The Plague-Ground – Walk and Chew Gum.

When one thing is a disaster in your life, that’s manageable. Two things and it’s a crisis. Three – like lose your job, lose your health and lose your spouse — and you have permission to pull the covers over your head and never come out.

I have a feeling the Trudeau government is headed to bed.

It’s trying to cope with two unrelated crises and is doing a bad job at both. The first involves its abusive relationship with China and the second, its indifferent rollout of COVID vaccines. Actually, what these crises share is a view to solving them that makes the phrase ‘wishful thinking’ come out of the Prime Minister’s mouth as “steely determination.”

First, China, which swept Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor off a Beijing street over two years ago. This followed the arrest on December 1, 2018, of Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei, who was detained when her plane landed in Vancouver on an extradition warrant by the US.

Canada isn’t the only country caught in China’s new “wolf-warrior” diplomacy. Just ask Australia which is in a perpetual pissing match with China who believes that both it and Canada are the snivelling lapdogs of American foreign policy. But at least Australia nips back at the wolves.  After all, as Bill Bryson noted, Australia has more things that will kill you than anywhere else.

Canada’s chronic niceness, so resplendent when everyone’s obeying the rules, turns into congenital weakness when they aren’t.

Which brings me to the Stockholm Syndrome, the phrase we give to people who fall in love with their captors. Canada isn’t yet there in its relationship with China. But its persistent denial that it is in thrall to China’s muscle-flexing didn’t all happen after the two Michaels’ kidnapping. It’s been around for years – and seems to be growing.

Here are three examples:

1. For many years, Canadian soldiers were doing winter training in northern China as part of a joint military program with the Chinese.

2. Beijing is partnering with Canadian-owned Shopify to sponsor leading-edge computer and electrical engineering research at Chinese universities. The Chinese government’s funding of this research will give Shopify access to intellectual property it otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

3. Back in 2010, the Chinese parliament voted 260-0 to boycott the Winter Olympics in Canada because of how badly we treat our Indigenous People. In fact, the Chinese Parliament called it “genocide.” However, President Xi Jinping and his entire central committee chose to abstain from the vote.

If none of these examples is familiar to you, it’s because they don’t exist.

Oh sure, they’re real.  But I’ve switched “Canada” for China” to illustrate how absurd it is that Canada would let Chinese soldiers train here for years, or fund Huawei’s research at our universities, as it’s still doing. Or, as happened yesterday, vote 266-0 to call out China’s treatment of Uighurs as ‘genocide‘ – with the entire Liberal Cabinet abstaining from the vote.

And why did it flee from taking a stand against China in using the word “genocide” to describe its own people when our Prime Minister used the same word to describe Canada’s treatment of our own Indigenous Canadians?

Because Mr. Trudeau is afraid of offending China. It’s all reminiscent of Voltaire’s saying: “To know who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.”

But what does our China crisis have to do with our vaccine crisis?

They’re connected by Ottawa’s handling of them. In both cases, the strategy seems to be that words speak louder than actions, and that planning is best done on the back of an envelope in the cab on the way to the press conference.

How else can we explain Jason Kirby’s animated chart that reveals how well Canada is doing in the race to the bottom in getting us all immunized? Our little red box just keeps falling, past Serbia, past Chile, well past Turkey.

Ottawa won’t reveal the details of the many contracts it’s signed (more than any other nation!). I’m not talking about pricing details, but delivery details. You’d think they would at least tell these details to their provincial colleagues who are in charge of getting the vaccines into our arms. But no.

So let me ask: do you have any idea when you’ll get vaccinated? Or how? Or where it will happen?

Me neither.

Do you have any idea how Ottawa plans to end its cold war with China?

Me neither.

All I know is we deserve better from our leaders.


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1 thought on “The Plague-Ground – Walk and Chew Gum.”

  1. Bob, I agree completely with you on China but I am disappointed by your comments on the vaccine race. We can certainly fault the Federal Government to some extent for not trying to build manufacturing capacity sooner but isn’t the lack of domestic capacity the fault of all Federal Governments over the last 20 years. I’m particularly disappointed that you seem to be succumbing to the wave of hysteria that is prevalent in some quarters regarding the temporary suspension of Pfizer shipments. Surely you knew that they closed down the factory for 3 weeks or so to expand capacity – short term pain for long term gain. The PM has said repeatedly that we will get all of the shipments we contracted for by March 31 so lets wait until then before passing judgement.

    As for your questions – “do you have any idea when you’ll get vaccinated? Or how? Or where it will happen?” YES to all questions. I am 72 and have read I will be vaccinated in April or May. I will probably get an email from my family doctor saying I am now eligible. I will be directed to book an appointment online somewhere or to call a particular number and told where to go for my inoculation. I will probably be given a specific day and perhaps have the option of choosing a time. Since the process has been decentralized to the 34 health units, it may vary somewhat depending on the health unit. Stiff upper lip, Bob! Lets stay the course.

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