May 29th, 2024

Phillips calls for performance audit of Premier’s Office for August absence

By Trevor Busch LETHBRIDGE HERALD on November 4, 2021.


Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips is calling on Auditor General Doug Wylie to initiate a performance audit of the Premier’s Office to get to the bottom of who was left in charge of the province while Jason Kenney was on vacation in August.
On Wednesday, Phillips and Edmonton – City Centre MLA David Shephard submitted a letter to Wylie’s office detailing their request. Shephard and Phillips are also seeking additional information regarding the UCP’s processes to hand executive authority from Kenney to an acting premier.
“Our caucus has tried repeatedly to get straight answers on who was in charge about who was in charge in August when the premier was on vacation,” said Shephard during a press conference at the legislature. “It’s mind-boggling that any premier would leave the country and leave no one in charge, especially when a public health crisis was clearly developing. Now, everyone has the right to vacation, to rest and recharge, but anyone who is in a position of responsibility must leave someone in charge during their absence.”
The issue of who was in charge initially arose in August when the COVID fourth wave began to sweep the province putting heavy pressure on Alberta’s health care system, and Kenney was outside the province on vacation.
“While we don’t know who was in charge while the premier was having his best summer ever, we do know that COVID cases rose quickly putting intense pressure on our hospitals,” continued Shephard. “This led to hundreds of deaths, thousands of cancelled surgeries, and Albertans deserve answers. They have a right to know who was in charge of their government during a critical time in the battle against a raging virus.”
Someone in the UCP government must bear culpability for failing to act when COVID cases began to escalate out of control in late summer, argued Shephard.
“There’s a clear mechanism in government to ensure that there’s always someone in charge. In theory, when the premier is away, the minister of finance is second in command. The minister of energy is third, and the minister of the environment is fourth. So we’re asking the auditor general to determine whether that mechanism was in fact used or not. Which member of the UCP cabinet was legally responsible for protecting Albertans, saw the danger rising, and chose to do nothing?”

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