A Tri-City MP is being called out as reckless after she posted a photo of herself interacting with seniors at Port Moody’s Legion without a mask on.
MP Nelly Shin (Con-Port Moody-Coquitlam) posted the photo on June 25 and since then, some locals have written to The Tri-City News frustrated by the lack of precautions.
“Things have certainly changed since the federal election in 2019. I remember politicians visiting my mom’s retirement home in Port Coquitlam, no masks, no physical distancing, lots of handshakes,” wrote Port Coquitlam resident Gale Dowle in a email.
“That was then, this is now.”
Dowle, whose mother lived in a seniors home connected to the Port Coquitlam Legion, said she removed her mother early in the COVID-19 pandemic after the Legion was slow to close.
When she recently discovered the photo of Shin in close quarters with another senior at the nearby Legion, she said “it made my heart skip a beat. That could be my parent she might be carelessly infecting.”
Shin’s office has so far not responded to emails and phone calls from the Tri-City News.
However, the photo of the unmasked Shin was cross-posted as part of a gallery showing the MP distributing masks in the community. In several of the photos, Shin is pictured wearing a mask.
“The masks were shipped to Canada by generous Hong Kong donors who wanted to support Canada's PPE shortage,” it reads. “Thank you MP Kenny Chiu for sending some to our veterans community.”
But distributing masks is one thing, wearing them is another, and Dowle said she’s concerned all the travel between Ottawa and Metro Vancouver puts her at a heightened risk.
“She was there to attend Parliament this week. I think it is fair to inquire from any MP during this time of essential travel only, how much travel they are in fact doing, especially if they are going to be exposing the community to unnecessary risks,” wrote Dowle.
Shin isn’t the only Canadian politician to face criticism in recent weeks after they were seen in public without a mask on.
Earlier this week, two photos of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer circulated online showing the bare-faced party leader sitting comfortably in a waiting area at Toronto’s Pearson airport.
The photos show Scheer in the lounge with several others, and while they are seated spaced apart, none are wearing masks.
A spokesperson said he was wearing a mask for his trip and that the photos must have been taken after he doffed the covering to take a call but before he put it back on.
Like many airports across Canada, Toronto's Pearson airport currently has a policy that masks must be worn at all times to curb the spread of COVID-19, with limited exceptions that include being at a food or beverage service location.
Scheer and other party leaders have been wearing masks around Parliament Hill and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also been seen wearing them during photo ops.
Getting caught with your mask down isn’t limited to Canadian politics.
South of the border, U.S. president Donald Trump has long been criticized for appearing mask-less in public, and was recently seen without a face covering greeting fellow Republicans at an airport in Miami.
Florida has become one of the country’s fastest growing hotspots for COVID-19 amid surge of the virus across the south and west.
— with files from the Canadian Press & Associated Press