Is anybody in charge here?

As the pandemic has dragged on for more than a year and continues to gain speed and wreak havoc, my emotions have ricocheted from frustration to angst. Right now, I am just plain angry.

While I’m reluctant to join the pile-on of criticism and blame, it has to be said that we deserved better from many of those responsible for getting us through this disaster.

I’m sick of the doubletalk, obfuscation and stupidity of so many in the media, government and health-related fields during this pandemic.

So many experts---so little expertise!

So much need for strong leadership and courage---so little common sense and backbone.

Early last year, Canada’s top public health doctor assured us that the risk of COVID infection was low, even as the virus was spreading here. And masks were not recommended for people without symptoms. In fact, they could cause false security, said Dr. Theresa Tam.

That was then and this is now. Nearly 25,000 Canadians are dead from COVID. Our hospitals are overrun and untold thousands of surgeries have been cancelled. Our debt has skyrocketed and it’s estimated that 180,000 small and medium sized businesses are permanently closed. We’re still short of vaccine and our distribution network in Ontario is a laughing stock.

I’m especially sick of political wrangling. I accept that this is a country hard to govern but if there was ever a time to put aside big egos and old partisan battles, this is it.

Premier Doug Ford’s apology and emotional breakdown in front of the cameras last week won sympathy from some observers who are nicer and more forgiving than I am.

“The buck stops with me,” Ford has always insisted.

Well, Doug, that’s exactly what distresses me.

I look at you and the people around you and I’m not sure you’ve got the bench strength to get us through this----although I pray that you do.

Where did you park your common sense and advisors when you chose to cordon off playgrounds and give police the power to stop people who looked like they could be on their way to a gathering?

I guess the suburban Mom with helium balloons in her car would be a real target, a kid with a basketball would raise suspicion and nuns carrying a casserole would definitely set off sirens.

It’s this kind of stuff that is causing public skepticism about our governments, the people who work for them and the leaders we elect.

What’s the problem here Doug? Are you getting bad advice or are you not listening to those who give you good advice? Trying to appease everyone? Maybe all of the above.

Not since the election of Premier Bob Rae have the government front benches at Queen’s Park looked so lean and uninspiring. Political junkies will recall Bob never expected to win and had to assemble a cabinet out of a very puny talent pool.

Talk about making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!

At the federal level today, I can no longer watch our Prime Minister strut and repeat assurances that he feels our pain and has our back. I dare you to name the heavyweights in the Trudeau cabinet.

In his heart Justin Trudeau must know it didn’t have to be this bad. The nightmare began when he failed to invoke strong and effective border controls to stop the virus spread. And he foolishly trusted China to produce vaccine for us when our relationship with that country had long ago gone sour.

Trudeau has never explained why he chose to do business with the Chinese and why we were not told for three months that the drug deal had fallen through and we were sent begging for other sources.

Then, when Ontario finally got its hands on some vaccine it’s clear that the Ford team royally botched its distribution.

My family, neighbours and friends are probably typical of Ontarians everywhere. We’ve been running around like chickens with our heads cut off to score appointments. People with language issues and without technical skills are simply lost. I just hope General Rick Hillier writes a book when this is over and tell us what went so hellishly wrong and why.

Municipalities hard hit by the virus have run out of patience. The City of Toronto just enlisted a group of tech savvy volunteers known as Vaccine Hunters Canada to help the thousands of residents who can’t navigate the chaotic system.

As I write this, our provincial and federal governments have locked horns over the issue of paid sick leave so sick people can afford to stay home rather than going off to work and infecting others. The feds have their own plan but it doesn’t work.

Only two provinces (Quebec and Prince Edward Island) have such plans. Even the NDP government in British Columbia has resisted the program because of costs and complexity.

Ontario has finally given in with its own $ 2 billion plan to provide 3 sick days but it’s a dog’s breakfast slapped together to turn the heat down on the Ford government.

If the average person can’t figure out how to get vaccinated, how can she/he navigate a program that even the bureaucrats struggle to explain.

Which gets us back to Premier Doug.

Like other populists, he’s a likable guy who provides respite from the polished, buttoned down, silver-tongued candidates who succeed in today’s political world.

His aw shucks, man of the people, defender of the little guy persona goes a long way with a lot of people sick and tired of mudslinging politicians who are great talkers and look good but promise big and deliver little.

People of all political stripes have told me they like Doug because they feel like he’s one of them…the kind of guy you’d like to have a beer with and who would help you shovel your snow and sit next to you at Rotary.

Well, I like that kind of people, too. But it’s hardly the credentials needed to steer a province of 14 million through a bloody pandemic that has already claimed almost 8,000 lives.

You don’t hire a plumber because he’s got good hair and charisma and you don’t have to like the neurosurgeon who’s about to saw into your skull. You just want to be damned sure they know what they’re doing. So why is it we want our politicians to be likable and like us?

Give me the brightest and the best when it comes to the people who occupy public office and can handle today’s challenges and plan for the decades that will follow as we dig ourselves out of this current mess.

Keep in mind, I was raised in a generation that produced some great leaders. Grown men did not cry—no matter how tough it got and whether they were coal miners, farmers or statesmen.

Of course, the same holds true for women.

Margaret Thatcher would rather die than show any sign of weakness in her political battles. They didn’t call her the Iron Lady for nothing. Ditto for Germany’s Angela Merkel.

And then there’s our Queen Elizabeth. God love her. Unfailingly and steadfastly solid as the rock of Gibraltar in times of terrible tragedy.

Can you imagine Roosevelt or Churchill sobbing and apologizing for any blunders by the Allies in the struggle against the Nazi killing machine? Fighting men in the trenches would have hoisted the white flag and declared “she’s all over, boys….we’re doomed.”


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