Halton police chief apologizes for Florida travel; says he'll be back in Canada soon

·2 min read

A police chief in the Greater Toronto Area apologized Friday for travelling to Florida during the pandemic, saying he regretted the decision.

Halton Regional Police Chief Steve Tanner said he left the country last month to "address personal business matters" and will be returning to Canada this weekend.

"My decision to travel in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation was a poor decision," Tanner said in a statement. "I sincerely apologize for my decision to travel out of the country."

The head of the union representing members of the force said some officers were "very upset" by the situation.

"It hasn't been received well by our members," said Clayton Gillis, noting that Tanner's explanation of travelling for personal business matters fell short.

"I don't think in the current climate that's going to be a reasonable enough excuse for people to let him off the hook."

Tanner noted that the chair of the Halton police board -- who is also the mayor of Oakville, Ont. -- was aware of the trip and supported it.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said Friday that he had no objection to Tanner leaving the country.

"The chief leads our police service in an exemplary manner and will continue to do so," Burton said.

Tanner is the latest public official whose international travel has come to light as the government urges residents to stay home in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Rod Phillips, Ontario's former finance minister, resigned from his post last week after it was revealed he travelled to St. Barts for a December vacation.

Another key member of Ontario's pandemic response efforts, Dr. Tom Stewart, travelled to the Dominican Republic last month.

He resigned this week from a group of experts who provide strategic direction to the province about the COVID-19 pandemic.

He was also replaced as CEO of Niagara Health and St. Joseph's Health System.

Meanwhile, the president and CEO of the London Health Sciences Centre was also revealed to have travelled outside the country recently.

In a statement on Friday, the hospital network said Dr. Paul Woods travelled to the U.S. five times since March, including from Dec. 19 to Dec. 25.

At the time, one of the network's sites, University Hospital, was experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak that has killed 23 people and sickened more than 150 patients and staff.

“What I can do is take accountability for my decision to visit with immediate family out-of-country and fully apologize. Please accept my deepest regret for my actions,” Woods said.

The hospital network's board noted that Woods lives alone and said it supported his continued leadership.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press