UCP holds Christmas party after asking Albertans to scale back close contacts

Hours after Premier Jason Kenney and Health Minister Jason Copping urged Albertans to cut down their close contacts by 50 per cent and cancel Christmas parties to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, members of the United Conservative Party gathered at a restaurant in Edmonton for a Christmas reception.

“The Premier’s advice to Albertans was given only a short time before our event was to begin,” UCP director of communications Dave Prisco wrote in a statement.

“Given our compliance with the REP and adequate spacing in the venue with reduced capacity, we decided to proceed.”

Photos obtained by Global News show among those in attendance was Justice Minister Kaycee Madu.

READ MORE: Omicron variant dominant in Alberta, premier urges Albertans to halve personal contacts

“The hypocrisy of this government continuing to ask Albertans to do what they say but not what they do is incredibly frustrating,” NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray said in response to the gathering.

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Gray points to last Christmas when several UCP MLAs and staffers travelled abroad as Albertans were being told to lockdown during the second wave of the pandemic, a scandal that became known as Aloha-gate, and then the June dinner on the Skypalace patio where Premier Kenney and senior members of his cabinet, including then Health Minister Tyler Shandro, broke social distancing rules.

READ MORE: ‘If you’re yelling at us… thank you’: Alberta MLA on colleagues’ travel during COVID-19

“It is frustrating, it is exhausting and Albertans are sick of it,” she said.

Mount Royal University Political Scientist Duane Bratt agrees.

“There’s a pattern here,” Bratt told Global News, adding that in order for people to take restrictions and recommendations seriously, the governing party needs to walk the walk.

“Even if it’s not legislated, even when you encourage people, you have to follow that.”

READ MORE: ‘I regret that’: Kenney apologizes for Sky Palace dinner that broke COVID-19 rules

The UCP had a similar Christmas party planned for Calgary members on Wednesday night, that event has been cancelled.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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