Editorials - July 22, 2021
Hopes and dreams
What an inspiration it must be for the young people of Huron and Bruce Counties to see one of their own at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. The 2020 Olympics will finally go ahead, though behind closed doors. Julie-Anne Staehli, a Lucknow native, will be there, representing Canada in the women’s 5,000-metre run, in her first Olympics. Listowel native Corey Conners will also be there as a member of Canada’s golf team.
This, of course, is not the first time the area has had the opportunity to cheer for an Olympian. Blyth native Justin Peters won a bronze medal as a member of the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team in the 2018 Olympics, held in South Korea. In those same Olympics, Clinton native Matt Dalton was the goalie for the South Korean hockey team.
This is in addition to the many other professional athletes the area has yielded, like Ryan O’Reilly, who brought the Stanley Cup to Seaforth and Goderich in 2019 as the captain of the St. Louis Blues.
So, the best of luck to Staehli and the rest of Team Canada as they seek personal and international glory on the world stage. We’ll be cheering her on, while she’ll be inspiring our children. – SL
The winds of change
Last week, Toronto City Council voted to strip the name of Henry Dundas from all public assets in the city, including Yonge-Dundas Square, Dundas Station and Dundas Street, a main city thoroughfare. This, after over 13,000 people signed a petition asking to change the name, rather than honour the Scottish minister who was reported to have worked to delay the end of the slave trade in Canada in the 1700s.
This comes at a time when the legacies of many Canadians are being reconsidered due to connections with the residential school system or other transgressions. Names like John A. Macdonald and Egerton Ryerson, and now, Dundas, are among those being scrubbed.
When the city placed the Dundas name on streets, stations and squares, no doubt the officials of the day had their hearts in the right place. However, as times have changed, legacies are being re-evaluated and some people are not exactly worth honouring, like the Confederate statues being toppled in the U.S. or those who pushed the residential school system on Indigenous communities, stripping them of their heritage, tearing families apart and resulting in the death of children.
In Blyth, the debate rages on about the naming of Gypsy Lane, as members of the Blyth Business Improvement Area have questioned whether it’s time to move on from what’s considered an ethnic slur against the Romani people. While the move to rename the street in the first place was undoubtedly done to honour the people who could be found there years ago, the evidence is clear that the word itself is a racial slur, especially in locations where the Romani people are more prevalent. The past should be honoured, but not at the cost of offending a group of people, who themselves have deemed the word pejorative.
There are no easy answers, but it’s clear that people want to be more inclusive and refrain from honouring those who don’t deserve it - and some street names may have to be changed along the way. – SL
Another muddled approach
Both the federal and provincial governments have some difficult decisions in the coming months about how vaccines will play into everyday life. Both governments have had to answer difficult questions about how COVID-19 vaccinations will be monitored and whether there may be a vaccine passport required for specific events or jobs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the federal government won’t weigh in on that kind of program, explaining he will leave it up to the provincial governments. Ontario’s government, however, had its potential rules for healthcare workers revealed through a draft document obtained by CBC. The document, while it refers to mandatory vaccinations, actually recommends not requiring vaccinations for health-care workers, instead suggesting they will need to wear protective gear and submit to frequent screening if they choose not to get vaccinated.
While the governments look to how they will handle it, other organizations have already drawn their line in the sand, like GoodLife Fitness, which has set itself up as a bastion for those who don’t want to be vaccinated. The company, which operates gyms across the country, has said it won’t require proof of vaccination before people are able to use the facilities, gaining traction with those against the vaccine, while alienating those who will feel safer in vaccinated environments.
While experts are advising caution in proceeding with a vaccine passport, as it would create a “two-tier society”, the fact is there is already multi-tiered system when it comes to vaccinations because many workplaces already require specific vaccines, while children have to receive specific vaccinations before they can attend school.
This decision shouldn’t have to be made by individual companies. The federal government, in line with many other countries, should make life easier across provincial lines, and provide clear direction. – JDS