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Prime Minister Jason Kenney defended his dining at Sky Palace during Question Period – and advised taxpayers that Jameson wasn’t exactly a good whiskey – as he outlined his patio plans for the days to come.
Dinner dominated Question Period after photos were posted of Kenney dining out with the cabinet of other government employees.
He is pictured at a table of six – none of whom are socially distanced or wearing a mask. Two other men were seen walking away, but Health Minister Tyler Shandro said there were no servers at the event.
Bottles of wine, sparkling water and 40 oz. of Jameson were all on the table. Jameson sells for $ 50 in Calgary liquor stores and Kenney pointed out that it wasn’t the best whiskey available.
“Every reasonable effort has been made to be socially aloof,” Kenney said during an NDP questioning.
Kenney said the dinner was “fully compliant” with AHS regulations and said it made sense to sit outside as there is less risk of transmitting the virus.
Glenora NDP MP Sarah Hoffman mocked Kenney for her repeated “we’re all in the same boat” statement saying that it looks like there is a different set of rules for Kenney.
She compared the Sky Palace scandal to the UCP Snowbird Christmas scandal, where many MPs and a cabinet member flew to warmer places, even though Alberta was stranded by COVID-19.
She said the Sky Palace was “the most hated palace in the province”.
Kenney has said repeatedly that the NDP “does not want Alberta to reopen”.
He also asked NDP interviewees if they had ever spent time on the patio with then Prime Minister Rachel Notley.
The prime minister said he plans to attend another patio Thursday night with friends and a backyard barbecue on the weekends.
Edmonton Center NDP MP David Shepherd noted that four bottles of wine were on the table. “Red or white,” he asked Kenney, who did not respond.
Kenney said dinner “was at his expense” at a nearby takeout restaurant.
Shandro dodged the question of who exactly footed the bill or if anyone went home after consuming alcohol.
Irfan Sabir, NDP MP for Calgary McCall, asked if there had been an AHS investigation into the dinner for violating COVID-19 regulations. Kenney responded by saying it wasn’t necessary because the rules were being followed.
“You owe all Albertans $ 8,000,” Sabir told Kenney, referring to the $ 2,000 in COVID-19 fines for people breaking the rules.
Independent MP Drew Barnes called on Kenney to step down.
Mount Royal University political science professor Lori Williams said the photos don’t look very good for Kenney.
“If the answer is ‘technically we haven’t broken the rules’ you lose the communications battle,” Williams told the Western standard.
“Worse, it’s not at all clear that they haven’t broken the rules. Patio gatherings are meant to have only members of the same household at a table, and if they aren’t, they’re meant to be six feet apart or masked.
“Of all people, this involves the Minister of Health, the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister. And of all places, a patio at the infamous Sky Palace. This has repercussions on the law The optics are catastrophic, and a blow for a government and a leader already broken down in the polls.
“The Prime Minister cannot claim that he did not spell out the rules, as he did with the travel rule violations in January. Whether it’s technically a violation of the law or a failure to follow his own guidelines, he’s added to his problems at a time when he can least afford it. “
Sky Palace – in fact the Federal Building – was one of former Prime Minister Alison Redford’s passionate projects gone awry, with Redford intending to use public funds to build a private penthouse for her and her daughter .
While that never materialized, the building symbolizes “Alison Redford’s entitlement and her subsequent unpopularity and resignation,” said Duane Bratt, professor of political science at Mount Royal University. Toronto Star.