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

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A power outage Thursday night left nearly 3,000 homes in Clinton and the 70 Mile areas in the dark. (Katie McCullough photo).
Updated: Clinton, 70 Mile left in the dark after vehicle crashes into transmission pole

BC Hydro still working to restore power to 330 homes in 70 Mile House

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Community consultation is now open regarding disposal of the former Ashcroft Elementary property, which since 2015 has operated as the Ashcroft HUB. (Photo credit: Vicci Weller)
Feedback now sought regarding disposal of Ashcroft Elementary

Residents of the region can have their say about the future of the former AES property

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage addresses the attendees while Tom Olsen, Managing Director of the Canadian Energy Centre, looks on at a press conference at SAIT in Calgary on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Fulmes
‘Morally and ethically wrong:’ Court to hear challenge to Alberta coal policy removal

At least 9 interveners will seek to join a rancher’s request for a judicial review of Alberta’s decision

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

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

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Most Read