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LETTER: Don't hate the players, hate the game

"Instead of worrying about the actions of others in their dealings with ‘rules’ surrounding how to act during these ‘extraordinary times’, worry about your own actions."

In the latest example of the manic behaviour exhibited by a seeming majority of Albertans frustrated with the ever-changing ‘rules’ surrounding the COVID pandemic, it appears that even the editorial staff of the Gazette are succumbing to this frenzy. Politicians from every level of government, who decided to travel out of the country are being vilified and ostracized by those ‘politically correct’ who are of the opinion that if anyone doesn’t do exactly what the ‘PC’ do, attempts will be made to discredit and belittle them.

In the latest example of this manic behaviour, Albertans are upset because they couldn’t have ‘Granny’ and other family members over to their house for the Christmas holidays, while some people, especially politicians, had the audacity to travel out of the country during the same time period.

People seemed to have forgotten, or are oblivious, to the main terms used by governments in this latest tempest: advisory, recommendation and order.

An advisory is defined as having or consisting in the power to make recommendations but not to take action enforcing them.

A recommendation is defined as a suggestion or proposal as to the best course of action, especially one put forward by an authoritative body, but again, no punitive consequence for not following it.

An order is defined as an authoritative direction or instruction to do something. In the case of orders issued by the government which were made under the authority of the Chief Medical Officer (CMOH orders), punitive penalties were specified.

With regard to travel, the federal and provincial governments made advisories and recommendations advising against ‘non-essential' travel (essential can be defined as being something important to a particular individual). It is up to no one other than the individual contemplating travel whether or not to do so, with no penalties attached even if people do decide to travel.

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hinshaw, made no comment in her several posted CMOH orders prohibiting or controlling out of province or out of country travel – one would think that as Alberta’s ‘head medical officer,' she would have given this matter some thought, and if she was of the opinion that out of country travel was a prime contributor to an outbreak of the COVID virus, would have mandated a prohibition for anyone doing so. She did not.

Dr. Hinshaw’s prime concern when enacting these CMOH orders was not to stop the spread of the virus, but to control the spread of the virus so as to prevent the medical system being overwhelmed.

There is no evidence to suggest that air travel is a major contributor to the spread of the virus, but there is evidence to suggest that socialization with others is.

To those of you who use the argument, “... No matter how stringent the recommendations for travel are, there will always be risk ...”, I would say to you, which is more likely to contribute to the spread of the COVID virus – in the case of someone travelling to Hawaii, being required to have a ‘negative’ COVID test within 72 hours of boarding the plane and on returning, being quarantined for 14 days, or having ‘Granny’ and the rest of the family over to your house over the holidays to celebrate (remember, neither ‘Granny’ or any of the extended family were likely tested)?

Instead of worrying about the actions of others in their dealings with ‘rules’ surrounding how to act during these ‘extraordinary times’, worry about your own actions.

Randy Kish, St. Albert