The Robin Covid Briefing Bingo

Spring, possums. Sprung, it hath. Yesterday Buddy the Dog and I saw no fewer than a dozen robins on our perambulations, which are somewhat abbreviated now that Buddy’s an elderdog and has got The Rheumatiz bad in the hippal region. I, you understand, am ageless and impervious and my Tylenol consumption is purely for recreational purposes, of course.

Anyway, here we are with yet another in our popular series of Mystery Nomenclature Theme briefings. To date we’ve had: Robin, Snooky, Muddy (how did we luck into a featured image like that? Luck was with us that day), Grumpy, Sparky, Heavy Metal, and Happy. A Happy Covid Briefing Bingo. Yes, possums, I almost didn’t believe it myself. That was a big vaccine news day. As is today, ah, but that would be telling! You must read on to get to the good stuff, including my favourite tie. And lots and lots of red and white.

Robin by Christina Rollo
American Robin by Christina Rollo

Here is the Trudeau And Co Power Hour broadcast from CPAC. Youtube suggested I watch the CBC version, but as you know, possums, I’m working on my French and CBC has those sweet federal dollars to hire someone to talk over the French bits and tell you basically exactly what was just said in English, but again and run through the translationifier for extra word salad goodness, so anyway, here’s our video:

On Parliament Hill, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discusses the federal government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic. He also comments on the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The prime minister is joined virtually by federal ministers Patty Hajdu (health), Anita Anand (public services and procurement), and Dominic LeBlanc (intergovernmental affairs), as well as Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, and Dr. Howard Njoo, deputy chief public health officer.

And our cards, and I guess if we’re gonna be doing these until September I can go ahead and create a new card after all. Thought we’d seen the last of these, but apparently not.

And here we go, actually on time for once, just in time for my coffee to start brewing in the kitchen. It shall remain there, unmolested and undrunk, for the next hour and fifteen. Pour one out for me, possums, for it seems I shall never enjoy a fresh, hot cup of coffee in my life. Between the coffee and the cards, things have begun inauspiciously for yours truly.

Not to mention getting The Letter from CRA. “MyCRA” my ass.

Here we go with with the squares Grey Suit, mask, maple leaf accessory, and facial hair. And straight into a statement on the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

“It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of The Duke of Edinburgh.

“A man of great service to others – first as a decorated naval officer and later as a dedicated leader in the areas of community engagement and philanthropy – the Duke always sought out the best in people and challenged them to strive for greater heights.

“Prince Philip maintained a special relationship with the Canadian Armed Forces and over the years became Colonel‑in‑Chief of six Canadian units. In 2011, he was named honorary general of the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as honorary admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy.

“The global program that bears his title – the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – has helped empower millions of young people from all backgrounds to realize their greatest potential, and is but one example of his contributions to the social fabric of this country and the world. He was also the patron of more than forty organizations in Canada, including the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute and the Outward Bound Trust. During his last visit to Canada in April 2013, the Duke was named the first-ever Extraordinary Companion of the Order of Canada by the Governor General of Canada.

“Prince Philip was a man of great purpose and conviction, who was motivated by a sense of duty to others. He will be fondly remembered as a constant in the life of our Queen – a lifelong companion who was always at her side offering unfailing support as she carried out her duties.

“A family has lost a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. The thoughts of Canadians are with Queen Elizabeth II and the members of the Royal Family as they mourn such a significant loss.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

I didn’t have a square for the Duke of Edinburgh dying, but he did.

He also met my mother once, when she was about 18. He was visiting Lord Mountbatten I think it was, in the Ottawa Civic Hospital, and she was just getting off work there and they were both standing around waiting for their rides and they chatted about the tulip festival, which was going on then and is A Big Deal in Ottawa, as Big Deals in Ottawa go. He was, apparently, good looking enough back in the day to annoy Mother’s boyfriend at the time.

Okay, now mark your “Vaccine” square. Mark “Pfizer” and “Moderna” squares. More big numbers. By the end of June we’ll have gotten 44 million doses. And mark “AstraZenica” too.

The fact that we’re still relying on the Red Cross more than a year in tells us how big an emergency this is. BTW Ontario hasn’t been hiring contact tracers: only The Red Cross has been. I know, because I was looking for those jobs.

Trudeau’s reviewing all the Covid-related benefits, and announces the budget is coming. “Keeping Canadians Safe” square active now.

This speech definitely feels electiony. “Your priorities are our priorities.” Have you noticed Trudeau always says “we” and “us” w/r/t government, whereas both his supporters and his enemies personalize it in his person specifically. If I were a Trudeau enemy instead of a blanket-statement anarchist I would consider this to be a strategic mistake, given the man’s individual popularity in the polls.

It’s #IStandWithTrudeau and #BlameTrudeau and it’s not like we don’t understand the power of celebrity around these parts: we once (we use the Royal We, you understand, a gesture of respect towards the late Duke of Two Steps Behind And To The Left) had a column called the Celebrity-Industrial Complex on the late, lamented True/Slant. And if politics is show business for ugly people, it’s still true that non-ugly people have a meaningful advantage. People who heard the Kennedy/Nixon debate on the radio thought Nixon won; people who watched on tv thought Kennedy had.

