I listened to the speech Provencher Member of Parliament Ted Falk gave last week in the House of Commons. He called on the federal government to end pandemic restrictions. Mr Falk talked about the negative effect of lockdowns on businesses and families. He demanded the Liberal government provide timelines on vaccines, the lifting of restrictions, and the recovery of the economy. He said we need to protect the vulnerable, provide vaccines to those who want them, and let everyone else live their lives.
I suspect Mr Falk was voicing the frustration of many of his constituents when he talked about closed businesses, lost jobs and the inability to visit elderly loved ones. And while there may be value in airing such frustration, I found everything else about Mr Falk’s speech truly puzzling.
The federal government has implemented travel restrictions. They are supported by 90% of Canadians according to a recent poll published in the National Post. All other restrictions, like business and church closures, and a ceiling on the number of people who can gather in a home, have been imposed by the provinces. Interestingly the majority of provinces have Conservative governments. They belong to Mr Falk’s political party. Wouldn’t it be more productive for him to discuss restrictions with his provincial Conservative colleagues instead of the members of Parliament? Most restrictions fall under provincial jurisdiction. Surely Mr Falk knows this.
Secondly, Mr Falk is not speaking for most Canadians. That poll published by the National Post showed 65% of Canadians support restricting people to their homes except to avail themselves of essential services or to provide them to others. 71% agree we should have to carry a health card proving we have been vaccinated. Mr Falk’s suggestion that we open everything up, let people choose without accountability whether to have vaccines and simply allow everyone to live their lives, does not resonate with the majority of Canadians at all. Surely Mr Falk knows this.
Mr. Falk’s demands for timelines regarding the lifting of restrictions, vaccine roll out and economic recovery just aren’t realistic. We are in the middle of a pandemic of a kind never experienced before. The vaccines that have been developed are brand new and so problems with production and distribution are bound to happen. It will be some time before we fully understand just how effective vaccines can be in the long term. Scientists can make educated predictions about when the pandemic may be under control, thus allowing for the lifting of restrictions and the beginning of economic recovery, but there is no way to produce a definitive timeline like the one Mr. Falk is requesting. Surely, he knows that.
Mr Falk’s final statement is truly puzzling. He wants us to protect the vulnerable but let everyone else live exactly as they like. Yet we know that if everyone lives exactly as they like we will not be able to protect the vulnerable. That has been clearly demonstrated throughout the pandemic and in quite a dramatic way in Mr Falk’s own riding which was the only one in the province that had to shut down schools before Christmas because of the high infection and death rate amongst the vulnerable. Surely Mr Falk knows this.
Mr Falk probably had a limited time for his Parliamentary speech, but it would have been much more effective if he could have backed up his entreaties for a quick end to restrictions and his lack of a hearty endorsement for vaccines, with some sort of scientific research, expert opinion or facts that supported his views. Surely Mr Falk knows this. Or does he?