In a remarkable week when he had to ask for the resignation of the Governor General, when a new COVID-19 variation took hold while the original strain continued to rage out of control, and when a supply interruption disrupted the distribution of vaccine, there was one bright note for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
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.