Reason to Believe

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says officers will no longer have the right to stop any pedestrian or vehicle to ask why they are out or request their home address.
City News, 2021 Apr 17

It took just a day for Ontario to walk back the two most egregious of the latest “public-health” measures they had just brought in: playground closures and new powers for police. I’m not sure what took them that long. Mind you, even as they moved to correct their misstep, they managed to make it worse.

Instead, [Solicitor General Sylvia Jones] says, police will only be able to stop people who they have reason to believe are participating in an “organized public event or social gathering.” City News, 2021 Apr 17

As the London Police Commissioner (ours, not England’s) observed on CBC Radio this morning, “How would you even know what people are planning to do just by looking at them?” If that’s not an invitation to engage in age and racial profiling, I don’t know what is.

I’m a law-abiding citizen and have been for a long time. Whether that’s driven by innate good citizenship or issues with authority or no capacity for rowdiness I leave with others to judge. I report my income, I follow traffic rules, I don’t smuggle, I don’t even litter.

For the last year I have also followed Covid-19’s 3 Rs — recommendations, rules, restrictions — even when they seemed silly to me. And so, while the province failed spectacularly to get a handle on the spread of Covid-19 in Ontario nursing homes, I did my part:

  • Abiding scrupulously by the 14-day self-isolation period upon our return from the USA last March, using unreliable (as they were then) grocery-shopping services.
  • Making masks, commissioning masks from family with real sewing skills, buying more online, and wearing them religiously.
  • Staying at least six feet away from everyone but the guy I sleep with.
  • Disinfecting surfaces.
  • Washing my hands. And again.
  • Observing, politely and sometimes patiently, capacity limits in non-essential retail stores and using curbside pick-up when available/necessary.
  • Cancelling physio appointments when I got the sniffles the day before.
  • Waiting hairily for my salon to re-open. And again.
  • Patronizing restaurants through pick-up, and sitting on windy patios during the few heady weeks when that was allowed.
  • Avoiding indoor gatherings of all types.
  • Avoiding outdoor gatherings of all types: scaling no fences erected around churches, participating in no street protests.
  • Taking my first AstraZeneca shot this past week because it came up two weeks before an appointment I had scheduled with Public Health for the mRNA one that I preferred, logically or not.

And I don’t think I’m deserving of praise. Everyone I know was and is doing and not doing the same things.

But enough. As the London Police Commissioner said this morning, experts have been asking for targeted interventions at large workplaces but instead we get a ban on outdoor activities except walking (and for heaven’s sake don’t go too far, or drive to a park on the other side of town, or you risk a $750 fine), a closure of playgrounds, and the likely unconstitutional conferring of new powers on the police that many jurisdictions almost immediately said they would not use. Whether that was driven by constitutional scholarship or by lack of resources or by a fear of being left wide open to charges of racism, I leave with others to judge.

Ontario’s cases are surging. Again. We set new records for cases and hospitalizations and people in the ICU every day now it seems. I get it: I live in a postal-code hot spot. After the past year, this is all the more reason for the province to base their actions on what they say they’ve been following all along: science and evidence.

Some of the new rules are ridiculous. Golf is banned, tennis is banned, even playgrounds are banned. What was the risk? Apparently, it’s unsafe to be either indoors or outdoors now. – National Post, 2021 Apr 16

OK, it’s easy to snipe from the sidelines. If the rules aren’t ridiculous, then explain why kids can’t play outdoors. Tell us what evidence there is for mass transmission among foursomes on the golf course. Show us the statistics on Covid-19 found among tennis players. (Singles or doubles: Go ahead, take your pick. I’ll wait.) Tell us again that kids are safer both in general and from Covid-19 at school than at home and then that we’re closing the schools, but do it in one breath so even you can hear what you’re saying. Make the case for province-wide measures that make no distinction between Pickle Lake and Toronto.

Give us a reason to believe you know what you’re doing. Give us any reason to believe you know what we should do.

No? Well then, maybe get on with doing what I believe you should do: Stop the Covid-19 theatre and start the hard work of figuring out what you can do to help us slow transmission in congregate working and living environments, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area.

And let’s agree to leave the police out of it except to get them vaccinated early. It’s not just young members of marginalized and racialized communities who object to being arbitrarily stopped by people with guns, and to being kept out of wide-open, humongous parks that our tax dollars maintain.

