VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — A Victoria city councillor is the first known politician from B.C. to admit he travelled during the December holiday period, against COVID-19 recommendations.
On Tuesday, Coun. Sharmarke Dubow took to Twitter to apologize for visiting his family in East Africa — a trip he says he had been planning for years.
“[I] returned to East Africa for the first time since I fled the civil war in Somalia in 1992 as a child. I saw family members I hadn’t seen in more than three decades,” his tweet reads.
I made the poor choice to travel outside of the country over these past holidays. I apologize to my constituents. pic.twitter.com/HHDX9ALITN
— Sharmarke Dubow (@deardubow) January 6, 2021
While the councillor alleges he visited East Africa for the first time since he fled in the early ’90s, some questions are being raised about the legitimacy of the claim.
In a photo posted to Dubow’s Facebook, it appears he visited Ethiopia — a neighbouring country to Somalia — in 2019.
There are seemingly inconsistencies in Victoria city councillor @deardubow’s apology for leaving country during pandemic. He says it was first time back in East Africa since he fled as a child. On Facebook he appears to have visited Ethiopia in 2019: pic.twitter.com/787dokb5nP
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) January 6, 2021
Dubow says he followed public health guidelines while he was gone, took the COVID-19 test multiple times, and all have come back negative.
He arrived back in Canada on Jan. 4 and he says he is now in quarantine for 14 days at a hotel in Vancouver.
“Even with the extreme caution that I took, including the tests I paid for, I know now that I should not have gone. I understand that there is no good excuse,” he says.
“I acknowledge that I showed poor judgement by not leading by example in this case. I understand that many people made the difficult decision not to visit their families over the past number of months. I know now that I should have made the same decision. I am sorry and I am committed to doing better and working harder for all residents of Victoria.”
Dubow adds that he’s aware of the challenges, inequities and income disparities that exist and are only made more prominent because of the COVID-19 crisis.
“I know many of our community members are struggling right now and experiencing financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I will continue to champion for more affordable housing and equitable communities through working with my colleagues on council, community leaders, partners, and at all levels of government. I will continue my commitment to push for building a just and equitable future for all residents of Victoria. I am committed to continuing to represent all constituents, particularly those with less access to wealth and financial opportunities, in order to make sure that all residents are represented in decisions made by the city,” he says.
A number of politicians in Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and Saskatchewan have admitted to taking trips abroad in December as their constituents hunkered down at home, following public health guidance meant to curb the spread of the virus.
NEWS 1130 has reached out to Dubow and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps for comment.
– With files from Martin MacMahon