Ford and Phillips: hypocrisy loves company

Canada has clear coronavirus health guidelines. Ontario has clear coronavirus health guidelines. All we need is for people to follow them in order to get this pandemic under control for a healthier 2021 and beyond.  We often look to our leaders for inspiration. In Canada’s case, our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has walked the talk from day one. Alas, we cannot say the same for Ontario.

At a time when front line health care staff are taxed to the maximum, it would seem that the least we could do would be to follow the basic guidelines; no non-essential travel, stay in your bubble, avoid indoor crowds, mask, stay 2 m apart and wash our hands.

Alas, neither our Premier, Doug Ford, nor some of his Conservative cabal, like Finance Minister Rod Phillips, seem capable of following those simple rules. Now, wet-behind-the political-ears rookie Sam Oosterhoff may have an excuse for his rules violating crowded evangelical restaurant party, but there is NO EXCUSE for seasoned politicians like Ford and Phillips. These were clear cases of arrogant entitlement.

At least Phillips, still on a rules violating non-essential travel vacation to St, Barts with his wife, can say he was “just following the leader.” Ford has twice violated Ontario’s travel and bubble restrictions by his May visit to his cottage to “check on the water pipes” and his family dinner get-together for Easter.

After the Ford Government shut down Queen’s Park for an extended December to February break in the middle of a global pandemic, Phillips thought it was a good time to skip the country for a little non-essential travel. For the second time.

And the icing on the Christmas cake was the pre-recorded fireside message that Phillip’s arranged to have Tweeted to his constituents making it appear that he was still home for the holidays. The message should have said, “As you all make sacrifices this #Christmas, remember that some of our fellow citizens won’t even be home for Christmas dinner over Zoom. Like me. I’ll be soaking up the sun in St. Barts while thousands of front-line heroes will be looking out for you. Ho, Ho, Ho!” Gee Rod, turns out you’re a Dick.

Also turns out that Mr. Phillips let Mr. Ford know about his trip “about two weeks ago” which would have meant that the Premier knew about Rod’s illicit vacation at the time that parliament was dissolved on December10th for a two month break in the middle of a pandemic. And Doug kept it quiet until the proverbial excrement hit the fan. So, dear readers, who wins first place?

Yeppers, two peas in a hypocritical pod in the middle of their “do as I say, not as I do” sycophantic conservative goober patch. 2022 can’t come soon enough.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

* image from cp24.com

Don’t be a Larry

Recently the Mayors of the Region of Peel – Patrick Brown of Brampton, Bonnie Crombie of Mississauga, and Allan Thompson of Caledon – pulled a Larry. Many of us will remember Larry Vaughan, the obdurate mayor of the fictional oceanside town of Amity, the setting for the Steven Spielberg movie Jaws.

To refresh: Larry wanted to keep the beaches open for the money that tourist season would bring to the local businesses, even in the face of well-bitten body parts piling up on the beach and scientific experts letting him know that death was swimming in the waters offshore.

But Larry ignored that evidence and expertise, and more death followed, and the beaches closed completely.

So when business owners came complaining to our Region of Peel Mayors, they naturally turned to the Province. Unfortunately, the Ford government had just appointed an “Expert Panel” of economic advisors who were all too ready to relax the restrictions recommended by the Chief Medical Officers of Canada, Ontario, Toronto, and Peel.

The new system is known as the COVID-19 response framework: keeping Ontario safe and open. More correctly it should be titled “Keeping Ontario Open and Safe” since it tends to be more economic than medical in intent. The levels go from Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red, and finally to LOCKDOWN,

Under the guise of “defending local business”, the government permitted the Region of Peel to move Peel Region to Red–Control level, a more business friendly level than the current modified Stage 2. The next day, The Region of Peel Public Health nixed that idea and imposed the more restrictive measures, specifically:

REGION OF PEEL ENHANCED PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURES 
 
Peel Public Health is strongly urging all residents to: 
Restrict close contact to your household and essential supports
Cease all indoor social gatherings and visits (with exceptions for emergencies, renovations or one-on-teaching / tutoring) 
Limit outside trips to essential activities only, and 
Cancel, postpone or hold virtually any in-person activities.
 

Now, dear Mayors in the Region of Peel, when we are in the middle of a global pandemic with COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths climbing to new records each day, don’t be a Larry. Close the beaches. And business owners, yes, businesses will suffer during a pandemic of this scale. The Bubonic Plague was a real downer on local economics unless you were a casket maker or gravedigger.

I live in Caledon, home to 85,000 souls, only a small percentage of whom are local business owners and their employees. In fact, the five biggest employers in Caledon are Delegant Construction, Mars Foods, Canadian Tire Distribution Centre, Verdi Construction, and Husky Injection Mouldings.

