Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday July 28, 2020
Right-Wing Media Stars Amplify Trump’s ‘Law and Order’ Campaign Message
July 21, 2020
To his legions of listeners, Rush Limbaugh calls the demonstrators in Portland, Ore., “anarchists” who “hate Americans and America.” He recently made an ominous prediction: “I can see secession coming.”
On Fox News, Sean Hannity describes the scene in Portland as “a literal disaster area — and, yeah, it looks like a war zone.”
On Wednesday, Breitbart News — which features a “Riot Crackdown” page on its website — published an article declaring, “Now would be a real good time to do whatever is necessary to obtain a permit to legally carry a handgun.”
Right-wing outlets and conservative media stars have seized on the weekslong protests in Portland as a rallying cry for law and order, instructing their followers to fear for their safety and blaming Democratic leaders for failing to restore peace.
Their commentary — beamed out daily to millions — has increasingly mirrored the fear-laced messaging of President Trump and his re-election campaign, which has warned that a Joseph R. Biden Jr. presidency would usher in chaos and routine violence in the streets. With the November election looming, Mr. Trump has pledged to send forces to Chicago, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and other major cities.
Conservative pundits, typically no fans of an overreaching government, have thrown their full support behind federal agents who have used militarized tactics like firing tear gas at protesters and have pulled some demonstrators into unmarked vans since being deployed to Portland in recent days.
In fact, the scenes broadcast by channels like Fox News and One America News send a misleading portrait of the city, where daily life has been relatively calm outside of a small area downtown. (New York Times)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday July 25, 2020
Announcement coming next week for plan to reopen Ontario schools
January 31, 2020
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says that the government is “finalizing the health protocols” for the resumption of school in September and that an announcement could be coming as soon as next week on what it will look like.
Back in June the Ford government asked school boards to prepare three separate plans for the resumption of classes – online learning only, a hybrid model with children attending classes in-person on alternating days or weeks and the fulltime resumption of in-person instruction.
The boards still have until Aug. 4 to submit those plans but Lecce revealed on Thursday that an announcement could be coming before then on the various regulations and rules that schools will have to follow.
April 30, 2020
A spokesperson for the education minister later clarified to CP24 that the announcement will pertain to “consistent standards” that will be put in place at schools across Ontario on things like seating arrangements and the wearing of masks.
The decision as to which model a particular board follows will still be left with local public health officials, the spokesperson said.
“We are finalizing the health protocols and working very closely with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and some of the best pediatric minds in the nation that are informing the plan,” Lecce said during a press conference in Brampton. “We believe we will be able to unveil it next week. That will include additional supports and resources to enable our boards to succeed.”
May 26, 2020
Lecce initially said that individual school boards would be able to choose which plan they want to follow based on the risk posed by COVID-19 to their communities.
Premier Doug Ford has since said that he wants students to return to school fulltime in September provided it is safe to do so.
Yesterday, Ford said the public should be open to unorthodox ideas to keep kids safe, such as holding class outdoors.
Life in a Pandemic
“The premier and the government continue to be focused on a safe, conventional, day-to-day return to school,” Lecce said Thursday. “Maybe a new conventional where kids still can go to school five days a week.” (CTV)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday July 24, 2020
Is the WE Charity affair Justin Trudeau’s sponsorship scandal?
With each new revelation in the rapidly snowballing scandal surrounding Ottawa’s aborted plan to contract out a multimillion-dollar student volunteer program to WE Charity, it gets harder to know whether to be more outraged, disgusted or flabbergasted – or some measure of all three.
July 9, 2020
Outraged that, in the middle of a pandemic that has left millions of Canadians out of work and Ottawa digging a deficit hole for the ages, our federal government somehow thought it urgent and appropriate to spend nearly $1-billion on a program that appeared to serve no one’s interest more than its own and those of the organization chosen to run it.
Disgusted that, as average Canadians struggle to set aside a few dollars every month to donate to their local church or food bank, the federal government would reward a charity that defiles the notion of do-gooding by offering “complimentary” trips across the globe to their rich donor friends in high places, absorbing funds that might otherwise have gone to actually doing good rather than just generating good PR.
December 14, 2016
Flabbergasted that, after already twice being entangled in ethics investigations due to his own disregard for the basic rules of conduct, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds himself at the centre of yet another such inquiry owing to what can only be described as his own hubris and gall for having the nerve to think that no one would notice.
We knew before this scandal erupted that Mr. Trudeau and WE Charity had for years formed a sort of mutual-admiration society. No other major political leader has appeared at more WE Day events or been greeted with more ebullient praise by the organization’s co-founders, Craig and Marc Kielburger. It had become hard to distinguish between WE Charity’s stated goal of “inspiring a generation of leaders and change-makers” and the blatant politics and campaign-style atmosphere that such forums provided Mr. Trudeau.
July 11, 2020
We learned a bit more about the incestuousness of this relationship when Mr. Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after participating in a WE Day event in London alongside Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton and actor Idris Elba. A picture posted on her Instagram account shows the trio with their arms around each other, along with Ms. Grégoire Trudeau’s mother-in-law, Margaret Trudeau, and sister-in-law Alicia Kemper. WE Days had become a family affair for the Trudeau clan.
September 22, 2017
We have since learned that Margaret Trudeau was paid more than $300,000 to speak at several WE Day events, which, no matter how much you admire her, should strike you as unsettling. Ms. Trudeau may be her own person, but nothing she does now can be considered separate from her son’s political career. That can be a double-edged sword for Mr. Trudeau, but not in the context of a WE Day event.
