Alberta Politics
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at this afternoon’s news conference (Photo: Screenshot of news conference video).

Defiant Kenney on minister’s Hawaiian hijinks: No rules were broken, so no consequences

Posted on January 01, 2021, 9:46 pm
8 mins

Aloha, Alberta!

Jason Kenney doesn’t give a hoot* what you think. 

Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard’s Christmas post on Instagram, published while she was in Hawaii (Photo: Instagram).

That’s the key takeaway from the premier’s defiant news conference early this afternoon about the cabinet minister who jetted off for a Hawaiian vacation while she was supposedly responsible for the province’s emergency management and boss of the civil servant running Alberta’s leisurely COVID-19 vaccine rollout, not to mention other vacationing United Conservative Party MLAs and political staffers.

There will be no consequences. 

Not for Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard. 

Not for any of the missing MLAs, if we could even find out which ones were missing. 

Not for the government press secretaries sunning themselves on the beaches of Hawaii or visiting relatives in the United Kingdom.

Premier Kenney’s reasoning can be summarized as follows:

  • I didn’t actually tell them they shouldn’t be travelling during a pandemic. My bad.
  • Air travel is safer than visiting your granny.
  • “There is no public health order or legal barrier,” so no rules were broken.
  • When I told my ministers, MLAs and flunkies to come home, they all did.
  • WestJet – which is based in Calgary, ya know – needs the money or they’ll go broke.
  • There will be apologies, and there’s a new no-travel rule, so we can all just move along, please?

Mr. Kenney’s justification, if you can call it that, was as follows: “I don’t think it’s reasonable for me as a leader to sanction people who very carefully followed the public health orders and the legal requirements.

Jamie Huckabay, Jason Kenney’s well-travelled chief of staff (Photo: Linked-In).

And how do we know they followed the rules? Well, I guess that’s for them to know and us to find out. 

The premier claimed the province is encouraging travel. Meanwhile, the Alberta government’s COVID-19 travel restrictions page continues to state, “Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. The Canada/U.S. border remains closed to non-essential travel.”

You just can’t make this stuff up. Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who fired his finance minister yesterday for doing the same thing, looks like a statesman by comparison. And today the NDP removed Manitoba MP Niki Ashton from her shadow cabinet posts for travelling to Greece to visit a sick relative without informing party Leader Jagmeet Singh. 

Social media commentators called Mr. Kenney’s news conference the most outrageous event in Alberta political memory since Ralph Klein got drunk and threw pocket change at the residents of an Edmonton men’s shelter. 

Arguably, though, this is worse. We’re talking about putting people’s lives in danger, and undermining the whole fight against COVID-19, not just acting like a drunken jackass. Remember, Mr. Klein had a driver, and he even made a stab at quitting drinking. 

Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Well, you have to give Mr. Kenney credit for his sheer brass. The man has no shame. There will be one set of rules for insiders, another for the rest of us, and if you don’t like it, I guess you can move. All done in the unshakable conviction the UCP will win the next election no matter what anyone says. 

The premier claimed he was unaware until Tuesday that Ms. Allard was in Hawaii. As former NDP and Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers explained, that’s not the way it works. “Any minister who is out of the province is covered by another minister,” Tweeted former Alberta NDP leader and cabinet member Brian Mason. “The Premier’s office and the bureaucracy ensure it. Papers are signed, etc. It’s all very official. If @Jkenney says he didn’t know that @TracyAllardUCP was in Hawaii, then he’s lying.

Mr. Kenney did admit one thing everyone already knew, that Jamie Huckabay, his chief of staff, had been vacationing in England when Canada closed its borders to flights from the U.K. because of the new, more highly infectious variant of the coronavirus. 

No problem, though. Mr. Huckabay just flew to the United States and came home from there. Alright then! No rules were broken. 

For her part, Ms. Allard is very, very sorry. And very, very relieved, as well, I’m sure. 

Former Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

At a lateafternoon newser of her own, she explained that visits to Hawaii are a family tradition, but now that she’s thought about it she’s “truly and deeply sorry.” Luckily, family gatherings are only prohibited if you can’t afford to travel overseas. Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up. 

