Categories for Feature

My latest: Trudeau’s shame

Shame.

At what point, in politics, do you feel that – in your heart, in your bones?

On what morning do you get up, and go into the bathroom, and look in the mirror, and wonder who belongs to the face that is staring back at you?

It’s coming.

That day when you stand at the luggage carousel in Ottawa or some town, your face buried in your device, pretending to be reading something important, because you‘re hoping that no one recognizes you.

It’s coming.

The day when you are stooped with shame, when your chest is full of self-loathing, when you realize – at long last – that you have become what you came to Ottawa to stop. To end.

That moment of shame came on Monday, this week. You sent out Marc Garneau – the former astronaut whose name is on the side of some schools in Canada, but whose name should now be chiseled off – to recite a statement, like it was a ransom note. In which he, and you, refused to call genocide by its name.

Which is genocide.

These are the things we, and you, know: the Chinese dictatorship is engaged in acts of genocide against the Uighurs, the Muslim minority in China. It is the largest act of genocide against a religious minority since the Holocaust. You know this.

You know, too, about the concentration camps. The forced sterilization of Muslim women. The torture. The beatings. The enslavement. The organ harvesting. The state-administered abortions. The removal of children from their parents, to be sent away forever.

You know about all of that. You know about other things: the three million who have been detained. The thousands of places of worship that have been reduced to ruins. The state-sanctioned murders.

You know about those things. You’ve seen the reports, written by your own people. And here is what you did about it.

Nothing.

You did nothing at all. You just sent Garneau out, his features suffused with guilt, to bleat some meaningless words.

The government of Canada, he bleated, was “deeply disturbed by horrific reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang, including the use of arbitrary detention, political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilization.”

And: “The government of Canada will continue to work with international partners To defend vulnerable minorities.”

Except, well, you don’t. You haven’t. In particular, you don’t “defend vulnerable minorities.”

You just leave them to die.

He was abstaining, said Garneau, on behalf of you. He was abstaining “on behalf of the government of Canada.”

And there, as in so many things, you are wrong. Because, while Marc Garneau’s profile in cowardice represented you, it did not represent us. It did not speak for the people of Canada.

Nor your Liberal caucus, as it turned out. All of them – every one of them – voted to condemn China’s indisputable crimes against the humanity called the Uighurs. It was a vote against you, too.

In our not-distant past, we made Nelson Mandela an honorary citizen of this country. We also did that for Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who was murdered for saving the lives of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

That’s what we do, here in Canada. We don’t have nuclear weapons. We don’t have big guns. We don’t have much of an army, thanks to you.

But what we – we the Canadian people – have is this: our voices. We raise our voices when the world is spinning off its axis, towards the Ninth Circle of Hell. As it is in northwestern China, right now. As it is for the powerless people called the Uighurs.

Canada raises its voice at such moments in history. It’s how we are measured. It’s what we are.

You aren’t one of us. You are a sad, pitiful man-boy, one who did not speak up on the one day when it mattered.

You are the one who is covered, forevermore, in shame.


My latest: the anger grows

More than 70% — that’s the percentage of Israelis, give or take, who have now received a life-saving Covid-19 vaccine.

Ironically enough, 70% also represents the number of Canadians who are angry — and, in some cases, really angry — at Justin Trudeau’s government. They’re mad because only about 3% of us have been vaccinated.

Ipsos released a poll about it on Friday.

Said the respected pollsters: “Amid news reports that the U.K., U.S. and other non G-7 countries are further along in their vaccination efforts than Canada is, a new Ipsos poll has found that seven in ten (71%) Canadians agree (30% strongly/41% somewhat) that it makes them angry that Canada is falling behind other countries in its vaccination rates.”

It pretty hard to win re-election when more than 70% of voters are angry with you, isn’t it? It’s even harder to win a majority government when seven in ten voters want to punch you in the nose.

So what could Justin Trudeau have done differently? Those other countries Ipsos refers to, above, give us some guidance.

Britain, for example, did a lousy job containing the virus at the start of the pandemic. But then they got their act together, PDQ.

The Brits were the first Western country to start mass-vaccinations back in December. They were able to do so because British drug regulators are lightning-fast — unlike the glacial drug approval process we have had in Canada.

Centralization of decision-making helped, too. In the European Union, drug approvals need to be vetted by representatives of no less than 27 member states. Britain, having exited the E.U., didn’t need to do that.

