The past few weeks have seen an alarming number of bizarre news stories emerge that must surely have tested the average Canadian’s faith, not just in politicians but in many of our fundamental democratic institutions.
Take, for example, the premier of Ontario and his cabinet, who apparently thought it would be prudent to wait and see whether the modelling projections provided by their own health care experts proved to be accurate or not. Put another way, they decided to fiddle while Rome burned. Sure enough, the projections were accurate and even somewhat optimistic, and Ontario is now caught in a firestorm during the third pandemic wave. Adding insult to injury, the Ford government dithered for days over whether to enact tougher restrictions and, if so, where and how. The resulting delays have been catastrophic for essential workers, various COVID hot spots around the province, and the medical workers dealing with overflowing hospital emergency wards. Not surprisingly, the premier is now reduced to asking Ottawa and the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia for help.
For those tired of news from the pandemic front, there have been equally bizarre bulletins from the justice system. The decision by (male) prosecutors to lay a charge against a VICTIM of sexual assault, for example, beggars belief. And why? Because she communicated the results of a trial in which her ex-spouse was found GUILTY to close family and friends. Unbeknownst to her, this act was seen as breaking a publication ban, regardless of the fact that this is typically something put in place to protect the victim’s identity, not that of the perpetrator. Yet it was the convicted ex-spouse who complained that his identity had been revealed. For him the crown’s decision to prosecute must seem like a gratifying form of revenge. Of course one might also wonder at the decision of the (male) judge to convict, to say nothing of the alleged recommendation of her lawyer to plead guilty. Unless this decision is overturned on appeal, the implications for the victim are significant, including a $2,600 fine and a criminal record that could make both employment and travel to the United States difficult if not impossible. As another veteran of the court process declared, “even when you win you lose.” For the more than 50% of Canadians who share the victim’s gender, this event – so widely reported – is undoubtedly going to result in even less willingness of sexual assault victims to brave the system at all.
Meanwhile in the nation’s capital the leader of the opposition Conservatives, Erin O’Toole, launched what he described as a major new initiative to reduce greenhouse gases, a plan most experts believe could actually INCREASE the consumption of fossil fuels. And having criticized the governing Liberals for introducing a carbon pricing plan — which the Conservatives have always described as a carbon tax — O’Toole is now insisting that his own pale imitation of the Liberal carbon pricing plan is NOT a tax. No, it is actually more like a loyalty card plan. Worse still, most experts agree the plan would result in increased costs for government and a significant increase in the number of public servants required to administer it, all of which used to be anathema to Conservatives.
Outside of politics entirely, Canadians have been treated to the ludicrous spectacle of NHL management seriously considering a schedule of 19 games in 31 days for the COVID-decimated Vancouver Canucks, in order to salvage the season, before the players themselves objected and called a time-out.
One might easily ask what planet some of these actors have been inhabiting lately. Luckily there have also been amusing distractions from the steady stream of depressing news, including the British drama over whether princes Harry and William will be walking together in their grandfather’s funeral procession, or who in the federal virtual parliament decided to take a screen shot of a nude MP. A personal favourite is the breaking news that researchers have now established conclusively that some 2.5 billion T-Rex dinosaurs once roamed the earth. Some might suspect a few of them are still at large.