Columnist Robert Vairo’s ‘That’s What I’m Thinking’

Will the real leader please stand up!

Newsfirst columnist Robert Vairo takes a look at the style and presentation of various officials and leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robert Bourassa. On this 50th anniversary of his election, you can’t help but wonder how much better he would have handled this pandemic. I reported regularly, some times daily on Bourassa for then PULSE NEWS in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. I know that Quebecers had the utmost respect for one of the great, some say the most successful Premier, who first and foremost was an economist, but one who ruled with compassion and kept the party where it belonged, in the center of the political spectrum. Quebec enjoyed the best of economic times with Bourassa at the helm. Not the warmest of orators, but an intelligent and very sensitive man whose devotion was totally to Quebec. His persona would never have allowed our long term homes to reach the shameful state that exists today. He would have held health and the economy in balance, a record Quebecers would have lauded. But we will never know with certitude, because that was then, and this is now.

Have you watched Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC’s chief health physician? She is cautious, calm, communicates extremely well with her audience, like a kind, reassuring nurse at your bedside. The result, BC first to flatten the curve. She is so popular, her BC designed and manufactured John Fluevog shoes sold out.

True leaders stand out in times of crisis, like Ontario’s Doug Ford. Ford speaks from the heart in simple everyday language. He’s genuine, empathetic, and tough. When President Trump stopped our N95s to Canada, Ford said “now we know who our friends are”. When Trump suggested reopening the borders with Canada,”Absolutely not. I don’t want them (Americans) in Ontario”. And he does not want Quebecers in Ontario either. Note the road block to Gatineau cottage country. His approval rating has soared to an astounding 83% according to latest survey. On the recent assault rifle ban, an upfront challenge to Ottawa . “Put the money at the border” because that’s how illegal guns get into Canada. So I find myself watching Ford the most, then Premier Francois Legault, who use to have a reassuring image, still enjoys popularity rating in the 90% range. But error after error have spelled disaster. The first to close schools in Canada, the first to reopen. Anxious to spark the economy, he reasons teachers back in the classroom would care for the children of the employees back on the job. He has lost control of the massively layered bureaucracy governing long term care homes. Understaffed, underpaid, with no real infection control, plagued with staff walk outs. Legault’s call for volunteers to put a stop to our dying seniors has been a failure. So it’s now the always reliable army at our seniors’ homes!

In the neighbouring province, Alberta’s head physican, Dr. Deena Hinshaw is more popular than anyone in her government at 88% approval according to the latest poll. Unlike Quebec, Alberta has limited bureaucracy for quick and effective decisions. Except for the meat processing plants fiasco, Alberta is a leader with massive early testing and a low threshold of reporting so that public health rushes into seniors homes to offer immediate support. They love Hinshaw out west, even selling out of a “periodic table dress” she wore one day.

At the federal level Dr Teresa Tam, taking a lot of heat for relying on WHO, which in turn relied on China’s false data. Despite several premiers outcry, she was late to advise her boss to close borders to the US. She was late screening at our airports, late in closing the border to China, with no mention of Taiwan. Taiwanese were wearing masks long ago and reacted swiftly. One of the first to successfully shut down the virus. But Tam took her cue from the WHO, which does not recognize Taiwan. Seems many Canadians forgive. Her almost daily appearance, and tax payer paid commercials have vaulted this virtually unknown to fame.

Top expert on infectious disease, the tireless Dr. Anthony Fauci, in quarantine, now getting body guard protection because of threats on his life. Why? Because he speaks the truth, and the truth hurts. Isn’t it refreshing to hear leaders like Dr. Fauci speak to us clearly and frankly, often contradicting his boss President Trump and still have his boss’s back. Not an easy task when the boss is President Trump. Fauci boldly predicts the virus will return this autumn (US election) and the hand shake is history. By the way, if Trump fires him, he has a job. Said Italian infectious disease director Dr. Giuseppe Ippolito, “The world needs Fauci!”

The governor of New York, “Andrew Cuomo takes charge” Rolling Stone magazine. He is the boss. Governor Cuomo and his virus infected younger brother are a hit on CNN. The governor regularly challenges Trump. Cuomo is genuine, factual, bold, and wise. On reopening the economy ““We have to temper our desire and emotions with our intelligence”. On schools of tomorrow, “revolutionize” and “re imagine” education.

Thumbs up.

Justin Trudeau is a smooth politician. He has eastern Canadians in the palm of his hand despite the fact he exploited COVID-19 to try to give himself unlimited and unchecked taxing and spending powers till the end of 2021. Canadians are nonetheless thankful for generous and much needed direct deposits to mitigate total economic collapse. Trudeau, and his hair’s daily appearance have bounced his popularity to 73%.

My favourite leader is 39 year old New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Her leadership style makes her “the most effective leader on the planet” THE ATLANTIC. She is soothing, reassuring, with a firm reign on authority and credibility. “We will see results” she said weeks ago. And they have. New Zealand is Virus free today.

Let’s not forget the leaders who are not on screen every day. The leaders of the front line health workers. Thank you.

In the end, true leadership is having our own sovereign decision makers. No WHO, no external influence, but reliance on Canada’s brains in health, food, transport, manufacture of essential products. All MADE IN CANADA. I’m waiting for that day.

In the meantime, stay a hockey stick length away, eh. That’s what I’m thinking.