Trudeau has layers of advantages: he’s got the pedigree, he has the connections and can honestly say things like “I’ve known the Duke of Edinburgh all my life,” he’s got legit Quebec and Western roots, he’s decorative and fit, he appears to be a natural-born cheerleader, he does Concerned Teacher Giving You The Important Talk well, he wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those electric blue suits the Conservatives seem to prefer, and he has the second-best hair in Canadian politics (Freeland has the best. Obviously). Anyhoodle, back to the briefing.

Mark your “Dr Tam” square, as usual now. The variants account for the biggest proportion of new cases. She reminds everyone what we need to do to avoid catching any version of Covid-19. Everyone seems to have stopped “shading provinces and premiers”. I guess they all got together and agreed it’s better to just praise them for doing the right thing, even if they are not. Doing that. Which, speaking as an Ontarian I can tell you they are. Not Doing That.

Including the one I got! Good news at last chez raincoaster

Dr. Tam says that AstraZenica vaccine-related blood clotting disorder is of concern, but the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risk and Canada hasn’t seen a single case of it. “Keeping Canadians Safe” yet again and now we’re on to Dr. Njoo. Mark your “Dr Njoo isn’t wearing glasses” square. He’s the only one who keeps flying the “Covid information URL signage” metaphorical flag. It being a sign and not an actual flag.

Speaking of which, I’m still thinking of doing an interview with whoever it is who has the job of making sure all the flags are arranged showing exactly the same proportion of the Maple Leaf and being draped to the right.

It always catches me by surprise when these things start on time, and yes, you can mark your “I make a coffee and forget it in the kitchen” square, as aforementioned. And mark “rapid testing” square. Trudeau says he will support the provinces as they make their own decisions. So no Emergency Measures Act.

New moderator. CBC goes first with a q about the federal government offering help to provinces who then don’t request it. Is it time for the federal government to force help on them? Trudeau gives the Concerned Teacher Voice and refers to federal supports.

I would have lost a bet, possums: going Full Fascist For The Sake Of The Country would have been the easy thing to do, if politically disastrous. It would have let the Conservatives and NDP and the Increasingly Irrelevant Greens attack Trudeau for making something of a family tradition out of it, given his father invoked the War Measures Act.

There can be no doubt we are in a very tedious, long drawn-out emergency: as someone said, we are in the world’s slowest-moving zombie movie. This is exactly the kind of thing the Emergency Measures Act was meant to address, but invoking it would be to play straight into the hands of the actual fascists out there who, although they were spanked hard January 6, still exist, still seek power, and are still the deadly enemies of everything this and every decent country stands for.

Mark “We’ve got your backs” square. Why are the reporters thanking Trudeau for taking their questions? Marieke Walsh has been asking him questions at least twice a week for a year. You’d think she could take it as read she didn’t need to thank him.

“Building Back Better” active now. And mark the “Freeland referenced” square too. I wondered if LeBlanc was going to sit there without any questions today. Anand may be the one to give you the “Panelist does not say a single word”. Kudos to moderator who asks for the answer in English again. And mark your “sign language squares swapped out” square.

Now CP asks if Mark Carney has been asked to run as a Liberal or “are you trying to persuade him”. Take one guess. You can be a great speaker but that won’t get you invited to speak at the Liberal Convention. Mark Carney is exactly who the Liberals want: a marquee name with solid (if debateable) NeoLiberal credentials and a global reach.

And long-term, possums, Freeland is going to be the Liberal leader someday, perhaps someday soon if Trudeau is as tired of this as I hear whispers of. Not before the election, of course: they’ll use his star power to get a Liberal majority or at least significant minority government. But once he can go, methinks he just might. That makes Freeland PM, and that means we will need a finance minister. Guess who that would be?

Eat the rich

Now a question on UBI which I’m VERY glad to hear. Trudeau generalizes that Liberal Conventions discuss intriguing ideas so he’s “not gonna comment on any specific resolutions”. Which is a no, possums. Trudeau has said no to UBI consistently, and it’s clear that while we once held out hope he’d use it as a legacy keystone, he ain’t interested in that. Too bad, CERB looked very much like UBI and we once believed it was possible, but we can now stop battering Justin Trudeau with the UBI ram and start hammering on Freeland and Carney instead. Freeland…maybe? Carney? Almost certainly not. That gives a rather narrow window, possums, but we think we can hit it.

“Shades Harper and Tories” with that climate change question. HEAVILY. One thing the Liberals won’t waste time on at their Convention is debating whether climate change is real. Probably not whether the Earth is flat or not either. The only reason the Tories didn’t get into that discussion is that they ran out of time.

Have I mentioned I love that tie? We are here to focus on the trivia, people!

And now Trudeau sends the vaccine question to Minister Anand, who once again wins the Background Wars. I see someone else is wearing electoral red and white, which is also Liberal red and white. What a coinkydink.

