We’re back, kittens! Second day in a row with a brand new Covid Briefing Bingo, this time based on the year-end interview with CTV’s Evan Solomon. One more to go and then we’ll be all caught up (ignoring the actual federal panel covid briefings, which, as you can see, I am currently doing).
Today’s Briefing Bingo is named after Lucius Annaeus Seneca‘s famous work of stoicism, Letters from a Stoic. And let’s face it, kittens, if there’s ever a time for stoicism, it’s during a pandemic and in particular during a lockdown. I’m an Absurdist Anarchist of the old skool, but if it weren’t for dipping into stoic practices and mindsets from time to time I would long ago have ground The Roommate up and sold him as raw dog food. The skeleton? Well, bone broth for dogs is A Thing, kittens, A Thing which sells for $4 a litre! Thinking of calling it Sweeney Dogg Gourmet Pet Treats.
With my education it’s about the only career path open to me.
Anyhoodle, I was talking about stoicism and here we are with Justin Trudeau’s year end Stoicism and Liberalism Half Hour with Evan Solomon of CTV, who is genial enough, but also has quite a nice line in “But where did you really shit the bed this year?” questions.
Our video is here, and glory, glory halleluiah they have a transcript this time, although editing it took longer than creating one from scratch would have taken:
And here are our Bingo cards. Play one or play them all or play some random, arbitrary subset, because it’s 2021 and you can make up your own goddamn mind like a goddamn grown up.
- First Generation
- Second Generation
- Third Generation
- Fourth Generation
- Fifth Generation
- Sixth Generation
- Seventh Generation
- Eighth Generation card at last!
- and all of our other Covid Briefing Bingos are on the category page.
Thanks to YouTube and Fact Point Video, we’ve got a transcript again, but it’s bloody tedious editing this thing into something fit for purpose and ready for prime time (which is beside the point, since I won’t get it live before 2am at the earliest). So it may be messy, but so is real life, kittens.
At least if you do it well.
Shall we? Let’s. Pull up a mink and let’s do this.
- Facial hair
- At Rideau Cottage/Hall
- Seasonal porchscaping
And the transcript. Interruptions and editorializations in square brackets and/or navy blue unless the colour settings fuck up on me. Yes, they did, so editorializations will be in PURPLE HAVE IT YOUR WAY WORDPRESS HAVE IT YOUR FUCKING WAY.
ES: Prime Minister great to see you, thanks for being here.
PMJT: Good to see you Evan.
Mark your “Calls reporter by name” square.
ES: Hard year. Yeah, strange year.
JT: It’s been a tough year.
ES: Yeah it’s been a strange year and look, we’re kind of… it’s a tale of two Canadas right now. It’s a tale of hope and a tale of despair. Let’s start with the hope and the vaccines.
Mark your “Vaccines” square, we’re off to a good start.
JT: I don’t even know if it’s two different Canadas. Everyone’s got the hope and the despair at the same time.
Justin Trudeau, kittens, knows how that book ends. He wants to shut this down ASAP, before they get to the part about the tumbrils. But at the intersection of hope and despair you will find stoicism.
ES: Fair point, but let’s start on the hope side because why not? We got the Pfizer vaccine coming, the Moderna pending approval. That’ll be great. Health Canada says that all Canadians could be vaccinated by September 2021, but we bought more vaccines, Is there a chance that more vaccines get approved, [and] Canada gets them, that we could actually accelerate the timeline as we’ve already seen it accelerated by a month? Is that possible?
Mark “Pfizer” and “Moderna” on the Eighth Generation card.
JT: Certainly it’s possible. I mean that’s one of the reasons why we set out to set up the best range of vaccines we possibly could and secure way more doses than Canada would technically need, because we knew that some vaccines would be faster, some vaccines might be more effective or less effective than others, and we made a commitment to to do right by Canadians. And that’s why we had such a solid plan on vaccines; so things could happen quicker. Things could also happen slower if there are less efficient vaccines or production challenges in in the companies that are delivering them.
We could do an entire card of “Vaccine” and it would be full by the end of this briefing.
ES: So that’s uh so just for people that date of “everyone gets vaccinated by September” could be earlier, maybe lower so that’s a concern, but it’s a conservative estimate.
