Are our leaders gaslighting us?

As our economy reopens, I’ve noticed a steady trend amongst our political leadership. Often quick generalities are announced, but when requests for details are made, those are often left to others to be made. Credit to be given for declaring a loosening of restrictions, but deciding what new regulations are required for us to return to work safely…that’s someone else’s job.

Look no further than to my hometown for example. Back on June 8th, Premier Ford announced certain regions of the province would reopen for business under stage 2. In breakneck speed, the four Halton mayors along with the regional chair issued a letter requesting Halton to be included in stage 2. Low and behold less than a week later, Halton was included in stage 2. Success!

Not quite though. The issue of face masks remained. Many citizens of Halton region wanted to see mandatory orders for face mask use indoors. Yet the regional mayors resisted. Citing the reasoning that the Medical Officer for Health in Halton has not issued an order yet, was not an acceptable answer for many Halton residents. Soon after reopening their regions, Toronto and Peel issued mandatory face mask orders. Many other regions in the province are doing so out of an abundance of caution to keep their numbers down. When faced with this from residents, less than 24 hours later the Halton mayors relented and issued that they would be bringing it to their respective city councils to be voted on.

This doesn’t seem to be an isolated case. It’s a trend starting at the top of the political pile. It was easy to shut down the economy. However, needing to restart an economy under new regulations and social distancing guidelines is easier said than done. It requires some rethinking of how businesses will conduct themselves. How do you reinvigorate confidence from a public that has been told to avoid businesses for months? What new requirements might a business need to undertake to ensure public safety from now on? These are difficult and not easily answered questions.

And yet our leadership tends to shirk the answer, delegating it to lesser entities. The above state example is one. Going one level above to the provincial government, one wonders why Premier Ford didn’t just issue a mandatory mask order province wide to ensure our numbers stay where they are. Broader than face masks, one wonders about the seeming inconsistencies of reopening our education system and the economy. I’ll go into that in depth tomorrow I think.

Even at the federal level there are questions about why we need to delegate to lesser entities certain responsibilities. Notably the issues surrounding the awarding of a billion dollar volunteer work fund to WE Charity. It’s unclear as to why this charity required to do this work, while the public service has been doing an admirable job administering the CERB and wage subsidy programs.

This passing the buck mentality needs to end. At the beginning of this pandemic we were told that we may be going in and out of lockdowns as the seasons change until a vaccine is found. By definition it means deep rooted changes are required of all aspects of society to ensure our collective safety from COVID-19. It’s something I’ve been advocating for since the start.

Change is hard. It’s always met with resistance and hesitance. Yet it is inevitable. More importantly in the age of COVID-19 it is necessary. Every pandemic expert in Canada and around the world agrees, a second wave is inevitable. It is coming. It’s just a question of when. Rather than use this time to retool and prepare ourselves for needing to go back into a second lockdown, our leadership is eager to earn kudos for flattening the first curve. The work isn’t over though. This is the break time. We don’t get to punch out just yet. New norms have be introduced. No Mask, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service is the bare minimum right now. Encouraging curbside pick up at all retail locations, or helping businesses to put more of their operations online is another. All of this requires time and a coordinated plan. Just declaring we’re reopened now figure it out, isn’t good enough.

Moving us all forward to new paradigm where the public’s safety from COVID-19 is paramount is difficult. I have no doubt that it will be met with fear and resistance. However, that’s the catch of elected office. Sometimes the situation requires you to make the tough choice. And that’s the thing, its why we elected you to office. To have to make the tough choice when needed. It’s called leadership.

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