Toronto·Timeline

Everything we know about the timeline of Rod Phillips's ill-fated Caribbean vacation

Rod Phillips quietly departed Canada earlier this month as Ontario's finance minister. He returned today amid a firestorm of controversy and tendered his resignation. Here's what we know about the whirlwind sequence of events that upeneded his political career.

Phillips resigned as finance minister around 48 hours after his trip was made public

A timeline of Rod Phillips's ill-fated Caribbean vacation

CBC News Toronto

2 months ago
3:09
CBC Toronto's Chris Glover tells us everything we know about the whirlwind sequence of events that upended Rod Phillips's political career. 3:09

Rod Phillips quietly departed Canada earlier this month as Ontario's finance minister. He returned on Thursday, Dec. 31 amid a firestorm of controversy and tendered his resignation.

Here's everything we know about the whirlwind sequence of events that upended his political career.

Dec. 10

Ontario's legislature begins a two month winter break as most MPPs leave Toronto and return to their home communities across Ontario.

Dec. 13

Phillips and his wife fly to St. Barts, despite ongoing pleas from public health officials that Ontario residents should avoid non-essential travel.

'Shortly after' Dec. 13

Premier Ford calls Phillips "shortly after" his departure, but does not specify a date. 

Dec. 15

Phillips tweets photos of himself visiting small businesses and standing with fellow Progressive Conservative MPPs to announce funding for mental health programs.

His staff later says the photos posted during this period were taken before his trip to St. Barts.

On the same day, Ontario reports a then-record 2,275 new COVID-19 cases as officials plead with people to scale back or cancel their holiday plans.

"We want people to stay in place, stay in your own homes as much as possible," said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Dec. 16

Phillips participates in the "Annual Muslim Christian Dialogue" conference via Zoom.

He appears on screen in front of a virtual backdrop of Queen's Park while wearing a dress shirt and sweater.

Dec. 24

Phillips tweets a Christmas Eve video message in which he is seated next to a fireplace. 

In a subsequent Christmas Eve tweet, he references the "sacrifices" being made by Ontarians and frontline workers during the pandemic.

Dec. 26

A province-wide lockdown begins.

Dec. 29, 12:00 p.m.

News of Phillips's vacation is first reported by Newstalk 1010.

"Had I been aware then of the eventual province-wide lockdown, we would have cancelled the trip," Phillips said in his first statement acknowledging the vacation.

A spokesperson confirms Phillips has not yet returned to Canada, but does not say where he is.

Dec. 29, 7:25pm

Ford releases his first public statement about Phillips.

"At a time when every Ontarian has been asked to make sacrifices, I am extremely disappointed in Minister Phillips and his decision to travel abroad," Ford said, adding that he's now asked Phillips to immediately return.

Dec. 29, 8:00 p.m.

Phillips issues a second statement, in which he clarifies that he travelled to the French overseas territory of St. Barts.

"I deeply regret travelling over the holidays. It was a mistake and I apologize," he wrote.

"I left on a personally paid for trip to St. Barts on December 13 following the end of the Legislative Session. I am making arrangements to return to Ontario immediately and will begin a 14-day quarantine as soon as I arrive."

Dec. 29, 9:00 p.m.

Ford's office issues a clarification to his earlier statement.

"Premier Ford was not aware of the minister's trip, nor did his office approve it. The premier learned of the trip after the minister was already out of the country," the statement said.

Dec. 30, 12:00 p.m.

Phillips's office confirms to CBC Toronto that he purchased and took a COVID-19 test before departing for St. Barts, since a negative test result is a requirement for entry.

His office confirms that Phillips also took a personal trip to Switzerland in August, meaning that he has left the country at least twice during the pandemic.

Dec. 30, 3:00 p.m.

During a brief photo opportunity at a hospital, Ford admits he knew about the trip before it was reported in the news.

"I did call him shortly after he arrived and I asked him and he said he was away," Ford said.

Premier Doug Ford promises 'tough conversation' with finance minister after Caribbean trip

CBC News Toronto

2 months ago
3:07
Premier Doug Ford addressed questions about finance minister Rod Phillips's Caribbean trip during lockdown. 3:07

"My mistake, and I take full responsibility. At that time, I should have said get your backside back into Ontario and I didn't do that." 

Dec. 31, 8:30 a.m.

Phillips arrives at Toronto Pearson airport and provides an on-camera statement. He calls the trip a "dumb, dumb mistake" 

"Obviously, I made a significant error in judgment, and I will be accountable for that," he added.

Ontario finance minister returns from Caribbean vacation

CBC News

2 months ago
4:46
Rod Phillips arrived at Toronto's Pearson airport Thursday and expressed regret for vacationing in St. Barts while Ontario was under a COVID-19 lockdown. 4:46

Dec. 31, 12:45 p.m.

Ford issues a statement announcing that Phillips has resigned as minister of finance.

"Today's resignation is a demonstration that our government takes seriously our obligation to hold ourselves to a higher standard," Ford said.

Dec. 31, 1:30 p.m.

Phillips issues a statement confirming his resignation.

"I look forward to focusing my efforts on continuing  to serve the people of Ajax as their Member of Provincial Parliament," he wrote.

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