Ms. Allard was out of the country from Dec. 19 to Dec. 28, so that means she was in Hawaii when she posted a photo of herself by the Christmas tree in the Legislature’s Rotunda on Instagram. Obviously this was intended to give the impression she was here in Alberta. 

The premier spent lots of time today blaming the federal government for Alberta’s vaccination program, which is as slow as molasses in springtime. Of course there was no acknowledgment of the fact other provinces are doing better despite having the same federal government. 

Now that the horses are gone, Premier Kenney has ordered the barn door slammed shut. That is to say, now that the holiday season is almost over, he has issued a directive telling staffers and elected officials to stay home. 

Even Postmedia’s Rick Bell, normally the most loyal of Kenney loyalists in media, said he was “gobsmacked” by what Premier Kenney has to say. 

It’s hard to take issue with that. 

But then, look at it from Mr. Kenney’s point of view. If he fired Ms. Allard for this, he might end up having to fire a lot more of his cabinet when it starts leaking out who else was enjoying a privileged winter holiday abroad. 

Entitlement: It ought to in the UCP’s name. 

*No profanity was used in the composition of this blog post. That was a challenge. 

41 Comments to: Defiant Kenney on minister’s Hawaiian hijinks: No rules were broken, so no consequences

  1. Northern Loon

    January 1st, 2021

    Best line of 2021 (for now) “*No profanity was used in the composition of this blog post. That was a challenge.”

    I will bet that was a serious challenge. Best wishes for the New Year, but I trust you will have much to blog about and many more opportunities to best yourself.

    Reply
  2. Al Gold

    January 1st, 2021

    I was awakened from my depressive pandemic induced fugue state – like a kracken, when I read this news and I would love to devour a few politicians while the adrenaline is high. Alas, I am in isolation and cannot.

    As usual, Kenney’s contempt for Albertans who take Covid-19 seriously, oozes out of him. A plague of boils upon his person!

    Reply
    • Carolyn

      January 3rd, 2021

      Huh! If Kenney displays visible manifestations of illness (Boils!!), others might finally be ready to oust his lying a**! Nice call!

      Seriously, this particular bout of hypocrisy really got under my skin. He separated families over Christmas by instituted law, he back-pedaled three days before Christmas when plans were likely rearranged and families heartbroken…And letting his crew off the hook for travelling abroad–Kenny, what the hell was that?! He needs to resign. Many hardworking, ordinary Albertans have had enough of his brand of “leadership”…Kenny knew about their plans. The staffers and MLAs knew better but used positions of power and privilege to skirt the health order. This party needs to be completely dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up….

      Reply
  3. Maura

    January 1st, 2021

    Great article. Is it true that Nathan Neudorf also went on vacay?

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 2nd, 2021

      It’s not clear. Mr. Neudorf was widely rumoured earlier this week to be in Maui. He issued two statements on Thursday, New Year’s Eve, stating that he was in Lethbridge, including one in which he was videotaped holding a copy of the day’s Lethbridge Herald. (The photo caption on my blog was incorrect, indicating it was Friday’s paper, not Thursday’s. Hard to keep track when I’m writing for publication the next day. This has been corrected.) However, as far as I know Mr. Neudorf never confirmed where he was before Thursday. So, while rumours can be wrong, I would say this remains an open question. If you are a constituent, I would suggest you ask his office where he was earlier in the week of Dec. 27 and see what they say. DJC

      Reply
  4. Hammer

    January 1st, 2021

    Well if you can’t say it I will, what an effing joke. I just read Rick Bell’s column in the Sun, he absolutely give the smack down to Kenney and the gang. What a breath of fresh air! Once JK loses his sycophants in the media he is in trouble. Personally I am so effing mad that this jerk has made everyone but his friends toe the line. People are going bankrupt, there is domestic strife, ways of life are being compromised but to have Napoleon light come out and defend these people is unbelievable. Don’t these govt folks have any IQ or EQ. Can they not see that we are collectively suffering. I have been stuck teaching online from my basement for 10 months. My students are not getting the experience they deserve for the tuition they are paying. Yet, these govt hacks thumb their noses at us and do what ever they want. What the hell is wrong with them? The next election cannot come soon enough. I will not forget this EVER!

