If COVID-19 has taught us nothing else, it is that deadly pandemics cannot be fought successfully on a piecemeal basis with each province or local authority going its own way, imposing its own control measures, or none at all.
The federal government announced last week it will give the provinces and territories an additional $1-billion to help them keep their long-term care residents safe during this wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
One billion is a lot of loonies, even in these inflated times, but there was no scramble among the 13 premiers to express their gratitude to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Minister of Just About Everything, Chrystia Freeland, for their generosity with the public purse. That’s not way it works in federalism, Canadian style.
That national cohesion, the willingness of Canadians to work together, to endure inconvenience and hardship to bring COVID-19 under control during the pandemic’s first wave, no longer exists as the second wave rages across the land, like a wildfire in a tinder-dry forest.
The pleas from scientists and public health officials – to isolate at home and venture forth only for essential purposes, to wear masks and maintain social distances when doing so – that worked to a quite astonishing degree in the spring are falling on too many deaf ears today.
Parts of Canada are already battling a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the struggle promises to be at least as difficult as it was in the first wave, if not more so.
Probably all of us have had an experience was so unexpected or startling that we were able to remember years later where we were and what we were doing when it happened.
In my case, one such memorable moment happened 50 years ago this coming Saturday. It was at the height of what became known as the “October crisis.” I was asleep at home in Manotick, south of Ottawa, when the phone rang from the New York news desk of my employer, Time magazine: