Facemasks should be worn but not be mandated

It’s tempting to change bad behaviour through mandates. The reasoning is that citizens will stop doing bad things if they are told not to.

The problem with mandates is compliance. Unlike laws, which are enacted through a democratic legislature, mandates are orders issued by public officials.

Image: Wall Street Journal

An order by If B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer to use facemasks would run into two problems. The first is political. Facemask use has, unfortunately, become politicized with those who live in a parallel world of reality thinking that COIVD-19 is a hoax and facemasks represent a threat to their liberty.

I hesitate to call these pandemic deniers right-wingers because that suggests that they occupy the political spectrum. Instead, they live in an echo chamber of the Facebook vortex; a demented vision of the world projected by the outgoing president of the U.S.

In Canada, conservatives, liberals, NDP, all agree that measures have to be taken and they vary by province, not by the colour of the politics. Quebec and Ontario have made masks mandatory but Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan are relying on moral suasion to convince their citizens to mask up to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

The second problem is that mandates can seem arbitrary and result in pig-headed defiance. Look at what happened when some of those belligerent types arrived at Mittz Kitchen in Kamloops this summer. After being told of safety protocols at the restaurant, they harassed staff, pushed owner Steve Mitton over a table, and smashed a plate of food on the floor.

I wouldn’t want masks made mandatory any more than I would want vaccinations made mandatory. Vaccinations save lives but orders to get them gets people’s backs up.

I’m not talking about measles vaccinations which everyone, with the exception of small communities, agrees to be necessary. I’m referring to vaccines being developed against COVID-19. Reluctance to get a COVID-19 vaccination has been growing.

 Even with an increase in COVID-19 cases in B.C., fewer people are willing to get vaccinated than before according to a survey conducted in September. The poll found that while a large number people would get the shot as soon as it was available (46 percent) a sizable number would to take a wait-and-see approach (32 per cent). Wait and see as people die?

If masks are to be mandated as part of a program to reduce pandemic deaths, shouldn’t vaccines also be compulsory? Millions of British Columbians would be defiant if such an order were issued.

B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry struggles with ordering the use of masks: “Mandating masks is not something that is going to change people’s minds,” she said. More recently she has tried a different approach. Now she says that masks are, in fact mandatory: they are part of a general order:

“Some people are asking when we will see masks mandated in B.C. The answer is that they already are. The mandate to use masks appropriately is a cornerstone of businesses’ and organizations’ COVID-19 safety plans, and is embedded in our health-care facilities’ operational policies and restart protocols in other public institutions (armchairmayor.ca, November 17, 2020).”

So, masks are mandatory but not mandated. Go figure.

The real solution to make bare faces in public socially unacceptable. Nothing is stronger than shunning the lack of facemasks.

Note: the day that this column was published, facemasks were made conpulsory in BC.

Some think COVID19 is a hoax

The inconvenient truth of COVID-19 is that it’s going to infect millions and hundreds of thousands will die. That reality is slowing dawning on a majority of Canadian as the virus moves closer to home. However a small minority see it as a hoax, a government plot to invade our daily lives. I’ll call this group the “Illuminati faction.”

A larger minority have politicized what is a health crisis. This group votes for the Conservative Party but I’m reluctant to label them as such. Let’s call them the “political partisans.”

Four million Canadians say the whole crisis is overblown, extrapolating from a poll conducted by Angus Reid on March 30. Twelve per cent of respondents agreed that “the threat of a coronavirus outbreak in Canada is overblown.”

Two-thirds of them voted Conservative in the 2019 federal election.

Other than politics, I can think of no other reason why Conservative voters would regard a health crisis differently than anyone else. The coronavirus does not select victims based on how they vote. Regardless of what they tell pollsters, I suspect that this group is as worried as anyone else.

The official stance Conservation Party is sensible. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said: “There really isn’t much philosophical difference when it comes to fighting a virus or keeping Canadians healthy and safe (CP, March 22, 2020).”

The motive of the political partisans seems obvious. They are reluctant to give the prime minister any kind of advantage. During a health crisis the prime minister appears statesman-like.

That bump in popularity has certainly worked for Prime Minister Trudeau and to slightly lesser extent for U.S. President Trump. Two-thirds of Canadians think Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doing a good job handling the COVID-19 crisis. Some provincial leaders have seen even more of a bump. The highest score came for Premier François Legault of Quebec with an approval rating of 93 per cent.

However, the Illuminati faction has more of a populist inclination. They distrust anything that the Mainstream Media (MSM) has to offer which they regard as fake news. The truth is revealed through the blogosphere.

I found two examples of the Illuminati faction on the Facebook page of a Kamloops user.

Henry Makow is the author of Illuminati: The Cult that Hijacked the World. On his website he proposes that governments are part of a sinister plot. His April 3 post warns:

“Flu Psyop — Pretext to Impose Orwellian Dictatorship?” ‘The Depression [resulting from the pandemic] will deepen and an oppressive political regime will be instituted.” “Their goal is take away our freedoms. Then if we want them back, we’ll be forced to receive vaccines to gain a digital certificate of movement which allows us to be tracked on 5G control grids.”

And a YouTube video with 508,068 views as of March 31, 2020, is titled “CoronaHoax Pandemic Proven Fake… Yet The Lockdowns Continue… Here’s Why.”

Like climate change deniers, COVID-19 deniers would prefer to believe some guy blogging from his basement. Unlike climate change, the effects of the virus are not glacial –they are immediate and deadly. And when not deadly, it’s extremely painful with possible permanent damage to the lungs.

Who says irony is dead?