It's not about the masks

Across Canada, and around the world, lately there have been a number of public protests against the wearing of masks. Since I've never attended one of these rallies, and since I'm not arrogant enough to speak on behalf of the thousands of people who actually have, I offer this piece as a suggestion as to what is really going on.
I suggest that these protests aren't about masks. Or rather, they are not only about masks. I suspect that the majority of the people who attend may, in fact, be sick and tired of being told what to do by politicians and health officers who, most of the time, don't really know what they're doing or why.

Back in the spring of 2020, masks were not only not recommended by Theresa Tam, Canada's chief health officer, and by Patty Hajdu, Canada's health minister, they were, in fact, strongly discouraged. Now masks are so essential to keeping us all alive that a person can be fined, fired, or even jailed, for not wearing one. And the very act of protesting against them is illegal. Quite a flip-flop, even by a politician's standards.

Also last spring, our officials told us that border closures don't work and were, in fact, racist. So, full airplanes from China and Italy were landing daily in Canada, likely bringing thousands of new cases. Justin Trudeau was more worried about "playing nice" with his friends in the Chinese government than he was about the safety of Canadians. Now, a full year later, border closures and extra rules for returning travelers are apparently so necessary to protect us all that serious fines and/or incarceration are being imposed.

Then there is the whole vaccine procurement fiasco. Mr. Trudeau was, and unfortunately still is, in charge of obtaining sufficient vaccines to protect all Canadians but, by all accounts except his own, has failed miserably in this task. Canada is the only country in the world, other than the UK, that is OK with having a time lag between first and second doses of at least four months - in spite of numerous studies and in spite of recommendations from the professionals who actually researched, developed, tested, and produced these vaccines. Apparently Mr. Trudeau, Ms, Hajdu, Mr. Horgan, and Dr. Tam are smarter than 95% of the world and the scientists at Pfizer and Moderna.

Mr. Horgan is responsible for safety in seniors care homes, both public and privately funded. Those are the homes where many hundreds of seniors have died, many all alone and scared. So he wants to distract us from that horrific spectacle by telling me that if I drive to Vancouver, I am putting our entire society at risk. But I can drive to Calgary and then fly to Vancouver - somehow that's OK. Maybe if Mr. Horgan took care of his own responsibilities, the ones that he is being paid for, then I would probably cut him some slack when he imposes draconian restrictions on my freedom. People say, "Well, it's a hard job and he's doing his best." So what? His best is clearly not good enough. He's the guy who wanted so badly to keep his job for another four years that he forced an election on us in the middle of the pandemic.

What does all this have to do with anti-mask protests? Simple. Masks are just the symbol. I assert that many people in Canada have lost faith in the federal and provincial governments' ability to work through this pandemic. I have given up looking for logic in their announcements or their regulations. They don't trust me just as much as I don't trust them. When trust between government and citizen breaks down, there is not much left to hold our society together.

So masks, in and of themselves, aren't a big deal, really. At least not a big enough deal, in my opinion, to get a thousand people out to a protest. I believe the real issue is that many people don't want to take orders that make no sense from people who clearly don't trust us and, even more importantly, don't know what they're doing. Mr. Trudeau said the other day that he was "disappointed" with the protesters in Montreal. Well, guess what? They are disappointed in you, too! He is the one who has let us all down and he has the gall to say that we "disappoint" him! The hypocrisy is breathtaking! He apparently doesn't understand who pays his salary.

The other reason that I don't mind the anti-mask protesters (for the most part) is that they are, at least, standing up for our civil rights. Our rights have taken quite a beating in the last 15 months and people are worried that most of them won't come back even after the world goes back to "normal". Once a society gives up a right or a privilege, it is unlikely to ever come back. We give them up at our peril.

Seems like there is always a "war" going on. War against communism. War on drugs. War against climate change. War on homelessness. War on terrorists. War on poverty. War against COVID. There always seems to be something that we need to be frightened of, always something that the government needs to protect us from, to "keep us safe". Always some bandwagon the media needs to jump on in order to sell headlines and advertising. Always another reason to increase taxes or hire more bureaucrats or build more "programs". Always another reason to get neighbors to narc on their neighbors. You think this can only happen in America? Guess again. Check out Trudeau's latest budget to "build back better." I still haven't worked out the "logic" that says that COVID is an "opportunity" to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild Canada in Trudeau's image. No one really says what was wrong with Canada in 2019 that was so terrible or why it needs the "great reset".

If you believe that everything that Tam, Henry, Trudeau, and Horgan are doing is the correct approach, that is your right. I respect your opinion and your right to hold that opinion. You may not like the protesters but the majority are doing what they believe is best. Apparently we're not allowed to have a counter opinion any more, not supposed to question the government. People from all walks of life are getting "cancelled" every single day for questioning "authority" and "established facts" on any number of topics, from polar bears to gender to climate change to masks. A society that feels that it has to resort to fines and incarceration in order to get their citizens to obey random rules has seriously lost its way.

You could be right. I could be a "full-of-s**t-alt-right-Trump-lover". And those protesters might be crazy anarchists looking for attention. But I am not willing to take that chance. Some people think that they should all be locked up or, at the very least, given a hefty fine. Some think that losing civil liberties "would never happen in Canada." Perhaps. But what are you going to do, or who are you going to call, when the government takes away a right that you personally want to keep? One that you think is important? What is going to be your recourse then? Not gonna happen? Then you're right and I'm wrong. I'm just not that confident.

Lloyd Vinish, Kelowna

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