Preston Manning already occupies a place of honour in our history books as the father of modern conservatism. His accomplishments are too numerous to recount in this short article, and his articles, essays and books are many.
With his many accomplishments and at his stage in life, one would think Preston would choose an easier path than to once again become embroiled in the fraught subject of pandemic politics.
But not so. Manning has again seen a need for his talents and rejoined the fray.
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is honoured to present Manning’s latest offering in what he calls a fictionalized story. It’s about everything that has happened to this country since the COVID-19 virus first made it to Canadian shores.
We’ve experienced it all – the panic, fear and misinformation – all followed by a disastrously exaggerated (and highly political) government response. That exaggerated response – lockdowns – might go down in history as the single biggest mistake in public policy in human history.
We’re only beginning to understand how big that mistake was. The huge economic costs are still unclear. How much of the alarming economic events now unfolding – uncontrolled inflation, supply chain chaos, looming recession, even war – are directly related to lockdown policies is still unclear.
And we’re starting to see how deep the cost and societal division that excessive government regulation, government-decreed unemployment, forced economic dependence, and the unnecessary stoking of fear will have on us, our children and our grandchildren for decades to come.
But at least most of the world has managed to move on past these incredibly divisive – and just plain dumb – policies, like excessive regulation and vaccine mandates.
But not Canada.
We seem to be stuck in a time warp. I had occasion to enter a federal building the other day. While Manitoba has been free of the worst of features of the made-up lockdown world – useless paper masks, gallons of hand sanitizer and the like – not so the federal government. Entering the building, one might as well have been in North Korea. There were lines on the floor telling us where to stand. A masked civil servant is employed only to squirt goop on your hands and ask if you had a cough and bars further entry until your hands are sufficiently doused with chemicals.
That’s also the scene at airports where unvaccinated people can’t even travel to another part of Canada – even if their relative is dying in another province. The whole thing is surreal.
We would do it without objection if it had anything to do with science, but it doesn’t. It’s all about politics. Our prime minister told us so. When vaccine mandates were first proposed, Justin Trudeau said emphatically, “We’re not a country that makes vaccinations mandatory.” He was speaking the truth then. He knew how divisive such mandates would be. He knew that one part of the population would inevitably be set against the other and that deep division and a fractured society would be the long-lasting result.
But he did it anyway. The science didn’t change, but politics entered the picture. And the rest is history. We now live in that fractured society.
Good people are fired from their jobs for not accepting a vaccination that doesn’t stop transmission. Good people are prevented from travelling or even going into a bar without a vaccination certificate that has nothing to do with who gets or doesn’t get sick with an ever-changing virus that will be with us forever. And good people are jailed and persecuted for honking horns and disrupting traffic.
That’s the Canada we now live in, a Canada where half the population now regards civil liberties as a right-wing plot.
But I’m getting carried away. Let’s let Manning tell his story. I hope you like it as much as I did.
Oh, and not to spoil the plot, but this is far more than just a story. Preston Manning has stepped up to the plate with a plan to get us out of our political pandemic prison.
And to ensure that we never find ourselves in one in the future.
Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
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