Well, this has certainly been an interesting week. I have been writing Listen Up! for close to a decade, long before Huntsville Doppler was launched, at which time we decided to merge the two publications.
Never, in all of those years, with all of those articles, many of them controversial, have I received as much response as I did from the article I wrote last week, “It’s time for a wake-up call”, about the importance of being vaccinated for COVID-19.
I pulled no punches in that article. I believe what I wrote. I stand by it. Each day, as the infections from the Omicron variant multiply and escalate, I stand by it more. Of course, I knew there would be those who disagreed with the position I took in my opinion piece. I expected, and indeed welcomed, debate and pushback.
But what I wasn’t prepared for was the viciousness and extremism of many of the attacks. Nor was I aware of the depth of the anti-vax movement in our community or the length some of these folks would go to discredit and demonize those who dared to disagree with them.
Normally we do not publish comments in Doppler that are disrespectful or blatantly inaccurate, but this time we decided it was important for our readers to see how far some people are prepared to go to fight, and to attempt to discredit COVID-19 vaccinations for a virulent pandemic.
Being compared to Nazis and communists and, indeed, being told there should be a new rendition of the Nuremberg Trials from the Second World War so that I could be hauled before them, was not particularly pleasant, but not that much of a bother either. I guess that comes with the territory.
Somewhat more disturbing was a letter-writing campaign to a number of our advertisers by some of those who disagreed with my opinion, urging them to withdraw their financial support from Doppler with the obvious intent of shutting us down. Sadly, we did lose two clients as a result, but the vast majority of our valued advertisers stood firm against this form of tyranny, and we are very grateful for that.
The icing on the cake, however, came in one of the phone calls I received when the caller attacked my family. That’s when I lost it and, prior to abruptly hanging up, suggested that he perform a sexually impossible act!
One of the important goals of Huntsville Doppler is to provide a forum for debate and discussion, often on difficult subjects where there is a serious division of opinion. We welcome all comments and letters from any and all of our readers, on any subject, from any point of view, as long as they are respectful and based in truth.
Doppler, in my view, would lack integrity and surely not live up to its mission if it did not foster debate on important public-policy issues and allow for a healthy discussion. Surely, that is an important function of a free press.
I wrote my article last week because the issue of vaccinations for COVID-19 and its variants is one of real public interest and importance that needed to be both addressed and, as well, responded to by those who both agreed and disagreed.
I am well aware that current vaccinations for COVID-19 are not a perfect solution for eradicating it. But to the best of my knowledge, right now, they are the best solution, along with normal pandemic protocols such as masks and social distancing.
I know that there are an increasing number of people in hospital who are double vaccinated, but I also know that much of this is because vaccine effectiveness has turned out to be for a shorter period of time than originally anticipated. That is why a booster shot, when available, is so important. My guess is that vaccines for COVID-19 and its variants will have to be regularly adjusted for their content, just as annual flu shots are, due to changing aspects of the virus.
Statistics also confirm that the vast majority of patients that end up in an intensive care unit in hospitals are not vaccinated. This is where over-loading becomes crucial, especially as patients with issues unrelated to COVID-19 require critical care because of medical procedures that were unavailable to them because of pandemic pressures on hospitals.
In spite of the nastiness around opposition from some anti-vaxxer groups for whom conspiracy theories appear more important than the millions of people that have been adversely affected by this pandemic, I am convinced that most people—most of our readers and most of the people in our local communities—recognize the urgent need to encourage as many individuals as possible to be vaccinated. That is the best potential remedy we know of right now.
I also worry that the action of militant anti-vaxxers is a symptom of a wider, much more concerning phenomenon of unrest, discontent, and rebellion. It is disturbing to see this as it is manifested in other parts of the world—including our neighbour, the United States—creeping into our Muskoka communities. That is something to be really concerned about.
I strongly believe that the COVID-19 virus in all of its variants will never be effectively contained until there is no place for it to regenerate. For that reason, I will continue to stand up and speak out for full COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone. In the meantime, the focus of our entire Doppler team will be to continue being the go-to source for real local news, information, and stimulating commentary. We are proud that Doppler has become a household name over the past five-and-a-half years and we look forward to continuing to serve our community with the highest standard of journalism.
We will not be intimidated.
Hugh Mackenzie has held elected office as a trustee on the Muskoka Board of Education, a Huntsville councillor, a District councillor, and mayor of Huntsville. He has also served as chairman of the District Muskoka and as chief of staff to former premier of Ontario, Frank Miller.
Hugh has served on a number of provincial, federal and local boards, including chair of the Ontario Health Disciplines Board, vice-chair of the Ontario Family Health Network, vice-chair of the Ontario Election Finance Commission, and board member of Roy Thomson Hall, the National Theatre School of Canada, and the Anglican Church of Canada. Locally, he has served as president of the Huntsville Rotary Club, chair of Huntsville District Memorial Hospital, chair of the Huntsville Hospital Foundation, president of Huntsville Festival of the Arts, and board member of Community Living Huntsville.
In business, Hugh Mackenzie has a background in radio and newspaper publishing. He was also a founding partner and CEO of Enterprise Canada, a national public affairs and strategic communications firm established in 1986.
Currently, Hugh is president of C3 Digital Media Inc., the parent company of Doppler Online, and he enjoys writing commentary for Huntsville Doppler.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!