    Reply
    • Abs

      January 2nd, 2021

      My elderly father spent what is likely his last Christmas alone, in his room. A family man all his life, but thanks to Kenney not listening to doctors who urged lockdown measures a month earlier, he was alone, eating a meal from a disposable cardboard container. Now we know the Kenney Klan boot-scooted away for vacays. They took away precious time and family memories that we will never get back.

      #$©€ you, Kenney. May 2021 bring you your just rewards. Now go arrest the kids at the ODR for playing shinny. Especially bust the U8s. Toss them all in the slammer, you hypocrite.

      Reply
  5. Abs

    January 2nd, 2021

    The upside is that in 2.9 years, Alberta’s citizens could be protected from this terrible pandemic! The snail’s pace of Covid vaccination is creeping towards a new target of 4000 inoculations per day, but not just yet. At this new rate, when achieved, Albertans will have to mask up, stay home, and avoid social gatherings until late 2023. Now that will be interesting. How long can the aristocracy keep telling the peasants to eat pineapple upside-down cake?

    https://globalnews.ca/news/7551095/covid-19-alberta-vacination-pace-cases/

    Benjamin Netanyahu is smart enough to get the entire population of Israel vaccinated before the next election in March 2021.

    It would be a mistake for anyone to think that Albertans will sit around like coconuts on a beach until after the next provincial election for the vaccine and resumption of life as we knew it. Even more of a mistake for the party in power to think it will get re-elected if it’s still dithering about vaccination heading into an election. No one will be able to go anywhere without a vaccination certificate before long, so maybe they’re thinking that Albertans, with the exception of the UCP, will be held captive in Alberta indefinitely?

    https://www.businessinsider.com/how-israel-got-vaccines-to-its-citizens-under-2-weeks-2020-12

    Reply
  6. Kris M

    January 2nd, 2021

    Is anyone buying this shit?! When Rick Bell is gobsmacked, well, it is a new year indeed. But not for Kenney and crew. Now for the umpteenth time in the past 9-10 months, I’m kinda jealous of Ontario. Kenney and pals really do not care what Albertans think, about anything. They’re so bad at every single thing they do.

    Reply
  7. brett

    January 2nd, 2021

    This yet another FAIL in the midst of this pandemic. I was so surprised when I watched the Premier today. I actually felt sorry for him. Then very angry that he would treat Alberta voters with such disdain and arrogance.

    Jason Kenney is a smart politician. My thought is that there is another issue in the background that is causing these successive fails. First the failure to lockdown, now the failure to act. He looks weak.

    My only conclusion is that there is perhaps a deepening rift inside the UCP Party. Perhaps Kenney feels that this is far more serious to him than the public backlash that he will certainly experience. Does Kenney not believe he has enough support inside the Party to exercise a free hand?

    Either way, another huge FAIL by Kenney and what I believe is one of the worst political moves I have seen in a very long time. This hits a visceral nerve with all Albertans who are suffering through these covid times. I am left with the impression that Kenney feels that his team members are exempt from any and all of the measures that Albertan voters are subject to. I will be interested to see if he has the nerve to be beside Dr. Henshaw when she does her next update. My guess is NO.

    Reply
    • tom

      January 2nd, 2021

      The background issue, Brett, is that with all his theoretical political smarts, Jason Kenney is lousy at actual governing. There is a difference.

      Reply
    • Political Ranger

      January 2nd, 2021

      I don’t get this “smart politician” nonsense. At best he is fortunate; lucky.
      He has not demonstrated any smarts that I can see. Just another dumbass conservative riding the coattails of an ignorant, belligerent and irresponsable electorate.

      Reply
    • Hana Razga

      January 2nd, 2021

      “He looks weak……”

      In that picture above he looks hungover.

      Reply
  8. A.O.

