Uproar over holiday travel of Alberta politicians amidst pandemic
CALGARY -- The frustrations of Albertans continue to boil over as several United Conservative Party MLAs, and a number of party staffers, elected to travel over the holidays despite recommendations from both the provincial and federal governments to stay home.
CTV News has confirmed six UCP MLAs and three high-ranking staffers left the country in December.
Political watchers expect Premier Jason Kenney to address the mounting fury in the near future.
The opposition NDP has planned a news conference for noon Monday calling for the resignation of Tracy Allard, Alberta’s minister of municipal affairs, who recently travelled to Hawaii.
Allard responded Friday, calling her trip the continuation of a "17-year family tradition", but the explanation did little to quash criticism of her tropical travels. Signs were posted outside her Grande Prairie constituency office over the weekend with messages of "Aloha Allard" and leis adorned the door.
The constituency office of Jeremy Nixon, MLA for Calgary-Klein, has also been postered with calls to resign and leis after his recent tropical travels.
Scott Cyr, who was elected to represent Bonnyville-Cold Lake under Alberta's Wildrose Party in 2015, the apology Kenney issued last week rang hollow with many Albertans.
"The premier's office is saying that they didn't know. This is insulting for everybody," he told CTV News in an interview Sunday.
Kenney told reporters on Friday he wasn't aware of who was and wasn’t out of the province until the news became public, and he then ordered all traveling members to return to Alberta.
Cyr believes the premier is quickly losing support after saying that none of the government members or party staff who went against government advice would be disciplined.
Lisa Young, a University of Calgary political scientist, believes Kenney needs to draw focus away from the scandal with a strong showing in January. She says the premier should focus on the vaccination campaign, or he could be pulled down by the politician travel controversy.
"(He’s) managed to unite the right and left in Alberta in being angry at him."
Social media continues to echo the uproar with the hashtag #RESIGNKENNEY trending on Twitter Monday morning.
Minister of Energy Sonya Savage drove to a property she owns in British Columbia over the holidays for what her staff called "essential maintenance."
Minister Savage’s press secretary claims the Calgary North West representative went to check on the property located outside of Kelowna following a water line replacement — and that she was not there for a "vacation trip" over the holidays.
"The Minister did not intend to spend any of the holidays in British Columbia and returned home to her riding in Calgary after 72 hours," said an email from press secretary Kavi Bal.
The governments of Alberta and British Columbia have both asked people to avoid all non-essential travel during the pandemic.
High-ranking staffers also left the country in December including the premier’s chief of staff, Jamie Huckabay, who travelled to the U.K. and Matt Wolf, the premier’s executive director of issues management, who says he travelled to Saskatchewan for the holidays to stay with his parents.
With files from CTV's Natalie Miller-Maleschuk and Timm Bruch