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Some Covid Links

David Henderson finds some merit in Janet Bufton’s criticisms of the Canadian truckers’ protest, but his is nevertheless a more favorable take than hers on the protest.

Here are Nick Gillespie’s sensible thoughts on the Canadian truckers’ protest.

About recent authoritarian events in Canada, J.D. Tuccille writes: “Apparently the rule of law doesn’t matter if Justin Trudeau doesn’t like your peaceful protest.” Two slices:

Emergency powers, threats to freeze the finances of peaceful protesters, and smearing critics as terrorists—it has to be China, right? But no, it’s our neighbor to the north, under a leader with a bad case of China-envy. For all the world to see, a panicky Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is throwing a tantrum over protests against restrictive pandemic policy that warns us how quickly an established democracy can lose its mind. It’s an advertisement for the value of cryptocurrency and other means of escaping the reach of the financial police state.


Srinivasan’s comparison of Canada to totalitarian Venezuela may be more apt than Canadians like. Trudeau got into trouble in 2013 for praising the ability of China’s “basic dictatorship” to act quickly, as he now can under the Emergencies Act. He may have inherited the sentiment from his father, Pierre Trudeau, who not only invoked the War Measures Act, but openly admired thugs such as Fidel Castro.

“We see evidence of the Trudeau family’s long love affair with the world’s autocrats and tyrants,” Mark Mike noted in a 2018 Maclean’s magazine piece.

Also decrying the actions of Canadian strongman Justin Trudeau is the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal. A slice:

The truckers protest against vaccine mandates, vilified by Mr. Trudeau as “racist” and “violent,” has been peaceful, but not every peaceful protest is legal. Blocking roads and border crossings disrupts lives and commerce. Government’s job is to maintain public order while respecting civil liberties.

Canada has failed on both scores. For weeks authorities tried to wish away the problem. When that failed, Mr. Trudeau overreached, invoking new powers before Canadian jurisdictions had tried to enforce existing law. Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly was a progressive reformer. He criticizes the “reactive enforcement model” of policing, and when truckers took over his downtown, he failed to react. Mr. Sloly resigned Tuesday.

On Thursday Ottawa police, with provincial and federal help, finally came out in numbers, blocked highway exits, set up a perimeter and checkpoints and arrested blockade leaders. All of this could have been done under existing law. On Friday police began mopping up the protests methodically, with occasional scuffles and use of pepper spray. This too could have been done, albeit differentiating between the lawful and unlawful, and without threatening media with arrest for covering the action.

Ramesh Thakur adds his wise voice to the discussion of Canada’s truckers’ protest. Two slices:

The Freedom Convoy is the largest, longest and noisiest honkfest of a demonstration against a Canadian government in decades. It has laid bare the stark reality that lockdowns are a class war waged by the laptop class on the working class, by the cultural elites on the great unwashed outside urban centres and by the virtue-signallers on independent free thinkers. The world’s emoter-in-chief solemnly intoned in Parliament on 9 February that the truckies were ‘trying to blockade our economy, our democracy and our fellow citizens’ daily lives’. That he himself has been guilty of all three charges for two years testifies to lack of self-awareness.


The narrative seems to be collapsing fast inside Canada. Trudeau’s own Liberal MPs have begun to attack his confrontational handling of the protests as divisive politics that’s pitting Canadians against one another instead of providing a roadmap out of the pandemic. Polls show around half of Canadians expressing sympathy and understanding for the truckers’ concerns and supporting an end to all Covid restrictions – even if most don’t support the protests. Five provinces have announced a rapid lifting of restrictions like vaccine passports and mask mandates. These developments might also be influencing other governments to begin dismantling increasingly unpopular restrictions. Who’d have thought that the country best known for its law-abiding and phlegmatic population would lead the world in trumpeting the message: we are done with Covid restrictions, mandates and government running our lives.

Ella Whelan is dismayed by the silence of so many ‘progressives’ as tyranny erupts in Canada. A slice:

But as real, material authoritarianism raises its head in Canada, many of those same laptop bombardiers keen to call out fascism wherever they see it seem conspicuously silent. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau might not exactly be Mussolini, but his decision to invoke the Emergencies Act against protesters in the nation’s capital is a watershed moment. With these new powers, Trudeau is effectively able to wage war on thousands of truckers and supporters camped out in Ottawa.

Deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland smiled and chuckled as she told reporters that the law change allowed banks to freeze the accounts of protesters without any need for a court order, adding that vehicle insurance for anyone involved in the convoy could also be suspended. The interim police chief in Ottawa told a press conference last night that the police were working with social services to “remove” children from the area – as many of the truckers are accompanied by their families (pictures of trucker-installed bouncy castles and play areas were circulating over the weekend).

In short, the Canadian government has granted itself the power to strip citizens of their money, their transport and their kids. Several organisers have been arrested, despite the fact that bar a few fringe incidents, the vast majority of the thousands-strong convoy has maintained a peaceful (if disruptive) approach to getting their voices heard.

Just imagine the uproar that would ensue if Trump had taken children from Black Lives Matters protesters who took to the streets after the murder of George Floyd, or Boris Johnson had used the banks to starve out the costumed climate-changer obsessives who took over Trafalgar Square before the pandemic. You don’t even have to imagine it – when visiting Kenosha amid the riots and protests of 2020, Trump said “these are not acts of peaceful protest but really domestic terror”.

