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Kenney says 'reasonable effort' made to follow COVID rules at whiskey dinner

Last Updated Jun 3, 2021 at 4:35 pm MDT

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. CREDIT: @TheBreakdownAB on Twitter

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he and his ministers made every reasonable effort to comply with health rules during a surreptitiously photographed whiskey-drinks dinner on the patio of the infamous “Sky Palace.”

Kenney says they paid for the meal themselves, and he dismissed accusations of elitist imbibing, calling Jameson Irish whiskey a budget liquor.

The Opposition NDP and former members of Kenney’s United Conservative caucus say the event reinforces that Kenney and his government believe they are above COVID-19 restrictions.

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The debate surrounds photos taken of the dinner that Kenney held with ministers and key staff Tuesday night outside his temporary office on the top floor of the Federal Building.

Kenney says they were under the 10-person gathering limit, but he didn’t address that the dinner appeared not to follow other safety measures such as distancing.

The penthouse of the Federal Building, near the legislature, became known as the “Sky Palace” seven years ago when it was discovered former premier Alison Redford was having it retrofitted as a luxury office and living quarters.