In Caledon, blessed with abundant walking and hiking trails and bubbling springs, surely we don’t need any fitness clubs and bars open as indoor venues to disperse virus laden droplets and aerosols, when we can exercise in the fresh air and drink spring water.

We are in the middle of the health crisis of the decade, perhaps the century. Listen to the medical and scientific expertise intended to protect the health and safety of the entire community. The coronavirus is saying, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” Remember that you are the Mayors of all of the citizens of the Region of Peel, not just the business owners. When it comes time to pay the bill, the tab is on you.

The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

*image from Twitter.com

 

The Real Pandemic is Not COVID-19

The real pandemic is the attack on intelligence. As the COVID-19 novel coronavirus has spread around the globe, it has exposed the sad truth that humans are more susceptible to the myths of conspiratorial gossip than to the data of scientific research.

 We are still caught up in a “Burn The Witch” mentality – if she’s still alive after we submerge her (and her black cat) in the purifying waters of stupidity, she must be witch! Burn the witch! Consider what we know and don’t know about the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or COVID-19.

This virus may or may not have its source in sewage waters laden with the waste of various animal species, or in the wet markets of Wuhan, but science is pretty sure it didn’t start out in a hostile foreign nation’s chemical lab or a pedophilic pizza shop in New York. And science doesn’t always get it right the first time. Remember when the theory of continental drift was mocked by mainstream geographers and geologists?

The same with masks in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak – don’t wear a mask here, wear a mask there, masks don’t work, masks do work. And then the data slowly solidified by May that wearing a mask helped to prevent the spread of virus laden droplets and aerosols significantly. We have known for six months now that masks work, and yet we have “Freedom Rally” conspiracy laden anti-maskers protesting for their right to infect and be infected.

Science is still, as Carl Sagan said, a candle in the dark against a demon-haunted world. We take the best information we have at the time and act on it, patiently wait until our preconceptions are satisfied or banished, arrive at new knowledge and adjust our actions. As noted in past blogs, science is an adversarial discipline. If one comes up with a new theory, it is the responsibility of every other practicing, published, peer reviewed and skunkworks scientist to challenge, test and either prove or disprove that theory.

Though over 97% of those meteorological scientists qualified to comment intelligently on the subject have concluded that natural climate change accelerated by human activities on the planet has reached an emergency level, it is still debated by media pundits and their politically motivated guests.  It is a similar story with the coronavirus pandemic where qualified scientists and doctors are urging communities around the world to follow recommended health guidelines while they urgently try to create safe and approved vaccines, as political psychopaths and media apparachiks attack their messages.

Overshadowing the scientific and medical messages, in great part due to a media that thrives on hyping emergencies, disasters, and political “scandals” for its corporate ratings, is the deadlier pandemic. This infection comes from giving the “alternative truth” group, including paid actors who pretend to be “concerned parents”, the same amount of air time, or more, than legitimate scientists, ethical journalists and trusted educators.

When a world “leader” is identified by the World Health Organization as the leading cause of misinformation about the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, you have a bigger problem than a deadly microscopic virus. You have the deliberate dumbing down of human intelligence that pushes herd stupidity to the brink of the Sixth Extinction.

Science knows.

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Skid Crease, Caledon

 

TO MASK OR NOT TO MASK?

That shouldn’t even be a question. Earlier this month, in response to the rapid spread of a deadly global pandemic, the Region of Peel made a decision based on medical and scientific advice. The wearing of non-medical masks in indoor enclosed spaces and outdoor spaces where social distancing was not possible became mandatory on July 10, 2020.

This emergency by-law was passed by the Councils of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga for as long as our medical Officers of Health deem necessary. This temporary mandatory masks by-law is much like the permanent seat belt, no hands-held phone texting or talking, no smoking/vaping in shared enclosed spaces by laws. They are intended to protect ourselves and others from injury, illness and possible death. This is not like the “No Shirt, No Shoes No Service” signs that pop up in store windows during the long hot Ontario summers.

If, for example, our Premier happened to walk into the local corner store with no shirt and no shoes, that would be offensive and not aesthetically pleasing to the general public, and very disturbing for young children. But if our Premier walked into that same store maskless during a coronavirus pandemic, he could potentially be infecting the staff and other customers.

Here’s another example. Consider that not following the mandatory mask by-law in the Region of Peel, or anywhere else where the virus is active, is like driving drunk without a seat belt while texting on your hand-held cellphone as you speed through a red light. Someone could die.

Testing for COVID-19 lets you know if you are positive or negative with the virus. The tests are NOT 100% accurate and persons with the virus may be asymptomatic, not showing any outward signs of carrying the disease. Wearing a mask and social distancing is the easiest way to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. We have the by-law so all we need now are educated and respectful citizens to follow it.

