Monday, November 23, 2020

Leadership And The Common Good

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.



The Disaffected Lib said...

Did you ever make an intricate dish only to discover too late that you had overlooked an essential ingredient - sugar, salt, something that gives the dish its signature flavour?

That's what has happened to governance today. There's an ingredient missing and it erodes public confidence in government.

What's missing is progressivism, the bond that unites those who govern with those they govern. Progressive tenets elevate the many above the powerful. The curb corporate control of the governmental process and institutions. The public interest must not be relegated to second place. Teddy Roosevelt expressed this as well as anyone ever has.

When a country sees its people and their wellbeing as its greatest asset and responsibility it gives the rank and file a tangible interest in their government. When the people we elect to office serve those who elected them, when the public interest is not routinely subordinated to narrow, private interests, then you have democracy.

We haven't gotten the recipe right since the introduction of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We should be thankful the Charter survived the onslaught of neoliberalism and rise of the corporatist state.

We have a lot of cleaning up to do.

Owen Gray said...

For the last forty years, Mound, governments have looked after the interests of corporate shareholders. They are a very distinct minority.

Anonymous said...

Our leaders' addiction to half measures is killing us, Owen. Instead of modelling losers, like those south of the border and in Europe, we should be modelling the best practices of winners, like Australia and New Zealand.

A week ago, South Australia, which includes Adelaide, went into a six-day shutdown after hitting 22 cases following a hotel quarantine breach. People were ordered to stay home, except for essential trips for food or medical appointments. They were ordered to wear masks at all times when outside the home. Schools and businesses were closed. No exercising outside. Neighbouring states put up testing stations for interstate truckers and screened new arrivals at other points of entry. The goal was no second wave, period.

Meanwhile, Ontario's now over 1,500 new cases per day, with over 500 hospitalized and 92 on ventilators. Toronto's "under lockdown," but life goes on pretty much as it did before. People haven't been told to stay home and they head off to work and school. Our mask bylaws are nothing more than polite suggestions. Sure they've closed the gyms and malls, but Walmart, Canadian Tire and other retailers are deemed "essential" and are open. Even Lee Valley, my favourite tool store is open, although I'd hardly call it essential.

The goal here seems to be to muddle through somehow. A second wave, worse than the first, is upon us. We're not even aiming to avoid a third wave. While QC and BC used the summer months to hire and train more staff for long-term care centres, Ontario did nothing about staffing and instead is passing a law to stop LTC centres from being sued. That's not leadership, it's capitulation to corporate interests. No wonder the case count is exploding.


Owen Gray said...

The evidence is clear, Cap. We have to deal with the virus first and the economy second. But our leaders are not willing to do that.

Trailblazer said...

We have to deal with the virus first and the economy second..
NO; we have to deal with an apathetic,self centred, self righteous public first.
There are still way too many that flaunt guidelines and are in your face waiting to create public mischief if confronted.
It takes very few of these people to destroy any good done by the many that consider the epidemic serious.


Owen Gray said...

The enemy, TB, is always ourselves.

Anonymous said...

Funny how no one has mentioned the real right wing elephant in the Canadian room, one jason kenney, a man whose names should never be capitalized in print for he deserves no respect whatsoever.

This goon has gone absent for a couple of weeks while Alberta Covid-19 numbers have gone higher per day than Ontario with three times the population. He's got a bunch of lazy slow-witted cabinet ministers who mouth right wing blart like trained goldfish, is attempting to privatize healthcare, and throws away provincial pension fund money on the fantasy of a revival of the tarsand sector.

He denies reality. I have relatives in Calgary who are going quite literally nuts while this bozo of a human pursues ideological fantasies and provides zero leadership in a pandemic crisis. In fact, despite the redneck wazoos who populate Alberta outside cities and vote in these unCanadian UCP clogheads, threaten Wexit, don't wear masks and generally act like the loutish boors they are, there are several million Albertans who are not right wing nuts, merely normal people, and they are not being served well by one jason kenney, or served at all -- they are being actively denigrated. They feel trapped by nitwits in charge, and made to suffer for no valid reason other than at kenney's whim.

By comparison, Ford is enlightened, but that's not saying much. In an absolute sense he's a Con ghoul as well, just not as far down the toilet as kenney and his little pal schMoe in Sask.

I'd like to know at what point the Federal government can step in and arrest traitors. Someone said the Feds shouldn't step in on provincial matters, but kenney is beyond a joke, and Canadians are suffering under his crazed ideological rule. If the country as a whole won't protect its citizens ill-served in time of crisis by these people, then who will?

Provincial politicians are generally low grade anyway, and the current crop are uniformly next to useless, bickering over their "rights". Rome burned while the Nero Right Wing Bobblehead Band tried to play their fiddles, and failed even at that. I agree with Mound on progressivism as a way to unite citizens. The right wing low brain density people won't allow it though. Therein lies the foundation for the ruination of this country. And soon, at this rate of decline. Yet the machinations of Trump/Biden etc hold more interest for many Canadians than looking squarely at the problems in their own homeland. Time to wake up and analyze what we can do to save Canada, and let Americans get on with their death throes.


Owen Gray said...

I agree, BM. In the end, our salvation -- or damnation -- is in our own hands.

Trailblazer said...

Yet the machinations of Trump/Biden etc hold more interest for many Canadians than looking squarely at the problems in their own homeland.

Its easy to pick at the dysfunctional whilst denying the reality of ourselves.

We, Canadians 'should' be ahead of the pack we have everything going for us from an educated workforce to bountiful natural resources that have been squandered to meet foreign expectations!

Canadians and the rest of the Anglo world have been suckered in by the American dream! think George Carlin.

At the end of the day we require solutions not a place to vent !
Those solutions require sacrifice ; it's going to be a steep hill to climb.


Owen Gray said...

Lots of us have bought into Ayn Rand's notion that selfishness is a virtue, TB -- and that sacrifice is a sin.

Trailblazer said...

@ BM,

jason kenny is treading water and in danger of sinking along with his US counterparts.

Covid has exposed much of our beliefs to be erroneous.
The free market is not so free and socialism is not ( surprise)not just for the the poor!

Covid has exposed a world wide political system controlled by wealth and the control of it to be incapable of dealing with anything more than itself.


Owen Gray said...

Kenny has shown us that what he calls self-interest is really selfishness, TB -- and it's no virtue.