January 22nd, 2022

Laying it Out: Send in the clowns

By SCOTT SCHMIDT on January 8, 2022.

If you’ve yet to hear the latest conservative narrative to emerge over the past week or so, it’s a doozy.

According to certain politicians and pundits, the real failure during two years of COVID has been Ottawa neglecting to increase hospital capacity to deal with the influx of sick. Resembling a planned united front, everyone from CPC leader Erin O’Toole, to Toronto Sun columnists, right down to Premier Jason Kenney’s political muppets, Brock Harrison and Ben Harper, has jumped on the topic.

You might remember the latter two from such previous gaffes as the #BestSummerEver, where they became social media faces of the UCP’s mortally bad decision to declare the pandemic over and laugh in the faces of anyone who said otherwise.

Medicine Hat went on to experience its deadliest two-month period in city history, but hey, July was a blast.

Anyway, six months later – almost as if their deplorable actions weren’t etched in history – the two are back to their smug ways online, only this time they’re apparently saying the federal government wasted money on worker and business aid during shutdowns (ordered by provinces, not Ottawa, by the way) and should have used it to add hospital beds instead (another provincial responsibility).

In a tweet earlier this week, Harper said, “Too bad Liberals used the money printer to support lockdowns instead of expanded healthcare capacity. Two years later, we got what we paid for.”

Harper brought it up in another tweet the next day, with Harrison jumping in to say, “Ben is bang on, as usual. The federal government doubled an already massive deficit in ONE YEAR to fight the pandemic – and spent $0 on the health care system.”

Forget the fact Harrison’s claim about health-care spending is demonstrably false, or the fact the provincial government he works for left hundreds of millions in available federal support in limbo during the pandemic. These two actually want you to believe Ottawa should have just created more hospital space to handle the hundreds of Albertans who needed it after they willingly helped launch the campaign that sent folks there in the first place. Not only that, apparently the feds should have known the UCP would create that disaster with enough advance notice to have additional capacity in place.

“Why didn’t you know we would screw this up,” is the kind of response you’d expect a child to trap themselves in. Yet Brock and Ben had ample time to think about what they were saying as they typed it out, and said it anyway.

Neither of these two men have much political pull just yet (even though one is the son of a former prime minister whose own clout lingers to this day), so singling them out might seem odd, but both aspire to have it – and it’s worth reminding people the last thing they latched onto was messaging that led to death, lots of it.

This new narrative however, attempts to cleverly suggest a pro-patient stance (obviously more ICU beds, proper equipment and staffing would have been better than what happened here, where an emergency ICU was set up in the hospital basement, and baby monitors – yes, baby monitors – used to keep tabs on critically ill patients).

But considering the UCP’s pre- and early-pandemic strategy was to cut back health care (11,000 planned layoffs, planned pay cuts, fighting over doctor compensation, etc.) surely no one believes they’re now in favour of extra beds lying in wait.

And, of course, they aren’t.

What they are in favour of is pointing fingers and putting the economy ahead of human life.

Look at Harper’s initial tweet. He’s saying there should have never been restrictions on businesses, or aid launched in income and wage subsidies, and instead that money should have been spent on beds, where anyone who needed one was all too likely to die in one.

Harper, with Harrison, O’Toole and others, knows exactly what happened when all restrictions were lifted, since he helped literally brand the choice to do so. They watched the health-care system in Alberta desperately try to keep up and they know Albertans went into ICU and often didn’t come out, yet still they have the callous nerve to suggest the strategy all along should have been: Do nothing and find more places to store the dying.

The same people who told you the pandemic was officially over are now implying the extended nature of it was inevitable. In a sense, they’re quietly adopting the stance that everything that happened already was a foregone conclusion, and certainly no fault of their own.

But it’s imperative we never let anyone, especially Harper and Harrison, forget nearly 800 Albertans died in two months between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, and they were paid handsomely to help convince you no one would die again.

From the pandemic is over to the pandemic is a train we shouldn’t even try to stop, these two are clearly willing to take whatever position they’re told to take. And the only consistency in any of it is: human life is secondary.

No matter what is still to come during the rest of this pandemic, these two will clearly be there with a juggling act to distract your attention. But just because the provincial government continues to be a complete circus doesn’t mean you have to tolerate its over paid clowns.

Scott Schmidt is the layout editor for the Medicine Hat News. Contact him by email at sschmidt@medicinehatnews.com

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13 days ago

Thanks again for “laying it out” the truth about the Conservative talking points needs to be disseminated. Just to add to your points, the point about increasing hospital beds, and in particular ICU beds means that the conservatives are okay with more Canadian Covid deaths.