My latest in the Sun: the pandemic “process”

A process.

That’s what the Deputy Prime Minister calls you getting the vaccine that will keep you from getting sick, or maybe even dying.

“A process.”

Chrystia Freeland, who is usually much more precise with words than her boss, actually said that this week.  Here’s what she also said to a gaggle of Ottawa reporters: Canada is “well-positioned” on vaccines. And: Canadians needing the potentially life-saving Covid-19 inoculation will need to wait “a while.” 

A process.  A while.  What, exactly, is a well-positioned process that takes a while, Deputy Prime Minister?

At her Monday press conference, Freeland also said this, in French: “Our federal government has contracts for purchasing the most successful candidate vaccines. Canada has a group of vaccines that include all the vaccines that have produced positive results and include other candidate vaccines which we believe will be successful. That is a good thing.”

And it is indeed a good thing.  Pfizer and Moderna have developed vaccines that have been shown to be more than 90 per cent effective with every age group. That’s good news for humanity, generally, and Canadians, in particular.

But here’s the problem: Americans and Britons and Mexicans and Germans – and many, many other allies – are starting massive and integrated campaigns to vaccinate their citizens soon.  As in, this month.

Canada? Well, it’s a process.  In a while.  We’re well-positioned, though.

The Prime Minister was pressed on this last week.  He said: “If all goes according to plan, we should be able to have a majority of Canadians vaccinated by next September.”  September. Quote unquote.

You don’t need a degree in geo-politics, or epidemiology, to get the difference.  Elsewhere in the world, millions of people are going to be lining up to be vaccinated in December 2020.  

In Canada? Months later, in September 2021.  “If all goes according to plan.”

That ten-month difference is big.  Really big. It’s the stuff of electoral defeats, and Trudeau knows it.  So he has sent out Liberal proxies and fart-catchers to blame Stephen Harper and/or Jean Chretien.  Free trade is to blame, claim the straight-faced Trudeau folks, because we lost our drug-manufacturing capacity to evil free trade deals.

Well, no.  Check with the aforementioned Chrystia Freeland.  She spent many, many hours crafting a new free trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico.  Check with the many, many pharmaceutical firms in the province of Quebec who have been manufacturing drugs here for decades.  Ask them.

Besides, it’s baloney.  Canada had a deal with China’s CanSino to develop a vaccine.  Sources tell this writer that if the Trudeau regime had been a bit more savvy in its dealings with the Chinese, that deal could have been maintained.

But it fell apart.  The Canadian deal with was struck in March, when the pandemic was raging.  Trudeau endorsed the deal in May – but in the very same month, the Chinese abruptly changed their vaccine export rules.  They barred export of the CanSino vaccine. Given the fact that China has illegally imprisoned – and allegedly tortured – two Canadian citizens, Trudeau shouldn’t have been surprised by that.  At all.

But Trudeau didn’t start looking for another deal, media have reported, until August.

And that, mostly, is why Justin Trudeau now has that deer-in-the-headlights look.  He knows that a ten-month wait will enrage Canadians, and almost certainly spell the end of his minority government.

It’s not “a process,” Prime Minister.  It’s not something that should take “a while.” 

It’s the most important thing of all: a vaccine to free us – our economies, our children, our lives – from the shackles of the coronavirus.

We don’t want a process.  We don’t want positioning. We want the vaccine.



[Warren Kinsella was Chief of Staff to a former federal Liberal Minister of Health.]


Twenty years of

Twenty years!

I don’t know exactly the day, because I didn’t bother to write it down. And the Wayback Machine website isn’t all that precise.

But it does indeed seem to be true: is 20 years old. For a web site – not a blog! – that seems like a long time.

We’ve been through a lot together, me and this little web site. The birth of Son Three (Daughter and Sons One and Two predated it). The death of my Dad. Two marriage break-ups. Deaths of dear friends and people I admire.

Started Daisy Group – which was terrifying and rewarding all at once – and built a multi-million-dollar company that has employed dozens of amazing young people, who all went on to do great things. Became an adjunct professor at my alma mater, the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Law. Gave speeches, sang for my supper.

A few books: Kicking Ass In Canadian Politics, Fury’s Hour, The War Room, Fight The Right, the X series books: Recipe For Hate, New Dark Ages, Age Of Unreason. (I like Fury’s Hour and New Dark Ages the best.)

Four SFH albums and two singles, two Hot Nasties EPs. Lots of videos. Tons of shows. Best ones: opening for the Palma Violets in Toronto (and playing with them in L.A.), plus serving as Frankie Venom’s backing band in Hamilton for his last-ever show.

A third Chretien majority. Three McGuinty majorities. Big Joe Biden win (in which I played a minuscule role) and a big John Tory win (in which I played a bit-larger role). Losses of which I remain deeply proud, because I backed the better candidate (Hillary Clinton, Sandra Pupatello).

A pandemic, a global economic collapse, recessions, other stuff like that.  (Won a hundred bucks in the lottery, though.  There’s that.)

Oh, and as many as six million visitors a year to this wee web site. And not one penny paid for the many (actual or threatened) law suits. Not one cent.  Got a few threats of violence and death, along the way, too. Whatever.

I’ve written stuff I’m proud of, stuff that makes me wince. I’ve made predictions that were right (Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee, Kamala Harris as his VP pick, his precise electoral college win) and some that were comically wrong (provincial elections in BC and Ontario). I’ve written things that perhaps made you laugh, made you cry, made you get off your ass and do something. Hopefully.

