EDMONTON — Photos of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and members of the United Conservative caucus dining together on a rooftop patio are drawing disapproval from critics who say the politicians flouted the province's COVID-19 rules.
The group, which also included Health Minister Tyler Shandro, was spotted sitting around a table on a balcony of the Federal Building in downtown Edmonton.
A "concerned Albertan" captured images of their meal and what appear to be bottles of alcohol.
The photos were shared with CTV News and several other media outlets with a request to remain anonymous, and are circulating on social media.
The politicians are being criticized by many — including NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley and Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary — who both questioned the optics of the gathering.
The premier's office says in a statement that the gathering complied with current COVID-19 restrictions.
"Albertans are happy that our province is moving in the right direction, and we fully expect that many Albertans are now enjoying the increased gatherings that Stage 1 allows," said a statement from Jerrica Goodwin on Wednesday.
"The Premier, with a few ministers and staff members, held a working dinner last night.
"You'll note the gathering was outdoors. I suggest you review the Stage 1 guidelines, which began yesterday."
Goodwin said outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed under eased public health rules.
Photos of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and members of the United Conservative caucus dining together on a rooftop patio are drawing disapproval from critics who say the politicians flouted the province's COVID-19 rules. #ableg #COVID
The rules, however, say any outdoor social gatherings with 10 participants must maintain physical distancing at all times and must not have an indoor component. Health officials also recommend that only two household cohorts get together.
Outdoor dining at restaurants is limited to a maximum of four members of the same household or three people if diners live alone. (CTV Calgary, The Canadian Press)
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2021.