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Premier defends health minister following bullying allegations, denies calls for resignation

Last Updated Mar 27, 2020 at 8:01 pm MDT

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro commented on the announcement to waive the Physician Funding Framework. (PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) — Premier Jason Kenney will not fire Health Minister Tyler Shandro after it’s alleged he exhibited reckless and intimidating behaviour during the COVID-19 crisis.

CBC first reported Shandro berated a Calgary doctor at his house in front of his family for posting a meme referencing allegations of a conflict of interest involving his wife’s supplementary health-benefits company.

There were also leaked e-mails where Shandro calls one critic `”crazy” and threatens to involve the legislature’s `”protective services” unit against another.

During Friday’s 3:30 p.m. COVID-19 update, the Premier said the couple were targets of an online campaign of defamation and harassment that started last week.

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“(This was) based on completely spurious, false, and disproven allegations, which was dismissed by the ethics commissioner,” Kenney said.

The Premier also added the Health Minister was receiving death threats against his wife.

“I think any Albertan would understand that a husband or wife will get passionate when their spouse is being attacked or even threatened and certainly defamed,” Kenney said.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley issued a statement on the matter calling Shandro’s actions during the public health crisis inappropriate.

“This is a profound lapse in judgment. This alone raises the question of whether he is suited to provide leadership for Albertans at this historic time,” Notley said.

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“That is not what we expect from the Minister in charge of a public health crisis,” she added.

On social media, Shandro issued a letter confirming the actions reported but did not apologize to those he allegedly targeted.

“On Saturday, when I saw that a long-time political acquaintance and neighbour had posted something to social media that was contributing to attacks against my wife, I went to speak to him and implore him to cease propagating this false information,” Shandro wrote.

“I also responded personally to a few Albertans’ emails directly, stating that harassing my wife because they disagree with me, as a minster was not acceptable.”

– With files from the Canadian Press