Since the beginning of the pandemic, federal and provincial governments have strongly advised everyone to avoid all non-essential travel inside or outside of Canada. The strong message for Canadians was, and still is, to “stay home.”
However, politicians seem to think that the rules don’t apply to them. More than a dozen political leaders and political aides have travelled despite lockdowns and rising COVID-19 cases in provinces.
At the beginning of January, news broke out that Rod Phillips, former Ontario Finance Minister, flew to the island of St. Barts in the Caribbean for Christmas. According to an article by CTV News Toronto, his office posted regularly on his social media while he was gone — this made it appear as if he was in Ontario the whole time.
Premier Doug Ford knew that Phillips was away, but didn’t immediately order him back home when he found out. Phillips resigned after he got back on Dec. 31.
A leader, let alone a political leader, shouldn’t be in any position of power if they can’t obey the same orders they’re trying to get the public to follow. It simply shows that they can’t be trusted as good ambassadors of the public.
Since the media reported on Phillips’ trip, a growing list of the politicians that travelled during the holidays has accumulated. Several provincial leaders and staffers in Alberta have travelled to various destinations over the holidays, such as Hawaii, Mexico, Las Vegas, and the United Kingdom. Other political leaders in Quebec have also travelled to Barbados, Ireland, Peru, and Mexico. Unfortunately, the list goes on when you include Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Even a few political aides in B.C. travelled outside of Canada.
It’s concerning when politicians can’t lead by example and follow the travel advisories. Although some sympathy can be shown towards a few who visit ailing relatives, any non-essential travel shouldn’t be condoned.
One’s political role doesn’t make their reason for travel any more justified, especially during a pandemic. According to CTV News Vancouver Island, Victoria city councillor Sharmarke Dubow visited his family in East Africa for the holidays. He stated that he saved for this trip for years and hadn’t seen his family since 1992. That’s touching, but if he waited this long to go see his family, he could’ve waited until conditions were a lot better.
Thousands of Canadians chose not to travel to see loved ones, so this is a slap in the face to them. It’s selfish and uncalled for. Politicians aren’t above the law.
When healthcare workers are putting themselves at risk, it’s also disrespectful to them when someone doesn’t follow public advisories. These politicians could’ve easily put others at risk of getting the COVID-19. That’s exactly why the government continues to advise people not to travel if it’s unnecessary.
The fact that some politicians chose to leave the country for property maintenance purposes is absurd. At least a handful of them decided to travel to their other homes, including former Saskatchewan Party MLA and Highway Minister Joe Hargrave. According to CBC News, Hargrave made a trip to Palm Springs, California to finalize the sale of his house, although it wasn’t even for sale until Dec. 26. — four days after he arrived in Palm Springs. This can only mean that he went there for some extra time in the sun. How nice.
It’s hard to believe that so many politicians were so reckless to make non-essential trips during a pandemic. Perhaps they thought they wouldn’t be caught. Just because these politicians are in positions of power, it doesn’t mean they’re exempt from the law. Each time one of them travelled, they showed personal entitlement. On a greater scale, they’ve shown that they cannot lead with wisdom and integrity.