. Members of Alberta’s United Conservative government who travelled abroad over the holidays despite widespread recommendations to stay home to curb the spread of COVID-19 are apologizing and making a beeline home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Alberta premier Jason Kenney shakes hands with Tanya Fir when she was sworn in as Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, a portfolio she held until August 2020. Members of Alberta’s United Conservative government who travelled abroad over the holidays despite widespread recommendations to stay home to curb the spread of COVID-19 are apologizing and making a beeline home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

More Alberta MLAs travelled over holidays, despite advice to avoid unnecessary trips

The MLAs apologized and those still abroad made a beeline back to Alberta

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s efforts to squelch a scandal over members of his government travelling abroad for the holidays appeared to fall short on Saturday as at least four more politicians copped to jet-setting against public health recommendations.

The MLAs apologized and those still abroad made a beeline back to Alberta just a day after Kenney declined to punish his municipal affairs minister for travelling outside the country and issued a directive for all members of his caucus and senior staff to return home.

Calgary-Klein MLA Jeremy Nixon has been ordered to return home from Hawaii and Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn is on his way home from Mexico, a spokeswoman for the premier confirmed Saturday, while Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan said he was on his way back from Phoenix, Ariz., and Calgary-Peigan MLA Tanya Fir apologized late Friday for travelling to the U.S.

“Albertans have done a tremendous job following public health guidelines and I commend them,” Fir said on Facebook. “I recently travelled to the U.S. to visit my sister. I have since returned and will abide by the premier’s new travel directive. I sincerely apologize for this situation wholeheartedly.”

Rehn also took to Facebook to apologize, thanking his constituents for their work reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“Given this, I apologize for the fact that I recently took a previously planned family trip, following a busy legislative session,” his post reads. Kenney’s spokeswoman Christine Myatt confirmed he had been in Mexico.

Nixon, too, apologized on Facebook for letting people down.

“I assure you that I will work hard to regain your trust,” he wrote. “Please know I have followed all public guidelines and will observe quarantine regulations upon my return. I deeply regret this decision to travel.”

Stephan struck a less conciliatory tone, saying on Facebook that he doesn’t consider himself an exception to health guidelines and that he hasn’t asked Albertans to forego travel.

“I am returning home right away as requested by the Premier. Upon returning, I will be complying with all isolation requirements,” he wrote. “There is already too much contention in our society and I regret if my actions have contributed to that. I look forward to moving past this experience.”

ALSO READ: Liberals say testing rules for air travellers land Jan.7, urge people to prepare

Kenney issued an order on Friday forbidding all of his caucus members and senior staff from traveling outside Canada other than for government business after it emerged that his municipal affairs minister, Tracy Allard, spent the holidays in Hawaii. Allard, too, has apologized for making the trip.

The premier said that while he should have issued such a directive earlier, those who went abroad over the holidays will not face sanctions as they did not violate any firm rules.

The province has advised against non-essential travel outside of Canada. Kenney also told reporters that the chief government whip “strongly encouraged MLAs to stay in the country” during his government’s pre-Christmas caucus meeting.

The NDP Opposition continued to call for Allard’s resignation on Saturday and accused some of the travelling UCP members of deception by posting pictures and videos that appeared to show them in Alberta when they were actually thousands of kilometres away.

“To the more than one thousand Alberta families who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 and everyone else who made sacrifices to follow the government orders and keep each other safe, a tan on a winter vacation for UCP MLAs is a slap in the face,” NDP Deputy Leader Sarah Hoffman said in a news release.

Allard told reporters Friday that a video of her standing beside a Christmas tree at the legislature, sending holiday greetings, was posted on her social media account by her staff on Dec. 23, but she said it was not meant to mislead Albertans.

“I usually do a Christmas video at the Leg, you know, it’s very common for MLAs to do that. And I apologize again if that, in any way, misled people,” she said, explaining that she and her family usually travel to Hawaii for Christmas.

Kenney noted his chief of staff, Jamie Huckabay, travelled to the United Kingdom with his family before Christmas, but changed his travel plans and returned home on Boxing Day after learning of the COVID-19 variant in the U.K.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said there were an estimated 900 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the province on Friday.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw provided the update in a tweet Saturday, and while she did not give an update on the number of new COVID-19 deaths, she said the number of people with COVID-19 in hospitals and intensive care was stable.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

AlbertaCoronavirusUCPunited conservative party

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a single-vehicle rollover Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, after a vehicle came into contact with a pedestrian light pole at Kalamalka Lake Road and 14th Avenue. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Minor injuries in rollover after vehicle hits Vernon crosswalk pole

The vehicle flipped onto its side, closing Kalamalka Lake Road

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

A petition to spare the Mount Rose Swanson area from logging later this year has eclipsed 21,000 signatures as of Jan. 20, 2021. (Rose Swanson Mountain/Facebook)
Controversial logging will cut 4% of ‘sensitive’ Armstrong forest area: Ministry

A petition to spare the Rose Swanson area from logging has eclipsed 21,000 signatures

Vernon firefighters douse a fire inside a cardboard bin behind the Shops at Polson off Highway 6 Wednesday, Jan. 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
PHOTOS: Dumpster fire behind Vernon shopping mall

Vernon Fire Rescue Services respond doused recycling bin fire backing onto Polson Park

The BC SPCA is adapting its fundraising after cancelling events due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
BC SPCA gets creative with fundraising as pandemic continues

The non-profit’s in-person fundraising events all had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions

Penticton city council heard from Dhorea Ramanula, of Paid Employment for People with Lived Experiences Tuesday, Jan. 19. Ramanula’s organization has operated public washrooms in Kelowna staffed by community support workers since April, she says Penticton could benefit from a similar facility. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Penticton interested in new public washroom concept to combat vandalism

Public washrooms with on-site support staff have been operating in Kelowna since April

Canada Post had remove a lot of letter boxes around Penticton after they were vandalized. This letter box at the United Church on Main St. remains unscathed. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Street mailbox vandals strike Penticton drop boxes

Canada Post had to remove a bunch of the vandalized units

Esa Carriere, 23, was the victim of a 2018 Canada Day homicide. (File)
Youth sentenced in Kelowna Canada Day killing

Young woman pleaded guilty to lesser assault charge, sentenced to 15-month intensive support and supervision program

A rendering of UBC’s planned downtown Kelowna campus. (Contributed)
Kelowna’s new downtown campus to help alleviate UBCO’s space crunch

The sizable development is anticipated to be completed by the fall 2024 semester

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Most Read