India Shows Mass Gatherings, Failure to Social Distance Spread Covid … So Why is BC SCAPEGOATING Those Who Go Fishing, Boating, or Camping?

There are so many funeral pyres burning throughout India, trees in local urban parks are under threat for use as kindling.

Officially, more than 350,000 new Covid cases a day are being recorded in the country … more than 400,000 on Saturday … but the REAL Covid toll is estimated at MUCH higher; and the number of deaths in the country from Covid topping 3,000 daily.

Even given the nation’s burgeoning population of almost 1.4 Billion, those numbers are a staggering tragedy.

But no one who has watched how India has handled the pandemic recently should be surprised.

Initially, the anti-Covid fight in India went quite well: there were many, hard TOTAL lockdowns (like in Europe and the UK), followed by strict social distancing and masking requirements … all of it strictly enforced.

And it worked: India’s Covid rate substantially declined by late 2020.

But then came the new 2021 Covid surge and a weary population, incompetent government, irresponsible religious leaders organizing huge festivals, month-long mass protests by thousands of farmers; and, all kinds of other almost weekly ethnic/political demonstrations at the drop of a na’an … with unmasked thousands pushing together, shoulder to shoulder, feeding the virus easy victims.

And Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP government made the situation even worse!

” In March, 50,000 fans watched a cricket match in the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad. A month later, thousands attended Modi’s political rallies and tried to wash the virus away en mass at the Kumbh Mela festival at group bathing events in the Ganges and Yamuna rivers,” the Daily Beast reported.

Modi has been addressing HUGE election campaign rallies … one reportedly attracting 800,000 supporters: https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210307-huge-crowd-fetes-india-pm-modi-at-rally-for-key-state-poll.

Imagine the reaction in Canada if Prime Minister Trudeau or any of our provincial Premiers did something like that during Covid!

A free press would have a field day with that … except in India, Modi has savagely curtailed, subjugated much of the media, including shutting down “critical” TV channels. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/world/asia/modi-india-press-media.html.

Under Modi’s government, several journalists have been arrested … eight alone in January, all charged with “sedition”, which carries a possible life sentence, for covering a protest that turned violent and allowing one dead protestor’s families accuse the police of killing him. (Read the full story here: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/modis-war-on-the-media/.

India’s hospitals can no longer cope: people are dying on the sidewalks around them: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/india-covid19-pandemic-social-media-1.6005433.

The sad truth about India’s mess … and Modi’s disgraceful encouragement of virus-spreading activities is still being told … outside India: https://www.thedailybeast.com/india-pm-modi-calling-for-people-to-go-vote-in-west-bengal-despite-bodies-piling-up-from-raging-pandemic.

And India’s failures offer lessons for Canada … and BC.

Innocent people in India … workers, family members, shopkeepers, street vendors, transit workers … were infected by “Covidiots”, as BC’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth refers to Covid scofflaws: people who refused to wear masks; refused to self-distance; and, refused to limit gatherings and massed together in huge numbers.

Think of how many family members, neighbours, co-workers, transit riders, shoppers, seniors in BC too have been infected by anti-maskers, beach partiers, protesters and rally participants and organizers who contracted Covid and then directly or indirectly spread it to others.

A friend who rides Skytrain several times a week from Vancouver to Coquitlam, outside rush-hours, also tells me on almost every train, there are still people without masks (or masks hanging under their chins) … but he has NEVER seen Transit Police aboard or on the platforms enforcing the “Masks Mandatory” rules.

What greater PROOF does BC need than India’s tragedy to see/understand the TRUTH: crowded gatherings, failure to social distance and not wearing masks spread Covid?

So WHY is the NDP government, instead of going after large-crowd events … the REAL offenders … targeting/restricting/banning individual liberties and activities in BC?

Large groups are the PROBLEM the government, health officials and the police should target for enforcement: the beach party crowds; 4/20 rally celebrants; protestors who mass shoulder to shoulder to support Indian farmers; anti-pipeline demonstrators; climate activists who converge together to block roads and traffic, and those attending other crowded social/ events … and all their organizers/promoters.

But little or nothing is done!

Instead, the law abiding public al around the province are being hammered with arbitrarily imposed restrictions and punishment, while the REAL Covid spreaders, the REAL scofflaws, the REAL culprits keep getting free passes!

