2021 in review

I don’t like to talk about how the year has been for me – because so many people are having a tough time.

But for me, I can’t deny that it has been a truly great year. And I’m very grateful for that. Humbled by that.

In no particular order, here’s some reasons why:

• My family and friends are safe and healthy

• We beat Maxime Bernier in a major court decision – decisively

• I worked for Joe Biden – and he won (it was in all the papers)

• I got to write for a fun, scrappy paper, and have some amazing colleagues there

• Raised thousands for suicide prevention, my major cause

• Painted paintings and sold – lots of them, to my amazement

• Built an amazing cabin on 15 acres – we call it Crow’s Head and it’ll be open for rentals soon

• Daisy Group had the best year ever – and the best team ever. And we’re growing again – thanks to amazing clients and amazing colleagues

• Built a glass house at my PEC place – you have to see it to believe it

• Befriended some brilliant and beautiful people – but I think may be settling down a bit in 2022

• Did a Beetle refurb and it kicks ass

• Moved into a loft on Queen Street – and it is pretty cool

• Did the Kinsellacast, did Sparky and wrote more music

Anyway. I’m grateful for all of that, and more. A friend said to me that I’m living my best life, now, finally.

And I am. Happy 2022. It’ll be better!

My latest: fearless predictions to disregard!

Warning: Reckless, feckless predictions ahead. Buckle up, readers.

A year ago, 2021 was supposed to be the cure for 2020. Remember that?

Now, 2022 is supposed to be the cure for 2021. Will it be?

Well, those of us in the predictions business have learned — the hard way — that things that haven’t happened may, um, never happen. The future is indeed unwritten, as Joe Strummer of the Clash liked to say.

But here’s some predictions anyway. If I’m wrong, I’m counting on all of you to gather around my stool at the Midtown Brewery in Prince Edward County and remind me. I’ll buy.

Justin Trudeau: He’s gone into the witness protection program since the election, and his Liberal Party is accordingly up in the polls. That should tell Liberals — even him, the ostensibly top Liberal — something. Assorted ambitious Grits are pawing the dirt, waiting for the starting gun. But, to mix metaphors, will Trudeau go for the proverbial walk in the snow in 2022? My hunch: No. Every leader prefers to leave on a high — and, until the pandemic fades from memory, Justin is staying put. He wants to be remembered for sunshine, lollipops and sunny ways — none of which have been in abundance, lately. (Besides, those of us in the columnizing business want him to stay. He’s the worst prime minister in memory, and he gives us stuff to write about.)

Erin O’Toole: The Conservative Party doesn’t know what it is, it doesn’t know what it wants, and it doesn’t know where it’s going. As such, O’Toole is the perfect Tory leader: He doesn’t know any of those things, either. O’Toole arguably isn’t human: He’s a colour, beige. He belongs on a wall in a government waiting room, not in Parliament. What does he believe in? What does he care about? Who knows. This is seen in O’Toole’s tendency to have multiple positions on single issues. Carbon taxes, assault weapons, abortion, gay marriage, vaccinations: On the stuff that matters, O’Toole is in tatters. That said, he’s unlikely to be jettisoned by his party before the next election: As noted, Tories don’t know what they want or need, and — until they do — he’s safe at Stornoway. Doing whatever it is he does.

Jagmeet Singh: With the notable exception of Tom Mulcair — who, while a dislikable rageaholic, arguably deserved a second chance — New Democrats are enthusiastic about losing. It comforts them, like an old blanket, because it is all they have known. Case in point, Singh’s former boss at Queen’s Park in Ontario, whatsername. She’s decisively lost three (3) elections in a row, and her party still sticks with her. That’s good news for Singh, who is the part-time federal New Democratic Party leader, but the full-time enabler of Justin Trudeau’s every legislative desire. It’s the best job Singh’s ever had: He’s not going anywhere anytime soon, either.

