EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The premier of Canada’s western province of Alberta said he will not punish members of his government for vacationing outside Canada despite government guidelines urging people to avoid nonessential travel.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said he learned this week of travel abroad by a “few” legislature members, senior staff and officials with the United Conservative government, including his municipal affairs minister and his chief of staff.
Kenney said he made an error by not issuing a clear directive earlier urging them to remain in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said those in public positions should be held to a higher standard in their personal conduct but said he won’t sanction them.
Politicians travelling abroad for vacations during the pandemic became a big story in Canada this 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 Thursday after being ordered home by Ontario Conservative Premier Doug Ford.
But in Alberta, Kenney declined to sanction members of his party.
At least one top health official said he’s had enough.
“I’m fed up with politicians who just don’t care,” said Dr. Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto and the medical director of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Sinai-University Health Network.
“And the public needs to be fed up as well.”
Kenney said he has now ordered all Cabinet ministers and senior government officials not to vacation outside Canada after learning of multiple recent trips by party officials and employees.
“We should be here at home, plain and simple, if we carry a position of public trust,” Kenney said.
Opposition parties called for the resignation of Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard after it was reported Thursday that he was in Hawaii over the holidays. Kenney said Allard, the legislature member for Grande Prairie who is also responsible for emergency preparedness, left for the United States on Dec. 19 and continued to work while away. He said he learned of her trip Tuesday and asked her to return.
Kenney said Allard apologized for her lack in judgment over the trip abroad.
Kenney also said Jamie Huckabay, his chief of staff, travelled to the United Kingdom with his family before Christmas. After learning of the COVID-19 variant in the U.K., Huckabay changed his travel plans and returned to Alberta on Dec. 26, the premier said.
In a tidy conclusion to the preliminary phase of the world junior championship, Canada completely out-classed Finland, skating away with a 4-1 victory on New Year’s Eve.
Dylan Cozens led the way in Canada’s first real test of the tournament, scoring twice, while Dylan Holloway and Peyton Krebs also added to their goal hauls. Meanwhile, Devon Levi remained superb in net for the Canadians, making 18 saves.
As winners of the group, the Canadians will meet the fourth-seeded Czech Republic in the opening round of the knockout phase.
While the final score was hardly spectacular, this was easily Canada’s most impressive victory, maybe the best performance of any team in the tournament, and the strongest evidence to suggest that the host nation remains the clear favourite to win gold.
Unlike Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland, Finland is a legitimate medal threat and enduring power nation. But Canada managed to reduce them into something that resembled those three previous opponents — even if Finland seemed to wake up in the third period.
The forecheck for Canada was simply overwhelming, continually frustrating standouts on the Finnish back end like Ville Heinola and Topi Niemela. Conversely, the Canadians’ defensive prowess was indomitable, preventing the Finns from ever settling into an offensive structure. These two facets working in conjunction was the foundation behind one of the most puck-dominant pair of periods in the tournament from the Canadians, who led 35-7 on the shot clock after 40 minutes.
The demoralization on the part of the Finns only seemed to dissipate when Brad Lambert converted on a late power-play try, taking advantage of one of the few mistakes the Canadians committed in the game. That goal, it seemed, prevented the game from taking on a far more lopsided feel.
Follow his lead
It’s been an incredible tournament so far for the co-captain Cozens. The first-round draft selection of the Buffalo Sabres, who leads the tournament in points as of this writing, has to this point been at the centre of everything for Canada. This was no different in the team’s outstanding performance versus Finland.