Double standards? PM and Scheer merit sympathy for wish to be with their families

At a time when the issues surrounding how governments and society should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding health and economic crisis, one can never underestimate the propensity for silly and shallow commentary.

And the media also pays far too much attention to these superficial issues.

I am sympathetic with political leaders who want to spend time with their families during these difficult times and do not find the actions by the PM and Andrew Scheer to be unreasonable.

As unfortunately to be expected, some Conservative commentators commentators can’t resist the temptation to take aim at PM Trudeau’s going to Harrington Lake to be with his family.

And also, as expected, no sooner than their commentary and tweets are out the corresponding story regarding Andrew Scheer travelling back to Ottawa with his family on a government jet along with two MPs in a confined 9 passenger jet.

Just as previous columns expressing outrage over PM Trudeau’s personal staff were undermined by revelations of Scheer’s excessive compensation for personal expenses (paid by the Conservative party).

As Norman Spector suggested in a tweet, the government could have reduced the risk by sending a separate plane for Scheer and his family despite the additional cost.

The more egregious examples are below, starting the Candice Malcolm:

While ordinary Canadians are facing hefty fines for breaking coronavirus-related public health orders, it appears that the same rules don’t apply to the prime minister and his family.

On Sunday Sophie Grégoire Trudeau posted pictures of herself with Justin Trudeau and their children on Instagram taking part in Easter festivities. According to the advice of public health officials, Trudeau violated the government’s social distancing rules.

“Even though families across the country are having to get a little creative and celebrate a bit differently this year, we’re all in this together,” Grégoire Trudeau wrote on Instagram.

Since March 29, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and their children have been living in Harrington Lake, Que. while Justin Trudeau has remained in Ottawa.

As Justin Trudeau and his wife and children now live in separate households, the family should be practicing social distancing.

Social distancing means that individuals should avoid contact with those that live outside their household, including family members.

On Friday Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told Canadians celebrating Easter and Passover to stay home this year.

“We need to not let down our guard. The safest plan for your holidays is a staycation for the nation,” she said.

Dr Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, added that celebrations should be limited to members of your household.

On April 1 the government of Quebec introduced strict travel restrictions across the province, including police checkpoints to prevent unnecessary travel in and out of Quebec.

Since the restrictions began, police have prevented 2,300vehicles from crossing the Ottawa-Gatineau border.

How Justin Trudeau’s trip to the family retreat in Harrington Lake would be considered necessary travel is not clear.

On Friday a family of four in Oakville was fined $880 for rollerblading in a parking lot of a community centre. The family says there was no indication anywhere that they were not allowed to be in the area.

In recent weeks hundreds of Canadians have also been fined for breaking public health orders, most of them for not following social distancing rules.

Source: Double standard: Trudeau violates social distancing rules

And the similar if not plagiarized one by Brian Lilley:

Justin Trudeau showed once again on Easter weekend that he doesn’t play by the same rules as everyone else, not even the rules he tell us to follow.

It was just last Friday that the PM was telling the whole country during his daily address that you couldn’t go see family for Easter.

“This weekend is going to be very different. You’ll have to stay home. You’ll have to Skype that big family dinner and the Easter egg hunt,” Trudeau said, standing outside of Rideau Cottage on the grounds of Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

That statement was followed up by this one.

“During the long weekend, we will all have to stay home. We cannot have gatherings for dinner and we’ll have to be creative to organize an Easter egg hunt inside the house,” Trudeau said.

So what did he do this weekend?

He got in his motorcade, with his full entourage, on Saturday afternoon and drove to the PM’s summer residence at Harrington Lake. From one cottage to the other, it is about 27 kilometers, it crosses a provincial boundary and goes through at least three municipalities.

In other words, Trudeau did exactly the opposite of what he, his own medical experts and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec have been saying. Ontario’s Doug Ford and Quebec’s Francois Legault have told people not to go to the cottage and to stay in our primary residence.

This is all part of flattening the curve we are told and making sure we don’t spread the virus. Quebec has even imposed travel restrictions within the province and for more than a week now, people trying to cross from Ottawa into Gatineau have been turned back unless they are essential workers.

