Thursday, March 18, 2021

Thursday Morning Links

This and that for your Thursday reading.

- Steven Lewis writes that the Saskatchewan Party's mealy-mouthed messaging around the coronavirus looks to be a calculated political choice which is having devastating public health consequences:

There has been a pattern in Saskatchewan's communication about COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. The language is deliberately elastic. It is long on encouragement and exhortation and short on directive. It is more like a public health campaign to reduce smoking rates or encourage physical activity than a mass mobilization in the face of an emergency. 

The subtext is almost therapeutic: you might want to think about this or that, I'm not going to tell you what to do, you have to want to change. You can imagine the fingers crossed behind the back or the permissive wink.

Is this mere bumbling and ignorance of the evidence on how to succeed and how to fail at pandemic control? It's possible but unlikely. The approach is too consistent. No one is winging the messaging after a year of practice. 

Nor is it plausible that the public servants, the public health leadership and the cabinet are unaware of which jurisdictions did what, and the impact of those policies and practices. Yet Saskatchewan consistently drops the ball.


(T)he people more inclined to take the pandemic seriously, examine the evidence and listen to public health experts will do the heavy lifting. The gamble is that there are enough of them to give the skeptics and die-hard libertarians a free pass from the consequences of their own choices. 

When the majority takes adequate precautions, the recalcitrant minority also benefits, its safety subsidized by the sacrifices of others. A few hundred cases spread in bars or churches are, on this logic, the price worth paying for keeping the base happy while counting the days until the vaccine cavalry charges to the rescue.

I could well be wrong. Maybe politics has nothing to do with it. The alternative explanation — refusal to learn and adapt, disdain for expertise, bewildering obfuscation — is less flattering to the government. So in the spirit of charity, I cling to the hope that the premier's persistent dodge is artful, the handiwork of a clever strategist rather than one woefully out of his depth.

- Meanwhile, Chuck Collins points out that the U.S. could fund the majority of its COVID-19 relief by taxing back the wealth accumulated by billionaires as the rest of the population has suffered. And Oxfam notes that the Trudeau Libs have decided not to take steps to make Canada's revenue collection more consistent with a feminist recovery.

- Alastair Gee writes about the danger that our climate breakdown may mean the end of forests as they've existed for thousands of years. And Jonathan Porritt warns against the hype that we can avert climate change through nuclear and hydrogen power which will ultimately serve mostly to ensure that an exploitative resource extraction model remains profitable. 

- Regan Boychuk reports on Alberta's belated suspension of SanLing Energy for ignoring obligations to put up $67 million to fund massive end-of-life obligations for its oil facilities. And Sammy Hudes reports on a similar order against Mojek Resources Inc. 

- Finally, Nicole Abbott offers a personal account as to why Canada needs pharmacare for all.

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