Some United Conservative Party MLAs have come under fire recently for travelling outside the province or country during the pandemic, but two weeks after the first vacation was confirmed, there was still no public accounting of where the remainder were during the holiday break.
Many elected officials have posted statements on social media or responded to constituents’ queries about where they spent the holidays.
In the absence of a complete accounting, CBC News asked the caucuses where each member was during the holiday season and followed up with individual MLAs.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley said none of her MLAs left Alberta. Neither the premier’s office nor the UCP caucus responded to requests for a full list of where their members were.
Two MLAs’ whereabouts (Drew Barnes and Miranda Rosin) have still not been confirmed, despite a dozen requests made to the UCP caucus, the constituency offices and directly to the officials over the span of a week.
Minister Tracy Allard and five other UCP MLAs were confirmed to have left Canada during December or January. Allard resigned from cabinet and the MLAs were demoted. The premier’s chief of staff, who travelled to the U.K., was asked to resign and did, and an additional minister left Alberta over Christmas but did not face consequences.
Premier Jason Kenney has expressed regret for the controversy, saying caucus discipline will be stricter going forward, and if anyone leaves the country now, they will be punished. This week, emails sent by the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the legislature revealed criticism of the premier’s response to the matter.
“The story hasn’t ended,” said Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University. “We’re still talking about it and there’s been new developments almost every day.”
Bratt added that Kenney’s challenge now is to pivot from damage control to focusing on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
“He could have put this to bed New Year’s Day,” Bratt said. “This would not have had the legs that it did had the premier taken the action on January 1st that he did on January 4th.”
Most MLAs remained in Alberta
The vast majority of members say they stayed in their ridings for Christmas and New Year’s, following public health guidance.
The province had urged Albertans to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada during the pandemic.
Here’s a list of which MLAs are confirmed to have travelled and which say they were home in their ridings.