Why do we care where our elected officials vacation?
In this past year, stories of Premier Brian Pallister or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vacationing abroad have appeared on a regular basis, with the obvious intent of fostering voters’ ire. After all, if we are stuck here in the frozen north, why are these two, among others, enjoying the warmth of southern climes?
With respect, I strongly urge readers to give these two a break. This is much ado about nothing.
As we all know, and has been crowed about by NDP supporters constantly, Pallister has a home in Costa Rica which he visits on a semi-regular basis. Why is that important to voters?
Well, the argument is that being out of the country might somehow be impacting Pallister’s job performance, but that argument doesn’t hold water. With the proliferation of high-speed Internet literally throughout the world, one suspects Pallister is rarely unable to be reached.
As one who has travelled to some far-flung destinations, let me say that modern telecommunications ensures I am seldom unreachable. Only two weeks ago, I was on a holiday with my daughter in Israel. There I was, in Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, talking to my office in Brandon about various work matters.
In other words, while we may be in distant locales, it might be argued that we are never really off the clock.
The same is true of Trudeau. Whether it is the Bahamas or St. Kitts and Nevis, the prime minister would have a highly sophisticated telecommunications structure that would guarantee his accessibility at all times.
(Simply speaking, my cellphone package cost me $10 daily for unlimited calls and texts back to Canada, and the same data as I use here in Canada. If I can figure this out, surely the prime minister and premier can do the same.)
Former PM Stephen Harper set a standard by paying for his family vacations when he left the country, but also by primarily vacationing at the government’s residence in the Gatineau Hills outside Ottawa. Obviously the costs would be significantly less when he chose to vacation close to the office, but this is a side issue meant to obfuscate the real issues and diminish these two politicians.
If you want to talk about hypocrisy, perhaps we should recall when former Quebec premier Robert Bourassa travelled to the United States to receive the latest in treatments for his cancer. This Liberal believed that Quebec’s health-care system was appropriate for other people, but when it came to his own care, clearly a two-tier system was what he needed.
Bourassa ultimately passed away due to this disease, but that doesn’t diminish the facts of the case — less fortunate Quebecers were consigned to use a health-care system that Bourassa deemed insufficient to meet his needs.
This decision, and ones similar made by other leaders, is far more germane to the lives of ordinary Canadians than some silliness about vacation destinations.
Does anyone happen to think former premiers Gary Doer and Greg Selinger never vacationed out of the country? Or that previous prime ministers never sought a warm weather vacation? Methinks this outrage is a tad rich and, respectfully, manufactured.
If we have determined that our political leaders are deserving of added scrutiny for their vacations, what are we saying about people who are actually important to our lives? For example, should your doctor be allowed to vacation? What happens if you get sick? Should he/she be on instant call? Let’s get serious and talk about real issues, please.
When you find yourself wondering why more "good people" don’t go into public service, maybe consider the outrage being shown toward Pallister and Trudeau. Ask yourself if you’d like to face similar, petty scrutiny for your vacation choices.