Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it is “unfortunate” that a number of politicians decided to travel abroad and go against the very advice they have been giving Canadians.
Speaking to reporters outside of Rideau Cottage on Tuesday, Mr. Trudeau said he understands and shares the frustration of Canadians who would love such a break, but added now is not the time and urged people to follow public-health rules.
These were the Prime Minister’s first comments since numerous federal and provincial politicians revealed they have travelled internationally during the pandemic, with many vacationing in warm destinations over the holidays.
Federal and provincial officials have urged Canadians for months not to go abroad and continue to advise against it as a more contagious variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads around the world.
Mr. Trudeau said he was “disappointed” to learn that two caucus members travelled and that’s why there were consequences for those MPs.
“All Canadians were so disappointed to see so many examples of folks who should have known better, doing things that put us all at risk,” he said.
“I understand that people are still looking at travel but we discourage it strongly. There will not be any mass repatriation efforts like we had in March if people are stuck overseas in this time of crisis. This is why we are saying to stay in Canada and stay safe.”
On Monday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced the resignations of his municipal affairs minister and his chief of staff, as well as the demotions of five other MLAs, after they travelled abroad during the holidays.
Senate Conservative Leader Don Plett’s office said Monday that he went to Mexico last week, but cut his trip short and returned a few days later.
Joe Hargrave resigned as Saskatchewan’s highways minister over a holiday to Palm Springs, Calif.
Liberal MPs Sameer Zuberi and Kamal Khera stepped down from their parliamentary roles after taking international trips for family reasons. In the summer, three Liberal MPs told the government Whip they needed to attend to family affairs abroad: Alexandra Mendes, Lyne Bessette and Patricia Lattanzio.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole’s office said MPs Ron Liepert and David Sweet shared with the Whip’s office that they had “essential travel” in the United States over the holidays to deal with property issues.
Last week, The Globe and Mail contacted every federal and provincial cabinet minister to ask about international travel since pandemic restrictions began.
No cabinet ministers at the federal level, and no provincial cabinet members in British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Yukon and Northwest Territories said they had been outside the country. Two ministers in Saskatchewan and one in Quebec have travelled abroad for varying reasons. The Globe was still waiting to hear from 20 ministers in Quebec, one in Newfoundland and two in Nunavut.
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