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article imageFinance minister resigns after returning from Caribbean vacation

By Karen Graham     Jan 1, 2021 in Politics
Toronto - Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced the resignation of his finance minister, Rod Phillips, who took a vacation trip to the Caribbean while the province remained under lockdown.
Phillips went to Saint Barthélemy, popularly known as St. Barts, on Dec.13, even as the province was urging its citizens to avoid all non-essential travel. Phillips had to return after it was revealed that he wasn't at home, even though he had been tweeting in a way that implied he was still in Ontario.
When Phillips arrived at Toronto Pearson Airport early Thursday morning, he told reporters he hoped to keep his job but would respect Premier Ford's decision following what Ford said would be a "very tough conversation" between the two, according to CBC Canada.
"Obviously, I made a significant error in judgment, and I will be accountable for that," Mr. Phillips said. "I do not make any excuses for the fact that I traveled when we shouldn't have traveled."
Later on Thursday, Premier Ford, in a statement said: "Today, following my conversation with Rod Phillips, I have accepted his resignation as Ontario's minister of finance. 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 he has asked Peter Bethlenfalvy to assume the role of minister of finance and deliver the government's 2021 budget.
On Wednesday, CBC Canada reported that Premier Ford said he found out Phillips was traveling abroad about two weeks ago and should have pushed then for his immediate return,
Opposition leaders were calling for Phillips' resignation, saying he had gone on vacation out of the country in defiance of the province's health restrictions. Most lawmakers also find it hard to believe Ford didn't know about the trip. But Phillips is not the only government official that may be in hot water over traveling for the holiday.
Quebec Liberal MNA Pierre Arcand is apologizing after traveling to Barbados, while Coalition Avenir Québec MNA Youri Chassin says he left for Peru to be with his spouse, who lives there and whom he hadn't seen for nearly a year.
Ontario's New Democratic Party leader Andrea Horwath said: "It's not believable that a senior member of cabinet didn't tell the premier's office he was leaving the country for weeks during the height of a global emergency," she said in a statement. "If he didn't, that in itself would be enough reason to demote him."
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