Backing off on playgrounds is a very, very small bone to throw to a very, very angry population that just witnessed a government have a very, very bad day that was entirely of its own making. – Matt Gurney

Now more than ever we need a reason to believe.


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13 Responses to Reason to Believe

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Living in the B.C. equivalent of Pickle Lake, I’ve been treating the pronouncements of the Medical Officer of Health and the Premier with some skepticism all along. What point do all those rules have when there’s no one around to catch something from, and no one around to transmit something to, why stay indoors? Wash hands incessantly? Wear a mask even when alone, or driving? My friends — some of whom have refused even to be in the same room as their own grandchildren — consider me one step removed from an anti-masker. I’m not. But I think sanity should prevail over mindless rules-for-the-sake-of-rules.


    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Yes. There are many epidemiologists who have been arguing from the get-go that lockdowns were the wrong approach: not just difficult, not just not as effective as we might like, but potentially counter-productive because they prevent the wide spread and uptake of the disease with a mild result in the vast majority of people. Gaaah indeed.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    You ask why prohibit foursomes playing golf? Any of the courses in my area have significant restrictions, only allow twosomes. and only one to a cart. I know a man who can’t walk very well at all, but he can ride a cart, get off, hit the golf ball, then drive on to his next shot. It was his lifeblood exercise. Now?

    Is it a case of “We don’t know what to do so it’s better to be seen doing something as opposed to doing nothing?”


    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – You’re exactly right. Either one to a cart or dividers, and so on. And outdoors, a point which seems to have escaped the analysts. I suspect you’re right. They’re worried, they want us to know they mean it this time, and golf especially is seen as a privileged sport. Outdoor soccer is a little harder to understand.

  3. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – people will only be satisfied when everybody is treated equally. Since we are all human, the only time we will ever be treated equally is after we are dead – and maybe not even then. Until then, people are just going to have to accept that LIFE IS NOT FAIR – – and get over it – – please!!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – Yeah, that could be a driver for political action also. It’s a hard job, trying to keep everyone happy.

      • John Whitman says:

        Isabel – did you note in today’s newspapers that there is now a 42-page emergency triage protocol being circulated in Ontario hospitals? That’s because of the increasing number of COVID ICU cases and that the province is close to running out of ICU beds and staff. That protocol has not yet been triggered by the province. If it is triggered, then some currently preventable deaths will occur as some people will have care withheld or withdrawn without consent. That’s if there is someone else who has a better chance of surviving with that care. The situation Ontario is approaching sounds a lot like the situations that have occurred in other countries like Italy and India.

        Under the circumstances that could easily occur in Ontario, having the populace think that the police can (as opposed to will) stop them if they are not in their homes is a small price to pay in my opinion.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          John – I think we’ve been here before (warnings of triage) in the 1st or 2nd wave and for hospitalizations this one is worse. I understand that it’s serious. Maybe the measures we took before kept us from reaching the point of triage. Maybe not. If me staying home would make the difference, I would happily stay home for 6 weeks. But it won’t. Neither will it matter if a single mother in an apartment with three kids (heck, with even one) stays inside for 6 weeks. Singletons are not driving transmission, nor are golfers or kids in playgrounds. People who have to go to work so the rest of us can eat (or so they can) are the bigger issue. We can’t seem to find our way to doing anything effective (or effective enough) about that.

  4. Is Doug Ford stupid or mischievous (in the old-fashioned meaning of that word) or insane? He has retained a medical advisor who sleeps through the news or lies through his teeth and Ford uses those pronouncements to take no action. No action in the face of a pandemic viral assault is action with predictable results. Why is the notion of sick leave anathema to him? This is not a union squabble. He is toying with the lives of the entire populace of the Province, and then some. How does one stop him? Is he, like Trump, fomenting some sort of revolution? Unlikely, in Canada. So, he must think he can get away with this and sail on to further mischief.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Well, it baffles me. But it helps to know that others are similarly afflicted. By befuddlement, I mean.

  5. Alison says:

    Well said Isabel. Give us the scientific evidence if you want us to follow the rules. And kudos to you for getting a vaccine when first offered it, whatever the kind.

  6. barbara carlson says:

    Is “Mopery With Intent” still a chargeable offence?

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