Weekend #bcpoli round up.
While everyone thinks December tends to be a quiet time of the year for politics, this year it is anything but.
Ending this week with a bang, the news that former Clerk Craig James, was charged with breach of trust and fraud. https://thetyee.ca/News/2020/12/18/Clerk-Craig-James-Charged-Legislature-Scandal/ These charges were a long time in coming, and I’m sure are making many squirm, between this and the Cullen Commission. News of the charges were also vindication for everyone who followed this through with unbiased eyes and coverage, which wouldn’t include some of the legislative press gallery,as Bob Mackin pointed out in this excellent analysis here : https://thebreaker.news/news/analysis-bc-media-elites-plecas/
From Bobs commentary:
Now we know why the alarm bells went-off for Speaker Darryl Plecas, after the Jan. 21 release of his scathing report on corrupt activity in the B.C. Legislature.
The spending scandal has not been the finest hour for some of the biggest names who report for some of the biggest media outlets about provincial politics. Outlets that have lost substantial marketshare over the last decade amid the tango of technological change, corporate media consolidation and newsroom cutbacks…
Definitely a must read over Sunday coffee, and while those tweets didn’t age well, neither will the ones that were made when Darryl Plecas released his final report-( read all about that here: https://thebreaker.news/news/plecas-final-report/ ) No surprise, some senior members of the press gallery started mocking his suggestions over how the media covers the legislatures too. Yes, that would be the same press gallery that actually agreed to hog tie their own ability to cover government affairs by agreeing with the NDP goverment, not to appear in person….https://lailayuile.com/2020/09/22/media-access-is-an-essential-serviceso-why-did-the-ndp-limit-access-for-months-until-horgans-election-call-the-backstory-to-this-below/
Bars, pubs, yoga and packed malls, and yet the press still can’t even access more than 2 questions per reporter, with this government. Go figure. Even Trudeau puts on a coat and goes outside back east, yet here on the balmy west coast, apparently this isn’t an option. And who is going to report on this agreement? Not the press!!
The Cullen Commission released its interim report and while its very dry reading, its definitely worth a scroll through. The entire report can be read at this link, https://cullencommission.ca/files/reports/CullenCommission-InterimReport.pdf I highly recommend being cautious when going through links on the Cullen Commission website though, after receiving this warning:
Interesting, to say the least. Might just be some kind of coding error, but I didn’t click through and went back to find the report through a different link to it.
Premier Horgan has been making news this week, and not in a good way. In a surprisingly candid moment during an interview with Liza Yuzda, he detailed Christmas plans that went against the current regulations issued by Dr. Henry. You can watch the entire video of that, here:
Also making news is how some very qualified and esteemed epidemiologists are now looking to BC and shaking their heads instead of applauding as they did in the first wave.
Case in post was the recent public criticism of respected epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman of Dr. Henry
Dr. Hyde authored a research piece published in the Medical Journal of Australia on the roles of children and schools in pandemic, which can be read here : https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.5694/mja2.50823
Her paper is definitely worth a read, by any person concerned about the back to school plan in areas where community spread is high, and by the NDP spinners who are putting on quite the performance trying to bully anyone who criticizes Horgan, Henry or Dix into silence – more on this in a moment, but here is the excerpt from Dr. Hydes paper:
Investigation of children has frequently been poor, with insufficient testing performed. Additionally, most studies of COVID‐19 and children have been conducted during lockdown periods — which are not normal conditions — or at a time of low community transmission. Adult travellers seeded epidemics and the virus initially circulated among their contacts, delaying children’s exposure. In some countries, cases were rapidly isolated and quarantined away from home, further limiting spread to children. Testing was initially limited, excluding those not fitting clinical criteria. This is of particular relevance given the high prevalence of asymptomatic infection among children, and also increases the likelihood that index cases in children will be missed. Paediatric cases may only be detected after transmission from a child to a second person (often an adult). The child may then be tested as a contact, and either mistakenly thought to be a secondary case, or missed entirely if the child’s viral load has declined by this point. In some countries, children are not routinely tested unless seriously ill.27, 41 Finally, limited transmission by children in some studies33 is not cause for reassurance. About 80% of secondary COVID‐19 cases are generated by about 10% of individuals.42 It is therefore unsurprising to find examples where children have not transmitted the virus; many adults do not transmit the virus either.
Schools are clearly neither inherently safe nor unsafe. The risk associated with these settings depends on the level of community transmission and must be continuously evaluated. Schools must not remain open for face‐to‐face teaching in the setting of substantial community transmission. In regions where community transmission is low, risk reduction strategies should be implemented in schools as a matter of urgency. Comprehensive guidelines have been developed (Box),43 but at a minimum, interventions should include the wearing of face masks by staff and students, increasing ventilation and indoor air quality, and the regular disinfection of shared surfaces.
While some interventions — particularly school closures — may be burdensome, this must be weighed against other potential harms. A substantial proportion of adults living with school‐aged children have risk factors for severe COVID‐19, as do many teachers.44 A recent epidemiological investigation into three childcare clusters in the US found that infected children transmitted the virus to one‐quarter of their household contacts, resulting in the hospitalisation of one parent.45
Measures have been enacted to protect schools in Australia, such as excluding students with respiratory symptoms, restricting interschool mixing, and prohibiting high risk activities such as overnight camps.46 These are to be commended but are insufficient as they do not fully address source control. Notably absent is a requirement for face masks in regions with ongoing community transmission. The World Health Organization recommends that face masks be worn by children aged 12 years and older, and that masks should be considered for those aged 6–11 years.47 The Society for Virology recommends masks for all schoolchildren, including during lessons.48 Such measures have already been enacted in many Asian countries. In Singapore, students from pre‐primary to high school age are required to wear masks.49
I’m not a doctor, but I certainly know that no one persons strategy in this pandemic is free from scrutiny, nor is anyone persons words gospel. Health professionals themselves are commenting on BC’s failures, and the very same people who routinely flip out about how bad Alberta and Ontarios efforts are, are the same people pushing for silence here in BC, as 20 people die nearly every day, and applauding our leaders.
Which brings me to this:
A senior member of the press gallery told me he had heard rumours of this book but had not seen evidence yet….the link was posted to twitter last Thursday, and to say people were taken aback by Dr. Henry co-authoring a book right in the middle of the pandemic, would be to understate the distaste nearly everyone felt. I was shocked by it to be honest, and didn’t think it was real at first. A highly respected former journalist commented to me that it was ” unseemly”… and most agree. That’s how I feel too.
It’s not just that the timing of this is awful – we have had double digit number daily deaths for weeks, families grieving and anxious, overworked LTC staff in mental trauma, and hospitalizations increasing with a roll out of hospitals in a box across the province.
It’s that the success of our first wave is long gone and completely offset by the failures in our second wave, which was complicated by an election that should never have happened, during which cases skyrocketed and no orders were issued until it was done.
It is also very likely, once/when we are through this, that we are going to undergo a Covid commission federally and/ or provincially to examine the very kind of decisions Dr. Henry is said to share her recollections on how and why they were made, in this new book. As an appointed official of government still actively leading pandemic response in a state of emergency, the place for those recollections into key decision making to be shared with the public, is in a government report….*when the pandemic is over*…not a new biography/autobiography. Some have also questioned the ethics of a public health officer leading pandemic response, even collaborating on a book while the pandemic is active, for that same reason. If she were a politician, this wouldn’t be allowed at all I’m pretty sure. ( I’m going to assume all proceeds will go to charity as making any profit from this would be highly inappropriate imo)
Here is where it gets bizarre. These objections being voiced, some by highly esteemed professionals, are all valid concerns. As are the questions surrounding the ethics of a public official co authoring a book about the pandemic, while we are still in the pandemic.
But somehow, the well-known NDP spinners online are attacking all people with concerns, male or female, with accusations of misogyny, Trumpism, or calling them BC Liberal supporters to discredit their opinions. One likened those disappointed to see this book, to anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers. Another said sit down and stfu. Another is busy trying to paint concerned parents as conspiracy theorists, endangering their jobs and reputations.
All of it, is just wrong. This is how parties try to control narratives that don’t make their leaders look good. And we know this, because the BC Liberal party and backroom operators wrote the book on it with their online spinners… and I used to have to deal with them online every single time something terrible happened that put their mlas and leader into the spotlight. Same tactics, different party.
Someone in the party makes a call and the online boosters appear in droves, trying to shut down the chatter.
I’ll say this.
The irony of those same party faithfuls being silent while male NDP party faithfuls troll women into silence, then go onto call male critics of Dr. Henry misogynist, just because they are male, reeks. Doing what the Lib trolls used to do to protect Clark, is not a good look on y’all. Be better than that.
Rumour has it the Milburn report is done and in Ralstons hands this weekend, but it has to be reviewed by the treasury board and the cabinet before they make it public. Of course, they need to come up with a really good explanation for proceeding, considering they’ve now had two chances to shut this down…
My guess is they could try to rush it, and release right before Christmas, hoping it blows over by January, or they may just wait until then. I thought Horgan was smarter than Dwight Ball was over Muskrat Falls, but he proved me wrong.
Meanwhile the Tyee has an excellent piece here: https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/12/17/Site-C-Construction-Stop-Today/
I’m going to leave you with the final Plecas report today, which I suggest you all read in full, because this government is not handling all its business when it comes to legislature accountability: https://www.scribd.com/document/487791711/Final-Plecas-Report#fullscreen=1
If you didn’t make it to the last page, this is what you missed.
We do need more Dermod’s. We have few watchdogs left. No government should go unquestioned, unexamined or unaccountable. Certainly not the last….nor the present.