    January 2nd, 2021

    His ‘bad’ indeed. One would almost think that his claim, during the news conference, that the fault was his alone for not specifically forbidding ministers, assistant ministers, elected members and their minions from travelling outside Canada for vacations, completely excused their actions. Kenny does not appear to realize that he has no credibility whatsoever, to draw upon.
    It was almost comical to watch the pathetic excuses trotted out as to why the vaccination program in Alberta is the worst of all provinces in Canada. His inference that because AHS was holding back the second doses of vaccine, there wasn’t enough vaccine to do more vaccinations was ludicrous.
    It was even worse to hear later on the news that none of the front line health care staff who were working with Covid-19 patients at the Royal Alexandra Hospital have been offered vaccinations yet.
    I can not wait until kenny’s popularity drops to single digits. He is a disgrace and should resign.

    Reply
  9. Expat Albertan

    January 2nd, 2021

    My father passed away from covid in an Edmonton hospital on Christmas Eve and I didn’t get on a plane to be with him (even if I could, since he was in a covid isolation unit and not allowed visitors). I had to settle for saying goodbye via Facetime. I’m going to email Jason Kenny and tell him that.

    Reply
  10. Bob Raynard

    January 2nd, 2021

    Kudos to David and anyone else who was able to force themselves to watch the entire 30 some minutes of the video. I tried to, I really did, but even with repeatedly pressing the right arrow on my keyboard jumping things ahead a few seconds, my BS tolerance was exhausted after his phony sympathy for Sgt Harnett and his self promotion about Alberta’s response to Covid.

    Interesting speculation on Brett’s part with regards to a rift in the party. We know he has a lot of nut jobs he has to deal with. Personally I wonder if he realizes he doesn’t have the bench strength to find 3 new cabinet ministers if he fires all his travelers (that we know about).

    Reply
    • Jason

      January 2nd, 2021

      That may be true. Kenney’s MLAs and Ministers were likely picked for their unswerving loyalty to him. Now that he’s spared them the ax, they really owe him. He figures having obedient people around is worth embarrassments like this; time will tell if he’s right.

      Reply
  11. Cam

    January 2nd, 2021

    I respectfully disagree that these errant UCP folks won’t face consequences. There may not be consequences from Kenney, but there are massive reputational and electoral consequences. Take Tracy Allard, for instance. Now when she sits across the table (or on Zoom) with municipal leaders her discussions will forevermore be tainted with a sense of distrust. When she goes to the grocery store she will have to look constituents in the eyes and feel their scorn. The people that once looked up to her (I’m sure there were a few) now no longer do. Saying “I’m sorry” just doesn’t cut it. If her judgement is so poor to bring this upon herself, how can we trust her judgement as a Minister of the Crown, especially as head of AEMA? She must resign, and in doing so that will begin to demonstrate that she has learned a lesson in responsibility and can begin to repair her credibility.

    Reply
  12. Alex C. Polkovsky

    January 2nd, 2021

    As my dear wife said to me yesterday, Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard would have to be on video eating a baby while kicking puppies before dependable UCP voters abandon her. After all, you can’t ask them to vote left of center… scratch that, left of Kenny, that’s better, as much as logic and sanity dictate that firing a shot over the bow with an election loss every once in a while might sharpen the focus of the political class.

    As for premier Kenny, it will take a visit from three ghosts or some accident of falling into a mad scientist’s machine comic book style to commit to the public good.

    Reply
    • mr perfect

      January 2nd, 2021

      Alex, I doubt even Allard eating a baby while kicking a puppy would make UCP voters vote for some one else. We’re far more likely to hear about how those Quebecers did the baby eating, puppy kicking first and did you know that Trudeau likes to eat live kittens? As well, there would be something about us BCers who eat pipelines. It’s always about pointing the finger and never looking inward.

      Reply
  13. jerrymacgp

    January 2nd, 2021

    Constituents in Grande Prairie could find out where she lives & egg her house … But, in keeping with her transgression, I’d suggest throwing pineapples instead.

    Reply
    • Abs

      January 2nd, 2021

      Jerry, do you think the fine folks of GP might abandon their patronage of her businesses? I know I would, if I still lived there. Nothing speaks to the privileged elite like money. I’m sure that 17 Christmas vacations in Hawaii mean a lot to her. A dose of reality on that silver platter might help her out. She can lap it up with the silver spoon in her mouth.

