There's Yer Problem - Trudeau, Legault, Kenney, Ford, Horgan and Moe.
A year into the Covid pandemic we're still dealing with a yo-yo of openings and lockdowns, openings and lockdowns, that, as new variants emerge may continue well into the future.
The Tyee's Andrew Nikiforuk writes that our ongoing misfortune is largely man-made, the handiwork of our premiers and prime minister.
Nikiforuk uses Quebec premier Francois Legault to illustrate how feckless our premiers have been.“We’ve had no choice but to lock down, reopen, lock down, reopen,” protested the premier last week as he acknowledged how fed up people are with Canada’s disastrous yo-yo approach to COVID-19.
“The idea is to try to find a balance,” added Legault. “When we lock down, it’s to protect people’s physical health; when we reopen, it’s to help their mental health.”
“Some people think there are too many restrictions, others say they aren’t enough,” added Legault who talks like the political riddle he is. “I would like to please everyone, but that’s not possible.”
Legault’s pitiful comments typify a broadening crisis in this nation: a total abdication of responsibility in the face of a clear and evolving emergency. We need decisive and just leadership, and six premiers have not measured up to the task.
This chosen “catastrophe” starts at the top with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Remarkably, he still does not consider the pandemic an emergency requiring national standards, national goals, national direction or a co-ordinated response. Right. That would require leadership and hard decisions.
Last February, Green MP Elizabeth May requested an emergency debate on Canada’s response to the pandemic and the new threat posed by the rise of the variants. The Speaker of the House denied it. Instead the nation’s elected representatives debated the Keystone XL pipeline which to date hasn’t killed a single person let alone overrun a hospital.
Yaneer-Bar Yam and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, two brilliant experts on risk and complexity, have noted that governments really only have one true job: to uphold the collective safety of their citizens against systemic risk.
“Failing that mandate of prudence by gambling with the lives of citizens is a professional wrongdoing that extends beyond academic mistake; it is a violation of the ethics of governing,” noted the experts last year in the Guardian.
Reject the futile fallacy of ‘balance’
Legault, of course, talks about “balance” in his decisions. Balance is a favourite word of Canadian politicians these days. Faced with a destabilizing change, biodiversity loss or tyrannical technologies, decision makers always pull out the word balance. Our approach must be balanced. You know you live in an upside down world when immense threats demand bold action, but politicians can only talk about balance, balance, balance.
And so, during a pandemic we must also balance public health and the economy like a tiny dog on top of a ball. Doug Ford called it a “happy balance.” Ontarians do not seem to be feeling happily balanced right about now.
There is no such thing as balance in response to a pandemic. Emergencies flip societies or ecosystems into a state of crisis and chronic imbalance. What’s alarming about this truth is that Legault and his fellow premiers can’t grasp it.
Jason Kenney and Doug Ford, for example, have prattled on and on about lives and livelihoods as though you could have one without the other. They played chicken with a virus and failed to protect their citizens. Kenney swore that “Zero COVID” was not in the cards for Alberta. Now his province’s case rate towers over that of most U.S. states. Remember. this was the same incompetent premier who dismissed COVID-19 as an “influenza” because the average age of the dead at the time was 82 and life expectancy in Alberta is 83.
Let’s be blunt about what the “balanced” yo-yo response of Canada’s six provinces has cost this country so far: suicides, failed businesses, lost educations, lost years, failed marriages, damaged health-care systems, burned out doctors and nurses, delayed surgeries, dead elders, an epidemic of Long COVID, lost trust, fatter billionaires and punishing inequalities for poor and immigrant communities.
And so an urgent question faces most of Canada: “What strategies might work combining mass vaccination, mass testing, mass high quality masking and stay at home restrictions, to achieve local elimination?” asks pandemic expert Yaneer Bar Yam.
Don’t expect Trudeau, Legault, Kenney, Ford, Horgan or many other of our politicians to ask this question, let alone answer it. They prefer leading us into COVID-19 Crazy Time. And that’s why most Canadians live there now.