Pandemic Politics Vaccines

Warped: Pandemic Politics

I sat down to write this piece more than two months ago, before a wave of work and family pressures left it stranded amidst the weeds of countless other unfinished efforts.

I didn’t get beyond the opening sentence: “Hats off to Justin Trudeau.”

Five measly words; but words that never in a jillion years did I imagine I would ever tap into my keyboard.

I haven’t been the Prime Minister’s biggest fan, to put it mildly; that a man with no discernible credentials ended up at the helm of our country remains an enduring source of bafflement (unless wavy-haired good looks and a famous last name stack up to “credentials”).

But on the evening of December 14th I felt the man deserved his due. The day had brought great hope and abundant promise: the first Canadians had been immunized against Covid-19, beginning with 89-year-old Gisele Levesque, a resident at the Saint-Antoine long-term care home in Quebec City.

It was “V-Day”, declared retired general Rick Hillier, appointed by Trudeau as immunization task force leader. It was, he said, as though somebody had lit a match “to help us see our way out of the abyss and the darkness.”

Such hope. Such promise. We were ahead of almost everyone — out in front of even the Americans who had developed the vaccines. Canada, it seemed, was punching far above her weight. And credit to Trudeau for making it happen.

Yet fast forward 2 months, and that match is barely a-flicker. My hat, suffice it to say, is firmly back on.

The early start, it’s now painfully apparent, was mere theatre, of a piece with the virtue-signaling schtick that Trudeau has perfected as art form. It was all for show. He hadn’t procured enough vaccines to inoculate more than a smidgeon of the population.

As of last weekend, Canada ranked around 60th in the world in vaccines injected per capita — cheek by jowl with Liechtenstein and Croatia. The U.S. is immunizing more people every single day than Canada has vaccinated in total since that December 14th “V-Day”.

We’ve remained mired in the aforementioned abyss, increasingly despondent as the cycle of lockdown politics — hopelessly infected by a pandemic of political stupidity — wears on and on and on. Squeeze and release, squeeze and release, squeeze and release — it’s sort of like milking a cow long after her udder is drained of milk… try that with an actual bovine and you’ll earn repeated, savage, and potentially lethal kicks to the head. Which is exactly what is happening to our economy, to our livelihoods, and to our wellbeing.

We’d be far closer to this whole thing being over if we hadn’t dropped the ball so badly on the vaccination front. But rather than punching above her weight, Canada continues to punch herself in the face.

Virtue-signaling works well to get Trudeau elected (it’s done the job twice already) but it doesn’t get vaccines into the arms of Canadians.

Since the pandemic began, it’s worth pointing out, we’ve spent more per capita on Covid-19 than any other nation; it’s not even close. Yet despite the furious spending we’re dead last among large developed nations in vaccines administered.

“Budgets balance themselves,” Trudeau infamously declared, long before he blasted even the remotest possibility of budgetary balance into the stratosphere for eternity.

Perhaps, by that same impenetrable logic, he believed that vaccines would deliver themselves.

It must be noted that the mere fact that we have vaccines to complain about is thanks to Donald Trump, the truculent ex-President (who undeniably would still be President today were it not for his ham-fisted handling of the pandemic). Despite Trump’s bumbling, his administration’s Operation Warp Speed supercharged the successful development of Covid vaccines at, well, warp speed. (Not that Mr. Trump was accorded a sliver of recognition for that accomplishment, given the 24/7 media blast of “All Things Trump Are Evil”.)

The only thing that happened at warp speed in Canada was the velocity with which the Prime Minister fled to his cottage, once he finally realized that we had a problem on our hands (by which point the elderly were dropping like flies in his home province of Quebec, which even now has one of the highest sub-national Covid death rates in the entire world).

Once safely ensconced in his cottage digs, the PM set the financial printing presses to spinning out gargantuan gobs of cash; his epileptic fits of largesse showered so much moolah across the Great White North that we’ve been positively drowning in loonies. For every dollar the average Canadian lost due to pandemic upheavals, Trudeau has gifted them with more than seven.

