In the midst of a pandemic, Robin Sears writes, we are losing trust in our governments. There are ominous signs on the horizon which we must change:
The transgressions of the pandemic flouters’ partying, mask refusal and resentment at any forced changes in their private lives stems from one place: their declared mistrust of government.
Trust is breached when mistakes are ignored or denied by those accountable. So, how many apologies have we heard from the owners of some appalling long-term care facilities? Not an apology from a hapless LTC home manager — real apologies from the chairs and CEOs of the big chains. Perhaps starting with Mike Harris, the chair of Chartwell Retirement Residences, a firm who put out a stunningly insensitive self-congratulatory news release in May, with no hint of apology, and apparently none since.
Perhaps the best index of Canadians’ mistrust is this: the large number who say they will not take any vaccines. Although the number is coming down, it is still nearly one in three among us. This is seriously dangerous territory. If vaccines are forcibly mandated or restrictions are imposed on the freedoms of those who refuse, we risk serious civil unrest. If vaccination is not required, we will hit wave after COVID wave.
We should ensure that trusted senior physicians, faith leaders and academics also have effective platforms as vaccination advocates, not just politicians or public health officials.
This was never going to be easy. Our attention spans and our patience has, over the years gotten shorter. On the other hand, we're better than the naysayers claim. And trust works both ways:
Our leaders need to trust Canadians to be willing to endure tougher and tighter restrictions now. There appears to be a division developing between those provinces moving quickly with tough measures, such as B.C., Manitoba and Nunavut, and those that are not. Premier Ford appears to have returned to his early pandemic form — serious, empathetic, and persuasive — in announcing tough new measures on Friday.
Nearly every other government is either hesitating to impose broad and painful restrictions, or proposing completely unrealistic measures, such as Quebec’s complete quarantine one week before and one week after Christmas. It seems certain to fail. New Democrats and Greens have wisely demanded Ottawa and the provinces offer financial assistance to families in near lockdown.
We can get through this -- with the right leadership -- and with a commitment to the common good.