Province House — Photo: Halifax Examiner

Though a few have left the province, no Nova Scotia MLA has left the country during the pandemic.

Politicians across the country — including MLAs in Alberta, Ontario’s finance minister, multiple MPs and a senator — have been caught taking vacations while they and their governments tell citizens to stay home.

Here in Nova Scotia, politicians say they’ve mostly heeded Premier Stephen McNeil’s advice to stay the blazes home.

“No members of our caucus team have recently left the country, nor are any members currently travelling abroad,” Stephen Tobin, the Liberal Party’s director of strategic communications, said in a statement.

“Furthermore, no member of our caucus has travelled outside of Nova Scotia during the holidays. Likewise, no member of our caucus travelled outside of the country after the federal government issued an advisory to avoid non-essential travel abroad, nor after the province declared a state of emergency.”

Liberal leadership candidate Iain Rankin travelled to the Bahamas in March, but returned early, Tobin said.

Some of the Liberals have travelled inside Canada:

  • Ben Jessome travelled to British Columbia in June.
  • Rafah DiCostanzo travelled to Ontario in July, a trip which Tobin described as “compassionate.”
  • Keith Irving travelled to Prince Edward Island in July and Ontario in August.
  • Randy Delorey, another leadership candidate, travelled to Prince Edward Island in August.

Among cabinet ministers:

  • Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines travelled within the Atlantic Bubble, to Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, in August.
  • African Nova Scotian Affairs Minister Tony Ince travelled within the Atlantic Bubble, to Newfoundland and Labrador, in November.
  • Community Services Minister Kelly Regan travelled to Ontario in September.

“It is important to note that in all scenarios, MLAs (private members and Ministers) were never in violation of any public health directives – and those who left the Atlantic Bubble self-isolated for 14 days immediately upon their return to Nova Scotia,” Tobin said.

Likewise, the Progressive Conservatives said, “None of our MLAs have travelled outside of the country since the pandemic began.”

In a statement, leader Tim Houston said if any PC MLA had left the country during the pandemic — “to vacation, to sit on a beach, to visit family or do any of the things that Canadians have been told not to do, they would immediately be removed from our caucus. There is no grey area.

“Elected officials should not only set an example, but should work hard to raise the standard. And no leader should look the other way and allow a handful of ignorant, entitled politicians to act above the rules that every Canadian has been asked to respect.”

The NDP said none of its members has left the country either.

“I’ve checked with everyone and all of the NDP MLAs (Gary Burrill, Lisa Roberts, Claudia Chender, Susan Leblanc, Kendra Coombes) were in Nova Scotia for the holidays and have been in Canada for the duration of the pandemic,” NDP spokesperson Meredith O’Hara said in an email.

There are two independent members of Nova Scotia’s legislative assembly as well — Alana Paon and Hugh MacKay.

Paon said in an email she hasn’t left the country during the pandemic.

“My fiancé and I spent our Christmas and New Year’s holidays at home in Cape Breton – Richmond,” she said.

MacKay said he never left the province at all in 2020.

The Halifax Examiner also asked Nova Scotia MPs and senators about their travel. We’ve yet to receive responses from all of them, and we’ll update this article if any of them have travelled outside the country.

Halifax councillors have stayed put, too. The Examiner has received confirmation from Mayor Mike Savage and every councillor but Lindell Smith that they haven’t left the country. We’ll update this article with Smith’s response.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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