Dear Premier Ford:
As you know, the Public Health Agency of Canada has been advising against all non-essential travel outside of Canada since March. You yourself have said recently that international travellers pose an “extreme risk” for COVID-19 spread within Ontario. On November 25th, your government issued holiday guidelines asking Ontarians to avoid nonessential travel, yet you and your own government continue to behave as if the rules don’t apply to you, that you are above following the rules the rest of us must abide by.
Yesterday, we learned that, while you were telling Ontario families to skip their gatherings for the Holidays, your Finance Minister was jetting away to the Caribbean Island of St. Barts. The Minister claims to have left for his Caribbean vacation on December 13th, yet your cabinet met more than once between the date of his departure and the December 21st announcement of a provincewide lockdown. It has been established practice for decades that all Ministers must notify the Premier’s Office of all out of province travel. As such, it is simply not believable that
the most senior Minister in your Cabinet could leave the country for over two weeks without your knowledge at a time when the province is regularly reporting over 2,000 new COVID-19 infections every day. There must be consequences for your Minister’s hypocrisy, but as you like to say, the buck stops with you, Premier.
That is why you owe it to Ontarians to come clean about when the Minister notified your office that he would be violating provincial guidelines. Ontarians deserve answers the following questions:
1) There has been a longstanding requirement for Ministers to notify the Premier’s Office of all out of province travel. When were you or your office provided notification by the Minister of Finance?
2) What other out of province travel has been undertaken by members of your Cabinet, caucus and Premier’s Office staff since emergency measures were enacted in March 2020?
Unfortunately, the behaviour of this Minister is part of a disturbing pattern within your government. You yourself spent all summer touring Ontario on a premature victory lap, even while you were asking people not to travel out of hot zones. You also refused to take any action against your MPP for Niagara West who flaunted COVID-19 protocols by refusing to wear a mask and practice physical distancing at a restaurant despite being asked several times by the staff to do so.
Premier, times like these require real leadership, not just soundbites. Ontarians need you to lead by example and tell them the truth.
Anything less would be a betrayal of the trust that most Ontarians have shown by following the public health advice your own caucus has callously disregarded.
Yours very truly,
Member of Provincial Parliament