CALGARY — The chief of staff to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and an administrative assistant working in his office travelled to Hawaii over the holidays, he announced at a press conference Tuesday.
Nenshi said neither will be sanctioned for leaving the province while most Albertans were enduring lockdown conditions.
That’s because the provincial government announced at the end of November, along with Canadian airlines, a program to encourage Canadians to visit Hawaii.
“At that time, Doug Schweitzer, the minister of jobs and economy, said this would be a safe and responsible way to travel and James Rajotte, who is the Alberta government’s senior representative in the United States said that Alberta to Hawaii was a safe travel corridor,” he said.
“And I know Hawaii has a lot of implications on it at the moment, but it is also the only place I’m aware of where the government of Alberta made this announcement.”
Nenshi say the two staffers — chief of staff Devery Corbin and an administrative assistant who wasn’t named — decided independently to travel to the aloha state.
“Yes, I was aware of this travel … but I also believe that they made a decision they thought was right and fair and within the rules,” he said.
Nenshi added he really wishes he had “pushed back hard on this.”
“I really wish I had said, ‘Are you sure about that? Do you think that is congruent with the messaging about how we’re all in this together, with the latest numbers,'” he said,
“I really wish I had done that, I didn’t do that and I’m really sorry I didn’t do that and I deeply regret I didn’t do that.”
Because the two “didn’t do something they thought was wrong,” Nenshi said he has decided not to take further action.
“They followed what they thought the rules were,” he said.
“I’m sorry that I didn’t act more as a boss and a friend, that I didn’t do more than that … but ultimately that is where I think the fairest outcome should be.”
After first saying on Friday there would be no sanctions, Premier Jason Kenney announced Monday he had accepted the resignations of now former municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard, after she travelled to Hawaii and his now former chief of staff Jamie Huckabay, who travelled to the U.K.
A number of MLAs also resigned or were demoted from committee appointments for travelling.
MLA Jeremy Nixon resigned from his role as parliamentary secretary for civil society and MLA Jason Stephan resigned from the treasury board after admitting to travelling over the holidays.
MLAs Tanya Fir, Pat Rehn and Tany Yao have also lost their legislature committee responsibilities. Fir (Calgary-Peigan) visited Las Vegas, Nevada over the holidays while Yao (Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo) and Rehn (Lesser Slave Lake) took separate trips to Mexico.
Ric McIver is serving as the interim municipal affairs minister.
Rules currently in place in Alberta have bars and restaurants closed to dine-in service. Places like gyms and hair salons are also currently closed and both indoor and outdoor gatherings are not allowed. Albertans who live alone were able to attend one holiday gathering between Dec. 23 and 28.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on Tuesday provincial officials are scheduled to review the current restrictions later this week.