Oakville Mayor Rob Burton has resigned from the Halton Police Board after telling Police Chief Steve Tanner that it would be OK for him to travel to Florida over the holidays.
Burton, who was the chair of the board, made the announcement in a statement issued late Monday afternoon.
In it, he said that he is now “deeply regretful for my response to the chief's proposed trip.”
“I regret sincerely that I focussed at the time on the ways the chief's trip qualified as essential travel,” he said. “I should have recommended against it because it could generate public concern about me not setting a higher example than the rules and guidelines actually called for.”
Tanner released a statement last week confirming that he did travel south “to address some personal business matters” but did so with “with the knowledge and support” of Burton.
Tanner, however, conceded that making the trip despite advice from public health officials against non-essential travel was a “poor decision” that he now “deeply regrets.”
News of the trip surfaced in the wake of several other officials, including former Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips and the president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System, being forced to resign after their own decisions to travel outside the country during a global pandemic became public.
The trip also coincided with the death of a Halton police officer who suffered a medical episode while on duty, leaving Tanner unable to support his grieving officers in person.
“Chief Steve Tanner informed me in advance of his travel to tend to a property matter. I had no objection. Chief Tanner continues to have my full confidence,” Burton told CP24 after the trip became public. “The chief leads our police service in an exemplary manner and will continue to do so.”
In a statement provided to CP24 earlier on Monday, the Halton Police Board said that it will be holding a special meeting on Friday “to obtain legal advice” in response to “concerns regarding Chief Tanner’s recent travel.”
The board says that it will then deal with the matter at its next public meeting on Jan. 28th.