JT: Think about it, Evan, even six months ago everyone was like “Oh I hope there’ll be a vaccine, but there’s no vaccine. It takes years to build vaccines.” What scientists and researchers have been able to do to give us not just hope but the knowledge that this pandemic will be over, that, yes, we’ve still got a tough winter to go through, but the end is in sight, and we just have to hold on and we’ll get through it. It’s a huge thing.
That is alloyed, rather than un-alloyed optimism, kittens, so no square for you there.
ES: It is, and I think it’s great. I don’t want to diminish the hope the scientists and and the distribution has been incredible, but Canada has got a very small number, and you know in the new year there’s probably going to be a case of vaccine envy because the United States says they’re going to vaccinate 20 million people by December. We’ll barely be 210 000 people. The UK also. How did they get so many more vaccines so quickly? Because that’s consequential in terms of lives lost and businesses, so the numbers matter at the start.
JT: The numbers matter at the start, sure, but they matter even more in the middle and at the end [you know, kittens, this just isn’t objectively true, that’s not how pandemics work, but I’m not sure he knows that], and I think when you compare with the United States, we have to remember we have a very different and much stronger health care system. [Oh yeah, there’s your “Shades the US” so mark that] They’re going to face challenges around distributing vaccines that everyone is facing, but we do a very, very good job. The federal government’s working with the provinces on getting vaccines out to people, and we knew that that working early and aggressively with the vaccine companies, which we’ve been on since the late Spring, led us to having this position that is envied by everyone around the world…
ES, interrupting: But it’s envy because we’re quick. But I guess…
JT, not hesitating to interrupt right back, and pointing pointedly with his fancy GT Gloves (which actually look like expensive pig suede), so mark your “Gesticulates” square: And because we have more potential doses per Canadian from a larger range of companies, given all the others…
ES, not giving up: They’ll have vaccinated per capita 20% and we’ll be at eight percent. I mean, it’s a-again…
JT, equally not giving up: Those are projections. We know uh that things go quicker, things go slower challenges come we are we are doing everything to secure the largest number of doses safely for Canadians as quickly as possible uh and we’re going to stay focused on.
We also know by now that the US has completely shat the bed on rolling out those vaccines, not that Ontario is doing a much better job. Seems like everyone in the Conservative government who was supposed to be distributing vaccines took a few weeks off to go to St. Barts or whatever. Oh, and mark your “can see your breath” square.
ES: That uh just that cuts both ways, you know. We did buy more per capita vaccines than almost any other country. There have been accusations from developing nations that we have practiced “vaccine nationalism,” we have vacuumed up all the vaccines on a vaccine shopping spree. What do you say to that? Is there? Because there’s an equitable issue that Canada signed on to, an issue to try to distribute these equitably?
JT: Well, first of all, my job is to look out for Canadians and I will not apologize for doing a good job in establishing the right plan to vaccinate the largest number of Canadians as quickly as possible. That’s my job. But at the same time, we were one of the leading founding members of the COVAX facility [Mark your “GAVI” square, kittens! Remember that one?] which actually ensures that as we purchase vaccines, we’re making vaccines available to the rest of the world. And as Canada gets vaccinated, if we have more vaccines than necessary, absolutely we will be sharing with the world. But you also have to remember that investments early on in vaccine developers helped them move quicker and better so countries stepping up with millions of dollars to encourage a range of companies to develop these vaccines is going to leave everyone better, because we don’t get through this pandemic anywhere without getting through it everywhere.
ES: Let’s talk about what happened in the last year, and I get this was unprecedented, and it’s, you know how the rear view mirror is a lot easier to look through than than the windshield. [“Twinkleface” active, mark that square]. I get it, but if you look at what we could have done better to mitigate some of the disaster: border closures could that have happened, um you know, better prep on PPE, earlier mask mandate, there was no national lockdown, there has been, frankly, a failure to get widely available rapid tests the way other countries… looking at all those, what now did you fail to do quick enough, and would you have done more quickly if you could have a do-over?
JT: I think I would have done, we would have done, PPE quicker. We knew that we had to ensure the protection of our frontline workers. I don’t think we understood or are expected to see the kind of race for PPE. The international struggle, you know, happening on the tarmac in China and elsewhere, of people trying to get PPE. We ended up being okay, but there are stories of frontline health workers who had to bring their masks home and wash them. That shouldn’t have happened.
