They stayed the blazes house: Why East Coast politicians prevented COVID journey scandal

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

Revealed Saturday, January 9, 2021 7:26AM EST

HALIFAX – Whereas a lot of the remainder of Canada was consumed with tales about politicians ignoring pandemic protocols and jetting south to sunny climes, Atlantic Canadians this week have been puzzling over a tepid scandal involving a New Brunswick cupboard minister who drove to Nova Scotia.

Not Florida, Hawaii, Mexico, Arizona, St. Bart’s or California – a few of the sun-drenched trip spots visited final month by different Canadian politicians

Nova Scotia.

And the governing Progressive Conservatives in New Brunswick made a degree of claiming Mike Holland, the province’s pure assets minister, had the truth is travelled to “rural Nova Scotia” to go to his associate.

After a lot hand-wringing, it was determined Holland had adopted all COVID-19 tips, together with 14 days of self-isolation upon his return. He was spared any punishment, though non-essential journey stays frowned upon.

Holland’s minor indiscretion spoke volumes about Atlantic Canada’s response to the pandemic.

In brief, politicians on the East Coast have adopted the foundations, which specialists say echoes the behaviour of their constituents. A Canadian Press survey of political events within the area – each federal and provincial – failed to seek out any elected members who had travelled outdoors Canada in December.

It is no coincidence that Atlantic Canada has recorded the nation’s lowest an infection charges for the reason that pandemic started, says David Johnson, a political science professor at Cape Breton College in Sydney.

“There’s actual satisfaction that we have now been in a position to obtain one thing that a lot of the world hasn’t,” he stated in an interview, including for good measure that the New Brunswick politician ought to have stayed house.

“Perhaps he ought to have . . . talked to his vital different by way of Zoom or different social media.”

As nicely, Johnson stated it is price noting that East Coast politicians would not even think about a international getaway as a result of there is a greater chance they might be outed by a neighbour.

“Right here in Sydney, if some (member of the legislature) was going via the airport, they might be acknowledged and folks can be taking a look at their ticket,” he stated. “Lots of people know your corporation. And in case you’re not round, folks begin speaking.”

Howard Ramos, a sociology professor at Western College in London, Ont., stated the smaller communities in Atlantic Canada imply fewer levels of separation between elected officers and the folks they serve.

“In Atlantic Canada, it is arduous to cover for very lengthy,” he stated from his house in Shad Bay, N.S. “For those who consider the biggest cities within the area, they’re sufficiently big to have a symphony however too small to have an affair.”

Because of this, there’s extra strain to adapt to social norms.

“Social disgrace and social strain is greater in Atlantic Canada,” stated Ramos, who research the Atlantic area. “The social prices for not following the foundations are greater.”

And that partially explains why Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil took a tough line final spring when he imposed strict lockdown guidelines.

“We do not want on-line graphs to inform us what we have to do,” he intoned throughout a information convention in April, obtrusive on the digicam. “We have to keep the blazes house.”

Everybody received the message, which instantly went viral.

“There’s been very clear messaging in comparison with different provinces,” stated Ramos, including that the province’s chief medical officer of well being, Dr. Robert Strang, has change into a little bit of a folks hero.

“Dr. Strang’s identify comes up in all probability greater than the premier,” he stated.

In the meantime, Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative chief, Tim Houston, issued an announcement earlier this week that left little question about the place he stood on a difficulty that has brought about a lot political ache throughout the nation.

“For the higher a part of a yr, Canadians have been requested – week in and week out – to make sacrifices to cease COVID-19. They needed to cancel weddings, they have been saved from visiting mother and father in long-term care properties, they usually could not go to sick family members they usually have been remoted when it was time to grieve,” he stated.

“So when the identical individuals who inform you to make sacrifices are unwilling to make them themselves, Canadians have a proper to be ticked off. I do know I’m.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Jan. 9, 2021.