Despite premier's calls for Quebecers to stay home, Liberal MNA Pierre Arcand vacations in Barbados
Arcand says he now regrets the decision, but has been following public health guidelines
Despite repeated calls by the federal and provincial governments not to travel, Quebec Liberal MNA Pierre Arcand is in Barbados for the holidays.
A witness in the Glitter Bay area of the island reported seeing Arcand to Radio-Canada.
In a statement to Radio-Canada, Arcand said he now regrets the decision, "given the current situation in Quebec and the respect we owe to health workers."
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 [during the pandemic]," he said. Still, he added that Barbados is "currently one of the safest places in the world."
Arcand said he and his wife were tested for COVID-19 on Dec. 22, before their departure. They flew south on Dec. 25. Two days later, they had a second, mandatory test in order to be able to leave their home.
He said they will also be quarantining for 14 days upon returning to Quebec, as required by the federal government.
Canadians discouraged from travelling
On Tuesday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said travellers planning to return home to Quebec after holidaying abroad should face strict measures, including being tested for COVID-19 before flying and once again upon their arrival.
A spokesperson for Quebec Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade said she "discourages everyone from travelling. Rules allow for such movements. Madame Anglade expects those who do to adhere to the mandatory quarantine on return."
Wednesday, Anglade faced a barrage of media questions about Arcand's travel. She said he should fly back to Quebec as soon as possible.
Earlier this month, Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) MNA Denis Tardif removed himself from caucus after being caught on video not respecting distancing measures in a bar in Rivière-du-Loup.
Québec Solidaire says none of its MNA have travelled. The Parti Québécois did not respond to Radio-Canada's inquiries.
Arcand was the interim leader of the Quebec Liberal Party from October 2018 until May 2020, when Anglade was acclaimed. He has represented the riding of Mont-Royal–Outremont in Montreal since 2007.
Based on a report by Radio-Canada reporters Thomas Gerbet and Sébastien Bovet