That’s not all. The British rapidly set up more than a thousand vaccination centres around the country, and had a process in place to deliver shots in arms well before the vaccines had been approved.

Trudeau’s Canada simply hasn’t done that. Instead, the Liberal Prime Minister still takes petty pot-shots at the provincial governments he needs to deliver vaccines to Canadians.

The Americans got many things wrong, too, at the start. Donald Trump famously declared the virus a “hoax” — and, when it became apparent it wasn’t, he suggested people should inject themselves with bleach.

But Trump — however lousy he was a president — actually did better on vaccines than Justin Trudeau. In comparative terms, Trump’s Operation Warp Speed was just that: a pretty speedy effort to acquire and deploy vaccines.

Operation Warp Speed delivered millions of vaccine shots before Trump was obliged to hand over the keys to the White House. It was successful because it was a true public-private partnership — unlike the situation we have in Canada, where Trudeau’s soaring rhetoric has effectively driven out the very pharmaceutical companies capable of developing vaccines.

Operation Warp Speed was created way back in April of last year — right around the time that Trudeau was still covering up the fact our CanSino vaccine deal with China had fallen apart. By moving at, ahem, warp speed, the Americans — Donald Trump, no less! — did far better than we did.

As of this writing, the Americans have vaccinated nearly 60 million of their people. Some days, they vaccinate more than two million of their citizens. Two million a day! Up here, we haven’t been able to vaccinate that many people in more than two months of trying.

We could go on, but you get the point. Countries that were doing a crummy job at the start of the pandemic — countries like the U.K. and the U.S. — learned from their mistakes.

Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, hasn’t.

He’s preoccupied himself with trying to distract Canadians with gun control measures (which everyone agrees won’t work), pious sermons about organized hate (which has exploded on his watch), and huffy denunciations of Julie Payette (who, um, he personally appointed).

Justin Trudeau doesn’t want us to think about the vaccine fiasco. But his change-the-channel strategy hasn’t worked, and it won’t. We’re really, really angry with him.

More than 70% of Canadians say so.

— Kinsella was Chief of Staff to a federal Liberal Minister of Health.


My latest: the Process Prime Minister

Process.

That’s what lawyers always say to judges: The solution to process, Your Honour, is even more process.

Now, Justin Trudeau is no lawyer, as everyone knows. His mauling of the Rule of Law during the SNC-Lavalin scandal — his obstruction of justice therein — made that pretty crystal-clear. But he sure has a lawyer’s enthusiasm for process, doesn’t he?

Actual results? Nope. Not his thing. Trudeau prefers to over-promise and under-deliver. Always. It’s stamped on his DNA.

Proof of this is found in Canada’s blossoming vaccination fiasco. At every turn, on every day, the Liberal leader’s response to the growing vaccination crisis has been to offer up sunny bromides about things that don’t matter. Process stuff.

So, Trudeau wheezes we don’t have a domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity (false). He shrugs, and says we should be comforted by the fact that we’ve purchased — but not actually received — lots of vaccine doses (also false). He says the big problem is the provinces being slow on coronavirus testing (false, false).

The actual problem is really simple: we don’t have vaccines, and the rest of the developed (and undeveloped) world mostly do. Canadians have noticed, too.

An Angus Reid survey released Friday said this: “Fifty-seven per cent of Canadians now say the government has done a poor job of securing COVID-19 doses for the population. This represents a near tripling from the number who said the same thing in early December (23 per cent).”

Among other things, that means we aren’t going to have a Spring election in the country. Good. But it also raises a rather important question: with his approval numbers in a free-fall, why does Justin Trudeau insist on prattling on about process, instead of actual results?

The New York Times, of all newspapers, came up with an answer last week. Self-appointed progressives, the Times wrote, always prefer process. It’s their emotional support animal.

Here’s what the Times wrote. It’s worth quoting.

“Early in the pandemic, countries with populist, right-wing governments were suffering some of the worst outbreaks. Their problems all stemmed partly from leaders who rejected scientific expertise. More progressive and technocratic countries (like Canada) were doing a better job containing the pandemic. Politicians who believed in the ability of bureaucracies to accomplish complex jobs were succeeding at precisely that.”

Then something weird happened, noted the Times.

