Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs has apologized for what she calls a “regrettable” decision to vacation in Hawaii during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to the media Friday, Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard explained her family has spent Christmas in Hawaii for most of the past 17 years and was confident they were fully compliant with the province’s health mandate.

“As a minister of the Crown, I know that I’m held to a higher standard and, in retrospect, I definitely made the wrong decision. I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the frustration and anger that my actions have caused.”

Premier Jason Kenney said earlier in the day that Allard had left the country on December 19th, but that he had only been made aware of it on the 29th and subsequently asked her to return home. He has placed the blame on himself for not having issued a clear directive to government officials against international travel.

Allard notes that the trip was smaller than it would normally be, with only her husband and daughter in tow. She says the hope was to honour a family tradition making use of the Alberta COVID-19 Border Testing Pilot Program.

“In hindsight that was a lapse in judgement, for sure, and for that I am truly and deeply sorry.”

Citing Kenney’s lack of prior knowledge of her trip, Allard maintains it is not common practice for MLAs to get permission to take personal trips, and that she made the decision independently. She also claims Minister of Transportation Ric McIver was officially her substitute in her absence.

Allard also referenced a holiday greeting video shot in the Alberta legislature that was posted on social media on December 23rd, saying it’s is common practice to pre-record messages before the legislature rises. It was posted by a staffer.

“It was in no way intended to cover up where I was. While I don’t advertise when I take a trip personally, I also don’t hide it.”

Moving forward, the minister says she is going to work even harder to earn the trust of Albertans. When it comes to her decision not to support local with her holiday plans, she calls the timing regrettable.

The opposition has called for her resignation, and a public petition doing the same is circulating online.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley, in a written statement, said “this is the Premier and the UCP Government lacking moral judgement, lacking any compassion for the 4 million people in Alberta who were told they couldn’t see their parents and grandparents at Christmas.”

Notley is also pushing for a list of elected members who left the country in December.

She says all 24 NDP MLAs have spent the holidays in Alberta.