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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, whose province has jailed multiple pastors and locked churches because of COVID-19, violated his own restrictions and guidelines 24 different ways during a dinner with members of his cabinet last week.
Kenney apologized Monday after stoking outrage and calls to resign after he was secretly photographed dining with Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Finance Minister Travis Toews, Government House Leader Jason Nixon, and several others on the outdoor terrace of the Federal Building in Edmonton on June 1, according to CTV News Edmonton.
While they send out the police to arrest pastors and seize church properties, they ignore the very rules they punish others for questioning.
— Derek Sloan (@TrueDerekSloan) June 6, 2021
Kenney, who at first claimed his dinner was “fully rule-compliant,” backtracked during a Monday news conference.
“For the past 16 months, I have tried hard to observe the public health rules,” he said. “I thought it’s important for me to lead by example, but I have to admit, I haven’t always done that perfectly. I can think of many cases where I’ve been within two meters of people and that I’m sure has been the case for the past 16 months for pretty much everybody in Alberta.”
“We took precautions to do it in a distanced way, trying to observe the rules. In fact, we set up four continuous tables and spaced chairs out. We’ve actually gone up and measured the chairs since this became a controversy and apparently four of us were two meters or more between each other but two of those chairs were less than two meters distance, and there’s no doubt that over the course of the meeting, people came within the two-meter distance,” Kenney continued.
“But it’s clear that at some points in that evening we were not all distanced from one another by two meters and I truly regret that. I take full responsibility for this… We have to set a higher example, a higher threshold for conduct, and so I want sincerely to apologize to my colleagues and to Albertans for letting you down.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has apologized after being caught hosting a white linen spread for coworkers, calling the meal at the Sky Palace a "working dinner."
— Rebel News (@RebelNewsOnline) June 7, 2021
According to a fact check by the Western Standard, Kenney and the members of his cabinet broke their own rules and guidelines 24 different ways when they dined around a linen-draped table adorned with a 40-oz. bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey, wine glasses, and bottled water. The newspaper found they were guilty of eight guideline violations for gathering members of different households, eight legal regulatory violations for not physically distancing, and eight legal regulatory violations about moving in and out of doors.
“In total, this fact check finds that even using the premier’s own defence, Kenney and his colleagues violated eight of its government’s guidelines and 16 of their legally binding regulations,” the Western Standard found.
Kenney’s situation echoes that of Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom, who likewise achieved notoriety for draconian church lockdowns before being caught dining indoors with a group of maskless people at The French Laundry last year. His group racked up a $15,000 tab at the opulent Napa Valley restaurant, which charges $1,200 per person for a white truffle and caviar dinner.
Newsom’s spokesperson initially claimed the governor was sure to stay outside during the event, but photos proved otherwise and Newsom eventually apologized.
“I want to apologize to you because I need to preach and practice, not just preach and not practice, and I’ve done my best to do that,” Newsom said. “We’re all human. We all fall short sometimes.”
“As soon as I sat down at the larger table I realized it was a little larger group than I had anticipated and I made a bad mistake,” he continued. “Instead of sitting down, I should have stood up and walked back, got in my car and drove back to my house.”