New “ORDERS” announced Friday by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth empower the RCMP to set up highway Health Region checkpoints and demand your driver’s licence, where you are going, why … and they will turn people back from all those activities listed above because Big Brother doesn’t deem them “ESSENTIAL”.

And the RCMP will be be allowed to issue tickets of $230 and $575 to those who disobey.

The NDP fight against Covid snares ordinary citizens who follow the rules, stay in their limited bubbles, wear masks and merely want to go fishing, camping, hiking, picnicking, boating or to their own cottage or cabin, keeping well away from others … out in the countryside … instead of going after the REAL culprits.

It’s SCAPEGOATING!

To Hell with Canada’s Charter of Rights and its guarantee of freedom of “mobility”!

Governments MUST target a very specific EMERGENCY threat before over-riding Canadians’ civil rights under the Charter; and the latest NDP government Order tramples the rights of too many and goes too far!

But because Dr. Bonnie Henry wants it, and the NDP government backs it … the compliant, complacent BC media haven’t even raised a peep.

While the REAL scofflaws … Farnworth’s “Covidiots” … continue to mass together, party, hold rallies and SPREAD THE VIRUS, totally unhindered!

There is no justifiable Covid reason for the BC government to impose wholesale mobility restrictions on citizens who will not be going anywhere near large gatherings, hotels, resorts, dining or shopping areas.

People fishing from the banks of the Fraser River, boating on Pitt Lake, camping in the woods, or travelling to their own cabins … all perfectly healthy, stress-relieving outdoor activities … well-distanced from anyone else, do not constitute a Covid threat.

So why are they being targeted, turned around and threatened with heavy fines by the NDP government?

While the REAL offenders … organizing and participating in large crowd activities … get a free pass!

The anti-travel Order MUST be amended to restore the RIGHTS of those who are innocent … and following the guidelines!

To STOP the spread of Covid, enforcement should be directed against the large groups I’ve mentioned.

And the thousands allowed to gather, picnic, play volleyball … in VERY CLOSE quarters at city parks and beaches … like English Bay, Kits Beach, Spanish Banks … with almost no one wearing masks?

Surely they are a MUCH GREATER risk for spreading Covid than someone gone fishing or camping.

Harv Oberfeld

(Pass it on: Forward this link to others to help raise the issue of WHY the government is restricting the rights of those who follow the rules …while doing little or nothing to stop the REAL offenders: India Shows Mass Gatherings, Failure to Social Distance Spread Covid … So Why is BC SCAPEGOATING Those Who Go Fishing, Boating, or Camping? | Keeping it Real… (harveyoberfeld.ca)

And get Free First Alerts of new postings on this Blog by following @harveyoberfeld on Twitter. No spam, just free alerts to new topics on the Blog. )

Posted in British Columbia, Media, National | 30 Comments

BC Media “Spins” Covid Checkpoint Story … Wiping Egg from Horgan’s Face

Premier John Horgan was quite clear last Monday: his NDP government would use the Public Emergency Act to temporarily restrict people’s travel outside their own Public Health Region, except for essential reasons.

“This will be conducted through random audits, not unlike roadside checks or CounterAttack during the Christmas season,” Horgan explained, as reported on the Global News website.

“Everybody will be asked where they’re going and where they came from. It’s not heavy-handed in my mind. It’s random and it will be done at a particular place at a particular time.”

Yes, the Premier had explained his plan very well.

But if implemented as Horgan said … disallowing any “non-essential” travel between health regions … it would indeed have prevented anyone from Vancouver to travel into Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey etc … and vice versa…. because they’re in two different Health Regions.

The story hit the fan: the “people” were very unhappy; Civil Liberties experts raised serious concerns; municipal and police officials expressed doubts how/whether they could/should enforce it; and, social media (including this Blog) lit up with questions, concerns, condemnations.

You can review my rant about Horgan’s announcement here: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/bc-imposes-collective-punishment-while-covid-scofflaws-go-free-uncharged/.

Tuesday, the government began backing down from Horgan’s announcement. Yes, BACKING DOWN! With little snippets here and there …. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth leading the retreat.

Vancouver Sun columnist was on to what was going on (although ironically he used the term “clarify” as well): https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-this-time-its-farnworth-who-explains-what-the-premier-meant-to-say

Of course, governments don’t like to be seen backing down (especially within hours) from any plan they’ve announced … particularly when it came direct from the mouth of the Premier!

