The News Rundown
- As restrictions begin to ease many have begun to ask the question, what next?
- A group of business and health leaders represented by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute released a letter that said, “the Liberal government has presented social distancing measures as a stark choice — either selflessly shut down the economy to save lives or selfishly worry about the economy and condemn thousands to a vicious illness.”
- The letter also hits the nail right on the head when it comes to the debate saying that the approach oversimplifies the decisions being made by governments.
- The media aided in this perception representing the choices of the last two months as a binary choice, save the lives or let them die.
- The letter also said that the measures were pursued “at an almost incalculably large cost to the well-being of Canadians.”
- Lockdown decisions were taken severely in China and European countries to curb the movement of the citizenry.
- Here, most everything was closed and people were encouraged to only go out for essential business such as grocery store trips.
- The physical distancing and hand washing we see today combined with sporadic temperature checks could’ve been done two months ago, but you have to ask the question, would people have taken the threat seriously without a lockdown?
- Brian Lee Crowley, the managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute said that the fear at the beginning was exaggerated because so little was known about the virus.
- And this is the second point as to why the lockdown was necessary, there was no way of knowing how severe or virulent the virus would be in our communities and we had no idea how it would or if it would mutate.
- These points are of course brought up because if you look at what we see today versus what we saw two months ago, cases spiked but now our situations are as good as if not a bit worse than when the shutdowns began.
- So the keen eyed will say, what’s the difference?
- It’s these two points illustrated above.
- With restrictions easing, Crowley believes that people need a message of reassurance and confidence from the government. Because the federal government at the top is continuing to tell people to be afraid of the virus but provincial governments are lifting restrictions.
- Crowley was clear that you cannot understate the health risks from the pandemic.
- With the risks mitigated, why the change in tone or moving of goalposts from the federal government?
- Initially we were told that the shutdowns were to keep hospitals below capacity, a goal that has been achieved.
- Governments are often asked, you’re opening up, you’re going to put more people at risk, why do that? But on the other hand for those that stay closed, they are heralded as saving lives and the economic questions often don’t get asked.
- The question for Canada is, why has the government moved from “flattening the curve” to preventing anyone from getting infected at all?
- As mentioned earlier, it isn’t a yes or no or binary choice. In the real world it’s not possible to have everything be open or everything be closed. The real decisions made, hopefully by economic and public health experts as done here in Alberta, need to strike a delicate balance.
- There are two choices going forward: 1.) Keep the economy closed until a vaccine or cure is found. 2.) Let the virus slowly trickle out into the population hoping that there’s some semblance of immunity.
- For our federal government they are likely leaning towards option 1. For provinces and states re-opening, they are leaning more towards option 2.
- It’s going to be a delicate balance but no one, not one journalist, has thought to ask the question and see these two options as the next logical steps.
- Dr. Neil Raj, an infectious disease specialist and microbiologist in Oakville, Ontario said that “we spooked people so well that it is now extremely difficult now to reverse that message.”
- Countries need leaders willing to come forward and talk openly about this decision: keep the economy closed until there’s a cure or vaccine if that’s what they’re going to do, or let it trickle out slowly into the population hoping for herd immunity.
- The decision one way or another should be debated because often all we see are worst case scenario arguments or on the other side a complete minimization of the health issues related to the pandemic.
- So rather than focusing on the strategy let’s actually have the media ask what the goal is and see if there are any answers from those in charge.
- For many parents who have been cooped up at home with rambunctious kids filled with energy levels that most would be envious of, the idea of a reprieve may be coming soon, at least for BC. Schools in BC will be reopening on June 1st, on an optional, part-time basis on June 1.
- Premier John Horgan says the decision has been made with science in mind, and will ensure the safety of teachers, staff and students.
- “We would not be making these announcements if we thought there was an undue risk. British Columbians have worked hard to flatten our curve. As we move into the next phase of our pandemic plan after the May long weekend, the science shows us that we’re ready to bring students back to school safely on a gradual and part-time basis.”
- The province says it will be up to parents to decide whether to send their kids back to school. Families that decide not to send their children to class may continue learning from home. Teachers will be required back in the classroom unless they are sick or have a pre-existing health condition or are living with someone with a health condition. It is still unclear whether teachers will be required to conduct virtual and in-class learning at the same time. The districts will be working with teachers to resolve the situation.
