It really shouldn’t have been a surprise.
A long list of politicians and upper level bureaucrats disobeying "stay at home" policies across Canada became public following the holidays.
The attitude is not new.
We often see politicians operate from a "do as I say, not as I do" type of thinking.
But it’s still sad to see the list continue to grow.
Manitobans, and indeed Canadians were told multiple times to stay within their households during the Christmas season. We were advised that to slow the spread of COVID-19, we must not only avoid international and cross-country travel, but to stay away from our own relatives and family events that would normally take place, even within the same community.
We see the numbers, and we understand why that was necessary.
But our elected officials apparently saw something else.
They seem to have to all decided that as long as the masses don’t travel, it makes no difference if they do.
Senator Don Plett who originally hails from Landmark headed off to Mexico. He did four days of vacation before he says he reflected on his decision to travel and returned home.
He’s not the only one to make a poor holiday decision.
Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips took a holiday to St Barts. He later resigned.
Conservative MPs David Sweet and Ron Liepert got caught as well.
So did Manitoba NDP MP Niki Ashton who travelled to Greece to visit her sick grandmother.
Liberals Alexandra Mendes went to Portugal in August, Lyne Bessette vacationed in Mexico and Patricia Lattanzio went to Ireland.
In Manitoba, David McLaughlin, clerk of the executive council and former Brian Pallister campaign manager worked from his "immediate family member’s home" in Ontario for two weeks in December, without isolating on his return.
There were a variety of excuses and reasons offered for this behaviour.
Some were visiting ailing relatives, others were doing maintenance on homes in other jurisdictions, and others were simply on a holiday.
Some have apologized and some still don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.
This is not a partisan issue. Those who thought public health guidelines did not include them came from a variety of political parties and backgrounds.
This is simply about entitlement, a feeling that once you attain a certain stature that the rules simply don’t apply.
It’s disgusting, but not surprising.
While the focus has been on the politicians and top bureaucrats, they are by no means the only guilty parties in this.
A poll recently done by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that 48 percent of respondents visited with people from outside their households this holiday season.
Nearly half of Canadians chose to take the same ignorant attitude that we are shaming elected leaders for.
A total of 34 percent of respondents said they only did that once, 12 percent said they did it two or three times and two percent said they met with people from outside their household often.
The survey did not offer a geographical breakdown, so it’s not clear if those numbers are accurate across Canada, or if they are much higher or lower in certain regions.
One thing is sure. If those numbers were accurate in Manitoba, we will see the COVID numbers rise very soon.
So far we’ve had good news in total numbers.
In Southern Health we’ve seen a sharp decline in cases and deaths right after Christmas. Those numbers stabilized from last week to this week, but slight declines are still noted.
We are averaging about two deaths every three days, down from nearly two deaths a day in December.
Numbers of those in hospital have also dropped.
But we’re still a long way from being out of the woods. The vaccine campaign will slowly improve the numbers but it may be months before we see that reflected in the statistics.
We all need to commit to continuing our efforts, to wear masks, wash our hands, and only go out for essential items.
The new year has brought hope, but nothing has changed overnight. It would be all too simple to squander the progress made by relaxing too soon.
The politicians being raked over the coals deserve every ounce of scorn thrown their way.
But everyone must hold themselves and their loved ones accountable.
It’s selfish to break the rules even it means you get to spend time with loved ones. Enjoying a family Christmas while others held back says you care more about yourself than your fellow man.
We, like the politicians, may make excuses for our behaviour, but there is no rationale in which the person breaking the rules is in the right.
The provincial regulations, while not enjoyable, are simple and clear. It’s up to all of us to observe them.