Edmonton

Fort McMurray MLA will return from Mexico in 4 days, apologizes for trip

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao is apologizing for his Mexico vacation and has booked himself an early flight home.

'I recently made a poor decision to travel to Mexico on a trip,' Tany Yao writes

MLA Tany Yao is under scrutiny for his decision to travel to Mexico over the holidays. (Wildrose)

Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Tany Yao is apologizing for his Mexico vacation and has booked himself an early flight home.

Yao has been out of the country since Dec. 26 and expects to be back on Jan. 9. He apologized to constituents in a text message to CBC. 

"I recently made the poor decision to travel to Mexico on a trip," Yao wrote. "This decision did not reflect the higher standards residents expected from their elected officials."

In the text, Yao thanked his constituents for "all the work they have done to stop the spread of COVID-19." 

Since leaving for Mexico, Yao said he has talked to government officials and has "been made aware of the strict penalties levied on travelling MLAs, including myself." 

Yao said he let his guard down after the delivery of the vaccine, though he has not been vaccinated.

Reporters and the provincial government were unable to contact Yao for several days after his vacation became public. 

Yao said he went offline because he has experienced "abuse and slander" in the media over his private member's bill. Yao then criticized CBC's coverage of the bill, saying it focused on NDP talking points and didn't probe enough. 

"I just wanted to disconnect and clear my head after the last year," Yao wrote. 

Yao is now cutting his trip by three days. Yao left on Dec. 26, and was originally planning to return on Jan. 12. He will now be returning on Jan. 9. 

Yao attempted to return on the Jan. 8, but was unable to get the results from his COVID-19 screening test before the flight. 

On Monday Premier Jason Kenney announced he would punish vacationing MLAs after days of resisting. 

Calgary-Klein MLA Jeremy Nixon has been stripped from his position as parliamentary secretary for civil society, while Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan has been removed from Treasury Board.

Three MLAs — Yao, Calgary-Peigan's Tanya Fir, and Lesser Slave Lake's Pat Rehn — have been removed from the legislature committees they sat on. 

As well, Grande Prairie MLA Tracy Allard resigned after her trip to Hawaii, and chief of staff Jamie Huckabay resigned after his trip to the U.K. 

Yao wrote that he accepts the premier's decision, but he will continue to "work hard and hopefully regain the trust of my constituents, Albertans and the premier." 

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