A senior minister in the Ontario Cabinet has resigned after a vacation in the Caribbean when residents of Canada’s most populous province were asked to stay home.
Rod Phillips, who was named Ontario Treasury Secretary in 2018, told reporters his trip was a “stupid, stupid mistake” when he returned to Toronto on Thursday after being called home by Doug Ford, Ontario’s prime minister.
Shortly afterwards, Mr Ford said that he had accepted Mr Phillips’ resignation. Since the pandemic began, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Canadians to avoid unnecessary travel out of the country – and when he announced a nationwide shutdown that began Dec. 26, Ford said a progressive Conservative resident will stay at home “so far as possible”.
Mr Phillips and his wife entered the French territory of Saint Barthélemy, commonly known as St. Barts, on December 13th. He left a number of photos and videos posted on social media during his absence. and several political opponents said the posts were intended to create the illusion that Mr Phillips was celebrating the holidays in Canada. The pictures appear to have been taken at Mr. Phillips’ in a suburb of Toronto. There he is currently under a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Mr Ford initially claimed he knew nothing about his minister’s trip until the news media reported it. However, at a press conference that followed, he admitted that he had been informed of Mr Phillips’ absence for about two weeks.