Coronavirus: Canada and BC Governments’ “Steady” Handling is Working

“Steady”. In any critical time of war, steady guidance and steady leadership is key to easing citizens’ anxiety, keeping the concerned population informed of how/where the battle is being waged, outlining the path to victory ..and, hopefully, letting us know when progress is made.

And I believe, in the current World War against the Coronavirus, the Canadian and BC governments, their officials and, most of all, front line workers are doing a fairly good … if not perfect … job of not only developing/carrying out the plan of attack, but revealing victories/failings, providing daily updates of casualties/losses and encouraging us to stay the course.

Steady.

And the numbers show that, in Canada, the battle plan is working.

As of Sunday, there were 6,320 reported coronavirus cases in Canada, 65 deaths.

Sad, of course, but keep in mind, the world-wide (officially reported) numbers are: 705,000 infected; 34,000 deaths.

Canada is doing better than most in combatting corona.

And the fight … supported by millions of Canadians practicing physical distancing, frequently washing hands and the drastic closing of bars, restaurants, shops and gatherings … should soon flatten the curve and start us back on the long road to recovery.

Steady.

We have certainly done much better than our southern neighbour, where the picture is horrific: 140,000 reported infections; 2,400 dead. And latest estimates say the death toll could reach 200,000.

Hard to believe … actually with Donald Trump, maybe not … that the US President told his nation only weeks ago … on Feb 14:  “We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12. Many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape.”

Nope.

And on Feb 25 Trump said: “You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are … getting better. They’re all getting better. … As far as what we’re doing with the new virus, I think that we’re doing a great job.”

Nope.

The US figures are the LARGEST number of reported coronavirus infections on the globe … MORE than China (82,000), Italy (94,000), Spain (85,000) … and because of their late entry into the battle, their peak till could be months, away.

And if you’re bored stuck at home and want a good laugh to relieve your stress, there’s a whole list of Trump’s stupidity … so far … on coronavirus alone: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/17/trump-dissed-coronavirus-pandemic-worry-now-claims-he-warned-about-it.html.

Canadians should be grateful that OUR nation’s leader … despite whatever other faults/criticisms people may have … has not so blatantly under-estimated, misled, deceived, lied to and taken our citizens for fools when making statements on the coronavirus crisis.

In fact, PM Justin Trudeau’s on-air public daily briefings have been very steady, reassuring: announcing new programs/policies/funding to combat the impact of the war; reaching out to calm/comfort virtually every group in society; urging Canadians to help fight/stop the spread of the virus and, taking lots of questions from journalists.

Steady.

Of course, as a journalist, I have found some of the questions too accepting/unchallenging and some of the responses from the PM and federal cabinet ministers etc. to be just that: “responses” … but not total “answers” revealing the full story. Ahhh! Politicians!

Nor am I suggesting there aren’t aspects of the whole coronavirus file that can’t be questioned, criticized or challenged … even now to some extent … but the REAL analysis/push for that can take place after the war has been won.

And at least I don’t get the sense that much of the fight here against the devastating virus has been badly mishandled or downright chaotic.

And the briefings that are being held are without anyone ranting, making obviously stupid and/or false statements, lying, hurling insults at premiers, or demeaning and debasing the media and reporters.

Or …. as Trump did Saturday … adding to the fright by revealing in the morning he could possibly announce “some time today” a full quarantine of the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut … before, by evening the same day, dropping the idea!

Imagine the angst, confusion, inter-state financial/commercial/family concerns/reactions his wild statement caused for millions of Americans … before he backed down.

Not steady.

And speaking of briefings, it should be said: the BC government has also done a fairly good job disseminating information, assistance and attacking the virus as well.

Daily information sessions, featuring Premier John Horgan and/or Health Minister Adrian Dix, other ministers and health officials are broadcast live and have provided valuable updates, statistics, announcements of new programs and progress fighting the disease and its impact on British Columbians.

Steady.

And it is starting to work.

In BC, with our population of 5 million, there were 884 infections reported; 17 deaths as of Saturday.

Washington state, our closest US neighbour, with a population of 7.5 million, sadly has suffered 4,100 cases; 189 dead.

The coronavirus fight is not a contest: it is a war … and every casualty is a tragedy. But the figures do show that BC is faring better in the battle so far.

And it does help that Canadian federal and provincial governments … elected officials and bureaucrats, front line workers … and most citizens are all fighting the battle together against the virus … not sniping, under-cutting or attacking each other.

