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

Seattle Mariners field coordinator Carson Vitale before a game at T-Mobile Park during the 2020 season. Vitale, who grew up in Victoria, has pledged to run 10 miles a day for 2021 and to donate 50 cents per mile to the United Way of King County. (Ben Van Houten/Seattle Mariners)
Mariners coach running 10 miles a day for United Way

Saanich-raised Carson Vitale, Seattle Mariners field coordinator, plans to run 3,650 miles in 2021

Gordon English, construction manager of the Habitat for Humanity project in North Saanich, shows off the current interior of a townhouse part of the affordable housing project. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Families set to move in to affordable housing project in North Saanich by spring

Pending completion of Habitat for Humanity project comes against backdrop of new housing report

A rainbow graces the departure of CCGS John Cabot as it leaves Victoria Jan. 7. (Canadian Coast Guard/Facebook)
Follow a coast guard ship’s trip from Victoria to Halifax, through Panama Canal

Canadian Coast Guard Ship John Cabot left for St. Johns on Jan. 7

Johnathan Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight charges including sex-related offences against children and accessing, possessing and making or publishing child pornography. (Courtesy of Saanich Police)
Sentencing date moved for Saanich nanny guilty of child porn charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight sex offences against children

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich repeals, reschedules two public hearings for consideration of new information

Move to hold public hearings for second time ‘very rare,’ mayor says

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Most Read