(Black Press Media file photo)

(Black Press Media file photo)

Island mayor says travelling politicians need to meet highest possible standards

Greater Victoria politicians’ travel activities come under fire

The mayor of Vancouver Island’s largest municipality is dismayed at the message being sent by politicians travelling overseas during the pandemic.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes was disturbed to hear that Victoria Councillor Sharmarke Dubow and Metchosin Councillor Kyara Kahakauwila travelled outside of Canada, and said municipal politicians, like politicians of all levels, “need to hold themselves to the highest possible standard.”

He confirmed all Saanich councillors followed public health orders to abstain from travelling.

“I didn’t even need to think to tell council not to travel,” he said, adding that many, himself included, cancelled travel plans and family events.

Haynes called off a family reunion in Europe, his wife opted not to visit family in Japan and their son cancelled his wedding. Now, Haynes’ 86-year-old father-in-law is in the hospital in Australia but the family has decided not to go see him – no matter how hard it is.

“‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ is the worst example of behaviour” for politicians, he added.

However, he said resignation is not the only option and councillors should be allowed to deal with the situation themselves as mistakes were made but these are “hardworking, conscientious councillors.”

In December, Dubow travelled to Somalia and Kahakauwila attended a wedding in Mexico despite COVID-19 health orders.

Meanwhile Coun. Heather Gartshore was at home in North Saanich during the holidays, she has also come under fire for travelling abroad earlier in the year.

“Since mid-March, I have spent a week in Seattle with our daughter and her family, departing prior to the [provincial] travel ban,” she said in a statement to media. “I abided by the required 14 day quarantine period upon my return. I will have nothing further to say on the matter.”

ALSO READ: ‘I should not have gone:’ Victoria councillor takes holiday trip to Africa

The Canada-U.S. border was closed on March 18, 2020, to non-essential travel in both directions. The closure has been extended multiple times since and does not impact trade and business travel.

“It is up to you to decide what ‘non-essential travel’ means, based on family or business requirements, knowledge of or familiarity with a country, territory or region, and other factors,” reads, in part, the Government of Canada’s website that discusses risk levels and travel advisories.

The definition of non-essential travel on the website of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Canada offers more detail. According to that website, non-essential travel includes travel that is considered “tourism or recreational in nature.”

Essential travel includes travel for “work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.”

READ MORE: Metchosin councillor travelled to Mexico in December

Two Metchosin councillors have clarified they weren’t told about Kahakauwila’s trip to Mexico until it took place.

Coun. Marie-Terese Little said in a statement that she learned in early December that Metchosin’s Dec. 7 council meeting would be cancelled due to Kahakauwila’s absence. Little found out Kahakauwila was quarantining during a Zoom meeting after her return and said there was no formal discussion of plans beforehand.

“I did not at any time endorse, support, or defend her choice to travel to Mexico contrary to provincial health orders and travel advisories,” Little said.

Coun. Sharie Epp echoed Little’s sentiments that the trip was not disclosed ahead of time nor was it supported by council.

The City of Langford also confirmed, despite rumours to the contrary, that mayor and council have not travelled outside of the country since mid-March.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

City of VictoriaCoronavirusDistrict of MetchosinDistrict of Saanich

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Quebec’s BEI completes investigation into Chantel Moore’s fatal shooting by Edmundston police officer

New Brunswick’s public prosecutions services and chief coroner to conduct public hearing

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Most Read