With steady leadership at the top … we will win.

It depends on all of us whether that will happen sooner … or later.

Harv Oberfeld

(Get free First Alerts to all new postings on this BC-based blog by following @harveyoberfeld on Twitter. No spam … just First Alerts to new topics.)

Posted in British Columbia, International, Media, National | 5 Comments

Isolation: When TV and the Internet Really Count !

I’m home! And in isolation.

Now under 14 days of house arrest … isolation … made quite comfortable thanks to friends Chris and Kathy stocking my place with groceries (yes, they found them!) before arriving back … and friend Barry also stepping up since, with door-front drop-offs.

And I now have a renewed appreciation for the role TV and the Internet play in our lives … more important than ever to me (and others) staying home much more than normal.

And I’ve been watching.

First of all, now back in Vancouver, I could not help but immediately notice the difference in the structure/messaging/plan of attack against coronavirus and even the tone of our own provincial/municipal and federal officials compared to the chaotic/confused and, frankly, sometimes simply unbelievable Trump/Pence “briefings” I watched on tv in the US.

Not once since getting back have I seen Prime Minister Justin Trudeau say he’s smarter than the scientists, or we should try a malaria drug … or poutine … to cure it, or that we’ll have vaccine in “three or four months” … and a cure is on the horizon! (Not to mention the idiotic statements, misinformation and lies Trump and his lackeys delivered routinely earlier, downplaying both the imminent dangers and the expected impact of the virus.)

In fact, Canadians have an advantage over our American neighbours: thanks to the wide choice of TV channels available here, we can tune in coverage on both sides of the border to compare the monitoring/treatment progress and even the carefully crafted messages being aimed at the respective populations.

And speaking of television, as well as the internet, just think how much easier it is for anyone in extended isolation to keep up to date with the latest actions/information/discussions and just pass the time these days, compared to what global citizens experienced with previous pandemics.

Unless you believe you should be able to get it on your LOCAL CBC station that you have funded for generations.

Incredibly, the CBC has CANCELED its local newscasts across the country during the pandemic!

What!!!

Just when the taxpayers who PAY for the CBC’s budget, salaries, highest tech equipment and some very fancy building facilities should be able to depend on the CBC for the latest LOCAL coronavirus alerts, breakouts, dangers, actions, closures and detailed news … the CBC has abandoned its local commitments.

Here’s how the CBC brass justified the move: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/cbc-tvnews-changes-coronavirus-1.5501512

“As Canadians turn to us for the latest developments during these unprecedented times, we are temporarily pooling our resources into one core news offering to ensure the very best of our local and national journalism,” said Susan Marjetti, CBC’s general manager of news, current affairs and local.

I don’t buy it.

On Saturday, I tuned in CBC Newsworld for the Noon (Pacific) BC update: they didn’t join the live update until 12:04 p.m and MISSED the announcement of the total number of cases in BC! It was only given 20 minutes later, when Health Minister Adrian Dix decided to repeat part of the BC announcement in French. (Lucky for viewers … and the CBC … that he did that … because not even the CBC’s graphics running at the bottom of the screen had the BC numbers!)

Is that the best Canada’s broadcaster can do?

And what about details? The CBC could and should be regularly delivering not just the BC totals or those for the Vancouver area … but also the number of LOCAL cases/deaths/actions throughout the province … in the Okanagan, Prince George, the Interior and the Kootenays!

And the same in other provinces as well.

And it’s LOCAL stations that fulfill that important task … and mandate.

With LOCAL news programming cancelled, the CBC should adopt a new slogan: “When your community faces a crisis … we’re out of here!”

Readers of this blog will know I have defended funding of the CBC as necessary for fulfilling national broadcast objectives and serving local communities often ignored or under-served by private broadcasters.

However, CBC’s abandonment of local communities during the current crisis is a disgrace that should be addressed by the CRTC and Parliament once they are fully functioning again.

Fortunately, private broadcasters are providing LOCAL coverage, so there is still a lot to explore on both TV and the Internet.

So despite CBC abandoning local communities and its responsibilities to ALL Canadians … TV and the Internet will help us all to pass our required 14 days isolation … or voluntarily for even longer periods.

Harv Oberfeld

(Follow me @harveyoberfeld on Twitter to get First Alerts on all new postings on this Blog.)

Posted in British Columbia, International, Media, National | 87 Comments