National Post (Latest Edition)
Mea culpa: Canada’s entitled jet set called out
A number of politicians have admitted to leaving the country over the December holiday period, even as their constituents adhered to public health guidance meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. A quick list:
When Phillips jetted off for a sunny Caribbean vacation on Dec. 13, he touched off a political storm that engulfed him when he returned home to Ontario.
Phillips resigned as the province’s finance minister on Dec. 31, hours after returning from a two-week trip in St. Barts.
Phillips, who will remain a member of the provincial legislature, called the decision a “significant error in judgment.”
His apology did little to assuage criticism against Premier Doug Ford for not taking action when he first learned of the cabinet minister’s travels shortly after Phillips left for warmer climates.
T he federal New Democrats stripped the veteran member of Parliament of her cabinet critic positions after she travelled to Greece to visit her seriously ill grandmother.
The party released a statement on Jan. 1 saying Greek officials, who only permit visitors to enter the country if they can prove their trip is essential, approved Ashton’s visit.
The party said Ashton, who represents the riding of Churchill- Keewatinook Aski, asked Canadian officials about “best practices,” but did not notify leader Jagmeet Singh or the party whip of her travel plans.
The statement said party members sympathize with Ashton’s situation, but noted millions of Canadians adhered to public health guidelines under similarly pressing circumstances.
The federal Liberal MP announced Sunday she was stepping down from her role as parliamentary secretary to the minister of international development after travelling to Seattle over the holidays.
The MP representing the Ontario riding of Brampton West says she flew to Seattle on Dec. 23 to attend a small memorial service for her uncle and father, who died within weeks of each other earlier in the year. Khera has been back in Canada since the end of December.
The Liberal member of Parliament announced Sunday that he would step down from his committee roles after travelling to Delaware to be with his wife’s ill grandfather.
Zuberi, who represents the Montreal riding of Pierrefonds- Dollard, said in a statement posted to Twitter that the trip was an “error in judgment.”
He said he returned to Canada on New Year’s Eve, and is abiding by the mandatory two-week quarantine.
The Conservative MP resigned as chair of the House of Commons ethics committee Monday after travelling to the United States over the holidays.
Sweet’s resignation followed the revelation that the Conservative leader in the Senate, Don Plett, took a personal trip to Mexico shortly after Christmas.
Conservative Leader Erin O’toole asked all caucus members to refrain from international travel over the holidays.
But his office said Monday that Sweet and Calgary MP Ron Liepert were given approval by the party’s whip to undertake “essential travel” to the United States.
Liepert’s travel related to “emergency repair” to property he owns in California.
Sweet also travelled for an unspecified “property issue.” But, the leader’s office said, Sweet then decided to stay in the U. S. “for leisure” without informing the whip.
Consequent ly, “Mr. O’toole has accepted his resignation as committee chair.”
The Conservative leader in the Senate went to Mexico on Dec. 28. Upon his arrival, a spokesperson said Plett “reflected on his decision to travel” and immediately made arrangements to return home to Manitoba on Dec. 31.
Plett’s arrival in Mexico would have coincided with the furor that erupted over the Dec. 29 revelation that
Ontario’s finance minister, Rod Phillips, was vacationing on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.
Phillips resigned several days later.
Whether Plett will face any penalty for his brief trip remains to be seen.
His fate rests with his fellow Conservative senators, who elect their Senate leader.
The former interim head of Quebec’s Liberal party expressed regret last month over his decision to vacation in Barbados with his wife.
Dominique Anglade, who heads the party, said she asked Arcand to return to Canada after word of his Caribbean travels got out.
Anglade told a Quebec radio station that she had known Arcand planned to leave and had tried to discourage him from doing so.
Arcand apologized for making the trip in his Dec. 29 statement.
The member of the governing Coalition Avenir Québec is in Peru visiting his husband, who he said he has not seen in about a year.
Chassin said in an interview that his trip is not a vacation and that he does not believe it contradicts the Quebec government’s message of the need to follow public health guidelines.
He said he got permission from the government whip and Premier François Legault’s office before leaving.
It looked like he was going to keep his job as Saskatchewan’s highways minister, with Premier Scott Moe saying he will stay on as minister despite his self- admitted “error in judgment.”
Hargrave apologized on Jan. 1, but said he went to Palm Springs, Calif., for “necessary” personal business: finalizing a home sale and moving his belongings back to Saskatchewan.
Moe was informed of Hargrave’s trip before he left on Dec. 22, a spokesman for the Saskatchewan Party government said.
On Monday, the Opposition NDP pointed to a real estate listing that cast doubt on Hargrave’s explanation. The party circulated a listing from a real estate website showing the home was put up for sale on Boxing Day and that an offer had been accepted Dec. 27.
Within hours, Moe’s office said Hargrave will be replaced by Carrot River Valley MLA Fred Bradshaw.
A Hawaiian vacation from Alberta’s municipal affairs minister touched off not only a new directive from the province’s premier, but a spate of other revelations about holiday excursions by several of her cohorts in the United Conservative government.
Shortly after Allard’s trip came to light on Dec. 31, Premier Jason Kenney issued a directive summoning caucus members and senior staff back to the province.
Kenney initially said Allard and other party members who went abroad would not face sanctions as they did not violate any firm rules.
On Monday, he accepted Allard’s resignation from cabinet.
Allard was also part of Kenney’s COVID- 19 pandemic steering committee.
She went with her husband and daughter to Hawaii over Christmas as part of what she called an annual family tradition. She has been mocked on social media as “Aloha Allard” and, on the weekend, angry constituents redecorated the outside of her Grande Prairie constituency office with leis and other Hawaiian accents.
Allard held a New Year’s Day news conference in which she apologized for taking the trip.
The MLA for the Alberta riding of Calgary- Klein also opted to jet off to Hawaii over the Christmas break.
A spokesman for Kenney said he had been asked to return home on the earliest possible flight.
Nixon said in a Facebook post that he would “work hard” to regain constituents’ trust, adding he followed public health guidelines while abroad.
On Monday, Kenney stripped him of the role of parliamentary secretary for civil society.
Nixon’s legislative colleague, representing Lesser Slave Lake, spent part of the weekend returning from a “previously planned family trip” to Mexico.
He, too, apologized for his travels via Facebook.
He, too, has been stripped of his legislature committee duties.
Another social media apology came from yet another Calgary- area MLA after it was revealed she travelled to Las Vegas to visit her sister.
The representative for the riding of Calgary- Peigan commended Alberta residents for their adherence to public health protocols in the face of the pandemic.
She said in a Facebook post that she apologized “wholeheartedly” for not doing the same and pledged to abide by Kenney’s new directive.
She has lost her legislature committee duties.
The MLA for Red DeerSouth in Alberta struck a different tone in his Facebook post in which he disclosed a recent trip to Phoenix, Ariz.
Stephan said he felt he was in compliance with public health guidelines and noted he had never asked other provincial residents to forego travel.
But Stephan said he would return home in accordance with Kenney’s directive.
“There is already too much contention in our society and I regret if my actions have contributed to that,” he wrote.
Kenney demoted him on Monday, booting him from Treasury Board.
A spokesman for the United Conservative Party caucus says the MLA for Fort Mcmurray-wood Buffalo in Alberta is currently in Mexico, and party officials haven’t been able to reach him.
Tim Gerwing says the party is still trying to contact Yao to tell him about the premier’s directive to return home — and that he has lost his committee duties.
Huckabay, Kenney’s chief of staff, visited the U.K. over the holidays. On Monday Kenney asked for his resignation.