“But over the last few weeks, as vaccination has become a top priority, the pattern has changed. Progressive leaders in much of the world are now struggling to distribute coronavirus vaccines quickly and efficiently.”

The European Union vaccination effort has “descended into chaos,” said the Times. Democratic states “are below the national average.” And Justin Trudeau’s Canada is “far behind” the United States, the Times stated.

“Far behind” is right: the National Post published an extraordinary front page this week, listing the number of countries ahead of us on vaccines, in headline-sized fonts: 37 of them. THIRTY-SEVEN.

The reason, suggested the previously-Trudeau-fans at the New York Times? Process.

“Why?” queried the Times. “A common problem seems to be a focus on process rather than on getting shots into arms. Some progressive leaders are effectively sacrificing efficiency for what they consider to be equity.”

And therein lies the best explanation of all: Justin Trudeau is just being who he is. He prefers process over results. Talking over doing. Sizzle over steak. Always.

Missing from The New York Times‘ sober assessment of our vaccination failure? A pithy summary of Canada’s situation. So here it is, gratis.

We are so, so screwed.

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


My latest: five solutions to Trudeau’s vaccine problem

If you have a problem and you have a solution, you don’t have a problem anymore.

If you have a problem and you don’t have a solution, you have a way of life.

Barbers and cab drivers being the source of all known wisdom, a long-ago Ottawa barber was the source of the truism found above. It came to mind when this writer was considering the deep hole Justin Trudeau has dug for himself.

He — and we — need solutions. Fast.

During the pandemic, all of us have had too many statistics thrown at us every day. It gets a bit overwhelming, at times.

But consider these four statistical facts. They underline how much trouble Canada’s prime minister is in. They underline how much trouble we Canadians are in, as a result.

Fact one: On Sunday, Joe Biden’s America vaccinated 1.5 million citizens. On some previous days, the Yanks vaccinated in excess of two million Americans.

In Canada, on the same day, we vaccinated around 12,000 people. That’s it.

Fact two: Joe Biden hasn’t been president for three weeks. In the first two weeks or so, his administration oversaw the vaccination of 24 million Americans. That’s what the newly minted president has done so far.

In Canada, that’s around the same number our supposedly experienced prime minister hopes to have vaccinated — by this summer.

Months from now.

Fact three: The United States, the United Kingdom and Israel will achieve vaccinations of 75% of their populations this year. Israel, in fact, will likely do that in the next two weeks or so. That’s what the experts call “herd immunity” — and a return to a normal life.

Canada, Bloomberg reported this week, “may need close to a decade” to reach the same levels.

Close to a decade!

Fact four: Less than one-half of one per cent of Canadians have been fully vaccinated. That’s it.

Less than one-half of one per cent.

We have a problem — a big one. We can complain about that, or we can start finding solutions. Here’s five possible solutions to consider.

One, get out the chequebook. That’s what Israel did. They paid Pfizer three times what we are paying — and they have already vaccinated two-thirds of their people. Drug companies, like ’em or hate ’em, are in business. We need to do better business with the companies making those vaccines.

Two: Do multiple vaccine deals. That’s what other countries have done. Ensure the vaccines are safe, of course. But don’t just bet on one horse. Bet on all of them — that way you ensure you’ve got the supply you need when you need it.

Three: Have a plan to deploy when you get that supply. That’s what the Americans are doing this week. Joe Biden knows that the vast majority of Americans live within 8 km of the nearest pharmacy. So, this week, he’s sending trucks containing vaccines to corner drug stores across America — to ensure even more Americans get the life-saving shot.

Four: Stop the games, Justin Trudeau. Stop the politics. Come together. Convene a war cabinet. Trudeau needs to pick up the phone and get Erin O’Toole and Jagmeet Singh onside. Make them part of a true Team Canada effort — because, make no mistake, we are in a war. No more political games, Trudeau: Bring everyone together in common purpose.

Five, and finally: Stop the BS. Stop the exaggeration. Stop the lies. Start telling the truth, and saying — like Trudeau did on Friday — that everything is going according to plan. Things are not going according to plan! We need to know the truth, Trudeau. Start telling us the truth.

Why? Because we have a big problem — a problem that literally means life or death for many, many Canadians.

We need solutions now, Justin Trudeau. And if you won’t provide them?

Then get the hell out of the way.

— Warren Kinsella was Chief of Staff to a federal Liberal Minister of Health