(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

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Books open up a world of discovery

We try to eat dinner as a family every night. It happens… Continue reading

The Cowichan Tribes’ gymnasium at 5574 River Road is now operating as an extreme weather shelter. (Submitted photo)
New extreme weather shelter opens on River Road in Duncan

New facility should relieve some pressure on Warmland House

Dementia doesn’t just affect the person living with a diagnosis; it affects caregivers, family, friends and their community. (Submitted)
January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

“Raise your voice: Dementia, long-term care and COVID-19” on Jan. 27

The firefighters at the Mesachie Lake fire hall could soon be working out of a new retrofitted building if the Cowichan V alley Regional District is successful with its application for a $350,000 federal grant to fund the project. (File photo)
Major retrofit planned for Mesachie Lake fire hall

CVRD applies for $350,000 federal grant

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Puppy requires emergency treatment 3 times after ingesting drugs from Chemainus parks

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read