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.

There's plenty of blame to go around and  Mr. Trudeau has earned his share.

“A disaster, freely and KNOWINGLY chosen by an elected government, is not someone else’s emergency,” tartly noted public health and legal expert Amir Attaran.

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.

Rolling the Dice With Canadians' Lives and Future

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.

What Lies Ahead

A year of bad decisions have not only brought us to a third wave but to other hazards. New variants are rising around the world and that promises more uncertainty given our porous borders. Vaccines will not achieve herd immunity because of these variants and anti-vaxxers. That means mitigation has never been a sustainable strategy.

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.


  1. Came across a quote today, "the rigid enforcement of public health measures saves lives". But as you've stated, again and again, our current batch of political and bureaucratic leaders are feckless. It was as though Canadians were prepared to sacrifice whatever was asked of them, but in an effort not to antagonize American leadership, Canadian leaders decided some modicum of policy was needed to placate them. As though in the face of a virus, some sort of compromise could be reached. It really is becoming incumbent for Canada to reassert its sovereignty in the face of American pressure. This year, Canada needs to redevelop its immunization program from development to production.

    It's heartening to note though that herd immunity does seem possible if the numbers in the UK and Israel are anything to go by. 60% seems to be the magic number but with every new emergence of variants, the possibility of a virus arising that evades current immunizations grows as well. It grows as fast as the transmission rate of a virus.

    So, returning to square one is a very real possibility when it comes to fighting Covid-19, and perhaps then Canadian leaders might get it through their heads that their current strategies aren't working (but I highly doubt that). It's time to replace them wholesale, at any rate.

    1. I don't know if Canadians will ever understand that riding some other nation's coat tails may be a fine idea until something goes wrong. Covid 19 has given us an invaluable lesson in how much reliance we can place in our leaders when we land between that rock and the hard place.

      Earlier today I wrote a friend about comparing David Lewis or Ed Broadbent to Jagmeet Singh; John Diefenbaker or Bob Stanfield to O'Toole or Scheer; Mike Pearson or Pierre Trudeau to Iggy or Justin. The contrast is a bit alarming. The country, like all nations, faces a number of potentially existential challenges with "bottom of the barrel" leadership.

      You're right, Troy. We deserve a lot better.

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