Opposition NDP leader Andrea Horwarth has called on the Ontario Premier to fire Finance Minister Rod Phillips and has said it is "not believable" that the Premier did not know Phillips was on an extended vacation outside of Canada.
Since December 13, Phillips has been in St. Barts, and exclusive Caribbean resort island. While at the island, the minister's social media account posted several pictures of him in his riding of Ajax, a working class city east of Toronto, that Horwath characterized as "an elaborate cover-up."
Horwath said it is not believable that Phillips didn't tell the Premier's office about his vacation but that if it is true that he hadn't, that is reason enough for his firing. Horwath said the trip and social media posts showed a "lack of judgement and lack of honesty."
In a statement issued late Tuesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was "extremely disappointed" by the the minister's travel. However, the statement was unclear about how long Ford had known Phillips was out of the country. The statement said Ford only became aware of Phillips' travel to St. Barts after he had departed, but gave no indication when the Premier became aware his finance minister was not in Canada.
In his statement, Phillips said he had continued to participate in cabinet meetings and conduct government business from St. Barts.