Zen and the Art of the Covid Briefing Bingo

Zoom, zoom, here we go, kittens, roaring into today’s Covid-19 Briefing Bingo like a 1966 Honda Superhawk hitting the highway, or a masterpiece of narrative philosophy (it’s called a parable) hitting the best-seller list. Whether you call it Quality, as Robert Pirsig did in his 1974 novel/parable/revolutionary work of technological philosophy, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. (PDF)

Or Elegance, as in H.E. Huntley’s The Divine Proportion.

Or whatever they called it in Godel Escher Bach,(PDF) which I’m too rushed to look up or remember right now. There’s the whole text: YOU look it up.

You know it, The Thing. The Grand Unified Theory of Philosophy, the Thing which unites the principles of Aesthetics, Ethics, and Logic, the Thing which is also called anything from The Godhead to The Buddha to The Force to “buh muh rights!” because human beings can never agree on a goddamn thing, can we?

Anyhoodle, here we go with our video from CPAC. 12,000 views, kittens. It seems Canadians are taking this all a bit more seriously than in Ye Olden Dayes of like, a month ago, when they’d get 1,000 views on a good day. Perhaps the audience is attracted to that ineffable, ultimate characteristic of Quality which we were just discussing above? Or maybe they’re just big fans of the best hair in politics. Who knows?

Speaking outside his home in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the federal government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic. In his remarks, the prime minister comments on his latest cabinet shuffle and announces that Canada has reached an agreement with Pfizer to purchase an additional 20 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine. Responding to questions from reporters, he discusses the rollout of vaccines and addresses speculation about the timing of the next federal election. (January 12, 2021)

And our briefing bingo cards:

Finally got all that done (forty minutes it took!) and now the dog informs me he has to poop. Be right back, y’all. Don’t wait up. He’s on soft food lately, so this could take awhile. But it’s okay, time is eternal and it is always Now.

To begin, mark your “New porchscaping” for the new, non-Christmasy wreath, “Outdoors”, “Back At Rideau Cottage”, “Facial Hair”, “Outerwear”, and “Gloves” squares. And also “Begins in English.”

And here’s your rough, auto-generated transcript of the speech but not the questions. Editorial comments and bingo calling in, what are we doing these days, purple? Sure. Purple. Let’s go with that:

00:01hello everyone i want to start today00:03with news00:04about changes to our liberal cabinet00:06team this morning00:08navdeep baines announced that he’ll be00:10stepping down as minister00:12of innovation science and industry to00:14spend more time with his family00:16he will continue to serve as member of00:18parliament for mississauga malton00:20and will of course remain a key member00:22of our liberal team00:24over the past five years nav has worked00:27tirelessly to build a better canada for00:29everyone00:30look no further than the program he00:32worked on this spring00:34to help businesses retool to make00:36life-saving personal protective00:38equipment00:39before the pandemic canada produced00:42about one percent of our of the domestic00:45ppe we used

Okay, mark your “verbal malfunction” square or whatever I called it. Somebody get this man a coffee! And me one too, while you’re up. Because I didn’t tell you already to mark your “PPE” square, but do that.

00:47by the fall almost half of the ppe00:49canada was buying00:51was from domestic companies nav’s work00:54helped create00:54thousands of jobs and support promising00:57small businesses00:58he led the way with investments in01:00cutting edge canadian science01:02and in local economic growth with the01:04innovation superclusters01:06he did all this while being a strong01:09advocate for his community01:12

And mark your “Can see your breath” square too. I always feel nervous when a PM is so nice about someone; I always feel like they died, even if they didn’t.

so a few days ago nav called me up to01:14ask to go for a walk in the snow01:17and i think we all know what that means01:19in politics so i was01:20a little uh trepidatious about it and i01:23was01:24busy coming up with all sorts of01:25arguments as to uh why01:28uh you know we uh we should continue to01:31work together the way01:32we have been uh and as we uh walked01:35around the grounds of rideau hall01:37physically distanced with masks on um01:41it became very clear that this was the01:42right decision for him01:44for his family he’s been in this a long01:48time uh01:49he was already well into politics when i01:52got my start way back in 2006 2007 and01:55was01:56a great friend to me throughout the01:58entire time01:59uh he’s continuing his mp he’s not going02:02anywhere02:03but we will miss him around the cabinet02:06table for all the02:07insight all the wisdom and all the02:10strength he brings02:14i also of course uh want to thank brahm02:17nanki and kirpa uh for having shared him02:21with us02:22for all these years his service has been02:25extraordinary02:26and i know we’re going to miss him02:30but you’re going to miss him less the02:32three of you

