By Chad Ingram
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and itsaccompanying self-isolation practices which we're about a month into in thiscountry are exhausting and extremely stressful for well everybody.
But imagine the pressure that would comewith being the premier of the province or the prime minister of the countryright now.
At first blush Justin Trudeau and DougFord may not seem to have much in common. However both are from prominentfamilies with varying degrees of political pedigree both surnames affiliatedwith the brand of their respective political parties in at least some capacity.Both are adored by a portion of their parties and both are reviled by at leastsome of their political rivals.
Now Trudeau and Ford have something else incommon and that’s being in power during the biggest public health crisis thatmost of us alive have ever witnessed. It’s presumably something they didn’tcount on when they were putting their names on the ballot. And by and largethey are both doing a good job.
Day after day for a month now they standbefore the cameras of the national media providing daily updates on governmentresponse to the COVID-19 pandemic an invisible shape-shifting enemy that wedon’t completely understand. How to best flatten the curve of the virus whenthe peak of that curve might come when a vaccine might be developed – all ofthese things are essentially educated best guesses from the global scientificcommunity.
Ontarians and Canadians are scared fortheir lives and for their livelihoods. Not only must both leaders keep up tospeed on the day’s disease data both legislatures have been having emergencymeetings passing legislation worth tens of billons of dollars in aid. The nationaland provincial economies are essentially on pause people are being laid offleft right and centre and many businesses will never reopen their doors. Inits wake the COVID-19 crisis will leave a global economic recession/depressionthat will stretch on for years. All of that seems like it could cause more thanone or two sleepless nights for those in leadership positions.
Both Ford and Trudeau have been criticizedat times which is of course the nature of politics. In early press briefingsFord was criticized for still having cabinet ministers standingshoulder-to-shoulder behind him on stage a practice that ceased a few weeksago now. Ontario’s initial list of “essential” businesses that would still bepermitted to operate came under scrutiny for being too lenient and hassince been revised. Finding the balance between protecting public health whiletrying to avoid completely killing the economy cannot be easy.
When he was first in self-isolationTrudeau was accused of “hiding” and when he came out of self-isolation he wascriticized for doing that. As I write this he’s being criticized for taking a15-minute trip into Quebec to spend Easter with his wife and children.
All of these criticisms seem frivolousagainst the immense scope of the ongoing pandemic and its myriad andsubstantial social and economic consequences. We are in uncharted waters here.These are dark and stressful times.
You may dislike Trudeau. You may dislikeFord. You may not care very much for either of them. But in the face ofunprecedented crisis it seems obvious that both of them are trying their best.
And ultimately that’s all we can reallyask.