It absolutely did not have to be this way. Especially not this third wave. Canada now has lost more than 24,000 lives.
The pandemic responses of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford have been failures. But it’s not incompetence.
About the most important things, Trudeau and Ford weren’t honest with us. Now, if we have any pride, we would use our righteous anger to impose the harshest penalty voters can impose on politicians: an electoral wipe out.
Since last March, our prime minister deceived us about our border, telling us it was closed and crossings were restricted to essential travel only.
Polls showed Canadians overwhelmingly supported border closure., and therefore surely gave Trudeau credit while believing it had been done.
But in early January came the stories of politicians flying to sun destinations.
The headline case was Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips travelling to exclusive St. Bart’s. His boss, Premier Ford, had known for weeks. He would’ve known Phillips’ Christmas fireside chat about solidarity and sacrifice was fake. Yet, Ford dishonesty acted surprised, saying he was "extremely disappointed" when the new broke.
Phillips was hardly the only one. Numerous media stories documented politicians’ hypocrisy. Not only did several Liberal MPs travel for Christmas vacations, they even received approval for it – government approval to cross borders we were told were closed.
Their fiction exposed, the Trudeau government created its hotel quarantine plan, which finally came into effect in late February, too late to stop the variants.
But even that plan was dishonest. Travelling migrant workers were immediately excluded from any quarantine as are those arriving at a land border. Increasingly, people are flying to a border airport then walking across the border to Canada.
Canada’s Atlantic provinces showed how effective restricted borders can be. Combined with aggressive use of testing and a prompt response when the virus did pierce the bubble, Canadians on our Atlantic coast have been protected from most of health and economic pain. It’s an embarrassing contrast with the federal government.
With variants allowed in our country, the next dishonesty came from the Ontario Premier.
A pivotal day was February 11. After a new round of restrictions in early January, Ontario’s confirmed COVID-19 cases had fallen below 1,000. And now the Ontario government was planning to lift many restrictions. On that day, Science Table advisor Dr. Steini Brown presented an analysis showing that action would allow variants to rapidly drive a third wave.
And within weeks cases did begin to rise again, eventually hitting levels not seen before. As frustration and anger grew, Ford claimed his actions were following health advice. But more likely they were following lobbyist advice.
As the situation grew worse, Ford deflected, blaming the Trudeau government for late vaccines. More dishonesty – while vaccines may have been slow, Ford knew as far back as November, as did we all, the federal commitment was only to deliver six million doses available before April 1. And that goal was met.
And Ford’s shambolic vaccine distribution seems to be another case of dishonesty. Data showed the neighborhoods with highest infection rates had the lowest vaccination rates. Again, under pressure, a plan to target “hot spot” neighborhoods with vaccines to was quickly announced, though no plan existed. When the targeted postal codes were made public days later, they appeared to be gerrymandered to favour neighbourhoods represented by Conservative MPPs.
Now in deep crisis yet resolutely unwilling to follow public health recommendations, a two-day cabinet meeting resulted in more dishonesty. While saying they were following public health recommendations, which included paid sick time and closing outbreak workplaces, the government decided to close outdoor playgrounds and implement policing measures that were likely unconstitutional.
News reports have since cited sources who said the plan – which was quickly walked back – was recommended by the Conservative Party’s pollster and campaign manager. A political illusion to give the impression of health action.
The cost of politicians’ dishonesty has been high for people. But not nearly high enough for politicians.
They told us they were taking actions to protect our health, but for both Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Ford that wasn’t true. Leaders who lie about this will lie about anything. They can’t be allowed to represent us. They, and all those MPs and MPPs who support them, deserve an electoral wipe-out at voters’ earliest safe opportunity.