Editorials - June 17, 2021
A global effort is needed
There’s no denying that it was a slow start for Canada’s vaccine rollout, but we have made great strides in getting Canadians their first dose. With a slow supply at the outset, health authorities elected to extend the interval between doses to allow as many citizens as possible to get at least some immunity as the third wave ravaged the country, especially “hot spots”. Now that the vaccine supply has improved, the second dose campaign is underway to get ahead of the delta variant.
Despite much grumbling in the early spring about our government’s inability to secure doses as quickly as the United States and England, we are still very fortunate to live in a G7 country. The world’s richest countries jumped on the vaccine supply early, and bought almost all the supply. In fact, G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States), will be sitting on three billion excess doses, even after their entire populations are fully vaccinated.
Until all nations have supply and a system for delivery, the global pandemic will continue and, as long as it is a pandemic, it will affect us. Travel and global supply chains will be interrupted. And the longer the virus is allowed to transmit throughout the rest of the world, the more variants will emerge, threatening even highly vaccinated countries
One report estimated that, at the current rate, it would take 57 years to get 70 per cent of Africans fully vaccinated. After last week’s G7 summit, leaders pledged to donate vaccine doses, but more help is needed to get those doses into arms. Surely with our global networks and technology, we have the expertise to overcome this pandemic together, with the “haves” helping the “have-nots”. – DS
It was a good day
Last week will be remembered as one for the books for Brussels. Not only did the federal, provincial and municipal governments pledge millions of dollars to renovate and expand the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre, but the Brussels 150th Homecoming Committee released its logo, slogan and theme for the celebration, to be held in 2022. Organizers have rightly said that the community will be ready for a celebration next summer with COVID-19 largely a non-factor (hopefully) after over a year of isolation and event cancellations.
To think of this future for a community that has had its fair share of challenges in recent years is sure to put a smile on any resident’s face.
It’s also important to note that, while the majority of the investment and work has come from locals, there has been buy-in at the provincial and federal levels. It’s not just the people of Brussels who are seeing value in the community, it stretches far beyond the village limits.
Brussels residents have a lot to look forward to in the coming years. They will have an arena and community centre that will be the envy of the county - a project that started years ago with the audacious ideas of a few residents who dared to dream big - and a celebration of not only the village’s past and its people, but of its future as well. The teams in place to carry out both projects represent pillars of the community and they will see to it that the people of Brussels are not disappointed. – SL
Always playing catch-up
Whether it’s cyberbullies having a more devastating impact on youth than their playground counterparts ever did, social media giants getting rich(er) off the back of hardworking journalists and news organizations or the dreaded advent of artificial intelligence, technology is creating a lot of problems. Those problems are only compounded by the fact that, legally and morally, there seems to be a divide between laws and morals.
That became clearer last week when Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien stated, in a report to parliament, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) use of third-party facial-recognition technology constituted a serious privacy law violation. The RCMP had, on numerous occasions, used Clearview AI to search through massive libraries of images of law-abiding citizens to aid in investigations.
Clearview AI, a company based in the U.S., has had a turbulent history, taking billions of photos from public websites to create the database now used by law enforcement. The RCMP have also had a turbulent history with the company, first denying using it until the company’s records were hacked, showing the RCMP as a client.
Part of the problem is that, while just over five per cent of the use of Clearview AI was to expedite cases involving child exploitation or child sexual cases, according to Therrien, approximately 85 per cent of the use wasn’t attributed to cases. The RCMP disagrees, saying they feel the use of the software was necessary and allowed.
While facial recognition software could be a valuable tool for police agencies in Canada, the rules need to catch up first and it should be made plain what’s allowed and what isn’t with such software, so that there is a definitive answer as to whether or not the RCMP broke the rules.
Like all new technologies, however, the world is adopting new technologies faster than the lawmakers can keep up to. – JDS