PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — Saskatchewan’s former highways minister says he wishes he could take back a trip he took to California over the Christmas holidays while people were told to stay home and avoid family gatherings.
Joe Hargrave, who is the member of the legislature for Prince Albert, has apologized for the trip to Palm Springs and resigned from cabinet earlier this week.
Hargrave says it was not a vacation holiday but a decision by him and his wife to sell their house there.
He has been strongly criticized for the trip and the Opposition NDP has accused him of lying about the intent of the journey when he initially said he was finalizing a house sale.
The NDP’s ethics critic has pointed to a real estate listing that shows the house wasn’t listed until Boxing Day — four days after the Hargraves left for Palm Springs.
NDP leader Ryan Meili called Hargrave’s cross-border trip “a Christmas vacation” and a “slap in the face” to Saskatchewan families who made sacrifices over the holidays.
Hargrave said he was just worried about the house.
“You know hindsight is 20/20 and now I wish I hadn’t gone but you know we felt at the time our home there was vacant 10 months and probably going to be vacant another 10 months or a year and we should sell it before something happens to it, like somebody breaks-in,” he said Friday.
Hargrave refuted the NDP’s contention that he was on a holiday and said he did not appreciate the misinformation spread around about his family on social media.
“It just gets carried away as to what I was up to, that my whole family was down there and we were partying,” he said.
“We (Hargrave and his wife) isolated the whole time we were in California and we isolated here.”
Premier Scott Moe previously confirmed that he knew about the trip beforehand.
When it came to the decision to later step down as minister of highways, Hargrave said he and the premier had several discussions.
“We came to a mutual decision that I should step down from my role as minister and I’m fine with that because I’ll still be working hard for my constituents in Prince Albert, and I’ll also work hard for the province.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 8, 2021
Nigel Maxwell, paNOW, The Canadian Press