Saturday, October 10, 2020

Quarantine, Week 30: Canadian Thanksgiving in a Second Wave

Many conflicting emotions this weekend as two things are happening here at the same time--Canadian Thanksgiving and an accelerating second wave.  Canada is not some perfect place, despite the imaginations of Americans as they somewhere, anywhere, for a Trump-less situation with better health care outcomes.  So, I will give thanks (twice, as usual, now and again in November) and mourn as well.  I will do the latter first since I don't want this post to be such a bummer.


 The story of Canada and of Ontario is not that different from that of the US and many states: acting slowly, not enough compliance, not strict enough policies, and then opening too soon.  Oh, and mismanaging the schools.  This fall's second wave, which seems to be faster, higher, and more intense than the first in Canada, was even more avoidable than the first.  But public policy matters and the leaders failed us.  Federalism can be boon or bane, and here it was mostly bane.  Could Trudeau have done more?  Probably--the government delivers slowly.  The feds here did well on providing economic relief, but did not do so well in getting a national testing/tracing regime set up.  Because health care is left to the provinces, it was left to the provinces to fuck up.

And, jeez, did Ontario fuck it up.  Despite a long summer to prepare for the opening of schools, testing was not expanded, tracing was not deepened, and the dissemination of a tracing app was haphazard at best.  But, hey, we needed restaurants and bars and casinos and theaters open.  So, what happened?  Confusing messaging and no readiness to handle the families that had one member somewhat sick--do you test, do you pull from school?  Long lines at the testing places made for more sick people (waiting at 6am is not good for anyone).  The schools did not have much $ to space, to improve ventilation, to hire additional teachers to improve ratios.  In short, Ontario (and other places) simply didn't do much of the hard work, and now we are paying for it with hospitals that can't trace and are near collapse.  People are now talking about the Northern Italy/NYC scenarios.  And it is so angering because it was largely avoidable.  A second wave was inevitable, but a calamitous one was not.  

But at least Canadian white supremacists are not seeking to kidnap provincial leaders.  That the folks in Michigan, egged on by Inciter-in-Chief Donald Trump, were so easy to penetrate provides some relief.  But there will be violence in the days and months ahead.  I talked to a reporter for a story about what Biden's foreign policy might mean for Canada, and then we talked about how newsrooms are probably targets, and that the pandemic might reduce the carnage since most journalists are not working in newsrooms these days.  The worst, alas, yet to come.  

Ok, enough of that.  I am thankful for many things despite/because of the pandemic.  My family is mostly healthy although Mrs. Spew has been battling a non-covid respiratory thing for much of the pandemic.  Furloughed Spew has impressed us with her activism and her passion for justice despite, well, creating some concerns about her safety.  But she has been smart and responsible.  And she has done a great job editing the videos for my class.  We worry about her economic situation since the GOP have blocked efforts to help those unemployed by the pandemic, but we can help if need be.  And she has a good support network of friends.

I am thankful for my friends helping us get through this.  I got out of the habit of frequent zoom hangouts with friends, but I will reverse that and see more people.  It makes a big difference.  My family is now zooming twice a week, so I am very, very grateful to my sister for adding games to our conversations so that we talk less about politics.

I am very grateful to my students
developing great memes of the week
I am really thankful for having a good job--that my university has been very quick to make the right calls.  Despite a certain colleague reminding me of one of my oldest and favorite posts, I have been really impressed with how TeamNPSIA has pulled together to help each other teach through this.  We had a teaching meeting yesterday to figure out strategies that work.  Much disagreement about what works, of course, but I learned some stuff that I will deploy in the winter.



I am super grateful to the co-authors I have, past and present, who have helped me get this far.  I have a lot of cool projects in various stages of development, and my ability to appear to be productive depends critically on my partners in these efforts.  The Dave/Phil/Steve project was timed relatively fortuitously as we did most of the travel before the pandemic struck, so we submitted the main paper this summer and are working on the case studies for the book.  I am involved in a couple of survey projects--one on Canada and one on Japan--that have been most interesting, and I could not do such studies without others doing most of the heavy lifting.  

I am, of course, very thankful for all the people who have contributed to the success of the Canadian Defence and Security Network.  While my staffers get paid, they bring much imagination and energy above and beyond what the paycheck requires.  And everyone else, well, they don't get paid by the CDSN at all, but they contribute their time, their expertise, and their brilliance.  I am especially thankful for my podcast partner, Stefanie vH, who also co-leads one of the CDSN theme teams and is always an incredibly wise sounding board.  

And, yes, I am thankful to be in Canada right now.  While we haven't handled this that well, we have done better than the US.  And that bit of satisfaction makes me more Canadian this year than ever before?  This month marks the fifth anniversary of becoming Canadian!  So what better way to celebrate that anniversary than to be smug about the superiority of the Canadian health care system (well, better than the US, not better than most other advanced democracies).  

I don't travel for Canadian Thanksgiving so this holiday will not be greatly affected by the pandemic.  The other Thanksgiving, well, that is something else entirely.  I hope you and yours have much to thank in the best maple-y kind of way and have a great Thanksgiving (part 1).  Be well in this crazy time!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We just call it Thanksgiving here, mate.

5th anniversary, eh?