It’s official – almost

The inevitable march towards turning into an old guy is becoming more apparent.

This past month, whether in correspondence or chats, I found myself using cliches and telling stories to get a point across.

It is almost official: I am turning into my dad. That isn’t all bad.

Despite some impatience as a younger man listening to stories that didn’t seem to have much to do with anything, that long ago imparted wisdom is drawn on now with regularity. There’s usually a story to cover most instances providing a teaching moment for someone younger. Instead of simply telling it like is, stories help people understand and gain perspective.

The recent reach back into the memory bucket was an oft repeated phrase – “the human mind can rationalize anything.” The specifics of that original discussion point escape me right now, but that phrase proved a suitable answer to a naive query at work: “Why would politicians believe it was okay to travel over the holidays, during a pandemic?”

Excuses abound in efforts to rationalize breaking the rules. Visiting an ill family member, needing a break, checking on property… these are all talking points for discussion, but not one of those reasons can answer the larger question. “Why it is okay for some and not all to break with requests to stay at home?” Rationalizing a trip out of country as a “lapse of judgement” really doesn’t cut it. It wouldn’t be a leap to suggest they just didn’t give a hoot. A charitable line of thinking might accept they are human and imperfect.

Everyday Canadians have done their best to honour rules, but their patience is wearing thin. This episode does not help morale at all. In fact, recent polling suggested nearly half of Canadians engaged in holiday visits that were in excess of recommended gathering sizes. The infamous bubbles we have been strongly encouraged to use to stop the spread, were breached in one out of two homes this past holiday. The impact of those visits will reveal itself as new statistics flow. In the meantime, we wait.

Since the pandemic began, this newspaper has strongly encouraged residents to adhere to recommendations by public health, the premier and prime minister. That was the right thing to do then and remains so, but this holiday business poses as a bit of a game changer.

Politicians thumbing their nose at citizens by engaging in non-essential travel open the door to suspicion about a host of things. It speaks to a “specialness” that rubs everyday folks the wrong way.

During these past few months the economic impact on average Canadians has been tough. The severity of those impacts has been harder on different socio-economic classes than others.

Government jobs, civil servants, teachers, big company employees with work-at-home options? We hazard to guess few of those have lost a nickel in wages. Fair enough and good on those career choices.

Contrast that with small businesses, mom and pop shops, personal service sector industries, hospitality jobs – these workers and small employers have been taken to the limit. Apart from a few isolated cases, they have followed the rules to the letter of the law, put on their game face and made the most of their options, only to be shut down again. And yes, there are programs which they may or may not qualify for, but the point is these are very real COVID casualties.

These senseless travel junkets by the political class only throw salt in the wounds of already hurting people. COVID has exposed so many weaknesses in the institutions citizens rely on that it would be no surprise to see a nation-wide inquest into the pandemic response.

Until that time, leaders need to get it together and show some respect for law abiding citizens. Rationalizing shortcomings as lapses in judgement will not pass muster. We deserve better than that.