Image courtesy of Mandabor's Blog
Image courtesy of Mandabor's Blog

Political Ineptitude, Not the Coronavirus, Is Killing Our Industry

The federal government has been waffling on the general availability and distribution of vaccines to Canadians to fight the virus epidemic that has stopped the world in its tracks, and clearly it has no coherent path to resolving a plague that was first flagged eleven months ago.

It has been general knowledge that the Calgary International Airport has been offering joyriders knockdown-priced tickets to sun spots since November, and that lax measures for inbound travellers using Pearson International and other major air transit hubs have allowed passengers to continue to travel in Canada using public transport and commuter flights without rigorous restrictions placed on them.

This lack of a consistent and preemptive set of rules to contain the virus nationwide is insanity. Sporadic lockdowns have temporarily halted the spread of the virus and a temporary reduction in the number of new cases, only to be followed by spikes whenever the stay-at-home rules are relaxed.

Incoherent planning: I’m writing this editorial from a small town in the Laurentians. Here, in Quebec, the government has sent a clear message to the retail community at large that “non-essential items” cannot be sold in stores as a measure to dissuade people from going out for anything but essential purchases. Costco and Walmart and other general goods stores have their aisles stocked with electronics, home essentials, clothing and kitchenware cordoned off. Go across the border, to Ontario, and I can buy all these goods in these very same stores. I ask you, why does one have to outfit one’s kids with winter wear by shopping at Amazon or driving to an Ontario big box store and not a local store in Quebec that is adhering to safe protocols?

Why do we have different rules in different provinces when the pandemic knows no borders?

Why in the 21st century has a government arbitrarily decided that electronics (computers and peripherals) are not necessities of life in a time when many of us are working from home?

Why is it that a privatized pot shop is allowed to remain open but one can't buy winter boots from a shoe store?

Why are unmasked itinerants allowed to splay themselves out over three seats in a subway car, and who is providing security for riders on public transit?

Why isn't there a national task force dealing with long-term care homes for the aged, the homeless and other pockets of the population that leave us all vulnerable and lay open the doors for more spreading of the contagion and (preventable) deaths?

Why isn't there more information about the transmission of the virus in condos and buildings with central air if airborne transmission is the number one conveyor of the pathogen?

Why aren't we given more information about how many actually die from coronavirus rather than coronavirus being a contributing factor to a death?

The point of this ramble is simply to say that the half-assed measures being trotted out by federal and provincial governments are often illogical and more than not, working at cross-purposes. Making matters worse, our lack of a homegrown remedy has put us at the mercy of foreign gamesmanship (Pfizer and the EU) and made us look like fools by our government’s imbecilic naïveté in betting early on that China would deliver its CanSino vaccine. Any village idiot could have predicted that the bully state would wield its weight to leverage its political grievances against our political leadership.

After half-assed double-speak and faltering promises, the new news of the day is that vaccines will be available for general distribution sometime in August. By which time how many will be infected? By which time how many businesses will have given up the ghost? By which time how many cultural industries will have withered to expiry?

Political ineptitude mixed in equal measure with strategic stupidity have led us down a garden path riven with failed and perhaps even false promises. Covering up the damage, the ineffectual political brain trust has opened up the treasury and, by December, thrown $240-billion at the problem as a noble gesture to fight a pandemic that stubbornly refuses to go away.

Canada’s live music industry can’t wait forever. Other parts of our industry are withering. Live-streaming is an alternative to live performance–but as is so often the case in the arts, creative endeavours are offered pennies on the dollar as a return on the valuable expenditures of capital measured in time and effort.

I have no simple answer to the conundrum we face today other than to say our associations must come to grips with the fact that our governments are playing Russian roulette with our lives and, like Julie Payette, get to walk into the sunset with financial packages that we pay for like the mugs we are.

It’s time to take action and get control over inept politicians who have shown us they really don’t have a clue how to govern in a time of crisis other than to trot out words of appeasement and promise us more stipends are coming our way.

It's time to let governments know that old school political one-upmanship is not a way forward. Maybe it's time for a War Time Cabinet. Bring in the best and the brightest and put Big Pharma on notice that there may be alternatives and not let them have us all in a stranglehold. Maybe some of our own, like Live Nation Canada CEO Riley O'Connor who is in regular consultation with Live Nation Entertainment CEO Mike Rapino, an executive with a global view and a proven track record for taking on big adversaries and major projects and winning his wars. Live Nation has a keen stake in winning this battle, and has the wherewithal to marshal leaders who can perhaps offer new ways of thinking in order to suppress this malignancy endangering us all.

We find ourselves bickering over the effectiveness of the CBC, and in-fighting over a pipeline that has been rejected by our largest trading partner at a time when the major issue of the day is getting people back to work and saving the day before the day ends us all and threatens to sink our medical system.

It’s time to stop drinking the Kool-Aid and time to hammer home a call for real action. Maybe a stop-work day when the nation stands as one to sing out Twisted Sister’s very rebellious and very apropos anthem, We’re Not Gonna Take It. Maybe a time to stop dithering and offering ineffectual promises that bolster one's standing in the polls. This is a time of real crisis, and it's time our PM stopped being his mother and acted like his father because make no mistake about it, the nation, as the world too, is in a state of crisis.

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