No holiday travel for local councillors and staff

by Colin Smith

Outrage has spread across the country at the behaviour of Canadian politicians who holidayed abroad during the Christmas season despite public health directives to avoid inessential travel to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The scandal kicked off at the end of last year when it became public knowledge that Ontario Finance Minister Rod Philips was holidaying on the Caribbean resort island of St. Barts when his recorded message suggested he was spending Christmas at home.

It was then revealed that Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard went on a family vacation in Hawaii, prompting some to call it “Alohagate.” Allard and Premier Jason Kenney’s Chief of Staff Jamie Huckaby, who travelled to the UK, resigned over their jaunts. Five additional Alberta MLA travellers were relieved of legislative responsibilities.

However, Morinville’s public officials have nothing to be abashed about on the score of holiday travel.

“I dropped off Christmas gifts to each member of Council’s doorsteps on December 24 and all of them were home,” stated Morinville Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Labonne.

All members of Council independently confirmed that they had not done any travelling.

Labonne said all members of the Town of Morinville staff Senior Leadership Team also remained home over the holidays, apart from one who travelled to a family cabin about an hour north of home.

“I should also note that I was approached by one of our managers following the increased public health measures that came into force on December 8, regarding a desire to travel to Vancouver to see family, following the recent passing of an extended family member, a trip that had as well been a family tradition for a number of years,” he said.

“I advised him not to travel, given that the Government of Alberta asked Albertans to avoid non-essential travel. He heeded that advice and stayed home to celebrate the Christmas holidays with family in Morinville.”

On January 5, Morinville-St. Albert MLA Dale McNally posted a message on his Facebook page after he heard concerns about holiday travel from constituents.

“As your MLA, I would like to inform you that, after concluding my meetings and other work related to my cabinet position as Associate Minister of Natural Gas and Electricity at the Alberta Legislature, I spent Christmas at home in St. Albert and stayed close to home for the duration of the holiday season,” McNally said.

“I remained here and have been conducting my work on your behalf by virtual means, and continue to closely adhere to public health orders as directed by Dr. Deena Hinshaw.”

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