Numerous politicians from and all levels of government and political stripes went on foreign vacations over the holiday season.
They put their comfort over the public health of their constituencies. In doing so, these representatives have proven themselves unsuitable for public office. Their roles and privileges should be revoked.
It has been a long, difficult year for everybody. One cannot be faulted for wanting to get away for some rest and relaxation. However, public safety should remain paramount. Those who forsake their duty to the public need to face stricter punishment.
For example, when Rod Phillips, Ajax MPP and now-former Ontario Finance Minister, left for the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s, he abandoned his post in a time of dire need for his and every community in Canada. While the government he served planned a lockdown and, the loss of income that entails for everyone else, he was collecting his salary from a beach.
This is a flagrant disregard of the trust Ajax and Ontario placed in Phllips, and the others who left the country such as Nikki Ashton, Tracey Allard and Pierre Arcand.
When it comes down to it, these elected politicians have but one responsibility: to advocate for their ridings.
This is difficult to do from Greece, or Hawaii, or Barbados. The ongoing global health crisis makes it impossible. Despite the adoption of Zoom and its imitators, business cannot be conducted from a resort with one’s full attention.
There is no riding in this country that sees sunshine and margaritas as more important than the health of their neighbours. The politicians who put their own comfort above their communities’ needs, show they cannot be trusted to serve those interests.
These reckless actions endanger the very people our MPs and MPPs are sworn to protect.
Our vacationing representatives have put themselves in the vulnerable position of travelling. It is impossible to say how many chances each had to encounter Covid-19, or how many people they would have infected if they contracted the virus.
It is more than possible they may, upon their return, infect the very people they represent. It has not been announced if any contracted the virus while abroad.
When Phillips returned to Canada, Premier Ford promised a “tough conversation.” While Phillips did resign from cabinet, he continues on as MPP despite calls for him to resign. As do the others who have the circumvented pandemic rules they made. He and others who have travelled, should be ejected from government.
The fact these MPs and MPPs continue to serve undermines government credibility at a time when Canadians need and deserve strong, cohesive leadership.
There are citizens who will see these leaders’ selfish examples and follow suit. This will serve as an excuse for many to ignore medical advice and guidelines like social distancing or wearing masks because, ‘If they don’t have to, neither do we.’
No one wants to see a pandemic election or even by-election, but as we can see from our southern neighbours, it is more than possible to elect new leaders, with record numbers of votes, while keeping voters safe.
We should demand the same process begin for those who have betrayed our public trust.
It’s time to contact our representatives demanding accountability.