When the pandemic began, Scott Moe seemed to approach the problem with a pragmatic attitude. He took the threat seriously and implemented effective public health orders. Moe had clearly followed the advice of his own medical advisors as well as the advice of medical advisors from the federal and international levels. We came through the first wave of the global COVID19 pandemic with some dents and scratches, but we suffered a great deal less than other jurisdictions did. While scenes of mass graves were broadcast from places such as New York City, Saskatchewan was comparatively ok. A few jokes circulated about how even viruses consider Saskatchewan to be flyover country. The early success of Saskatchewan’s COVID19 response was short lived, however, and Scott Moe soon lost his pragmatic attitude.
In Saskatchewan, the plan has become: ‘fend for yourself’
Saskatchewan people are strong and independent. They had to be to survive in this punishing climate. Saskatchewan people also know the value of cooperation, which is evident by their long history of developing social programs and forming co-operatives. In Saskatchewan, people believe that working together works, so it is surprising that our populist premier is not taking advantage of that during this difficult time. Instead, Scott Moe has come to support ideas of ‘individual freedoms’ and ‘privatization’ in a province that has always depended on public owned crown corporations and co-operatives to survive.
The governing Saskatchewan Party has had help in promoting these ideas from the American conservative propaganda machine. For many years now, Canadian ideas about what it means to be a conservative have been shaped by extremist American propagandists and few would argue these ideas are good for Saskatchewan. Yet, Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan party have embraced an increasingly narrow view of conservativism that is foreign to Saskatchewan values and detrimental to the economic success of the province. Why? It makes little sense.
Instead of doing what is right for Saskatchewan, Scott Moe has blindly followed the lead of Republican U.S. governors who prioritize the economy
Saskatchewan is nothing like Florida, Texas or any other American state and what works there does not necessarily work here. Yet, Scott Moe has chosen to follow the lead of ‘conservative’ governors who have prioritized the health of the economy over the health of the population. Too often American politicians have appeared delusional in their approach to the COVID19 pandemic and Scott Moe is following their lead.
Instead of ensuring that Saskatchewan’s workforce is kept as safe as possible from COVID19 and has strong supports in place in the case they become sick, Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan party have treated them like cannon fodder. This is especially surprising as Saskatchewan suffered from labour shortages long before the pandemic began. Now every Saskatchewan worker that becomes ill has a significant impact on the economy due to the difficulty in replacing them.
It doesn’t matter what political party a person belongs to. The first priority of any political party is to keep residents safe and ensure they have sustainable socio-economic opportunity. Attempting to alleviate a short-term economic downturn by refusing to implement public health tools such as gathering limits, remote-learning options for schools, and paid sick time is not even ‘penny wise but pound foolish’. It is just foolish. With each new wave, treating Saskatchewan workers like cannon fodder has only served to worsen the province’s labour crisis. As it stands, Scott Moe doesn’t know where he is going to get people to fill jobs, but he is advertising for workers from around the world. Will they come?
Will Moe’s COVID19 diagnosis wake him up from his folly?
It has been painfully clear that Premier Scott Moe has been struggling to lead Saskatchewan. Hard things are hard, and global pandemics are one of the hardest things of all. Moe may be trying his best, but thus far, his best has not been good enough. This is a problem of his own making. All he truly needs to do is keep his ear open to what the medical advisors are telling him and then act in accordance with that advice. Increasingly, however, Moe believes he knows better than the people who are genuinely trying to help him. After all, none of us wants to see Saskatchewan self-implode from bad policy decisions and inadequate leadership. We all want Scott Moe to succeed.
Scott Moe will NOT succeed, however, if he continues along his current path. So far, nothing has been able to budge him from his conviction that he knows better than everyone else. Not even when our hospitals became unable to care for our own COVID19 patients. If the inability to care for COVID19 patients in our hospitals did not prompt Scott Moe to implement more tools to slow the spread of the virus, what will?
Now Scott Moe has tested positive for COVID19 himself. Nothing could be more destabilizing at this time than to see Saskatchewan’s leadership become ill. Strong leadership is required now, during this Omicron wave, more than ever. We have all heard of people that have experienced a sort of epiphany after testing positive for COVID19 and then change their attitude. They admit they were wrong, they encourage others to take the pandemic seriously, and they snap out of their delusions. Is it too much to hope that Scott Moe will have an epiphany?