The Calm in the Storm

Finally, some good news: Canada can vaunt immobilization of thousands of companies that have quickly transformed manufacturing and assembly lines to create ‘Made in Canada’ solutions for personal protective equipment including masks, gowns, face shields, ventilators and testing kits which will be available in the coming weeks and long into the future. As our Ontario Premier Doug Ford said, “Never again in the history of Canada should we be beholden to countries around the world or companies around the world for the safety and well being of the people of Canada“. We can also tout our assertive approach has resulted in not only release of 500,000 of the three million 3M N-95 masks that were stopped at the U.S. border earlier this week but also receipt of millions from other countries. Somewhat appeased, my earlier rant in Trump is Asking for Backlash from Canadians’ is still pertinent.

Now that I can take a breath, I wish to take a moment to salute those who have piloted Canadians through this ugly storm. First, in spite of a difficult election year in 2019 and now maneuvering a minority government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has risen to the call of a true leader.

Self-isolated in his residence as his wife recuperated from the Covid-19 virus, for the past few weeks he has provided daily news briefs before the portico of Rideau Cottage.

Mr. Trudeau has opened each briefing with the latest pandemic news, continued with details of a variety of sub-topics from government assistance to health recommendations and typically closed with a statement of hope before opening up to a question period. Despite grueling and repetitive questions from the press (sometimes I wonder if they can hear or listen to each other during the question period), Mr. Trudeau has maintained his cool and stuck to what were clearly rehearsed responses, continually referring specific medical questions to Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer indicating he would continue to take the advice of experts. Our Prime Minister has continued to take the high road by not taking the bait to say anything negative about anyone with phrases like, “We have had constructive conversations...” and “We will continue to help the United States Administration to understand the benefits…”.

Last Sunday morning Prime Minister Trudeau (casually sitting on his front steps) and Dr. Tam appeared on a Canadian children’s television show to discuss how social distancing has affected our youth. What world leader has done that? And, he has in several of his daily news briefs addressed the children directly letting them know he understands how challenging this new world has become for them. Canada’s Prime Minister has been the calm in the storm. The New York Times has labelled him as the “moral leader of the free world”. Today, when speaking about the personal protective equipment Canada is manufacturing, Mr. Trudeau said, “…and we will share with other countries.”

In addition to Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs has shouldered leadership responsibility skillfully. She has chaired the daily governmental press conferences that follow the Prime Minister’s briefing and too has fielded many probing questions from a variety of journalists with composure, grace and obvious determination to keep the topics on a results-oriented, positive and hopeful track. Ms. Freeland, a Rhodes Scholar and former journalist herself, clearly displays her intelligence and leadership, drilling down into detailed responses. When commenting about the recent issues with release of N-95 masks at the U.S. border, our Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, assured the public that a group effort was taking place in negotiations with the United States, commenting that, “Chrystia is a firecracker”.

In all of this, Canadians are not hearing of bickering between parties or disagreements between federal and provincial governments. In fact, we are hearing support statements from one about the other – and they ring true. Prime Minister Trudeau is right. We will get through this together. I have never been so proud to be a Canadian.

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