Newsfirst opinion columnist Robert Vairo’s ‘That’s What I’m Thinking’

The “stay home” message has expired

This week, Newsfirst columnist Robert Vairo questions the secrecy of our governments while they deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m wondering why there is such a different approach in each province in trying to maintain this equilibrium that politicians talk about. You know the one about maintaining a balance between keeping us healthy and maintaining a sensible movement of goods and services during this pandemic crisis. The differences are evident but very difficult to keep up to. Quebec and Ontario seem to work in tandem. Premiers Legault and Ford favour closing some businesses, allowing others to open. This has changed as the months, even weeks slowly pass by during these very difficult times. And these abrupt changes, not only at home but around the world cause stress and anxiety and have resulted in massive protests by those who tire of virus restrictions. Yes, there are and will always be the outsiders, the violent, face covered anarchists, present at just about every one of these demonstrations. I have been there many times as a reporter. They’re the ones who hide behind the legitimacy of the protests, cause the burning, the looting that often result in injuries and multiple arrests. And add to that, the more people come together at big gatherings, and the longer they are together, the higher the risk of being infected with Covid or, transmission of any other kind of respiratory ailment. I’ve noticed younger people in some countries have adopted new ways of protesting: staying away from “street demos” and moving protests to the digital world by bombarding the respective ministers through social media, whether it be over the environment, labour, or Covid shut downs. This way they avoid being caught up in the looting and destruction, remain healthy, and achieve results, or at the very least get the politicians’ attention. For the most part, I can easily understand the protests. Isolation, fears and lifestyle changes have taken their toll. This burn out has become “an adversary of governments”. As one psychologist put it the “stay home” message has expired. And many are hurting financially either through the loss of their job, fewer working hours or lower pay. The mixed and changing signals we are getting are not helping. Neither are supposed leaders who advise us to wear masks but are caught without one, most recently Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu. These are people we are supposed to trust. Canada’s Chief Public Health officer Tam has no real forecast, no convincing plan. A Prime Minister who is more concerned about distributing wealth than creating wealth. Tech leaders complain “we have no prosperity plan in Canada”. I like the staight talk from Alberta’s Premier Kenney, “the virus is here to stay and unless or until there is widespread immunity…we have to carry on with life”. That being said, I’m not sure elections should be held at this time although New Brunswick, and British Columbia elected majority governments, and in Saskatchewan too it’s “four Moe years” of Conservative Scott Moe. And our Prime Minister who dared the opposition to call elections when Canadians are clearly more concerned about their health and financial well being. Power hungry leaders seizing the moment when they feel they have been offering leadership during this crisis? No. Slow to react, our federal government has finally received but a fraction of the ‘ID Now tests’ from Abbott Diagnostics in the United States out of millions ordered with Quebec scheduled to receive close to 500 thousand. Minister Hajdu earlier gave a different number, also arguing the quick tests “cause worsening of the outbreaks”. How does incompetence instill confidence in Canadians? The much anticipated vaccine, much like the Abbott product, will be slow to arrive, because Canada once again hummed and hawed, wasted valuable time, which puts us at the end of the line of countries to receive them. Then the decision to be made as to whom gets it first. It would be a grave mistake not to give vaccines to our front line workers, first. So help is on the way, slowly, very slowly. And even when it arrives, we will know that our lives have changed, forever.

What is this secrecy all about? PM Trudeau said 800 million pieces of PPE have been received and 20 million distributed so far to provinces. Why don’t we know which provinces? Will this ‘ID Now test’ and vaccine be distributed under this same shroud of secrecy? Why? It’s this lack of transparency and constant change in directions, by both federal and some provincial governments that have contributed to the distrust of politicians, violation of restrictions, and protests.

That’s What I’m Thinking.

Robert Vairo