Editorials - Jan. 28, 2021
Perhaps a silver lining
We are still in the middle of a pandemic, so it may be too soon to talk about a silver lining. However, the influx of funding into research for a vaccine for COVID-19 has created opportunities for companies like BioNTech to further their development of vaccines against other illnesses such as certain cancers and autoimmune diseases.
Now they have published preliminary findings that an mRNA vaccine may also work in multiple sclerosis (MS). In several models using mice, the BioNTech team, along with scientists at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany, was able to ease MS symptoms in sick animals and prevent disease progression in mice showing early signs.
While the mRNA vaccine technology has been in development for nearly 30 years, the pandemic has sped up this research with unprecedented global co-operation creating a pool of money, volunteers and focus seldom afforded to scientists.
Let’s hope that in addition to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, this research helps to end the suffering of millions through improved vaccines for other illnesses. – DS
Our pipe(line) dreams
Many Canadians, especially those living in Alberta, were gutted to hear that one of Joe Biden’s first actions as the 46th President of the United States was to effectively cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline project. This was an election promise for Biden, so it came as no surprise.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was Biden’s first call with a foreign leader on Friday, which, according to Biden’s new Press Secretary Jen Psaki, is a crucial step towards rebuilding relationships with allies who were alienated under the previous administration by Donald Trump. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has demanded swift action from Trudeau, suggesting that Canada launch a trade war with the United States in retaliation. However, just because that’s how Trump settled his disagreements, many have warned that type of action is highly inappropriate when a country doesn’t get its way. And while Kenney will be quick to blame Trudeau, it is Kenney who should shoulder some of the blame, moving ahead and spending $7.5 billion on the project, knowing full well it could be cancelled if Biden won the election.
For Albertans, this will be yet another loss to pin on Trudeau, while those who believe in reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels are likely to also blame Trudeau for supporting the project in the first place.
Canada and the U.S. need to repair their relationship, one that was made tumultuous during the Trump presidency. At the same time, the world is changing and moving away from economies like Alberta’s. The two countries have pledged to work together, but with tensions high on both sides of the border, that may be more difficult than it sounds. – SL
The dawn of a new day
While new United States President Joe Biden’s first decisions may have been unpopular with some Canadians, he has set a definitive tone of unity for his country, despite some clearly conservative leanings.
In his first days in office, Biden made important decisions to have the United States rejoin the World Health Organization, including a global committee to fight COVID-19; undoing his country’s global gag rule, which limited the ability of non-governmental organizations receiving U.S. funds to help people with family planning issues and removing the term “alien” from all immigration laws and replacing it with “non-citizen”, a less derogatory term. All the moves were designed to start the healing process in hopes of unifying the U.S. and its citizens.
For many people not only in the U.S. but across the globe, these changes indicate a welcome change of tone from his predecessor President Donald Trump, who favoured isolationism for the country and created deep divides among its people. However, we can’t forget that Biden, though leading the Democrats, has described himself as a centre-left member of the political spectrum and that became obvious when he talked about the “full-scale wartime effort” on COVID-19. While it’s great to have a reasonable person leading one of the most powerful countries in the world, we have to remember that the left in the United States isn’t left in Canada. While Biden is actively trying to heal his nation, don’t expect any widespread leftist reforms. – JDS