Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday May 9, 2020
Ontario to reopen some retail stores within days, moving with ‘cautious optimism’ amid COVID-19
Ontario will relax some of its coronavirus restrictions in the days ahead, moving with “cautious optimism” to allow garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores to reopen so long as they adhere to the same public health measures currently in place at grocery stores, Premier Doug Ford says.
The public will be allowed to shop in these stores as long as physical distancing, contact-less payment and sanitization measures are in place, Ford said at his daily briefing Wednesday.
Select retailers can reopen according to this schedule:
• Friday: Nurseries and garden centres
• Saturday: Hardware stores and safety supply stores
• Monday: Retail stores with street entrances will be permitted to reopen for curbside pickup.
The province will also expand what counts as essential construction with work allowed on condominiums and apartments, Ford said.
June 26, 2009
“We have seen in other jurisdictions that moving too fast, ignoring the advice given on this virus and even giving it an inch can set us back,” Ford said. “So we will move cautiously.”
Asked about when restaurants might reopen, Ford said his hope is that they can do so “sooner than later,” but provided no benchmark on how low Ontario’s daily new case count would have to go before that happens.
Although the government is allowing some businesses to reopen, the province is not yet technically in the first stage of its reopening framework, and on Wednesday extended its emergency orders until May 19.
Life in a Pandemic
Stage one of the reopening framework would allow workplaces that can modify operations to open their doors, the opening of parks, allowing for more people at certain events such as funerals, and having hospitals resume some non-urgent surgeries.
But before all that can happen, the chief medical officer of health is looking for a consistent, two-to-four week decrease in the number of new cases. So far, the province is in day four of a downward slope. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday May 8, 2020
VE-Day 75th: Pandemic forces move to online commemoration
After a year of bitter fighting through Sicily and up through Italy, Canadians moved to Europe where thousands stormed ashore on D-Day eventually ending the war in Europe 75 years ago today
June 6, 2019
Major public celebrations to note the several landmark events leading up to the final victory in Europe (VE-DaY)have been forced to cancel due to the pandemic. In their place a series of alternative and informative activities have been created online by many related institutions. This includes the Juno Beach Centre, Canada’s main interpretive centre and museum of the war effort located at the invasion beach in Normandy France
Marie Eve Vaillancourt is exhibitions and development manager for the centre. She says the long planning that went into the expectation of public events in and with the centre for surrounding cities and Holland, all had to be quickly turned around and online content created.She says they’re very proud of the online content which is itself informative and at times emotional. She says it’s important to inform and remember these events and people no matter by what method.
July 13, 2018
Seventy-five years ago through equally bitter and deadly fighting, Canadians pushed through Normandy and northern France and into the Netherlands, liberating along the way to the grateful joy of citizens. Other Canadians moved towards and into Germany itself, to eventual total victory.
Major public celebrations had been planned for this landmark anniversary as Canadians liberated town after town in April and into May. A huge celebration has been planned to mark Operation Faust when the Canadian army negotiated a unique ‘truce’ to truck food supplies to starving Dutch through still armed German lines.The German forces there surrenderedto the Canadians a few days later, andof course the final surrender of all German forces on May 7, to take effect May 8 ending the war in Europe, or Victory in Europe Day (VE-Day).
Ms. Vaillancourt notes that while there is very much an important human aspect to the crowds and speeches and interpersonal contacts, the online stories and information will give another aspect to this time. It will allow for greater individual learning experience, and perhaps prompt discussion within families.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 7, 2020
Farmers expected a miracle. No wonder they’re disappointed by Ottawa’s aid package
July 29, 2014
When the Canadian Federation of Agriculture laid out a $2.6-billion ask last week to help farmers endure the COVID-19 pandemic, they were setting the bar very high. And so it is little wonder that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Tuesday announcement of a program worth barely $252-million sent the farming community reeling.
Fair enough. The funding announcement was indeed underwhelming, and it will not be enough to get some of those on the precipice to stick around. Many will exit the industry, regrettably. Our preannouncement estimates were that as many as 15 per cent of our farms could be lost by year’s end due to COVID-19; Ottawa’s plans will not change that.
August 10, 2019
The $125-million program to support livestock raises a variety of questions. Executing the program will take time, something producers do not have. Few details were given about the role of provinces or how much farmers will receive. The measures presented will likely not prevent more animals from being euthanized in the days to come. Along with milk dumping, COVID-19 is serving up case studies on a silver platter for animal-rights activists. It’s a shame that our farmers have been put in this position.
May 22, 2019
Losing farms will not compromise our nation’s food security, however. Farmland doesn’t just disappear, as it can always be exploited by someone else. But the most significant concern is how we can create jobs and wealth in rural economies located far from urban centres. This should be a priority; occupying our vast nation’s topography should be top of mind, from coast to coast to coast. Ottawa doesn’t show that it cares for rural communities enough – or for agriculture, for that matter – but it should, before it’s too late.
Its response to farmers pleading for help was unsurprisingly slow as well. In the United States and Europe, most governments have provided pandemic-related financial aid directly to farmers weeks ago. In the United States, every American is providing $86 in support for agriculture by way of government-sanctioned programs; in Europe, it is over $90 per capita. Here in Canada, each of us giving six measly dollars to support agriculture. Farmers have every right to be disappointed. (Globe & Mail)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday May 6, 2020
Science vs Politics; Lives vs Livelihoods
This accursed pandemic has brought us a range of new expressions. Flattening the curve. Social distancing — or physical distancing if you prefer. Self isolation. Stay home, stay safe.
And then there’s this one. Lives over livelihoods.