      Reply
      • jerrymacgp

        January 3rd, 2021

        In fact, there has been chatter in the FB comments sections related to this story about boycotting Tim Hortons restaurants she owns … or owned: she may no longer own the TH franchises she did before the election in 2019, according to some posts. I personally haven’t delved into Alberta Registries to see whether she still owns any. My guess though is that such a search would only reveal a bunch of numbered companies that she &/or her husband may or may not have a stake in. Feels like a fool’s errand, frankly.

        Reply
        • Neil Lore

          January 4th, 2021

          Good point. While we’re on it, I’d really, really like numbered corporations to not be a thing anymore. I would also like to have a national conversation about getting rid of corporations, period. I don’t think divorcing profit from responsibility is good for society.

          Reply
  14. Peter

    January 2nd, 2021

    Kenney has a weakness in that he blames everyone else except for his inner circle: yesterday he blamed the AHS for being extra cautious in holding doses of Pfizer vaccine. Kenney is good at political campaigns but less effective in administration.
    It’s quite a surprise for me to see that the delivery of vaccine has to be relying on the skills of former military commanders, on federal and provincial levels. Where are those able civil servants?

    Reply
    • Neil Lore

      January 4th, 2021

      Actually, I don’t think he’s good at election campaigns, either. Most people who cheat to get elected don’t get rewarded for it.

      On a totally unrelated note, does it always take the RCMP 3+ years to investigate crimes?

      Reply
  15. Alan K Spiller

    January 2nd, 2021

    It’s been a well known fact since before Kenney was elected that the Sun Newspapers were his mouth piece and although they did print some of my letters pointing out what a disaster he would be. I didn’t appreciate the sarcastic comments that were added to my letters. Others pointed out that they had cancelled their subscriptions to the paper because of their one sided support of Kenney.
    Now it appears they can no longer hide the fact that this guy is a jerk, and they better not defend him anymore or they might be out of a job. It’s no secret that their newspaper has been in financial trouble for years and had to lay off staff across Canada.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      January 3rd, 2021

      ALAN K SPILLER: The Sun has been a mouthpiece for the Conservatives for a long time. In 2012, they were endorsing Danielle Smith, and the Wildrose. In 2015, they were endorsing the Alberta PCs. In 2019, they were behind the UCP. So was the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald. It’s really something to see when columnists like Rick Bell can’t even defend the UCP. In fact, I remember seeing your letters to various newspapers for a very long time. They were factual, and well written.

      Reply
  16. Anonymous

    January 2nd, 2021

    This is absolutely appalling. The UCP thinks they are exempt from any rules pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s a shocker. Dyed in the wool Conservative/UCP supporters, do not agree with what the UCP has done. Even columnists, like Rick Bell, who are champions of all things UCP, could not justify the actions of the UCP MLAs, and the weak action of the premier on this matter. The UCP tells Albertans to limit their social interactions, and stay isolated as much as possible, and yet the UCP MLAs go jet setting to different parts of the globe. If the premier of Alberta doesn’t fire these UCP MLAs, it reflects badly on him. This will likely put an end to the UCP. There is a reason why Alberta is at the top for the per capita rate of Covid-19 in Canada. The UCP’s very weak leadership and inability to effectively manage the Covid-19 pandemic in Alberta is the cause. Albertans got a big mess on their hands with the UCP. The UCP will have a hard time trying to cover this up.

    Reply
  17. ema

    January 2nd, 2021

    Great recap here as always, David!

    Frankly I swore so many times yesterday, but instead of using a swear jar I’ve sent an appropriation donation to you for this always welcome blog. Cheers!

    Reply
    • David Climenhaga

      January 2nd, 2021

      Thank you, and thanks to all who donate to this effort. Happy New Year. DJC

      Reply
  18. Bruce Turton

    January 2nd, 2021

    As per your inclination, although suppressed, my years of “construction speak” came quickly to the fore as soon as it was obvious that the dear little leader of Alberta was going to do nothing to the one (and now seemingly, 5) UCP politician who were supposed to lead. Wondered if the slaughter of Sgt. Harnett was a ‘godsend’ to JK and his spin masters, giving them more time to come up with the crap they offered (though I could not listen to most of what was spouted!!). I wondered it the guilty would have to pay hefty fines, just like the rest of us sequestered at home would have to do if caught visiting our grandchildren and whomever else is precious to us? Kudo’s to Premier Ford for having a spine, and to the Federal NDP who did likewise.
    Guess we are isolated from all but the birds and bunnies who come every day for free meals.

