Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to have a “very tough conversation” with his finance minister Thursday over a controversial Caribbean vacation.
Rod Phillips returned to Toronto from St. Barts — where he has been since Dec. 13 — earlier in the morning.
Upon his arrival at Pearson International Airport, Phillips said he “unreservedly” apologizes for his decision to travel during the holidays.
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“I know that I disappointed a lot of people, I hope people appreciate I disappointed no one more than myself,” he said in a brief statement.
“I know that people are understandably angry about the situation. I do hope to be able to regain their confidence in the days, weeks and months ahead.”
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, and that he regretted the decision.
After his statement, Phillips was asked about his decision to travel, to which he replied: “I made a significant error in judgment and I will be accountable for that. I do not make any excuses for the fact that I travelled when we shouldn’t have travelled.”
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.
When asked why he didn’t tell Ford of his trip right away, Phillips said, “Premier Ford has far more important things to do than worry about the travel of his ministers or the people who work for him.”
“The blame is mine and the blame is mine alone.”
Phillips was also asked if he will resign, and said Ford has not asked him to yet.
“That is one of the things I will be talking to the Premier about today … I think that there is very important work that still needs to be done and I would like to continue to be a part of that.”
Earlier this week, Ford said it’s “unacceptable” for any public official to ignore the province’s COVID-19 guidelines, which urge residents to avoid non-essential travel.