6 Alberta government members demoted amid international travel controversy
EDMONTON -- Two senior Alberta government members are among seven public officials and staff who are facing consequences after leaving the country in December.
Premier Jason Kenney announced Monday at noon he had accepted resignations from Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard and his own chief of staff, Jamie Huckabay.
It was repercussive action he had refused to take even a few days earlier.
As well, Jeremy Nixon will leave his role as parliamentary secretary for civil society and Jason Stephan from Treasury Board.
Three other MLAs – Tanya Fir, Pat Rehn, and Tany Yao – have lost their legislative committee responsibilities, he added.
They, along with Allard, Nixon and Stephan, will remain MLAs.
"By travelling abroad over the holidays, these individuals demonstrated extremely poor judgement," Kenney said.
"I have listened to Albertans who are sending a clear message that they want real consequences for these actions."
A week earlier, he had said there'd be no consequences for those in his government who had ignored Alberta's and Canada's stay-at-home advice, as he had been responsible for not being "clear enough."
The deputy leader of the Alberta NDP called the resignations belated and suggested the premier had been "pushed into this position, instead of showing any kind of leadership."
'KICK IN THE TEETH'
Six elected officials and three staff from the United Conservative government left Canada in December.
Allard's family trip "tradition" in Hawaii was among those that sparked the most outrage, alongside Huckabay's time in the U.K.
She had been sworn in as minister five months ago.
"My first reaction certainly was anger and frustration and just disbelief," Lia Lousier, an Airdrie mom, commented.
Her nine-year-old son Braeden is one of 100 people in the world to be diagnosed with a rare inherited connective tissue disease called Hajdu-Cheney syndrome and is not expected to live past his teenage years.
The family had to cancel a trip to Hawaii in 2020 from Make-A-Wish Foundation Canada.
Lousier called Allard's trip a "huge kick in the teeth to average people."
Fir visited Las Vegas, Stephan Arizona, and Rehn and FortMcMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao Mexico.
Nixon and two education press secretaries were also in Hawaii.
"It's the height of arrogance and hypocrisy," the NDP's Sarah Hoffman said.
"This is a government that believes they are beyond the rules, that the rules don't apply to them, that the sacrifices they're asking everyone else to make is (sic) sacrifices other people need to make, not them."
The Official Opposition says all of its 24 MLAs spent the holidays in Alberta.
'TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE'
Transportation Minister Ric McIver will fill Allard's spot on an interim basis and Kenney's principal secretary Larry Kaumeyer will move become his interim chief of staff.
It's not clear whether McIver will also take over Allard's role on the vaccine emergency management committee.
The provincial government did not respond to CTV News Edmonton's request for comment.
That and the brief statement posted online by the premier, which didn't allow for questions, looked "cowardly," said one political scientist.
"We're hearing it's because Tracy Allard forced his hand," Mount Royal University's Duane Bratt told CTV News.
"When she decided to go, then Kenney said, 'I gotta set an example with everyone else.' But this isn't going to dim the ire because it's a little of too little, too late."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Bill Fortier and Carlyle Fiset