It is hard to put into words at best, how poor the optics look on this whole Alberta ministers traveling outside of Alberta controversy.
It is the ultimate in undermining of rules which are supposed to save lives.
The publicly-pressured forced contriteness from some of these MLAs isn’t even registering with many supporters, and Kenney cancelled a scheduled news conference to announce on Facebook Jan. 4, without media able to ask questions, the demotions (read: less work) and resignations of the chief of staff.
If anything was going to be done, it should have been right away when it was blatantly posted on social media by a few of the guilty parties. MLAs Tracy “17-year tradition in Hawaii” Allard and Pat Rehn posted shots from Mexico on his Facebook page. Calgary MLA Tany Yao who wasn’t answering calls while in Mexico finally expressed remorse Jan. 5.
According to a Jan. 5 story in the Fort McMurray Today newspaper, he wanted to “disconnect” because he had a tough year.
Someone who has been unemployed for a while who hasn’t been able to visit loved ones “may” lack sympathy for someone enjoying a six-figure salary, on vacation in Mexico.
Kenney cancelled a news conference Jan. 4 and wasn’t around Jan. 5 either to say that he accepted the resignations of Allard as Municipal Affairs minister and his chief of staff Jamie Huckaby. Even with the removal of duties for MLAs Jeremy Nixon, Jason Stephen, as well as Tanya Fir, Yao and Rehn, it still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of voters — the worst.
The public is getting so used to being lied to, forced to follow rules which now are clearly double standards, cynicism has not only set in but is the norm.
Social media while full of pure hatred and rage is also full of extreme sarcasm.
When Fir, the former tourism minister is one of the MLAs who was outside the mockdown, oops sorry, lockdown (in Vegas), is the featured MLA in numerous posts of summer government tourism video encouraging people to spend their tourism dollars in Alberta, it is nothing but sarcasm fodder.
So what happened? As much as seething critics say it is stupidity or supporters would point to unfortunate oversights, it just comes down to elitist entitlement.
Do you really need Kenney to send strictly-worded personal memos to these well paid, well-educated, political insiders who are grown adults about not going to Mexico, Hawaii, Arizona etc.? COVID-19 regulations rules are marked on the government website, it is all anyone in Alberta or anywhere else for that matter is talking about.
No one can be that intellectually deficient to figure this wasn’t a bad decision.
What kind of conscience, or lack thereof does it take for one human to boldly ignore provincial regulations, justifying that they weren’t doing anything illegal, but knowing that there are front line workers who are trying to save lives through their jobs in the medical, long-term care and law enforcement fields?
Maybe they forgot about all of those people who have been following the provincial standards to the letter, through common sense and sacrifice who didn’t visit relatives or loved ones because they understood it was the right thing to do: both healthwise and morally.
No one can prove if Kenney actually gave them their blessing or not, but it comes down to the fact it is a bunch of self entitled “spoiled rich kids” posing as responsible adults, figuring they live without consequences. It is difficult to believe that the leader of this province didn’t know that two of his top aides were leaving to travel outside of Alberta.
It all reeks of the highest level of hypocrisy. If Kenney did know then he has created instant mistrust amongst his colleagues. It will make for some rather interesting future UCP caucus meetings.
Politics aside, the huge problem facing the government and poor Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw is that not only have you given them a farmer-sized petroleum storage tank worth of fuel for those anti-maskers to bleat out “if the government isn’t following the rules, why should I?” arguments, but you have also completely professionally disheartened the people on the front lines who are working in the overflowing city hospitals, which are about to get busier with the post Christmas-rush of new COVID cases, as well as law enforcement which you have told to hand out tickets and/or arrest people breaking the law. They unfortunately will deal directly with the push back from the public and they will be the ones to pay.
Resignations and demotions aside, any minute trust that was there in the majority of the public’s eyes is now severely damaged if not obliterated. People’s emotions are already raw from COVID-induced stress; adding in white hot resentment is not a good mix.
This editorial originated in the Prairie Post.