The first two UCP cabinet ministers are calling on Premier Jason Kenney to apologize for his Sky Palace shindig.
While two other UCP MLAs have said Kenney should do a mea culpa, Leela Aheer, Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women, and Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney are the first cabinet minister to do so.
“My … apology goes to all Albertans who saw pictures of some ministers, staff, and the Premier having a meal together on the rooftop patio of the federal building or “Sky Palace”, Aheer wrote in a late Saturday afternoon Facebook post.
“I m confused and, like you, extremely hurt, and I’m so sorry for any pain, anger, or frustration this may have caused you. All of us make mistakes, but this one is a big one, and I am truly sorry.
“You’ve had to maneuver, pivot, and adapt to the rules put in place by our government. I can only imagine how disappointed you must be.
“Our leadership should sincerely apologize.
“I want you to know that I have diligently followed the rules right alongside all of you as we fight COVID and try and put it in our rear-view mirror. Please continue to wear your masks, wash your hands, keep your distance, and should you choose, please get your vaccination.”
“I would never have done (what they did) in the picture,” Postmedia reported Sawhney said n Punjabi, as translated by RED FM news director Rishi Nagar.
“If they have committed a mistake, they must accept it openly. (The) photo clearly speaks.”
Kenney was pilloried after photos emerged this week showing him sitting with eight other people – including cabinet ministers – on the Sky Palace’s patio, clearly not following socially distancing rules. The linen-covered table is topped with a 40 oz. bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey, wine glasses and bottled water.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Finance Minister Travis Toews, Government House Leader Jason Nixon were all gathered around the table.
The Western Standard’s Fact Check found that Kenney and his guests have 18 counts of violating their own regulations, and 8 counts of violating their own guidelines.
Kenney claimed it was a working business dinner that was taken outside because the risk of virus transmission is lower than being inside. He brushed aside NDP criticism, saying they did not want Alberta to reopen and no COVID-19 regulations were broken.
UCP MLAs Angela Pitt and David Hanson have publicly said they were appalled by the group’s behaviour. Independent MLA’s Drew Barnes and Todd Loewen have called on Kenney to resign.
The Sky Palace was a media-dubbed name when it emerged former Premier Alison Redford was renovating the top of the Federal Building into a private residence for her and her daughter.
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard