Times of crisis, like we are living in right now, can bring out the best in people. We see that everyday with front line workers in the health sector, who do their best to save lives and try to fight back against this awful, mutating disease. We are depending on their bravery so much, as they are witnessing Hell on Earth. This week things took a disturbing turn for the worst with COVID, as Ontario’s Chief Coroner Dr Dirk Huyer pointed out in a press conference on Thursday afternoon:
Yes folks, people are dying in their homes, going from rather symptomless to dead so fast that they are dying at home. And as Dr. Huyer pointed out, not because they were en route to the hospital, or waiting for their ambulance like it was a late Uber ride, no. These weren’t people who were sick with other conditions that made them more vulnerable. The died from COVID, and COVID moved that fast.
There have been a lot of moments in this crisis that have stuck in my mind, but those words from Dr. Huyer stuck much more than most for me. It spoke to just how far things have gone and how bad things have gotten. It also speaks to why so many of us have no patience for those who continue to impede our fight against COVID, and openly fight the proper public health measures that the medical experts tell us are necessary. And honestly, saying I have “no patience” for those people is putting it extremely politely, more politely than they likely deserve.
That is what was in my mind when I woke up this morning and did my usual social media scan and came across this ugly post from a member of Erin O’Toole’s caucus, which brings us to the other side of what moments of crisis can bring out; the worst in us:
Yes folks, that’s Conservative MP for Flamborough—Glanbrook David Sweet comparing proper, science backed public health measures to the mass imprisoning of Canadian citizens based on their race and/or the nation where they or their ancestors immigrated from. That is as repugnant of a comparison as I can come up with, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise from Mr. Sweet, given this bit that came almost two months ago:
Yep, that was Sweet joining rebel MPP and anti-public health measures Roman Baber for a press conference in very early March, basically calling for Ontario to stop fighting COVID and open up. The timing of that press conference is especially damning now, given that the Ford Governments loosening of restrictions around the same time (while ignoring the doctors and their projections of another terrible COVID wave coming) led us to where we are now. With their request, Sweet and Baber were basically asking for more people to get sick and die, because based on what we knew then and have confirmed lately, that would have been the result.
So not only is Sweet’s Tweet from last night deeply offensive, but it’s also the kind of thinking that is literally costing lives and destroying families while, as Dr. Huyer pointed out, people are dying in their homes. Now if Mr. Sweet was an expert in this field, some of us might be forced to consider his opinions in some non-malignant light. His biography shows that he ran a tow truck business, lead a real estate brokerage in the 1980s and then later owned a management consulting firm. He even was the founding President of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, “an organization that provides training opportunities for and promotes professional speakers.”
Yet nowhere in all of those years in business and Parliament did I see a single stitch of training in health in any way, shape or form. Nothing in medical studies, no work as a nurse, doctor or even an administrative assistant in a doctor’s office, nothing. And this is the guy who has been pushing to put lives at risk so he can go to shopping in a crowded mall in peace. In other words, dude is selfish, so “let’s have a convo” about that and what it means for the greater COVID response.
And that’s the rub, which pushed me to write this piece given all the talk we’ve heard from the Conservatives in Ottawa, trying to blame any non-Conservative leader for what has happened with COVID. How in the Hell is a guy who is basically advocating for more people to die so he can go out for dinner get to stay in the Conservative Caucus? You’d think that publicly coming out two months ago and advocating for lives to be put at risk, while Leader Erin O’Toole is chastising the Liberals for not doing enough to save lives, would be more than enough of an offense to get tossed from caucus. Sweet already announced that he’s not running again so he’s already in full-on, selfish, zero-f*cks given mode, so that should have made it easier for O’Toole to do.
And yet, that didn’t happen. Heck, that tweet crowing about his demands for Ontario to stand down in the fight against COVID-19 is still up there, so we can assume that O’Toole didn’t have much of anything to say to Sweet about that action. That all leads us to that latest tweet, which still remains up, with Sweet engaging with people as they rightfully call him out on his crap. And all the while, O’Toole remains silent. How in the heck can you be the least bit credible in this moment when talking about COVID when you keep people like Sweet in your caucus, who openly say this kind of crap? The point is you can’t. You don’t get to have it both ways and every moment that Sweet remains in the Conservative caucus is another moment proves that the Conservatives are more concerned about politics above all else in this moment.
The best way to disabuse Canadians of that notion would be to send Sweet packing, as he should have done in March. We can debate a lot of things in this world, but scientific facts aren’t one of them. You can not like or enjoy the public health measures that we are having to undertake right now, but still respect that they need to happen to save lives. That does not make those measures anyway equivalent to some of the worst human rights abuses of the Second World War. To try to suggest they do to score the cheapest of political points proves that the people who utter that language are not fit to serve in our elected institutions and have no place in any serious national political party in Canada. I know that many Conservatives agree with that, yet by his continued presence in the Conservative caucus, we have to wonder where Erin O’Toole stands. Now is a time to lead, and if O’Toole is serious about showing that he’d do a better job than the current Prime Minister in this moment of crisis, he’d lead by example and send Sweet packing. But that remains an open question, and that’s really all O’Toole’s own doing.