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 UCP members 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.”

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

CoronavirusUCPunited conservative party

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,516 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

Central zone has 1,849 active cases

Image/ Metro Creative Connection
County of Wetaskiwin responds to Alberta Energy Regulator’s decision on Directive 067.

On April 7, 2021 the Alberta Energy Regular (AER) announced a new edition of Directive 067.

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It’s not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he’d been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

Police are still looking for suspects, and have called in their forensics experts to help

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Most Read