Editorials - Sept. 16, 2021
The winds of change
The jury is out on whether or not the spate of recent tornadoes and strong thunderstorm cells in southwestern Ontario is a symptom of climate change. Last year, the province saw a record number of tornadoes touchdown and 2021 seems to be nipping at its heels.
Anecdotally, it sure feels like we are hearing about tornadoes and their damage much more frequently than ever before and several studies have been published in scientific journals and weather studies that would indicate that tornadoes have increased in frequency over the last six decades. However, Environment Canada throws a curveball into the claims by acknowledging that we may not be experiencing more tornadoes, we’re just finding more of them due to technology’s ever-expanding ability to track, forecast and assess weather events.
The other reason we may be talking more about tornadoes than ever before is the handy siren we are all carrying in our pockets. Since April 2019, all cell phones sold in Canada must be compatible with the Alert Ready system. We are frequently jolted by the now-familiar alarm sound that warns of emergencies, including Amber Alerts, civil emergencies and weather events. As of Sept. 13 of this year, Ontario has already had 57 alerts issued, with tornado alerts at 44 making up the vast majority.
So whether or not climate change is causing more tornado events, or science is just able to find more of them, it is reassuring to know that technology has advanced to the point where everyone can get notified, even if it’s just to give them a few extra minutes to take shelter. – DS
It is happening again
This Monday, Canadians will head to the polls for the 44th federal election to either re-elect Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or choose a new leader from the several who are looking to replace him. While the necessity of this election has been criticized by those on all sides of the political spectrum, it is now up to us to do our democratic duty and vote for whom we think will best represent our riding and our country. Whether you’re annoyed that a snap election was even called in the first place is irrelevant, it is happening and it’s up to us to choose the person who will lead Canada for the next four years.
Convincing people to vote isn’t easy. Not since the 1992 federal election has Canada topped 70 per cent voter turnout, and even then, that still means that three out of 10 Canadians didn’t exercise their right to choose a leader through the democratic process. Since then, the numbers have fluctuated, dropping to a dismal 58.8 per cent in 2008.
Trudeau’s decision to call an election two years early and during the fourth wave of a deadly pandemic has disaffected some voters, while activating others. Things have been nasty along the campaign trail, with gravel replacing the usual mud being slung and anger boiling over when it comes to issues pertaining to the pandemic, specifically mask wearing, lockdowns and vaccination passports.
Whether you lean to the left or to the right, the best thing you can do on Monday is vote. We, as Canadians, are lucky to have the right to choose our own leader, free from corruption, interference and general chicanery. We need to do what’s right and have our say. – SL
Still a ways to go
While everyone who has been making the effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 deserves a pat on the back, even those latecomers who are only getting vaccinated because of the province’s passport system, the virus has not been stopped yet.
Last week, Huron Perth Public Health Medical Officer of Health Dr. Miriam Klassen said there had been a noticeable increase in first-time vaccinations after the announcement of the passport. That said, Klassen also had sobering news to share: the outbreak at Knollcrest Lodge had claimed three lives, bringing the two counties’ total COVID-19 death toll to 60 as of last Wednesday. Since then, three more deaths have been announced (though not necessarily linked to Knollcrest) bringing that total to 63; the first local COVID-19 fatalities in over two months.
While the counties are marking their first COVID-19 deaths in months, showing that the virus is still circulating and fatal, Alberta doctors are warning that their province’s healthcare system could collapse due to the increase of COVID-19 cases.
Intensive Care Units operating beyond capacity, shortages in staff and poor communication from the province are being blamed for the situation, according to physicians in the province, with some, including emergency room physician Dr. Shazam Mithani, worried that doctors may once again be considering triaging COVID-19 cases. Mithani is calling for stronger public health restrictions to prevent the problem.
Alberta’s government has taken some steps, including a $100 payout for those who get the vaccine, but doctors say it’s not enough and are calling for vaccine passports and a circuit-breaker lockdown.
It’s all proof that, while things are moving in the right direction, we’re not out of the woods yet. – JDS