Despite repeated warnings from public health officials, Canada’s politicians keep getting caught when travelling abroad or vacationing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, representatives from Ontario, Alberta, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have been busted for travelling internationally, some for non-essential reasons.
#NowIsNotTheTime to travel for leisure. Travellers who are exempt are providing critical, essential services to sup… https://t.co/asGEaX9oa6— Canada Border Services Agency (@Canada Border Services Agency)1609423244.0
What are the rules?
Since March last year, the government has urged Canadians to avoid all non-essential international travel.
Travel advisories continue to be issued, warning that taking a trip abroad right now could result in “severely disrupted travel plans.”
Travellers could even end up stuck outside of Canada.
While federal officials continue to ask people to avoid discretionary trips outside of the country, there is no outright ban in place.
That said, the government has warned that they’re prepared to crack down on anybody who flouts Canada’s current quarantine rules.
Wishing everyone a better year ahead. Bonne année à tous. After spending Christmas alone with our family at home… https://t.co/RpW4yM9CAO— Niki Ashton (@Niki Ashton)1609540590.0
Who has been caught out?
In Ontario, Finance Minister Rod Phillips came under fire for taking a vacation in the Caribbean island of St. Barts in December.
He was criticized as his office continued to share tweets and Instagram posts during his trip so that it appeared he was still at home.
In Manitoba, NDP MP Niki Ashton revealed in a tweet that she had travelled to Greece to visit an unwell family member, against the government’s international travel advisory.
Quebec Liberal politician Pierre Arcand was in trouble after being spotted in Barbados amid the pandemic. Quebec’s Liberal leader claims she tried to talk them out of the trip, according to CTV News.
Another Quebec Member of the National Assembly of Quebec (MNA), Youri Chassin, was caught taking a non-essential visit to Peru.
Saskatchewan politician Joe Hargrave ignored public health advice in December by taking a trip to California to finalize a property sale.
In Alberta, multiple government officials were found to have travelled abroad, including Pat Rehn who travelled to Mexico and Municipal Affairs Minister Tracy Allard who went on holiday in Hawaii.
Two education ministry press secretaries were also caught vacationing in Hawaii.
Jason Kenney’s own chief of staff, James Huckabay, also travelled to the U.K. and through the United States over the festive period.
Today, I asked Minister @PBethlenfalvy to assume the role of Minister of Finance. Minister Bethlenfalvy's knowledge… https://t.co/UiEjox5swb— Doug Ford (@Doug Ford)1609451575.0
Did they get into trouble?
After being found out, Rod Phillips was told to return to Ontario immediately by Doug Ford.
In a statement, the province’s premier said he was "extremely disappointed" in the Finance Minister.
Shortly after, Phillips submitted his resignation, which Ford accepted. His replacement has already been announced.
When it comes to Niki Ashton, the NDP issued a statement confirming that she’ll be removed from any shadow cabinet critic roles in the future.
On the other hand, Jason Kenney has decided not to discipline the members of his government who decided to travel, according to CTV News.
Instead, the Alberta premier issued a directive that ordered staff not to travel abroad right now.