    Reply
  19. St Albertan

    January 2nd, 2021

    Across the spectrum of our new found self interests, you lay bare the self defeat that we all entertain. Fifty bucks to you! Keep it up! And please don’t die before I do!

    Reply
  20. Abs

    January 2nd, 2021

    The police helicopter has been doing low-level flyovers of my community (shouldn’t have made that comment about busting up the six-year-old thugs playing shinny at the ODR), and I look out on the hail-shot houses that are in disrepair since the great summer storms of 2020. There are piles of frozen shingles teetering on rooftops that Santa could not negotiate. As usual, I reflect on the past year and what’s to come in the new one. While others slowly wake up to the reality that we commoners will not be getting the vaccine for at least 2.9 years at targeted but not implemented vaccination rates (which is an improvement on my previous calculations based on previous vaccination rates of 29 years and 10 years), I try to imagine what life will look like after a few more years of isolation at home. Is there no escape from this h*ll-hole of a province without a vaccination certificate?

    Reply
  21. Hana Razga

    January 2nd, 2021

    Apparently #ResignKenney trends on Twitter after at least 8 Alberta MLAs and staff are discovered to travel over holidays

    Reply
  22. !?

    January 3rd, 2021

    BC rolled the numbers and choose to NOT holdback shots, but to vaccinate as many as possible with singles and when supply ramps in the coming weeks to go back and double up. Hoping science & supply chain get that one right.

    People started breaking Covid rules when they saw those with privilege ignore them
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/02/follow-covid-restrictions-break-rules-compliance

    How Individuals With Dark Personality Traits are Reacting to COVID-1
    https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/home/topics/general-psychiatry/how-individuals-with-dark-personality-traits-are-reacting-to-covid-19/

    Reply
  23. Dave

    January 3rd, 2021

    I don’t quite know where to begin with this one, the latest of a number of recent mess ups by Kenney and his crew. Perhaps the biggest sign this is really, really bad and really dumb, is the reaction of Rick Bell who is usually fairly supportive of Kenney and the UCP. It is not a good sign at all when even your more stalwart friends in the mainstream media turn on you like this.

    Now, I am still not sure yet this fall out with the mainstream Alberta media will last long or not. In the past after other controversies, they have found reasons to fall back in line supporting the UCP after the initial outrage starts to die down. However, it is possible it could be different this time. The mainstream media in Alberta has increasingly become more and more out of step with Alberta public opinion in the last six months or so. I suspect because of this, their up until recently unyielding, fairly reliable support for the UCP might be damaging their credibility more noticeably than in the past. Could this latest screw up by Kenney be the turning point, or the straw that finally breaks the camels back? Perhaps.

    I have never thought that Kenney was as good at populism, as he was being a career politician and a stalwart member of the Conservative political elite. The Federal and Alberta advisories against unnecessary travel outside of Canada were actually already quite clear. Therefore, it is a very weak excuse by Kenney not to punish the ministers and others in his government who disregarded them, just because Kenney did not explicitly tell them not to travel.

    However, I believe regardless of how the mainstream media reacts to this, this may become the moment when much of the Alberta public at least starts to see the UCP government for what it is – a bunch of self serving ideologues who are insulated from and fairly oblivious to the current challenges facing average Albertans.

    Reply
    • jerrymacgp

      January 3rd, 2021

      Those of us who remember the 44 years of unbroken one-party PC rule that ended in 2015 know the deeply entrenched sense of entitlement that adhered to that party over time and eventually led to their downfall. The UCP have succeeded in achieving that same sense of entitlement in only 20 months. Quite an accomplishment.

      Reply
  24. Comment

    January 3rd, 2021

    No big surprise in regards to Kenney’s defiant attitude. It’s been there right from the beginning. His defense of Shandro during calls for his resignation is a great example of this. Contrition and humbleness are not hallmarks of this premier or this party.

    Reply

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