Milton Chan says that as a volunteer, he is exempt from party's travel restrictions. Staffers of the financially strapped party cry 'Nonsense!'
The order came down before Christmas from Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca that anyone hoping to run as a candidate in the upcoming provincial election would be prohibited from travelling out of country for sunny winter getaways. No exceptions.
But some had already made plans to travel, and they were in a bind. One candidate said she called the Ontario Liberals’ chief returning officer, Milton Chan, in December, to explain that she had already purchased expensive non-refundable tickets. Unbeknownst to her at the time, Chan was on his own sunny vacation at the time. Still, he informed her that the edict was clear: forget about the vacation or forget about being a Liberal party candidate.
At the time, Chan was roughly a week into a six-week South American Christmas vacation that included stopovers in Colombia, sunny beaches in Rio de Janerio and Miami, and a week-long Caribbean cruise. He was not a candidate and the order didn’t apply to him.
“I was told candidates would be removed if found travelling,” said the candidate, whom National Post agreed to grant anonymity to protect her from party retribution. “I lost $3,000 because my husband couldn’t go either.”
News of Chan sunning and partying down south while Liberal candidates were being made to stay home spread quickly through party ranks. It has fuelled tensions between certain party members and their leader, prompting some to question Del Duca’s judgment, just as the Liberals are preparing for a provincial election set to begin in the next few months.
Chan’s near-daily updates of his adventures posted to his publicly viewable Instagram account didn’t help.
Social media posts show he departed Toronto on Dec. 14 and returned home Jan. 26, just days after Del Duca called on Premier Doug Ford to take a stronger stand on the pandemic. Del Duca held a press conference calling not only for banning the unvaccinated from non-essential retail, including licensed cannabis shops and the LCBO, but also changing the criteria for fully vaccinated to three doses.