British Columbia

Victoria city councillor apologizes after spending holidays in East Africa

Sharmarke Dubow wrote in a statement posted to Twitter that he travelled to East Africa over the holidays to visit family he had not seen in three decades.

Sharmarke Dubow said he travelled to visit family he hadn't seen in 3 decades

Sharmarke Dubow is photographed at City Hall in Victoria on Dec. 4, 2018. He wrote in a statement posted to Twitter that he travelled to Somalia over the holidays to visit family he had not seen in three decades. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

A Victoria city councillor is the latest Canadian politician to admit he travelled outside of Canada over the holidays, despite federal and provincial guidelines against non-essential travel. 

Sharmarke Dubow wrote in a statement posted to Twitter that he travelled to East Africa over the holidays to visit family he had not seen in three decades.

"I had been planning and saving for this trip for years and returned to East Africa for the first time since I fled the civil war in Somalia in 1992 as a child," he wrote in part.

"Even with the extreme caution that I took, and the tests I paid for, I know now that I should not have gone. I understand that there is no excuse."

Dubow said he adhered to local public health guidelines while away, and tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times, including before returning to Canada Jan. 4.

He is now in quarantine in a Vancouver hotel, where he says he'll be serving his constituents virtually for the next two weeks.

"I acknowledge that I showed poor judgment by not leading by example in this case. I understand that many people made the difficult decision to not visit their families over the past numbers of months," he wrote.

"I know now that I should have made the same decision. I am sorry and am committed to doing better and working harder for all residents of Victoria.

The federal government has advised Canadians throughout the pandemic to avoid all non-essential travel and introduced new testing requirements this week for those planning to travel by air.

Elected officials in Ottawa, Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec have faced consequences for travelling, some of them outside the country, when their governments have asked residents to stay put in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Ontario's Rod Phillips resigned as finance minister Thursday after returning from a Caribbean trip.

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