However, as expected in any democratic society, while there are no differences in the facts, there are differences of opinion. South of the border, they have coined the term “Donnie and the Boogaloos” for groups of people resistant to medical and scientific health measures. Here in Caledon I have named them “Ronnie and the BooBoos” being any group of people who brag about never buying or ever wearing a mask. We can find them lined up at hardware stores and coffee shops all around the Town.

Unfortunately, given that we have so few by-law officers, there is little enforcement of this by-law and store owners are left with the responsibility of educating their customers. As one community minded business man told me recently, “Skid, we’ve posted the signage at our entrance. These resistors are belligerent. I can’t afford a confrontation with a customer who refuses to comply.” And I can’t put my family at risk by entering a premises where there is not full compliance.

One of our local Councillors told me recently that he had received many more calls complaining about the mandatory mask by-law than the few he got about the traffic calming (excellent work by the way) at the four corners intersection in Bolton. Another Councillor wrote to me: “There are many residents who are in support of this issue but there are others who are not.”

This is not an “issue” and in my humble opinion, based on medical and scientific reports, there are not “fine people on both sides” of this mandatory by-law. To mask or not to mask shouldn’t even be a question our citizens our asking. Comply with the By-Law. Don’t be one of the “BooBoos” – wear a mask!

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RETWEET ON TWITTER #WearAMask #COVIDIOTS

Earth Day 2020, from a window

To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, “This is the way Earth recovers, not with a bang, but a whimper.”

When Eliot wrote The Wasteland in 1922, he probably didn’t have a future global coronavirus pandemic in mind. More like the wasteland created by the horrors of World War One and the “Spanish Flu” as it was called then. This virulent H1N1 swine flu virus actually spread from Austria and France to Spain in 1918 and then was carried home by returning WW1 soldiers. By 1922 it had indeed produced a wasteland, infecting over one third of the world’s human population and resulting in at least 50 million deaths.

Today, the world’s pre-pandemic human population sits at over 8 billion very consumptive, fossil fuel based creatures. COVID-19 has put the brakes on that consumption. It is very fitting therefore, that Earth Day 2020 be celebrated quietly, with no human crowds gathering in the streets or parks or schoolyards for the usual symbolic one-day reprieve of our relentless assault on Earth’s systems.

Since 1970, throngs of well-wishing people have gathered around the globe for one day of green Kumbaya singsongs and tree plantings, and the very next day go right back to consuming as if we had six planet Earths in reserve. Not this year. This year, Earth gets a reprieve. An Earth day with no humans trampling down the delicate spring rebirth. This year a real Earth Day.

For us watching from the windows, there is quiet. Fewer cars in the streets, fewer trucks on the roads, less polluted air to breathe. Far away in Italy, overcome with pandemic deaths on the one hand, the canals of Venice are running clean for the first time in decades. As millions of birds begin their spring migration back to honeymoon haven in the north, fewer Fatal Light Attraction deaths are being reported as office towers sit black at night. (It’s NOT the windmills Mr. Ford.)

This Earth Day is different. We sit inside and have family meals, play board games, tell tall tales. If we venture quietly outside it may be to marvel at the new spring flowers slowly appearing. or to listen to the birdsong, to plant a few seeds in our backyard planter box, to say thank you to the trees in the local park for refreshing our air and climate. Perhaps we walk with family members, or a few friends (five or less, all six feet apart) and wave at neighbours watching from their windows.

Here in Caledon it is cold and sunny on this Earth Day, and quiet. It gives us a chance to listen to Earth song, perhaps like the great Eastern seaboard blackout of 2003 gave us a chance to star gaze in awe as the Milky Way swept across the sky. Now in 2020, with the fossil fuel motors of industry and transportation reduced to a whimper, perhaps now we can listen again.

Perhaps here in the beauty of King and Caledon it is easier for us to listen. It is much more difficult in crowded cities around the world and in rural areas steeped in famine and poverty. Even in developed cities in North America, the clarion call of individual rights trumpeted by evangelical conservative republicans threatens the silence. A healthy quiet on this Earth Day can only prosper in an environment of respect that honours community responsibilities over individual rights.

When the pandemic has passed we can gather in noisy mobs debating the finer points of Ayn Rand’s philosophy versus the community conscience of a just society, but for now let’s just stay home, stay healthy, and watch from the window.

A wise and wonderful human named Father Thomas Berry once wrote, “For centuries we have been autistic to the voices of the Earth. It is time we once again joined in the grand liturgy of the Universe.”

On this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, it’s a good time to listen. The way I see it.

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Skid Crease, Caledon