BC MLAs avoid holiday travel as politicians in other provinces face backlash

Jan 4 2021, 1:08 pm

As politicians in other provinces face backlash for travelling during the holidays despite non-essential travel restrictions, the BC government is stressing that MLAs here abided by the rules.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the premier’s office told Daily Hive that “no members of Cabinet or caucus, including the premier, have travelled outside of BC this holiday season.”

“[People] should not be travelling for recreation or social reasons right now,” the spokesperson said. “That remains our position… and that includes our provincial leaders.”

In a tweet, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale Bowinn Ma said that “from the very beginning of our pandemic response, Health Minister Adrian Dix drilled into us the importance of personally modelling the behaviour we were asking of the public.”

The approach by BC’s politicians comes after revelations that a number of Canadian politicians have travelled internationally in recent weeks, even as COVID-19 cases soared across the country.

Ontario’s finance minister, Rod Phillips, took a personal vacation to St. Barts in early December. He said he left prior to the announcement of the provincial lockdown. Phillips resigned from his position on December 31 but will continue to serve as MPP for Ajax.

Kamal Khera, M for Brampton West and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development, travelled to Seattle, Washington, on December 23. Khera announced on January 3 that she would step aside from her parliamentary role.

In Alberta, MLA Pat Rehn apologized on social media for taking a “previously planned family trip.”

Tracy Allard, Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs, took a family vacation to Hawaii “before Christmas,” Premier Jason Kenney confirmed at a news conference.

The premier also confirmed that “a few” MLAs, political staff members, and senior government officials have travelled abroad in recent weeks.

In Manitoba, MP Niki Ashton tweeted on January 1 that she was in Greece to visit her ill grandmother. Ashton represents the riding of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski.

In a statement issued the same day, the NDP announced that Ashton would be removed from her shadow critic roles.

In Quebec, MP Sameer Zuberi tweeted on January 3 that he had travelled to Delaware at the end of December to visit his wife’s grandmother, whose health had deteriorated.

Alexandra Mendes, MP for Brossard-Saint-Lambert, also took to social media to reveal an international trip.

Patricia Lattanzio released a statement on January 3 regarding travel abroad.

Lyne Bessette, the MP for Quebec’s Brome—Missisquoi riding, announced on Facebook that she had travelled to Mexico in mid-August.

The Canadian government is currently advising citizens and permanent residents to avoid all non-essential travel outside of the country “until further notice” to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

With files from Zoe Demarco

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