Living in a Pandemic
Where, exactly, this originated in the COVID-19 context, we do not know. But it’s one of the better descriptors and we can expect to hear a lot more of it now that most jurisdictions are beginning to talk and act on reopening society and the economy. It works either way, too. Livelihoods over lives.
That’s the philosophy driving decision-making in jurisdictions where reopening the economy and relaxing pandemic societal rules are judged more important than minimizing the human toll of the virus. This would include the many states in the U.S. where governments are rushing to normalize life and working. In many of these states, they haven’t yet begun the flatten the curve. They still report many new cases and new deaths every day.
And yet the governors in those states, with full and urgent support from the Trump administration, are moving faster and faster to throw their economies wide open. Hair salons, tattoo parlours, beaches, restaurants — you name it.
Health and medical voices in America are warning of dire consequences. The most respected disease projections in that country now predict that previous death estimates will double, largely become of reduced distancing, more openness and increased mobility. By the end of May, the models say, daily reported cases will double. Up until recently, these models were regularly cited by the Trump White House as being gold standard. Now they are inaccurate, the president has decided.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is a loathesome character by any reasonable definition. But at least he is honest about America’s frenzied reopening. He says yes, more people will die, but that’s the price of renewed economic prosperity, and Americans just need to get used to it. Livelihoods over lives rules the day in Donald Trump’s America.
Thankfully, not so here in Canada and Ontario. Our political leaders still adhere to the lives over livelihoods mantra. But it’s getting increasingly difficult, as you can see by the growing agitation among people of a certain political stripe to get back to business. Not every Canadian who needs the emergency benefit (CERB) has received it yet, but already Andrew Scheer wants to talk about cutting it back so as not to be a “disincentive” to get people back to work.
You can certainly see the stress on Ontario Premier Doug Ford. This week, he is once again holding out optimism for some normalcy over the Victoria Day weekend. Just a week or so ago he did the same thing and then had to walk back his optimism because it wasn’t supported by health data.
Anyone with empathy has to feel for Ford. He’s a business-first politician in an environment that won’t allow him to be business-first. He desperately wants to hold out a light at the end of the tunnel, but he has to be careful. If he overpromises again, his credibility takes a hit. If he presides over a government that moves too quickly, he knows he will wear the increased fatality counts, just like Quebec Premier Francois Legault will if his overly-aggressive approach to reopening backfires (he has already had to delay his reopening by two weeks).
But Ford, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is unwavering. He will not put the economy first at the expense of more dead people. Trudeau and Ford will not put livelihoods ahead of lives. Even though not doing so will cost more money and inflict more economic devastation. We don’t know about you, but we’re happy to be governed by people with their priorities in the right order. (Hamilton Spectator Editorial)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday May 5, 2020
The President Is Unraveling
The country is witnessing the steady, uninterrupted intellectual and psychological decomposition of Donald Trump.
December 20, 2016
In case there was any doubt, the past dozen days have proved we’re at the point in his presidency where Donald Trump has become his own caricature, a figure impossible to parody, a man whose words and actions are indistinguishable from an Alec Baldwin skit on Saturday Night Live.
President Trump’s pièce de résistance came during a late April coronavirus task-force briefing, when he floated using “just very powerful light” inside the body as a potential treatment for COVID-19 and then, for good measure, contemplated injecting disinfectant as a way to combat the effects of the virus “because you see it gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on them, so it’d be interesting to check that.”
But the burlesque show just keeps rolling on.
December 16, 2000
Take this past weekend, when former President George W. Bush delivered a three-minute video as part of The Call to Unite, a 24-hour live-stream benefiting COVID-19 relief.
Bush joined other past presidents, spiritual and community leaders, front-line workers, artists, musicians, psychologists, and Academy Award winning actors. They offered advice, stories, and meditations, poetry, prayers, and performances. The purpose of The Call to Unite (which I played a very minor role in helping organize) was to offer practical ways to support others, to provide hope, encouragement, empathy, and unity.
In his video, which went viral, Bush—in whose White House I worked—never mentioned Trump. Instead, he expressed gratitude to health-care workers, encouraged Americans to abide by social-distancing rules, and reminded his fellow Americans that we have faced trying times before.
April 7, 2001
“I have no doubt, none at all, that this spirit of service and sacrifice is alive and well in America,” Bush said. He emphasized that “empathy and simple kindness are essential, powerful tools of national recovery.” And America’s 43rd president asked us to “remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat.”
“In the final analysis,” he said, “we are not partisan combatants; we are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God.” Bush concluded, “We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”
That was too much for Trump, who attacked his Republican predecessor on (where else?) Twitter: “[Bush] was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!”
March 26, 2019
So think about that for a minute. George W. Bush made a moving, eloquent plea for empathy and national unity, which enraged Donald Trump enough that he felt the need to go on the attack.
But there’s more. On the same weekend that he attacked Bush for making an appeal to national unity, Trump said this about Kim Jong Un, one of the most brutal leaders in the world: “I, for one, am glad to see he is back, and well!”
Then, Sunday night, sitting at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial for a town-hall interview with Fox News, Trump complained that he is “treated worse” than President Abraham Lincoln. “I am greeted with a hostile press, the likes of which no president has ever seen,” Trump said.
By Monday morning, the president was peddling a cruel and bizarre conspiracy theoryaimed at MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a Trump critic, with Trump suggesting in his tweet that a “cold case” be opened to look into the death of an intern in 2001. (Continued: The Atlantic)
“Graeme MacKay suggests that US leadership is more concerned with the economy than with the human toll. This seems like a harsh take, but, then again, Dear Leader has forbidden any members of his corona task force from testifying before Congress and has announced plans to disband the group at the end of the month.”