Yes, “shocking and confusing” was how Ontario’s reopening plan was described by Ontario Hospital Association CEO Anthony Dale on February 12, 2021. He added that the move is a “huge gamble” given the scientific modelling presented the day before that predicted a “third wave” of infections driven by the new virus variants .
The plan was cleverly released by Premier Doug Ford and Doctor David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, on the Friday before the long Family Day weekend. Both Ford and Williams were harshly criticized by Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysak in her AG’s report last year. That report stated that Dr. David Williams “did not fully exercise his powers under the Health Protections and Promotions Act, did not issue directives to local medical officers of health to ensure a consistent response, and did not issue directives on their behalf to Ontarians.”
In short, the doctor who was scheduled to retire from his post as Interim Medical Officer of Health last February simply “did not lead” the province’s response to COVID-19. Yet Premier Ford keeps him on the government’s so-called “Science Advisory Board” where today he is backing Ford’s “shocking and confusing” reopening plan. It begins to appear that Dr. Williams is a bit of a “Yes Man” for Ford’s Ontario is Open for Business mantra.
Follow the money, Ontarians. The “Science Advisory Board” is a front that looks like Pandemic Health Protection for the “good people of Ontario” but acts like Ford’s own Chamber of Commerce. Shocking and confusing, and dangerous to our health.
The unmasked crowds celebrating shoulder to shoulder in the streets of Tampa, Florida last night were proof positive that despite all the health guidelines in the world, sports fans are stupid. In the stadium protocols were followed, but on the streets the Tampa Bay fans cheered and hugged and sang, spreading aerosols and droplets in a person to person celebratory frenzy for Tom Brady and their winning Super Bowl LV champion Buccaneers.
The date was February 7. 2021, and COVID-19 infection rates were just beginning to drop in North America following the Christmas and New Year family gathering infection surge. So count forward 10 days to two weeks and let’s see if the wave begins to crest again around the last week of February. With new variant strains of the coronavirus entering the playing field, and certain vaccines like Astra-Zeneca proving less effective against the mutants, it could be a whole new ball game.
The whole world of professional and amateur sport is culpable in spreading this virus, From the Super Bowl right down to college football. From hockey and soccer and baseball and basketball fans to the Australian Open tennis entitled to the Olympic hopefuls – all of these venues attracting massive gatherings of people are suspect super-spreader events. Greed is insatiable and money doesn’t sleep, so there is no incentive to postpone all of these events until after this global pandemic is under control.
Granted, most professional and amateur sports organizations have been very careful about following health protocols, but the Super Bowl and the Australian Open stand out as exceptions, and their ability to attract hordes of loyal fans is a marketing mogul’s dream come true. If you advertise it, they will come because, as the partying crowds in the streets of Tampa last night proved, people are stupid.
We are not ignorant of the impact of large crowded events. We have been told since the spring of 2020 to stay 2 metres apart, to wash our hands frequently, to wear masks. We chastized the fanatical crowds at Trump rallies, we held the Sturgess motorcycle mob to account, we held the American Thanksgiving family gatherings up for public shaming, and yet we continue to gather in spewing, alcohol fueled masses like sheep led to the slaughter to watch our gladiators. We are just stupid, and the herd is thinning itself.
In the United States and Canada alone, as of the morning after Super Bowl LV, over 484,000 people have died from COVID-19. To paraphrase detective Dirty Harry Callahan: “Are you feeling lucky today sports fans? Well, are you?”
Why is there such a push to re-open schools in the middle of a pandemic just as variant strains of the virus increase the possibility of transmission? Well, as James accurately noted, “it’s the economy, stupid.”
The family circle of the days of Leave it to Beaver are long gone, being replaced by two working parents or single parents leaving no one to look after the children while the parental unit is at work keeping the economy functionning. This is a trend that began in the seventies when more women entered the workforce and accelerated with increasing divorce rates and single parent families. In fact, by 2020, over 1/4 of children were living in lone parent families.
Doug Ford, alleged high school dropout turned drug dealer turned Lingerie League cheerleader, doesn’t give a hoot about the value of education. He needs those adult bodies back in the factories and stores and services stimulating Ontario’s economy. What’s the motto? “A place to grow .., your business!” or was it “Ontario: Open for Business” or was it “Make Ontario Great Again” ….
Heck, you can’t get all those parental units to Build Our Ontario Back Better (BOOBB) if they can’t work because they can’t leave the younger children at home alone, and you don’t have enough provincial daycare spaces due to your lack of policy, so … reopen the schools!
The saddest part of this push is that we are all realizing that parents who grew used to depending on our high quality and professional public school safety net to protect and teach their children are now stuck in a Stay at Home Lockdown with rusty to non-existent parenting skills. The incidence of infants and young children being injured at home has increased dramatically. The incidence of family violence has increased dramatically.