Now it appears that much of the apparatus of government jumped through hoops between April and June to drum up a program, the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), that – go figure – not a single federal department or agency or private-sector organization had the wherewithal to administer. None, that is, except for WE Charity, which just happens to have been facing financial disaster as the pandemic dragged on.
April 8, 2004
The closer you look, the more this situation resembles the sponsorship scandal of the late 1990s that tarnished the Liberal brand for more than a decade until Mr. Trudeau revived it.
The sponsorship program, concocted by then-prime minister Jean Chrétien’s government, involved doling out bogus contracts to Liberal-friendly advertising companies under the auspices of promoting federalism after the 1995 Quebec referendum. Then-auditor-general Sheila Fraser concluded that Ottawa “broke just about every rule in the book” in awarding such contracts, which lined the pockets of Liberal donors.
February 9, 2005
That scandal, which eventually spawned a public inquiry, led to criminal charges. And though there is no evidence of criminal activity in the awarding of the CSSG contract to WE Charity, there is a certain similarity in the absence of checks and balances in the procedures followed in outsourcing the grant program. The proposal appeared to sail through cabinet. If any ministers raised red flags about the appearance of conflicts of interest or lack of due diligence regarding WE Charity, we have yet to hear about it.
The sponsorship scandal started off small. The entire program did not involve large sums of money, given the overall size of the government. The program was peripheral to Ottawa’s primary missions, which made it seem kind of innocuous at first.
The WE Charity scandal is starting to look eerily similar. It’s an afterthought in the context of the current crisis Canada faces – yet it’s too rotten-smelling to ignore. (Konrad Yakabuski – The Globe & Mail)
Countries around the world need to form cyber attack agreements to avoid going down a path to “mutually assured destruction”, Tony Blair has said.
August 1, 2019
In the wake of the report into Russian interference in British democratic processes, the former prime minister called for states to “push for some common form of standards”.
Without such a framework, he warned, countries would be carrying out cyber attacks the “entire time to each other”, putting global security at risk.
In an interview with the PA news agency, Mr Blair, who was a leading Remain voice in the 2016 referendum, said he was “not one of those people who thinks the Brexit result came about as a result of Russian interference”.
March 21, 2018
But he said: “If they are interfering, and they will want to interfere, because obviously it is the policy of the Russian government to have a weaker West, and so you can see why they might want certain results to happen in politics.
“If they are trying to do it, then you need to take countermeasures.”
Mr Blair said that the “heightened ability to use cyber in destructive way” meant that at some point “the world is going to have to come to a set of agreements and protocols on this because otherwise you are going to be down a path of mutually assured destruction”.
“These capabilities are only going to grow, they are going to become more and more sophisticated, and governments are going to use them.
“But to be clear, that capacity has got to be developed in order to defend yourself as a country and then you’ve got to know how to both thwart interference and cyber attacks.
“And in the end you are going to have to push for some common form of standards here, otherwise countries are going to be doing it the entire time to each other and then the security of the world gets put at risk.”
Earlier this week, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) accused the Government of being slow to recognise the potential threat posed by Russia to British democratic processes and of not properly considering whether Moscow could interfere in the Brexit referendum until after the event.
Mr Blair said: “I don’t know that people turned a blind eye deliberately – but the fact is that if a foreign government is essentially engaged in trying to disrupt our democratic process, whether they are successful in it or not, of course you’ve got to act. (Newschain.uk)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday July 18, 2020
Why has there been no public information campaign about face masks?
May 6, 2020
On 24 July it becomes compulsory to wear face masks in shops and supermarkets in England. What determines how we can expect such measures to play out? Largely, three things: how confident we can be in the available evidence, the size of the estimated effect among a compliant population, and the degree of compliance.
While a lot of attention has focused – rightly – on the first two of these, the third is equally important. Compliance not only encompasses questions of whether there is adherence to the guidance, but also the quality of the adherence. It is instructive, then, to compare the case of face masks with that of another very recent public health intervention: the recommendation of handwashing to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Handwashing is simple for most people. It is relatively cheap, and the means required to comply with the request – soap, running water – were largely already available in March, when advice on doing so began. While prior knowledge on handwashing existed, public health campaigns emphasised how best to do so, with simple messaging – “sing Happy Birthday twice” – combined with regular social media and TV campaigns providing more detailed advice.
April 9, 2020
Wearing a face mask is a more complex and costly act, and less familiar. People will face various difficulties in complying. Assuming that any positive effect of making masks mandatory exists, it is vital that these benefits are maximised and any potential downsides mitigated. This raises many additional questions. What sort of masks should be worn? How should they be worn? How often can they be worn? How often do they need to be cleaned? Is it more important to emphasise mask-wearing for certain groups? Might it be sensible to not recommend mask-wearing for others?
Life in a Pandemic
All this means at least two things: first, we need a public information campaign that helps widespread, effective compliance. This must not say simply “wear a mask”, or bury the answers to these questions on a government website; it should make the guidance highly visible and clear to understand. The World Health Organization has produced infographics and films that provide a good template.
Second, compliance needs to be possible for everyone. This crisis, and actions taken to mitigate it, has already had a devastating financial impact on many people. The price in a supermarket for a disposable face mask is about 70p: that cost has to be multiplied by the number of daily trips on public transport where masks are already mandatory – and, in one week’s time, will be multiplied by the number of visits to a shop or supermarket. While fabric masks are available, they need to be washed regularly – the WHO says at least once a day – adding more costs. Face masks are already being given away for free at some Network Rail-operated train stations: this could be rolled out more broadly, to other public transport hubs and at supermarkets. (The Guardian)