In response, CNN ran analysis which argued that Trump’s naming of protesters who disagree with him as terrorists “puts him in the company of the world’s autocrats”. The T word might not have spilled out of Trudeau’s mouth just yet, but his use of the Emergencies Act (last invoked by his father 50 years ago to combat a real terrorist threat) allows his government to broaden the Terrorist Financing Act, shutting down the fundraising sites used by the truckers’ “Freedom Convoy”.

Kate Andrews laments this reality: “Covid has made politicians like Justin Trudeau power crazy.” A slice:

It’s becoming a case study in how much control governments wield over the technological systems we’re building – not to mention a reminder that the definition of an “emergency” often comes down to what is giving politicians a headache at any given time. The powers Trudeau has invoked will allow his government to cripple politician dissenters, with plans to stop just short of using the military to act as police officers (an act Trudeau says he wants to avoid, though a statement from the Canadian Armed Forces insisting it would be playing no such role raises questions over who tipped him against the move.)

But there’s another lesson from Trudeau’s increasingly heavy-handed approach to the protesters: the period in which government decrees were met with little to no resistance is coming to an end. Between Covid and lockdowns, politicians have spent two years growing increasingly accustomed to citizens doing, more or less, exactly as they say. Even being told to stay home, forgo loved ones’ funerals and stay away from family and friends was met with begrudging acceptance for far longer than most governments expected people to comply. Politicians like Trudeau have perhaps enjoyed that power a bit too much, and have forgotten that the art of governing is based on winning over hearts and minds, not cracking down on dissent with tactics that – if they were coming out of a country like Russia or China – we would not hesitate to categorise as dangerous overreach.

Canada’s Prime Minister has also forgotten the fundamental principles that underpin a strong economy: free enterprise thrives because it’s voluntary. People’s desire to work, trade and mutually prosper off of each other’s contributions is what enhances prosperity. As much as lockdowns may have given politicians like Trudeau a taste for decrees, no leader can force people to return to work if they don’t want to do, or work in a way they don’t feel comfortable with, and expect to get the same results.

Reason‘s Jacob Sullum reports on the paucity of evidence “that mask mandates had an important impact during the Omicron surge.” A slice:

“Masks have been the most visible part of America’s pandemic response, but one of the least consequential,” science journalist Faye Flam writes in a Bloomberg Opinion essay. “The states with mask mandates haven’t fared significantly better than the 35 states that didn’t impose them during the omicron wave. Rhode Island, where I live, has had a mask mandate since mid-December; nonetheless, we saw our January surge rise far higher than any other state. There’s little evidence that mask mandates are the primary reason the pandemic waves eventually fall—though much of the outrage over lifting mandates is based on that assumption. Many experts acknowledge that the rise and fall of waves is a bit of a mystery.”

The Editorial Board of the New York Post warns against the “insanely cautious CDC.” A slice:

Even if you discount this insanity, the CDC can’t keep its own COVID story straight. It caused months of chaos with its back-and-forth recommendations on masking and other hygiene theatrics. And its forthcoming “update” is clearly motivated by politics, not public health.

It’s definitely not science-based. The risk to kids from COVID is, statistically, near zero. The total US death toll for under-18s in the entire pandemic so far is about 800. That’s out of almost 1 million dead. And a big chunk of the young people who died had other health problems.

Here’s the plain truth: COVID is very dangerous to the elderly and those with underlying conditions. But its mortality rate outside those groups doesn’t justify anything like the world-altering precautions the CDC demanded.

The Editors of the Telegraph urge the British “to move on from Covid for good.” A slice:

Then there is the continued risk aversion of some local authorities, schools and hospital trusts. Already, some public sector leaders have made it clear that they intend to keep some protocols in place for longer – seen, for example, in Sadiq Khan’s insistence that masks be worn on the Tube. This cannot be allowed to continue. The point of living with Covid is that individuals should make their own minds up about the level of risk they are prepared to accept. That is impossible if arms of the state still feel entitled to tell people what to do.

Martha Fulford, J. Edward Les, and Pooya Kazemi advise parents to beware of misinformation about the risks that Covid-19 poses to children. (HT Jay Bhattacharya) Two slices:

Media reporting on COVID has been replete with doom, gloom and hysteria. A research report by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that American media coverage of COVID has a significant negativity bias, with 91 per cent of stories by major U.S. media outlets being negative in tone, versus 54 per cent for major non-U.S. sources and 65 per cent for scientific journals.

This negativity bias is very apparent when it comes to coverage of COVID in children. While the death of a child is always tragic, stories of pediatric COVID deaths are often sensationalized by media outlets and elevated above other more common causes of death in this age group. Some media outlets, even when they admit that COVID deaths are rare in children, stoke an atmosphere of fear by running hyperbolic stories about such conditions as Long COVID, suggesting that large swaths of children with a history of a SARS-CoV-2 infection are condemned to a life of disability.


Some of the most sensational media stories relate to Long COVID, a term used to describe persistent symptoms after a SARS-CoV-2 infection. Definitions for Long COVID include over 200 symptoms, many of which are nonspecific and also common among kids who have not been infected with COVID. Media coverage would have parents believe that Long COVID affects 15 to 25 per cent of children who are impacted by COVID. But a careful and unbiased analysis of the published medical literature shows that Long COVID is uncommon in children. A recent meta-analysis on the topic, conducted by some of the world’s foremost pediatric experts, concluded that “the frequency of the majority of reported persistent symptoms was similar in SARS-CoV-2 positive cases and controls (i.e. children who were not infected).” Another review paper came to similar conclusions. And, the largest study ever published on the topic was just released in the European Journal of Pediatrics; it concludes, “Long COVID in children is rare and mainly of short duration.”