Over the years, it’s been made clear to me – many times – that I could have made a lot more money by kissing ass on this web site. Could’ve been invited to more state dinners and all that. By saying nothing about, for instance, a Liberal leader who wore racist blackface and obstructed justice. But I just can’t. I won’t.

It’s not me. I’m an old bastard, I guess, but I’ve got a 16-year-old punk inside my chest, still, swinging fists and yelling at the racists and the liars. Spitting, dancing, raging.

Twenty years! It hasn’t ever been very profound, as I like to say, but it’s been all me.

Thanks for reading it.


My latest in the Sun: the vanishing vaccine

Politics is all about symbols. Ask Jimmy Carter.

Remember him? He was one of the very few one-term presidents. Usually, presidents get elected for two terms. It’s pretty hard to be defeated after just one.

Carter, a Democrat, was defeated in 1980 by something that happened in 1979. Forty-one years ago this month, a gang of jihadist Iranian students stormed the US Embassy and seized 52 American citizens and diplomats who worked there. They were held hostage for 444 days.

Four hundred and forty-four interminable days. Every night on the news, on every broadcast, newsreaders would somberly remind millions of Americans  that it was day whatever of the Iranian hostage crisis. It happened night after night after night. The networks even had special graphics made up for it.

And it all ended Jimmy Carter‘s presidency. The hostages were only released at the precise moment that his Republican challenger, Ronald Reagan, was sworn in as President of the United States.

In politics, it’s never one thing that kills you. It’s an accumulation of things – notably, an accumulation of bad luck. The Iranian hostage crisis was like that.

So is the growing vaccine scandal in Canada. It doesn’t have a name yet, but it is growing.

The scandal, as everyone knows by now (or should), is this: our allies are going to start vaccinating their citizens in a matter of days.

The British have more than 1000 vaccination locations that will be operating seven days a week across Great Britain, starting next week. Two weeks after that, the Americans will commence vaccinating millions of their citizens every single month.

The Germans and other allies, too, will kickstart massive vaccination programs in the month of December.

In Canada, none of that is going to be happening. In fact, in Canada, the federal government can’t even tell us when we will be receiving a life-saving anti-COVID 19 jab.

A deal with China fell through in May. A plan to build a National Research Council vaccine manufacturing facility in Quebec was also a spectacular failure.

And, now, we have now learned that the federal government has no Plan B. We are in line, reportedly, behind 2.5 billion other people in other nations. They will receive the vaccine first. Not us.

December 2020: that is when Justin Trudeau may start to see a political doomsday clock clicking down on him, and his government.

In that month, Canadians will start to see some thing that no amount of cheery Trudeau morning spin will obscure: citizens in other countries receiving the vaccine. With each passing day, with each snippet of footage showing relieved  folks resuming normal lives, Justin Trudeau‘s reelection prospects will start to shrink. Dramatically.

For the past four years,  Trudeau  has greatly benefited from comparisons to US president Donald Trump. On ethics, on race relations, on just about any issue, Trump has always managed to make Trudeau look good.

That is no longer the case. Whatever his failings, Trump and his administration instituted Operation Warp Speed: a massive and integrated effort to get vaccines delivered to state governments. And from there, into the arms of American healthcare workers and the most vulnerable.

If he has any legacy at all, it will be that: Donald Trump actually delivered the vaccine to Americans pretty quickly. So did Boris Johnson in Britain and Angela Merkel in Germany.

Justin Trudeau? He has indisputably and spectacularly dropped the ball. He had months to develop and implement a plan to ensure the Canadians receive the same vaccines that our allies are going to be getting, at the same time. He failed.

Is this Justin Trudeau‘s Jimmy Carter moment? We shall see.

He has survived many other scandals – the Aga Khan scandal, the SNC-Lavalin scandal, the WE charity scandal. He has had more lives than a cat.

But his nine lives may be running out. His luck may be running out.

Ask Jimmy Carter, he’ll tell you: when really bad news is repeated night after night after night, it’s someone else writing your political epitaph.

Justin Trudeau‘s failure to get a vaccine for Canadians may well be his.

[Warren Kinsella is a former Chief of Staff to a federal Liberal Minister of Health.]

Yo-yo Ma is a godlike genius

Just read the interview with him in the New York Times Magazine. He’s just brilliant. Full interview here.

Snippet here:

Do you think music is fundamentally good?

That’s a good question to ask and very hard to answer. It’s as if you’re asking me “Are people fundamentally good?” I don’t think people are fundamentally bad. But in the interaction of figuring things out or wanting more of something or less of something, then complex things come into play.

I ask because your work is rooted in the idea of music as a value-positive, ennobling thing.

But music is also used in every possible awful context. Can we delineate music from the intentions of the people using it? Music connects human beings. It brings people together. You can also describe it as energy: sound that moves air molecules. So a marching band will energize an athletic game or bring people to war. The bagpipe is used for war, for entertainment, for funerals, for weddings. Music is not one thing. It’s something that people react to. But your question — “Is that good or bad?” — it depends on circumstances and individuals and timing. The invention of something starts out being more or less value-neutral. Agriculture: Nothing bad about it. But if you’re able to grow a lot of vegetables and I can’t grow any on my land, I might want to get some of your vegetables.