He’s the Grand Wizard of champagne socialism — born with an entire drawerful of silver spoons in his mouth, so free is the man with other people’s money that our children and our children’s children will be staggering for generations to come under the stupendous debt he has recklessly racked up.

The blizzard of pandemic dough was a shameless vote-buying spree cloaked by fabricated empathy. And it had it’s desired impact: Trudeau harvested an enormous groundswell of love and affection from citizens who thought they were going to be in dire straits — but who have instead enjoyed an unending gusher of money for nothin’ and cheques for free.

Those warm fuzzies faded somewhat in the face of the agonizingly-slow rollout of vaccines. Pandemic-weary Canadians, eager to get back to some semblance of normal, have watched most other developed countries — led by Israel — furiously immunizing their citizens while we wait and wait and wait amidst the carnage of ongoing illness, death, and economic ruin.

As America’s next-door neighbour and long-time ally, one might have thought we were particularly well-situated in the vaccine sweepstakes. But Trudeau spurned the ingenious American vaccines, opting instead to pin the hopes of Canadians on a contract with the Chinese. Days later — to the surprise of not a single thinking person anywhere on the planet — China’s basic dictatorship turned on a dime and canceled the contract.

We didn’t learn of this for months, mind you, as Trudeau covered up his gigantic blunder by belatedly ordering 414 million (!) doses of vaccine from Pfizer, Moderna, and others, and then boasting of his foresight on behalf of the Canadian people.

But we don’t need 414 million doses of vaccine. Twenty million doses delivered in January, February and March would have sufficed to effectively end the pandemic in this country. There are 38 million Canadians; perhaps a quarter of them — most notably our treasured elders — are most at risk from Covid-19. Immunize them and this pandemic is over — the rest is mop-up, while we re-open our businesses and our schools and get back to normal.

But we don’t have 20 million doses. Far, far from it: as of last week, only 1.5 million doses had been delivered. Imagine telling the gasping victim of a massive heart attack “Don’t worry, twenty ambulances are coming — but none of them until next month.” A fat lot of good that would do.

I know perfectly well that at long last vaccines are being delivered: 400,000 doses last week, more than 650,000 this week, and a total of six million doses promised by the end of March.

It’s the “big lift”, the increasingly shaggy-haired Prime Minister pronounced grandly. (Pretty much everyone else in this country has managed to stick-handle their way to a haircut despite the pandemic — why not him? And why, oh why, can Parliament not open with sensible safeguards in place? Deep and weighty questions, these).

I’m experiencing this saga a bit differently than the hordes of Liberal acolytes. Never mind the “big lift”: what Trudeau deserves is the “big boot”.

Summed together, his competencies would struggle to fill the bottom of a low-dead-space syringe.

Yet he’ll skate away from this mess; just as he’s wriggled free from every one of the myriad screw-ups and scandals he’s created since he infected the Canadian political landscape.

He’ll benefit enormously from the fact that the pandemic appears to be petering out; cases are in free-fall around the world. Vaccination roll-outs deserve some credit (especially in long-term care homes); but that’s far from the whole story.

For all the breathless anxiety-inducing click-bait headlines about “variants of concern”, precious little attention has been paid to “variants of no concern”. Viral mutations cut both ways, some more lethal, many substantially less so; and it may well be the case that infectious variants which cause little or no symptoms — but do induce immunity — have infected huge swathes of the global population and rendered them immune.

Like every pandemic before it, this one may be reaching its natural end (the virus itself will remain endemic, and an annoyance on some level every year for the foreseeable future).

The “variant of concern” that keeps me awake at night isn’t B117, or 501.V2, or CAL.20C. Nope: the variant that concerns me is a chap named Justin Trudeau. But no inoculations exist against politicians of his stripe, sadly.

If (when) the pandemic fades into the rear-view mirror, Trudeau will engineer an election call at the first hint of opportunity.

And a nation grateful for his “leadership” will reward him, once again, with a majority mandate.

Talk about warped.

By dredles

Physician, veterinarian, father of four... the makings of a sturdy soapbox.

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