Chris Selley: Liberals are playing more insulting pandemic games with our democracy

As Canadians are united in the war against COVID-19, they have proven to be very good soldiers. Why divide them?

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The COVID-19 pandemic and, perhaps more so, governments trying to deal with it have routinely ridiculed optimists. Here in Ontario, it took three growing waves of the virus and hundreds of days of lockdowns before relatively good news scored a point: the late summer wave was a fraction of what the Most experts had predicted, and although cases have since passed that peak, they are rising less quickly than in previous waves.

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Then came Omicron. It’s possible that this new variant could be a blessing: contagious enough to defeat Delta, but causing less severe symptoms. I certainly wouldn’t bet on it, though.

If there’s one thing Canadians can be pretty confident about, however – and your experience will obviously vary by jurisdiction – it’s that we’ll continue to have some pretty good things, especially in terms of cases but also deaths, compared to most other Western jurisdictions that could not realistically seal their borders: the United States and Europe, in particular.

This does not lessen the toll COVID-19 has taken. But our relative situation has always been worth bearing in mind as we try to strike a balance between battling the virus and staying sane. The differences are astonishing.

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South of the border, except for small states without large population centers like Maine and Vermont, the most impressive statewide performance was Oregon: 9,323 cases and 124 deaths per 100,000 population, compared to the national average of 14,707 and 236, respectively.

The highest total case rate among the Canadian provinces, that of Alberta, is much lower than that of Oregon: 7,365 per 100,000.

Quebec has the highest total death rate of 135 per 100,000, which is slightly higher than that of Oregon. But second-placed Manitoba is down to 96. Ontario is still a long way off at 68, British Columbia still at 46.

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And then there is Europe. Norway and Finland are by far the best performers on the continent, but Norway recorded more cases per capita than British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario. Death rates in Finland and Norway are much lower than in Canada. But in most other European countries, they were even incredibly higher than in Quebec: 178 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in France; well over 200 in Great Britain, Italy and Belgium.

Going forward, I suspect that experts will see Canada as a success among comparable countries, especially in terms of containment of cases. And I suspect they’ll credit our relatively strict lockdown measures, certainly compared to the United States.

It’s just a theory, but I think Canadians themselves are much more involved in it. We are cautious people: Albertans and Saskatchewanians less than Ontarians and Maritimes, it seems, but cautious nonetheless. If every rule Ontario implemented had only been presented as a strong recommendation, I suspect the results would have been worse, but not two, three or four times worse.

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Remember: lockdowns in Europe were in many cases just as strict or tighter than in Ontario and Quebec, and it all went to hell again. I seem to have more tolerance for the risk of a pandemic than many of my peers in Upper Canada, but after spending a few hours in Madrid in February watching young Madrileños rush to bars and restaurants, all I wanted was that. to do was hide under my Airbnb bed.

If our governments have failed us, and they have, then I think Canadians have taken over. When there is the plague, we tend to stay at home. The case numbers prove it.

This only makes the chaotic and insulting performance of governments on so many issues all the more frustrating, including in some cases their commitment to the foundations of democracy. The House of Commons and the Senate have rightly spent a lot of money to put in place remote and “hybrid” options to maintain the enterprise of democratic accountability … yet in the midst of one of the biggest national crises in the world. country, and with billions of dollars firing the Peace Tower like a fire hose, the House of Commons has only sat for 86 days in 2020. The average over the last few years without an election has been 120 or more .

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Speaker Anthony Rota on Thursday ruled that the House of Commons Board of Internal Economy – which is controlled by the Liberals – had exceeded its limits by banning unvaccinated MPs from sitting in the House unless ‘they cannot provide a medical exemption. Only the House as a whole can decide to restrict access to members, he determined, siding with the Tories, who can now send the matter to committee or move to censor the council.

It will go down in history as a brief and insignificant procedural story. But it’s part of a much bigger, fatter story: Liberal politicians are trying to score political points over the unvaccinated.

This is an incredibly reckless strategy given the reluctance of many Canadians to add their immunity and that of their children to the herd. When Canadians think of anti-vaccines, they probably think of cartoon villains first: the bewildering, bigoted but small minority that storms Canadian Tire unmasked as if liberating Holland, drawing parallels between restrictions pandemics and the Holocaust, which protest outside hospitals and harass diners in COVID-compliant restaurants.

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The vast majority of vaccine hesitants, especially when it comes to their young children, are not like this at all. It’s hard to think of a more effective way to potentially radicalize them than by denying their duly elected MPs their full privileges to represent them in Parliament, even though they are negative every day.

To the extent that Canadians are united in the war against COVID-19, they have proven to be fairly good soldiers, ready to follow even questionable orders. A serious and fully functioning democracy is not much to ask in return.

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