Don Martin: Second lockdown is coming, but Canadians could resist house arrest


OTTAWA – Here we are again as a lockdown and tight restrictions to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in a besieged country. Ontario is set to fire the lockdown gun in and around Toronto on Friday.

That, plus a “sudden stop” to social events in Alberta, tough stay-at-home orders in Manitoba, new restrictions on households in Saskatchewan, a planned extension of the Christmas school break in Quebec and others. restrictions announced by British Columbia on Thursday mean all Canadians outside of Atlantic Canada are going back in time to the March Madness.

But beyond the question of whether it will work better the second time around, there is another concern: Will Canadians accept a long, cold winter under house arrest?

This ride is different from last spring, when near full compliance emptied highways, closed offices, ended school years and reduced the silence of playgrounds.

Then there was a general feeling that each individual effort would help the national cause or, conversely, that the risky behavior of one was a risk to many and should not be tolerated.

But there is a furore in the country that believes governments and public health officials have dropped the prevention balloon between Wave 1 and Wave 2. And the rebellion against a do-over takes root.

After all, provincial governments (with the exception of Alberta) still don’t tell us how the coronavirus is spread and why it’s coming back with such vengeance.

They display the daily death toll from coronaviruses, but do not reveal whether the cause was related to other health problems or old age.

We are given the “positivity rates” of lab tests, but insufficient resources for contract tracing to identify and isolate those who might be infected beyond each positive result.

Rapid tests are proving to be extremely slow to deploy and Health Canada is not even looking at home tests yet.

And it doesn’t help when the message gets ridiculous, for example, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health talking about a green Christmas; green like Ontario being in the lowest pandemic zone, not one without snow cover.

It took about 10 minutes for the medical community to dismiss this as such a weak hope that it almost rivals Donald Trump’s disinfectant injection treatment for the virus.

Everything has become a disjointed national game of catching up with COVID-19 and confusion with prime ministers trying to be seen doing Something, although that might not do much to combat a spread largely due to their inability to calm the second wave sooner.

Exhibit A: British Columbia Premier John Horgan on Wednesday called for a nationwide ban on non-essential travel without disclosing any evidence the virus is being imported from out-of-province visitors.

Then there’s our pandemic leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who acts as if the war on COVID is his own secret mission.

Under the bombardment of Question Period on Wednesday, his answers could be broken into three paragraphs.

The vaccine doses? A LOT (in fact the most of any country on the planet per capita).

Vaccine approvals? To come up!

Distribution of vaccines? Planned!!

Lack of detail is unlikely to give tired Canadians the encouragement they need to get through what is to come.

So here we are again with banned social gatherings, banned sporting events and closed restaurants even though they took all the right precautions.

All that’s going to do is trigger some underground social events, let’s just pick something weird in the air, places like a storage facility. (OK, that actually happened when 100 people partied last weekend just outside of Toronto.)

And don’t forget Christmas, a holiday Trudeau suggested could be saved if we all sacrifice enough family time over Thanksgiving.

Sorry, he will say soon, but that will not happen. Well, humbug.

Obtaining public buy-in for the difficult challenge ahead requires a three-step rehabilitation of all levels of government.

They must produce clear evidence to support COVID mitigation measures. They should undergo rapid tests in stores or, preferably, at home. And they should give Canadians a roadmap to the promised land of mass immunization.

Only then will public confidence in government to deliver effective pandemic drugs will get a boost.


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