Tom Parkin, Canada News Central
On the weekend of October 31 and November 1, the Slovakian government assembled 20,000 eight-person health teams, which gave rapid tests to two-thirds of the nation’s five million people. On the spot, they identified and isolated almost 60,000 people with the COVID-19 virus. Now that country’s second wave is receding and jobs are coming back.
Several other countries – New Zealand, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea, Australia – have implemented strategies that have crushed the virus and brought back jobs.
Not Canada. The Trudeau government, rather than set a plan to defeat the virus, has been responding to events and leaving it to provinces, several of which are completely failing Canadians.
The pandemic response in the Atlantic Provinces and, to a lesser extent, British Columbia, has been impressive. But other Premiers have responded to the second wave with ideological intransigence, incompetence and a dangerous indifference.
While COVID-19 surges in Alberta, Premier Kenney is yet to impose any significant restrictions. Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe didn’t even require indoor mask use until last week. As Manitoba became Canada’s COVID-19 hot spot, Brian Pallister’s Health Minister launched partisan attacks on concerned physicians. And as Ontario hit new case highs, Doug Ford planned to open almost everything – only to face a revolt from the province’s two largest municipalities and the medical community. After two weeks of indecision, Ford pulled a U-turn.
And during these weeks of provincial failure, the Trudeau government mostly sat back. Finally, late last week, Prime Minister raised his voice to give a faint rally cry against COVID-19.
In defending the Prime Minister, many will say health care is a provincial responsibility and there’s not much more Ottawa can do. That’s not true. And it’s cowardly.
This is not the moment for buck-passing and feigned powerlessness. It’s not the moment to enable the Failed Four Premiers, who are hurting Canadians and putting the success of other Premiers in danger. This is a moment for a plan of attack. Every Canadian, no matter their province, deserves leadership with the ambition to crush COVID-19.
Right now, there are no signs of such ambition from Justin Trudeau. His comments on Friday never dared do more than implore, warn and plead. And while some praised him for honesty in saying year-end holiday get-togethers were impossible this year, that resignation sends a more deeply disturbing signal: there is no plan, save yourself.
In a key way, the Failed Four have chosen to immobilize themselves during this pandemic. They’ve become convinced they must choose between protecting health and protecting the economy. They say they seek a balance between fighting the virus and defending jobs. The result has been failure on both fronts.
The evidence is there is only one front in this fight: the battle against the virus. When the virus is crushed, and the cycle of lockdowns is over, jobs will return.
A vaccine is still a dim light at the end of a dark tunnel. As several Premiers fail the COVID-19 fight, Canadians need a leader with the ambition to defeat the virus. If Canada is a country, Canadians in every province deserve a plan of attack from our Prime Minister.