Editorial – Nothing normal about last year

Jeff Burgar

It’s getting so normal out there, we think by the time summer rolls around, we will be fast asleep from boredom.

The past year was completely different. Very exciting, in a bad sort of way. Close friends and relatives sick. Far too many deaths. Many from circumstances like putting infected people in care homes, even known at the time as dangerous. Politicians out there telling us to visit and party as usual. Politicians telling us it is all the other person’s fault. Businesses closing. People not working, or working from home. Schools closing. Major events cancelled. Who knew what to believe?

News was already out in January of last year there was a bad disease out there in the big wide world. Yet too much of what was happening that month was tainted by politicians and media. Mostly, trying hard to make American president Donald Trump look bad. As Trump closed borders, his opponents belittled disease warnings.

The Edmonton Sportsman Show was scheduled last year to begin March 12 for their four days of show. Exhibit halls were filled with exhibitors and their displays, many of which were set up over the previous three weeks or longer. The show actually opened on that Thursday. In the early Thursday afternoon, it shut down over virus fears.

Thus began in Alberta a cascade of big and small event closings that continue to this day. President Trump was correct. His opponents, critics, and almost all of the North American media were completely, unashamedly, totally wrong. They still have not apologized for misleading the public and this atrocious disregard for public safety.

Equally galling is the fact “news” media is always, by definition, looking for news. Things happening every day and every week, things not out of the ordinary, are not news. Yet, last year media tried so very hard to make then president Trump the “out of the ordinary” news item. “Nothing to see here folks on any front. Just that crazy president. Move along, move along.”

Today, in the face of third and fourth waves of COVID, most media tells us normal life is returning.

Really? Well, good news so far is both the Ponoka Stampede and Calgary Stampede this summer are returning. The Slave Lake Angler’s Cup fishing tournament returns this June. There will be other events returning.

Yet, it’s touch and go those small businesses forced to close will reopen. For many, COVID and restrictions are devastating. This is where the real test of “normal” will be measured. Despite their best efforts, many people running businesses before COVID are not excited trying to keep them going. Other people are finding great futures out there working in new areas.

“Normal” we have to say, is not going to be at all like the old normal. Whether you loved Trump or hated him, Trump was a huge distraction in the news. Media, and in turn the influence of their cherry-picked anti-Trump news agenda, overwhelmed us all.

Maybe this year we can pay attention again to the business of Alberta, the business of building our communities, and making them the best they can be.

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