I know it’s not Thursday but Saturday but I called Camp to meet me for lunch and have a chat about Trudeau’s latest move to punish travellers. He only agreed to join me when I promised to pay for the beers. I really wanted to know what Camp thought about these new travel requirements.
‘The new measurements enacted by the Canadian government yesterday amount to nothing less than a fine and punishment for travellers, no matter how long they’ve been away or where they’ve been to. The penalties are especially aimed at snowbirds, who remove themselves from the Canadian winter to sunny destinations like the Caribbean and Mexico,’ I said.
‘It seems to me that this is particularly unfair and harsh for the small island nations that depend on tourism,’ Camp agreed. ‘It is a neo-colonial attitude that says: you’re ok when we say so and instead of helping you out, you are being unduly punished for sins you didn’t commit.’
‘I know,’ I said, ‘most of these Caribbean island nations, like Grenada, have very strict entry protocols which has kept their small country (110’000) mostly Covid free. Yet, that doesn’t matter to the politicians in Canada who desperately need a scapegoat for their own failures in local policies. $ 2000 per person for 3 days of hotel quarantine, while waiting for a neg-test result, seems ok for travellers from high-risk countries, not low-risk destinations like the Caribbean.’
‘Particularly galling is the arrogant manner of the PM to set the price,’ Camp said, enjoying his free drink. ‘Did he have a chat with his hotel buddies? It’s one thing to say: you have to pay and here is a list of hotels to choose from, but quite another to set the actual price. Thanks Justin.’
‘It’s no skin off their backs for rich folks – just another travel expense – but ordinary people who just want to escape the Canadian winters and the isolation requirements due to the pandemic, are mostly pensioners with limited and fixed incomes who can ill afford the new price tag of coming home. Many of these snowbirds left late last fall when there were no mutant viruses and no prohibitions, just a health advisory: Don’t travel unless essential, sort of like: don’t smoke because it kills you. Going south for the winter is essential for many people, for their mental and physical well being, as well as financial considerations. Many of these sun-destinations are cheaper than staying at home,’ I said.
‘Punitive measures, cloaked in public safety innuendos, are not what prevents the spread of this virus and less than 1% of positive cases are linked to foreign travel. I’d like to see the PM shell out a few dollars from his own purse for his ill-fated and naive backing of a Chinese vaccine with CanSino Biologics. The deal collapsed when the Chinese blocked exports of the vaccine to Canada.’
‘For months the Canadian government has been sitting on 38 million rapid tests which should have been deployed long ago to airlines, airports and schools. Why is that not happening? Do they not trust the industries or the school districts?’
‘Okay, this is thirsty thinking,’ Camp said. ‘Rapid tests are screening tools that could only help the overall situation. Arguments like ‘false security’ or ‘not 100% accurate’ are cheap excuses and smoke screens.’
‘On the other hand, $ 2000.- for every traveller arriving into Canada amounts to a tidy little sum, real money, culled from the pockets of ordinary people,’ I said.
‘Let me be clear,’ Camp said. ‘To punish and force your citizens into behavior and prohibition is fascism-lite, no matter if it’s alcohol, drugs or travel and it’s always disguised as ‘good for the country’ or the ‘public good’.
‘Right now, the protocols are in effect until the end of April. And then what? There will always be a voice that echoes Trudeau’s own battle cry: ‘Even one case of covid entering the country is one too many!’
‘Just like taxes, once imposed, restrictions will be slow to lift or undo. These drastic measures give governments undue powers and take away the one freedom we all cherish the most – the freedom of movement. Who would have thought that possible just one short year ago?’
Camp checked his watch and I knew he had to get back to the store. He downed his pint in one go. I thanked him for listening to my quandary.
‘I wouldn’t want to miss a free pint and be entertained,’ he said with a wink. ‘Give Clare my virtual hug.’