Thursday, December 17, 2020

On non-goals

The combination of Paul Merriman's appalling use of poll numbers as a measure of COVID success - followed by Scott Moe's feckless response - has rightly been the subject of plenty of criticism. But it's worth a reminder that there's nothing new in either of their messages - such that those criticisms are properly seen as addressing structural problems with the Saskatchewan Party, not personal foibles or slips which can plausibly be minimized.

Let's remember after all that Moe's own reaction to public awareness of the coronavirus was to use it as an excuse to hold a snap election. And even after that plan fell apart, the Saskatchewan Party gleefully attacked Ryan Meili as "Dr. Doom" for attempting to have the government take COVID-19 seriously, delayed and minimized any response to the coronavirus in order when it wasn't convenient for their own budget message...and bragged about polling results which were supposed to show a romp in the making. 

So there's absolutely no air of reailty to Moe's attempt to spin Merriman's message as being a one-time mistake. To the contrary, it fits perfectly into the Saskatchewan Party's longstanding pattern of behaviour prioritizing polls and political interests over the lives of Saskatchewan people.

But the more important part of Moe's attempt at damage control is this:

Moe said he doesn’t know if there is a measure of success when it comes to tackling the virus.


“I don’t know that that’s a measure of success … the answer to that question. What are people going to recall when they talk about COVID in two years is something that I most certainly am thinking about today,” said Moe.

“How do you measure success (against) a virus that we are still sorting out, trying to learn?”

Of course, one answer would be to compare Saskatchewan to jurisdictions which have actually been successful in fully containing COVID-19. And there's no reasonable explanation as to why Moe has chosen needless viral spread and human suffering over real public health measures which would be far better for people and the economy alike.

But even if we assume Moe is incapable of the type of leadership necessary to defeat COVID-19 entirely, one of the issues consistently raised by Meili and the NDP has been the need for clear objective standards and thresholds to inform our reaction to the spread of the virus.

At times, we've received that from the chief medical health officer Dr. Shahab. But it appears that even nine months into a pandemic, Scott Moe still can't even conceive of the possibility that we could set defined markers of our success (or lack thereof) in responding to COVID-19.

Needless to say, a government's refusal to accept that it's even possible to define success makes it virtually certain that we'll make no meaningful effort to achieve it. And that only figures to set the stage for many more abject failures to come.

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