Brampton-West MP Kamal Khera will step aside from her position as parliamentary secretary after travelling abroad over the holidays in order to attend a memorial for deceased family members.
In a statement posted to social media, Khera said that she was faced with the loss of her father in September, followed by the death of her uncle a few weeks later. A small memorial attended by less than 10 people was held in Seattle, Wash. was held for those who could not be there at the funerals, she said.
Khera returned to Canada on Dec. 31.
“Although the purpose of my travel is deemed essential under the circumstances, I have decided to step aside from my duties as parliamentary secretary to the minister of international development in an effort to ensure my choices do not distract from the important work of our government to continue battling the pandemic,” her statement read.
The Liberal MP was the first federal politician in Canada to test positive for COVID-19 back in March.
At the time, Khera, a registered nurse, said that she had signed up to help provide virtual medical care to patients after the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.
In the statement issued Sunday, Khera said that she also volunteered at a long-term care home hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My decision to run as a member of parliament was ultimately born from my desire to serve my community,” her statement said. “I am therefore choosing to focus my efforts on the most pressing concern in our fight against COVID-19; to ensure we are able to vaccinate as many people as possible, as fast as possible.”
“I hope to be able to do my part in the vaccine rollout where there may be nursing shortages, and will do this in addition to my role as member of parliament from Brampton-West."
Please see my statement below. pic.twitter.com/lUHLsewipD— Kamal Khera (@KamalKheraLib) January 3, 2021
Khera was first elected as an MP in 2015.
Several Canadian politicians have been under public scrutiny after leaving the country during the holidays despite public health advice to avoid non-essential travel amid the surge of COVID-19 cases.
Last week, Ajax MPP Rod Phillips resigned as Ontario’s finance minister following his secret Caribbean vacation.
Manitoba MP Niki Ashton lost her cabinet critic positions after she travelled to Greece to visit a family member who was seriously ill.
While Ashton reached out to officials for best practices, the party said Ashton did not notify leader Jagmeet Singh or the party whip of her plans.
In Alberta, at least eight United Conservative Party members were also found to have travelled outside the country for the holidays.
In response, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney issued an order on Friday forbidding all his caucus members and senior staff from travelling outside Canada.
On Saturday, CTV News learned that Calgary Signal Hill MP Ron Liepert travelled to California in March and during the current parliamentary break to deal with maintenance issues in his house at the state.
With files from CTV News Calgary and The Canadian Press