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Jan. 18, 2021 | Monday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Travelling in pandemic not a mistake. It was selfish

Dear editor:

As we appreciate Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips' action in doing the right thing and resigning his cabinet post over his Caribbean vacation during the pandemic, we have to pause at his explanation. For instance, he called it a dumb, dumb mistake. I have a hard time with the word mistake. 

Unless he mistakenly made airline and hotel reservations in St. Barts. Then he went out and mistakenly drove to the airport.

Another mistake was getting on an aircraft and travelling at 30,000 feet for several hours to a southern island. One would think that on disembarking he would have noticed he wasn't freezing a certain part of his anatomy off and realize he'd obviously made a big boo-boo by travelling out of Canada during a pandemic. 

Not to kick a man when he's down, but what his actions demonstrate wasn't a mistake at all but extremely poor judgment for an Ontario government leader. I would guess elitism also played a role in his decision. Not that it isn't a common mistake to think one is exceptional and then grant oneself an exception to the rules of a situation.

Mr. Phillips should know that we are all tired. Most of us would like a warm, southern vacation. But instead we mask up, sanitize, social distance and follow the rules.

Sadly, some selfish Canadians have also skirted the rules, shipped their cars over the border or all the way to Florida, and headed into one of the hottest pandemic zones in the U.S.

Knowing, of course, that if they contracted COVID-19 by their actions, their insurance company would quickly jet them out of Florida and back to Canada where our exhausted health care workers would have to deal with these people bearing a self-inflicted illness.

(I once wrote an article on an insurance company that exclusively served Canadian snowbirds and was told its primary goal was to get sick Canadians out of the U.S. and back to Canada where the Canadian health care system would pay for their treatment and not the insurance company. Of course, that didn't make it into the article.) 

While Mr. Phillips paid a price in his removal from cabinet, we can only hope that other leaders will lead by example and follow the rules without exception. No matter how exceptional they feel.

J. Richard Wright