Liberal MNA Pierre Arcand stripped of shadow cabinet role after trip to Barbados during pandemic

Pierre Arcand, who represents Mount Royal-Outremont in Quebec's National Assembly, was the Liberal critic for matters related to Montreal and to transportation.

Arcand expressed regrets about travelling but insisted he was following rules carefully in Barbados

Pierre Arcand is a former interim leader of the Quebec Liberal Party. He has been stripped of his shadow cabinet roles because of a trip to the Caribbean over the holidays (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

The Quebec Liberals have stripped Pierre Arcand of his role in its shadow cabinet after he took a recent holiday to Barbados during the pandemic.

Arcand, who represents Mount Royal—Outremont in Quebec's National Assembly, had been the Liberal critic for matters related to Montreal and to transportation.

The Official Opposition said today in a news release Arcand's responsibilities will be reassigned.

According to Radio-Canada, Arcand is still a member of the Liberal caucus and has no intention of resigning as a member of the National Assembly.

News surfaced of Arcand's vacation after a witness in the Glitter Bay area of Barbados reported seeing him to Radio-Canada on Dec. 29.

At the time, Arcand said that when he and his wife realized Quebec's public health rules meant no family Christmas with children and grandchildren, they headed to the West Indies. 

"Despite the fact that travel is not prohibited, we are aware of the magnitude of criticism against people travelling south," he said, adding that he was tested for COVID-19 before and after travel.

Arcand said he regrets the decision, "given the current situation in Quebec and the respect we owe to health workers."

Arcand is not the only Quebec politician in hot water for travelling during the pandemic.

Liberal MP Sameer Zuberi visited his wife's sick grandfather in Delaware on Dec. 18 and returned to Canada on Dec. 31. Zuberi, who represents the Quebec riding of Pierrefonds—Dollard, has stepped down from his roles on parliamentary committees.

Liberal MP Alexandra Mendès who represents Brossard—Saint-Lambert went to Portugal in July. In August, MP Lyne Bessette, elected in Brome—Missisquoi, went to Mexico, stopping briefly in Massachusetts and MP Patricia Lattanzio from the riding of Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel went to Ireland in September.

Locally, Coalition Avenir Québec MNA Youri Chassin visited Peru in December. Chassin said he's been involved since March 2019 in a sponsorship process to have his spouse immigrate to Quebec.

And outside Quebec, a number of politicians have had to step away from their roles due to criticism of their travel, including NDP MP Niki Ashton, who was stripped of her critic roles.

Ontario's finance minister, Rod Phillips, resigned his portfolio upon his return from a Caribbean vacation and called the trip a "dumb, dumb mistake."

In Alberta, premier Jason Kenney accepted the resignations of his minister of municipal affairs and his chief of staff. He also demoted five other MLAs from his party who travelled internationally over the holidays.

With files from The Canadian Press