David Frum, son of the late CBC icon Barbara Frum, used to be described as a “conservative columnist,” but then Donald Trump came along and Frum has become one of his most credible critics. The former bush speechwriter and his wife recently returned to Canada as he explains in a series of tweets. In the tweets Frum discuses some of the differences in COVID response he sees between Canada and the US. At the end of the tweets is a link to a longer form article he wrote for the Atlantic on the same topic.
Overnighted in Toronto to run errands and buy supplies. First night in a hotel since early March; hair cuts for self & my wife. Toronto on Friday reopened restaurant interiors. It’s not “as before,” but to walk around a city of 2.8 million with fewer than 5 cases a day feels like the onset of recovery. It’s earned by universal masking, by temperature checks at the entry to hotels and other potential zones of infection. There are COVID crackpots in Canada too, of course, but the tone has been set by responsible leaders at all levels.
Sensitive businesses – like hair salons – receive undercover/plain clothes inspection from Health Canada. But the real work is done by the spontaneous action of citizens, voluntarily doing what needs to be done. That spirit exists in the United States too, as we all know. But it makes a difference that the public authorities support cooperation – rather than sabotage it.
The mayor of Toronto is a moderate Conservative. The premier of Ontario is a very right-wing Conservative. The prime minister of Canada is a left-leaning Liberal. They all wear coats when it’s cold; they all wear masks in midst of an airborne pandemic.
Heeding the best scientific advice is not a partisan matter. Empathy for the sick, provision for those who have lost work or business, planning for the long term is not only good policy – it’s good politics, Left or Right.
The summary is *not* that Canada did a uniquely good job. It didn’t, there were plenty of mistakes. The moral is that Trump and his pet governors did a uniquely lousy job.
(To those asking the personal question: My wife and I are dual nationals, allowed to cross the border. We self-isolated for the 14 days required. We’re in Canada at our own house here, to keep company through the summer my wife’s mother, who underwent cancer treatment last year.)
David Frum’s full article in the Atlantic is here