Dubow apologizes to fellow Victoria council members in second meeting back from out-of-country vacation

Dubow apologizes to fellow Victoria council members in second meeting back from out-of-country vacation
File photo.
Sharmarke Dubow

Victoria city council member Sharmarke Dubow apologized to his fellow council members during a meeting on Thursday for taking a vacation to Africa amidst a pandemic.

Other than a social media post in early January, this is the first time Dubow has spoken about the trip, but it’s not the first meeting he’s participated in since it was found that he had taken an out-of-country vacation to Somalia and Kenya back in December.

In last week’s meeting, Dubow was fairly quiet, joining virtually presumably from the Vancouver hotel where he was quarantining.

One week later, Dubow took the opportunity to address the mayor and other members of the council, while still attending virtually.

“I let you down. The decision I made to travel last month, against the advice of the public health orders, was wrong and I am sorry,” said the councillor.

Mayor Lisa Helps had previously said it was both “disappointing and irresponsible” of her fellow colleague to leave the country when so many Victorians were making such sacrifices this to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Although he acknowledged that it was a mistake to go, he explained his reasoning as to why he went.

“I considered my travel to be essential. I went to Somalia and Kenya to support some of my family members, with their personal and economic wellbeing and tried to provide additional support to them during this very difficult time,” said Dubow.

The councillor fled Somalia in 1992 when he was eight years old because of the civil war, but many members of his family remained in the country.

He said they depended on him for financial support, even before the pandemic, but COVID-19 has made everything harder.

“I didn’t want to wait till the end of the pandemic, and I was hoping that my family would still be alive,” said Dubow on Thursday.

“My desire to see my family was not unique, however, in choosing to travel at this time, I made the wrong choice. My family needs my care and compassion, but like many others, I need to find other ways to provide that care and support until we can be together again.”

He apologized to the mayor and council, acknowledging how many of them have received calls, emails and messages from the public regarding his decision to travel out of the country.

“It has added to your workloads and I regret my actions have been a distraction from important work the city is doing. I should have shared my plans with my colleagues and council and provided you with more background on my travel plans and my motivation for doing so,” said Dubow.

On his arrival, he quarantined for the mandatory two weeks and says he’s had extra COVID-19 tests to ensure he is not endangering anyone else on his return to Victoria.

Although there has been heavy pressure from the public asking him to resign, Dubow says he has no plans to step down.

“Choosing to travel over the holidays I have cost you to question your confidence in me. I have lost your trust, over the coming weeks and months I will be working hard to earn the trust back,” said the councillor.

Other Victorians are urging him to donate his salary from the time he was abroad, as well as the time it took him to quarantine, but Dubow did not comment on these ideas in the Thursday meeting.

READ MORE: Resident calls for Victoria councillor to donate salary while abroad

Dubow has not responded to any request for comment from CHEK News.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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