ES: Not border closures, though? Like I wonder because look at… this bubble was successful.
JT: Doing doing it on the the… doing PPE quicker would have been good, but we actually took that learning from not having been as quick as we could have on PPE in the global competition, and we applied it to vaccines, which is one of the reasons why we are better on vaccines than just about any other country. On border closures, we managed it well in terms of people coming into Canada, and we didn’t see a lot of spread on that. The real spread happened when a lot of people came back from Europe or from the United States at Spring Break, and that’s when the numbers started to spike.
No border closure ever keeps Canadians out of Canada, so Canadians returning wouldn’t been affected by border closures in the same way.
ES: I guess. The last question on that, because it’s going to be an issue. History will have to look at this, but if you look at New Zealand they had an experience with SARs like we did. Their chief medical officer said, “This is a SARs moment.” and did not follow who he went quicker and New Zealand had better outcomes. Should we have used our SARs knowledge and acted quicker instead of adhering to the WHO would you know is fraught with controversy? China wasn’t reporting transparently to them. Should we have acted quicker and more independently?
JT: New Zealand did great but they’re an island in the South Pacific a long way from anyone else. We share the largest, the longest undefended border in — unmilitarized border in the world with the United States. What we did on border closures with the world and then, two days later, coordinating with the United States to ensure the free flow of goods and services that are essential including pharmaceuticals and food that was the right thing for Canada.
Is that “Reiterates borders will stay closed?” Oh what the hell, I’m feeling generous. Mark it.
ES: Last question on vaccines: private companies are trying to get hold of some of these vaccines. Maybe billionaires who own NHL teams. You’ve said that you know it’s hard to stop them, but if they can do that and you’ve got rich people getting vaccines before everyone else, isn’t that essentially two-tier healthcare? Can’t you guys stop that?
Niiiiice! One for the proletariat there!
JT: What we can ensure is nothing any private company does is going to interfere in any way with the full rollout of free vaccines to all Canadians who want them.
ES: But rich people could get them before other people.
JT: What what the NHL is trying to do, what sports teams might trying to do uh I…I yeah we’ll we’ll see what they’re actually able to do. What we know is the priority has been for vulnerable Canadians not uh you know wealthy fit athletes the priority is to get it out to people who need it and that’s what this government is doing.
ES: Let’s go to the economy. Massive deficits, 380 billion dollars, not a lot of debate about the need to support people, but so I understand that we all appreciate…
JT, interrupting: There has been a bit of debate: the Conservatives saying that we shouldn’t have moved as fast on people, and we should instead move uh move quicker on businesses.
Mark your “Shades Tories” square or did we already have that one? Oh well, do it again. It feels good.
ES: although Erin O’Toole has said, as you know, he would have done similar support programs. My question…
JT, interrupting again: Except there’s no way a Conservative government would have supported artists the way we did, would have supported youth, would have supported [Sorry, this got talked over and even the transcription software couldn’t make it out]
ES: I’m not here to talk about…
JT: To answer hypotheticals?
Oooh, kittens, is somebody feeling a bit snarky today? He’s smiling, but that’s just another way of showing your teeth, really. So Canadian.
ES: Okay but uh do you have any plans to bring the books back to balance just on a deficit because you’re helping people now. You and I both have kids. Our kids are going to be paying for this stuff. Is there a plan, because since you’ve been elected, to be frank, you’ve never met one of your promises to bring it back to balance. Every promise on deficits has been broken.
JT: I think people understand that this pandemic is unprecedented and what the decision we took in the beginning was that we would have people’s backs. [Mark “Got your backs”] We would do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes to support Canadians and that was made because it was the right thing to do but what we’re increasingly seeing around the world by international economists and financial bodies saying it’s actually the smart thing to do for the economy because the pandemic is going to cost people and economy money there’s no question about it it’s a hit to our economy so the question is who goes into debt? Do people put it on their credit cards at 19% interest, or does the federal government, which right now is borrowing at close to zero percent interest, take on that debt to make sure that people can hold through this pandemic and what that leads to is, when the pandemic is over, when vaccines are there, and we’re rebuilding, we actually have less to rebuild and more to restart because people have been able to hold, and that difference is going to be a huge advantage.
