• Politics

    Pandemic Politics In Ontario

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    So it’s no secret my politics lean to the Left.

    It’s also no secret that we have a government in Ontario that leans pretty hard to the Right. Not as far as one or two of the other provincial governments in Canada and certainly not as far as significant portions of the US these days, but definitely farther than normal for Ontario.

    You probably won’t be surprised that doesn’t make me happy.

    It’s frequently said that in a parliamentary system, governments don’t get voted in so much as they get voted out.

    Before the last election, Ontario, on balance, was unhappy with the performance of the Liberal Party who had, to be fair, had too long a run of power in the province without adequate opposition. That’s why we have a Conservative government now. Not because we thought they were going to do a better job, but because enough people were sick of the Liberals and the Conservative leader looked like he could not-Liberal harder than the NDP Leader. That’s all.

    Collectively, due to a broken electoral system, we handed them a majority. 40% of the popular vote on a 57% turnout to give them 61% of the seats in the Legislature. Things never add up in a two-party system with more than two parties in it, but that’s something for another post.

    Under the auspices of that not-Liberal leader, the Conservatives immediately rolled back a whole bunch of things that were designed to help people rather than business, cut budgets to every social program they could see, congratulated themselves on how good they were at government, and told the rest of us to stop whining and suck it up.

    And long came COVID.

    Initially, I was pleasantly surprised that the crisis turned Doug Ford into something like a human being and one trying to drag the rest of his party along with him. Now, I think that was as much because he had a personal stake in things (his mother-in-law) as it was trying to step up after the realization he had to do more than just not be Kathleen Wynne for the rest of his term and coast through to re-election based on that.

    Yes, his government has followed health guidelines as they’ve received them, but slowly dragging their heels and only really enforcing things when they think they really have to.

    Then there’s the constant politicization. Lots of variations on, “I inherited this, but the buck stops here.” He’s still blaming everyone else for everything that’s wrong. And he’s including people who aren’t part of the political process, too. Union leaders and unnamed Medical Officers of Health (who “know who they are”) to pick two. We get it. You don’t think it’s your fault. Shut up about whose fault you think it is and get stuff done.

    And the false shock at the condition of long-term care facilities in Ontario irritates me. That the system was overcrowded and underfunded should not have been a surprise. He would have had reports. He must have known something because he actually split the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care into two ministries. And the current inspection regime, the one his government instituted, is risk-based. Things aren’t a problem until they’re a problem. Not enough inspections were being done when his government took over, so the solution was to do no inspections until someone officially complained.

    He keeps making threats, and mainly empty ones, about how people will be sorry if they don’t do what he wants them to do. Right, why work with the Feds and other relevant parties to figure out why things aren’t working. Sheesh, even just set out some expectations.

    The testing regime which has been a complete flop anywhere having a serious outbreak because no one seems to actually be watching it or caring how many tests get done or where.

    The 27% hike in the standard hydro rate we had at the beginning of June.

    The wasted extended March break where the province came up with nothing to help teachers and students finish the year even though they knew they wouldn’t be sending kids back to school at the end of that three weeks.

    The quietly moving on their political agenda anyway even though we have this wonderful climate of difficulty in accountability.

    Okay, time to stop ranting.

    Overall, I think the Premier has provided inconsistent messaging, regularly contradicting the ministers and experts he brings out to speak at things, and generally not taking the lead on things. Not only is Ontario lagging behind other provinces on measures and recovery, up until the last week it’s been catching up to Quebec which has a whole different set of problems and idiots in power.

    To me, it feels like he’s skating by on the bare minimum to be perceived as competent and it’s mostly working for him. He seems to say enough of the right words, and it’s good that he’s more or less getting along with the Federal government, but is he actually doing a good job?

    That’s a hard question to answer until I remember that the bar for good government is currently being set by Trump.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Opinion

    Opinions on the Internet (Or in the Real World)

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    It seems likely that anyone reading this in the moment knows that there’s a worldwide pandemic going on. There are certainly people out there who don’t get what that means, but it’s likely there are fewer folks all of the time who don’t know that something is going on.

    I’m personally in a non-essential industry and have been off work for two weeks now. Staying busy, so it’s not so bad yet. That may change. My wife works for an essential service, so her stress level is higher than it needs to be. That probably won’t change for a while.

    Busy or not, I’m spending too much time on social media. Yes, it’s most of the social I really get right now, but that’s no excuse.

    And there are trends.

    Most of those trends are people keeping themselves amused in ways that don’t involve COVID or help keep each other in touch with friends and coworkers.

    But some of them essentially boil down to opinions on medical advice.

    In terms of opinions, remember that everyone is free to hold any opinion they like, but the rest of us don’t have to agree with it or listen to it. And, really, regardless of what social media platforms would have us believe, we’re only entitled to hold an opinion we can back up with sound reasoning and facts. Anything that can’t be defended is entitled only to be dismissed. And the phrase, “I’m entitled to my opinion” is either an open admission that you don’t care about facts or that you’ve lost the argument.

    It’s hard to have an informed opinion and it’s work to make sure our opinions are as informed as they can be. Which makes us lazy, so anything we can halfway back up with a little handwavium inside our heads is good enough for the most part.

    Except it’s not.

    In terms of medical advice, I think the rest of us should be gently, and sometimes not so gently, reminding those folks to keep their medical advice to themselves and leave things to the experts.

    Because here’s the thing: except for the medical professionals, none of us really knows enough to have an informed medical opinion. And if we don’t have an informed opinion, we need to remember to trust the people we do. That’s something that seems to have fallen away from common sense in the last couple of decades. Somehow, we’ve made it so that trusting expert opinion is the exact opposite of the default. Yes, question authority. Yes, ask questions of the experts. Yes, expect explanations and clarity and transparency. When you do get it, that tells you something, too.

    I fully recognize that it’s not always easy to tell who has an informed opinion. We can only judge by their words and actions and try to figure out from that, and the people working with and against them, what politics might be involved. It’s just that a lot of times we can’t be bothered to try.

    And so we have thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people giving medical advice because of a half-formed opinion they saw on the internet or something they feel in their heart is true. It’s why there are still people saying not to take ibuprofen if you’ve possibly been exposed to COVID because that makes it worse when every medical authority has backed away from that unless you’re already one of those people who shouldn’t take it. It’s why there are still people who think their immune systems are fine and they aren’t worried about getting it so all of these precautions we’re taking are stupid and we shouldn’t be worried either. It’s why some people think silver solution will protect them from the virus, or praying, or vitamin C, or essential oils. It’s why the conspiracy nuts are in full swing warning about 5G and how it’s actually a bioweapon and that the vaccine they eventually develop will be to put mind control RFID chips in our blood and how the secret rulers of the planet are just doing it to take away our rights and freedoms.

    It might seem like I’m getting off track, but this is all stuff I’ve seen today.

    I remind myself that none of us are under no obligation to accept someone’s opinion, or advice based on it, unless they can back it up with sufficient reality. If they can’t, you can kindly remind them, with a grandiose wave of your hand, “Lo, before you is the field in which I grow my fucks. See thou that it is barren.”

    Or use nicer words. Your call. Mostly, I use the laugh emoji and move on.

    But remember that none of us is informed about everything, and most of us don’t really have a solid grasp of epidemiology, virology, or COVID itself. There are people who do, and those are the folks we should be listening to right now, not some random voice on social media.

    But hey, that’s just my opinion. We can talk about it if you like.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather