News Release


EDMONTON – Alberta families made heart-breaking decisions to sacrifice end-of-life visits, funerals, and visits with elderly relatives in order to uphold public health rules, while Premier Jason Kenney’s ministers, MLAs, and staff knowingly broke those rules and jetted off to getaways in Hawaii, Mexico, Arizona, Las Vegas, and the United Kingdom.

“My heart goes out to these families, who weren’t able to comfort their loved ones or who endured the death of a family member, and still made the right decision to protect their community from COVID,” said Sarah Hoffman, NDP deputy leader. “These Albertans showed tremendous integrity in the face of pain and loss, followed the rules, and stayed home to protect other families from losing a loved one.”

“Premier Jason Kenney’s ministers, MLAs, and senior staff betrayed every single Albertan by thumbing their noses to the rules by hitting the beach and jetting off to warm destinations while families made deep sacrifices and struggled with loneliness and grief in isolation. It’s sickening.”

In addition to the resignations and committee dismissals announced today, the Official Opposition is calling on Jason Kenney to publish a complete accounting of all UCP ministers and MLAs who vacationed outside of Canada over the holidays.

Calgarian Lindsey Witzel’s grandfather died of COVID-19 on Christmas Eve. No one was able to be with him when he passed, and Witzel did not travel to Manitoba to be with her family due to COVID restrictions.

“Our family was heartbroken. We couldn’t be there to console my grandmother and we couldn’t even go see my parents, who live here in Calgary, to give them a hug. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. We did our Christmas over Zoom because that was the right thing to do. So I have to wonder who these politicians think they are? How does the Premier possibly justify his people putting themselves above others who have sacrificed so much?” she asked.

Melanie Behm’s grandfather lives in long-term care and recently suffered a stroke. He begged her to take him home to celebrate Christmas with her family in Edmonton.

“I will never forget seeing him cry through his mask, sitting across the table from us, and not being allowed to hug him or hold him. All he wants is to be with his family and we couldn’t this year,” she said. “It was so disheartening to see these UCP politicians take their trips and enjoy their holidays when the rest of us can’t. If Jason Kenney doesn’t want to lead, then he should step down and let someone else get us back on track.”

Lorraine Valestuk’s mother died on New Year’s Day, six weeks after losing her father, but her family can’t gather for a funeral due to COVID restrictions. 

“The Minister talks about a 17-year tradition of going to Hawaii but we have a humanity-long tradition of gathering for funerals,” Valestuk said. “We’re not doing that because we want to stop COVID but the Minister gets to go to Hawaii.” 

Lia Lousier cancelled a trip to Hawaii organized by Make a Wish for her son, who is in palliative care, due to COVID.

“For us, we applied for Braeden’s wish five years ago because with a palliative child, you never know what the future is going to look like. This year, he was finally well enough to travel but because of COVID we had to abandon his dream of going to Hawaii. Seeing Minister Allard go to Hawaii because of a 17-year-old family tradition was really hard to see, and hard to read. This behaviour is beyond entitled and completely out of touch with average Albertans,” said Lousier.  

Edmontonian Ian Dalsin’s father died from cancer on December 21, and Dalsin was forced to pick which eight people to invite to the funeral. Dalsin’s father was diagnosed in June and many family members did not get to see him before he died. 

“My father spent the last six months of his life in lockdown because of this pandemic. Our family and friends played by the rules, and it cost us experiences and time with him that we cannot get back. He made sacrifices for the greater good while these politicians couldn’t sacrifice their vacations–they should resign immediately,” he said.

“Albertans are outraged,” said Hoffman. “They are outraged at the arrogance, entitlement, and dishonesty of United Conservative Party MLAs, and they are outraged that Premier Jason Kenney approved this despicable behaviour and tried to weasel out of responsibility on some small-print technicality.

“Jason Kenney still owes Albertans the complete truth about how many of his MLAs enjoyed international vacations while others made painful sacrifices during a global public health emergency.”

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