Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he takes full responsibility for not giving a clear directive against international travel to government officials. His remarks on New Year’s Day come after news broke that Municipal Affairs Minister and Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard travelled to Hawaii in December.
“I recognize that those of us in positions of public trust must maintain a higher standard in our personal conduct than is expected of folks in the general population.”
Allard is said to have left on her trip on December 19th. Kenney says he first became aware of it on the 29th after his staff asked ministers if they were at home, following criticism of Ontario’s Finance Minister’s travel to the Caribbean.
“I contacted her right away, expressed concern and disappointment and asked her to come back, and she did immediately.”
Kenney reports she came home the next day. He also notes that other MLAs, senior staff members, and government officials have also been reported to have taken international trips over the holidays, and says he’s been assured that they have followed all of the public health orders and legal requirements.
“But for those of us in leadership, I acknowledge that is not good enough. We should be here at home, plain and simple, if we carry a position of public trust.
It’s claimed anyone who travelled internationally has either returned or are in the process of doing so.
Kenney says, going forward, cabinet ministers, MLAs, political staff, and senior public service executives will be told not to leave the country for any travel unless absolutely necessary for government business, which he argues is very unlikely. However, he says he won’t be sanctioning anyone who has already done so.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable for me as a leader to sanction people who very carefully followed the public health orders and legal requirements in a province where we have been, frankly, encouraging safe travel.”
Allard has not yet made a public statement, but Kenney says, in speaking with her, she admits her decision to travel was a “significant error in judgement.” Kenney also says she was working while away, including in virtual cabinet meetings.