An Open Letter To Public Figures: We Are In The Middle Of A Pandemic, Do Better

What do the biggest multi-millionaires of America have in common with an MPP from Niagara?

Well for one thing, it clearly isn’t a matter of wealth, but rather a case of how influential people who lack self-awareness can use their power to override social regulations. 

Last week, the Kardashian family got major backlash after Kim celebrated her 40th birthday on a private island. 

On Oct. 27, Kim had posted a Twitter thread detailing how she and her “inner circle” of 20+ people were able to jet off to a private island and pretend that life was “normal” for just a few days. 

The Kardashian clan got major criticism from significant  media outlets and the overall public. But it was nowhere near as brutal as the meme treatment the family got, resulting from Kim’s twitter thread.

The tweet in question got people to come up with their own creative variations of their ideal getaway. 

Despite the humour, the Kardashians were not as amused as the general public taking jabs at their expense! 

After all, it is times like these that make the wealthy feel even more grateful that they are rich and have the resources at their disposal  to jet off onto an island. But by doing so, they are endangering the local people who work in (and solely rely on)  the service industry to sustain their livelihoods.

Yet this point seems to fall flat on some of the members of the Kardashian family, namely Khloe who, despite having tested positive for COVID-19 herself back in April, spoke out against the critics saying that this year has been hard on everyone. 

The lack of self-awareness at how dangerous COVID-19 remains is to the general public is not only disheartening, but also outrageous considering that so many people are either unemployed, 

But what does this have to do with a certain Canadian MPP?

Sam Oosterhoff, who is MPP of Niagara and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, caught heat after he and his family were pictured at a local restaurant with over 40+ people in a now deleted Facebook post. 

Ontario went back to Stage Two restrictions and limited social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people just before Thanksgiving. 

So while Ontarians had to comply with these new restrictions during Thanksgiving, it’s disheartening to see a representative of the provincial government disregarding .

While Ontario has since increased the number of people allowed to gather back to 50, it is appalling to see not a single person in attendance maintaining a safe distance, let alone wearing a mask. 

Although the MPP apologized for not wearing a mask while in the picture, no further action was taken to make an example of his behaviour. 

While the Ontario Hospital Association had called for Oosterhoff to lose his parliamentary seat as a result for his actions, no further action or reprimand followed from the premier or minister Lecce. 

What is most upsetting is the complete disregard Oosterhoff displayed not only to the general public that he and his family exposed themselves to, but also to the restaurant’s own mask and safety policy. 

According to the CBC, the group ignored the staff at Betty’s Restaurant, which is where the MPP’s family gathered, and afterwards  pleaded with the public to not be deterred from visiting them.

The restaurant has complied with provincial safety guidelines and have sanitized the restaurant since the gathering took place. 

What’s alarming about these incidences is that on the surface, they don’t appear to be related to one another, yet they are symptomatic of a growing problem society has seen in 2020. 

The power and influence of prominent people like the Kardashians and Oosterhoff have not lessened in this pandemic. 

Their prominence has remained the same and their attitudes around their positions in society demonstrate that they are aware of just how much influence they hold, yet have no regard for others.

Despite the growing number of cases in both Canada and the United States, the actions of these public figures clearly demonstrate that their lifestyle, privilege, and comfort take precedence over the health and safety of the general public. 

While there are people dying from this virus and people who are forced to modify their lives because of the number of cases climbing, there will always be people who will get to do whatever it is they want simply because they are power and influence. 

Some people cannot afford to give up their jobs as essential workers to jet off and see family, some aren’t given the luxury to risk exposing themselves and their loved ones to COVID-19. 

But this doesn’t only apply to the powerful. This attitude is prevalent in anyone who is willing to go out and ignore social regulations at parties, bars, and anywhere in public. 

It not only makes light of the pandemic, but it is also deeply disheartening to see how little regard we have for others in society given these unforeseen circumstances.