The Covid Briefing Bingo: A Reconstruction

Good morning, possums! We’re here, we’re caffeinated, and we’re doing this!

Basically the core elements of existentialism. Don’t ask too many questions (another core element). Existentialism is a Whole Mood, very 2021 indeed.

A wise friend of mine said that, in taking on and taking down Wall Street and Big Money, Reddit was at last fulfilling the dream of its founder, the late Aaron Swartz. Swartz killed himself when the government threatened him with decades in custody for attempting to put some academic papers online for free.

I don’t even know who I am anymore now that I’m not a cybersecurity journalist and I’m not the Governor-General of Canada.


Our video is here, with 1700 tuned in live. Fridays are always busy at Rideau Cottage:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update from outside his home in Ottawa on the federal government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic.

I see CPAC Captioneer is feeling Existentialist himself. Without faith in history or the future, their captions are meaningless, and without the incentive of being paid by the word there is no reason to fill them out to 150 words, the way they did mere weeks ago. It’s okay, CPAC Captioneer. We’re all half-assing it these days except Justin Trudeau, who is coasting on the adrenaline that’s sustained him through the Trump years and the oxytocin glow of the Joe Biden inauguration.

Edited to add: I guess CPAC doesn’t get a copy of the speech in advance, because only after the fact do they fully-ass the captions:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update from outside his home in Ottawa on the federal government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He announces tighter travel restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat have agreed to suspend air services to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico starting January 31 until April 30. In addition, starting next week, international flights will only be allowed to land at Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary. The prime minister also announces that the federal government will soon introduce mandatory in-airport PCR testing for returning travellers, who must await their results at an approved hotel for up to three days at their own expense. Mandatory COVID-19 testing at U.S. land borders will also be coming for non-essential travellers.

Zoolander is feeling alive and existential

And our cards are here:

What is the green thing on his lapel? Mark your “Begins in French” along with Scarf, Outerwear, Outside, At Rideau Hall/Cottage, CBC Cadence (in French it sounds particularly weird), Donc, Gloves, and Can See Your Breath.

Ah, found out.

The Green Square Campaign takes place in the week leading up to January 29 every year to remember the victims and survivors of the Quebec City mosque attack. The green square represents the green carpets of the Quebec City mosque, where the victims last stood to pray. It symbolizes the fact that the deceased are, God willing, in a garden green, in a better place since they left us that night. Wear the green square in solidarity with the six widows, the seventeen children left fatherless, Aymen Derbali who is left paralyzed for life, and every single person suffering the consequences of this hateful and despicable act of violence.

National Council of Canadian Muslims

And, travelers get yet another lecture, which they were just begging for. Major Canadian airlines are no longer going to several holiday destinations, including the whole Caribbean. And all incoming foreign flights are only given access to four major airports. For the second-largest country in the world. That’s roughly one airport every 1300 miles, people!

And he’s outlining the quarantine requirements, which will cost each traveller about $2000. TAKE THAT PARTY TRIPPERS! Expect to see sympathetic “but my son can’t get back from Ibiza in time for his virtual classes” stories on CBC soon. Dafuq he going to Ibiza in the first place? Trudeau has been warning you for weeks he’ll just close that border, SNAP! And he has done it.

They don’t. And yeah, shitty time to be a refugee, for sure.

Essential business travel gets an exemption. But “Students do not fly back and forth like normal” cannot be THAT hard to understand, surely. If you’re smart enough to get into post-secondary education, you’re smart enough to understand “Don’t fly back and forth” surely? If not, think of it as an institutional filtration device: you must be THIS SMART to continue your education. If your kid went to medical school in Aruba, I’m not going to waste any tears on his inability to visit for a ski holiday during spring break.

“I want to be clear” has got to be on the next card. Mark “vaccine” and “Verbal malfunction” and “Pfizer” squares.

“From the very beginning” and “Feels parents’ pain” squares active.

“Second wave” and “Specific Canadian mentioned” hi Emily. Trudeau is giving the provinces another billion dollars to make schools physically safe and support remote learning. Not quite a “shades the provinces” but almost. He’s not wrong when he says that the examples set by first responders will set examples for children which will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Oooh, systemic racism now. This is a PRIMO briefing. I really should do one card just completely focused on issues. And gender-based violence now. Mark “From the very beginning” square for the second time.

It’s as if the Trumpxit has freed Trudeau up to actually talk about real issues again. I’m probably reading too much into that, which is as close as I get to an unequivocal statement of optimism. “Spring is coming” mark that square.

And now the questions:

Question about China blocking a vaccine deal. “From the very beginning” again, that’s the third time. “Keeping Canadians Safe” and “PPE” too.

“Strenuous nod” square active now. And “Touches face” someone get this man a Kleenex. Cmon, you’ve got a whole podium you could be putting that box on.

God, I’d LOVE three days in a hotel. Which makes me think: rich annoying people will pay poor people to do their hotel time for them. You KNOW this will happen. There’s no way to prevent it. Hotels are not prisons. And back in the day it was perfectly legal for rich people to pay poor ones to serve their prison sentences. I bet Ghislaine Maxwell is looking into that right this second.


“What is driving your focus on travel? Is it the variants?” Well, it’s probably the sheer number of media questions, for one thing. And yes, the variants too. Look at the South African one, which seems resistant to vaccines.

I need a square for “reminds Canadians that the US is cribbing from us”. I’ll aim to have a new one or maybe two for the next Tuesday briefing. Which I will probably sleep through.

“Twinkleface” for @davidakin who asks him “what are we doing all this for?” and also “gesticulates” square active. Yeah, mark your “Softball” square.

“Roaring Back” square, mark that. Where do you think Trudeau will go first? He loves travel. I say either Washington or Tofino, with Washington at 2:1. Tofino has had quite enough of tourists, after last summer when they drove in despite strenuous requests to stay away, camped in their cars, and shit all over the beach.

And yes, mark your “Sign language interpreters swapped out”. Reporter says, “I’m hoping for a little more precision,” which is the nicest, most Canadian way to say “Stop fudging!”

Right? You can afford two weeks in Cabo but not three days in a hotel? It’s an elegant way to force them to spend money in Canada. Hotels LOVE Trudeau today.

“Got your backs” square active.

“Audible sniff” do I have a square for that? I didn’t expect these briefings to go through another winter, actually. And “Every step of the way” again, that’s four.

“Every step of the way” again, that’s five. WE HAVE A BINGO!

“Every step of the way” for the fourth time. One more time and it’s the entire column! [edited to update: that was actually SIX times, we do indeed have a bingo]

“Supply chains” is a mere hair away from “shovel-ready.” The more detailed the answer, the drier it is.

Trudeau has been as threatening as a nice Canadian boy from a good school can possibly be.

Who’s gonna bring me another coffee? I emailed the PMO again last night, still no response about whether Gavin McInnes will face criminal penalties in Canada for the actions of his followers in Washington on January 6. Still no official response to my bid to become Governor-General either.

And that’s a wrap. But I’ll give you “Unequivocal statement of optimism” too, because I’m feeling generous.

Meanwhile, in the US:

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