Rod Phillips Return From St. Barts, Will Discuss His Political Future With Ford

Rod Phillips Return From St. Barts, Will Discuss His Political Future With Ford
Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips looks on as he delivers baked goods and coffee to frontline health workers at Humber River Hospital ahead of the Ontario budget during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Nov. 5, 2020. (The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)
The Canadian Press

TORONTO—Ontario's finance minister says his future in cabinet is up to Premier Doug Ford after returning from a controversial Caribbean vacation on Thursday.

Rod Phillips arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport Thursday morning after taking a holiday in St. Barts, despite provincial guidelines urging people to avoid non-essential travel.

He said he wants to keep his job, but he will respect Ford's decision following what the premier said would be a "very tough conversation" between the two.

"There's very important work that still needs to be done, and I'd like to continue to be a part of that. But I do understand, people are angry, they deserve to be angry, I have to earn back their confidence," Phillips told reporters on Thursday after arriving at the airport.

Phillips has been in St. Barts since Dec. 13 and will quarantine in Ajax, Ont., for 14 days starting Thursday.

He said Ford had not yet asked for his resignation as of Thursday morning, but it would likely be discussed later that day.

Ford said Wednesday he wasn't told about the trip ahead of time, but did learn about it shortly after it began, and should have demanded Phillips return immediately.

He said it's "unacceptable" for any public official to ignore the province's COVID-19 guidelines.

Phillips said earlier this week he chose to go ahead with the trip not knowing the province would be placed under lockdown on Boxing Day.

He said again on Thursday that he regrets his decision and understands that he needs to earn back the public's confidence.

"It was a significant error in judgment, a dumb, dumb mistake," Phillips said. "Again, I apologize for it, I regret it, but all I can do now is make that apology and move forward."Ontario's finance minister