My latest: to vaccinate or not?

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate?

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With all apologies due to Shakespeare and Hamlet, that isn’t the question. Or it shouldn’t be.

Getting vaccinated — so, you know, you don’t get really sick or die, and/or so you don’t leave someone else sick or dying — shouldn’t be complicated. It should be easy.

But, for many, it isn’t.

Why?

The New York Times fronted a story about what it called “the unvaccinated” in Sunday’s paper. Above the fold, colour graphics, across three columns. Four bylines. Big story.

According to the Times, some 93 million Americans are unvaccinated. Given the fact that the satanic delta variant is rampaging across the U.S., sickening and killing those 93 million holdouts, the Times set out to answer the question: Why?

The 93 million aren’t a monolith. They are actually two groups in one.

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One group, unsurprisingly, are unrelenting in their opposition to vaccines. They are, the Times wrote, “disproportionately white, rural, evangelical Christian and politically conservative.”

Their opposition to vaccines isn’t about the vaccines per se. This constituency are against pretty much anything that is authored by government: Fluoridation, the metric system, bilingualism, seat belts, speed limits, you name it.

But there’s another group who are not so easily dismissed by the elites as backward, backwoods mouth-breathers. This second group, surprise surprise, “tend to be a more diverse and urban group, including many younger people, Black and Latino Americans, and Democrats.”

Democrats!

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This “diverse and urban” group aren’t as hardcore in their opposition. They aren’t saying “never” as much as “not yet.”

They have put off getting vaccinated or are waiting for more information. But therein lies a problem: The information they are getting is often bad.

Up here in the Great White North, too, government pandemic communications have ranged from incoherent to incomprehensible.

Remember our erstwhile federal minister of health demanding that we don’t wear masks? And then flip-flopping and insisting that we do? Or her insinuation that anyone who wanted to close our borders was a crypto-racist, and then reversing herself on that, too?

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Or the politicians and the alleged public health experts saying AstraZeneca was safe, then withdrawing it, then saying it was safe again, then withdrawing it yet again? All in a period of a few weeks?

With our leaders and experts so often publicly contradicting each other — and themselves — it should surprise no one that enthusiasm for getting a potentially life-saving jab would drop precipitously. Millions lack confidence in vaccines simply because they have lost confidence in the very governments who are pushing vaccines.

So, governments have tried all manner of tricks to encourage vaccination: Advertising, lotteries and tickets to special events. But millions of holdouts remain unconvinced and are still holding out.

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Plenty of other factors have contributed to our collective failure to achieve the elusive herd immunity. Geography, education, fear of deportation and lack of access to regular health care are all in the mix, too.

But conspiracy theories — as dark and despicable and dishonest as they are — have had an enormous impact on the attitudes of the unvaccinated. They’re everywhere, oozing up through dark corners on the Internet, persuading millions to take the risk of getting sick — or worse.

The conspiracy theories are myriad: That governments can track those who get a shot. That enough metal is being injected to make magnets stick to you. That they will make you infertile. That the U.S. government created COVID-19 as a “bio-weapon” to reduce their own population and defeat Donald Trump (seriously).

In Canada, we are finally doing better than the States in getting people fully vaccinated. But nearly 20% of Canadians still refuse to get a shot.

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate? For millions, that remains a question, sure. But the answer is equally clear.

Get vaccinated. Please.

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


Justin Trudeau on abortion: that was then, this is now

Justin Trudeau, July 2021: “Every woman in Canada has a right to a safe and legal abortion. It’s time men stop telling other men that it’s ok for them to decide what women can or cannot do with their bodies.”

Justin Trudeau, November 2011: “I am very personally opposed to abortion.”


My latest: ten reasons Trudeau wants to go now

Justin Trudeau wants an election sooner than later.

Why?

Because, you know, he could win it. Big. 

But, but, but: a fourth wave is coming. Jagmeet Singh’s NDP is surging. Canadians don’t like Summertime elections. The don’t-go-early examples provided by David Peterson and Jim Prentice. 

And, most of all, it may make voters really mad at Trudeau. The polling agency Nanos says nearly 40 per cent of Canadians are “upset” at the prospect of voting anytime soon. 

So, given all that, why is Trudeau jonesing for a vote now? Ten reasons. 

1. His opponents. Trudeau thinks he’s a better campaigner than his opponents, and he’s not wrong. He’s beaten two Tory leaders (one a majority Prime Minister), and he’s convinced himself Erin O’Toole will make it a hat trick.

2. The polls. He’s ahead in them, across the board. In some cases, way ahead. The Conservatives, in fact, may be as much as 12 points behind the Trudeau Liberals – which would see O’Toole resigning on election night, among other things.

3. WE forget. He made vaccine acquisition a fiasco, sure, and the WE scandal cemented the perception that he is corrupt. But voters generally have a memory span of minutes: they’ve forgotten much of that stuff. Besides, it’s a pandemic: most of us can’t recall what day it is, let alone what Trudeau did last year.

4. Dishonesty abounds. The good news for Trudeau haters: Canadians tend to agree that Trudeau is dishonest. The bad news: they think everybody involved in politics is a liar. Hollering that Trudeau is corrupt gets the Opposition nowhere, because voters believe none of them would be any better.

5. Midstream horses. There’s an old cliché about changing horses midstream. And it particularly applies to pandemic politics. Canadians may not be enthusiastic about Justin Trudeau‘s performance – and slightly more than half aren’t – but they’re even less enthusiastic about big political changes in the middle of a global public health crisis.

6. The aforementioned fourth wave. The experts say it’s not a question of if, but when. So when the fourth wave happens, Justin Trudeau would prefer it happens after his unnecessary, half-a-billion-dollar election. Not during or before.

7. The Liberal war room. Trudeau Liberals may be terrible at governing, but they’re pretty darn good at campaigning. They are prepared to say and do anything to win. Anything. If they have an ideology, in fact, it’s winning elections. Their opponents, meanwhile, I think losing is principled.

8. The media. We ink-stained wretches know that Trudeau is corrupt and dishonest leader. But, when Conservative partisans continually call us in the media similarly corrupt and dishonest, we have a tendency not to write nice things about them. All evidence to the contrary, reporters are human too.

9. Incumbency. With the notable exception of Donald Trump, incumbent governments have greatly benefited from the pandemic. Challengers haven’t. In government, Trudeau controls announcements, spending and decision-making. Power and the pandemic are his friends.

10. His ego. That’s what this election is all about. Justin Trudeau wants another majority because he wants another majority. He’s obsessed with his size, you might say, like adolescent males tend to be. And that’s why he wants an election now. Period.

Could he change course? Could he put off a trip to the residence of the newly-installed Governor General? Sure. Of course.

But my money is on an election now. 

Not later.

[Kinsella was special assistant to Jean Chretien.]