Finance minister defends choice of Banff for cabinet retreat

Finance minister defends choice of Banff for cabinet retreat

Finance Minister Joe Ceci is defending cabinet's decision to hold a three-day retreat in Banff this week.

The government is spending $36,400 for the meeting — $17,300 on hotel rooms for three nights at the Juniper Hotel, and another $19,100 on food, beverages and a meeting room. 

Ceci told reporters at the Alberta legislature Monday he is not concerned about the optics of holding a retreat in the mountain resort town.

"Because I know the kind of people who are there," Ceci said. "I know cabinet is focused and wants to discuss things. This is not there for anything other than cabinet retreat."

Asked why cabinet couldn't meet instead in Camrose, Wetaskiwin or Red Deer, for example, Ceci said he was open to going anywhere.

"The focus is not on really the locale so much," he said.

"The focus is more having an opportunity for two, two-and-a-half days to be with each other and to address the important things we need to talk about to keep this economy fired on all cylinders and keep Alberta moving forward."

The retreat will start on Tuesday evening and end Friday at noon. 

Thirty-eight people will attend on Tuesday and Wednesday. Forty-two are scheduled for Thursday and Friday. These numbers include security staff and IT support. 

Cabinet also met in Banff a year ago. The budget was $27,000 for 39 people.