The Rebel to Rabble Review: The pandemic’s ‘silver lining’

With Omicron outbreaks driving up hospitalizations up across the country, “another debate about further privatizing Canada’s public health-care system is looming on the horizon,” according to Press Progress Alberta reporter Stephen Magusiak.

“Several right-wing pundits, think tanks, and newspapers have all, coincidentally, started to push the same message,” he notes. That includes “the right-wing National Post,” which “waded into the issue by proposing that Canada’s ‘rickety health system’ could be solved with the snap of a finger if Canadians ‘do away with our unhelpful aversion to allowing private-sector involvement in health care.’ ”

Magusiak also fingers “longtime Conservative insider Ken Boessenkool, (who) drew fire on Twitter after suggesting that private health delivery could be a ‘silver lining’ of the pandemic.”

And he points to a two-part open letter to “Canada’s Health Ministers” published by the “right-wing, pro-business” CD Howe Institute that makes the case for “more private delivery” of health-care services.

“Ready or not, here they come,” he warns.

Over at Rabble, Evelyn Lazare — a “retired health-care planner,” according to her bio — wonders if Canada is “stuck in a vicious Omicron circle” as a result of what could become a catastrophic staff shortage.

“With (about) one-fifth of the population resisting vaccination, the number of admissions to hospitals is once again threatening to overwhelm acute-care facilities,” she points out.

“Hospitals simply do not have the capacity to take in the huge influx of cases expected from Omicron. Even hospitals that can still accommodate new patients face a challenge. With so many staff members off because of burnout and their own breakthrough cases, there are not enough staff to care for new admissions.”

And it’s not just the health-care sector, she warns.

“Imagine the following scenario,” she writes. “Long-haul truckers continue to refuse to be vaccinated. The number of drivers decreases and adds to the already difficult situation in the supply chain. Among other things, produce from the U.S., Mexico, and other Central and South American countries does not cross the Canadian border in previous quantities. When it does, food distributors have difficulty shipping the produce to retail outlets, because of staff shortages.

“Similarly, the retail grocers don’t have sufficient staff to either offload the trucks or restock shelves. Customers who do manage to find the produce they want notice price increases. Further, the checkout lines are longer because so many cashiers are home sick.”

In contrast, Rabble politics writer Stephen Wentzell offers a determinedly half-glass-full take on rising inflation, which “could actually be good for workers,” he contends, despite what “right-wing economists would have you believe.”

According to Centre for Future Work economist Jim Stanford, “neoliberal policy puts a strong emphasis on reducing inflation, not because they care about workers, but to protect the value of financial wealth.” But “inflation redistributes wealth to those with debt, eroding the real value of debt while simultaneously reducing the real value of wealth.”

The end result, according to Stanford: “The people who are the most concerned about inflation, ultimately, are those with large stocks of financial wealth, who hate to see their value eroded by a five per cent inflation rate,” making inflation effectively a “wealth tax.”

Breach contributor Scott Neigh delivers a similarly optimistic retrospective of “movement victories” in 2021.

“Last year may have sucked, but social movements in Canada still won important gains,” he argues, from “cops out of schools” to “Indigenous land defended” to “new tenants’ rights.”

Finally, Passage managing editor Davide Mastracci delves into the “uproar” over former CBC producer Tara Henley’s very public rebuke of her former employer, and concludes it was “a missed chance to offer a leftist critique of the network.”

As he sees it, “right-wing critiques of the CBC that blame coverage focusing on racialized groups for its flaws are wrong, and should be condemned.”

But that “must not come in the form of defending CBC,” he argues. “Instead, it should be through the articulation of a left-wing vision for the network that can claim it as a space to truly serve the public interest.”

Trending on the right-of-centre side of the Canadian activist mediaverse:

  • After combing through “hundreds of pages of documents” related to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s spectacularly ill-advised trek to India in 2018, Rebel Alberta correspondent Sheila Gunn Reid uncovers another, heretofore unreported misadventure during his weeklong trip: an email that reveals the Delhi police were “called in to investigate the theft of chocolates and pop from the catering order for the flight home to Canada.”
  • Post Millennial writer Roberto Wakerell-Cruz highlights Trudeau’s recent claim to have sufficient vaccines “to give everyone FOUR (sic) doses, if necessary,” despite Pfizer CEO Alberta Bourla admitting that he “doesn’t know if there’s a need for a fourth booster.”
  • True North News publisher Candice Malcolm wonders why, with Trudeau “unravelling before our eyes” with his “increasingly angry and unhinged … rhetoric, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole seems to be absent from the federal scene.”

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