We Canadians can be an interesting bunch and it surprises me sometimes how certain things ruffle our feathers more than others. My former colleague on the Hill Lauren Dobson-Hughes wrote a great piece for The Line this week that kind of touched on some of this peculiarity, how we view ourselves compared to the rest of the world and our ambitions as a nation, or lack thereof. Her words really struck a chord with me because it did speak to a real uncomfortable truth about our country and how we view ourselves.
And if you needed any confirmation of that well-known Canadian phenomena, well it came in an interesting way. The source that set off days of national angst and finger pointing was CNN’s Jake Tapper and Paula Newton, with a report that was a blunt as it was inconvenient for some:
Okay folks, that story wasn’t easy to watch. It doesn’t shine the best light on our country and where we’re at in the fight against COVID. But we knew all of that already and we all have known what the problems have been. Nothing that Tapper and Newton pointed out was a shock to us. Yet somehow that simple piece pointing out the simple facts of the matter set off all of this spilled ink, digital and otherwise. Everyone seemed to try to twist this story to fit their own narratives. The Conservatives made a point of even raising it in Question Period, a clear sign of political failure when a foreign media outlet takes notice of our country and points out a bad news story. Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole took the opportunity to lambaste Trudeau, trying to pin everything at his doorstep, as if Tapper had somehow. It even led to this Twitter exchange about the piece:
It’s true, in his response Trudeau tried to downplay and push aside the report, in his own attempt to spin this into his best possible light. And Tapper called it out, asking what exactly in the story they objected to. So far, there has been no response to that. Yet just as the Conservatives crowed over this story, lauding a network that some of their MPs and supporters never watch and call “fake news”, Tapper took away whatever joy he gave the blue team as quickly as he gave it with this quip:
Yep, Tapper is right again and what he gave a few Tweets early, he took away with that one. The Conservatives aren’t blameless, and they share a lot of blame with the current state of things too. Of course, that didn’t please the blue team as the red team fumed in the corner. That led some people on Twitter to snipe at Tapper, asking why in the heck he should care about this and why is he paying attention to this now. Those exchanges brought a couple of replies like this, which help answer those questions:
Yes, he has family connections here, as many Americans do. And yes, we do deserve better as vaccination appointments are being cancelled across Ontario because the province is botching the role out after they get the vaccines. Hospitals are bracing for the worst as well. It’s all a bloody mess, and I’m stunned that so many Canadians have gotten so upset about this because an American network finally noticed. They weren’t the first, as many other American outlets have run stories on our vaccine issues.
So why are so many of our countrymen and countrywomen so worked up over this? Because the bigger neighbours who almost never notice us have noticed us now. And yes, the news of what they saw is bad because it is bad. Seriously, is that up for debate at this point? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look in from the outside and say that between the Feds and the Provinces, this part of our COVID response has been botched. Every party has born part of these mistakes and mess ups, at both the Federal and Provincial levels. Period. End of Story. It doesn’t say anything about the state of or performance of universal healthcare, it doesn’t make some grand judgement on policies, it doesn’t make anything up. Those are just the facts. That’s all.
And folks, this whole episode has really shone a light on the fragility of our collective confidence as a nation when an American cable news host looks over the border, sees a screw up and calls it that, brings us to such a frenzied state of existential emotional breakdown. Seriously folks, get a grip! Most of us make snarky snipes about media we don’t like, don’t like the bent of and wish they would be more “neutral” and stick to the facts. That’s exactly what Tapper, Newton and CNN did here, and how did we react? We lost our collective minds.
We are never going to get out of this crisis together we are going to have to face the truth of what’s happening, no matter how uncomfortable that brutal truth may be. It’s not in the nature of our political leaders to do that without spinning or trying to “control the message” to be advantage their political position, but this is a time when they have to put all that crap aside. Seriously, I don’t say this lightly but man, it’s time for some people to grow into this moment. This isn’t the time to do the finger pointing and blame control. This is the time to hunker down, grow up and get things back on track. At this point if you’re not doing that, you’re a part of the problem, and not the solution. Tapper was right in his piece and he was right when we said that we Canadians do deserve better than this. It’s just amazing that we lost our collective minds when someone of note from the U.S. was the one that pointed it out.