ES: I appreciate that, but in the economic update there’s a promise to spend yet another 100 billion dollars on various programs. They’re vague: maybe it’s child care, we don’t know. We’ll see what happens maybe in a budget, but the truth is you’ve overshot the support in some ways. I’ll just give you an example. There’s been 23 billion dollars in lost income overall, but households have got 56 billion dollars in support according to Stats Canada. In other words it’s 33 billion dollars more you’ve given households than they’ve lost. So household savings is up, disposable income is up, so you’ve pre-loaded the gun. Why do you then have to now promise more stimulus if you’ve given people more than they’ve lost?
JT: I…I don’t think…well first of all when you come out of a recession you need stimulus to get things going again, to accelerate the return to balance and, yes, the fact that Canadians who would normally have gone out to a restaurant maybe once a week over the past many months wouldn’t do… didn’t… haven’t done that and therefore have saved a little money I can tell you when this is done and we’re allowed to go back to our local favorite pub or restaurant people are going to rush out and that’s going to be a great part of the recovery but that’s not going to be enough. We need to make sure that we are there to support industries that are retooling both because of the pandemic to be more digital, but also understanding the need to fight climate change and be more environmentally conscious there’s lots of things that we’re going to need to do to give that economy a boost so we can come roaring back [Mark that “Roaring Back” square] quickly.
ES: so just last question on that: so any promise to get back to balance ever?
JT: absolutely. Once this the the contextual spending we’re doing right now is because of covid but we are not adding to the long-term pathway. We know that getting back uh to a position of fiscal responsibility from a place of fiscal responsibility because we came into this pandemic in better economic situation than just about any other g7 country and we’re still in a better economic position than any other country in the g7.
ES: A couple more things on the economy that pro the premiers want 28 billion a year then escalating for health transfers no strings attached. “It’s our jurisdiction” the provinces, say so whether it’s long-term care standards or whatever pony up they say to you if you give health care transfers will there be strings attached?
JT: I have already said that we recognize the need for increases in the long-term health transfers there’s no question about it. But Canadians also know that there are desperate needs in long-term care for example where it’s not just about money it’s about making sure we’re properly sharing best practices, making sure that seniors in every corner of the country are just as protected as any senior in any other part of the country. That’s part of the federal government’s role is to make sure that there is fairness across the country. We’re not going to tell provinces how they have to do it it’s their jurisdiction but we do need to make sure that Canadians are treated fairly particularly when it comes to the life and dignity of our elders.
ES: Can you just put something to rest? In a speech the UN you used this phrase “The Great Reset.” It comes from the name of a book by the founder of the Economic Forum in Davos, a guy named Klaus Schwab. It’s been picked up around the world and by the opposition as some kind of conspiracy of big government. Just tell us finally what you meant when you said “The Great Reset”…what is it?
Oooh, mark your “specific conspiracy theory named” square, kittens. And it’s a good one. But Trudeau is right, he didn’t say that.
I didn’t say “Great Reset,” first of all, so you’re already buying into a lot of the controversy. I did talk about an opportunity to rethink and even reset our approach, because we’ve seen the vulnerable people are even more vulnerable because of this COVID-19 crisis, but it has exposed things that have long been standing as challenges, whether it’s homelessness, whether it’s long-term care, whether it’s inequalities in our system, or whether it’s the need to do a better job of fighting climate change, but you know what, Evan? You know very well over the past five years these are the things we’ve worked on since we got elected in 2015. We created a million jobs, and lifted a million people out of poverty. We focused on the first real plan to fight climate change of any government. Yes there are things to this pandemic that we know we get to and need to do more of, and that’s exactly what I’m focused on.
ES: Let’s look back at the WE controversy, because if not for the pandemic it may have been a big one. You lost a finance minister over it. You know, ethics has been an Achilles’ heel for you. You know the ethics commission has two violations. Whether it’s the Aga Khan’s island or the SNC lavaloon [typo, and it stays] affair, there’s still an investigation into this. At that moment, knowing your family’s relationship with with the WE charity, why weren’t you extra careful? Just recuse yourself. Like, after two hits on this, what was–how do you tell Canadians, “I don’t know why. I blew this.”?
