Editorials - Feb. 25, 2021
Reading the room
In a climate where celebrities and politicians alike are losing jobs and having to backtrack over social media missteps, one celebrity has passed the test with flying colours.
Last week, Dolly Parton asked the Tennessee legislature to dismiss a bill that would have seen a statue of her likeness erected at the state capitol to replace Confederate statues. She thanked them, but acknowledged that, “Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time.” She left the door open to memorialize her in the future or after her passing, but was wise enough to realize that in our politically-charged era of doing the right thing, people put on pedestals are ripe to be knocked down.
Dolly has never been one to take political sides and has avoided controversy for most of her career. She understands that these type of accolades, while boosting one’s ego in the short term, have the potential to divide her fan base and she has chosen to sidestep the entire issue. And in true Dolly-fashion, the statement of “thanks, but no thanks” has only served to endear her to her fans and the world even more. – DS
Into the shadows
Perhaps it’s the muddied waters of the federal government’s approach to containing the deadly COVID-19 virus or sheer human nature to avoid penalty at all cost, but all Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandatory hotel quarantine for those returning to Canada has done has driven people to work harder not to avoid travel, but to avoid the hotel stay.
As part of that approach, those returning to the country by air are forced into the quarantine for three days until they can confirm a negative COVID-19 test. If you return by land, however, you can waltz right in. This has resulted in – according to a story by the CBC – a mass transition of plans for snowbirds aiming to come back to the country.
One man interviewed, who is spending the winter in Arizona, says the mandatory hotel stay for flight passengers is discriminatory, when those crossing the border on the ground aren’t subject to it. It’s easy to agree with him, but likely not for the same reasons. The federal government has left enough grey areas to confuse the most compliant of residents.
By subjecting airline passengers to a time-consuming and costly hotel stay, all it’s doing is driving people to find ways around it, whereas if everyone entering the country was subject to the mandatory quarantine, people would simply have to accept this as an inevitable part of travel.
Instead, varying sets of rules simply encourage people to get creative and find ways to avoid them, putting all of Canada at risk thanks to their selfish nature. Leaving so much open to interpretation, however, can be traced back squarely to our government. If Trudeau wants to be serious about limiting spread, he needs to implement a firm set of rules for everyone, rather than inviting this kind of creativity. – SL
Private power problems
If you can put aside the partisan rhetoric and the unfounded hating on green energy initiatives, the problems being faced by Texas aren’t that different from the problems that Ontario itself has faced since, like Texas, its power systems were privatized.
Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), says that, despite what the state’s Republican representatives and governor is saying, wind shutdowns are only responsible for 13 per cent of the outages that threw four million Texans into the dark ages. The majority, according to the ERCOT, are connected to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy.
Ignoring the blame game with green energy, the state wasn’t prepared for this kind of winter event, despite being warned twice in the last 30 years: once in 1989 and again in 2011. Experts say power-generating companies either didn’t institute those cold weather preparedness suggestions, or didn’t maintain them, as there was no oversight.
How does that compare to Ontario? Well in 2002, Texas deregulated most of its electricity market, which allowed private companies to generate and distribute power, instead of treating it as a government utility, similar to a move in Ontario led by Conservative Premier Mike Harris to privatize Hydro One in 1999, which was made worse when Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne sold off the majority stake in the company years later. It all seems eerily similar to what people in Blyth were going through less than a decade ago when the power seemed to be out as often as it was provided and bills were doubling over several years. The spotty service and high prices were also provided by a private company that had been publicly-owned not long before.
The problem with going to private systems is that they are only going to provide the bare minimum because they answer to shareholders, not the public. Public systems, for the most part, answer to all of us and when things go wrong, we have avenues to voice our displeasure in a more effective way than filling out a form on a website. – JDS