Editorial – Is there a middle ground?

Jeff Burgar

CBC is reporting “secret” recordings of provincial government meetings! At those June meetings, responses to deal with the exploding COVID-19 cases in Alberta was the hot topic.

According to the news report, health officials wanted more lockdowns. Politicians from the UCP pushed back. They argued the damage to the economy would be too much to bear.

The whole gist of the reporting was health professionals are the right people to deal with the pandemic. Politicians are, well, just plain ol’ dumpster divers who don’t really know what is best.

Alberta action is a huge improvement over the American message. There, Liberal politicians are tripping over themselves to make new rules, shut down businesses, and censor critics.

Now, it is true we won’t be asking local MLAs Dan Williams or Pat Rehn for medical advice. Like why our arm is numb sometimes or why it’s hard to see at night. We also won’t ask our favourite nurse for advice on what car or truck to buy. Our neighbour next door or Cousin Bob across town will probably give us just as good advice.

To paraphrase quotes from the CBC story, “The level of political direction — and, at times, interference — in Alberta’s pandemic response is revealed in 20 audio recordings of the daily planning meetings. Taken together, they reveal how Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, and other cabinet ministers often micromanaged the actions of already overwhelmed civil servants; sometimes overruled their expert advice; and pushed an early relaunch strategy that seemed more focused on the economy and avoiding the appearance of curtailing Albertans’ freedoms than enforcing compliance to safeguard public health.”

Really? If one really follows the “expert” course of action, logical and correct action from a health point of view, is shut down everything. Schools. Businesses. Hospitals. Industry. Absolutely no personal contact of any sort. Absolutely no shopping and no home delivery. Absolutely no touching of things that might be contaminated.

As the movie line goes, “Nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

As soon as somebody says, “Hang on, that’s too extreme!” they are really in politics.

Today, we have elected officials making the case for not as harsh methods as what the health folks want. No nukes. Health officials – “Nuke em.”

Yet, we all really want a happy, safe, middle ground. That includes health officials.

Hopefully, we will find it together. The simple reality is, despite all the years of books and plans how everybody is going to deal with disaster, we are all winging it. We are indeed in uncharted waters. We find it telling that few people in the CBC story would let their names stand. Almost everybody in government said they had to be anonymous, fearing losing their jobs. But it is OK to utter recommendations that could mean thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of other Albertans, will be out of work? And possibly, no way to recover from lockdowns?

Nukes might well be the final answer. But recovery from that is forever.

Share this post