Tany Yao, the United Conservative Party representative from Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo, Alberta, is the latest Canadian politician to feel that he is above the COVID-19 travel restrictions put in place by his own party.
The rules, as laid out on the official Government of Alberta website, make the situation obvious for would-be travellers:
An official global travel advisory remains in effect. Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.
Yao, meanwhile, was still in Mexico as of late Sunday evening, according to his hometown newspaper Fort McMurray Today. “We’re not even sure where in Mexico he is,” UCP spokesman Timothy Gerwing told the paper.
“We are attempting to contact [Yao] to advise him to return as per the premier’s directive,” the spokesman said, as reported by Global News. “We have no other information at this time.”
Unlike other government officials who seemed to attempt to cover their tracks with pre-scheduled posts on social media, Yao's Twitter account has been silent since a holiday retweet on Christmas Day, and largely quiet since December 18.
A former paramedic, firefighter and recipient of an award for being a hero during the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire, Yao at one point served as the UCP's critic on Health and Emergency Response Preparedness while the NDP's Rachel Notley was premier of Alberta. Yao's first official speech in the Alberta legislature saw him express concern over the health situation of seniors in his community.
He now becomes the sixth Alberta MLA confirmed to have travelled out of Canada during the pandemic.
Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard is the biggest name on that list, with Premier Kenney saying he was "disappointed," and will subsequently be issuing a new directive telling his “cabinet ministers, government MLA’s, political staff and senior executives in the Alberta public service, not to leave the country for the foreseeable future unless it is absolutely required for government-related business.”