Happy birthday, Dad

Many guys will understand what I mean when I say this: your father is both a bit of light, and a bit of shadow, over your path through life.

Mine, T. Douglas Kinsella, MD, OC, would have been 89 years old today. So many years after we lost him, he remains a constant in our lives. He still illuminates some of the path. Without even being here, he still quietly persuades me to examine the choices I have made.

Me? I have made bad choices. I have been reckless and cruel with too many. I have not lived by the single rule he left us.

“Love people, and be honest,” he said to us, and I often feel I have done neither.

He saved many lives as a physician, and he won accolades, and he was a member of the Order of Canada. But for us – my brothers, my nephew he raised, my closest friends – he was the man we aspired to be. Not for the distinctions he received, but for how he was, in his heart.

He was unfailingly honest; he was kind to everyone he met. He married his high school sweetheart, and was with her every single day for 50 years, and my God how they loved each other. We would sit there at the kitchen table in Calgary or Kingston or Montreal, and we would listen to him. He’d listen to us, too, and persuade us to try and figure things out. There were some great times, around that table.

The best thing is having a father like that. The harder thing is knowing that you will never be like him.

I had a dream that he died in 9/11; I don’t know why, but I did. I woke up weeping, and remembered that I wasn’t a boy anymore, and that he has been gone for more than a decade. I don’t think he would like what his son has become. I mostly don’t.

So I put on my pants and shoes, and went out into the day, looking for what’s left of the path.

Happy birthday. I miss you.


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