Benns’ Belief: Politicians are human — and so is learning from our mistakes

By Roderick Benns

Roderick Benns is the publisher of The Advocate. An award-winning author and journalist who grew up in Lindsay, he has written several books including Basic Income: How a Canadian Movement Could Change the World.

Playgrounds, public health now knows, are not hotspots for COVID transmissions. (File photo from first lockdown.)

As we navigate Lockdown Number Whatever due to the pandemic it’s clear the politicians are determined to simply do what they want. It’s governance by political calculus, not public health needs.

Yes, Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are human. They’re bound to make mistakes during an unparalleled crisis in our history. Other than the most partisan among us, they have been cut a lot of slack by most people I’ve heard from.

Humans, by and large though, mostly learn from their mistakes. The point at which mistakes become entrenched idiocy is also the point at which everyone suffers. It’s not just that people are tired; it’s that we’re tired of seeing our sacrifices squandered.

The prime minister clearly has no idea how to close airports. We should not have interprovincial travel; we should not have international travel — in all but the most needed of circumstances. Sorry, but your “need” for a Bahamian vacation or to see another province for fun should have had its wings clipped a year ago. Trudeau was slow to restrict travel early on, he waited too long to even limit it, and it continues to go on right now. Inexcusable.

The premier — who is responsible for this latest lockdown and all others in Ontario — started out telling you that outside playgrounds and public space in nature is not safe. He backtracked a little on that, but apparently that’s still too dangerous to do with a socially-distanced friend or family member who doesn’t live with you. Better to have your kids hunker down with another few weeks of endless Instagram and Snapchat instead of fresh air with a friend.

And hey, keep dropping your kid off to child care — no problem there. After all, many people have to get to their non-essential jobs in settings like manufacturing and other large office or workplace settings (mostly in bigger cities), all exempt from having to close. This, even though large-scale job settings are exactly where COVID variant super-spreader events are occurring.

Also, feel free to walk down to a café, go inside said café, and grab a takeout beverage. Just don’t visit with your mom or dad or adult kids, socially distanced on a back patio.

As Dr. Andrew Morris told the Globe and Mail recently, the move to limit outdoor recreational activities was a “total repudiation of science.”

Today’s headlines suggest the premier finally, maybe, will be considering sick pay for people affected by a workplace shutdown. But his initial thoughts — his political instincts, such as they were — told him to ban the monkey bars and support corporate Ontario continuing to operate unsafe workplaces.

Giving politicians the benefit of the doubt — as polls suggest we continue to do — no longer makes sense. At some point in time, after the same mistakes gets repeated over and over, isn’t it time to get a bit more “judgy”?

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