- Horgan has touted the move as “welcome news for many families who have struggled to adjust to remote and online learning, and for parents who are going back to work” but if you read the fine print, there's not a whole lot of time that parents will gain by sending their kids to school, for work or otherwise.
- For kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school on alternating days, either on Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. Grades 6 to 12 will go to school about one day a week. Children of essential service workers and students needing additional supports will have the option to attend school full time.
- The BC government's plan has raised more questions than it answers. Non-specific plans have had many parents say they will wait until September to send their kids to school.
- James Taylor, a parent and a member of the District Parent Advisory Council in Saanich, said the move makes sense for the overall picture, but he says how things will roll out is still unknown. For example, he said, take the simple task of hand washing. One elementary school in Saanich has faucets that need to be pressed continuously in order to work: "Everyone is doing the best that they can at all levels, but it's just a huge logistical task."
- Dan Davies, the B.C. Liberal party's education critic said the plan didn't provide enough information about how schools will function and on the supply of safety equipment: "Today's announcement did not provide the certainty that parents and teachers were hoping for."
- The return to school is not optional for the teachers. Excepting those with health problems, who may continue working from home, kindergarten through Grade 5 teachers will be returning to schools full-time and “they don’t have a choice,” said Teri Mooring, head of the B.C. Teachers Federation.
- Mooring acknowledged that teachers have concerns, but there is confidence that the highest standards of health and safety will be put into place.
- Asked what those concerns are, Mooring pointed to personal protective equipment. Masks are optional for teachers, and will only be supplied when required through WorkSafe BC. But the BCTF believes they should be made available upon request.
- “The other area is teacher workload,” said Mooring. “We know that teachers can’t provide in-class and remote learning at the same time. What cannot happen is we cannot bring teachers back into school and add to that workload.”
- Asked if the BCTF has seen the plan, Mooring said they have not: “That’s the kind of communication that needs to happen. School districts will need to communicate really carefully with both teachers and families. Schools will look really different. Teachers need to know the expectations, they need to know the plans that are in place. Districts will need to set up a lot of procedures. The plan will have to be a part of that communication.”
- As life starts to go back to what will be the new normal, at least for now, it's clear that to ease concerns, concrete plans need to be put in place to keep people safe. Vague guidelines and ideas from the BC government are not what are needed right now.
- Earlier this week Alberta Premier Jason Kenney became one of the leaders to take China, in particular the Chinese communist party, to task over the global pandemic.
- He said that there must be “a great reckoning” with China for its efforts to play down, obfuscate, and cover up the dangers of COVID-19.
- It’s widely known at this point that early on the communist party prevented scientists from publishing information that the world community could’ve found useful.
- It’s also thought, though this has been disputed by the World Health Organization, that China attempted to sway the WHO to prevent travel bans at a key time.
- This latest piece of news comes from intelligence reports out of Germany and the United States.
- Now we’ll of course note that the Premier has just said there must be some accountability. That could mean anything from a stern letter of warning from Canada, the US, and other countries who share the same view or sanctions of some kind.
- US President Donald Trump has mulled just ending the entire relationship with China over this.
- China responded back to Kenney by saying, “If Mr. Premier did not deliberately turn his head away, these facts and evidence are presenting themselves crystal clearly before his eyes. If there is a comparison between what he has done during the outbreak with what Wuhan has, he will not look smarter.”
- We can look at Canada, the US, the UK, and any other country in the world and find things that could have been done differently but the fact remains this virus originated in China.
- China can not be let off the hook.
- Given that most of the initiatives to go after China for damages will come from the United States and given the perception of the US President, the US is unlikely to find many allies in that venture.
- So where does that leave us?
- Bringing our manufacturing home and relying on China less and less over time. That is going to be the only way to change China. If every country does this.
- This is a similar stance to Trump’s, “Mexico will pay for the wall.” This line is one that late night people who think they’re funny and anti-trumpers often use. But Mexico is paying for the wall by both a renegotiated NAFTA agreement and by having their military stationed along their side of the border.
- China will pay for the damages caused by the pandemic but only when developed countries like Canada start diversifying away from manufacturing in China.
- This is a long goal for Canada given our current government.
