There is a school of thought that now is not the time for us to be applying criticism on our leaders. When it comes to experts, absolutely — but elected officials and their policies should be scrutinized like this is 1970. If there was ever a time for the free press, it is now.

Across the planet, strategies are showing themselves as clear winners and losers. Self-isolation is a pain, but governments that listened to scientifically-determined facts and limited travel and close gatherings, like ours did here in the Northwest Territories, have managed to minimize the outbreak. If we stay diligent and continue to listen to experts like Dr. Kami Kandola, we could potentially regain things we previously took for granted, like hugs and summer.

Those that have listened to their dollars instead of their doctors are not faring so well.

In spite of normally being a fervent supporter of open borders, I’m glad the ones to the United States and the rest of Canada are staying closed for the time being. With some of Canada’s politicians still parroting Donald Trump after the 3M safety-mask fiasco and attacking our national top doctor Theresa Tam‘s credibility — perhaps confusing her Hippocratic Oath for their own hypocrisy? — it’s likely much of the continent is going to be in quarantine for the foreseeable future.

Probably the most profound impact of COVID-19 so far is the rapid breakdown of certain political narratives. In my birth-province, just one year after electing Jason Kenney as Premier, ignoring a growing list of ethical problems his “big tent” United Conservative Party was having in real-time, a poll now suggests a majority of Albertans are wishing it was still former Premier Rachel Notley at the helm. And that was before oil hit a record-breaking negative $37/barrel this week.

This may have something to do with the volume of family doctors having to end their practices because of billing changes forced on them, or some-20,000 educational assistants who were suddenly laid off. Or the Health Minister de-listing medical services provided by his wife’s private insurance company — then stalking his critics using confidential health information. Or the Agriculture Minister saying meat packing plants were safe and allowing them to stay in operation, leading to an 852 per cent (not a typo) increase in COVID-19 in one instance.

Or ramming through a law that gives Kenney legal authority to pass new laws without legislative approval. Or dropping $7.5 billion on the Keystone XL pipeline only to see it killed by a U.S. judge almost immediately. Or giving away truckloads of personal protective equipment (P.P.E.) when his own emergency rooms were reporting mass-shortages from spending cuts. Or the aforementioned attacks on Dr. Tam. All in the middle of a once-in-a-century crisis.

Imagine the last four weeks if our GNWT had this extent of Orwellian incompetence. I’ll wait.

Policy matters, and a great deal of the world’s current predicament has resulted from short-sighted decisions that were largely tolerated or ignored by people because it didn’t affect them. We are all now collectively living with the consequences.

Scientists have been warning us for years that rapid deforestation was exposing people to novel infections like COVID-19, just like they’ve been warning us about climate change. An ecological disaster could have deadly consequences in this current situation.

For a few centuries man has kicked Mother Nature around, but it hasn’t taken much to remind us who’s still in charge around here.

Now that we’re all shut in, let’s take the time to critically examine how the choices we make affect each other as a species so we can begin to make better ones.

Eric Bowling

Breaking News Reporter and Digital Editor for NNSL, Eric operates out of Inuvik in the Beaufort Delta. He's four years into his Northern adventure and is eager to learn more about life in the Arctic Circle....

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