Airdrie-East UCP MLA Angela Pitt has gone public with her anger at Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and his “hypocrisy” by holding a Sky Palace dinner that violated COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
“Looking at these photos it seems clear to me that several health restrictions were violated. Much of the public concern about this incident has been about the hypocrisy of senior officials breaking their own rules. I can certainly understand these concerns,” Pitt, the deputy speaker of the legislature, wrote in a Facebook statement.
“I am calling on the Premier today to make the rules more consistent, to give businesses fairness, and to allow restaurants to safely operate in the same fashion in which the Premier just portrayed.”
Kenney has been pilloried after photos emerged this week showing him sitting with seven 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.
“The current Stage 1 restrictions allow restaurants to operate patio-only service for up to 4 household members per table, or 3 people if diners who live alone are with their 2 close contacts. The Premier had a restaurant dinner on his patio with 7 friends, and it remains unclear to Albertans why a restaurant owner can’t have larger groups on their patio,” wrote Pitt.
“As a proud conservative, a former business owner, and the representative for Airdrie-East, it pains me to watch the small businesses in my community being the constant target of government restrictions. I see the extreme amounts of uncertainty. I see the unmeasurable levels of creative problem-solving being invested into working with COVID-19 restrictions, only for the restrictions to change over and over again. I see the stress on so many suffering business owners and their families, and I know as well as every other Albertan that many of these businesses will not make it.”
Pitt said the had been rumours that she was somehow involved in the dinner.
“There has been some speculation online that I took part. I would like to assure my constituents and all Albertans that I had nothing to do with this,” she wrote.
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