Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Finance Minister Rod Phillips trade places at the microphone during an announcement in Ajax, Ont., on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Finance Minister Rod Phillips trade places at the microphone during an announcement in Ajax, Ont., on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Painful Truth: Political egos feel free to fly from COVID restrictions

The backlash against vacationing politicians is richly deserved

The most frightening question a Canadian politician can hear isn’t “What are you going to do to earn my vote?” or “How are you going to fix everything?” or even “What’s your position on Israel?”

The most terrifying question is “Do you think you’re better than me?”

By the time people are asking that, they already have a pretty good idea of the answer, and things are not going well for the elected official.

We got to see a truly astounding example of this in action across federal, provincial, and party lines this week.

A whole lot of politicians, it turns out, felt like they had perfectly good reasons to fly abroad during a pandemic in which all Canadians have been told, repeatedly, to curtail non-essential travel.

The fury started in Ontario, where it was revealed that the Conservative finance minister had decided to go for a holiday in ritzy St. Barts.

The outbreak of political stupidity saw its worst superspreader event in Alberta, which as of this writing is up to seven cabinet ministers, MLAs, and senior staffers who have all either resigned or been stripped of their posts and positions.

But there have also been Conservative, Liberal, and NDP MPs and at least one senator who have travelled. The list is up to a dozen or so now, and could grow.

What the heck were they thinking?

In a few cases, they were travelling to see loved ones in hospital, or to attend funerals – and while that’s understandable, how many of their constituents have weighed the risks, considered the warnings, and not gone to a funeral in the last year?

The others – well, for the most part it was vacations. Alberta’s ex-cabinet minister Tracy Allard’s explanation that family trips to Hawaii are a “family tradition” seemed perfectly designed to elicit zero sympathy. Oh, we’re so sorry you might miss out on your traditional tropical vacation, while back home we didn’t even get to gather to exchange presents and eat turkey together!

Canadians have been remarkably united during the pandemic – the vast majority of the country supports distancing, supports financial aid for citizens and businesses, supports masking, and are eager to get the vaccine.

We’ve been told to do our part, and the vast majority of us have.

So politicians shouldn’t be surprised when a non-partisan wave of anger rolls right over them.

And yet they are.

The overlap between “politicians” and “people who think they’re above the rules” isn’t 100 per cent, but it’s higher than average. It takes a bit of an ego to stand up and say “Pick me, pick me, I’m the best person!”

That’s why this outrage is kind of satisfying for me.

We’re scaring them. They’re being demoted, losing posts. This is definitely going to haunt some of them come the next election.


They need to learn the answer to the question “Do you think you’re better than me?” is always, unequivocally, forever, “No, you aren’t.”

AlbertaColumnCoronavirusFederal PoliticsOpinion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mark Chandler, outside of his extradition hearing at the Vancouver Supreme Court. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley condo builder’s fraud sentencing in U.S. delayed due to COVID-19

Mark Chandler’s own lawyer contracted COVID-19 in December

People have noticed pine siskins dying in the area, part of a trend of larger numbers of the finch flocking to the area about every five years. The larger numbers result in crowding and increased spread of salmonella. (Wikipedia photo)
Langley birdwatchers seeing dead finch species in higher numbers

Pine siskins are in the area in larger numbers. They are prone to salmonella which is fatal for them

Electric charging stations, like this one outside the new North Delta Centre for the Arts, might be seeing more commercial delivery vehicles using them soon, if a provincial rebate program takes off. (James Smith photo/Special to Black Press Media)
Restaurants to get big rebates for electric delivery vehicles

The project boosts the rebates for electric commercial and industrial vehicles in B.C.

The CubicFarm System moves rows of leafy greens through a system calibrated to grow the perfect crop. (cubicfarms.com)
Veritcal farm company based in Pitt Meadows, Langley raises millions

The company has raised more than $15 million from investors

Langley Thunder (Black Press Media files)
Langley Thunder trades for Maple Ridge’s Cody Malawsky

BC Junior A Lacrosse League draft was held remotely on Thursday, Jan. 14

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

The Delta Hospice Society operates the Harold & Veronica Savage Centre for Supportive Care (pictured) and the Irene Thomas Hospice in Ladner. (The Canadian Press photo)
Fraser Health to evict Delta Hospice Society, open new hospice beds next door

Health authority will serve DHS 30 days’ notice when service agreement expires Feb. 25

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read