Saskatchewan cabinet minister in California to sell home, premier aware of trip

REGINA — A Saskatchewan cabinet minister says he is in California over the holidays to finalize the sale of a home.

Joe Hargrave, the highways minister and legislature member for Prince Albert Carlton, said in a statement Wednesday that he is in Palm Springs to finish selling personal property and to move things back to Saskatchewan.

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He made the decision to travel to "address personal business that I deemed necessary," he said.

His office added that he flew out of Saskatchewan on Dec. 22 and is isolating while in Palm Springs, where arrivals from out of state are asked to quarantine for 14 days.

After that quarantine and the completion of the property sale, Hargrave plans to drive his belongings back to Canada, although there is no set date, said a spokesman.

Hargrave also said in the statement that he told Premier Scott Moe of his travel plans and will self-isolate for another two weeks upon his return to Canada.

Moe said in a separate statement that he told Hargrave he expects him to follow required public-health advice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I expect that all members of cabinet and caucus follow all public health-orders and guidance," Moe said.

Saskatchewan has advised residents against travelling for non-essential purposes. In the fall, Moe told The Canadian Press that he decided against travelling to Ottawa for a meeting since he was telling people to avoid unnecessary travel.

A spokesman said Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Christine Tell was in California in the fall to be with a family member who was sick with an illness not related to COVID-19, and she self-isolated for 14 days once back in Canada.

Health Minister Paul Merriman, during a briefing about COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesday, said it is not his place to comment on Hargrave's trip.

"Everyone has their own judgment of what they feel is ... essential travel," he said.

"What I can say is I certainly didn't travel throughout the Christmas season. I was home with my wife in Saskatoon."

Politicians travelling abroad over the holidays has become an issue since it was discovered that Ontario's finance minister is in the Caribbean. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has ordered Rod Phillips to return as soon as possible.

Public disclosure statements from March show Hargrave is the joint owner of a personal vacation residence and a recreational residence, but they do not specify locations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2020

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