Alberta Premier Jason Kenney sent cease and desist letter to Calgary media because of what his lawyer calls “false and defamatory allegations” in a recent article.
The attorney’s letter, obtained by UKTN News, concerns an article published on Wednesday by the Western Standard website that Kenney held social gatherings at a restaurant, Bottega 104 in Edmonton, in violation of COVID-19 restrictions since the new year.
These gatherings reportedly included Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon and Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
The article also alleged that Kenney and others attended rallies at a lobbyist’s private residence.
The article is based only on anonymous sources who spoke to Western Standard.
Kenney’s office denied the allegations via Twitter on Wednesday. UKTN News has not verified the veracity of the allegations.
The allegations are “a complete fabrication,” according to lawyer Steven Dollansky’s letter.
“Premier Kenney, Minister Nixon and Minister Shandro did not attend any dining inside Bottega 104 (or any other restaurant) while dining inside was prohibited by public health restrictions . ”
It indicates that the Prime Minister had two meals at Bottega 104, once in 2019 and once again last summer in full compliance with health ordinances.
“Furthermore, none of the elected officials you mentioned attended any ‘illegal gatherings’ at the lobbyists’ private residences, as alleged or not at all.”
The restaurant’s managing partner also denies the allegations.
“The report is false, the Prime Minister never dined here,” Antonio Petosa told UKTN News. “I spoke to the Western Standard reporter and told him the same. He will be contacted by our lawyers.”
Petosa says he can provide footage from security cameras, if dates of alleged rallies are given, proving the prime minister was not there. The article does not specify the dates.
Kenney apologized earlier this week after he and others were pictured having dinner on an outdoor patio above Alberta’s legislative grounds. Kenney admitted that people were sitting too close to each other.
Western Standard sticks to the article
The cease and desist letter also claims that the Western Standard acted irresponsibly because Kenney’s response was not requested or included in the article.
His office says he has no record of a Western Standard media request. The post says it asked for comment at 5:49 p.m. The article was published seven minutes later.
“Pure speculation is not journalism and unfounded gossip is not news,” the letter read. He calls the article “nothing more than a sensational political hit designed to generate page impressions and business profits.”
The letter calls on the Western Standard to immediately remove the article and all associated tweets, issue a written retraction, apologize to the Prime Minister and those named in the article, and refrain from posting any other content. defamatory related to the statements or the article.
Western Standard maintains that the story was correct.
“We stand by our story. We have several credible sources who have given us the same statement in detail,” editor and CEO Derek Fildebrandt told UKTN News.
“We think the best way to approach the story is to answer our reporter ‘s questions and not try to silence an independent outlet that does not accept federal media grants with a slapsuit. They know that. they have much more resources than we do and I hope that will take it away. We are retaining a lawyer and we will have more statements in the future. ”
Fildebrandt left the Alberta United Conservative Party caucus in 2017 amid controversy including being convicted of a hit-and-run, being charged with illegal hunting and renting his apartment on Airbnb while claiming housing allowance as a deputy.
After being elected leader, Kenney said Fildebrandt would not be welcome in the UCP caucus nor allowed to seek the party’s nomination in his constituency after “deliberately misleading” the party about its legal issues. Fildebrandt ran in the 2019 provincial election as the Conservative Freedom Party candidate in the constituency of Chestermere-Strathmore. He was beaten by the UCP candidate.
The two men disagree on the details that led to the decision. Fildebrandt alleged that Kenney privately told him he could join the party and omitted facts from his public statement at the time. Kenney said Fildebrandt had been advised that he would need caucus support to be readmitted as a member and that he should ensure “that there were no outstanding ethical or legal issues that could embarrass him or the party “.