04:16as minister of transport minister garno04:19moved the dial on a range of important04:21issues04:22including the safer skies initiative and04:24the ocean’s protection plan04:26these files and others will be in very04:29good hands04:30as omar alhabra takes over as minister04:33of transport04:35i’ve known omar for a very long time04:38from04:38my very beginnings in politics and04:41from his recent work as parliamentary04:43secretary to the prime minister04:45i know he’ll do an outstanding job04:48minister alhabra brings to the table04:50training as an engineer04:52and in business a history of advocacy04:54for public transit in the gta04:57and experience with everything from ngos04:59to the energy sector05:01this is in addition to his leadership on05:04files like05:05public service renewal and diversity05:08

finally05:08today we also announced that minister05:10carr will be rejoining the cabinet table05:13in his role as my special representative05:15for the prairies05:17while he’s been focusing on his health05:19over the past many months05:20jim has remained a very active voice for05:23winnipeg05:24for manitoba and for the prairies having05:27served as both minister of natural05:29resources and minister of international05:31trade diversification05:33as well as being a business leader in05:35winnipeg jim knows what communities05:37and businesses need to succeed he will05:40continue to be an05:41outstanding advocate for people across05:43the prairies05:44as a member of cabinet once again

05:49right from day one it’s been all hands05:51on deck05:52to keep people safe support canadians05:55and get our economy ready for a recovery05:59starting today i will be holding a06:01virtual cabinet retreat so that our team06:03can meet06:04and map out our plan to continue this06:06work

Again, what the hell is a “virtual retreat?” Do you all use woodland backgrounds in Zoom and play spa music? How does it differ from any other “we have a fucking emergency, let’s prioritize working on that and put signing birthday cards at the bottom of the calendar for now” situation? I get that you don’t want to use “War Room” for the optics, but c’mon. Are there livestreamed yoga classes and chanting sessions?

06:07at the top of the agenda will be the06:09vaccine rollout

Mark your “Vaccine” “Pfizer” and “Moderna” squares. There’s your “Pushes responsibility to provinces” on the availability of vaccines.

06:11and on that front today i have some06:13important news to share06:15i can announce that we have reached an06:17agreement with pfizer06:18to buy an additional 20 million doses06:22of their covid19 vaccine from our06:25agreements with moderna and pfizer alone06:28we will now have 80 million doses of06:31covid19 vaccines06:33arriving this year we’re on track to06:36have every canadian who wants a vaccine06:38receive one by september we’ve let all06:42provinces and territories know06:44exactly how many vaccines they’ll be06:46receiving06:47every week between now and the end of06:49february06:50this will make sure that they have the06:52vaccines and the information they need06:55to keep rolling out doses as quickly as06:58smoothly06:58and as efficiently as possible on top of07:02that07:02we will of course continue to work to07:04get even more vaccines delivered07:06as soon as we can

our focus since the start of this09:21pandemic has been protecting you09:23and your family whether by procuring

Mark your “Feels parents’ pain” square. And just below, “Reiterates the border will remain closed.”

09:26vaccines or by bringing in strict09:28travel and border measures our priority09:31is your safety this morning i can09:34confirm09:35that canada will extend by another 3009:30days09:38until february 21st the border measures09:41that are09:41currently in place with the united09:43states this is an important decision09:46and one that will keep people on both09:48sides of the border09:49safe

“Throat malfunction” square active for the throat clearing.

things are really tough right now09:53and we all want this pandemic to be09:55behind us09:57there’s been a lot of things you’ve09:58missed out on or given up10:00but what will define this pandemic isn’t10:03what we10:04couldn’t do it’s what we could do10:07and what we did do

“Unequivocal statement of optimism” square is active now.

your parents and10:10grandparents10:12need you to help keep them safe our10:14frontline workers and10:16hospital staff need you to do your part10:18so icu’s10:20don’t get overwhelmed even small actions10:23can make a huge difference like wearing10:25a mask or downloading and using10:28covid alert

There’s the “App” square.

canada has now hit10:31over six million downloads of the app10:34that’s great so let’s keep going10:37of course not everything you can do to10:40help will be easy10:41it won’t be easy when you say no to a10:43friend who wants to get together10:45when you cancel a vacation south but it10:48will be worth it

12:06as we deal with the second wave our12:08government12:09will continue to support the provinces12:11and territories with rapid tests

Mark “Rapid tests” and “Got your backs”.

