'We're finished': Minister's press secretary cuts off question about premier, minister absences

The press secretary for the minister of culture cut off a CTV News Edmonton reporter’s questions when he asked about the absence of the premier and cabinet ministers.

Minister Ron Orr was at an event in Lacombe, promoting Alberta Culture Days, when CTV News Edmonton reporter Nav Sangha attempted to ask him about other members of caucus.

“It’s about Culture Days,” said Amanda LeBlanc, the minister’s press secretary. “We’re finished… we’re finished, thanks, Nav.”

LeBlanc did eventually allow Sangha to ask his question, but stopped the minister before he could answer.

“Nav, we’re good, thank you so much. We’re all set minister,” she said.

The culture minister replied with “OK.”

'IT'S BACKFIRING ON THEM'

Orr is facing pandemic response questions because other government leaders have not.

"He's a provincial cabinet minister. He should be ready for questions on almost anything, including what's going on with the government today," said communications expert Grant Ainsley.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange participated in two school announcements Tuesday in Sherwood Park and Stony Plain, but CTV News did not receive notice or an invitation from her office.

On Wednesday, Justice Minister Kaycee Madu's press secretary limited questions from reporters at a press conference about a large fentanyl bust.

Despite COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations growing, it's been weeks since Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro or Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw held a press conference.

"It's backfiring on them," Ainsley said. "Essentially, what’s happened is that they just don’t have anything good to say right now, they’ve got nothing."

Premier Kenney is back from vacation and back in the office, a government spokesperson told CTV News on Wednesday.