- Our Minister of Foreign Affairs last week struggled to mention Taiwan when thanking nations who donated masks to Canada.
- The National Post was out with a headline this week, “Timid Canada, Emboldened China” The pictures below featured Trudeau, Chinese President Xi, Meng Wanzhou of Huawei, and the imprisoned Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.
- This could of course be shortened to just “Timid Trudeau” but the point stands.
- Ever since China’s recovery started the Chinese communist party has made it a point to combat “disinformation” as they say, even going so far as to call themselves a victim of disinformation.
- China claims to want a foreign policy of peace but China did block some beef imports from Australia after Australia called for an inquiry into how the Chinese government handled dispersing information about the pandemic.
- Here in Canada we are unlikely to see any movement to bring manufacturing back under the current government. And even less so on asking the most basic questions of China about the pandemic.
- The question at this point is not if something will be done, but whether it will be purely diplomatic or if leaders will diversify their supply chains and start moving manufacturing back to their own countries.
- There's a saying that you should never meet your heroes, because you never know what they'll turn out to be. It's good wisdom to follow as the era of social media has made movie stars, musicians and other celebrities even more accessible than ever. As many know, the spotlight can be kind as well as cruel, and your actions under the spotlight are scrutinized and dissected much more than for you and I.
- For any aging celebrity at this particular moment in time, to become worldwide news means you either did something really good or you messed up big time. Enter Bryan Adams, the Canadian rock star well known across the country, with dozens of music awards and many #1 hits, who on Monday unleashed a tirade against China on Instagram that immediately drew criticism and cries of racism.
- Adams' expletive filled Instagram post was attached to a video of him singing one of his hits, Cuts Like a Knife, and reads as follows: "CUTS LIKE A KNIFE. A song by me. Tonight was supposed to be the beginning of a tenancy of gigs at the @royalalberthall, but thanks to some f***ing bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy b*****ds, the whole world is now on hold, not to mention the thousands that have suffered or died from this virus. My message to them other than “thanks a f***ing lot” is go vegan. To all the people missing out on our shows, I wish I could be there more than you know. It’s been great hanging out in isolation with my children and family, but I miss my other family, my band, my crew and my fans. Take care of yourselves and hope we can get the show on the road again soon. I’ll be performing a snippet from each album we were supposed to perform for the next few days."
- The part that the media online seems to be taking issue with is the "bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy people" sentence. The Canadian media overwhelmingly blew up this story earlier in the week, and condemned Adams for his, as Global News called it, "racist coronavirus rant".
- A day later, Adams did a sort of apology on his Instagram, saying: "Apologies to any and all that took offence to my posting yesterday. No excuse, I just wanted to have a rant about the horrible animal cruelty in these wet-markets being the possible source of the virus, and promote veganism. I have love for all people and my thoughts are with everyone dealing with this pandemic around the world."
- Now Adams may or may be not correct in where exactly Covid-19 has originated, because China has stalled most efforts to even investigate, and have deliberately fed WHO misinformation, such as saying there was no evidence of human to human transmission. The prevailing scientific theory is that the coronavirus emerged from nature and may have passed to humans through one of China’s wet markets, either through consumption of a bat or another intermediary species. But instead of focusing on the growing trend of legitimate criticism of China, the Canadian media decided to cover this story about a celebrity who had a moment of insanity that I'm sure he now regrets even mentioning.
- CBC published an article about the story, with "WARNING: This story contains offensive language" posted on the top, and further down, includes a quote from Amy Go, the president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice.
- She called the post racist and believes it could stoke hatred of Chinese-Canadians: "People look up to public figures. He is seen as an idol by many," Go said. "It justifies this racist hatred against Chinese … This is so irresponsible and just so, so, so, so racist."
- Oddly enough, I tried to research into the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, and their entire website is password protected and inaccessible. Why should the CBC promote their views if we can't even find out who they really are? And yet, Amy Go's words were reported in City News, CBC, CTV, and even in international outlets.
- Evan Solomon of CTV called Adam's post "he basically conflated all the big hits of the conspiracy theories of the pandemic" and said that promotion of these conspiracy theories has encouraged racist acts against Chinese Canadians. For those media who are asking "where's the proof" when it comes to the origins of the coronavirus, they are quick to leap to judgement about how different actions cause racism, without any proof of that as well.
