2021 Canadian Federal Election – Part 5. One voter’s report card on the handling of the pandemic
Calling an election in the midst of a pandemic invites a review of the leadership’s handling of the crisis. To put this leadership assessment into perspective, I ask myself the question, “How would Winston Churchill have handled this crisis?”
I think Churchill would have urged us to use prudence, act with courage, and not be afraid
I think Mr. Churchill would have spoken forthrightly about the gravity of the challenge before us, but would have urged us to be prudent, take reasonable precautions for personal safety, but work to keep Canada running through our work and social interactions. He would not have wanted us to cower in fear in our lock-down bunkers, waiting for the crisis to pass.
The political establishment has fanned the flames of fear as a way of ensuring compliance with their unpopular edicts
When I look over the last year and one half, I see pandemic infection and death statistics front-and-center in the news and in the announcements by our political leaders. I note that voices who object with our direction are being stifled. Any discussion or critique of our mitigation edicts are not answered with data and reasonable give-and-take discussion, but are labelled as counter-productive and dangerous.
I think Mr. Churchill would have made it very clear he was in charge
It’s all very well to receive advice from generals in a war situation or a medical advisor during a pandemic, but as Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill would have known the final decisions rested with him, his cabinet, and parliament. Although a medical advisor may make suggestions and give advice, the survival of a country and her people depends on much more than optimizing our response to one threat. Mr. Churchill would considered the medical advice, but decided on what was best for Canadians and Canada taking all factors into consideration. Indeed, the morale of the populace would have been paramount. Why optimize for survival while undermining all aspects of life that give value to survival?
Above all, Churchill would not have used fear as a motivator for ensuring compliance
Mr. Churchill, even as he spoke the truth about the danger facing Canada, would have faced the future with confidence and courage. Every general knows that there may be times when your troops need to retreat to a more defensible position, but if the general uses fear to get compliance, the orderly retreat will become a rout and there won’t be an army left to rally. Mr. Churchill would have known that using fear as a motivator in a crisis would have been a huge mistake.
In my view, our leadership has been gripped by fear as they responded to this pandemic, and their fear has infected Canadians right across the country
Not only have our leaders at all political levels shown fear, but they have been ready to use fear to motivate compliance to their edicts. It is hard to see how we can rally our populace to return to a normal life as they grow used to masking, isolation, and perpetual lock down.
Is there another course we could take?
I think there is. We could begin treating Canadians as adults and make them responsible and able to take steps to ensure their own safety and the safety of their families, while acting in ways that preserve what is most important to them by:
- Providing Canadians with an honest assessment of how effective various protective measures are. This should be a two-columned approach with data presented for and against the effectiveness of various measures:
- This should include for-and-against discussions of vaccine effectiveness, immunity achieved from previous infection etc.
- For-and-against discussion on hand-washing, masking, social-distancing, and indoor versus outdoor transmission
- Don’t compel people to undergo medical procedures to make someone else safer
- Make it clear the objective is to return us to our life as it was before the pandemic. Many of us thought and expected this would be achieved by vaccination. If that’s not the case because of the variants, then a monumental effort needs to be made into effectively treating the symptoms in severe cases so the variants no longer matter.
One voter’s report card on how our leaders have handled the pandemic
Simply put, I give our leaders an F. Our Prime Minister, as leader of our country, in my view, bears the bulk of the responsibility for this failure, but premiers and civic leaders followed suit and must share the blame. Why do I say this?
- The Prime Minister and cabinet’s primary responsibility as the crisis unfolded was to procure and make available to Canadians the vaccines as quickly as possible. They failed. Instead of partnering with the Americans and adding our resources to theirs, Trudeau chose his own course, which in my view proved disastrous.
- Our vaccine roll-out was very slow. For many long weeks, Canada sat at number 37 in the world for per capita doses with very little ramp up. To give the Prime Minister credit, one thing he did do correctly was to ensure the first dose was broadly distributed before the second was administered. But all in all, he and the cabinet failed on Job One.
- The Prime Minister and the premiers have used fear to gain compliance with their measures that have closed businesses, locked us in our homes, and changed how we interact. It will be very difficult to undo the fear.
- The Prime Minister and the premiers have sown the idea we will never return to how it was before. We are even growing used to using the term “the new normal” which is a code phrase for “the perpetual abnormal.”