Elected officials, both here on Vancouver Island and across the country, have come under fire in recent days because of out-of-country trips they took during the Christmas holiday season.
These excursions have resulted in serious consequences.
Some of the officials exposed for violating their own government’s public travel protocols in response to COVID-19 have resigned or been removed from cabinet or caucus roles. In other cases, the individuals and the party leadership have faced a backlash from the public.
Victoria Coun. Sharmarke Dubow returned from a trip to East Africa on Jan. 4 while Metchosin Coun. Kyara Kahakauwila travelled to Mexico in early December for the wedding of a business partner. While both of the Greater Victoria councillors followed all necessary protocols and didn’t contravene any restrictions put in place by their councils, each now faces calls for their resignation.
The level of criticism should not come as a surprise. Those in public office come under intense scrutiny, not only for their decisions but for their behaviour as well.
An elected official, whether at the municipal, provincial or federal level, is held to a higher standard than the rest of the public. Those who are serving in governing roles are expected to follow both the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. This is true at all times, but especially during a time of crisis.
Since mid-March, 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have been asked to make sacrifices and cancel family gatherings. While a few have defied these orders and directives, the majority have complied.
The restrictions and directives are in place to slow the spread of a pandemic now in its second wave. But these measures require compliance from the vast majority.
If Canadians are being asked to make sacrifices, it is essential that those in leadership also follow the same restrictions and directives. In times of crisis, the responsible course of action for those in leadership is to lead by example.
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