LAC LA BICHE - Omer Moghrabi laughed out loud when he was asked late last week if he'd gone anywhere nice for the holidays.
He knew about the fallout from MLAs, ministers and provincial officials reprimanded for leaving the country during strict pandemic measures. So he knew the question wasn't asked to trip him up over any recent trip. But tripping — the kind where your legs and feet are involved — was also a reason the Lac La Biche County mayor said he stayed home: He's had some hip problems over the last little while.
"Did I go anywhere? Are you kidding? This darned hip of mine has been hurting me so bad I could barely make it into the office, never-mind go on a holiday," he said with a laugh, but getting serious to add that like other families in the region, the COVID restrictions have been challenging. "I didn't get to see my grand-kids ..."
He said the pandemic restrictions, as well as his sore leg kept him home — which kept him busy.
"You know, I think there were only two days over the break that I didn't come into the office," he said, turning the questions into a chance to promote the region, explaining that he's not really a big fan of big holidays, especially living in northeastern Alberta. "Holidays are way over-rated. If I want to take a holiday, I'll take it in my backyard."
Moghrabi and most of Lac La Biche County council members have responded to Lakeland Today's request for comments about taking holidays during the pandemic. Only councillors Darlene Beniuk and Sterling Johnson have not responded to messages sent to their municipal email accounts on January 4 and January 6.
In recent weeks, at least half a dozen provincial elected officials have been reprimanded for taking vacations out of Canada over the holiday season. Tracy Allard, the former minister of Municipal Affairs resigned over the issue. Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland has also faced concerns about his recent trip to Florida with his aging father, and a St. Albert councillor has also been criticized for her recent holidays.