Editorials - Jan. 21, 2021
Unclear and indirect
Remaining in line with much of the provincial government’s messaging over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, last week’s Stay-at-Home Order has left people confused, lacking the authority and clarity needed at this crucial junction for Ontario and its residents.
In a way, the government is putting too much trust in the people, leaving it up to them to determine what is essential and what isn’t. Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford has done little to clarify the muddy waters, simply saying the words “stay home” a lot in press conferences, while doing nothing to further define an “essential” trip. Furthermore, police departments across the province have made it clear that they’re just as confused as the rest of us and the government has given officers plenty of discretion in who gets punished for flouting the rules. That means two people doing the same thing, but engaging with different officers, can have two different experiences, perhaps one being ticketed while the other is not – doing nothing to clear things up for Ontarians.
“I hear there’s a little bit of confusion on the order and everything. There is no confusion. Stay home. That’s it. Stay home. If you’re questioning, should I go out? Well, you’ve got the answer: stay home,” Ford said last week. However, with a list of essential services that was comically wide-reaching during the first lockdown and people getting increasingly annoyed with being told what to do while the province works to contain the deadly virus, there is sure to be a laundry list of complaints and media accounts tied to the order being unfairly enforced.
Ford is in an unenviable position and he has performed better in this emergency than some thought he would, but his government’s insistence on leaving things vague is not doing anyone any favours. – SL
A golden age?
For many, the return of professional sports has restored a level of normalcy to their lives during these unprecedented times, even if live broadcasts are full of people wearing masks and no fans in the stands. However, from a competitive standpoint, a lot of media pundits have dismissed the importance of the games due to shortened seasons, expanded playoffs, augmented rules, division realignments, teams being short-handed and games not being played due to COVID-19 infections.
This is the case as the National Hockey League began play last week. The divisions have been completely realigned to include Central, East, West and North Divisions. The North Division is made up of the seven Canadian teams in the league to eliminate cross-border travel.
Most nights of the week, Canadian hockey fans will see their teams – the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Montreal Canadiens, the Ottawa Senators, the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks – playing against one another. While this is the first all-Canadian division in league history, it harkens back to the first seven seasons of the league, when it was only Canadian teams until the Boston Bruins came along in 1924. It might also give younger hockey fans a taste of what the “Original Six” era was like; games being played only by the Detroit Red Wings, the Chicago Blackhawks, the New York Rangers and the aforementioned Canadiens, Leafs and Bruins.
Like so much during this pandemic, hockey fans should make the most of what they’re seeing and find a silver lining in this season. – SL
A breath of fresh air
Often, regardless of the level of politics, our elected officials can forget about the people being impacted by decisions being made. They are not just faceless ratepayers, but people with lives and families.
Whether it’s far-reaching decisions like the ongoing politics behind provincial lockdowns or more local issues, like cross-border servicing negotiations, it never hurts to remember that there are people being impacted by these decisions: not just nameless, faceless ratepayers.
Fortunately, there are people who remember that the decisions don’t just impact numbers on the tax roll but actual human beings.
During a recent Morris-Turnberry budget meeting, there was a strong focus on cross-border servicing issues with council members referencing ongoing negotiations with North Huron. There is no side being taken here: North Huron has implemented non-resident user fees, so it only makes sense that their counterparts, both in Morris-Turnberry and other municipalities, would be looking at ways to counter those efforts.
Morris-Turnberry Councillor Kevin Freiburger, however, reminded everyone that the discussions about, at the time, water and sewer rates, weren’t just about balancing the scales between North Huron and Morris-Turnberry, but that they impacted real people. “These rates come down to regular people,” he said. “It’s worthwhile to make sure everyone gets a fair rate and it shouldn’t matter what side of the road you live on.”
While municipalities need to care for their own, a little humanity can go a long way when it comes to these kinds of discussions, and Freiburger should be commended for remembering that. – JDS