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Simpson: Enough with the niceties, it’s time Canada pulls some COVID attitude

Urging and encouraging pandemic strategies may be polite but it’s just not cutting it
From left: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, B.C. Premier John Horgan and Dr. Bonnie Henry. (File photos)

Nobody would accuse Canadians of being too mean or too direct.

Up north, we mind our manners and we prefer to be polite. We don’t like to argue and we’re constantly apologizing to others, even if we are not at fault. In a world that’s increasingly hard-nosed, our reputation for being nice, courteous folk makes our country stand out from among the rest.

But maybe it’s time we pulled a little attitude. You know, a little less maple leaf, a little more stars and stripes. Because 14 months, three waves and 112, 829 COVID cases later, B.C. needs more than a polite request to follow the rules.

This province could use a good old-fashioned butt kicking. Enough of the urging, encouraging and suggesting. Time to play hard ball. In fact, it’s well past time.

People just aren’t listening.

As Black Press Media’s Sarah Grochowski reported, some international travellers are flat-out refusing to quarantine in hotels as mandated by the federal government to contain COVID-19 spread.

As of April 7, 106 people were ticketed $3,000 for failing to book a government-authorized accommodation prior to travel then subsequently refusing to go to one, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The 106 people were from all those who landed at the Vancouver International Airport – one of four locations in Canada where international travellers can fly into.

SEE ALSO: Calls for government transparency in COVID data continue as B.C.’s 3rd wave wears on

We talk a good game.

After all, those who continue to violate the Quarantine Act can face an additional $3,000 in fines for each day of refusal to comply. Harsher penalties for non-compliance include $750,000 in fines and a six-month jail term. And travellers who put the lives of others at risk while contravening the law could face up to $1,000,000 in fines and three years in jail.

Let’s see it happen then! Some tough love is just what our country’s COVIDiots need. They’re practically begging for it.

And why are we allowing all these international travellers to begin with? Is it any wonder that the variants are ramping this pandemic up to another level?

And what about travelling within B.C.? There has been a non-essential advisory in place since the fall, but you wouldn’t know it, judging by the past few months of full ferries and long lineups at ski resorts.

It’s partially because of all the wishy-washy language from the people calling the shots.

Even when discussing the “trusted 10” bubble Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry suggested dialing it back.

“Seeing a small number of people from outside your household outside is allowed but it needs to be done in a small way – and we are discouraging even that, right now.”

Why not just come right out and tell people to make their bubble smaller? If there’s one thing we have learned by now, it’s that “discouraging” a behaviour is not going to work. It just won’t.

SEE ALSO: Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

And what about Canada’s limp vaccination rollout? When the pandemic started, if you remember, we were quite smug about sitting pretty over here in B.C. while our neighbours to the east and south were completely floundering.

Today, the tables have completely turned, in no small part thanks to inept leadership north of the border. Our American friends are climbing their way out of this mess and we are scrambling to secure enough vaccines as our number of COVID cases continues to rise.

But are we too nice to question things? Do we allow our politeness to stand in the way of asking questions about how our government is working?

“Could we have saved even more lives during the pandemic if all our public-health messaging came from a single, national source,” ask Ratna Omidvar, an Independent senator for Ontario and author Andreas Souvaliotis on “Do we benefit anymore from having 13 different health-care and education systems?”

They make a great point. We can’t be too polite to rethink the way we govern ourselves – even when that stretches us beyond our polite Canadian comfort zone.

“Be kind, be calm and be safe?”

No, we need more than that.

Oops. I forgot to say please.

Beau Simpson is editor of the Surrey Now-Leader. For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

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Beau Simpson

About the Author: Beau Simpson

As an editor who started his career in 2000 with the Nanaimo Daily News, I am finding there is still much to learn about community journalism, especially in our digital age
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