Editorials - Sept. 17, 2020
Facts vs. Statistics
Last week a report circulated attributing more than 250,000 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. to the Sturgis motorcycle rally, an annual event that carried on despite the pandemic. This week, news outlets and scientists are questioning the validity of the data. Studies and statistics can be found to support every side of an issue, and this debate provides further evidence that everyone needs to dig a little deeper to get to the truth.
While hosting the event was still misguided, with at least 290 cases and one death directly attributed to attendance, the phenomenal numbers suggested by the report were a worst-case scenario based on anonymous cellphone data and population movement models. The study was generated by the IZA Institute for Labor Economics in San Diego and not independently verified by any epidemiologists.
The report gained traction as the headlines it generated seemed to confirm the public’s fears about “superspreader” events. Unfortunately, once questioned, it has the opposite effect of providing credibility to the group of people who want to downplay the severity of the virus.
A superspreader event doesn’t have to infect a quarter of a million people to be dangerous, so while this headline was sensationalized to capture attention, its debunking shouldn’t serve as evidence that large events are safe to resume. – DS
An incomplete picture
Brussels made the news for all the wrong reasons last week. It took centre stage in a Globe and Mail article entitled, “Take a left at Dublin, then a right at Brussels: A tour of Ontario’s European capitals” in which a shirtless man hawking real estate captured the author’s imagination.
The author visited small towns across the province named for capital cities of Europe and the takeaway was downright depressing as the author says one of his major discoveries was “a region in the late stages of a terminal illness.” Often you’ll expect these pages in The Citizen to read in defence of fellow journalists, but not this time.
Journalists are charged with telling a complete story; painting as full a picture as possible. Speaking with one shirtless man in any village is hardly the way to do this, especially with the arrogant tone the author adopts, clearly written by someone with no interest in the community.
Perhaps the author would have coloured Brussels in a rosier light if he had taken in the thriving farmers’ market and toured the magnificent Four Winds Barn. If he would have caught the Lions Club’s KickStart 2020 draw, he would have seen residents supporting a community they love. Had he run into one of the community’s champions – a past councillor, a Citizen of the Year Award winner, a service club president – perhaps he would have seen Brussels as a different community.
As you scroll the page, the newspaper asks that you “support quality journalism” and subscribe. As Canada’s leading national newspaper, it’s hard for people who know Brussels well to read that story and find quality there. A story like this from the Globe and Mail not only compounds a lack of trust in the media, but it reinforces the long-held belief that unless someone lives in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, they’re unlikely to matter to most. And unless someone knows rural Ontario well or lives here, they’re highly unlikely to care about it. – SL
Do as I say, not as I do
It is with great anticipation that many people in the country watched the first caucus meeting of the federal Conservative Party last week: some looking for a sense of renewed pride as the party strides forward under leader Erin O’Toole and others looking to criticize him. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on who you are), it didn’t take long to watch O’Toole and the rest of the Conservatives screw things up.
As anyone who read The Citizen last week should know, even with masks, people aren’t supposed to sing indoors. Singing, like other forms of loud projection, can strain masks and cause bodily fluids to spray twice as far as normal breathing or talking. So while local churches aren’t allowed to have singing because it’s not safe, the Conservatives are under no such rules, apparently, with everyone singing “O’ Canada”.
Following that, O’Toole then broke all the rules of interaction by making personal contact, not physical distancing and not wearing a mask. When he was introduced he walked up to the microphone, sans face covering, and elbow-bumped the emcee, who also wasn’t wearing a mask. Unless O’Toole has the longest upper arms in history, he wasn’t distancing. He’s learning the worst lessons from his predecessor, Andrew Scheer, who, unannounced, brought his entire family on a plane in April.
Then there’s Premier Doug Ford attending a wedding where he wasn’t wearing a mask or distancing and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, apparently violating distancing rules earlier this year on vacation and you get the distinct impression that we’re living in a country where we are supposed to do as our leaders say, not as they do. Every one of these leaders needs to clean up their acts and start leading by example. – JDS