Four Quebec Liberal MPs travelled outside the country during pandemic, violating public health recommendations
MONTREAL -- One after another, four Liberal Members of Parliament from Quebec ridings say they violated public health recommendations by travelling internationally during the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday.
Sameer Zuberi, Patricia Lattanzio and Alexandra Mendes all took to their Twitter accounts to describe their voyages out of the country while Lyne Bessette followed with a statement sent to media.
Zuberi, who represents the Pierrefonds-Dollard riding, said on Twitter that he travelled to the United States in December to visit his wife's sick grandfather.
“I recognize that travel during this period, when so many are limiting interactions with loved ones, was an error in judgement. I apologize to my constituents for the disappointment I may have caused,” he wrote. “As a result, I will be stepping down from my committee roles.”
Zuberi sat on a subcommittee for international human rights, foreign affairs and international development, a standing committee on justice and human rights and a standing joint committee for scrutiny of regulations.
In the tweet, Zuberi said he respected local public health guidelines while he and his family were in Delaware, advised the Chief Government Whip of his travel and has been adhering to a 14-day quarantine since returning on Dec. 31.
“I commit to redoubling my efforts to lead by example, and continue working hard for the residents of Pierrefonds-Dollard,” he wrote.
Public health officials and the Government of Canada have recommended against any unnecessary international travel during the pandemic.
Lattanzio, who was elected in the St-Leonard-St-Michel riding, also admitted to travelling outside Canada's borders during the pandemic, saying she took an "essential and necessary" trip to Ireland in September.
"One of my daughters has moved to Ireland to attend school and I went to help her move abroad," she said on Twitter. "I have respected all health requirements in effect in all jurisdictions. Upon my return to Canada, I quarantined for fourteen days."
Brossard-St-Lambert MP Mendes also posted to social media, saying she had travelled with her husband to Portugal in July to attend to issues arising from the death of her husband's mother in May.
"In addition to mourning her from far away, we had to ensure that some legal elements of her estate were dealt with within 90 days of her death," Mendes wrote on Twitter. "As the months were passing, it became more and more pressing to finalize the succession paperwork... In July, as lockdown measures began to be lifted in Quebec, Canada and Europe, and with some airlines re-establishing flights, my husband and I decided to go to Portugal."
Mendes said she, too, advised the Whip and the Speaker's office of her travel and quarantined for 14 days upon re-entering Canada.
In her statement, Bessette, who represents the Brome-Missisquoi riding, said her trip during the summer was made on behalf of her ailing parents.
"This summer, when restrictions in Quebec were eased, I saw that my father's health still did not allow him to return to Mexico to pick up their belongings," she said. "Having made several unsuccessful attempts to have them brought back and having delayed the insurance as much as possible, I flew to Mexico myself in mid-August to retrieve my parents' vehicle, mobile home and personal belongings."
Bessette added that on her way back to Canada, she stopped in Massacheusetts to finalize the sale of her home.
"Throughout this essential trip, I complied with all applicable health regulations and wore a mask at all times when required. Upon my return, I completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine as required by the Public Health Agency of Canada. During this period, my team kept up my social media presence by sharing publications of events that had taken place earlier in the summer.
"I am aware of the challenge that travel restrictions abroad have presented to Canadians in the past year. I want to reassure all residents of Brome-Missisquoi that I would not have undertaken such travel if it had not been absolutely necessary."
The admissions come days after Quebec Liberal MNA Pierre Arcand apologized for travelling to Barbados for vacation. Despite criticism from other parties and Liberal leader Dominique Anglade, Arcand said he would not resign from the National Assembly.
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