‘Staycation’ summer video showing Alberta MLA involved in travel scandal angering tourism industry

Click to play video 'COVID-19: Alberta tourism industry suffers as UCP MLAs vacation out of country' COVID-19: Alberta tourism industry suffers as UCP MLAs vacation out of country
WATCH ABOVE: Alberta tourism stakeholders are among those voicing their criticism of government officials who chose to travel abroad over the holidays. Taz Dhaliwal has more. – Jan 4, 2021

Many Albertans are criticizing politicians choosing to vacation outside of the country in the midst of the local tourism industry experiencing major losses during the ongoing global pandemic.

Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley was among those who took to social media to lay out frustrations over the ordeal.

One of her tweets brings attention to a video from July of Premier Jason Kenney and former minister of Economic Development, Trade and Tourism, Tanya Fir, encouraging Albertans to stay local.

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Fir, who is the MLA for Calgary-Peigan, was removed from her ministry position in August after a cabinet reshuffling.

The video in the tweet, which advises Albertans to stay and spend local, is in stark contrast to the current revelation that numerous UCP MLAs spent their holidays outside of the country, including Fir.

Read more: Alberta MLAs who travelled during COVID-19 pandemic lose ministry portfolios

“This is a great opportunity, as you know premier, to support our small businesses, so many tourism operators are small and medium sized businesses,” Fir says in the video.

“It’s a chance to support them, it’s a chance to support the local community and economy all the whole doing it safely,” she adds.

In the video Premier Kenney says he “cannot think of an industry that’s been harder hit than tourism because basically no international travel, no U.S. travel, very little interprovincial travel.”

Fast forward to present day and Fir is one of a handful of UCP MLAs facing consequences after she left the country to go vacation in Las Vegas in December.

Read more: Alberta’s COVID-19 travel controversy brings attention to Kenney’s recall legislation promise

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The UCP vacations aren’t sitting well with one southern Alberta business owner either.

“In the hotel it was a hot topic with all of our guests, the staff, you know everyone is going through a hard time,” said Shameer Suleman, owner of the Bayshore Inn Resort & Spa in Waterton, Alta.

“We had to lay off our entire restaurant staff except for two people — you know, the head chef and one other cook for takeout — and other than that we had to let go of everybody two weeks before, or whatever it was, 10 days before Christmas, so everyone’s reeling,” he added.

Suleman says he simply can’t understand how the MLAs thought it was okay to jet away during a global pandemic while Alberta’s tourism industry suffers.

“I think the feeling is mutual across the industry, it’s dumbfounding,” Suleman said.

“Nobody can understand how you can be in that position and make that decision, it’s just an unanswerable question that nobody can understand what these people were thinking.”

–With files from Allison Bench, Global News

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