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Happy New Year! It’s James Keller in Calgary.

After news broke that Alberta municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard went to Hawaii over the Christmas holidays, despite public-health advice against all non-essential international travel due to COVID-19, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney initially attempted to weather the storm.

The details about Ms. Allard’s trip came out shortly after Rod Phillips resigned as Ontario’s finance minister after a similar trip to St. Barts. There have since been similar revelations elsewhere in the country and in Alberta, where five more MLAs with the United Conservative Party also left the country over the holidays.

In an impromptu New Year’s Day news conference, Mr. Kenney initially said he wouldn’t discipline any of his caucus members for their international trips because such travel was not illegal. He said it would be unfair to punish them without having given them a direct order not to travel, which he did last week, though he said he took responsibility for not issuing such an order sooner. And he also noted his government has been encouraging Albertans to travel by making it easier to visit places like Hawaii.

The Premier’s explanation did little to calm public anger over what many saw as hypocrisy from a government that had pleaded with Albertans to make sacrifices and cancel many of their usual holiday traditions. Conservative commentators joined the usual critics of the government and at least one caucus member, MLA Michaela Glasgo, publicly criticized her colleagues for what she described as a “profound lack of judgment.” Ms. Glasgo said she and others in caucus had pushed for more consequences.

By Monday, the outrage had become too much and Mr. Kenney was forced to reverse course: He announced the resignations of Ms. Allard and his chief of staff, Jamie Huckabay, who travelled to Britain. Five other United Conservative Party MLAs lost positions including parliamentary secretary, membership in the Treasury Board, and positions on legislative committees.

Mr. Kenney said heard the public’s anger and he acknowledged that politicians should be held to a higher standard.

“Millions of Albertans have made real sacrifices over the past 10 months to help keep each other safe,” Mr. Kenney wrote in Facebook post on Monday. “They are right to be angry about people in positions of leadership vacationing outside of the country.”

The province’s Chief Medical Officer, Deena Hinshaw, said she understood the public’s anger over the politicians’ travel, but she also urged the public not to let the controversy distract from the work needed to keep COVID-19 under control.

Dr. Hinshaw said everyone in the province is tired of COVID-19 and the pandemic restrictions and she called for compassion for people who fall short.

“We really have to collectively work together to bring the spread down.”

Before Ms. Allard’s resignation, The Globe’s Gary Mason wrote in a column that Mr. Kenney found himself in a scandal of his own making: “This was a time of personal sacrifice, they were told by no less than Mr. Kenney himself. This was a time to hunker down, cancel holiday travel plans and imagine better days to come as a result of their shared efforts.”

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief James Keller. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.

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