Minister caught on Caribbean holiday after faking tweets to appear at home12/31/2020
A key minister in Canada’s most populated state is facing mounting criticism after posting a video from his home on Christmas Eve, despite actually being on a Caribbean holiday in violation of his own government’s coronavirus guidance.
Finance minister Rod Phillips praised the people of Ontario via Twitter for staying at home and avoiding non-essential travel over the Christmas holidays, saying: ‘I want to thank every one of you for what we are doing to protect our most vulnerable’, while apparently sat beside his fireplace.
But instead of drinking eggnog next to a gingerbread house and a Christmas tree, as suggested in his video, Conservative Mr Phillips was in fact in the French Island of St Barts, known for its beaches and rich visitors.
Province premier Doug Ford has said he will be having a ‘tough conversation’ with his colleague on Thursday after he ordered him back to Canada, but also admitted being aware of the trip for days.
While Mr Phillips’ Twitter account has implied he was in Ontario for weeks, it has since surfaced that he arrived in St Barts on December 13. On Christmas Eve he tweeted about ‘making sacrifices’.
Now oppositions parties and health officials are calling for Mr Phillips to be fired.
Mr Ford, who has been blaming travellers for bringing the new coronavirus strain to the province, claimed his finance minister ‘never told anyone’ he was leaving but said he knew Mr Phillips was out of the country ‘shortly after he arrived.’
‘I should have said “Get your backside back into Ontario” and I didn’t do that,’ he added.
Mr Phillips said in a statement he ‘deeply’ regretted travelling and cut short his vacation.
Ontario began a province-wide lockdown on December 26 but Canada’s national government and the Ontario government have both repeatedly asked Canadians not to travel abroad during the pandemic.
Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, said: ‘This is a devastating blow to the government and Ford personally because, as he has admitted, he knew that Phillips was in St. Bart’s and did not upbraid and order him back immediately.
‘Ford only did so once the news of Phillips’s absence became public yesterday,’
He added that Mr Phillips should resign, suggesting: ‘That would be the honourable thing to do but honour is in short supply these days in the political world.’
Mr Ford’s government already was being criticised for halting vaccinations over the holidays and for delaying the province-wide lockdown until the day after Christmas.
Ontario set a new daily record for cases on Wednesday, with 2,923.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s national government announced on Wednesday that passengers must have a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days before they arrive in Canada.
The country already requires those entering the country to self-isolate for 14 days and has banned all flights from the United Kingdom because of fears around the new variant.
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