It has finally come to this – desperately grabbing vaccines from the waiting arms of the world’s most downtrodden.
This probably isn’t what our Teflon-coated prime minister meant when he arrogantly declared ‘Canada’s back’ a handful of years ago, after grabbing the country’s top job following Stephen Harper’s decade at the helm.
But sometimes chickens eventually do come home to roost, even if that return of our figurative poultry is a cause for national embarrassment.
Because, when Canadians’ actual lives are put at risk, the endless blather and virtue signalling we’ve endured for more than five years begins to wear thin and, just as Dorothy found in the land of Oz, there’s little substance once the curtain’s pulled aside.
Last week we endured the humiliating news that Canada, alone among the G7 countries, is grabbing almost two million doses of coronavirus vaccines from a global inoculation-sharing initiative known as Covax.
This collective vaccine supply was a global joint venture to help inoculate some of the planet’s poorest people. Sure, the member countries were not prevented from taking their own supplies from Covax at some point, but it’s a bit rich that Trudeau is the first rich-country leader pushing to the front of that line.
The reason for such a desperate move is the total cock-up being made of supplying vaccines through the route other countries are currently navigating in much better ways than Canada.
Typically, of course, Trudeau assured everyone six months ago that, when it came to getting our arms onto vaccines, Canada would prove the global gold standard. Yep, we’d struck deals for 400-million doses, enough, at two jabs apiece, to vaccinate our entire population five times over.
Except now we aren’t just badly lagging the leading counties such as Israel, Britain and the U.S., but many others, including the likes of Chile, Poland and Serbia, in this vaccination battle.
And things are going from bad to worse. Even the military fellow brought in to handle the logistics for this life-saving operation is forced to admit he doesn’t know what’s happening with the current delay in promised supplies.
But we shouldn’t be as surprised. With our prime minister it has always been a case of fancy words rather than concrete actions.
Remember when he tweeted ‘Canada welcomes you’ following Donald Trump’s threat to make things difficult for certain refugees in the U.S.? Not surprisingly some of those poor, scared folk took the Canadian prime minister at his word and slung their meager belongings into suitcases and made it to the northern border, only to find that actually they weren’t so welcome after all.
And recall also his infamous admission this country is guilty of genocide in its dealing with our Indigenous population, that statement following a similar conclusion in a decade-long investigation into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
Canadians might have then expected some follow-through after such a bombshell admission. But no, for Trudeau simply saying something is enough. He then simply wanders off looking for another chance to play the heroic statesman, preferably one in which he can dress up in some symbolic costume for extra effect.
But now words and promises are not enough, not with a Canadian dying every 10 minutes or so from COVID 19 and with the rate of vaccination elsewhere an easy comparison to make.
So, all the pontificating is exposed for the vacuous pastime it always was and instead Canada is forced to take part in a grubby ‘grab it and run’ episode in which we push past the most destitute people on Earth.
This is being back? If so, then we should have stayed where we were.
Chris Nelson is a syndicated columnist.