The Alberta government's leadership has exhibited yet another example of “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Earlier this month, a photo went viral of Premier Jason Kenney and some of his United Conservative Party colleagues dining on a rooftop patio. The photo showed Kenney, three cabinet ministers and a staff member seated around a table atop what is known as the “Sky Palace” in an Edmonton high rise, seated less than two metres apart and not wearing masks.
While the photo was not the most egregious example of COVID-19 rules being broken, it did exhibit hypocrisy and a double standard when it comes to following health and safety directives. It wasn't as bad as when multiple government members travelled to tropical destinations last Christmas, but it showed government officials flouting the very rules they've set out for others to follow.
It took a week of media backlash before Kenney apologized for the gathering, and only after multiple UCP cabinet ministers and MLAs – including two from Rocky View County-based ridings – criticised the photo and called on him to apologize. Even then, his apology sought to cover up the transgression with the excuse that he thought the gathering was compliant with the rules established under Stage 1 of the government's relaunch strategy. It's not a great look when the person who is setting the rules does not himself have a clear understanding of them.
So much has been asked of Albertans throughout this pandemic. For more than a year now, people have had to give up seeing their loved ones, partaking in their favourite activities and, in many cases, the ability to make a living for their families. Businesses have either shut down or been asked to modify their operations in order to keep employees and customers safe from contracting COVID-19. In many cases, these modifications have come at a significant expense.
The least our government leaders can do is lead by example and follow those same rules.