The Damned Virus: I was talking to a psychiatrist friend, recently, to ascertain what people were feeling about the Omicron variant and what it has done to the holiday season. “They’re pissed off,” said he, using expert psychiatrist terminology. “They believed in vaccines, they played by the rules, and they feel angry and depressed that things are worse than ever before.” All that is true, but this writer verily believes this is true, too: For COVID-19, Omicron is good news and bad news. It’s good for COVID because it is so wildly infectious. But it’s bad for the pandemic, too, because Omicron may signal that COVID is mutating itself out of existence. As my smart health-care politico pal Dan Carbin told me this week: “This has been the end game (all) along. Viral mutation to an infectious, but mild, virus. Like the other four endemic coronaviruses, all of which likely killed a lot of people when first introduced. The last was likely the flu of the 1889-91, which killed one million. And is now a cold.”

That’s my big — and, as it turns out, only happy — prediction for 2022: COVID is always going to be with us, like its bastard siblings, the flu and the common cold. But it is not going to upend our lives as much as it did in 2020 and 2021.

That’s my big prediction. And if I’m wrong, come find me on my stool at the Midtown.

But don’t forget your mask and vaccination passport!

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

My latest: governments, naughty list

In political life, certain things are predictable.

Predictable things include: elections. Also: votes. And: speeches. Almost always: scandals.

Out here in the real world, there are predictable things, as well. There are too many to list.

But ever since Jesus was a little fella (literally), people have gathered to celebrate Christmas. And: Hanukkah. And: Kwanza. And: Festivus.

It’s predictable. At this time of year, people want to get together more than any other time of year. You can set your watch by it. (Again, literally.)

During a deadly global pandemic, with a Satanic variant disrupting countless lives, it’s hard to predict stuff (eg. Omicron). But people wanting to see friends and family in the month of December?

Has your family’s Christmas been impacted because someone has, or is suspected of having, COVID?

That’s as predictable as you can get. Which, ipso facto, raises one question, now being raised on many lips:

Why weren’t governments better prepared?

Because, let’s face it, they weren’t.

This year, Santa wasn’t being lobbied for Cabbage Patch Kids, Furbys, Tickle Me Elmos, or Nintendo Entertainment Systems.

Nope: this year’s must-have Yuletide item was a rapid antigen test. That’s what we all wanted under the tree, this year.

But forget finding one, particularly if you live in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario or Quebec. In those provinces, rapid antigen tests — the quickie COVID-19 tests that you can do on your own — were harder to find than toilet paper in a pandemic.

It’s not like Canadian governments didn’t have them, either. The federal government claimed it had sent 80 million tests to the provinces. The provinces, meanwhile, issued lots of statements insisting the feds had delayed or bungled distributing the tests.

Ontario, for one, said it had distributed 50 million of the tests throughout the province — including, incredibly, at liquor stores — but good luck finding anyone who actually got one. First Nations communities in Northern Ontario reported having to drive 400-plus kilometres to find a test, maybe, in far-away Thunder Bay.

Quebec witnessed massive lineups at pharmacies. In Alberta, people reported visiting multiple distribution sites, none of which had any left. Nova Scotia ran out.

In B.C., the government withheld tests, targeting places with COVID outbreaks, and wasted precious time breaking packages of tests into smaller kits.

It was no surprise, then, that rapid antigen tests starting popping up on Amazon and eBay, where scumbags were charging — and getting — hundreds of dollars for tests they’d earlier obtained for free.

The Angus Reid Institute did a poll about it all, and found two-thirds of Canadians wanted the tests free and universal. And more than a quarter of the country said they wanted to find a rapid test. But couldn’t.

Not surprisingly, about half of the poll’s respondents said their province had done a poor job distributing the tests.

(This writer’s personal favourite, however, was Manitoba: the geniuses running that province decided to distribute KN95 masks — another hot item in the 2021 holiday season — at liquor stores and casinos. Winners: slots-addicted alcoholics! Losers: Manitoba children!)

It’s right there on the calendar, Canadian political folks: December. We have an abundance of holidays in that month, when people want to — need to — get together with loved ones.

And you screwed that up — with test kits, with masks, with boosters.

All of this was predictable, Canadian governments. And your failure is therefore unforgivable.

Enjoy the coal you’ll be getting in your stockings.

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