Kenney's calendar suggests light vacation workload while Alberta's fourth wave grew
A calendar obtained through Alberta's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act suggests Premier Jason Kenney only had two COVID-19 briefings while on vacation in August.
That's despite Kenney insisting on multiple occasions that he was "in daily contact" with staff and senior officials during his holiday.
The calendar shows "personal" time scheduled from Aug. 12 to Aug. 30.
Two meetings, both labeled "Weekly COVID Update," were scheduled on Aug. 18 and Aug. 25.
Apart from those updates, the calendar remains relatively blank for 19 days.
The premier previously claimed he was away for a couple of weeks.
"I, every single day, was on my phone in connection with the government, my office and getting regular briefings on COVID and everything else," Kenney said upon his September return.
"There is nothing on the record that shows Jason Kenney was willing to interrupt his best summer ever to address a very real and pressing crisis," NDP MLA David Shepard told CTV News. "If he was taking any substantial action, it would be showing there in that calendar. It shows that this premier was more concerned about potentially his own vacation than he was about taking responsible action to protect the health of Albertans."
FOURTH WAVE HIT
While Kenney was absent from the public eye, COVID-19 cases and hospital admissions began to trend upwards.
The province tallied nearly 14,000 new cases in that time, and ICU admissions rose into the triple digits.
"It was amazingly bad optics," political scientist Keith Brownsey said. "Weekly meetings aren't enough. That doesn't give you the sense of the distress and the anger that was festering in Alberta with his absence. He left us and I think that has a lasting impact on his political career."
CTV News reached out to the Premier's Office for comment on his vacation schedule.
"The Premier maintains a weekly COVID update with a wide range of officials from his office, Alberta Health, and Alberta Health Services and he continued with those meetings while he was away," acting press secretary Harrison Fleming wrote. "He also maintained daily contact with his staff and other officials throughout. Impromptu (sp) discussions would not be reflected in the formal calendar."
But one former high-ranking Alberta government staffer is still skeptical.
Alison Redford's former chief of staff Stephen Carter told CTV News that "if it's not in the schedule, it's simple: it doesn't happen."
"There's absolutely zero way you can actually plan these meetings without putting them into the premier's schedule," Carter continued. "A briefing is not something that can be pulled together ad hoc."
The calendar was very thorough.
Every five minute drive, personal meal -- even casual walks -- were listed.