Sask minister quits after NDP finds documents casting doubt on California travel story

Joe Hargrave has quit as Saskatchewan minister after opposition NDP provided real estate documents casting doubt on his stated reasons for travel to his California home. Spokesperson says Premier Moe doesn't control what travel ministers deem necessary.

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has accepted the resignation of his highways minister who travelled to California over the holidays while people were being urged to stay home.

Moe's office said Joe Hargrave will remain in the Saskatchewan Party caucus as the legislature member for Prince Albert Carlton.

Hargrave's resignation Monday came after the Opposition NDP pointed to a real estate listing that cast doubt on his explanation that he needed to travel to finalize the sale of a vacation property and move back his belongings.

But the NDP circulated a listing from a real estate website showing the home was put up for sale on Boxing Day and that an offer was accepted Dec. 27.

A government spokesperson said Hargrave went with his wife and left Saskatchewan on Dec. 22.

County tax records show the US$489,000 furnished property as belonging to Joseph Hargrave.

NDP ethics critic Matt Love accused Hargrave of lying and providing a "flimsy excuse" for not abiding by provincial and federal recommendations to avoid non-essential travel over the holidays.

Canadians have been asked to stay put to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"Really all he wanted was a sunny Christmas vacation by the golf course and pool in his gated community," Love said in a statement.

Moe's office said Hargrave will be replaced in cabinet by Fred Bradshaw, member of the legislature for Carrot River Valley.

The government has said Hargrave will return to Saskatchewan once his two-week quarantine in California expires on Tuesday. Once back in Canada, he is to isolate for another 14 days.

Before resigning, Hargrave apologized for his decision to make the trip, which the premier's office said Moe knew about in advance.

Moe's executive director of communications Jim Billington, said last week the premier expects government members to follow all public health advice, but "does not control what members of cabinet or caucus do in their personal time or what they deem as necessary travel."

In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney said Monday he had accepted the resignation of his municipal affairs minister and asked his chief of staff to step down after they took holiday trips during the pandemic.

Several other United Conservative Party members of the legislature were also disciplined for their vacations out-of-country vacations.

Last week, Rod Phillips resigned as Ontario's finance minister after it was revealed he vacationed in the Caribbean.

 

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