Municipalities of Sask. calls on Gordon Barnhart to respond to members, public over trip to Hawaii

·2 min read

Municipalities of Saskatchewan (MoS)is formally calling on its president to respond to the board, its members and the public concerning his recent trip to Hawaii.

The organization, formerly known as SUMA, says Saltcoats Mayor and former Lieutenant-Governor Gordon Barnhart did not inform the board that he was leaving the country on vacation.

The province has repeatedly told the public to stay home in order to control the spread of COVID-19, particularly during the holidays.

MoS' board of directors held an emergency meeting Friday morning to discuss Barnhart's vacation.

Rodger Hayward, mayor of Naicam and MoS vice president of towns, says members of the organizations were shocked to hear that Barnhart was in Hawaii over the holidays.

"I was caught off guard a little bit that he went ahead and did it," said Hayward.

MoS has actively encouraged Saskatchewan residents to forgoe travelling this year.

"It's hard to ask people to stay home when we're not staying home. And some people were outraged. I think most of us around the table [this morning] were disappointed ... really disappointed in his decision, because I think the majority of people in this province made the effort to stay home and really limit their travel," Hayward said.

"As leaders we're held to a higher standard and I think we have to follow through with."

Hayward says he's unsure of the exact day the board found out that Barnhart was in Hawaii, but he says it was very recently.

He says since then, Barnhart had limited contact with the board and other MoS members.

In the meantime, multiple mayors have called for his resignation.

"When it comes down to it we can't remove him from being president. [But] there are quite a number of members already calling for that that aren't on our board of directors. But I think around the table there are some board of directors that feel that way as well."

MoS' next election convention for president and vice president is only weeks away. Hayward says if Barnhart does not step down, he will have to have to address his decision to electors.

"He's going to have to explain his accountability at that time ... I think he's going to have some tough questions to answer in the meantime."

The next MoS election convention will be held Feb. 7 to 10.

CBC has reached out to Barnhart for comment multiple times. He has not responded.