Toronto

Ontario Premier Doug Ford briefly visited cottage after asking residents not to

Ontario Premier Doug Ford dropped by his cottage last month, days after asking the province’s residents to stay away from theirs. His office says Ford "drove alone" and was there for less than an hour to check on construction.

Ford ‘drove alone’ to cottage to ‘check on the plumbing,' his office says

Ontario Premier Doug Ford drove alone to his cottage country property on Easter Sunday, and was there for less than an hour to check on the plumbing, his office says. (Steve Russell/Pool/The Canadian Press)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford went to his cottage briefly last month, days after asking the province's residents to stay away from theirs.

Ivana Yelich, spokesperson for Ford's office, confirmed Friday that on the morning of April 12, the premier "drove alone to his family property up north to check on the plumbing as the property is under construction and has been over the past two years," she said in an email.

"He spent less than an hour there and on his travel he didn't stop anywhere and he didn't interact with anyone."

Days before, on April 8, Ford had asked residents not to visit their cottages during Easter weekend due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the strain visitors could put on rural health-care systems.

He said he had recently spoken with cottage country mayors, who were "begging us to get the message out" to stay away.

"There's no one that loves my cottage more than I do, but I'm not going to my cottage," Ford said during the news conference.

"We're going to make sure that we listen to the protocol that the chief medical officer has requested."

At his daily COVID-19 news conference on Friday, Ford said Easter Sunday was the first morning he wasn't working in about two months, and he was worried about his cottage because some pipes had burst there a couple of years ago and did a lot of damage.

"I just got ready and hopped in the pickup truck myself at 6:30 in the morning," Ford said. Everything was OK there, he said, so he got back in his truck and drove home.

"I was back by noon," Ford said.

'Hard to hold back people' on long weekend, premier says

Earlier this week, Ford had signalled the possibility of eased COVID-19 restrictions in time for the Victoria Day long weekend, and said it would be "hard to hold back people going to their cottages."

But after a joint call with cottage country mayors on Wednesday, the premier asked would-be visitors to stay home — and for any cottage owners who do head north to ensure they practice physical distancing.

"We are still battling a terrible virus, so we are asking seasonal residents travelling to their cottages to practice the same public health measures as usual, including no public gatherings, avoiding nonessential travel as much as possible, and continue to practice social distancing," Ford said in a statement Thursday.

"Cottage country residents are known for their hospitality and normally they would be welcoming tourists with open arms right now. This year, however, they are asking visitors to help them fight the spread of COVID-19 and hold-off travelling to these regions until it is safe to do so."

In an interview with CBC News earlier this week, Phil Harding, mayor of the Township of Muskoka Lakes, said that unless people "have" to go, they should stay away from their seasonal homes.

"Essential travel is the only travel that should be happening. Non-essential travelling should be limited."

Ford isn't the only politician who is being asked questions about how he spent that long weekend: in mid-April, federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were also on the defensive for their weekend travel.

About the Author

Adam Carter

Reporter

Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.