Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Conservative Sen. Don Plett arrives at the Senate, Oct. 29, 2013 in Ottawa.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Don Plett is facing calls for his resignation as Conservative leader in the Senate after choosing to vacation in Mexico over the holidays.

But Mr. Plett is not the only senator who travelled abroad even as Canadians were being told to stay home to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Vern White, a former Conservative who now sits with the Canadian Senators Group, has admitted to the CBC that he went to Finland to visit his wife’s parents.

Story continues below advertisement

Five other senators have not responded to repeated questions from The Canadian Press about whether they’ve left the country since Dec. 1.

The vast majority – 86 of the current roster of 93 senators – say they have stayed home, as recommended by public-health authorities. Indeed, most said they haven’t travelled anywhere since the pandemic began sweeping Canada last March.

“Personally, I find it insulting to Canadians when politicians promote or recommend rules that they themselves don’t follow,” said Rosa Galvez, a member of the Independent Senators Group.

“I’m appalled that the leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Donald Plett, travelled to a resort in Mexico when he berated the Prime Minister for going to a close-by cottage this summer and he stated in his end-of-year message, ‘We cannot travel and gather as we normally would.’ "

Ms. Galvez said Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole should remove Mr. Plett as his Senate leader, just as MPs from multiple parties have been stripped of their committee and other parliamentary duties for failing to abide by public-health instructions.

However, Mr. O’Toole’s office has said it’s not up to the leader. The party’s Senate leader is chosen by Conservative senators.

Marilou McPhedran, another member of the Independent Senators Group, said she doubts that Conservative senators will choose to punish Mr. Plett.

Story continues below advertisement

“Most of them have followed his preference for not wearing a mask in the Senate chamber much of the time, thereby exposing the rest of us, but particularly more vulnerable members of their own caucus sitting nearer to them, to their aerosol expulsions for hours on end,” Ms. McPhedran said.

“So it seems doubtful that they will see Senator Plett’s decision to vacation outside Canada to be a significant reflection on his leadership.”

Most of the 20 Conservative senators declined to comment on Mr. Plett’s future.

One, Elizabeth Marshall, said in an e-mail: “I consider any concerns I have about Senator Plett’s travel an internal matter.”

Two Conservative senators expressed support for Ms. Plett.

“Sen. Plett continues to have my full confidence as the Conservative Senate caucus leader,” Linda Frum said in an e-mail. “He made a mistake, he acknowledged that mistake, and we need to move forward.”

Story continues below advertisement

On Monday, a spokesperson for Mr. Plett said the senator travelled to Mexico on Dec. 28. Upon his arrival, he “reflected on his decision to travel” and immediately made arrangements to return home to Manitoba on Dec. 31.

Mr. Plett’s arrival in Mexico would have coincided with the furor that erupted over the Dec. 29 revelation that Ontario’s then finance minister, Rod Phillips, was vacationing on the Caribbean island of St. Barts. Mr. Phillips resigned several days later.

Mr. Plett is now quarantining for 14 days, as required by Manitoba public-health protocols.

A spokesperson for Salma Ataullahjan said the Conservative senator does not feel Mr. Plett should resign as Senate leader.

“The government has not called for a clear ban on international travel, therefore those who made a choice to travel have to [follow] the guidelines on how to protect themselves and others before, during and after they travel,” the spokesperson noted.

“Sen. Plett is self-isolating after his travel as he should, and that should not impact his position as leader of the Opposition.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Plett’s office declined to comment on his future.

The Canadian Press contacted all 93 senators to see if any others vacationed outside the country.

Six, including Mr. White, did not respond to repeated e-mail and phone messages. Mr. White did, however, tell the CBC on Wednesday that he was in quarantine in Finland, in accordance with that country’s pandemic guidelines, after travelling there with his family on Dec. 28.

The other five non-responders included Scott Tannas, leader of the Canadian Senators Group, and his deputy leader, Josée Verner.

Renée Farrell, an aide to Ms. Verner, initially said she didn’t know if the senator had travelled outside the country and promised to check with the senator. She did not respond to subsequent e-mail and phone messages over several days.

The other non-responders were Conservative Jean-Guy Dagenais and senators Rosemary Moodie and Paul Massicotte, both of the Independent Senators Group.

Story continues below advertisement

Meanwhile, Governor-General Julie Payette said she has not left the country since the start of the pandemic in March and has restricted her movements in Canada to those needed to carry out her constitutional duties and to care for her teenage son and older parents in Montreal.

In a video message Thursday to Canadians, in which she urged people to continue to be vigilant, Ms. Payette said: “Like you, I have had to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances. As a scientist, I take epidemic outbreaks very seriously, and that is why we closed Rideau Hall at the outset of the pandemic to ensure the safety of our staff and the health of our visitors.

“Like you, I have strictly minimized contacts other than through digital means. "

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies