The Alberta government’s recent scandal surrounding the travel plans of several of its members over the Christmas holidays is an embarrassing example of “do as I say, not as I do.”
The United Conservative Party has found itself embroiled in controversy for the last week, after news broke in late December 2020 and early January that several MLAs and government staff members travelled or vacationed internationally over the Christmas holidays – despite an advisory discouraging any non-essential travel being in effect.
It’s a scandal that has, quite rightly, outraged Albertans on both sides of the political spectrum. The backlash has even led to former Minister of Municipal Affairs Tracy Allard and five other MLAs losing their roles within the Alberta government, though they continue to hold public office.
While the travelling government members may have not broken any laws, jetting off to Hawaii, Mexico or Las Vegas in the midst of a global pandemic was blatantly hypocritical and elitist at a time when governments are urging people to follow health and safety directives to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Most Albertans have sacrificed their own travel plans and other liberties since the onset of the pandemic, so it’s a slap in the face when political leaders don’t feel the need to do the same.
It’s poor leadership that is not only disrespectful but sets a dangerous precedent. We would not be surprised if there is soon an uptick in Albertans planning trips abroad, with the mindset of, ‘If my MLA can go to Mexico, why can’t I?’
The travelling politicians and staffers all apologized afterward and said their trips were taken in poor judgment. We feel their real remorse was that they were caught.
The mantra people have heard repeatedly throughout the pandemic is, ‘we’re all in this together.’ But can that really be the case, if our political leaders – who we elect to lead by example – show a blatant disregard for the very rules and suggestions they ask of others?