Mark your “WE Scandal rears its ugly head” square.
JT: First of all. I came out right away and said, “Yeah you know what? From an optics perspective I probably should have recused myself, and I’m sorry I didn’t, because when you make a mistake, you own up for it.” But I think people need to understand the context we were in. I think people know the context we were in. We were trying to get as much help out to as many different people as we possibly could, as rapidly as we could. So we gave money through the United Way for shelters, we gave money through Food Banks Canada for food banks, we worked with all these different partners to help the most vulnerable. And the idea of giving a grant to students who volunteered through the Summer was a good idea. It ended up not happening. There were lots of other helps for students that got out, from the Student CERB to more jobs, but this was one that, yeah, I…I wish it hadn’t happened that way. But we were focused on helping as many people, as quickly as possible, and I think Canadians understand that.
ES: Let’s talk about foreign relations: China, Two Michaels, over two years in prison.
JT: This is their third Christmas in prison.
ES: Hostage diplomacy. The treatment of the Uyghurs. The crackdown in Hong Kong. Um, for almost… this is the third Christmas it has not worked. Whatever we’ve done with China has not worked to release them. Are you gonna… how are you going to get them free? Is there going to be a change of strategy with China? Will you finally say “You know what? We’ll join the the other Five Eyes countries and say no to Huawei.” We can no longer trust them. What’s your view on that?
Mark your “Two Michaels” square and I believe we also have a “Five Eyes” and of course “Uighurs” which I spell differently from the transcription software, just to distinguish myself because, as an Aspie, I might not always pass the Turing Test.
JT: First of all, China has obviously changed significantly over the past few years. Their posture around coercive diplomacy has been of concern, not just to Canada with these Michaels who have been caught for three years, for two years, three Christmases, but countries around the world are concerned about this, and are shifting their postures on. And that’s why we are so, uh, fortunate as Canada, that we have so many allies who have stood up, not just for the values and the principles that we hold dear, but actually specifically spoken to China about these two Canadians who are detained. We are going to continue to work, and you know, Evan, that I can’t talk about everything we’re doing, because it is a delicate process, but we have demonstrated over the past many years a tremendous level of success in bringing Canadians home who are stuck in difficult situations overseas. And we are not letting up on bringing home the Michaels.
ES: But you could say no to Huawei? That’s taken years? Why not?
JT: That’s a decision that needs to be based on the best expert of our our science, our our specialists and intelligence agencies, and we’re working with them on that.
“Coercive Diplomacy” square is active. And “Stern teacher voice” as well.
ES: Do you think China is committing a genocide on the Uyghurs?
JT: We are extremely concerned with their behavior around the Uyghurs. I’ve brought it up repeatedly, whenever I’ve had a conversation with Chinese leadership. We note very carefully the UN reports, the Canadian parliamentary reports. We do need to continue to stand up strongly.
ES: Joe Biden, the new president, wants to kill the Keystone XL pipeline. What are you going to do to stop him from doing that? Because I know you support it.
Mark your “Joe Biden gets a shout-out” square. This briefing is a goldmine!
JT: I have been advocating for that pipeline as an important part of a continental energy strategy for many years. I would…when I was first leader of the Liberal Party seven years ago I went down to pitch to a room full of Democrats in Washington how important our… our links were and how important the Keystone XL pipeline is. We’re going to continue to work on that. I think one of the things that we see [is] an opportunity with president-elect Biden is to work even closer together on energy and environment issues, and I brought it up with him in our first conversation. We’re going to keep working on that together.
ES: Donald Trump’s ending his term, uh, whether he likes it or not. [“Shades Donald Trump”] When he put the National Guard out and tear gassed those peaceful protesters, you were asked about… you had 21 seconds of silence. Okay, now, everyone’s tried to interpret that now that he’s leaving, you don’t have to be silent. Was Donald Trump a danger to democracies in the world?
Niiiiiiice. Is it possible to draw blood from someone who isn’t even physically present? I hope so, kittens. I sure as hell hope so.
JT: Donald Trump remains president until uh…until January 20th, and uh between… between now and then and beyond, my focus always needs to be on doing what is defending Canada’s interests and Canadians’ interests, from steel and aluminum producers, to successfully renegotiating a better NAFTA deal for Canada.
