The footage, which the party has confirmed looks “legitimate,” shows Singh stepping out of a car with Taranvir Dhaliwal, who works as an executive assistant for Singh’s brother, Gurratan – an NDP MPP.
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Neither Singh nor Dhaliwal wear masks, and the two share an embrace before walking away together.
Singh had attended an Iftar event in Mississauga with Dhaliwal before returning to Singh’s family home, where he lived with his parents and siblings throughout the pandemic.
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“Like most Canadians, I have done my best to follow public health advice. Coming back from this event, I did not do enough to follow this advice and I am sorry, ”Singh said in an emailed statement to Global News.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh apologizes for breaking COVID-19 rules
“I will do better to keep my family, our community and all Canadians safe. We cannot let our guard down if we are to beat this virus, and I am determined to keep doing my best until we are on the other side.
Both Dhaliwal and Singh are both vaccinated with one dose, the source added, although vaccinated Canadians are still currently required to follow the same rules as those who have not yet received their vaccines.
Speaking to Global News in an interview Thursday, Singh reiterated his apologies.
“I really hope that doesn’t deter anyone from wearing their mask and following public health protocols,” he said.
“And it’s a reminder, you know, sometimes we let our guard down, and I did, and I’m sorry.” “
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He said Dhaliwal is a volunteer that Singh works with “a lot, and also a friend”. This reality, Singh said, led him to let his guard down.
“I went back to the days before the pandemic where I greeted my friends with a hug or said goodbye with a hug,” he said.
“That’s what happens to a lot of us, sometimes we let our guard down at the end of the day, and I did and I apologize. “
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The Singh family chose to move in together to allow Singh to travel to Ottawa by car, and so he could help care for his parents, the source said.
Singh’s brother Gurratan tweeted about the living situation in January.
“For those who don’t know, months ago our family decided that Jagmeet & Gurkiran would live with Satvir, our parents and me for the pandemic,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Multigenerational homes are culturally common, helping Jagmeet get to Ottawa by car and avoid air travel during Wave 2. “
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Singh has residences in Ottawa and in his riding in British Columbia. The source said Singh had spent the summer as well as a few weeks vacation at his Burnaby home – when he was safe to do so and restrictions permitted.
“Instead of flying back and forth, which I think is a much higher risk, a lot of people said it was a higher risk… while there were lockdown orders, I said. I’ve avoided stealing as much as possible, almost entirely, ”Singh said.
However, he said he still spends as much time in his constituency as he can – and participates in virtual events.
“I was doing all the events I could,” Singh said.
“I just had a town hall a few days ago with some of the top doctors who responded to COVID-19 in Burnaby South. So a lot of events, a lot of virtual awareness. “
The NDP leader is not the first politician to be criticized for failing to comply with COVID-19 restrictions. Then-Tory leader Andrew Scheer came under heavy criticism after a photo of him unmasked at an airport emerged. Health Minister Patty Hajdu came under similar scrutiny when she was pictured unmasked in an airport lounge.
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Then Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips was also forced to resign from Cabinet after learning he took a Caribbean vacation as his own government publicly pleaded with citizens to stay at home . Several other politicians, provincial and federal, have been criticized for similar trips.
The NDP faced its own travel scandal when NDP MP Niki Ashton visited Greece during the pandemic. She had made the trip to care for a sick family member – but was still deprived of her critical role when news of her trip first broke.
“While we sympathize with Ms. Ashton’s situation and understand her need to be with her family, millions of Canadians follow public health guidelines, even when it is impossible for them to visit sick or aging relatives. », We read in a press release from the NDP, published in early January.
“Canadians rightly expect their elected representatives to lead by example. Although this is not a family vacation, Ms Ashton will be removed from her roles as a shadow critic. ”
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Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday before being made aware of the footage, Singh stressed the lingering risks of the pandemic.
“We are still in the middle of the pandemic. Things are still very unstable. We are seeing the numbers increase and a situation developing in Manitoba which is really worrying. We are seeing people who have to be sent to Ontario because the intensive care units in Manitoba are overrun, ”he said.
“Things are bad and we know there will be continued risks and fears until we are all vaccinated.”
– With files from Marc-André Cossette of Global News, Mercedes Stephenson and Mike Le Couteur
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