Calgary

Conservative MP has travelled to California twice since March for 'essential house maintenance'

Calgary-Signal Hill Conservative MP Ron Liepert travelled twice to Palm Desert, Calif. since March, his office confirmed Saturday, dealing with "essential house maintenance issues."

Opposition MP and former Alberta health minister travelled once during current parliamentary break

Ron Liepert speaks after defeating Rob Anders during the Calgary Signal Hill federal Conservative nomination, in Calgary on Saturday, April 12, 2014. The MP has twice travelled to a home he owns in California during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press)

Calgary-Signal Hill Conservative MP Ron Liepert travelled twice to Palm Desert, Calif., since March, his office confirmed Saturday, so he could deal with "essential house maintenance issues."

Liepert, who was Alberta's health and wellness minister under Premier Ed Stelmach, owns a home in the city, which is located in the Coachella Valley.

A spokesperson in Liepert's office said Liepert has travelled twice since March, including during the current parliamentary recess.

"There has been no non-essential travel, and he has complied with all public health guidance, including the Alberta border testing program, each time he has travelled," the spokesperson said in an email.

The spokesperson did not immediately return a request from CBC News inquiring what specific maintenance Liepert had to resolve at his Palm Desert home.

Global Affairs Canada advised Canadians against non-essential travel outside the country until further notice. Alberta also advises against non-essential travel on its travel restrictions page.

International travellers must isolate for 14 days after they return to Alberta unless they participate in the international border testing pilot.

Latest politician who travelled despite direction

Liepert is the second MP revealed to have travelled amid calls by officials for Canadians to stay home during the pandemic. 

On Jan. 1, the NDP removed MP Niki Ashton from her critic roles after she admitted she travelled to Greece to see an ill relative, not informing NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh beforehand, according to the party.

"While we are sympathetic to Ms. Ashton's situation and understand her need to be with her family, millions of Canadians are following public health guidelines, even when it made it impossible for them to visit sick or aging relatives," read a statement from the NDP.

WATCH | NDP MP removed from critic roles over travel to Greece:

NDP MP loses roles as critic over travel to Greece

CBC News

2 months ago
3:35
NDP MP Niki Ashton has been removed from her roles as a shadow critic after she posted on Twitter that she had travelled to Greece to see her "ailing grandmother." 3:35

Various provincial politicians have also come under fire for taking trips and vacations while under strict lockdown measures, including Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips, who resigned, and Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard.

During his time as Alberta's health minister, Liepert faced criticism over his handling of the 2009 swine flu pandemic, with critics intimating that he mishandled the province's immunization program.

CBC News asked a spokesperson for the Conservative Party whether there might be any plans to discipline Liepert for the travel.

"Since becoming Leader, Mr. [Erin] O'Toole has continued to emphasize the necessity for all members of caucus to follow all public health guidance including travel advisories," said Chelsea Tucker, O'Toole's press secretary, in an email. "It is our understanding that all members of caucus have." 

With files from Charles Rusnell and Raisa Patel

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