By Sally Barnes
As we struggle through the pandemic fog to understand what’s happening around us, some issues are just no-brainers.
First of all, in the immortal words of the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
“Today, we are seeing some sunlight break through the clouds,” chief cheerleader Premier Doug Ford crowed this week to an increasingly weary, frustrated, and cynical public as pandemic restrictions were lifted in some areas.
But not so fast. On the same day, the City of Toronto’s medical officer of health offered a different perspective.
“Today we are in a transition from one pandemic to another,” proclaimed Dr. Eileen de Villa. Variants of the COVID-19 virus are cropping up and this new enemy is even more virulent, it seems.
It’s a no-brainer that only widespread use of vaccine can get us out of this mess. And the drug manufacturers will decide who gets what and when. Experts refer to this world-wide competition as vaccine nationalism. That’s a nice term for a dirty process that pits nation against nation and rich against poor. Can a black-market supply be far behind?
It’s also a no-brainer that the more time we go without vaccine the more the new variants will spread, deaths will increase, our already wrecked economy will worsen, and our staggering debt will continue to bloat.
As Canadians, we can’t be sure where we stand in the vaccine pecking order because the stories change almost daily.
The messages out of Ottawa are not only mixed; they are beaten, scrambled, and half-baked.
Which gets me to another no-brainer: China.
They screwed us on the vaccine front when they pulled out of a Canada-China agreement to develop a new vaccine. The Chinese made no secret that this decision was retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. The rug was pulled on the deal last March but this was not disclosed to Canadians until five months later.
By then, other nations were in bed with more respectable partners and are now well ahead of us in vaccinating their people.
Why would the Government of Canada consider China trustworthy on such a vital issue as life-saving vaccine when at the time two Canadians were held in one of their prisons on trumped up charges and remain there today two years after their arrest? Diplomacy to bring them home to safety has failed miserably.
Why would we do business with a country’s Communist government that practises well-documented genocide in its persecution, forced labour, and population control of a million ethnic Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang province?
Beijing says it is running a voluntary employment and language training program to help the Uighurs minority. And pigs fly! A parliamentary committee in Ottawa has declared China’s actions as genocide but our government has yet to do so.
Whatever happened to Never Again—the vow that the Holocaust would never happen again? Well, it has—and in our lifetime. It’s happening today in China and the world knows it.
As a child, my mother told me the Chinese would one day take over the world. I took that about as seriously as a lot of her other advice and wisdom—only to learn in later years that she was smarter than I knew.
So, here’s another no-brainer: Canada, like other nations around the world, now has the opportunity to show some guts and not allow the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing to be turned into a propaganda exercise by the host country to spread its lies and predatory ambitions and to cover up its crimes.
We’ve seen this movie before. Hitler used the 1936 Berlin Games as a powerful propaganda tool for Nazi Germany to curry international favour for his brutal racist regime. A boycott movement was organized but fizzled and failed to stop what became known as the “Games of Shame”.
Some 180 human rights groups have called for a boycott of the Beijing Games. Others who oppose Chinese Communist Party domestic and foreign policies say the Games should be re-located so athletes are not used as political pawns and denied the right to compete after years spent in preparation.
Our own Green Party leader Annamie Paul—a bright light on our dull federal political stage—says the International Olympic Committee should relocate the games and Canada should consider offering to host them, perhaps with the United States because both countries have the necessary infrastructure and experience.
Realistically, this idea won’t get far due to lack of time, resources, and political will. The games are only a year away and there is not much political appetite in this world for offending the mighty Chinese.
Like many other Canadians, I’ve been cooped up for a long time, I’m sick of so-called experts who don’t seem to know what they’re doing and politicians who are long on rhetoric and short on courage.
To quote another old movie (Network, 1976), “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” I’m not alone.
It’s no wonder that polls show a federal election in the next few months could have some surprising outcomes.
(The writer confesses to watching too many movies in her attempt to survive the pandemic!)
Sally Barnes has enjoyed a distinguished career as a writer, journalist and author. Her work has been recognized in a number of ways, including receiving a Southam Fellowship in Journalism at Massey College at the University of Toronto. A self-confessed political junkie, she has worked in the back-rooms for several Ontario premiers. In addition to a number of other community contributions, Sally Barnes served a term as president of the Ontario Council on the Status of Women. She is a former business colleague of Doppler’s Hugh Mackenzie and lives in Kingston, Ontario. You can find her online at sallybarnesauthor.com
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