Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent was in Florida last weekend while he did radio interviews and sent out social media updates on the Newfoundland-wide power blackout.
Kent was the first minister in Premier Kathy Dunderdale's government to comment publicly on the power outages, which started on Jan. 2 when Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro was unable to stabilize its power supply.
Kent did radio interviews on Saturday morning, Jan. 4, shortly after power went out across the island, and sent out dozens of messages on Twitter the same day.
Please stay in touch with your neighbours. Make sure everyone is okay. #nlwx— Steve Kent, MHA (@stephenkent) January 4, 2014
Island wide power outage. Suspected mechanical failure at Sunnyside. #nlwx— Steve Kent, MHA (@stephenkent) January 4, 2014
Kent was in Florida on a family vacation, but did not indicate during any of his interviews or postings on social media that he was out of the province.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale did not comment to media on the widespread outages until a news conference at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 5 at Confederation Building.
Kent's office issued a statement about the minister's whereabouts on Friday afternoon.
There has been some question regarding my whereabouts last week, and in particular, during the recent power outage situation here in the province.
My family and I were on vacation in Florida during the Christmas and New Year's period, and due to return home to the province last weekend.
When the storm and power disruptions developed, my team at Fire and Emergency Services - Newfoundland and Labrador quickly activated our Emergency Operations Centre, and we began coordinating with both Provincial Government and non-governmental agencies to focus on the safety of all residents, and to assist communities with any issues which were arising.
While I was out of province over the holidays, beginning last Thursday (January 2nd), I devoted all of my waking hours to working with our team here in the province.
This included attending operational briefings several times each day via phone, contact with both the Premier and Minister Dalley, and monitoring the situation via email, the media and social media.
I was also in close contact with family, neighbours and my constituents in Paradise and Mount Pearl, so I had a true picture of what was being experienced by residents.
When the situation arose, I immediately tried to secure a flight home. Unfortunately, weather in eastern Canada and the United States made this difficult. I was scheduled to return to the province over the weekend, but was further delayed by weather and arrived on Monday, January 6th.
Upon my return I continued to be fully engaged in the efforts to spread the conservation message and to work with Fire and Emergency Services - Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure that our safety and preparedness messages were top of mind with the public.