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:

-

ROD PHILLIPS

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.

NIKI ASHTON

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.

KAMAL KHERA

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.

SAMEER ZUBERI

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.

DAVID SWEET

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.”

DON PLETT

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.

PIERRE ARCAND

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.

YOURI CHASSIN

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.

JOE HARGRAVE

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.

TRACY ALLARD

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.

JEREMY NIXON

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.

PAT REHN

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.

TANYA FIR

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.

JASON STEPHAN

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.

TANY YAO

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.

JAMIE HUCKABAY

Huckabay, Kenney’s chief of staff, visited the U.K. over the holidays. On Monday Kenney asked for his resignatio­n.

 ?? WAYNE CUDINGTON / postmedia news ?? Rod Phillips resigned as Ontario’s finance minister Dec. 31 after touching off a political
storm by leaving for a Caribbean vacation on Dec. 13.
WAYNE CUDINGTON / postmedia news Rod Phillips resigned as Ontario’s finance minister Dec. 31 after touching off a political storm by leaving for a Caribbean vacation on Dec. 13.
 ??  ?? Sameer Zuberi
Sameer Zuberi
 ??  ?? Pierre Arcand
Pierre Arcand
 ??  ?? Youri Chassin
Youri Chassin
 ??  ?? Kamal Khera
Kamal Khera
 ??  ?? Niki Ashton
Niki Ashton
 ??  ?? Don Plett
Don Plett

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada