rod phillips

Ontario finance minister faces backlash for non-essential vacation during lockdown

It's lockdown szn in Ontario, which means everyone is hunkering down alone at home, avoiding seeing friends and family and only leaving to grab necessities — everyone except for some of our politicians, apparently.

While MPP Randy Hillier (not to be confused with provincial vaccination task force leader Rick Hillier) publicly shared a photo of him enjoying a holiday gathering with at least 14 other people over the weekend, another official has been outed for taking a little overseas vacation earlier in the month.

The office of provincial Finance Minister and Ajax MPP Rod Phillips confirmed to news outlets this week that he did in fact depart the country for personal travel along with his wife on Dec. 13, before the stringent new blanket lockdown for the province was announced on Dec. 21.

He remains out of the country at current.

"Immediately following the end of the Legislative Session, which occurred on December 8th, my wife and I departed on a previously planned personal trip outside of the country," Phillips wrote in a statement provided by his office.

"Had I been aware then of the eventual Dec. 26th provincewide shutdown, we would have canceled the trip."

The minister goes on to assure residents that he is continuing to work remotely while away, and will, of course, be following federal quarantine orders upon his return.

It isn't the first time a Canadian finance minister has faced public derision for a travel-related scandal, and people have rightfully been annoyed with others who continue to flout lockdown rules and regulations, including those who pack airports to go on non-essential vacations amid a global pandemic.

Doug Ford, who attributed the latest lockdown in part to people travelling unnecessarily, was likewise chastised for his plans to head up to the cottage for the holidays.

Though we've all got the urge to hop on a plane after months of not being able to, it isn't the most prudent course of action for anyone right now lest we end up facing stringent health and safety measures forever.

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