Good Sunday Morning!
We have hit the three months mark of living in pandemic land. I don’t know about you, but I am sick of it. But we know it is not over.
We have to be careful.
As Greens, we called for a coordinated national response months ago. We are the only party that called for the federal government to trigger the measures for a Public Welfare Emergency under the Emergencies Act.
Recently, Professor Amir Attaran, professor of both law and epidemiology, called for the same thing in Macleans.
And although they differ on some aspects of their pandemic analysis, Ontario’s former health minister Eric Hoskins agrees we have an appalling lack of information: “decision-makers are just reading tea leaves while blindfolded.”
As Canadians, as ever, we congratulate ourselves for how well we are doing (on any issue) fill in the blank.
Amir Attaran asks us to look at other wealthy countries. When we look globally, our numbers and our response are not that good. Compare us to Australia, with its 25 million people. Only 100 people have died in Australia of COVID-19. With 33 million people, we have had 8,000 deaths and that number is climbing.
Like Canada, Australia has complex federalism. As in Canada, public health in Australia is primarily not the federal government’s responsibility. So the public health officers from every state and territory in Australia, along with the national public health officer and other officials, formed a national committee that determined a national response. We still have provinces not delivering key data to the federal government. And it is being sent by fax machines. Worse, the Public Health Agency of Canada agreed to allow provinces to suppress data that those governments might find embarrassing.
Attaran finds our response poor, even compared with far poorer countries: “Our progress on ‘bending the curve’ is halting and unimpressive compared to Europe and Asia. Our testing is so broken down that it lags behind Rwanda’s and Ethiopia’s. Our epidemiological data is so inadequate that even if we wanted to conduct the endgame well, often we cannot. Places like Toronto and Quebec are reopening too soon, risking to sicken—and kill—people needlessly, while the Maritimes and Prairies are reopening too slowly, strangling the economy.”
Canada is lagging in testing and tracing. We do not have reliable data to guide us. Dr. Attaran thinks we still have time to get ahead of these failures and avoid a worse, second wave. As Attaran points out, by far most of the cases continuing to be diagnosed in Canada are in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Our federal-provincial tensions are getting in the way of public health. I will keep calling for the Emergency Act to be invoked.
Meanwhile, this was a week in which Canadians demanded answers from the RCMP. Yet another indigenous man was killed by police in New Brunswick. The family of Chantel Moore, who was killed last week by Edmundston NB police, continues to demand answers. The killing of a physically petite, 26 year old indigenous woman by an armed RCMP officer, who reportedly shot her five times, requires answers. And justice.
At a Thursday press conference in Ottawa, when asked about systemic racism within the RCMP, I noted that I know many very competent and wonderful members of the RCMP, but that “The RCMP is a racist institution.”
By the way, the purpose of that press conference was to launch our post-pandemic vision document: Reimagining Our Future.
Please share it widely. Read it and engage. And also a strong note that this is NOT replacing Mission: Possible, the platform or Vision Green. We are fully committed, for example, to democratic reform and eliminating fossil fuel subsidies. These key issues remain front and centre for Greens.
And this week, Greens also hit a milestone: the full list of candidates who wish to run for the federal leadership was released. Ten candidates from nearly every part of Canada – Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories – are in contention. Five lawyers, a brilliant scientist, an emergency room doctor who is also a climate campaigner, urban planner and former Minister of Environment, and entrepreneurs are in the running.
Please be sure to encourage friends and family to join the party before September to be able to vote. The election is one member/one vote/on-line and by preferential ballot voting. Debates are coming up soon, so watch the Green Party website for details. Or sign up for email alerts of new developments.
For now, have a great Sunday. I can hardly wait, as by next Sunday, I will be home again and back in self-isolation with my view of the Salish Sea!
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