Commentary: Canada’s COVID catastrophe

Like its Western European brethren, Canada is a market-oriented social democracy with a subpar health care system and an inept prime minister.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talks with President Joe Biden during a bilateral meeting in February. (Canadian PM/Twitter)

I like Canada. And no, not in a Bernie Sanders “I want to move there because I dislike the United States, and Canada has a great health care system” mythical way.

Living in a border state, we enjoy summer road trips. We’ve driven across the Great White North’s lower provinces probably a dozen times, including the past seven summers until they closed their border in March 2020.

While I enjoy much of Canada’s interior farmland and national parks, places like Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver are progressive cesspools akin to Chicago, New York, San Francisco and Seattle.

Like its Western European brethren, Canada is a market-oriented social democracy with a subpar health care system and an inept prime minister.

While the American health care system and its heroic pharmaceutical industry produced a life-saving vaccine, the past year again proved Canada’s nationalized system inferior.

Last week, Canada’s auditor general reported the Public Health Agency of Canada was not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic “because it ignored internal audits that found serious gaps in the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile.”

The agency’s management failed to address “long-standing issues” in how medical supplies are managed. This led to problems supplying the country with crucial goods and “inadequate inventory control” with little sense of how much PPE would be required if a pandemic hit.

Even the Daily Beast confessed the vaccine rollout up north did not go well. As of today in the U.S., almost two in three adults have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, compared to roughly half of Canadians; but fewer than 10% of Canucks have received a second. Almost 90% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the U.S. border, so they’re not hard to reach.

“Why is Canada such a laggard among developed nations?” the Wall Street Journal asked earlier this year. “The government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t negotiate contracts with established drug companies. Rather, it quietly approved a working relationship between Canadian researchers and a Chinese vaccine maker, CanSino Biologics Inc. CanSino abandoned its project in August after multiple failures. Ottawa then had to rush through agreements with Pfizer, Moderna and other companies.”

They put their eggs in the basket of the rogue country that began the deadly plague? Justin Trudeau and Co. should be ashamed.

Looking across the landscape, it’s been a tough time for Ontario, the largest and arguably most liberal province.

“Our hospital system is literally buckling,” Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, said last month. “There is no way out for weeks, because it takes that long to see an impact on serious illness and death after you start public health measures. That’s awful.”

Even with a small improvement in recent days, their leader announced Wednesday that schools will remain closed until the fall. “Experts and education stakeholders” made the decision in lieu of science.

Alberta, which has fared as poorly as any province, is still more than a month from reopening — though government elites violate orders.

Saskatchewan, with a population akin to Montana, has a premier so cautious he makes Joe Biden look like Ron DeSantis. Soon their residents can finally gather indoors without masks in small groups, but “officials caution people should only consistently gather with the same ‘bubble’ of family or friends.” They’ll be donning masks at least until mid-July.

With barely one million people, ICUs are bursting in Manitoba.

In Quebec, cases are dropping, but they still refuse to open up for another week. Thankfully when schools finally reopen in three months, no masks.

Tiny Nova Scotia has crushed businesses with enforced closures and restrictions.

Next door in New Brunswick, they refuse to move forward until more people are vaccinated.

British Columbia hasn’t even begun second doses. Their four-step plan doesn’t even allow progress for two more weeks.

On tourism, where Canada rakes in over $100 billion annually, they’ve entered a 16th month with closed borders and face a second lost summer of revenue.

This has frustrated businesses — as an export market for agriculture, energy and manufacturing, Canada depends on the U.S. — on both sides of the international border and stranded many folks from their homes for over a year. The border closures for non-essential travel already are extended until at least June 21 with the inept Trudeau saying he’s in no rush.

And the final sad evidence is that while America long ago returned to business, and hockey arenas are packed for the playoffs, Canada’s remain empty. Their national sport with no fans during its biggest moments? Another travesty.