So the “spin” began.

CTV Vancouver Island journalist Brendan Strain pushed for the true story of what was happening, and then reported:  “We kept getting passed around to different ministries and were told more clarification will be coming later in the week.”

“Clarification” ????

Ahh! Yes … “clarification”. LOL!

“Clarification” is a SPIN word … used by politicians and bureaucrats who say, announce, do something really stupid, impractical and unenforceable and then, after it gets a terrible reaction … realize they have to get their foot (or sometimes both feet) out of their mouths.

But instead of admitting they made a gaffe … they “clarify”.

Spin! Spin! Spin!

And it worked. (CAPS below in each case are mine.)

“The latest CLARIFICATIONS on the upcoming Covid 19 travel restrictions in BC are good news for Lower Mainlanders. The government says Metro Vancouver drivers will not have to worry about travel checkpoints,” Global TV’s Newshour told their viewers Wednesday.

A double bonus! Not only “clarify”, but turn it into “good news”! LOL!!

It went on and on …

“The National Police Federation, representing thousands of officers, is slamming the plan for checkstops to ban people from traveling outside their region and it comes as the province is CLARIFYING where you can and cannot go,” explained CTV News at Six.

” Farnworth provided a piece of further CLARITY on Wednesday for two neighbouring health authorities: The minister said Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health will be considered a single region under the new orders.,” the CBC reported.

“Province CLARIFIES rules on travel restrictions, checkpoints” headlined Kamloops This Week.

“B.C. CLARIFIES COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone,” headlined the Abbotsford News.

“Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth CLARIFIED Tuesday, saying the province is examining the use of periodic roadblocks only set up at places like BC Ferries or on Highway 1 leaving the Lower Mainland, to discourage recreational travel, and not conducting random individual stops,” Global News’ website reported.

Sad to see so many BC media gave the story, in my view, the kinder, gentler “CLARIFICATION” spin instead of telling their readers, listeners and viewers the TRUTH: the government had backed away, abandoned Horgan’s dumb, ill-thought-out, impractical announced plan. Period!

That’s the way the story should have been reported: TRUTHFULLY.

Words matter.

Was it a coincidence that so many media used versions of “clarify” to explain the government’s backdown? Or did the NDP’s spin doctors just do their job wonderfully?

I suspect the latter.

Former BC Premiers must look on in wonder at how Horgan could be responsible for such a public blunder, witness the resulting confusion, hear the negative reactions and then have his government do a massive retraction … and, yet, face no questioning about how, why the Premier himself messed up so badly… and made no apology.

Where ARE BC’s “political” reporters? Where ARE their News Directors/Managers?

How can there be NO questions from the media DIRECT to the Premier about what happened, why and how HE held a press conference to announce there would be ” random audits, not unlike roadside checks or CounterAttack during the Christmas season” … causing days of province-wide confusion, concerns, anger, defiance … and then it is all dropped, canceled within days … as if it was an April Fool’s joke … three weeks late!

No one was laughing.

BC’s media have to do a better job telling stories as they really are … and asking TOUGH questions when the Premier makes a mess, adding to an already difficult situation, and then his government has to back down!

Friday, Farnworth announced a ban on non-essential travel BETWEEN Health Region zones until May 25 … BUT Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health Regions, along with Northern and Interior Health Regions will be regarded as single regions for the purposes of travel.

And NO roadside checks within/between municipalities. Period!!!

There could be ferry/highway checks to prevent non-essential provincial travel between the large health zones, with $575 tickets handed out to violators. But the government hasn’t even agreed yet with the RCMP if/how/where that will be tried.

All in all, an intriguing/confusing/controversial week in BC: and readers of this Blog had a great opportunity to see/experience how “spin” actually works.

Hopefully we can all spot it better from now on … even if BC’s media cannot, or will not.

Harv Oberfeld

(Pass it on: let others know what really happened. BC Media “Spins” Covid Checkpoint Story … Wiping Egg from Horgan’s Face | Keeping it Real… (harveyoberfeld.ca)

And a reminder: you can get Free Alerts to all new postings on this Blog by following @harveyoberfeld.ca on Twitter.)

Posted in British Columbia, Media | 55 Comments