Tory Convention and Lockdowns

Tory convention on balance may have had lots of good parts that could in theory help party, but like with anything, other than a few political junkies, few pay attention to it. What matters is front page headlines and on that front, convention was an unmitigated disaster and will just making winning next election even less likely. Erin O’Toole had a good speech and was right party must change if it wishes to return to government. It cannot continue doubling down on base and hope public comes around. So I think O’Toole clearly gets where party needs to go. Off course details of platform will be key. But while O’Toole may want to broaden party’s appeal, its clear base is not interested. They prefer to double down on appealing to strongholds and those who already support party. And until he can get base to come along, party isn’t going anywhere. Big reason was resolution to declare climate change is real. Fact 54% of members voted this down is political gold for Liberals and you can bet this will be featured highly in attack ads. And likely will work too. The resolution didn’t mandate a carbon tax, nor did it suggest shutting down oil and gas industry. It simply asked party to recognize what is scientifically a fact. Fact 54% voted against it shows a lot of the party is anti-science and after pandemic last thing most Canadians want is a party that won’t even listen to science. Sure O’Toole wants to modernize party, but if base doesn’t, many will rightly assume that he will be beholden to them and forced to keep party stuck in past. As a moderate conservative who wants to see Trudeau lose, it is so frustrating that base won’t even make minor changes. It almost seems like they enjoy losing and they are quite happy remaining in opposition in perpetuity just to stick to principles. I take a very different view. In life you cannot always get what is ideal so goals should always be on what will get you the closest to your ideals realistically. And for Tories, being in power even with a more moderate watered down platform will get them far closer to ideals than remaining in opposition and having zero say. This will likely be studied in political science classes in 50 years from now of an example of how party membership can sink a party. If Labour’s 1983 manifesto in UK was called longest suicide note in political history, Tory vote on climate change can be described as biggest suicide pact in Canadian political history.

Other issue is we appear to be heading towards a third wave. Many are getting covid fatigue and understandably want to return to normal. But doing so will just ensure thousands needlessly die. A vaccine is on its way so lockdowns and restrictions are temporary and with light at end of tunnel, why not push through to end. Throwing in the towel now just reeks of impatience and is wrong way to go. Reality is not nearly enough are vaccinated to make things safe to re-open and as we’ve seen shutting and re-opening has not worked. We should have stayed in lockdown until cases are down to very low levels and then gradually re-open with aggressive contract tracing. At current levels, this is just not feasible. Ontario needs to go back into full lockdown and Quebec while moving in positive direction needs to keep restrictions in place. Alberta needs to also go back into lockdown too and while right wing base may not like it; saving lives comes first full stop. BC and Saskatchewan need to carefully monitor cases and any uptick even if small should be sufficient to trigger a harsh provincewide lockdown. On Covid zero, I am sort of torn. On one hand I don’t think it is very realistic as we live next to most infected country on earth and even with ban on non-essential travel, you still are going to get some spillover from essential travel which we cannot ban due to essential supply lines. Likewise, length and harshness of lockdown may not be realistic as lockdowns only work as long as people comply and realistically probably need at least a 6 month lockdown to get to covid zero. A month long lockdown might work in isolated places like New Zealand or Atlantic Canada, but not in larger provinces. And while I would fully support a harsh 6 month lockdown myself, real question is would general public? Most probably would say yes to pollsters, but actions speak louder than words. But even if Covid zero is not realistic, that doesn’t mean we throw in towel and cannot have it as goal. Having Covid Zero as a goal is still a good idea so as to encourage us to aim high and while might not be achievable; we can at least get cases down to low enough levels that it is possible to re-open with aggressive contract tracing. Cases need to be in teens if not single digits and outside Atlantic Canada and Territories, we are far from that. I have heard at lengths all the reasons why we should re-open and not go into lockdown and as shown below I believe they are wrong. I don’t for a minute doubt lockdowns have negative side effects. But I believe alternative is worse so its not so much lockdowns are good; its more alternative is even worse so lockdowns are least bad alternative.

  1. Lockdowns only affect elderly so re-open for majority where risk is low: While vast majority of covid deaths are over 60, it is not zero with younger and newer variants are showing some alarming trends. Never mind it not just about saving lives now; its also saving lives in future. And the damage Covid does to one’s lungs could mean many younger people don’t die now, but have long term health problems and end up dying much earlier than they would have otherwise. Never mind separating young and healthy from older is not realistic. Too many live with older relatives as well as those in essential businesses that cannot close like grocery stores will come in contact with such people.
  2. Lockdowns are destroying businesses: I don’t doubt that but reality is you cannot have an economy until COVID is under control. For businesses to stay profitable, they need a steady clientele and as long as COVID is rampant, many will voluntarily stay home so it becomes a death by thousand cuts. A sharp one time lockdown with government supports would be far less harmful to business than staying open. Last year Atlantic Canada saw best growth and looking overseas, Sweden despite no lockdown saw just as big a GDP drop as its neighbours who did go into lockdown.
  3. Lockdowns are causing huge spikes in mental health: While logic would say suicides should go up, actual stats show that is not the case and policy should be made on facts not feelings. In addition there are other ways to deal with mental health without re-opening. For starters losing a loved one, especially if unexpected and at a young age is very traumatic so those asking for re-opening are ignoring this. To help mental health, better solutions including more zoom time with family and friends. People living alone should be allowed to if possible move in with one family member as long as they stick to bubble. Meet outdoors with a small group of friends by wearing masks and keeping social distance. For kids it may be tough, but this is also a good life lesson that life isn’t always easy and making sacrifices for greater good is something we want. Children during World War II and Great Depression had to endure much greater hardships than children today during lockdown so if past generations could do it, we can too.
  4. Its my right to go out and live life, those who are scared should just stay home: One’s rights end the moment they harm others and fact is by going out you aren’t just putting yourself at risk, you are putting others at risk too. The choice is a false dichotomy. Essential workers cannot stay home and likewise people still need to go out to buy essentials like groceries. So re-opening puts everyone at greater risk. I am all for no limits on what risks people wish to take if they do not put others at risk, but moment they do I support restrictions. Base jumping is very dangerous, but since it doesn’t put others at risk, we allow people to make such choice. Speeding is probably less risky than base jumping, but because it puts others at risk, not just one’s self, we rightly have laws against it. Covid restrictions are the equivalent of speed limits in many ways.
  5. Lockdowns don’t work, see Sweden, Florida and South Dakota who have no lockdowns and are doing fine: Reality is lockdowns do work and all places that have not had them have had death rates more than double what Canada has had. Sure most will survive but unlike anti-lockdown types, I don’t accept another 30,000 dead as a fair price. While there are many factors that determine rates and spread, overall evidence is very strong lockdowns do save lives. Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec have seen much steeper drops than BC and Saskatchewan and former four had lockdowns while latter two did not. Sweden while not as bad as some European countries, has had a death rate 3x that of Denmark and 10x that of Norway and Finland. Their reckless approach has meant thousands of needless deaths. South Dakota is so bad 1 in 700 people died of COVID-19. Florida vs. California and New York is not a valid comparison. California’s problem is it waited too long to lockdown, but despite that, their infection rates were much higher around Christmas than Florida while now only half despite double the population. New York has only had more deaths per capita due to high death rate last spring as major international airport so got hit earlier. Since June 1st of last year, death rate in New York has been well below Florida. Florida not being front line of first wave had a chance to avoid many deaths and they failed.

2 thoughts on “Tory Convention and Lockdowns

  1. Miles, I will leave your fellow Tories to comment on your political analysis, other than to say that as someone who cannot support the CPC’s platform as it stands, I think your critique is dead to rights. On your COVID points, which are well and clearly made, I just have one to add: We are so close now to getting vaccinated, it would be tragic to go on another deadly surge within a few months of being able to breathe a bit easier. Adapting to COVID as a threat is a long-term process we are going to have to wrap our heads around. But by summer, most Canadians will hopefully have their first shot in the arm and if the variants have not taken off meanwhile, the days of strict lockdown just may be in the rear view mirror. That’s something that seems worth hanging in there for.

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    1. Absolutely and I actually think by September at latest life will largely be back to normal and we will even be able to travel to US, Europe and other developed countries. For travel to developing countries we need to see whether those vaccinated can act as carriers or not as well as monitor any new variations that might appear. Probably not a good idea to travel to them this year, but may be okay next year although possibly not until 2023.

      Looking at stats, there are some encouraging figures. Israel is seeing a massive drop and they have more than half their population vaccinated and they are now for a change having fewer cases per day than BC despite almost double the population. UK unlike rest of Europe is not seeing a spike so far so that suggests even with 1/3 vaccinated it is probably more manageable as fewer hosts to jump between. But one caveat is number who got infected in UK earlier was much higher and ditto US so even those two avoid a third wave, doesn’t mean when we get to their current levels of vaccination we will have same results as far fewer infected here so fewer of those not vaccinated have antibodies.

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