Jason Kenney makes liquor run after NDP apologizes for booze-buying blunder

Premier Jason Kenney stocked up on holiday spirits Tuesday evening after Alberta's Opposition NDP apologized to an Edmonton liquor retailer it had singled out in a news release about taxpayer-funded booze-buying.

Earlier in the day, the NDP had drawn attention to the UCP government spending more than $35,000 on bulk alcohol purchases from Prestige Liquor. But in fact, more than $3,900 of the total had been spent by the NDP itself.

In a news release, the NDP caucus claimed that Alberta's Ministry of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women purchased $35,608.77 worth of alcohol from Prestige Liquor.

The NDP said the company is owned by a prominent conservative donor and financial supporter of Kenney's leadership campaign.

"[Culture] Minister Leela Aheer needs to explain why her ministry made bulk alcohol purchases with a business owned by one of Jason Kenney's wealthy donors," NDP critic Nicole Goehring said in the release. 

"This contract reeks of corruption."

But hours later, the NDP caucus acknowledged it was off the mark because $3,920 of the liquor was bought by the NDP government before it was ousted in the spring election.

The UCP government has since spent more than $31,000 with Prestige. In a statement to CBC News, a government spokesperson said the liquor was purchased for resale at the Royal Alberta Museum restaurant.

The museum recovers 100 per cent of the cost so there is no net cost to the taxpayer, the spokesperson said.

The NDP apologized to the liquor business on Facebook.

"The NDP Official Opposition wants to formally apologize to Prestige Liquor," it said. "The process of purchasing liquor from them did begin a month prior to the spring election.

"No record of transactions with this business appear in the Blue Books for financial year ending March 31, 2019. However, the government has since produced a February 2019 invoice for $3,920."

The premier responded with a tweet.

In it, Kenney said he had visited Prestige Liquor to buy some holiday spirits. 

A photo showed Kenney grinning outside a glowing storefront with a box of booze in hand.

"Need to restock my bar for the holiday season, so stopped by @liquor_prestige, a great #YEG small business I heard about today, to buy some quality Alberta spirits," Kenney wrote. 

"Great selection, prices & service. Open late. 

"Thank goodness Ralph Klein privatized Alberta's liquor stores!"