Nova Scotia Journal

Most Maritime politicians stayed close to home over the holidays

HALIFAX — It seems most Maritime politicians followed the rules and stayed put over the holidays, despite stories and resignations elsewhere in the country from politicians doing the opposite.

But not everyone stayed home and at least one is now in self-isolation.

When the Atlantic bubble formed, New Brunswick’s Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland was eager to visit his girlfriend Nova Scotia.

“I haven’t seen my girlfriend since March,” Holland said in July.

CTV News has learned that, over the holidays, Holland visited Nova Scotia again, despite a message from all four Atlantic premiers to avoid non-essential travel.

“Holland did follow all of the protocol requirements and he’s been in isolation since he returned,” said New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs.

In the wake of resignations from several Canadian politicians who left Canada to vacation during the holidays, CTV News asked Maritime politicians whether they have left the country since the pandemic began.

Few have.

Prince Edward Island Liberal MLA Robert Henderson went to Germany for his daughter’s wedding in September.

“I followed all of the rules of isolation outlined by government at the time,” Henderson said.

New Brunswick Liberal MLA Benoit Bourque went to Romania in July to see his wife who lives there.

“I made it public on Facebook,” Bourque said. “People knew where I went, why I went there, and I also had permission of my leader to go.”

In Nova Scotia, the only MLA who has left the country did so before Ottawa called Canadians home.

A handful of others have travelled outside of the province during the pandemic, but most stayed within the Atlantic bubble.

Minister Kelly Regan went to Ontario to see her elderly parents in September.

“Minister Regan went to Ontario for seven days to visit her elderly parents whom she had not seen in a year and a half, as she stated publicly on her social media channels before her travel,” said spokesperson Kristina Shannon. “This was at a time when restrictions had been reduced, cases were low and there was no directive not to travel within the country. The directive was to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning from travel outside the Atlantic Bubble, and that’s what Minister Regan did.”

CTV News has learned Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative MLA Barbara Adams travelled to Ontario five months ago.

In Nova Scotia, PC spokesperson Katherine Klimek said no PC MLAs have left the country during the pandemic.

“We’ve had a handful of MLAs who have travelled within the Atlantic bubble, and after re-confirming with Caucus, we’ve had just one MLA who even left the Atlantic region five months ago,” she said, referring to Adams.”We’ve had one caucus staffer move from Ontario and another caucus staffer come back from New Brunswick and all three self-isolated upon arrival and followed all public health orders.”

Jamie Gillie, a political scientist at St. Thomas University, isn’t concerned.

“None of these cases seem like they were trying to hide something,” he said. “Some of the ones in the summer simply they travelled outside the region, but the legislature wasn’t sitting, so I’m not sure I have a problem with this.”

When MLAs returned from travel they self-isolated and were paid to work from home.

When Bourque discussed returning to Romania this holiday season, he decided against it.

“We thought about it, but we felt it was not appropriate for me to leave,” Bourque said.

Higgs was aware of Holland’s travels to Nova Scotia.

New Brunswick plans to provide a clarity on what is essential travel.

“We’re going to better define that in the coming days,” Higgs said.

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