12:14and other tools needed to keep canadians12:16safe12:17already we’ve sent over 14 million12:20rapid test kits to the provinces and12:22territories with12:24more on the way it’s by working together12:26that we will get through this crisis12:28this is the time to have each other’s12:30backs

and to support the leadership12:33communities need today12:36i can announce the appointment of eva12:39aryak12:40as the new commissioner of nunavut mrs12:43aryak has been a lifelong champion for12:45the territory12:46as well as for inuit languages and12:48culture12:49as nunavut’s first woman premier and as12:52an advocate for everything from housing12:54to food security12:55i know ms aryak will continue doing12:58great work12:59in this new role this pandemic is a13:03challenge13:03like no other now more than ever13:07we need to be there for each other a13:09little while ago

13:11najma and kareem from toronto sent me a13:14letter about what the last year had been13:16like13:16for them as small business owners and as13:18parents

“Specific Canadian mentioned” and “Specific Canadian business” as well.

things have been tough13:21but they talked about how the wage13:22subsidy helped keep their business13:24open and how the canada child benefit13:26made a huge difference13:28for their family well on friday i gave13:31them a call13:32to see how things were going they’re13:34staying positive13:35but our conversation reminded me that13:37when we look out for the people around13:39us13:39there’s no challenge we cannot overcome13:43this will be a tough winter but it will13:46end spring will come13:49and summer will follow

Mark your “Spring mentioned” and “Summer mentioned” squares. How long till we get Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and Valentine’s Day?

but until then13:53let’s have each other’s backs

Mark that one twice! But no “every step of the way” so I guess someone had an Intervnetion with the speechwriter, because we had I think four last time.

because13:55together13:56we can get through this merci.

And now the questions, which I’m not going to transcribe because I’m lazy and what am I getting paid for this anyway? But I’ll call the squares and maybe see if I can crib off the CTV transcript later.

First question about the speed of vaccination, which basically lets him reiterate what he already said. “The quicker everyone gets vaccinated, the quicker we’ll be able to get back to some semblance of normality.” As if the status quo were the best option (Don’t @ me! I know it’s about reassurance. I’m just sayin’!). And don’t forget to tip your moderator, who is ensuring he translates his answers into the other official language.

And new question about a possible election coming up. Of course, it’s the same question as all of last year and the same answer, basically. Plus Cabinet Shuffle details. Also, boy I’m sleep-deprived lately. I didn’t even notice that the whatchacallit, door surround? has been painted white. It was black a little while ago. And now mark your “Forgets to translate into other official language” square, because Le Devoir got their answer in French only, which isn’t a problem at Le Devoir. Just chez raincoaster when she’s punchy from lack of sleep.

Seems related to the above tweet somehow, if only I could put my finger on it.

New question from Ryan Tumilty of the National Post: about the timeline on the Pfizer doses that were just agreed on, and is told April or May, and that the provinces have been given very clear timelines, week-by-week, on when to expect how many doses.

And a softball (do I have a square for “Softball”?) about whether Navdeep Bains’ legacy of programs will continue under Champagne. And gets it squarely batted back with, paraphrasing, “You betcha!” Actual words: “I think Minister Champagne is gonna be exceptional at continuing the great work that minister Bains has laid out over the past five years. Innovation and Science is more important than it’s ever been in this pandemic, and in the recovery we’re looking at.”

And mark your “Comes roaring back” because healthy economies apparently sound like bingo night at the Elk’s Hall.

New question from Glen McGregor of CTV News asking, basically, if the Canadian government paid a bribe to Pfizer to get so many dozes available so quickly. It gets him an interesting expression, a sort of fraught twinkle, like when Dad recognizes it was a pretty good prank, but he’s still gonna have to ground you for it. Trudeau “Foreshadows announcement made later by someone named” which I think is from the third card.

New question about the possibility of an election from Julie-Anne Lapointe from Radio-Canada, and mark your “Drinks water” square. Trudeau gives roughly the same “we are focused on helping Canadians through the pandemic, and we have a minority government” answer he’s given for the last ten months.

That economy is still, apparently, roaring back.

Next up, Mike LeCouteur from Global National with yet another election question relating to the possibility of an election. And mark your “From the very beginning” square now.

The Roommate just walked in and immediately burped. I’m going to create a row for burps and farts from The Roommate.

I wish we had a passive voice square. I wish a passive voice square existed. Because Trudeau is using the hell out of it AND “roaring back” yet again.

Be here now

Olivia Stefanovich from CBC News asks yet another question about whether or not he’ll hold off on an election until every Canadian who wants one gets a vaccine shot. Softball, yup. And of course Trudeau reiterates that we all want to get everyone vaccinated and that it’s out of his hands, and mark your “Stern Teacher Voice” square. And mark “Gesticulates” and “Have Canadian’s backs.” That’s our only gesticulation today. Guess he was saving it up.

And now Chris Reynolds from CP, asking about whether the PMO and cabinet ministers’ offices should be under the access to information act, a VERY interesting question (made moreso by the fact that literally everyone else today asked the same two questions.) Trudeau did promise that. He says he’s going to allow the review process to move forward and smoothly says neither yes nor no.

And that is a wrap. First briefing with only one gesture. Rideau Cottage must be out of coffee.

Meanwhile, in the US:

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