- That's not to say that there have been a lot of dumb people committing actual racist acts against Chinese-Canadians, because there certainly has been a rise of that in Vancouver especially, but criticizing the Chinese government and even particular practices in China has nothing to do with racist acts against Chinese Canadians.
- Several people called for Governor General Julie Payette to strip Adams of his Order of Canada. Adams was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2003.
- University of Alberta professor Timothy Caulfield, who specializes in health research, blasted Adams’ tweet as “angry, stigmatizing, hate-baiting” and “scientifically wonky,” saying that “I get that people are frustrated, but this kind of aggressive messaging from an influencer helps no one,” he wrote.
- Global News went one step further, and claimed that "many of Adams’ defenders appeared to come from the far right", and then later says that even PETA came to Adam's defense for promoting veganism.
- PETA has been railing against China’s wet markets throughout the pandemic, and has also been urging people to go vegan because of it. Adams has been an outspoken proponent for PETA and veganism for many years.
- PETA wrote on Instagram in response to Adams’ post: “This is why it’s crucial for everyone to go vegan now to prevent the next pandemic. It’s up to us to create a kinder, healthier future for all species.”
- So according to Global News, PETA is now a far right organization. Really?
- A month ago, Paul McCartney was on Howard Stern's radio program, and was asked about his opinions on Chinese wet markets, which McCartney called "unsanitary".
- McCartney openly shared his beliefs that the Chinese government should ban wet markets after suggesting that the SARS epidemic and Avian flu among “all sorts of over” viruses were initially brought on by their “unsanitary practices.”
- “I really hope that this will mean that the Chinese government — who you say ‘have got power’ — says ‘OK, guys, we have really got to get super hygienic around here,'” said McCartney.
- “Let’s face it, it is a little bit medieval, eating bats,” he added, referring to the rumours that COVID-19 was brought upon after the unknown “patient zero” ate a bat from a wet market.
- Howard Stern agreed: “It is really mind-boggling that the Chinese government won’t shut that stuff down — which is what’s getting us into all this trouble. Like you say, it’s not the first time they’ve done this. There’s something weird in it. You being Paul McCartney, you should really just tell them to cut the crap and they’ll listen, because you’re Paul McCartney.”
- McCartney then agreed with the co-hosts saying that maybe if they banded together and protested the wet markets that they may eventually be shut down by the Chinese government.
- On shutting down wet markets altogether, McCartney said, “It’s not a stupid idea, it is a very good idea… for them! Not just us. They don’t need all these people dying. What’s it for? All these medieval practices… They just need to clean up their act.”
- Despite calling the practices medieval, no one was quick to call McCartney racist, just because he worded it in a much more eloquent way than Adams did. At some point the media is creating their own news, and they might not even be reporting on China in a way that most Canadians agree with.
- On Wednesday, the Angus Reid Institute released a poll where they canvassed Canadians on their opinions of China, and finds Canadian favourability towards China at a new low. Just 14% of adults in this country now say they have a positive opinion of China, a level half as high as it was six months ago (29%).
- The deterioration comes as Beijing faces accusations from United States intelligence that it intentionally hid the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in the early days of the pandemic. Others have expressed skepticism regarding the true number of Chinese cases and deaths from the illness.
- Canadian opinion towards China has significantly declined since that government arrested and detained two Canadians in prison, in a tit-for-tat reaction to Canada’s arrest – and subsequent release on bail – of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.
- 85% of Canadians say the Chinese government has not been honest about what has happened in its own country.
- Just 11% of Canadians say Canada should focus its trade efforts on China, down from 40% in 2015. Further, 78% say Canada should bar Huawei from taking part in the building of new 5G infrastructure in this country.
- It's clear that many think that criticism of China is legitimate, and that our government should be tougher on China. And yet, instead of the media reporting on this story, they decided to debate about whether a Canadian rock star was racist.
Word of the Week
Lockdown - a state of isolation or restricted access instituted as a security measure
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The Folly of Bryan Adams
Teaser: A lack of clear messaging from the federal government stokes pandemic fears, the BC government will partially open schools on June 1st, and the Chinese government goes directly after Jason Kenney. Also, Bryan Adams learns the dangers of social media.
Recorded Date: May 16, 2020
Release Date: May 17, 2020
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes