15 April 2020

Trends #nlpoli

How do you keep in place the very necessary and successful restrictions on public life needed to combat the spread of CVD19 when the success of those measures reduces the local daily number of active cases either to zero or to a handful and hence the threat appears to have passed?

In the 15 years I’ve been writing SRBP, the one enduring feature of public discussion about my writing happened again this week, in spades.

People come at me on social media about what is going on in their own heads and attribute that to me.

They don’t deal with the point I was actually making.  They deal with whatever they imagine I said.  And no amount of explanation will dissuade them from their crusade to shut me up or take me down or do whatever it is they are hell-bent on doing besides understanding my point and then having a productive conversation.

On Monday and Tuesday, I wrote about the very real political dilemma facing the current government.  It’s the one spelled out in the first sentence of this post.  I thought it would come in a couple weeks.  It appears to have arrived Tuesday.

So much for forecasts.

John Haggie is already frustrated that people are not listening.  On Tuesday, I told him the government need to ditch the current daily briefing format and messaging for something else that was less patronizing.  In the Tuesday briefing, Haggie delivered his stock message but did it for merely 53-odd seconds before taking questions.

Not really the point, but if the current trends continue, as they seem likely to do, then we will likely also see the mounting public pressure to ease restrictions on life in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The federal government is already talking to the provinces about the return to something approaching normal with the mention of re-opening the economy.  The economy never shut so what they are using is a code word for easing up the limitations on the public.  Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and some others will undoubtedly do so by the end of this month or early next month.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, though we will have to think twice about that.  Our two bordering provinces – Nova Scotia and Quebec – are still fighting a hot war against the spread of the disease.  The risk of infection across the border is real.  New Brunswick will face the same challenge.

The challenge for the - quite literally – two or three people effectively running the government in Newfoundland and Labrador will be holding off that political pressure and sustaining restrictions because the threat of disease will remain.  The situation of needing to do something unpopular will not be unprecedented.  We have lots of experience recently with it. Every time, the politicians have failed.

Will the trend continue?

Time will tell.