No visiting the cottage, no shopping, no visiting family, no going on a drive through Gatineau Park. If you don’t live there, you are turned back.

Trudeau lives by different rules, though.

In normal times I would get this. I don’t begrudge him the fact that he travels with a big entourage; I get that being PM carries risks most of us can’t dream of. That said, these are not normal times.

Most of us would have loved to have visited family this weekend but we didn’t. We stayed home.

My parents are a short drive away and yet I have not seen them since they got back from Florida more than three weeks ago and I won’t see them soon.

Health officials warn against visiting anyone that you don’t already live with.

We are told time and again, including by Trudeau, that these are the sacrifices we have to make to fight COVID-19. On Saturday — just before he hopped in the motorcade and broke all the rules — Trudeau invoked the sacrifice of the men at Vimy Ridge to encourage us all to follow the rules.

Then he went to the cottage to see his wife and kids who have been living there for weeks and guess what, they had a big Easter egg hunt outside and posted it on social media.

At times like this, we need leaders who will lead by example; this weekend, Trudeau was not that leader.

He was showing he doesn’t follow the rules he sets for the little people and by posting the photos online, he and his family were openly mocking us.

Source: LILLEY: Trudeau’s cottage visit mocks us and the rules he sets

The one column by Ryan Tumulty who at least gives both equal treatment:

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer brought his wife, Jill, and five children to Ottawa aboard a small government jet, along with two other MPs, during a time when health authorities are encouraging people to keep socially distant.

The government has dispatched planes to pick up MPs in western Canada to allow them to attend the House of Commons in person for emergency votes that have taken place since the Commons stopped sitting in mid-March.

As the CBC first reported, the flight aboard the nine-seat Challenger jet picked up Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough in British Columbia, before collecting Scheer in Regina along with his wife and children.

Public health officials across Canada have encouraged everyone to stay home due to the crisis and to avoid all non-essential travel and keep a two-metre distance from others.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also travelled over the weekend, heading to Harrington Lake, which is about 25 kilometres from his home, Rideau Cottage, in Ottawa.

Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, posted a photo online of the prime minister and his three children on Sunday at the cottage.

Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has discouraged people from going to their cottage properties.

“Urban dwellers should avoid heading to rural properties, as these places have less capacity to manage COVID-19,” she said in early April.

Meanwhile, May confirmed every seat on the Challenger plane was full once Scheer’s family boarded, but she said everyone did their best to limit potential spread.

“I wore my mask. I kept the best distance I could keep under the circumstances,” she said.

May said she was extraordinarily grateful to be offered a seat on the flight, because otherwise, even after driving to Vancouver, she would have had to board multiple commercial flights.

“It was still going to be three airports going through Vancouver, going through Toronto to get to Ottawa.“

She said she was offered the flight by the government and initially told it would be her, Qualtrough and Scheer on board. May said afterwards she was given the chance to object when Scheer asked to bring his family, but she understood where they were coming from.

May said the deciding factor was knowing that if Mrs. Scheer and the children were not allowed onboard they would have had to make their way to Ottawa by commercial flights.

“It is a personal family decision. I am not going to put myself in their shoes,” she said.

Scheer’s spokesperson Denise Siele said the trip made more sense than other possible options.

“This one way trip resulted in less travel than Mr. Scheer flying back and forth every time the House sits, or flying the entire family on commercial flights through multiple airports,” she said in an email.

She said the Scheer family would now be remaining in Ottawa.

“After spending several weeks in Regina over the March break, Mr. Scheer and his family will be based out of Ottawa for the rest of the spring session.”

Simon Ross, a spokesperson for the Government House Leader, said the government has sent several flights to bring MPs and senators to Ottawa for emergency sittings.

“During these exceptional circumstances brought on by pandemic, when possible the Government has sought to accommodate government aircraft requests from MPs and Senators.”

May said she returned home on the government plane Saturday, after the house rose, with only her and Qualtrough on board.

Source: Government’s COVID-19 rules don’t seem to apply to Andrew Scheer and Justin Trudeau

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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