Ford Says He Knew of Phillips’ Trip 2 Weeks Ago, Should Have Asked Him to Return Then

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Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips speaks at a press conference at Queen’s Park during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he found out his finance minister was travelling abroad roughly two week ago, and should have pushed then for his immediate return.

Ford says Rod Phillips “never told anyone” he was going to St. Barts on Dec. 13, but the premier learned of the trip shortly after it began.

“I did call him shortly after he arrived and I talked to him and asked where he was. He said he was away,” the premier said Wednesday.

 

“My mistake. I take full responsibility. At that time, I should have said, ‘get your backside back to Ontario,’ and I didn’t do that.”

Ford said he will have a serious conversation with Phillips on Thursday upon the minister’s return.

The premier’s comments come as Opposition legislators are calling for Phillips to be removed from cabinet over his international vacation.

They say the minister contravened the government’s own health guidelines by travelling abroad, and it’s not believable he would do so without telling the premier.

Phillips said in a statement Tuesday that he left on a trip to St. Barts after the end of the legislative session.

The minister said he made the decision to travel not knowing the province would be placed under lockdown on Boxing Day, and “deeply regrets” the move.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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