And what does Doug do? He makes home deliver of alcohol easier. Brilliant. In fact, he considers it an essential service. You know the old saying, “Once a drug dealer, always a drug dealer.” Allegedly.
Picture two political junkies sitting around a table playing high stakes moral poker with holier-than-thou passion. The Canadian looks across the table at her American challenger. The pot is filled with votes and the fate of democracy is on the line.
The Canadian speaks carefully, “I’ll see your Marjorie Taylor Greene and raise you a Lynn Beyak, eh?”
The American looks up over her cards and without hesitation replies, “Then I’ll raise you a Matt Gaetz!”
“I’ll see your Matt Gaetz and raise you a Derek Sloane … and a Pierre Poilievre!”
Silence. The American carefully studies her hand. “I’ll see you with a Josh Hawley!”
The two players glare at each other across the table. The theme music from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” begins…. The pot grows bigger and the stakes get higher and the game goes on as McConnell and McCarthy cards are played against Ford and Kenney.
The Canadian discards her O’Toole card and draws … a Trudeau – the American folds!
Later in the game, the table will be filled with players from Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Russia, the -stans, the Middle East, Africa, South and East Asia, and Oceania. Everywhere. But always the availability of the same checks and balances.
Russia says, “I’ll raise you a Stalin,” and Cambodia replies with, “I’ll see you a Pol Pot.”
Iran says, “We’ll raise you an Allah,” and Israel replies with, “We’ll see you with a Yahweh.”
There are no winners at the political moral poker table, just a pot full of tax monies and bodies and egos and extremist evangelical myths that keep on growing.
Into the room walks a young child. Her eyes sweep through the souls of all the players and they grow quiet. She calmly claims the pot, and then knocks over the poker table. The politico immoralists at the table are banished to their bedrooms for a lifetime Stay At Home Lockdown. She donates all of the proceeds to Women’s Shelters, after first deducting enough to cover her university education. That’s another way to play the game.
“Never let schooling interfere with education.” Grant Allen, 1895.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced some interesting debate about the benefits of children being schooled in a classroom. While some expert doctors declare that children’s mental health and indeed their future success in life is inextricably bound up in in-school learning, Grant Allen and Mark Twain respectfully disagree
I agree with Mark and Grant. The industrial revolution model of in-school classroom learning is neither conducive to high quality learning nor to fulsome mental health. In fact, as many of our First Nations argue, in-school learning is punishment for children. I know. I was in the public school system for over half a century, both as a student and as an award winning teacher.
Granted, most of my teaching years were spent subversively trying to get my students out of the classroom on field trips and outdoor environmental education adventures, a quest that liberated both them and me. In the mid-1800’s, Egerton Ryerson may have had the best of intentions in dealing with those hordes of rural children moving with their families to the cities for factory employment, or it may have been purely a mathematical necessity, or it may have been a case of cultural genocide for generations of First Peoples families.
My youngest son is now in his final year of pandemic induced online university, He was raised outdoors, but knows the necessity of schooling in this age of information and high tech. However, as I remind him, how many Engineering courses deal with Ecology and Ethics, deal with the moral choices of “I can build it, but should I build it?”
That is what a life lived in diverse ecosystems reveals. That there is no economy outside of a healthy ecology, We live in a finite frame of resources unless we get another meteoric impact of new materials. We are not 6000 years old, our planet is not a flat disc around which the sun circles, and we did not walk with dinosaurs.
When we walk and share and learn in the world we discover the wonder in children’s eyes when they discover an ancient sea fossil in the high limestone cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment … and the stories of Earth’s billion years of history begin.
To place thirty young bodies in a tightly enclosed indoor space on plastic chairs, sitting at desks, studying from the printed images of the real world on the pages of colonial textbooks is not only indoctrination, it is child abuse.
Years ago, on a visit to Eskimo Point, now renamed as Arviat, an Elder told me, “Why is the white schooling system punishing our children. They make them sit in those chairs and they can’t move or speak. Children run and play and fall down and get up and learn and explore. What they are doing is punishment.”
As I have written previously, we keep you, our children, in a box for thirteen years from Kindergarten to High School, and on your graduation we hand you the keys to the car. We never really taught you how to drive, how to live, choose a partner, contemplate the big questions of who we are, from where did we come and to where are we going, but we hand you the keys. Good luck driving at high speed looking into the rear view mirror.
For over a million years human beings raised children in small family and community groups. There was no mass indoor schooling and our mental health seemed to be just fine. Perhaps the cure for all these modern insanities lies not in school but in family and outdoors. Perhaps as our old storytellers taught us: “Keep our children close to the wild places and sacred spaces.”