No holidays for me means no holidays at all
By Matthew Fraser, Opinions Editor
For months Canadians have been implored to stay home to flatten the curve or prevent further spread, why should our politicians be treated differently?
From March until this very day it has been clearly stated that travel is permitted on a strictly-essential basis. We have all known and mostly accepted that you likely should not go visit grandma in Edmonton or siblings in Montreal. Consequently, many have missed the births of nieces and nephews, many have lost the opportunity to say goodbye to a treasured loved one, and just about everyone has lost the ability to travel for leisure. Just about, but not everyone.
Now, I—like most other people—can feel a compassionate response to NDP Niki Ashton who traveled to Greece for her grandmother’s last moments, and I certainly empathize with familial losses and do not wish to see these moments stolen from people. However, knowing that many Canadians have been prevented from seeing their family members’ final rites, it’s hard for me to extend any special leeway to Ashton in her situation. For months Canadians have been implored to stay home to flatten the curve or prevent further spread—why should our politicians be treated differently? Likewise, two Liberal MPs made trips outside of Canada for memorial services and sick visits. PM Trudeau expressed his disappointment with these compassionate travels by stating that: “The actions of any one person can have a positive or a negative benefit on the health situation of your neighbour.” It’s little comfort to know how much dispassion we have accepted in our society.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has had to fire, accept resignations from, or otherwise discipline seven staffers for their travels abroad during the holiday season. This is only after Kenny faced public backlash for initially declining to discipline anyone of course. Preceding this, Alberta became the province with the most active cases in the country. So, while many hunkered down and Zoom chatted loved ones, Tracy Allard was regaling in Hawaii. Simultaneously, Jamie Huckabay (Premier Kenny’s chief of staff) was vacationing in the UK. Better still, when Huckabay was making his way back, he had to detour through the US as Canada had already halted all flights from the UK due to the new strain of COVID-19. It’s great to know how little various members of the Conservative Party care about the health of their neighbours.
Did I say earlier that travel has been discouraged for just about—but not quite—everyone?
Some people were clever, or at least thought they were. Conservative politician Rod Phillips pre-recorded a message in front of his fireplace while holding a prop book and festive eggnog to release while he vacationed in French St. Barts. Phillips resigned once his deception was revealed. Don Plett, the now former head of the ethics committee—
who once asked our PM if there was a separate set of rules that Trudeau followed—went to Mexico after acknowledging how drastically the year had altered peoples traditional holiday plans. Apparently, shortly after his arrival he reconsidered his actions, felt terrible, and returned immediately.
Dear reader, I hope you are more convinced of this than I am.
Canadian comedian Andrew Barr joked that the government-imposed travel restrictions on us so that we wouldn’t encounter them on vacation. It certainly feels like that’s the truth.