I am here today to address the events that occurred last week leading to charges in Minnesota.
I want to begin by saying to the residents of Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo how truly sorry I am for the embarrassment I have caused in failing to live up to the standards expected of me and the standards I expect of myself.
It was a mistake for which there are no excuses and for which I accept full responsibility. This is a deeply embarrassing time and I profoundly regret the distress I have caused in my community. I will be saying sorry to a lot of people for a long time.
I have already faced my parents, my children, and many of my friends, and now it is my responsibility to face my community. All I can ask is that I hope that my friends, neighbours, and community members try to find it in their hearts to forgive me. I will be taking time to reflect on the personal circumstances in my life that led me to make the decision I made, and I will determine what I need to do to ensure I am never in a place personally where I will make this kind of mistake ever again. I know I will have to work long and hard to regain your trust.
With respect to the charges, there is not much I can say as I have only seen those via media sources. Until I have the opportunity to consult with legal counsel, there is nothing I will be able to say with respect to the specifics of the allegations.
What I can tell you is that this has not been a pattern of behaviour in the past, and clearly, it will not be in the future.
Upon my release on Tuesday morning, I immediately informed the Chief Government Whip that I was involved in a legal incident, and put in my resignation from government caucus and all legislative committees.
I did not want the controversy of this issue to affect the work of the Government of Alberta or the PC Party.
These were personal actions and I thought it was important that I also take immediate responsibility for those actions and apologize and offer to repay the taxpayer funds that were used to fund this trip.
Personal accountability means facing my responsibilities as a father, a son, a friend, a community member, and as the MLA for this community.
I have never been one to not face responsibility for my actions and I will go through the process of having a conversation with the community I am ultimately accountable to.
To be elected as your representative and serve this community in the Alberta Legislature has been a tremendous honour and privilege.
That is why I so deeply regret that issues in my personal life have affected my ability to exercise my duties as an elected official; duties that I take very seriously.
This incident has greatly damaged the trust established between me and my community, and before I make any decision about my future I have to explore whether or not that trust can be rebuilt.
I have thought long and hard about my future over the last few days as I have had a great deal of time to reflect on what occurred and about what to do next.
I have lived in this community for over 20 years and I have served this community as a member and President of the Chamber of Commerce, as a Councillor with the Regional Municipality and, for the past 15 months, I have represented the interests of this community in the Alberta Legislature.
Fort McMurray is my home, I love this community, and I won’t decline to face it in a moment of personal crisis.
I committed to having a conversation with my community prior to making a decision about my future and I will not short circuit that conversation by stepping aside immediately; as less difficult a route as that might be for me personally.
And so, I do not intend at this time to resign as MLA.
I will be engaging in a serious and honest conversation with my community prior to the resumption of the Legislature about whether I can continue to serve this community as their MLA and whether I can continue to advance the twinning of Highway 63 and other road improvements, the release of Crown land to build new neighbourhoods, flood relief, and more, in my current role.
This community, which provides 30% of provincial revenues, still needs attention from the Province to ensure responsible oil sands development that benefits all Albertans without compromising the quality of life of the residents of this community.
I will continue to work to advance that cause in whatever way I can in the future.
In the end, my ability to do so as an MLA will be determined between me and those who elected me to office.
As always, my office will remain opened so that constituents can continue to bring me their concerns and issues, and I will put forward my best effort in helping them.
I know I have deeply hurt and disappointed everyone, especially those who elected and put me here, and to all of them I again say I am sorry.
I can only continue to hope that they have it in their hearts to forgive me.