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Ontario Minister Returns To Canada After Controversial Caribbean Trip

Rod Phillips says he will discuss his political future with the premier.
Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips is seen here in Toronto on May 14, 2020. Phillips returned to Canada on Dec. 31 after leaving for St. Barts on Dec. 13.
Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips is seen here in Toronto on May 14, 2020. Phillips returned to Canada on Dec. 31 after leaving for St. Barts on Dec. 13.

TORONTO — Ontario’s finance minister has returned to Canada after a controversial Caribbean vacation, apologizing for what he called an “error in judgment.”

Rod Phillips arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Thursday morning after taking a holiday in St. Barts, despite provincial guidelines urging people to avoid non-essential travel.

He said he wants to keep his job, but he will respect Ford’s decision following what the premier said would be a “very tough conversation” between the two.

“There’s very important work that still needs to be done, and I’d like to continue to be a part of that. But I do understand, people are angry, they deserve to be angry, I have to earn back their confidence,” Phillips told reporters on Thursday after arriving at the airport.

Phillips has been in St. Barts since Dec. 13 and will quarantine in Ajax, Ont., for 14 days starting Thursday.

The MPP said Ford had not yet asked for his resignation as of Thursday morning, but it would likely be discussed later that day.

Ford said Wednesday he wasn’t told about the trip ahead of time, but did learn about it shortly after it began, and should have demanded Phillips return immediately.

He said it’s “unacceptable” for any public official to ignore the province’s COVID-19 guidelines, which urge residents to avoid non-essential travel.

Phillips said earlier this week he chose to go ahead with the trip not knowing the province would be placed under lockdown on Boxing Day.

He said he regrets his decision and understands that he needs to earn back the public’s confidence.

“It was a significant error in judgment, a dumb, dumb mistake,” Phillips said. “Again, I apologize for it, I regret it, but all I can do now is make that apology and move forward.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2020.

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