Official Opposition Calls Hargrave’s Palm Springs debacle a “slap in the face” to Saskatchewan families

REGINA - Today, Leader of the Opposition Ryan Meili and Deputy Leader Nicole Sarauer called Highways Minister Joe Hargrave’s trip to Palm Springs over the Christmas vacation “a slap in the face” to Saskatchewan families who have made real sacrifices this Christmas.

“While Saskatchewan families have done what is right to help flatten the Covid-19 curve and protect each other, Joe Hargrave had other plans. Worse, the Premier knew about it,” said Meili. “The minister must return to Saskatchewan immediately. He and the Premier have serious questions they must answer about their judgement in this matter. They should make themselves available to answer those questions at the earliest opportunity.”

Meili noted that at a press conference on December 14 the Premier and Dr. Shahab laid out the public health measures that Saskatchewan families would be expected to abide by over the holidays and into 2021. These included:

  • Private, indoor gatherings will be limited to immediate household members only.
  • Single individuals are permitted to meet with one, consistent household of less than five individuals for the duration of the order. 

 In introducing these measures, the Premier said:

“So today as we approach the Christmas season and the end of the calendar year 2020, and with the promise of a vaccine on the horizon, I’m asking everyone: We have a few more miles to travel and we need to see this through together.”

“Parents had tough conversations with their kids about not being able to get together with family this year following this set of instructions - while Minister Hargrave was preparing to leave the country with the Premier’s full knowledge,” said Sarauer. “It’s not right that everyday families took these measures to heart, while the heart of the Sask. Party - its cabinet - did not.”

Here are several questions that Hargrave and the Premier must answer:

  • Were they aware that the page on the Saskatchewan government’s own website dedicated to international travel states: “The best way to protect yourself, your family, and those most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 in our communities is to choose to stay in Canada.”
  • Did he consider that Southern California has been struggling with high case-loads and stretched hospital capacity since early December when he approved of the minister’s decision to travel to Palm Springs during a pandemic?
  • Has the minister observed quarantine as required by Palm Springs since his arrival on December 22nd?
  • Why didn’t the minister simply handle the sale and moving of any personal materials remotely, as many families have done during this pandemic?
  • Did the minister have his family with him on this “essential” business trip?
  • Did any other Sask. Party cabinet ministers or MLA’s approach the Premier about proposed travel plans over the Christmas holidays and if so what was the Premier’s advice?