Do I have a “Shading the living fuck out of Donald Trump in a beautifully passive-aggressive way” square?
ES: Okay, here’s some rapid fire questions. Hardest moment of the last year?
JT: The 10… the 13… 14 000 deaths of Canadians to COVID-19. [not an answer really. not a moment]
ES: Your biggest weakness as a leader?
JT: There’s… it’s partly your job to to say it, I guess. Um, maybe.
Mark your “Thousand Yard Stare” for it was there, kittens, if only briefly.
ES: What’s your blind spot?
JT: Focusing on uh, on elements uh that I think are obvious, that I don’t think about political consequences.
ES: One health crisis in BC, the other health crisis that we don’t talk about is opioid. The mayor of Vancouver Kennedy Stewart wants small possession of any drug to be decriminalized. Would you support that?
JT: Our health minister is working directly with the BC health minister on initiatives like that. We have the power to do that in local places. I don’t think large-scale decriminalization of drugs is where we are yet.
ES: Worst decision you’ve made as prime minister? Best decision you’ve made?
JT: Best decision I made was making sure we would have Canadians’ backs through this pandemic. That is… that was the core of everything. Worst decision? I don’t… I don’t think about that.
“Got your back” again, kittens. Will he ever get your nose?
ES: Most dangerous leader in the world right now?
JT: I think there’s there’s a number of them. We all have to we have to be on guard to a changing universe in global foreign policy.
ES: Will Canada be exporting oil in 20 years?
JT: Yes. I think even as we transform our economy, there will still be a need for the next few decades for fossil fuels in various forms. We just need to get a lot better at decarbonizing them, and lean on the experts in the oil and gas industry, and the expertise of energy workers to help us transform our economy for the long term.
ES: Does free, prior, and informed consent in the Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People give nations, let’s say the Wet’suwet’en, a veto over natural resources projects?
JT: The Canadian courts, including the supreme court, have already answered that. The answer is no, but they do require meaningful consultation and cooperation, and that’s what we’ve always demonstrated.
And either he’s emotionally invested in this question OR it’s getting colder, because now we have “concerned priest hand clasp”.
ES: The senate is the first legislative body to have gender parity, but you get to appoint 11 more senators. Are you going to make sure that it will continue to have gender parity and make that equal?
JT: That’s the easiest question you’ve asked me. We’re going to ensure that gender parity remains at the center of everything this government does.
ES: Last question for you prime minister. You said it: 13 800 Canadians are not going to have their loved ones with them, and and it’s counting, um it’s going to be a lonely Christmas for a lot of people. And um, it’s very difficult to have any words, but who will you miss most at this Christmas?
JT: Other than my dad, who I always miss every Christmas, my mom… my mom who is the best in the world at Christmas turkey, and mixing the turnips and the carrots, which somehow makes both of them (turnips better is easy), but carrots better with turnip…cinnamon is amazing. My mom is awesome at Christmas time. And even though she’s two hours away I’m not going to see her at Christmas, and that hurts, but it’s what all Canadians are doing. Making tough decisions to be there for each other so we can celebrate many more Christmases together.
Well, at last we’ve reached a point on which we are in complete agreement. Turnip sucks ass. The carrot-turnip thing is traditional in my family as well; we also have the yearly tradition of someone trying to make me eat it and me standing my ground. Turnip-free for the last three decades, kittens! Well, except for the pink pickled turnip in shawarma. That shit is awesome.
ES: I agree. Just one last thing: are you going to get that vaccine? Because some political leaders say that we should get it first. I know you’re going to get it, but should political leaders get it first, or are you going to wait your turn/
JT: When when the line comes to healthy 40 year olds to get vaccinated uh I will knock you out of the way in my urgency to get that vaccine, but we need to get to uh the most vulnerable first, and every step of the way it’s scientists and experts who are making the recommendations on who should get it first. And we’ll listen to them like we always have.
EVERY STEP OF THE WAY
ES: Good to see you. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays thanks for this
JT: And Mostly Happy New Year. Happy Happy New Year. Happy New Year. We deserve that. We need it, yeah.
ES: Thanks, prime minister.
JT: Thanks, Evan.