Ontario’s Finance Minister Rod Phillips has resigned after he was caught taking a midwinter vacation in the Caribbean while his province was under lockdown. During the trip, Phillips hid the truth with fake social media posts.
Phillips resigned on Thursday, a day after Ontario Premier Doug Ford admitted to reporters that he knew the finance minister had been on the island of St. Barts for the last two weeks but had not demanded his return.
“At a time when the people of Ontario have sacrificed so much, today’s resignation is a demonstration that our government takes seriously our obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Ford said on Thursday, announcing Phillips was stepping down.
Phillips returned to Canada on Thursday with his tail between his legs. “It was a significant error in judgment – a dumb, dumb mistake, I apologize for it, I regret it,” he told CP24 after landing in Ontario.
Canada’s countrywide coronavirus rules prohibit non-essential travel. Furthermore, Ontario went into a “hard lockdown” on December 14, a day after Phillips departed for St. Barts.
While there, Phillips made a series of Twitter posts that suggested he was still in Ontario. The vacationing minister shared photos of himself meeting with business owners, and a Christmas Eve video message in which he lamented the fact that Canadians couldn’t gather with their loved ones during the holidays.
Rod Phillips and his staff put an enormous amount of effort into his deception. https://t.co/nitO2ScJvnhttps://t.co/XMW8QirXiK
During a video conference call on December 16, the finance minister even used a virtual backdrop of Ontario’s legislative building while he spoke. Keen observers noted that crashing waves could be heard in the background.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, government officials across the world have drawn scorn and ridicule for breaking their own lockdown rules. British virus adviser Neil Ferguson, Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were all among those caught red-handed breaking their own rules this year.
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