Alberta house speaker calls out travelling colleagues, other MLAs point out ‘differences of opinion’ in party
Speaker of the Alberta Legislature Nathan Cooper criticized some of his UCP colleagues Monday, saying their decision to travel abroad during a pandemic was an "embarrassment."
CALGARY -- The Speaker of the Alberta Legislature is criticizing his fellow UCP colleagues and the premier after several members of the party travelled internationally over the Christmas break.
In an email to a constituent in his Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills riding, Nathan Cooper calls the decisions made by the travellers an “embarrassment.”
“Especially Premier Jason Kenney who chose not to sanction these senior officials and staff members until he was prompted to do so by widespread public outrage,” reads the email from Cooper, which was obtained by Postmedia.
Last week, Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard resigned as Minister of Municipal Affairs for travelling to Hawaii over the Christmas break.
Kenney’s chief of staff, Jamie Huckabay, stepped down after visiting the United Kingdom. Five others MLAs were stripped of their legislative and/or committee duties.
In the email, Cooper says he did not travel outside of Alberta over the break.
"The hypocrisy of this scandal has clearly undermined this government's moral authority,” the email continues.
Cooper’s office did not respond to requests from CTV News for an interview.
“Differences of opinion” within the UCP, says MLA
Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes says he’s heard from many of his constituents who are angry with the politicians and staffers who travelled.
“I’m glad that Speaker Cooper put (that email) out. He was obviously feeling and hearing some heat from his constituents,” Barnes says.
He says the government needs to work hard to earn back the trust of the public.
Barnes, who is a member of the UCP, is at odds with his own government on the matter of lockdowns. He says there should be a regional approach to health measures, instead of province-wide restrictions.
Barnes says the lockdown is taking a toll on people’s mental health and finances and says “government programs have been hit and miss.”
But when questioned about whether cracks are appearing within the UCP caucus, Barnes says he wouldn’t go that far.
“I wouldn’t call them cracks, but there are differences of opinion. A lot of us are speaking up,” Barnes says.
“It’s incumbent on Premier Kenney to listen.”
One political expert says while some may see this as division within the party, it may actually be part of the UCP’s strategy.
“It’s actually a very good approach to help the party rebuild from a disaster,” says MacEwan University’s Chaldeans Mensah.
I don’t see the division here. I think the party is actually very united, on the collective failure,” Mensah says.