Phillips apologizes at Pearson Airport for "dumb, dumb mistake" but questions remain

Rod Phillips

Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips went straight from the arrivals door to a camera at Pearson Airport Thursday morning, apologizing in public for the first time regarding his now infamous Caribbean vacation. 

"I know that I disappointed a lot of people, I hope people appreciate I've disappointed no one more than myself," he said. 

Phillips arrived back from St. Barts Thursday morning, after revelations Tuesday he left the country on December 13th for a personal pre-planned trip. 

When asked what he was thinking, he said he's been asking himself that question as well, calling it a "dumb, dumb mistake."

"Obviously I made a significant error in judgement and I will be accountable for that," he said. 

But Phillips declined to elaborate more on why he still went on the trip. 

Phillips said in his first statement Tuesday that had he known about the province-wide lockdown coming in place December 26th, he would've cancelled. 

As for why he didn't discuss it with Ford, Phillips said the premier has more urgent matters at hand. 

"Premier Ford has far more important things to do than worry about the travel of his ministers or the people who work for him," he said. "This was my decision." 

Phillips' arrival comes a day after Ford himself revealed that while he wasn't informed of the trip beforehand, he did learn about it shortly after Phillips arrived overseas. ​

"My mistake and I take full responsibility. At that time, I should've said 'get your backside back into Ontario' and I didn't do that," Ford said. 

Phillips will speak with the premier today about his future, and says while he still feels he can contribute in cabinet, he understands the decision is ultimately Ford's. 

He also said he never meant to deceive the public with social media posts that gave the impression he was still in the province, saying pre-planned posts is a common thing for politicians to do. 

It's also unclear who in Phillips' inner circle and which staff knew about his departure and who didn't. 

"All I can do now is make that apology and move forward," he said.