June 11, 2021
Editor’s Note: Story was originally published at 5:59 p.m. MST, June 9, 2021 and was updated at 7:55 a.m. MST, June 11, 2021 to add Premier Kenney’s denial and to remove some of the matters that the premier is presently contesting.
Multiple sources inside of the UCP alleged to the Western Standard that Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, as well as several members of his key inner circle, have held private gatherings that would have violated the government’s own COVID-19 restrictions if proven correct.
Senior sources in the party, including one in the Premier’s Office, told the Western Standard the gatherings have taken place over several months.
Request for comment from the Premier’s Office was not returned as of publishing.
But on Twitter, Kenney staffer Brock Harrison denied the story.
“The story published tonight by the @WSOnlineNews is a total fabrication with no basis in fact. The Premier has directed his lawyer to send a defamation notice to the publication and a demand that the story be removed immediately,” he tweeted.
“In addition, contrary to the claim that ‘request for comment from the Premier’s Office was not returned as of publishing,’ the Premier’s Office has no record of such a request from the Western Standard.”
But Western Standard records show the email to the premier office was sent at 5:49 p.m. MST. Past inquiries for comment from the Premier’s Office are almost universally not responded to.
Sources told the Western Standard most of the gatherings were between Kenney and his inner circle of ministers and senior staff, and sometimes included others.
None of the alleged gatherings are proven to have taken place, however the details of them have been cross-verified by multiple credible sources inside of the government.
The gatherings as described to the Western Standard would likely constitute violations of the Kenney government’s own restrictions and lockdown orders.
Prior to the phase two reopening, indoor dining was strictly prohibited.
The Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, Alta. was raided by the RCMP and seized by AHS for refusing to cease indoor dinning. The cafe’s owner, Chris Scott, recently held an “outdoor patio dinner” on the seized restaurants rooftop to mock another illegal dinner held by Premier Kenney, ministers Jason Nixon, Tyler Shandro, Travis Toews, and four others.
That dinner saw Kenney and his entourage violate 16 counts of their own COVID-19 regulations, and eight counts of their guidelines. Kenney denied any wrongdoing for nearly a week before finally admitting that he was wrong and apologizing.
The furor saw instant backlash from an already discontent conservative base in the party, and a growing number of MLAs and ministers condemning the premier for “hypocrisy.”
The Sky Palace party scandal has derailed the Kenney government’s hoped for political recovery after polls have consistently shown the public overwhelmingly believes the government has done a poor job managing COVID-19. A Mainstreet Research poll commissioned by the Western Standard found 66% of Albertans disapprove of Kenney’s management of COVID-19, with just 29% approving.