New Year, New Lockdown
Happy New Year! Welcome back to Passage Daily after a holiday hiatus. It’s your most dearest of friends Robert (@robert_hiltz) here once again on the second Monday of the year.
For your first Passage Daily of 2021, we’ve got: news from Quebec under curfew and that Ontario could be next; those sweet cherub-faced lads of the Proud Boys being considered for terrorist status; a ruling on whether two of Canada’s biggest media companies swapping dozens of community newspapers and shutting them down was price fixing or collusion; the wild granola lands of Cascadia that were poised to lead on climate change failing.
Let us go a newsing, shall we?
Quebec Tries A Curfew, Ontario Considers One Too
Quebecers started their Saturday evening with something new this pandemic: a curfew. It’s set to last four weeks.
No one can leave their homes between 8 at night and 5 in the morning, unless they have a good — which is to say, economic — reason for doing so. If you’re an essential worker of some sort, you can go about your business, though you better be carrying some papers — please! — explaining your reason for being outside.
Or you need to be walking your dog. As a Quebecer with a dog, this is a relief, in the sense she can relieve herself outside and not, I dunno, in the bathtub or somewhere.
Want to get some fresh air without a dog, and maybe just have a smoke on the sidewalk? That’s a fine of between $1,000 and $6,000. Walking your boyfriend on a leash also will not spare you a ticket, as one woman recently learned.
COVID-19 is spiralling dangerously out of control, and the government had to do something. This, then, is something. It’s difficult to see if it’s going to be the thing, because one of the major areas of spread of the virus in the province is in manufacturing and construction — accounting for nearly 30 per cent of outbreaks.
And while office workers, restaurant waitstaff and all the rest of us are barred from working — not unreasonably — the manufacturing and construction industries haven’t been forced to have any sort of curfew or work stoppage. They’ve been asked, rather politely, to maybe perhaps put off some of their non-essential projects, please.
Schools are back today, as well. With some additional mask requirements. And through the province, the English-language school boards have added air purifiers to their older, poorly ventilated schools. The teacher’s union for French-language schools is asking the French system to do the same, but the department in charge of French schools has turned down that request, saying there’s a possibility improperly installed purifiers could just spread COVID further.
Now, maybe the curfew will work to some degree. The shock therapy nature of it, with real punishments, might actually turn some people on to the fact the situation is very bad right now. But there are some serious consequences for this. People are forced to stay in their homes. If they have neither a balcony, a backyard, a dog or a prescription to fill, they’re stuck there. All for the hope this will turn around behaviour, without addressing some of the central problems of the pandemic’s spread.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford has mused that a curfew is something his government is looking at. At the moment, provincial health officials haven’t recommended it, but Ford has done things contrary to public health advice before.
- Following the siege of the U.S. Capitol, here in Canada the federal government is looking at categorizing white supremacist groups as terrorist organizations. This could include the Proud Boys, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says.
- “Many of these groups do indeed pose a terrorist threat. They are violent, xenophobic, are actively plotting and preparing for a race war they think is imminent. If left unchecked, they will very much mobilize to violence at even higher levels than what we are used to seeing.” — Amarnath Amarasingam, Queen’s University radicalization researcher
- More than three years after Postmedia and Torstar made a deal to swap newspapers and then — surely by coincidence — simultaneously closed many of those papers, the federal Competition Bureau dropped their investigation into the deal. In a press release the department said it “must find clear evidence” of wrongdoing to press charges.
- Thirty-six papers were closed as soon as the deal was finished in 2017, with each newspaper company consolidating its hold on different parts of Ontario. The Bureau raided the headquarters of both companies, and interviewed executives under oath.
ICYMI: The Environmental Failures Of Cascadia
Cascadia, the region of the Pacific coast that includes British Columbia, Washington and Oregon, has failed to reduce carbon emissions.
Despite some of the most green-minded populations on the continent, the three areas of the Pacific Northwest have had emissions go up steadily over the past number of years, and now the region is ravaged by some of the worst wildfires it has seen in living memory. So what happened?
The Tyee has published the first of an InvestigateWest series looking at the reasons:
“The consensus answer from experts and activists interviewed by InvestigateWest: a shortage of political will. The region has been beset by partisan wrangling, fear of job losses, disagreements over how to ensure equity for already polluted and marginalized communities, and misinformation obscuring the full potential of well-documented solutions.”
It’s the story of how so much of our society has failed to live up to the moment we’re facing, and how much further we have to go.
That’s all for the first edition of 2021. Thanks for joining us. And thanks to all the new supporters, whose subscriptions not only keep this place afloat, but got us a bit of a raise. As always, thanks for bringing us into your inbox. Until next time…
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