Tany Yao is sixth Alberta MLA confirmed to have travelled abroad amid COVID-19

Fort McMurray - Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao.
Fort McMurray - Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao. Facebook

On Sunday, UCP officials said that Tany Yao is the latest MLA connected to the party who has left Canada during the holiday season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yao, who represents constituents in the riding of Fort McMurray – Wood Buffalo, is currently out of the country.

A spokesperson for the United Conservative Party said he is in Mexico and cannot be reached.

“We are attempting to contact [Yao] to advise him to return as per the premier’s directive,” Tim Gerwing said Sunday. “We have no other information at this time.”

Yao is now the sixth MLA who has been confirmed to have travelled. Three high-level staffers for the UCP also left Canada.

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The other elected officials who the party has confirmed travelled recently include Jason Stephan, the MLA for Red Deer-South, who visited Arizona, as well as Jeremy Nixon, MLA for Calgary-Klein and Tracy Allard, the minister of municipal affairs, both of whom visited Hawaii.

Pat Rehn, the MLA for Lesser Slave Lake, also visited Mexico. Tanya Fir, MLA for Calgary-Peigan travelled to Las Vegas.

Three high-level staffers also left the country: the premier’s chief of staff Jamie Huckabay visited the U.K., while Michael Forian and Eliza Snider, both press secretaries for ministers in the party, went to Mexico.

The UCP has come under heavy fire over the past several days after Premier Jason Kenney did not discipline those in his party who left Canada, despite advice from both the provincial and the federal government to avoid non-essential travel amid the pandemic.

Kenney said at a news conference Friday he was instead issuing a new “clear directive” to government officials, including support staff like press secretaries, not to travel internationally.

The premier added at the time that he did not have exact details on how many officials have left Canada.

“I don’t have a comprehensive list of everybody amongst the hundreds of government political staff and senior officials and others who may have travelled abroad… I regret not having issued a very clear directive against international travel.”

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The officials travelled while Alberta was under strict restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 that prevented many people from celebrating Christmas with their families.

Click to play video: 'Alberta political expert weighs in on UCP travel controversy'
Alberta political expert weighs in on UCP travel controversy

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Philips previously resigned Thursday after returning from a two-week vacation in the Caribbean. On Friday, the federal NDP removed MP Niki Ashton from her critic roles after she travelled to see her ill grandmother in Greece.

On Sunday, two Liberal MPs resigned from their government roles after travelling abroad.

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