I have written a lot about the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it in my former country. I do not want to keep writing about it but much like herpes, it is the bureaucratic gift which keeps on giving in a negative sense.
When the province of Alberta is not busy having the worst outbreak of the disease across all of North America, its officials are scrambling to get things back to normal with yet another wave of restrictions coupled with a new slogan (this time it is “Stop the Spike”, two more and the region gets a free variant). While it is reasonable to expect this and no one has gone through dealing with this historic event without some fuckups, a part of this latest instance of doing the same thing over and over once more while expecting a different result sickened me;
Last week Premier Jason Kenney announced truckers from this portion of Canada will be able to now receive Johnson & Johnson shots from Montana beginning this week. This is similar to an effort Manitoba initiated with North Dakota – which was set to expand to teachers, but this seems to be stopped at the moment – and while we should all applaud the generosity made possible by Trump-era export controls expiring it is not unreasonable to look upon the Canadians who look for things like this with embarrassment, scorn and generally intense derision.
As I have written before it has often been the case that educators, the elite and political partisans up north do not hesitate to extoll the virtues of Canada and its political systems. “We are a G7 country”, one notes. “We react quickly to issues and do not have the problems of America,” another in the Toronto bubble will say smugly.
But, when you have to go hat in hand to someone else like the efforts detailed above, those comments do not carry much weight. The reality is officials are ill-prepared to handle anything with complexity and the mixture of a group of provincial and federal ineptitude combined with an economy still rooted in resource extraction hurts all.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau knew from the beginning Canada did not have the capacity to make vaccines domestically. What sense does it make to do nothing to address this while relying on shipments from Europe to resolve the crisis? A real leader would have called one of the vaccine manufacturers or found a domestic one and given them whatever they needed to build a factory quickly and get things cranked out to Canadians first.
In a better world the wave of Conservative premiers below the man who talks like someone who used to sell cannabis at a crystal store would have listened to science and not buckled to political pressure or a disturbing need to be liked (here’s looking at you, Doug Ford). We knew masks worked early on, we knew many businesses could not survive with the pittances being doled out to some while others received plenty and now, we face a future crisis of depression and financial ruin I do not see being addressed with any serious and intellectual effort.
I will try my best after this piece to ignore what it happening up there. It sickens me to watch it all unfold and has only crystalized my belief that Canada is a paper tiger. Leaders would fold in hours in the event of an invasion and I sense would say “there’s nothing we can do” if another crisis came about with China or another power.
It is all so pathetic. I wish more people could see that.
Cartoon is from The Tyee.