Anand reminds everyone that they’re well ahead of targets and projections re: importing vaccines. And now a question about those AstraZenica doses sitting unused in the US, some of which we’ve already gotten, and we expect more. Anand points out we are pulling vaccines from India, Europe, South Korea, and the US, in accordance with our existing agreements. Anand outlining how the exchange with the US for AstraZenica works, an interesting insight on how diplomacy and politics interact with pandemic response.

Dr Tam is discussing the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which also has the same kind of issues as the AstraZenica one, but you hear less about that because it’s American and the US doesn’t want to play that up. They’d rather shade the Indian vaccine without pointing out that theirs is based on the same science and associated with the same side effects.

Did I tell you to mark your “Drinks water” square? Do that, about five minutes ago. Get in your TARDIS and do that. Say hi to The Doctor while you’re there.

I see they’re waiting till Trudeau has left the room before continuing with questions, which is wise because the camera follows him out anyway. Not sure if protocol or preference on behalf of camera op, but no complaints.

Walsh asks specifically what “stronger measures” Dr. Tam was talking about, and she replies that it includes things like curfews, reduced mobility, avoiding social gatherings of any numbers, do not socialize with people outside your household. So, basically the same, but REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME.

In related Really Meaning It This Time news, The Roommate called his brother to come over and visit and…The Brother said no. Reminded Roommate about Lockdown being a thing, and the visit is off now. So, progress!

Updated to add: The Roommate got home from his trip to go get food and shop for hardware and swing by The Brother’s to pick up an air compressor and mentions that they had a great visit and he managed to see the Niece who stays with other relatives a couple of hundred miles away but was visiting, so, that’s a nice little pandemic cluster. In Related News, The Roommate informs me that because he filled out a form at work he no longer has to be temperature screened when he goes in to work. At the hospital.

So, that’s nice.

Walsh asks for specifics, granularity. “What is the specific rule that the UK or Ireland has that Ontario does not?” Dr Tam responds you have to do the same thing just more diligently. Every jurisdiction has to understand their local context. Which I guess gives you your “Pushes responsibility to provinces” square.

The Roommate thinks Marieke Walsh is a total bitch, and says so. I just think she’s doing her job. She’s perfectly polite. That’s the annoying attitude I see so much of especially in Ottawa: the idea that questioning authority, even if you’re a reporter and it’s your job, is somehow rude. Out in BC, we consider it our civic responsibility.

There seem to be only like 4 reporters asking questions. What ever happened to Justin Ling? Is he off writing a book somewhere? I wonder if bloggers can get accredited and allowed into the briefings. That would be a hoot, assuming I’d ever wake up early enough for OCTranspo to get me from Nowheresville to Wellington Street in time. Or are bloggers considered hopelessly 20th Century these days?

I like the passive-aggressive way the feds all talk about “Government cooperation at all levels” to sort of sweet-talk the provinces into actually digging out those vaccines out of the back of the fridge and putting them in people. Although I see they’re doing a bang-up job of getting them into certain people who are both younger than me and NOT permanently immunocompromised, so there’s that.

What this truncated tweet does not tell you is that people 55+ can indeed register, but they’re on a waitlist rather than getting solid appointments. And also Doug Ford got his now because he’s more important than you

“That’s what Canadians expect us to do.” Yeah, okay, but could we hit a higher bar? Please, Federal Government. Meets Expectations was always equal to a Fail when I showed my mother my report card, not that I ever got Meets Expectations. I expect Justin Trudeau and his cabinet didn’t get many either, and would expect them to continue to at least aim for Exceeds Expectations. If nothing else, they have vastly exceeded the Conservative expectations, much to their consternation.

Mike LeCouteur asks Dr. Tam how worried she is. She says “we can do something about it now… as soon as you put on those brakes, they work.” So this is scientifically-enlightened optimism.

I didn’t realize Patty Hajdu was part of this talk, but there she is at the bottom of the screen. Patty Hajdu says controlling the virus is critical to the economy. And yes, mark your “florals” square. She’s a big scarf person. She says that you can’t get a handle on the economy if you don’t get a handle on Covid 19.

“We will achieve herd immunity on Monday” is a ridiculous statement from the UK government, something you’d expect from Boris if he also somehow blamed the delay on France. While reminding you that he went to Eton. Dr. Tam says we will have to wait and see what happens when they reduce restrictions. Essentially we’re letting Boris experiment on his country and we will see how that goes. Sorry, Britishers. You’re fucked.

Behold the European Robin. There are Reasons we choose the images we do.

Dr Tam says we have to keep re-evaluating as we go along “to see if that is in fact a reality that can be achieved” ie herd immunity.

Question about the liability agreement on the AstraZenica vaccines we got from the US, and Anand replies that it’s just a standard indemnification, nothing unusual about it at all.

“How did Canada find itself so unprepared for the season?” Dr Tam replies “It’s not too late. Put the brakes on.” and she reminds us not to be complacent just because we have vaccines. “Vaccines take a number of weeks to work” Dr Tam reminds us. And that’s the end of the conference.

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