Ontario Premier Doug Ford admitted Wednesday that he has been aware for two weeks now that his Finance Minister Rod Phillips traveled to the Caribbean for the holidays despite a coronavirus lockdown. While on St. Barts, Phillips shared a Christmas Eve video message of himself by a roaring fire with a gingerbread house at his side. The video appeared to show Phillips in a place that was decidedly not the Caribbean, leading some to suggest he had strategically posted the photo to throw the public off his trail and hide where he really was.
On Tuesday, Ford ordered Phillips to return home immediately. But he has since admitted that he knew about Phillips’ travels two weeks ago, well before the story of his trip became widely known on Tuesday. Ford, who called the St. Barts trip “completely unacceptable,” said he will have a “tough conversation” with Phillips upon his return, although Phillips will be required to quarantine for 14 days. “I deeply regret travelling over the holidays,” Ford said in a statement. “It was a mistake and I apologize.” Some of Phillips’ colleagues have called for the lawmaker to be fired over the incident.