‘Great embarrassment to the government’: Anger over travel within UCP caucus a sign of fissures

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Cooper’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

The language used by Cooper in condemning Kenney and his fellow caucus members is fiery, but Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said it mirrors emails he’s been privy to from other disgruntled UCP MLAs.

It’s a sign of deep discontent amid elected officials, Bratt said.

“This is because we’re not talking about one or two MLAs, we’re talking about six. Why did that many go (abroad) when zero out of 24 NDP people went?” he said.

“I think the other factor was the three-day delay between the press conference (from Kenney) saying, ‘I take all the blame, they didn’t do anything, I can’t punish these people, they did nothing wrong,’ and then laying the hammer down three days later. I think if Kenney had responded Friday as he did Monday, we wouldn’t be getting these.”

When news broke that several members of government left the country in December, as strict COVID-19 restrictions came into effect in Alberta, Kenney initially defended the travellers, saying he took responsibility for not more clearly outlining expectations around trips abroad.

In an about-face Monday, Kenney announced each MLA who travelled out of country, including former municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard, resigned or were demoted from their leadership positions in government.

Other UCP caucus members have also expressed frustration with the province’s handling of the situation.

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