Alberta leader reverses course, punishes for pandemic travel

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FILE – In this Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 file photo, a United Airlines Boeing 737 Max airplane takes off in the rain at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash. Boeing improperly influenced a test designed to see how quickly pilots could respond to malfunctions on the Boeing 737 Max, and Federal Aviation Administration officials may have obstructed a review of two deadly crashes involving the plane, Senate investigators say. In a report released Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 the Senate Commerce Committee also said the FAA continues to retaliate against whistleblowers.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

TORONTO (AP) — Alberta’s premier has reversed course and is now punishing members of his government for vacationing outside Canada despite government guidelines urging people to avoid nonessential travel during the pandemic.

Premier Jason Kenney said Monday he asked his chief of staff to resign and accepted the resignation of his Municipal Affairs minister. Several other members of his United Conservative party have also been demoted for travelling outside Canada.

Kenney said last week he would not punish members of his government after he said he learned of travel abroad by a number of people in his government.

“Over the weekend I have listened to Albertans who are sending a clear message that they want real consequences,” Kenney tweeted Monday.

Politicians travelling abroad for vacations during the pandemic became a big story in Canada last week after it became known that Ontario’s finance minister went to the luxury Caribbean island of St. Barts for weeks and seemingly tried to hide the fact by sending social media posts showing him in a sweater before a fireplace. Rod Phillips resigned last Thursday after being ordered home by Ontario Conservative Premier Doug Ford.

Opposition parties called for the resignation of Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard after it was reported Thursday that she was in Hawaii over the holidays. Jamie Huckabay, Kenney’s chief of staff, travelled to the United Kingdom with his family before Christmas.

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